I was getting a quick cup of coffee at Starbucks the other day and didn't have the right change in my pocket. "That's OK," said the Susan who was behind the counter, "I have an extra 25 cents in my pocket." She promptly added the quarter to my Five dollar bill. That's going the extra mile for your customer. I will remember her the next time I see someone short of change and will return the favor. It only took 25 cents of kindness. Would you do the same?
I met with Phil Symchych, a contributor to Fontanie Magazine and a long time colleague, over a delicious hamburger in Wascana park. I asked him his take on the top factors for leadership in the present economy. He was quick to respond with these four gems:
I read a short response to an article about using time wisely from a fellow named Paul. He made a commitment to stop telling people that he was busy. He pointed out that this was a form of disrespect as we tended to use it as an excuse for not returning telephone calls, responding to email messages, or paying attention to someone. Paul resolved to stop using the excuse “I’m busy” and in its stead gave the real reason why he couldn’t answer the telephone or respond to requests. He found that it forced him to become more honest with himself and with others. He found that he became more aware of his real priorities in life and at work. He recommended you try it.
We are living in a time when elderly people are out and about. The other day a lady who was coming out of Walmart tripped and fell. She was on the ground for a few minutes. The sad news is that a few people walked passed her. The good news is that some of us stopped and helped her. All she wanted was someone to help her stand up. You see she recently had an operation on her knee and it had given way on her. After making sure she hadn't injured herself further we assisted her to her vehicle. She assured us she was fine and able to drive. The concern we had, after she drove off, related to how many people didn't stop to help her. Go figure!
George met a man on the street the other day. He sat down to talk with him. Their conversation was stilted because George hadn't done this before, and the man was leery of George's intention. They sat in silence for awhile, when the man said "Thanks all I needed was a bit of kindness today." George was dumbfounded.
Coreen and I met every two weeks. She wanted to start a business and was having difficulty in writing her business plan. We reviewed what a business plan would look like. I gave her a Business Plan workbook which provided a step by step outline to follow. We discussed each step. I suggested that she not think about the whole business plan but to work on it, step by step. Yet each time we met, she said she had writers block. She couldn't put her thoughts down on paper. So, we reviewed the steps again. Each time we met it was the same story and I ended with, "Remember this is your business plan."
One day, about six weeks into our sessions, she called me to meet before our next scheduled appointment. I just happened to have an opening that day, so I said, "how about this afternoon at 2?" "Perfect," she said, "I'll see you then." I fully expected Coreen to come and say, "I just can't write my business plan." What a pleasant surprise I received. Coreen came bouncing in and presented a fully completed Business Plan. I said, "You got over your writer's block." "Yes!" she said, "When, I realized that I wasn't writing the Business Plan for you, I was writing it for me, I took ownership of the plan. After that full realization, I sat down and within a day I had the plan written."
Coreen's lesson is one for all those preparing a Business Plan. You are writing a Business Plan, not for your banker, accountant or anyone else, although they may want to review it, you are writing it for yourself. It is your business and the Business Plan is your blue print for the building up of your business in the short and long term.
Jock works at our local supermarket. He bags groceries and does odd clean up jobs around the store. He not only bags groceries but also wants to know if customers need help to carry them out to the car. He is interested in how their day is going, and then briefly tells you about his day. If he sees customers struggling to reach something on a high shelf, Jock notices and is soon beside them asking if he could be of assistance. If he sees something on the floor that shouldn’t be there, he is quickly on the move to clean it up. Jock's smile, eagerness to help, overall happy disposition, and the serious way in which he carries out his responsibilities are what strike customers the most. If Jock can consistently do these things, why is it that many of us find them so hard to do? Just wondering.
I ran into June the other day. She is a busy lady. She holds down a job at the supermarket, has two small children and takes care of her ill mother. I wondered how she does it all until she told me she keeps her focus by setting short term goals. She said she "gets satisfaction when she accomplishes them". Then she rewards herself with a little gift, "nothing special," she says. Sometimes it's "getting her nails done, another time it's buying an extra creamy latte".
I asked her what her goals are for 2018. She surprised me by telling me her goals are selfish for the next three months. She wants to "chill out," and take some "me time." "Wonderful," I said.
Me time is important when you are giving yourself to your children and mother while holding down a day-job. Finding the right balance when one has a growing family, an ill parent, and keeping a full time job is important. If we don't take some "me time" we may not have any "you time" left in us. Kudos to June for recognizing the importance of "me time" in her attempt to balance her goals and priorities.
I met Jacob the other day. He told me a story about his grandfather, Weldon Moffatt, who served in the Second World War as an aviation navigator and HAM radio operator. His grandfather completed 26 missions flying in Lancaster and Halifax bombers. During WWII, the method of communication was through Morris Code. Morris Code is a way of transmitting text information using a series of flashing lights, taps or clicks that can be understood by a skilled listener or observer. Jacob's grandfather is now 94 years old and teaching his two grandsons how to send Morris Code text messages using his original equipment.
We have come a long way in sending text messages. Or, have we? Today, we use our Smart phones and let them do the digital translating and we read the messages. Using Morris Code, the human receiver does the translating as well as understanding the message directly. If my Smart phone breaks down or runs out of battery power I wont be able to send my message, but Jacob will be able to tap or flash it out to a skilled listener. High fives to Jacob's grandfather who is passing on his wisdom to another generation.
Want to read more about Weldon, or Weldy as he was affectionally called by his crew mates http://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/586:weldon-moffatt/
George was sitting quietly at his desk, engaged in a few moments of meditation. He needed a bit of break from the difficult policy issue he was trying to resolve. He appeared serene and peaceful. George was interrupted when his colleague asked what he was doing. So George told him "he was spending a few moments in reflective meditation."
His colleague said, "I don't believe in that stuff, and in fact I don't believe there is a God."
Wow, George thought , what a heavy conversation to get into, but now is not the time. So he quickly explained to his colleague:
"I understand how you may feel, in fact I know many people who feel the same way. However I have a different point of view. As I see it, the workings of God are in the beauty of the sunset and the intricate expressions found in the our scenery, garden flowers and in all of nature. I see Him in the compassion that people show towards others in care facilities, to the homeless and to those less fortunate. I see Him when someone forgives another for a harm they have done. I see God in all the good that there is in the world, and I wonder if all of us contributed to the good of others whether more people would feel less angry, less selfish and less hatred towards each other."
George's colleague didn't respond, looked puzzled and walked out of his office.