An Inspirational Story: One Mop and One Bucket

What’s your idea of an environment that breeds success? How about an inner city upbringing with all the fixings– single parent household, substandard education, drugs on every corner, and sleeping on the floor to avoid stray bullets that enter the window? That environment is more likely to be associated with preparing people for jail or violent death than for real world success. Nonetheless, this is the life story of one man who stepped right over all the obstacles to make it happen. We’ll call him Jerry.

Jerry grew up in the ghettos of North Memphis, TN, a place where money was always something you needed, rarely something you had, and never something you had enough of. He was taught to pray for survival, but nobody spoke of actually getting out. In fact, it seemed that everyone around him accepted that this miserable life of lack was their fate. Jerry, on the other hand, had high hopes for so much more.

Poorly educated by inner city public schools, lacking financial resources, and surrounded by discouraging people who didn’t believe in dreams, Jerry decided to start his own cleaning service. He used what little he had, which was one mop and one bucket. He asked people to let him clean their offices and he convinced them that he would beat their expectations. He received his fair share of “hell no” responses, but he soon had so many yeses that he needed to bring someone aboard to help him. He had two mops and two buckets.

Time and time again Jerry’s family and friends reminded him that his idea was stupid. They took every opportunity to tell him that he would be breaking his back to clean floors forever, but he wouldn’t make any real money and he’d never get out of the ghetto. After hearing the pessimistic points of view hundreds of times, something strange started to happen. Jerry became extremely frustrated with his progress and started to lose his drive. He began to wonder if his friends and family were right. Maybe he would be better off doing something else.

Before throwing in the towel, Jerry decided to speak with the only positive person he knew—his minister. His life was changed by the words that stuck out in his mind from that meeting: “Sometimes you must choose between your dreams and the people who seek to pull you away from your dreams.” Jerry realized that the negative influences in his surroundings were clouding his judgment, so he made some tough decisions. He completely cut communication with some people, while putting his foot down with others. He made it very clear to family and friends that he wouldn’t be coming around if they insisted on putting him down and discouraging his efforts. “If you don’t support what I’m doing, just don’t mention it at all,” he said.

After putting the people around him in their places, Jerry refocused his attention on the goal at hand. He worked better and harder than ever, feeling good and wearing a bright smile as he cleaned. Within no time, he began getting an increase in compliments on his performance. Although flattery didn’t change his financial situation, it felt great to be appreciated and he was motivated to keep up the good work.

Just as Jerry became so immersed in enjoying things the way they were that he no longer worried about when they would get better, special requests and referrals began to flow in. People were so drawn to the whistling, smiling cleaning man that they asked if he could fit them into his schedule. Always happy for new business, Jerry accepted one opportunity after another. Success was almost coming faster than he could grasp it.

Jerry is now running a successful cleaning service with 57 employees. And it all started with what? One mop and one bucket. If you feel like you’re incapable of success for some reason, then you are. But this is only true for as long as you think it is. The Universe will support whatever belief you have about yourself, whether good or bad. So, take inventory on your life today and realize that whatever you have, whoever you are, and wherever you’re from IS good enough.