Dave Ramsey burst onto the stage to thunderous applause. His all black jeans, black shirt, and black sport coat popped against the lime green backdrop. His energy popped more. He ran out of the back hopping, jumping and fist-pumping. Like a prize-fighter at the beginning of a title weight bout. Wahoo! he screamed. Yeeeaaaah, baby! he followed. We were in the crowd of business owners and entrepreneurs at the conference who went absolutely wild. Like teenage girls at a Taylor Swift concert.
But back to Dave.
For the first time that day, in the overcrowded conference room, someone lived so large, and so loud, that he made the stage look so small. Having exhausted their hands, hoots, and hollers, all 3,000 attendees sat down. Dave Ramsey waited. Just a second. For the muffled sound of chairs to fade. To let silence fill the space. Then, he gave a rousing speech about business, life and faith. He shared his own failures, empathized with everyone else’s and encouraged all of us to press on; but, ultimately, he impressed on us the importance of having a larger purpose for our businesses. A higher calling. A world-changing goal.
His message left us inspired. And we hope it can impact you too.
For Dave Ramsey and his business’s purpose is helping people get out of debt and build wealth, so they can live and give like no one else. For us, it’s helping photographers take photos they’re proud of and build successful businesses, so they can change their life and make a positive impact on others’ lives, too.
The hard part about running a business, as another conference speaker, Gary Vaynerchuk, explained, is that as small business owners, we tend to live in two worlds: the clouds and the dirt. The clouds are the theories, the dreams, the lofty and grandiose ideas. The mission statements. The vision statements. The core values. The “Let’s change lives!” mantras.
The dirt, on the other hand, is the day-to-day. The less fun part. The behind-the-scenes that nobody sees, but the stuff that keeps the business running. It’s not social media-worthy or glamorous in any way.
At Dave Ramsey’s company, it’s the shipping room. As a New York Times best-selling author who’s sold millions of copies of his books, Dave has people assigned full-time (full-time!) to putting books in padded envelopes and mailing them all around the world. It’s not peaches or roses, for sure. It’s mundane. Routine. The same thing over… and over… and over again. It’s the dirt, if you will.
But Dave Ramsey doesn’t see it that way.
During his talk, he shared that one of his favorite things to do is to walk down to the shipping room. To see the padded envelopes being stuffed. To see the books being loaded onto mail trucks. He tells his employees on the ground floor, “You’re not just packaging books today. You’re shipping hope. Impacting a life. Forever changing a family tree.” In other words, even though it might feel like you’re just doing the day-to-day dirt work. You’re doing the stuff we talk about in the clouds.
That was a powerful — powerful — realization for us. Because even though there will always be daily tasks and assignments in our business (and life) that feel like they don’t matter or make a difference, they do. After all, small steps toward big dreams matter. Little pieces of a larger puzzle that move us toward a higher purpose, matter. After all, even though God created the clouds, but He made us from the dust. That’s how we know that some of the best things in life start right there. From the ground up.
Are there times in your business or life when you feel like you’re in the dirt?
–– Maybe you’re a photographer who’s so tired, bored and burned out from editing thousands of photos that you just can’t look at the computer screen any longer. But what if we told you that the image you’re working on right now is the last one your client will ever have with her dad?
–– Maybe you’re a wedding planner, accommodating what feels like the millionth request from a bride that hasn’t been the easiest to work with over the past year, and you’ve almost had it. But what if we told you that all of your hard work and planning and patience to time everything just right and place everyone in just the right spot, de-stressed everyone just enough so that a broken family can be in a picture together, so that bride can have one photo with her mom and dad for the first time in a decade.
–– Maybe you’re a florist, and it’s the end of your season, and you don’t want to look at another flower for a month. But what if we told you that the bouquet you’re assembling for that wedding will take the front row seat of a parent who died too soon?
Maybe you’re not an entrepreneur. Maybe you’re a mom. The CEO of your household. One of the hardest jobs in the world. And maybe you’re watching Paw Patrol for the hundredth time and reading The Pout Pout Fish for the fiftieth, and those bottles that need to be rinsed and that pile of laundry staring you in the face make you feel like you’re failing today.
You’re not. You’re doing the most important job in the entire world. Because you’re making investments in the dirt that will allow your child to soar to the clouds. So embrace the everyday. Enjoy the rote, mundane and routine. Because if you look close enough, it’s anything but. You’re not packing books. You’re shipping hope.