Why I Wash My Own Car

Grant Cardone doesn’t wash his Rolls-Royce. These are his own words. This is not to say that he’s driving around in a filthy mess. Far from it, if you know Grant. What he means is that he doesn’t use his own hands to wash his car. In his view, it is better to pay someone to do chores like cooking, gardening, or ironing, so that you can free up your time to engage in revenue generating activities. I completely agree, and this is something that I teach to my students. That said, I also wash my own car with my own hands and I do that for a very specific reason:

I wash my own car to stay humble.

Let me explain. When I was in college, like most young adults in school, I had to find work to earn some extra cash. I ended up on a car lot one morning in 30-degree weather. I spent the next couple of months working on this lot while, at the same time, flunking my way through what turned out to be my last semester of school ever.

I’ll never forget those months on the lot cleaning other people’s cars and freezing my butt off in what felt like Arctic temperatures. Despite the frigid cold, I was more excited for those paychecks than any of the others from previous jobs because of what I had to endure to earn them.

The big payday? $136 and change.

I traded a couple of months of my life for pennies. Even back then, I never understood this “job” mentality of our culture. Getting crap pay for physically demanding work wasn’t for me. I wasn’t above working hard and putting in the hours, but scrubbing wheel wells with wet hands in winter temperatures for $7 an hour wasn’t for me. Needless to say, I didn’t have that job for very long.

It was a lesson and a stepping stone, though. I went on to build up my own companies. I did very well for myself. That’s what I thought at the time. I was a very young man that had spent most of his life growing up sleeping on a couch in a garage. At 21, I brought in just over $180,000 net in business. I was well on my way up, and I was barely old enough to buy a beer.

Correction: I was on my way to making mistake after mistake after mistake. Success made me blind to the reality around me. I was financially ignorant. I didn’t have any understanding of basic accounting, planning, saving, or budgeting. I spent the money I made without accounting for regular expenses, without planning for my future, without saving for emergencies, and without budgeting my income. I didn’t care. I was making bank, and I was just getting started. I began adding businesses to my company. I was obsessively waiting for the needle to move. I ignored the reality that I was slowly overworking myself toward an early grave.

Why I Wash My Own Car by Grant Wise

My first few businesses failed. Big time. However, I learned invaluable lessons from those failures in both life and in business.

Not long after my last business closed, I was begging for anyone to let me clean their car for any sum they offered to pay me. I filed for bankruptcy at age 23 and, all of a sudden, washing cars for $7 an hour in freezing temperatures sounded like a jackpot.

I’ll never forget how quickly things can change. I’ll never forget how quickly fortunes can swing. Success can come in a hurry, but if you’re not ready for it psychologically, emotionally, and practically, then it can be taken from you just as quickly. This was a watershed lesson for me. It was my lesson in humility.

I was cleaning my own car this weekend. Without even realizing it, I had been doing this for some time as an unconscious reminder of where I came from, what I went through, and what I need to do to stay in step with the reality around me. I wash my own car to check myself. I wash my own car to be a good business owner. I wash my own car to be a good husband, father, and friend.

I wash my own car to stay humble.

Here are some of the other things I try to do on a regular basis to help keep my humility alive and well:

  1. Learn to appreciate failure. You cannot do everything, and you surely can’t do everything well. We all have limits like time, economics, ability, geography, gender… the list is endless. One thing is constant, though: You’re going to f*ck up. Face it. You might even f*ck up royally. You need to face that, too. So what? You’re human. Accept it. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
  2. Hold that thought. Use a humility jar. When you experience a humble moment, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in a box or a mason jar. At the end of the year, go back and read those moments.
  3. Get social with your humility. Share the day’s humble moments around the dinner table or with a coworker over lunch. Post about it on Facebook. The On This Day app will remind you about that post years later.
  4. Hack your brain. Sit down each day and visualize three to five things that have humbled you recently or in the distant past. Really see them and notice the feelings that arise in your body. Doing this will rewire your brain to experience humility more often.
  5. Respect yourself. Know that you and your work matters, regardless of any of your past mistakes. Your influence and happiness will increase in direct proportion to the respect you show yourself.
  6. Give freely. Give your time. Give your extra cans of food. Give old clothes. Volunteer in your community. Use your privileges and advantages and lessons and expertise to help improve the lives of those around you who are less fortunate.

Try one or two of these. You might learn something about yourself, and you might just find that you, your business, and your life are better because of them.


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