What Successful People Do


Those were the exact words that burst out of my mouth as the 7-foot high rolling shelf came crashing down just outside the kitchen door at sparkspace. Apparently, as I was moving the shelf, one of the four casters on the shelf had decided to fail, and fail spectacularly.

As you can see, this monumental structural collapse also involved about fifty cases of soda cans. A surprising number of cans exploded on impact, others died a slower, spraying-all-over-the-place kind of death.

After the collapse, I was in shock. I stood and stared in utter disbelief at the carnage of cola for a good thirty minutes. I vaguely remember shivering uncontrollably and I’ve had a few cloudy flashbacks of sucking my thumb and curling up in the fetal position.

By the way, this all happened at the end of the day…on a Friday.
I called Elizabeth, our Director of Guest Happiness, mostly because I really had no idea what to do and I desperately needed to shake myself out of my shock. I remember telling Elizabeth that it was the first time in the life of my business I honestly felt like closing the door and just leaving the mess for someone else to clean up.

I’m not kidding. I had to suppress the urge to lock up and go home.

I knew what I needed to do, I just didn’t want to do it right then. The task seemed overwhelming and terribly inconvenient. It was pretty clear that it would take a couple hours to re-stack the cans and clean up the growing pool of sticky soft drink. But it was Friday and I wanted to go home!

In times like these, I remind myself of something I heard Steven S. Little say a few years ago: “Successful small business people don’t get up every day and do what they want to do, they get up every day and do what needs to be done.”

When I first heard that, it hit me like a ton of bricks. This particular Friday, it hit me again, but this time like a ton of beverages.

You can easily take out the words “small business” and insert any profession or field to make the saying apply to you.

“Successful customer service reps…”
“Successful insurance salespeople…”
“Successful television reporters…”
“Successful saxophone players…”
“Successful parents…”

Do you get up every day and do what needs to be done? Or do you have a tendency to close the door on your messes and hope they go away?

Do you leave on time when you should stay and finish?
Do you look the other way when you should lend a helping hand?

Do you avoid conflict even though it would be the most direct path to solving a problem?
Do you only give your customers, your co-workers, or your kids partial attention when they really need your full attention?

The hero of my story, by the way, is not me. Within minutes of talking to Elizabeth on the phone, she showed up and began cleaning cans, stacking cases, and tolerating my non-stop complaining about the situation. I didn’t ask her to come in. In fact, I had told her NOT to come in. I had given her complete permission to continue with her weekend and yet she showed up anyway. She did what needed to be done. If I weren’t so grateful for her help, I might actually be mad at her for not listening to me!

I hope you have people like Elizabeth working for you or with you. I also hope that you, too, will commit to being a huge success by always choosing to do what needs to be done.


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