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The Difference in Night and Day

I have always heard there are two kinds of people in the world . . . “ those who get it and those who don’t.”   On Tuesday I had the chance to meet one of each. They both are managers of restaurants. Beyond that, they have little in common.

The first, was in charge of a new restaurant in the town where I live. A couple of friends of mine and I decided to give the place a try. We walked in and the place was packed. To me this seemed like a good sign. It wasn’t. In fact, it was just the opposite.

The three of us placed our orders and waited anxiously for the meals to arrive. About 20 minutes later a waitress returned to our table to inform us that they had run out of two of the three things we had ordered. Mine was one of the three!

After reordering and waiting again for several minutes, the waitress returned with my meal and some bad news.  She informed my friend, Mark, that they had just run out of the entrée he had reordered. Needless to say they didn’t get it.

The second restaurant was just the opposite. It was a place called Buca di Beppo and it was run by a man named Nelson. Nelson and his staff were amazing! They accommodated us in every way.

The hostess seated us at a nice table, but it wasn’t actually the table I wanted for my family.  I called her back over and asked if it would be possible for us to be moved to the family table in the kitchen. She smiled and promptly moved us. Next, a kind waitress came over and took our order. She was pleasant and even made a couple of helpful suggestions before taking our order. Within minutes of her leaving us guess who shows up at our table? Nelson himself! In his hand was a complementary order of fried mozzarella which was hot and delicious. “On the house,” were his words, “Hope you enjoy.”

The next 45 minutes were filled with Italian dining at its finest. The table was loaded with salads, pizzas, pastas, and a delicious family-style entrée. When the entrée arrived, Nelson accompanied the waitress and sat a special side dish on the table. He said, “These potatoes are a favorite to go along with this dish. I can’t serve this on my watch without including them. No charge. Enjoy.”

The meal was without question the best experience I have had in a restaurant in the past decade. Why? Because Nelson gets it!

When it comes to leadership, we all need to remember “the difference in night and day.” The truth is, the food at lunch that day was really pretty good. The trouble is, the service and preparation were so lacking that I wasn’t very hungry once the food arrived.

Nelson, on the other hand, reminded me that night that he is not in the food business. He is in the people business. Sure, his food was amazing. But I suspect, it was a lot more palatable because of the way we were treated.

Many leaders have great ideas and a strong message. Unfortunately, they forget the power of relationships and they never get their message across.

As a leader, never forget the principles of night and day:
1. People are more important products.
2. It doesn’t cost anything to smile.
3. Being a servant is more important than being a server.
4. Generosity comes back to you in the end.

If you will live by these 4 ideals, I am confident that it will mean the difference in night and day for you just like it is doing for Nelson.

And for a great meal, go see him @ Buca di Beppo on Mansell Road in Alpharetta, Georgia.



Who’s Keeping You on Track?

Last night after work I had the opportunity to hang out with a couple of close friends.  The first was for some exercise as we ran a local six mile loop together.  Afterwards, my wife and I grilled out with another friend of mine.  When the night ended I was reminded of the importance of friendship.  For someone desiring to live a life of integrity, friendship is vital.

I recently read that, “A person becomes the average of the five people closest to him.”  The statement caused me to stop and take some inventory with regard to my friendships.  Perhaps you should do the same?  Studies show that we spend like our friends spend, we weigh what our friends weigh, we live in houses like our friends houses, send our kids to the same schools, the list goes on and on . . .

I know for me personally, the books I read, the places I hang out, the places I eat, and even my level of fitness is affected by those closest to me.

When you stop and think about it, the value of friendship is a lot like bowling.  Have you been bowling recently?  If so, perhaps you noticed that some people chose the option of bowling with bumpers in their gutters.  Bumpers are designed to keep the ball on track and make the game more enjoyable for little kids.  Occasionally, adults who are bad bowlers will even volunteer to bowl with the tikes just so they too can be protected by the bumpers.  Just ask my daughter . . .

Don’t you wish they offered bumpers on the other areas of your life?  Actually, they do. They’re called friends.  And they determine the direction of your life.  If you are surrounded by friends who have integrity, you are much more likely to stay on track yourself.  If you isolate yourself and go it alone, chances are you will find yourself continually in the gutter.

As a leader, you may be tempted to think, “It’s lonely at the top.”  But let me remind you that loneliness is a choice.  To quote my mom: “If you want to have a friend, be a friend.”  I would take it a step further by saying, find friends who have integrity.

Stupidity is a choice too.  And trying the leadership thing by yourself is bordering on stupid.  You weren’t designed to go it alone.  Find yourself some friends to be your bumpers who will keep you on track.  Your integrity and influence are on the line!



“The Pen is in Your Hand”

Last night I had the opportunity to watch game seven of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

It was an amazing game to say the least. The Pittsburgh Penguins won Lord Stanley’s Cup in a 2-1 thriller by warding off two shots on goal in the last three seconds of the game. The game ended with a pile of bodies in front of the Penguin net.

Visiting Pittsburgh had finally realized its dream by beating the defending champions on their home ice.

Before the game, one of the commentators told the story of how each of the Penguin players was wearing a T-shirt under his hockey sweater with the caption “The Pen is in Your Hand.” The shirts were given to the players by their coach. When giving them out, the coach made the statement, “The pen is in your hand men.  You get to go out tonight and write your own destiny.” The rest, as they say, is history.

Unfortunately, when it comes to living out a destiny too few men ever pick up the pen. Most people are content to just exist and take up space. They justify that there is safety and comfort in taking the easy path. They never set a goal. They never dream a dream. And therefore, when all is said and done they have very little to show other than a life of mediocrity.

There are those, however, who pick up the pen every day. They are the ones who attack life with integrity and challenge others to do the same. They set goals and dream dreams and in the end they have no regrets.

I have chosen to surround myself with such men. They challenge me to love God. They encourage me to be a better husband and father. They inspire me to run marathons and all kinds of other crazy ventures. And they cause me to strive for excellence as I watch them excel in their various walks of life. Among them is a Sensei, the Fighting Elk, a Captain, a man who ran with Raven, a Twinstead, the Gre8t1, and countless others.

How about you?  Are you choosing to write your own destiny or are you just leaving it all to chance? This coming week why not set a goal to influence someone in a positive way? Why not live a life of integrity when no one else is looking?

Remember . . . “The Pen is in Your Hand.” Now go write a life that’s worth reading!


To Thine Own Self Be True

On a recent road trip, my daughter and I found ourselves in a college coffee shop killing time.  As the picture shows we were in two different worlds.  I was busy reading the literature from the college we were visiting, while she was checking her text messages?  Which one of us was doing the right thing?  . . . Both . . . Why?  Because we were both being true to who we are.

I am a reader who loves information. She is a teenager who is technologically savvy. Give me a book.  Give her a device.

Sadly, everywhere I go I see people who have no idea who they really are.  They are more concerned with being like everyone else than they are with being themselves.  This lack of focus and understanding leads to a life of mediocrity and a lack of joy.

What would happen if you lived your life based on passion instead of pressure?  It’s time to find out.  Pick something you love and go do it this week.  And while you are at it, leave out something you don’t really like doing.  The people around you will thank you in the long run, even if it means you are doing something different than those closest to you.

I suspect you will even thank yourself if you will simply choose to live with integrity and “to thine own self be true.”




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