Take a number. That was what the man heard after placing his item for purchase in front of the cashier. There was no one else in line, but there was a system, and the system was taking a number. The man approached the clerk with his purchase when she only looked at him and said, “Take a number.”
He took a number which was 85, the number on her screen was on 82 so she proceeded to ask for 82, then 83 and so on until she reached, you guessed it, 85! “How may I help you,” as she directed her attention towards him.
Here is a woman that has completely lost sight of why she does what she does. This great principle of leadership is that never lose sight of why we do what we do. In life, we tend to put the structures, systems, the organization ahead of the person. Structures, systems, and organizations are great servants but poor masters. Have you ever been in a waiting room of a doctors office or better yet a local motor vehicle department and wait wait wait. Your thinking to yourself, “they have zero regards for my time.” Think how it could have changed your attitude if the system had made you the priority.
Years ago my wife faced a severe health issue. She had been bleeding internally from a cancerous growth (we didn’t know the extent) for months; she was getting weaker and weaker. We later found out she had lost 50% of her blood. I drove her to the emergency and had to drop her off to park. When she approached the front desk she informed them of her condition, they gave her some paperwork and said, “take a seat and fill this out first.” She looked that person in the face and said, “admit me now, or you will be picking me off the floor.” They admitted her!
I think you see the picture, many of our institutions start out caring for others but as time progresses they slowly put the rules ahead of the person and lose sight of why they do what they do. So let our life be guided by this principle, which is, don’t lose sight of why you do what you do!!
For more on this subject, you can preview the first part of my series called “Principles That Make Great Leaders” and begin to learn how to lead.
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