When I was a kid I took my dad’s bicycle apart – and never figured out how to put it back together. Today, seventy years later, the wheels, handle bar, and seat probably remain exactly where I hid them – under the house I grew up in.
Recently, I shared this story with my friend Ron. That’s funny,” he said. “I did exactly the same thing. The third time it only took me twenty minutes to put the bicycle back together again.” Did I mention that Ron is an engineer? A few years ago, he replaced the foundation of his house all by himself.
For good reasons, I did not become an engineer. I became a tax attorney and specialized in tax-advantaged investments.
Isn’t adding value the story of our lives? A pile of bicycle parts has little value. But an assembled bicycle has great value. That’s what our jobs should be about – finding the best way we can to add value. That’s why dinner at a restaurant costs more than the same ingredients at home. We’re paying for the expertise and added value the chef brings to the table (pun intended).
In a personal relationship we also add value. At home I shop for the groceries (today I often use Instacart), and Daveen washes the dishes. I like grocery shopping, but I hate cleaning up. When I was a kid I found that if I “accidentally” dropped and broke enough dishes my parents stopped asking me to wash them. Daveen and I both think we have a good deal.
This intersection of attitude and aptitude is where each of us can add the most value. In an ideal world we would each figure out what we enjoy doing, and what we’re good at. Hopefully, those are the same.
At the end of our conversation I made a deal with Ron. I’ll help him with his income tax return, but he won’t ask me to help him replace the foundation under his next house.