Today I asked myself what would have happened if Bill Gates would have taken some bad career advice and just gotten a job at McDonalds rather than starting Microsoft. I’m picturing Bill Gates wearing a McDonald’s uniform, including the stupid hat, standing behind the counter at McDonalds, ready to take your order with a smile. This is one of the more amusing images that have ever run through my mind. As an entrepreneur, my brain considers some wild “what if” questions to learn from.
There is something I have to remind myself of on the rare occasion that I eat fast food. It is that if the people working there were competent, they would not be working there. Something will happen, like getting soggy fries, at which point I’ll say to myself, “What type of an idiot could miss the fact that the fries are soggy?” Or, maybe the person at the cash resister just cannot figure out all of the complicated buttons on “order-takey-thingy” and I’ll start to get impatient. At those times I have to remind myself that if they were competent, they would not be working at McDonalds. Competent people are doing things like landing airplanes and getting paid much, much more.
At one point I actually figured out the costs to have a completely competent staff at McDonalds. The cost of my double quarter pounder meal would go up to about $11.97, at which point I wouldn’t buy it. Well, in all honesty, I probably would go just once. Just one time I would like to get things perfect. No ice in the drink. No onions on the burger. Maybe I could get fries that were pulled out of the fryer exactly when the buzzer went off leaving them cooked perfectly. Service with a smile. I know, I ask for too much.
Today I asked myself what would have happened if Bill Gates would have picked the McCareer path. The guy is competent and takes great pride in what he does. We can assume that he would have been a manager in no time. Once he was a manager, I would bet that his location would be one of the cleanest and most efficient restaurants in the chain. Being that he would do such a good job compared to all the idiots around him, he would no doubt get lots of positive reinforcement as to how good he was at his McJob. The saddest thing would be that all of the positive reinforcement would motivate him to stay at that job and prevent him from becoming the billionaire he was capable of being. I am sure in that case his parents would have been just as proud of him. His mother would have loved him just as much. He just wouldn’t have any money.
Just because someone is the best at shoveling horse manure doesn’t mean that they are living up to their potential. In fact, it is the opposite that is true. Anyone who is perfect at what they do isn’t pushing themselves. Consider Bill Gates. He would have been perfectly capable of running a McDonalds, while on the other hand starting Microsoft looked more like a train wreck that he somehow made it through. That is what entrepreneurship is all about. Surviving the train wrecks you create until you lean enough from the experiences to build wealth.
We all know about that underappreciated and underpaid secretary who does all the work and believes that she could never pull it off on her own. She is wrong. How about the starving artist who believes that no one else could love his work? He is wrong also. How about you? What is your passion? Are you a creative person working a not so creative job? Has your self doubt lead you to a life of being good at shoveling horse manure? Just because you’re good at what you do now doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be doing it.
It may be time to start looking at things from a different perspective. It may be that you are limiting yourself because you are good at your current mediocre task. What if there is a billionaire hiding inside you? Do you ever feel like the life you have now may not be the life you were meant to live? If so, it may be time for you to explore the perspective of people who are getting everything they want out of life.
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