Yesterday, while doing some yard work I went into the back yard to handle some massive overgrowth in our lawn. Completely disgusted with our yard, and utterly frustrated with the growth of the grass that my push mower just could not cut, I decided that the yard would just have to wait a little while so I could focus on the front of my house.
My 12 year old daughter, Rebekah, had other plans. Always the entrepreneur, she actually offered to cut the grass for a mere $10. To which I promptly replied “thanks, but no thanks”. I was of the opinion that the grass was maybe a $3 job since I had already cut some of it and the lawn is not that spread out.
So Rebekah sweetened the deal a little bit, offering to not only cut the grass but straighten up the patio. After much back and forth over price and what the work would cover for that price, we agreed on the following:
- Cut the grass
- Clean up all dog poop
- Clean up all trash
- Straighten up all patio furniture and toys
- Clean up the tan bark areas
- Sweep the patio and sidewalks
- Do it all within three hours (from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM)
And the cost? $15, as agreed upon by the two of us, which to Rebekah was a bargain and to me was a steal.
So while I was out in the front yard working up a sweat she was out in the backyard earning her money. And you know what? For her, I discovered, money is an excellent incentive.
She managed to accomplish everything on the list of things to do (with the exception of cutting the grass completely, but this was no fault of hers). And she did it in two hours, not three. I was so impressed by her work ethic, her focus and her quality of work that I actually paid her $20 for doing such a fine job.
Looking back on this, I know there is a lesson in this. I could have asked the kids, all of the kids – you know, the ones that made that mess? – to clean the yard they helped dishevel. And I would have saved myself $20 in the process. But Rebekah, who has no problem working for her earnings approached me with a proposition of services rendered in exchange for payment. And ultimately it was that payment that drive her to accomplish such an impressive amount of quality in her work.
So if I take anything away from this, outside a clean yard of course, it will be that with the proper incentive, almost anyone can accomplish almost anything.