Spray painting dead bushes green was the primary aspect of one of my first jobs. I was the only female on a university’s all-male landscaping crew. Because I was a girl, they were unwilling to let me to do what I really wanted to do…cut grass. Thanks to the mowing lessons I received from my professional landscaping cousin, celebrity designer Duane Draughon, I was well equipped to not just cut, but manicure the coveted fields of grass on that campus. Instead, I was tasked with painting dead bushes green so they looked alive when VIPs came to campus.
One of the guys took mercy on me, snuck me away from my spray painting duties, handed over his lawn mower and said “here’s your chance now prove yourself.” When I finished, that lawn looked like it was suited for the White House – perfect lines with contrasting rows of light vs. dark, precise edges bordering the parameter, not a blade of grass was out of place. The quality was undeniable and so were my skills. From that day forward, cutting the grass was my job. Today, that entire crew is run by…a girl.
That experience taught me to give the underdog a chance, debunk the stereotypes, and prove that you earned the job not just for your sake, but for those following in your footsteps. It also taught me a valuable lesson in innovation. Every problem can be solved with ingenuity, creative thinking, and sometimes a little bit of spray paint.