He was a remarkable individual. In addition to being a composer and piano virtuoso, Ignace Jan Paderewski (1860-1941), was also a former Prime Minister of Poland.
Following a command performance on piano before Queen Victoria, she exclaimed, “Sir, you are a genius.”
Alluding to all of the effort required to earn such adoration, Paderewski said, “Perhaps, your Majesty, but before that I was a drudge.”
Webster: drudge - a person who does hard, menial, tedious work
This story reminds me of a successful small business owner. People see the business doing well. The owner, as seen in the community, appears to be prosperous. Everything coming up roses, right? This must be a really smart person!
Here’s the real story: Five, maybe ten years ago, the establishment associated with this entrepreneur may not have even existed. Going in and out of that business thefirst couple of years, you would have had the privilege of meeting its first janitor, first truck driver, first receptionist, first inventory clerk, first accountant, and first salesperson. No, you didn’t make a bunch of new friends - just one. They’re all the same person: our genius small business owner, and first CEO.
Of course intelligence contributes to success in business. But I don’t know any bright and successful small business owners who don’t know what the Prime Minister meant about being a drudge.
Next time you compliment a small business owner on his or her business’ success, don’t be surprised if the response sounds like, “Perhaps, your Majesty, but before that I was a drudge.”