Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snap out of it -- one person and one task at a time

This blog entry is meant to be an encouraging appeal to people in businesses everywhere, from the mail room to the CEO suite. Examine your personal philosophy about how you do what you do. The premise is simple and is one that I conveyed to my children just recently: singular, repeated excellence has a funny way of snowballing into corporate excellence (no, I do not talk corporate governance/motivation with my kids).

I am reminded of a well-worn quote that has stayed with me for years from one of the more quotable characters in our rich history, Teddy Roosevelt, who stated,

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

So what is the application to our daily lives? Well, this life is your story. You have to live the story. Why live it in a mediocre way? You are not designed for mediocrity. Rather, go out and sweat and bleed in the dust and in the arena, as Teddy says, so that you can know, at the very least, what it means to pursue high achievement. In all tasks, micro or macro, tell your story by the manner in which you approach your life, your work, your tasks. No matter where you fall on the corporate ladder; you have a job to do. Do it well.

Recently, I had occasion to be in the Midwest for business at the headquarters of a Fortune 500 company. As we waited in the vast lobby for our meeting to begin we were introduced to Fred. Fred is a security guard at the front desk and he greeted each and every person by first name! Now, to paint a clear picture of the scene, there were literally hundreds upon hundreds of people walking in and out of the building past his station during this particular lunch hour and he knew every single person’s first name. We came to learn that this small but impactful (and repeated) gesture resulted in Frank’s presence at national sales meetings and board meetings for this company for the purpose of illuminating excellence in customer service and attention to detail.

Bottom line: get in the arena and live your story.

1 comment:

Steve Syverson said...

I love it! Life is not about living on "cruise control". Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way and strive to create your own opportunities every chance you get.