What are the “little” differences that make a BIG difference? Differences of attitude, of approach?
John Burke, CEO of Trek Bicycle in Waterloo, Wisconsin, tells a story from his youth:
“I worked the night shift in a plastics factory…..My job was to remove the red plastic tops from the molds. Returning home at 7 a.m. after my first night, I ran into my father drinking coffee before leaving for work. He asked me how I liked the job, and I told him it was horrible and I wasn’t going back. He turned to me and said, “You’re going back tonight, you’re going to work there for the summer, and you’ll enjoy it.” That summer provided one of the best lessons of my life. I learned about hard work and making lemonade out of lemons. It may not have been the best job, but I made it a great one. I’d see how many tops I could remove each night, write down the number and try to beat it the next night. I brought business magazines to read during breaks. (The New York Times, Lessons of the Night Shift, August 31, 2013)
The horrible job didn’t change, rather John Burke changed his attitude, his approach, turning a horrible job into a great life lesson, made a game out doing the best he could, plus using moments others would idle away to read, improve his mind, thus his future opportunities.
John Burke went on to do other things a bit differently, a bit better, and that made a great deal of difference:
“I joined Trek as a sales representative….I drove my red Chevy Cavalier station wagon 60,000 miles a year. My boss once told me that the best sales reps drive on Sunday to be ready for Monday meetings, so I would do that. I heard complaints about quality and customer service on my stops. It was the greatest education ever; you don’t find out a lot when things are going well or if you sit in an office all day. I learned the value of happy customers….I changed our operations so that if an order hadn’t shipped by 3 p.m. the day it arrived, the office staff would leave their desks and help the warehouse get the order out the door.” ibid
“There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference.” — W. Clement Stone; 1902–2002, author, “Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude”
“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” — Roger Staubach; 1942–, Heisman Trophy winner, Dallas Cowboys quarterback, winner of Super Bowls VI and XII