Leadership: Cleaning a Pickle Barrel

By | January 23, 2021

[January 23, 2021]  Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself.  As a child, my friend Wilson was always looking to earn a few quarters.  Like me, he had an independent mind, a willingness to work, and a desire to be a good Christian.  That’s why he took the job of pickle barrel cleaner.

His job had more benefits than my job of cleaning up cow manure – better pay and working inside a building.  One can never underestimate the value of working where you don’t have to experience harsh weather conditions.  Wilson’s pickle cleaning job also gave him free access to all the pickles he could eat.

To hear him tell it, it was the best job in the world.  I no longer recall the business owner’s name, but the fellow was good to Wilson.  The owner was a member of our Southern Baptist church and a very generous man.  He gave Wilson a $1 bonus on his birthday and $10 each Christmas.

And, Wilson got a chance to one day head up the purchase of cucumbers on local farms.  This would have meant being, in Wilson’s words, “really cool.”   The owner started teaching Wilson how to get along with the other workers so they could appreciate him.  He was teaching Wilson how to be likable.  Later in life, at the age of 21, Wilson would marry the owner’s daughter.

There were many things taught to Wilson that made all the difference in his life.   The owner had showed him how to appreciate family, to benefit the local community in all his work, the value of faith, and to take care of himself (physically, emotionally, and religiously).  On occasion, Wilson would share some of them with me.

There was more; there always is more to this kind of success story.  Wilson’s older brother was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps in 1964 and sent to Vietnam.  Upon his brother’s return to the states and being discharged, his brother ran for and won a state representative seat in Louisiana.  Wilson was recommended by his brother and he was eventually approved to serve on a state committee that successfully helped increase agricultural production.

Wilson became a successful member of our small town in Northeast Louisiana.  Neither he nor I knew what working on cleaning a pickle barrel would bring to him and his family.  He didn’t know that we learn to value ourselves based on the work we do and on the efforts of our family.  Wilson was always about a few quarters (responsibility) and making things work out for others, as well (giving back to his community).

From what I can remember, Wilson later inherited the pickle business and had five children with his wife (the owner’s daughter).  I am happy to report that a childhood friend of mine did so well in life.  He learned how to grow himself as a leader.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

17 thoughts on “Leadership: Cleaning a Pickle Barrel

  1. Jeff Blackwater

    Gen. Satterfield, this article along with all the others you’ve published on your own childhood jobs is just great. I only wish kids today would ‘get a job’ for the money, satisfaction, but also for the experience of learning how to get along with people and the value of a dollar.

  2. Don Snow

    Thanks, interesting, educational, and just good to hear about good old hard work! Cleaning a pickle barrel, I would have never guessed.

    1. ZB22

      Yep, this is what coming here is about. Spread the word, comment, do more for yourself and others. This is leadership in action.

  3. Max Foster

    I too had a friend like yours Gen. Satterfield. He was always being corrected by our teachers who were interested in us learning the basics (reading, writing, and arithmetic) but also in strict behavior of politeness and being quiet. He got into trouble often. He was also the one who was most physical and played baseball and did very well. He never went to college but worked in the oil fields for time and then decided to start a business selling whatever he could and eventually selling oil rig supplies. Now he is a very successful business man and family man. Great person to be around. He built what he had on dedication, being good to his family and friends, and being also a dedicated religious man. This is what success is about.

    1. Linux Man

      Another great story, Max. And thanks! This is what I like to read. Success is not always about making great choices but working hard and keeping your nose out of trouble.

      1. Karl J.

        … and also not blaming your failures on others like so many politicians do. Already, Joe Biden as President of the most powerful nation on earth, is blaming past Pres Trump for Biden not being able to implement his plan to “transform America.” Wow! Must be a socialist thing.

        1. Purse 5

          Biden, just another failed socialist. Another four years of failure is upon us. When will he begin his apology tour like Obama?

  4. Gil Johnson

    Excellent article, entertaining and helpful. Thanks, Gen. Satterfield. The story is uplifting. If you have more like this, I would appreciate you sharing them.

  5. Tom Bushmaster

    Good news that your good friend from childhood did so well, Gen. Satterfield. His story made my day. It is obvious that he worked hard to get where he was so successful. He had to grow himself.

  6. Forrest Gump

    Working in odd jobs as a kid, I too learned to appreciate a bit of independence and, along the way, learned the value of money, that people would respect me more, and also that it put a few “quarters” in my pocket as well. The value of such an upbringing cannot be overshadowed by the difficulties in life and I learned just enough to propel me into success as an adult.

    1. Greg Heyman

      Yep, and with minimum wages today, most kids don’t get a chance to work and learn. 👍

    2. Eric Coda

      Correct, Forrest. A new generation of young people are upon us, pampered, given trophies for failure, cuddled at every turn. They are privileged beyond anything we could imagine and we did it to them. They now are grown and expect their aging parents and folks like you and me to continue to care for them. With few exceptions this is the case.

      1. Ronny Fisher

        Ouch, sad but true. But also sadly, we see people continuing to support them like the new US President Joe Biden who promises a new wave of welfare. He is so caring! Geee.

        1. Maureen S. Sullivan

          Don’t be too surprised. Joe Biden will be a massive failure simply because he is president in name only (PINO). He’s a PINO. Hahahahahaha

  7. Army Captain

    Now this is another funny bit about you and your childhood friends learning to be better young men. Good for you.


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