There used to be this guy that worked in a bakery. It was a small shop in a small neighborhood. He had owned the bakery for several years, and had slowly developed a large following in the town, inasmuch as baker can develop a following.Â He was he go to guy for all of the birthday parties, wedding celebrations and all other gatherings of friends and family that required any kind of bread product. He was the man.
It wasn’t always that way. When he first moved into town, he didn’t have a nickel to his name. He moved into town back during the transitional time in the local economy, when the city was just starting out. The city had been a small bedroom community for many manufacturing plants in the next town over. Many people that worked in the plants made their home in this small town.
The baker, who back then wasn’t yet a baker, moved to town in hopes of finding a good job in one of the factories. He had just finished six years in the service, and was hoping to apply his skills to one of the many technical based manufacturing plants in the area.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out quite as well as he’d hoped. Just when he moved into town, the economy suffered a series of serious setbacks. Jobs moving overseas, a significant drop in demand for the manufactured products. Many people lost their jobs, and a lot of secondary businesses that depended on those people simply went out of business. It’s hard to stay in business when nobody can afford to buy your product.
So this ex military man was in a bit of a tough spot. He had saved enough money to get him by for a couple months, but he had really been depending on the source of income from one of the factories. That was his first lesson.
Never depend on a source of income that isn’t yours yet.
So he did a quick inventory of his skills. In the service he had been assigned to the maintenance department on large carriers. He was pretty good at fixing things, small things, big things. Anything mechanical, he could fix it.
That is what led him to his first job fixing the bread machine. He had always loved sourdough bread, and one day he happened into a bread shop to buy a loaf, or half a loaf. The owner was very sad, because his large mixing machine wasn’t working properly. He explained to the ex military man that the part was on order, but wasn’t expected for at least a week. He was beside himself, because without the mixing machine, he would lose what little business he had left. That’s when the ex military man recognized the second lesson.
Always have a back up plan.
Of course, the bread shop owner didn’t have a back up plan, and was exposed to significant risk. The ex-military man, his heart set on eating some sourdough bread, decided to offer his services. He wasn’t doing anything, and maybe the shop owner would give him some free bread. He suggested the trade, and the shop owner quickly agreed.
It didn’t take long for the shop owner to realize what a resource the military man was. The shop owner was getting old, and he knew an opportunity when he saw one. He had worked in this same shop for almost twenty years, and all the equipment was very old. If he could convince this ex military man to be his repairman, he could stay in business a few years longer. So they struck a bargain.
The ex military man would help out around the shop, and repair and keep all the equipment running smoothly. The bread shop owner would pay him a modest salary, and give him all the bread he could eat. Both the ex-military man the bread shop owner noticed the third lesson at the same time.
Always be open to new opportunities.
It didn’t take long for the military man to realize he had a love for bread. He began experimenting with different recipes, different cooking methods, and more and more people began coming to the shop to eat the delicious bread made by this ex sailor.
It didn’t take long for the townspeople to forget about his military past and see him only as the baker’s apprentice. The baker himself began to plan his retirement, certain that his apprentice would take over.
And when he did retire, and the bakers apprentice became the baker, it was a smooth a transition as you could imagine.Â There was a big celebration, a farewell party of sorts (although the retired baker still lived in the town and was president of the Lions Club), and the apprentice became the baker.
And maybe he realized it, maybe he didn’t, but here’s the fourth lesson:
Sometimes you find your niche in life, but more often than not, your niche will find you.