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OTHER ITA SITES:
Always Do Your Best
“Be Impeccable With Your Words”
I recently spent a week in New Orleans. I didn't realize that New Orleans had a lot to teach me during my six-day visit.
While there, Hurricane Dennis became a threat. At the outset, New Orleans was thought to be in the path of the storm. We were encouraged to leave our hotel by the staff. After much deliberation, I decided to stay. Part of the reason for my extended stay in New Orleans was a "getaway." To go away from my "getaway" seemed an oxymoron. As the storm became more predictable, many people from Florida who evacuated at the last minute came to New Orleans. Our hotel became full of people who suddenly had an unplanned "getaway." Whether in the lobby or the restaurant, it was easy to see that everyone was a "bit nervous" and from that nervousness everyone began to share.
Strangers, whose paths never would have crossed, shared stories. People shared dreams, ambitions, and regrets. How candid we all were, and how much we enjoyed one another, when life forced us to a place where we forgot pretenses. How I wished for a way to bottle that mood and take it with me.
My best gift however, did not come until the afternoon I left. I climbed in my taxi to head to the airport (about 20 minutes from where I was staying). I immediately noticed that the taxi was well air-conditioned (not an easy feat in the New Orleans summer) and it smelled like fresh Pecan pie. I have ridden in taxis throughout the country, and I knew immediately something about this ride would be very different. Although I had planned on making a few calls during my ride, my gut thought better of it and I just relaxed into the comfortable seat.
The driver introduced himself after exchanging niceties with the doorman. After checking when my flight was schedule, he opted for a scenic route since I had plenty of time. The fare was a flat rate so I thought taking the scenic route was a nice gesture. We began the small talk that sometimes occurs in cabs. I asked him how long he had been driving and he said 4 years. I asked him how he got into the business, he explained that he had led a successful business career and retired about 6 years prior. After the trials of the stock market, he decided to look for something he could do that was flexible. Having always lived in New Orleans and knowing the city well, the idea of driving appealed to him. He began to explain his services to me. He found a niche in providing limo-style service at taxi-prices. Prior to going to the city, clients can contact him; he arranges airport pickup, waiting by the baggage claim. This one-man-show will also schedule transport while in town, and make dinner reservations. His website contains loads of reviews and recommendations for things to do while in town, where to eat, and the like--and he updates it regularly—trying to visit a new restaurant each week.
During the ride, he asked about my profession. I explained that I owned a publishing company and was also an author. He began to tell me (as often happens when I mention my profession) about a book he wanted to write. The book would be based on the premise of "always doing your best" and "going the extra mile" (pun intended). For that is what he had done, he had taken years of business training and brought the skills he had used to realize success to what he called "a basic job." Yet, due to that care and attention, his business was thriving.
When I asked him about his inspiration, he told me a really cool story. His father had been a bell-hop for his entire life. He had "hopped bells" until 6 months before his death. His career spanned the most notorious hotels in New Orleans. In fact, he was sought after because his attention to detail and his ability to "go the extra mile" and "always doing his best" were unparalleled. When the driver was young, he used to dread going back to school. For always in those first weeks of school the students would have to write a paper about their summer and what the family did--or talk about the careers of their fathers. The driver tried to come up with creative ways to say "bell-hop" and had a hard time doing so, for he didn't want to lie about what his father did, but oh how jealous he was of those children who could say "doctor" or "lawyer" or "accountant." It wasn't until many years later that the driver would realize what a living such a "basic job" could provide. The family had always lived comfortably and yearned for nothing. This father had taken a job that often wouldn't support a family and made it into a career by always doing his best. When he died, the Presidents of famous hotel chains would come to his service, all to pay tribute to the man that is still known in New Orleans as the best bell-hop of his day.
When we reached the airport, the driver apologized for monopolizing the conversation, stating he normally was the one asking all the questions. I told him that I felt honored to hear his story and I would put it to good use. He gave me a homemade Pecan Praline to tide me over until I arrived home. I immediately stored his contact information into my catch all notebook and knew for certain I would use his services the next time I visited the city.
The taxi visit reminded me of one of my favorite books of all time, The Four Agreements. At one point, I gave a copy of this book to each of my staff as assigned reading. This book breaks down life into its simplest form, citing four keys to living a whole life:
Those simple phrases can change a life when put into practice on a daily basis. When I keep these words in the forefront of my mind, I too go the extra mile in tasks both large and small. Instead of leaving a laundry load undone, I transfer it to the dryer. Instead of sending the copy of a letter with a tiny ink smudge, I print it fresh. Instead of uploading the Challenge Weekly with 4 new articles at 3:00 AM, I go until 3:15 to get the fifth article. Instead of telling my daughter "It is too late to read another story..." I find the voice to read another couple of pages.
Your Challenge for the Week:
Re-write the above phrases on index cards and post them in a prominent place. Which of the four speaks the most to you? Try to practice it daily. Next week, add another. In four weeks you can begin to incorporate these short life-changing phrases into your life.
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