Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lesson 25: Commit to excellence.

Author's note: I am a compulsive advice-giver-always have been.  When my own son was in high school, he wasn't interested in his old man's advice so I wrote it down in the hope that he might change his mind one day.  What follows is one piece of that advice.  I trust it applies to all of us, regardless of age.

 Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it.
—George Halas

My first job out of college was with a consumer finance company. This company loaned small sums to people so they could buy things like appliances, TVs, and stereo systems. Most of our customers didn’t have much money—that was why they needed a loan to buy a television set—and many of them frequently fell behind in their payments.
My job was to phone customers who fell behind and badger them to send in a check. If they fell too far behind, I would have to go to their home—often with a U-Haul truck and police officer in tow—and repossess their furniture.
Not surprisingly, I hated that job. The hours were long and the work disagreeable. I spent my days phoning people who didn’t want to talk to me—I had to use an assumed name just to prevent them from hanging up on me. When I finally did get someone on the phone, the resulting conversation was usually depressing. My success rate in collecting back payments was abysmal. Most of my coworkers were grouchy because none of them wanted to be there either.
Fed up, one day I called my father to share my misery and tell him that I was planning to quit. His response surprised me. He discouraged me from quitting. In fact, he suggested that the problem was not with the job but with me. “If you leave now, you will have been defeated by the job,” Dad said. “Stick with it a while longer. Learn to like it—get good at it. Then, if you want to quit, you’ll walk out with your head high.”
Properly chastened, I went in to the office the next day with a whole new approach. I said to myself, “I have to be here all day, so I might as well do the very best I can.” I worked harder and came up with new ways to reach my customers. And it worked. Before long, my success rate was up, people took my calls, and many of my customers started paying their bills on time. I found myself actually enjoying my job. When I finally quit a few months later, I left feeling good about myself and confident about the challenges ahead.
Whatever you find yourself doing, resolve to give it your very best. You’ll find that you’re more effective, the work will seem easier, and people will recognize you as a cut above the ordinary. Before you know it, you’ll be leaving the complainers and slackers behind—and you’ll be on your way to bigger and better things.

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