Don’t you love the experience of being gob smacked by people surprising the heck out of you in the best way?
Today I met with a long standing client who is a senior executive in a big Australian Corporate. He is on his 3 months long service leave, and was in my area, so we made time for a coffee.
This morning he spent a few hours at his friends business, a service station (or gas station for non Australian readers). What did he do? He gave free drive through service. You know, what we all used to get when we went to a service station to fill our cars with petrol? Someone to fill our tank, wash the windscreen, check oil, water, air.
He was greeted with everything from delight, to deep suspicion? What is this for? Who are you raising money for? How much will this cost? When people got over their suspicion, some where able to accept this gesture with gratitude and delight. Others still couldn’t quite accept that this was a gift.
There is so much to explore in this action.
*My clients motivation for doing this? B is a highly creative entrepreneur working in a very uncreative traditional business. He has been in the same company all his life. He truly does not accept or live within the ‘business as usual’ model. And he has managed to get away with this for years. Smart enough to know when to keep a low profile, and when to clash the cymbals and bang the drums. He constantly seeks expansion to his thinking and often in the ordinary, not the exceptional. This action was a way to do that. It was also a way to help a mate. And to be an observer of reactions to the unexpected from total strangers.
*The metaphor he now has for his leadership team is powerful. Where are you working the drive through service? Or…where is the drive through service opportunity? In a business that has a narrow margin of distinction from other similar businesses, drive through service moments are gold. (in ANY business, drive through service moments are Gold)
*Then there is the parallel of a senior executive happily and willingly ‘pumping gas’. How much character does this take? How much ego hurdling? How many of your executives would not only volunteer to do this, but actually craft the idea to do this on their holiday? What does that say about their leadership and character?
There is the response/reaction from the commuters, off to their busy pre Christmas work/life.
*How over saturated are we with being manipulated, coerced, conscripted into, seduced… that we regard with suspicion anything that on the surface looks too good to be true? Truly our over marketed hype has created a deep weariness in us. Warning to all marketers, people are yearning for authenticity in messages. The remarkable Seth Godin is an advocate for this.
*People who are clean and clear in advance with their agenda’s are a rare breed. This is a topic I cover in Speak the Truth, my 23 page ebook. To show up in all of our relationships with a clear and declared agenda is so powerful, so refreshing. It took my client a costume (Christmas hat) and many repeats of denial to any hidden agenda for people to trust his intentions. Really sad indictment on our society.
*For many people, this simple unexpected act at the start of their day would have set up their day…when people do unexpected deeply thoughtful gestures for us, our heart sings and that energy can carry us through all sorts of bumps. How do we possibly measure the value of these kinds of gestures on our health, our well being, our productivity, kindness to others, our ability to reciprocate? Such a small, inexpensive act, with very significant ripples. We never know the value of a smile, in the very right moment. It has changed lives. Yet where do we measure this in our economy, and our bottom line? And why don’t we consider this? Happiness is after all what most of us most want. Happiness and human connection.
*The tragedy of people so burnt by life that they cannot accept the gift. How far have we come from the gift economy (see my article on this) that we have become Scrooged. Fear, contraction, hopelessness, scarcity, distrust have become standard operating systems for our over consumed society.
There is a lot in this world that needs life support, blood transfusions, love and care. There is a lot of noise about collapse. Never doubt though that each of us can make a BIG difference.
We can begin with a heart felt smile and a genuine act of service to another. The cost is a bit of time and energy. The return, beyond measure.
Businesses can easily and affordably create drive through service experiences. To do so will put them in the class of exceptional service for their customers, a rare rare experience.
I bow to the mastery and inspiration of B. How lucky am I to work with such extraordinary people.
And to all of you reading this…where is your drive though? Can’t see it?…Hint…it is right in front of you with the very next person you speak to. At the least, smile…