"Don't hold the penny so close to your eye you can't see the dollar in front of it," is something my uncle Matt used to say to me all the time.
I was in my early 20's with nothing to my name. I was sleeping on an air mattress and living in a house that the bank could have taken away at any time. One day my uncle comes by and asks what I have been doing with my life. I told him I have been applying for jobs but haven't had any luck. I had made some bad decisions a few years ago and it wasn't making it any easier to get a job. I let him know I was excited about a good opportunity at the new Taco Bell that had just been built. "TACO BELL," he replied in the most disappointing tone. "Nah kid, you don't have to work at no Taco Bell. I'm going to teach you something that will change your life."
A few days went by before my uncle called and told me to go down to the hockey game with him. After a quick pregame at the bar across from what was back then The Bank of United Center it was time to work. I didn't know what to expect, but I did know I was tired of being broke. If this could change my life I would be willing to try. As we walked up the stairs the sound of thousands of Florida Panthers fans started to make me a little nervous. Once we reach the top of the stairs we see a man standing with his family holding up a stack of tickets. Hey was trying to sell them but my uncle knew he was no scalper. My uncle then began to tell him a story about how he worked with a rec center and he had a bunch of kids at the arcade across the street. He told him he wanted to get the kids in the game but he didn't want to spend a lot of money. I didn't know what was going on, there were no kids. I just kept my mouth shut and watched.
The man, feeling so moved by my uncle's story, gave him the stack of tickets for free. Then he walks inside with his family feeling good about himself for the good deed. As I watched my uncle count all his free hockey tickets I couldn't help but have my mind totally blown away. Twenty seven tickets and a few more deals later my uncle had over $600 in that matter of a couple hours. I thought to myself how many hours at Taco Bell would I have to work to make $600. Right then I decided I was going to be a ticket scalper.
One year, dozens of events, and a couple hands worth of road trips later I was struggling to figure out the game of ticket scalping. I would go to these events, walk for miles only to make enough money to help pay for gas, eat a meal, and barely pay my phone bill every month. I didn't understand what I was doing wrong. My uncle had made it look so easy. What was I doing wrong?
After many hours of contemplation I had to come to the realization that my problems stem from my own self doubt. My lack of confidence made me a lazy worker. How do I overcome the feeling of not believing in myself? The only way I was going to get over myself is to find the value in what I had to offer my potential clients. First thing that came to mind was my trustworthiness. I had never sold anyone a ticket that was fake or didn't work. I was reliable. I was at every major event and clients can use me for all their ticket needs. Finally I was more approachable than scalpers that had a more rough exterior. I had something to offer all I had to do is believe in myself.
Shortly after I built my newly found confidence, I began to excel. I was showing up to events and making more than I ever expected. I got to travel over the country. Building bonds and creating memories. I learned valuable lessons that helped me in all aspects of my life..
Sometimes we hold these feelings of self pity, self doubt, and lack of confidence in front of your eyes. It blinds you from seeing the value. It might be the value of a material thing, a service, might be the value of someone else, or it might be the value in yourself.
I remember when I realized how much the way my hair looked affected the way people perceived me.
My mother was my first barber. Now she is one of the sweetest and wisest people I know, but she is no barber.
The night before my first day of school she calls me to the kitchen. As I enter I see she has the chair ready and the clippers in her hand. By then I had already known the drill. I took my shirt off, hopped in the chair and sat as still as I could at 5 years old. My mother put the number two guard on the clipper and ran it over the top of my head. She then took it off and ran the zero up the side and the back of my head And just like that the haircut was over. Two on top, zero on the sides, no blend. I got out of the chair upset not because of the way I looked. I was itchy and she had pulled me away from my Super Nintendo. I had no concern for the way I looked.
The first day of school was upon me. I had everything I needed. Ninja Turtle lunch box with thermos. New clothes, fresh sneakers, and a haircut straight out of Mom’s Barbershop & Kitchen. Little did I know I wasn't prepared for the cold world that can be kindergarten. The cool kids had a field day with my haircut. They asked me why I had a bowl cut. They called me names like Bowl Master and Cereal Head. One girl asked me if my parents couldn't afford to bring me to the barbershop. They didn't notice the Air Jordan's on my feet or the Tommy Hilfiger outfit fresh out of Macy’s. They couldn't see past my haircut and because of that they couldn't see the light that was glowing within me. I went home that day and told my mom she could never cut my hair again. From now on I will be going to the barbershop with my father.
About two weeks went by and my father was ready to get his haircut. I knew this was my chance. I waited by the front door with my jacket on. I wasn't going to let him leave without me. He must have seen how serious I was because he decided to take me with him. Walking into the barbershop the first thing I noticed was the smell. talc powder and clubman after shave filled the air. There was music playing, sports on the tv, and a stack of Playboys I wasn't allowed to touch. The men at the shop argued about which baseball team was better and complained about how their wives made them do things around the house. I instantly understood that the barbershop was more than a place where you go get your haircut. It was a place where men could let loose. They can speak their mind and vent about anything that might be troubling them. And then finally it was my turn.
Sitting in the chair for the first time was very unsettling. I did not know this man from a hole in the wall. I was about to trust him with my hair, which I learned was tied so close to what people would think of me. What did I have to lose? He put the cape around me and proceeded to cut my hair. First thing I noticed was he took so much longer than my mother. Although I was itchy and uncomfortable, I was committed. Just when I thought the haircut was over he pulled out a machine I had never seen before. He used the machine, which I later learned is a trimmer, to go around my hairline. After that he unbuttons the cape and before I can jump out the chair I feel a warm sensation on the back of my neck. It was hot. I looked to the barber to see what he was doing and I noticed the razor in his hand. I had never seen one before and it frightened me, but I couldn't look afraid in front of all the guys at the shop. He proceeded to shave the back of my neck. After he sprays alcohol into his hand and pats the back of my neck. My neck was on fire but only for a few seconds. A little talc powder and I was ready to go back to school.
The next day I walked into school with a newly found confidence. I waited all day for a compliment that never came. However I did notice that no one made fun of me or ignored what I had to say. That day I became one of the cool kids. Not because the haircut changed who I was but instead it allowed everyone else to look past my appearance and see who I really was inside. That is what a good haircut should do for you. Make you shine so bright from within it's hard to see what's on the outside.