Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it away from him. An investment of knowledge always pays the best interest.”

When I was 22, my dad died. I had just graduated from college and had planned on returning in the fall to get a master’s degree and teach freshman speech to put me through. But my father made me the executor of his estate, so I had to stay home during the fall semester to fulfill that commitment.

Daddy had been in the real estate business. Knowing I would need a job when I returned to graduate school in January, I decided to attend real estate school almost as a lark.

I got my real estate license, started graduate school, and began working in the real estate business during the spring semester. I spent four years in residential real estate and earned my broker’s license. When I finished my master’s degree, I decided never to return to the real estate business again.

But all the things I learned!

Even though I knew real estate would not be my life’s work, I worked at it full-time. And while I worked it, I studied real estate.

I studied business.

I studied people.

I studied marketing.

I studied, and I studied hard.

I asked experts for advice on becoming a marketing specialist in a fine housing addition.

I somehow found the phone number of the most successful residential real estate agent in the United States and scheduled a call with him through his secretary. How generous he was with his time and knowledge!

I was all in, and not only did I learn a lot, but I even had a few adventures as well.

One night I was hauling around real estate investors in my car. While we found ourselves hemmed in at a stoplight, a guy in the vehicle behind us got out of his truck, brandishing a gun. I burned rubber and lurched my car through the red light to drive us to the nearest police station. I was going to be pulled over by the police or pull up to the police, but I was determined policemen would get involved!

Ideas came to me that worked: like mailing information to the parents of every student at my college on investment homes for college-student zoning. This idea vaulted me to the top of the company sales chart and led to the purchase of my first home.

I also had some ideas that failed. Like having my first home decrease in value by 30% after one year during a recession!

Oh well, you win some, and you lose some.

Write that down! I learned that too.

I woke up one morning to find myself appointed the chairman of West Texas Realtors’ political action committee. At that time, I had no knowledge of the process. Still, I learned a lot, including this: not all politicians will tell you what you want to hear, which is actually pretty comforting.

Because of all the political action I was required to engage in, I got to take my future wife on some cool dates. One of our first dates was attending a “picnic” at the farm of our local congressman. While there, we met the Speaker of the House, House Majority Leader, and House Majority Whip of the U. S. House of Representatives. That was kind of neat since it was not unusual to see them on TV. (I told Judy, “Stick with me, and you’ll run around with the big dogs.” Had she believed me, it would’ve been the most inaccurate prophecy of all time.)

I hope you are still with me and have indulged me in this trip through memory lane. These stream-of-consciousness memories have poured out without any effort. That indicates how profound the impact was on my life. This leads me to the point I want to make today. Whatever field you are in, don’t negate the value it has on what is to come. Anything that you learn well can improve the value of your future.

I have observed many people get law degrees who go to fields vastly different from the law. But the skills they acquired in law school and law practice empowered them to serve effectively in other areas. I’ve witnessed attorneys selected to serve as presidents of universities, CEOs of corporations, and presidents of endowment funds because they could turn their experiences into viable connectors to other fields.

You may not stay at your job forever. As a matter of fact, there is statistically a good chance that you will change jobs or even careers in the future. Yet please squeeze everything you can out of what you’re doing now. Study your job. Seek to find ways that you can do it better. Find out everything you can about the history of your work. Go to the internet, go to the library and discover what you can. Little by little, it will set you apart and increase the demand for your services.

Learn about where you are, even if you don’t plan to stay there. It will help you when you get to where you are going. As the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might….”

 

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash