Friday, January 23, 2009
SURVIVAL Part 12: A Crucial Survival Skill
by Jim Davis (Print complete Job Loss Survival Guide)
A Crucial Survival Skill
Regardless of what other "survival skills" that you discover or develop, there is one which I believe is absolutely crucial to your success in life. It is the attitude of "always do a little more than you have to." You can start with something as simple as picking up a piece of trash that someone else left, but you'll be surprised how rewarding it can become. Also, when this attitude becomes a part of your everyday life you may find that it makes the critical difference in getting your next job. It's not uncommon to find that top executives, as well as others in influential positions, share this trait.
Here’s an example of what this attitude did for one of them (copied by permission from an article in Reader’s Digest back in June, 1984.)
Roone Arledge, head of ABC's news and sports divisions, explains how he got his first break:
During college summer vacations I worked at an inn in Chatham, Mass. One night a family had driven a long way, and when they arrived the dining room was closed. The hostess refused to seat them, but, as headwaiter, I interposed.
"I can't let you be disappointed," I said. "Come in and I'll wait on you." They were very grateful, and before they left they took my name.
The day I walked into the office at DuMont television (a pioneering network), the man in charge of programming looked up and asked, "How's everything at the Wayside Inn?" It turned out that he was the person who had driven down for dinner that summer night, and he had never forgotten that I stayed to wait on him. From the instant he recognized me, I had the job.
Ernie Hickman isn't a top executive, but he shows this attitude on a daily basis. He is the owner-operator of East Tennessee Auto Repair "out in the country" as we say, about three miles from my house. He has a reputation that eliminates the need for any advertising. He will solve the problem that other mechanics have given up on a lot of times simply because he hates to give up, but often also because he knows more. The main reason he is successful, though, is that he does a little more than he has to -- sometimes a lot more -- and often won't even take any pay for it. He'll say, "Aw, I really didn't do anything much." And technically, he'll be right. But when he noticed a broken place in the fuel line going to my truck's carburetor and replaced it without charge, it meant a lot to me even if he didn't think much of it. He does take the country hams I give him every year, though.
Why do some people have this attitude? There are probably several reasons. Sometimes it's pride in their work. Most will claim that it was just the way they were brought up. I guess the real reason for people doing a little more than they have to is simply that they care about the people they are dealing with.
People who "do a little more than they have to" usually don't consider themselves to be doing anything unusual. I certainly didn't when I was working part-time at the Whiteway Variety Store while I was going to college. One night near closing time I was sweeping up, and I happened to be near the checkout counter. A lady was paying for her purchase and hadn't realized she lacked a few cents having enough money. She was about to use a silver dollar she carried with her as a keepsake, so I just reached in my pocket and handed her the fifteen cents or so that she needed. She wouldn't have been more appreciative if I had paid for her entire purchase.
Jack Lewis, the store manager, had started me off on the right foot for this through his basic policy. He told me to always do anything I could to help a customer. If a customer needed a box to carry a purchase in, I was to empty a box that had not been unpacked if necessary. If we didn't have an item the customer needed, and I could think of alternatives, I should suggest them or maybe refer the customer to another store, even if it were a competitor. The customer was our reason for being. Of course, he never suggested that I pay for people's purchases.
One night at about eight o'clock a man came in with a problem. One of the battery clamp bolts on his car battery had broken and he couldn't find any auto parts stores open (this was back in 1967.) I knew we didn't have anything in our limited hardware section that would do the job, but we did have a "junk box" in the back that had all kinds of odds and ends including various screws and bolts. I managed to find a bolt that would work for him and gave it to him at no charge. I didn't get a sale that night, but I got a customer.
This attitude has served me well over the years. Of course, I really developed it when I was just a boy by observing my parents, but these incidents helped me to solidify my values as an adult. And my wife and I have been able to pass this attitude of living on to our sons, who have both found it to be just as helpful as it has been to us.
If you have not already developed this "survival skill," it's not too late no matter how old you may be. You will be amazed at the difference it can make in your life, your family, and your career.
End of Part 12