I am twenty-eight years old, and can constantly be heard saying (or sighing), “What am I doing with my life?” The last time I said it, while grading 6th grade paragraphs, a memory of Farrah Gray flashed into the forefront of my mind.
A few years ago, I learned about Farrah Gray, a young black male who became a millionaire at fourteen years young. At the tender age of six, he started to sell rocks (not street slang for crack, but actually stone rocks), which he found in his neighborhood and later painted, to his neighbors as book ends and door stoppers. By fourteen, his food company, Farr Out Foods, made a profit of 1.5 million dollars. In his mid twenties, his publishing company, Farrah Gray Publishing, released the popular “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, which a few years ago topped 1 billion dollars in sales.
While his entrepreneurial rise and success are impressive, the three questions that he claims can lead one to success stand out the most.
1. What comes easy to you but harder to other people?
I truly believe that each one of us has a unique talent that we are able to “do” with ease. This question is harder to answer than it seems. Many people, for example, think that they are talented singers. However, American Idol has made plenty of money from episodes that showcase the rejected contestants. Be real with yourself. Dig deep for the answer. And be confident and reassured that you have a talent.
2. What would you do for years and never have to get paid for it?
I once heard a story of a janitor, who attended one of Farrah Gray’s workshops, and confronted Mr. Gray after the show. The janitor told of all the hard work that he had done over the course of his life and complained of the little financial success he had attained. The janitor, like many in this country, ascribed to the Horatio Alger story of “pulling oneself up one’s boot straps.” In other words, hard work will automatically lead to success. Mr. Gray posed this question to the janitor, and without hesitation the janitor responded, “Painting.” Mr. Gray asked him when was the last time he painted, and the janitor could not answer. Within a year, Mr. Gray received a letter from the janitor, who had recently sold one of his paintings for more money than he earned as a janitor in two months. The janitor was fully utilizing his talent, following his passion, and the universe rewarded him for his pursuit.
3. How can you be of service?
In America, service seemingly does not mesh well with our capitalist society. For example, I have a friend who is resigned to being “poor” because they would like to be a civil rights lawyer, a sector that does not charge enormous billable hours fees. It is commonly perceived that those who work in the service of others do not flourish financially. The non-for-profit sector is ripe with service orientated ventures, but is perceived to be barren in terms of capital gain. While this may be true in some cases, there are also those service orientated companies and workers who are doing well financially. The larger issue becomes what does one classify as success? Is it money? Happiness? Helping others? Fulfilling a passion? Does it have to be one or can it be a combination of many? You will have to answer that question for yourself.