[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.