Jim FitzgeraldA former college roommate is running for President of the United States. Several other schoolmates earn well into seven figures. They can hire all the domestic help they could ever need. Meanwhile, this graduate of Harvard law finds himself teaching math at a public high school and earning peanuts.

But he’s ok with that.

The teacher was the main speaker at this year’s baccalaureate ceremony at Madeira High School. It is a wonderful, inspiring speech.

The reason the teacher is OK with his lot in life has to do with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s theory of compensation. According to this high school math teacher, Emerson believed “for every loss you suffer, there is an equal and opposite gain – you just have to find it.

For this Harvard-educated lawyer turned teacher, he gave up riches but gained much in return – a rich, meaningful life, the opportunity to watch kids struggle through adversity and achieve, the opportunity to coach youngsters in high school sports, something he loves doing.

I see the compensation idea at work in my and Katie’s life as well.We may have given up the stability of corporate life for the roller coaster ride of entrepreneurship, but we have gained so much.

We are building a legacy by establishing a strong business with a solid local reputation for quality. The plans we execute have a profound and immediate effect on our business and our lives. We have learned so much about how business works. Katie helps homeowners acquire the home of their dreams. And I get to design and implement marketing programs that result in solid business results for us.

We’ve met some absolutely wonderful clients. And we work with honest, caring, skilled installers and have come to appreciate, in this day of software programs and glitzy Web sites, how marvelous the work of a skilled craftsman is. Through our networking activities, we have expanded our circle of friends and acquaintances. Just the other day I realized I know four lawyers. We have a network of sources in many areas of business, from banking to law to automotive repair and so on. When we were in the corporate world, our circle was much smaller.

As I read this teacher’s wonderful baccalaureate speech I remembered the days when, much younger, I believed a fulfilling life was more than a good job at a good income. I remembered that a fulfilling life was achieved by doing significant work that you loved. Would we ever go back to corporate life? Perhaps, but it wouldn’t be our preferred choice. Emerson’s theory of compensation has resulted in a much richer life for us.

And that’s how a Harvard-educated lawyer turned math teacher and coach explained why we are in the flooring business.

If you want to read his wonderful speech in its entirety, click here.

Jim Fitzgerald is the secretary/treasurer of Floor Coverings International, Cincinnati East, Inc. If you live in the Cincinnati metro area and are looking for expert, unbiased help in choosing the type of flooring that is best for you, please call our 24-hour appointment desk at 513-729-7499. If you are in another part of the country, there is probably a Floor Coverings International near you. Go here and click the Book today! button to find a location in your area.