There are several occupations that attract men and women who claim they would work in them for nothing. What aspiring Bernadette Peters would question the pay if she were offered a role in a Broadway musical? Is there a culinary school graduate who would turn down a chance to work alongside innovative restaurateur Jose Andres even if the job offered was simply plating tapas for minimum wage? Wouldn’t starving wannabe Georgia O’Keefes and Pablo Picassos find a way to feed themselves before retiring their paint brushes? And, would salary be an issue for a potential Yo-yo Ma if given the opportunity to play the cello at Carnegie Hall?
In a “Cosmopolitan” magazine interview with the late Malcom Forbes, he said, “If you are driven enough, you will start small and grow big. Probably more important than money, or even determination, is the ability to be totally consumed by something. You eat, drink and sleep it, because you love it and you want it so much. When you’re goal-oriented, the hours of the day don’t matter.”
My first position out of DesignSchool paid half of what I previously earned as a receptionist in a law office. As if that was not demoralizing enough for this newbie interior designer, I was further humbled twice a day when I lined up to punch a time clock like a factory worker. Nevertheless I was thankful for the experience of working and learning from the seasoned professionals in the design department of the venerable furniture store, W. & J. Sloane. How many times since then have hopeful interior decorators told me that they wanted to get in this business so badly they would do it for nothing. Money will follow when you treat the work you do not as work but, as Picasso described painting, serious play.
Besides the contentment we receive from pursuing our intended vocation is the satisfaction in knowing that we have enhanced the lives of others with our art, music, food, interior design, etc. Jose Andres said that he has an abiding gratitude for being able to do something that makes people happy. Sally Giar, a Decorating Den Interiors franchise owner put it this way, “It’s my clients that make my business so personally rewarding and fun. Décor and design are a wonderful refuge in a harsh world, and a smile on my customer’s face assures me that I have created a pleasing space for her.”
You know you have made it in your chosen field of endeavor when you can’t wait to wake up in the morning and go to work. That’s when work is not work.