When I was in high school, I was determined to go on a marching band trip with my friends, but I needed money.

So I decided to sell Avon products by going door-to-door and calling on my neighbors. Pretty soon my basement was filled with perfumes, creams, and makeup brushes galore.

This was my first sales job, and I was a mediocre beauty consultant. I made some money, but not as much as I could’ve because I hadn’t yet learned the skills necessary for succeeding in direct sales. I also didn’t know how to manage inventory, customers, or any of the the other aspects of running a home-based business.

Eventually, I earned enough to join my friends on the marching band to Mexico. But more importantly, I learned a lot…

When I became a computer consultant, manager, and later went into business for myself, I was able to build upon the basic skills that I’d been exposed to during my time selling beauty products. From there, I was able to develop further skills in navigating business conversations and dealing with the mechanics of an ordering and delivery system, which are helpful no matter what business you are in.

My first business development experience was also a personal and professional development experience. I had to grow through some of my shyness. I had to do things way outside my comfort zone. I had to take on financial risk to buy sample products before knowing if I could sell them. I had to grow up a little more to be able to succeed.

At the end of my Avon work, I was thrilled to have accomplished what I set out to do, and later, the skills I built became a foundation for the many layers of my professional achievement.

Each day when you go to work, you actually have the potential to earn not one, but three paychecks. Here are how each one of them fits in with my story:

1. Financial Paycheck —The monetary compensation you receive for your work, typically in the form of funds you can put in the bank

While selling Avon, I made enough money to pay for my marching band trip with the proceeds!

2. Emotional Paycheck — Your feelings of satisfaction from making a difference, enjoying your colleagues, or any other emotional reward from your work

I was proud that I did what I set out to do, even though it was really hard. And I also felt good about making new neighborhood friends and solving my client’s challenges.

3. Development Paycheck — The new abilities you grow and develop while doing the work. Sometimes the growth is self-directed and intentionally, and other time it comes from unexpected lessons. Either way, you grow the skill sets and mindsets to further your career, and improve your abilities to influence, collaborate and lead which you can take with you wherever you go. You can apply these skills at home, in your community, or at work. And you get to decide how you will grow from your work, if at all, and therefore how big your Third Paycheck becomes.

I developed skills in inventory management, appointment setting, follow through, customer relations, sales, and self management— all things I would go on to use later in my life.

Long after I was no longer a representative for Avon, I came to appreciate the empowerment opportunity this was for me. I began to realize how it helped me build confidence to speak up and keep moving forward even when my first attempt failed. The growth mindset that is so important to entrepreneurial success, began to be developed early from my Avon experience.

This experience helped me learn at an early age: Fail small so you can achieve big.

Failing small lets you learn the lessons and develop the skills that you need to achieve big. While it may not feel great in the moment, you can leverage the learning to grow your Third Paycheck and transform your life at work. Working on your Third Paycheck frequently ends up enhancing the other two!

The ability to learn is the ultimate competency. Learning to learn is the most flexible capability you can have.

For a little help clarifying where you want to focus your development, check out my new book, The Conscious Professional: Transform Your Life at Work.

Jessica Hartung

Jessica Hartung is a partner, coach, and guide for those leveling-up their personal professional leadership, their teams, and their communities to a better future.

Jessica has a passion for inspiring and preparing people to grow from their work to improve their lives. In 1998, she founded Integrated Work, a consulting firm that brings top-notch professional development to mission-driven leaders, while being a learning laboratory for innovative work practices.

Jessica provides self-directed professional development tools to leaders at all levels striving to create positive impact.

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