Don’t miss an opportunity to excel.
A task you are asked to do might seem very small.
You might feel it is beneath you.
Or that it is dull.
Or not interesting.
That you have already done it.
Or “How can I put this on my resume…”
Did Mother Teresa say that? Or think it?
There is a phenomenal story about her and how she taught others. Many of the nuns tried to compete with her to get up earlier and serve. But she was always up earliest. One day a toilet was backed up in apparently a most unpleasant manner. The nuns lived in a slum and it was constant chaos — needy, starving, unwashed sick people going in and out. The young “nun in training” was having a hard time cleaning it, and walked away for a bit.
Mother Teresa didn’t say a word.
She cleaned the toilet.
She never had a conversation with the young trainee.
Her conversation was in her actions.
Did Mother Teresa go far in life?
What do we have to do, to go “far”? To learn and grow as individuals, or to gain positions of status, achievement and advancement?
Many times a degree will help. Or smarts. Or a super, super strong work ethic. But most of the times I have seen people go far have one thing: The Right Attitude.
I am not a Mother Teresa…. but I experienced the same in my first job. I was brought into a cafe to learn how to manage it. And to work my way up, I had to start where everyone else did — in the kitchen. For the first year, I made and mixed huge vats of bread pudding; I learned how to make soup for 100s. I organized the freezer shelves with huge hunks of meat, clearly labelled, so we knew how to order, and learned the pressure of wheeling carts of precarious food from the kitchen on the street for catering events at local law firms. I was trained, and needed to prove, that I understood how everything worked. Equally important, that I could support and relate to the people with whom I was working alongside.
Then after prep beginning at 5 a.m., I began serving lunch, behind the cafeteria line. I was in everyone else’s uniform: a chef’s hat, chef’s coat, big white apron and nametag, serving busy executives.
They didn’t know I graduated cum laude from Duke.
That I was the No. 1 high school tennis player.
That I was already an entrepreneur.
All they knew was that I was serving them food.
So mostly I was ignored, sometimes thanked, and sometimes winked at and told I was cute.
I learned a lot.
I learned to cherish people in a new way. I honored every position in life more deeply. And I learned what it felt like to be looked at differently. And how that wasn’t right.
When it was hard, I prayed and worked on my mind. I reviewed in my heart and learned new Bible quotes, and went over thousands of things I was grateful for.
Management appreciated my joyful attitude. Instead of staying in that position for a year, I was put on sales in their business catering. Within 6 months I had built their business to be profitable.
Your attitude will determine much of your pathway in life.
Management will see it. They appreciate your willingness, your receptivity to learning. That your service mindset will positively influence other team members, creating a positive culture. Why will management see this? Because usually the best leaders have been there.
Excel today. Put on your overalls and do what is needed. Find joy in it, and you will go far. And remember, “Going far” is not always about ascending up an org chart. It’s about being a humble, kind person of integrity.
Inventor Thomas Alva Edison was born on February 11, 1847, in Milan, Ohio. He was the last of the seven children of Samuel and Nancy Edison. Thomas’s father was an exiled political activist from Canada. His mother, an accomplished school teacher, was a major influence in Thomas’ early life. In public school his teacher deemed him “difficult” and a hyperactive child, prone to distraction. His mother quickly pulled him from school and taught him at home. At age 11, he showed a voracious appetite for knowledge, reading books on a wide range of subjects. In this wide-open curriculum Edison developed a process for self-education and learning independently that would serve him throughout his life.
Edison was a prolific inventor, holding 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. More significant than the number of Edison’s patents was the widespread impact of his inventions: electric light and power utilities, sound recording, and motion pictures all established major new industries world-wide. Edison’s inventions contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications.