FranklinCovey Consultant Blogs | Todd Wangsgard | April, 2009
This is Grain Valley Muffler in Grain Valley, Missouri. I will always have my cars inspected and repaired here. I tell everyone about their service, speed, and amazing value. No. I boast about them!
My first visit to this shop 4 years ago was right after another service station told me they couldn’t pass my car’s inspection until I had an exhaust leak repaired. Fully expecting to hear the Grain Valley repairman tell me that I would need to replace my muffler, pipe, and perhaps a number of other items, I braced for the worst.
About 15 minutes had passed, when an attendant reappeared in the waiting room. “You’re good to go!” he said.
”What do you mean?” I replied, insinuating I hadn’t authorized any services to be performed.
”Oh, there was just a small leak in the line, so I simply spot welded it shut. You’re good to go!”
That’s all fine and dandy, I thought. But how much was this unauthorized service going to set me back? “How much do I owe you?” I implored.
”Don’t worry about it,” he said, “It was too small to bother with any charges. You’re good to go!”
I had to double-check the date in my FranklinCovey planner to confirm it didn’t say the year 1953. Does this kind of thing happen anymore?
That was just the beginning of a string of similar gratis services. Oh sure, I’ve had more extensive repairs along the way that have cost me the price of parts and labor. But I NEVER question whether what they are doing or charging is fair. Can you say the same thing about your repair shop? Your accountant? Your cell phone carrier? Your airline? Your local government?
I estimate that occasional repairs on my high-miles vehicles have totaled around $1000 per year. That’s where loyalty IS the bottom line. They don’t advertise, they’re even out of my way, and their shop isn’t going to win any Popular Mechanics awards for aesthetics. But I know I can always trust them.
For your organization, what is your customers’ loyalty worth each year. Is the level of trust customers have in your brand building loyalty or eroding the relationship? For you personally, what is your employer’s loyalty worth to you each year? Add up your salary, benefits, time off, and bonuses. Are you continuously building more trust in your personal “brand” or are you gradually losing relevance in your field?
Fortunately there are very specific things each of us can do to build trust in our brands – 13 Behaviors, to be exact. If you want to study this challenge further, grab a copy of Stephen M. R. Covey’s best-selling book, “The Speed of Trust.” It’s all in there!
Last week I coined a new phrase. At least, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard it before. It goes like this:
“Perfect inaction is a miserable substitute for imperfect action.”
Too often, for example, we see 4 Disciplines of Execution clients spend way too much time getting ready to get ready. They want their WIGs (wildly important goals), lead measures, scoreboards, and WIG meetings to be perfect, before taking any action at all. However, during those 4 to 8 weeks of preparation, they miss out on the fruit of action – even if that action isn’t perfected yet. Err on the side of action. My good friend and fellow FranklinCovey consultant, Patrick Leddin, puts it this way, “Everything worth doing is worth doing poorly- at least at first.”
In Gilbert & Sullivan’s famous operetta, “The Pirates of Penzance,” art imitates life. The constable and his deputies, tasked with confronting the dubious and dastardly pirates, sing ernestly about their intentions to engage in certain conflict. Over and over again they sing, “We go! Yes, forward on we go. Yes, forward on we go.” All the while, they are marching in circles – NOT going. Finally, the hopeful – and increasingly more concerned – citizen onlookers chime in on the chorus and follow each “Forward on we go,” with their own, “Yes, but you DON”T go!”
Perhaps Nike’s ad slogan says it best. “Just Do It!”
Growing up in the West, I spent many of my summers exploring the Rocky Mountains. Shortly after being introduced to technical rock climbing, I took a course and an expedition led by professionals of the world-renowned Exum Climbing School. During the years that followed, I especially enjoyed inviting friends or family, most of whom had never been rock climbing before, to venture up various peaks in Grand Teton National Park.
All eyes turned to me. As the freezing pellets of sleet turned into a steady stream of pelting hail, we took cover under a small overhang to gather our thoughts and take inventory of the situation. We had reached a point of no return along our route, committed now to attain the summit before we would reach our path of descent. All options to turn around and go back the way we came were gone.
During one of my 20+ trips up The Grand Teton, elevation 13,770 feet, our group was suddenly surrounded by a storm system that formed out of thin air, quite literally. We had reached about 13,000 feet, inching ever closer to the summit. Even in mid-August, this is an elevation where experienced climbers must dress in layers of winter clothing, knit caps and synthetic gloves, in order to adequately endure the unexpected elements. At this moment my dad’s last words to me, before I made the trek to Jackson Hole the day before, began ringing in my ears: “Will you be ready?”
It’s these kind of threatening moments in life – physically and mentally threatening – that tend to test our mettle. Seeds of doubt raced through my mind. Would we freeze to death? Would the extremely slippery granite surface cause someone to fall? Would we lose our way in the blinding snow?
Fortunately, we were prepared. We were dressed appropriately (even though some in our party had questioned the need to pack winter clothing just a couple days prior). I knew the route. I had been in this kind of storm in this very location before. We had taken timely refuge. “Yes, Dad,” I could hear myself saying, “we are ready!”
It also helps that August cloudbursts in the Tetons are brief.
After only about 10 to 15 tense minutes, the storm subsided. We were again able to regain our intended route and summit within the hour. Each person in the group experienced the intense personal satisfaction of having overcome something new and challenging. We were soon safely on our way back down to base camp.
While today’s tumultuous times may last a bit longer than a 10-minute summer snow storm, the lesson learned is the same. Be Prepared. In an era where entitlement and excess have shaped many of our expectations, it seems everyone would be well served to revisit and exercise the time-honored principles of personal responsibility and self-reliance. They are, after all, the essence of the Private Victory and being proactive.
Let’s not plan on how someone else will find and rescue us off the mountain. Instead, let us ask, “What will I do to rescue myself?” The thrill of taking friends and family to the summit and gazing over the challenging journey that lies behind us and the thrilling paths that lie before us is one of life’s great expeditions.
Will you be ready?