Recently we had a maple tree in our back yard that needed to be taken down. It was a beautiful tree that unfortunately was dying and in jeopardy of falling on our deck and house. So the owner of our house arranged for a tree trimmer to come take it down, and as I’m a proud owner of a chain saw and eager to advance my knowledge of how to use it safely and effectively I looked forward to the opportunity to watch and learn from a professional.
The tree trimmer was a father and son team—the father with twenty years of experience, and the son as the student. There was one sizable piece of this tree that had grown over our deck toward the house, and I was intensely curious to see how they would remove the tree while avoiding the obstacles.
I was not disappointed. The father, the master tree trimmer, donned a climbing apparatus, strapped spikes to his boots, hooked a chain saw to his belt, along with rope and a small handsaw and ascended the tree. High up in the tree he formed a complex matrix of rope, using the natural shape and angle of the tree, cut wedges, handled his chainsaw as though it were a part of him and artfully dropped large segments of the tree into one singular location of unobstructed lawn. Branches hanging over the deck and house were roped off and leveraged, cut and swung over the open lawn before being carefully lowered on to the growing pile of tree segments. It was art in motion.
Before the tree trimmer left he came to check out with me. I thanked him for his work and out of curiosity I asked him what he typically charges for a job of this nature. This is when this master of trees and dangerous cutting machinery turned from a journeymen craftsman who worked with care and confidence, to a small and insignificant laborer who felt the need to apologize for his compensation by giving me an explanation of how his rates are lower than the others and how he doesn’t look to make a lot, but to “just make some extra money to pay my bills” he said.
I think most people (myself included) fall into this trap of apologizing for our worth when it comes to asking for money. This tree trimmer’s rate for less than two hours of work was $500, which to me seams a paltry sum for such highly skilled craftwork, which is also the deadliest profession in the country.
In the work that Maria and I do we often struggle with the feeling that what we do is so subtle and obvious that it’s of little value, and yet it has the power to positively transform lives and organizations. What’s more, when we begin to see the TRUE value of the work we do, we also see the true intrinsic value of the work that people do all around us. It’s in this space that compensation becomes joyful and freeing, and it’s in this way that we can ask for what we’re worth with boldness and at the same time a lightness of heart.