Personal Growth

Moving the Salt Shaker

I used to assume that leading required tactics like those from leaders with strong personalities. If I was going to get anything done, I thought, I would have to drive it through. That might work for others, but it almost never works for me. I end up un-genuine, and everyone can see it.

In his book Setting the Table, Danny Meyer explains that leadership is like keeping a saltshaker in the middle of a table. People around you will always move the saltshaker a little off center, off the standards you expect. Your job as a leader is to move the saltshaker back to the middle of the table, calmly but consistently, before it gets to the edge. Meyer calls this leadership style “constant gentle pressure.”

This totally works for me. Alternatively, muscling the saltshaker off the floor is just the pits.



What if the Customer is Wrong?

It was a drizzly day at the Dallas airport. The last man aboard a Southwest Airlines flight did little to hide his frustration with the seating process, elbowing his way across a row to the last open seat. In the process he left an oversize suitcase sticking out of the luggage compartment.

A flight attendant approached the man to suggest checking his bag. The suggestion stirred a debate that escalated until the troubled passenger punched the flight attendant, laying him out across a row of seats.

Was that customer “always right?” The answer is obviously “no.” It’s a scenario often described by former Southwest CEO Herb Kelleher to prove the point that the customer is NOT always right.

Other companies including Disney have followed in Southwest’s footsteps, acknowledging that the customer might be wrong. The result is a better, safer work environment for employees who, in turn, can create a great experience for the customers who ARE right, and gracious accommodations for the guests who aren’t.


Economic Development

Beginner’s Guide to Performing Miracles

Digress with me for a moment from our regular conversation, the topic of creating profitable agricultural business. I love that topic (hence our blog), but it’s not Rachel or my ultimate goal in life. I dare suggest that it may not be your ultimate goal either.

Imagine a young couple in your town. They marry and have a child, a young boy who grows to be a charming and healthy two-year-old. Then the boy gets sick. He loses weight, can’t eat and goes to the hospital. There, doctors can’t help him. The boy gets more and more ill as the parents watch. The doctors tell them their son won’t make it.

Then arrives a stranger to the hospital from a foreign country. The stranger offers to heal the child, an act that seems impossible. But, with no better options, the parents tell this person to go ahead, praying for a miracle. The child is healed.

Now let’s revise the story. The young couple lives in Africa, and the stranger is you. The boy is dying from a disease caused by contaminated water, and the local doctors and the child’s parents don’t have a clear understanding of microbiology. By explaining that the local water source is contaminated, and providing a new well (in collaboration with a few other strangers who each pitch in $50 through an organization like @ScottHarrison ’s @CharityWater), you save the life of someone else’s child. To them, your effort seems like a miracle.

I share this story because someone shared it with me. It has been on my mind for months, this concept that we each have seemingly normal gifts and resources that are, in a different context, the makings of a miracle.