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What’s wrong with being a top-notch yard man?

I just hate the idea of having people treat me like hired help. What can I do when there are no other jobs in sight?

In ancient China, skills were almost considered sacred. In fact, the emperor’s gardener was revered and honored for his work and that job was one of high honor in the kingdom. How does that happen? This week’s letter reminded me of this.  

Dear Lucy: I am out of work and to feed my family and pay the rent I am thinking about stooping to cutting grass and cleaning yards!  But, I just hate the idea of having people treat me like hired help. What can I do when there are no other jobs in sight?”

Dear Reader: This is a great question and you are not the first person to ask it in history. First of all, anybody working for someone else, even when self-employed is “hired help.” Rejoice that your “help” is needed! In fact, rejoice that you are in a position to offer help that someone is willing to pay for no matter how great or small.

So, what is it that separates the gardeners from the “yard man” and those who “stoop” to do the work and those who proudly do the work of grooming yards to perfection? Well one difference is in what people are willing to pay them! People are always willing to pay for good, dependable services.

In Japan, there is the practice of Zen, in which all work is done with the creation of beauty and balance in mind. Every act is one of excellence. If you should choose to do yard work for hire, make up your mind that regardless of the pay or the size of the yard, you are there to do it with excellence and create something beautiful that will bring joy to those who see and use it.  

Anything that we do with quality can and will survive. Quality also sets you apart from the rest and will allow you to create a special place for yourself in the marketplace of yard men. To become special at anything, you have to be willing to move against the grain of mediocrity, hold your own head up high and do your work “as unto the Lord (the Law of what’s right).”

Only you can decide what noble work is or what is considered work beneath you.  Many a person has let pride keep them from feeding their families and living with dignity. Decide to run it like a real business, get some basic, reliable equipment and some reliable help, start early and work late! This is your chance to become successfully self-employed.  

By the way, I also know some very wealthy yard men who started doing the work out of strict necessity. To quote a former pastor of mine: “There may not be any jobs available but you can always find work.”

Here’s to the beautiful yards you can create!


(Check out Lucy Shaw’s website at http://www.heart works4u.com. You may send your questions to her by U.S. mail to: Heartworks4U, LLC; 4646 Poplar Ave. Ste 201, Memphis, TN 38117 or by email to lucy@heart works4u.com.)

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