What’s Your Secret?

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one thingAfter a while it all starts to look the same.  One hotel looks like another.  One complimentary breakfast buffet looks like another.

Blurry eyed after a late night and an early morning I quickly scanned the breakfast buffet for something to eat that I wouldn’t later regret.  Typically it’s a banana, strawberry yogurt, and some scrambled eggs.

Hmm, there are waffles and some real fruit sauce that would taste delicious, especially once smothered in syrup.  No time for that though.  I choose my fall back special: banana, yogurt and a uniquely shaped pre-fab omelet.   It’s quick and nourishing and does the trick.

While I was perusing my choices I had an encounter with one of the breakfast buffet staff.  She was going about her job of replenishing the food items to ensure the guests have a full selection of breakfast options.  She was particularly chipper at this early hour.  I said “hello” and asked her a question,

“You must have to get up pretty early I’ll bet?”

“Yes, I get up at 3:45 in order to start work at 5 AM.”, was her reply.

Ouch!  That’s something I would find very difficult.  Mornings just aren’t my thing.

Slightly in awe at her ability to continuously maintain that type of regimen I suggested that must be very tough to do.

Once again in a very chipper fashion she replied,

“Oh, I like it.  I am off at 1:00 after having put in a full day’s work.”

My next question, really a statement, was meant as a transitional comment to shift out of this interaction into my breakfast.  However, she didn’t take it that way.  She heard what I said and replied with a conviction that caught my attention.  In fact, her reply had me thinking the rest of the day.

What did I say?  Well, I simply said,

“You’ll have to tell me your secret.”

She looked up at me with a grin a mile wide, her eyes fixed on mine, and said,

“Oh that’s easy – it’s Jesus.”

I could tell by her joyful countenance, and the conviction in her voice, that this was indeed a deeply held belief.  She believed this deep in her core and was her secret to doing an exceptional job in her work.

I thought about this interaction throughout my day.  When I asked her to tell me her secret, in effect the secret for her success; to be able to do an exceptional job in what I considered a difficult circumstance, she did not hesitate in telling me what her secret was.  She had a deep conviction, a depth of commitment that significantly impacted her work.

I wondered how most leaders would respond if asked what their secret was to doing an exceptional job?  What is that one thing that ensures they bring joy, hope, commitment, conviction and excellence to their work?

How would you answer?  Have you done the work to determine what it is that motivates you in the midst of the trials and struggles of leadership?  Do you have a rock on which you stand in the midst of the storm?  What keeps you engaged and positive?  What keeps you moving forward in the face of opposition?  What keeps you hopeful?

In the movie City Slickers the character played by Billy Crystal is on a cattle drive to try to find himself.  He has lost heart in his daily life.  He receives a critical piece of life wisdom from Curly, the grizzled, ornery, weathered cattle boss played by Jack Palance,

“You spend 50 weeks a year getting your rope all knotted up and you think 2 weeks up here is going to fix it.  You don’t get it.  You know what the secret to life is?  One thing!”

“What’s the one thing?”, asks Crystal.

“That’s what you gotta figure out.”, replies Curly.

The woman at the breakfast buffet has found her one thing.

What’s yours?

What’s the one thing that keeps you in the game?  The one thing that motivates you and fills you with joy, engagement, commitment, passion, purpose, commitment, identity and life?

Determining that will transform your leadership and change your company.

What’s your secret?

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Leading and Living on Purpose.