Red, Ripe Tomatoes and the Eiffel Tower

MzDOmqgIt is tomato season on Johns Island.  I remember all of those hot summers I picked tomatoes to help my daddy with incidental expenses during my college years.  Here is an excerpt from my book, Bare Feet to High Heels, that reminds me of timeless life-lessons that helped me many years ago and still reminds me of simple success principles.

It’s hard to believe that leaning over picking tomatoes in a hot Johns Island tomato field eventually got me to the top of the Eiffel Tower. A long journey made simple by five principles—truths I must share.

This chapter will not make you laugh; it will make you think. Enjoy a bucket filled with vine-ripened, staked, irrigated, unculled down-home wisdom.

My journey to the top of the Eiffel Tower began in my own backyard. I started a wholesale tomato business that helped me to earn money for college in addition to teaching me timeless success principles. The long, hot hours I spent working in my Daddy’s tomato fields still have an impact on my life.

Hard Work

Early in the morning, I dragged myself out of bed to fill my tomato orders. One of the most important things to do was to beat the heat. As soon as the dew was dry on the tomato stems, I picked as many tomatoes as possible. To fill the remaining orders, I crawled around in 1,000 lb. wooden crates and rescued the tomatoes that would be culled at the shed. Whether I was working on the truck or in the field itself, the work was hard. Each day I mentally prepared myself for long hours of hot, demanding work.

Go the Extra Mile

After my orders were filled, I took the tomatoes home and washed off all of the fertilizer. This made the fruit look shiny and delicious. I did not have to go to all that trouble, but I discovered folks appreciate attention to detail.

Be Consistent

As I delivered my orders, there was one man who was hard to please. I thought if I put the best tomatoes on top, he would buy the boxes. Did he surprise me! He did not care what the tomatoes looked like on the top; he wanted to see the last tomato on the very bottom. Just like that bucket of tomatoes, people stay successful when they are consistent in their personal and professional lives.

Show People What They Want

One produce man who represented a large grocery store had never ordered a single tomato from me. After repeatedly calling him, I paid him a visit. “Mr. Jones, I want you to see what you have been missing,” I said with a sweet grin. With that comment, I showed him the biggest tomatoes I could find in the field. “I’ll take 150 pounds!” he exclaimed. I showed him what he wanted. Did he need those tomatoes? No, but he did want them. Need equals desperation. Desire is a powerful force because it is connected to emotion.

Remember How You Got There

I had worked so hard over the past few years in the tomato fields, Daddy decided to reward me with the chance to study music and art in Europe for six weeks. Toward the end of my trip, I was in Paris standing on the top of the Eiffel Tower in awe of the view. I remember saying, “Well, I am standing on the top of the Eiffel Tower, but one week from today, I will be leaning over picking tomatoes.”

I was right. I was not too proud to go back to those hot tomato fields. After all, that job got me to the top of the Eiffel Tower, on the Dean’s List in College, down a runway of the Miss America Pageant, and the list goes on.

Did you find these principals helpful? I offer motivational speeches on self improvement and self development. Contact me today to have me speak at your next conference or event!

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