This talk from Dudley really pumped me up about the ways we can influence lives. He is totally right that we have made leadership this unreachable goal in our personal lives. In personal management we work toward transforming our behaviors. A personal goal of mine is to be a positive addition to the lives of others. A simple commitment I have is to “makeitbetter” when I am involved in something. What inspired me most about this story is Dudley didn’t wake up that morning planning to change two lives. He woke up to improve the charity he was passionate about, and in the wake of his positive addition he changed two lives.
In college I worked as a server at Cracker Barrel. I waited tables for nearly six years, and I learned that by being a positive addition to the team on a shift I improve my own experience. Helping other servers, refilling drinks for others tables, and running food were just a few things I tried to do. The greatest “Lightbulb moment” I had, as a server was the realization that if I really focused on giving my customers excellent service, I improved their experience, day, and my tips. One of the tools I used to strike up small conversations with tables or improve their experience was the secret to the peg game. If you aren’t familiar with the peg game at Cracker Barrel, the game is shaped like a triangle with small peg holes inside. Golf tee looking pegs fill all the holes except one. The goal of the game is jump one peg over the over to end with one peg left on the triangle. The story goes if you can end with one peg you are a “genius” by Cracker Barrel standards. If you have visited a Cracker Barrel Store, and attempted the Peg Game, you know the frustration this game can bring. So as you can imagine, when I taught my customers the secret many frowns were turned upside down.
My motivation in learning the secret and sharing it with my customers was to improve their experience, but little did I know I would one day change a life through the secret. At my freshman orientation, all the freshman were divided into teams for a huge relay with a great big mystery prize at the end for the team of freshman who won. We had to do some pretty disgusting things in the relay that were also time consuming. People threw up, legs were broken, and many gave up. No joke, it was a crazy relay. The good Lord above smiled down on our team, because the last challenge of the relay was to complete the peg game. I filled in my teammates on my special talent, and we kept it quiet. We blew all the other teams out of the water as I walked up to the game, and completed it in less than ten seconds. Little did I know, but a huge “Lollipop moment” was about to happen in my life. At the award ceremony they placed my name, and the name of my teammates in a glass bowl. One of the teachers drew the name of a young lady on my team. Then he said, “Congratulations, you are going to College for absolutely FREE!!! Free tuition, free books, free room & board, and a free meal plan.” The room exploded. I could not believe what I had just heard. Talk about a lollipop moment. A young lady went to college for free because years earlier I decided to make a small improvement to the experience of my customers.
Maybe its possible we have complicated our ability to influence, and we don’t pay attention to the small opportunities we have to impact other people’s lives. Ask yourself the question, “Is it possible I have changed a life through a lollipop moment?” Maybe you have, and just don’t remember like Dudley, or maybe you really don’t feel like it is possible. Why not? The answer to that question is a first in personal management. I want to make a guestimate on why you may feel that way. Maybe, you aren’t the type of person who is passionately involved in improving something, or maybe you really don’t look for opportunities to improve other people’s lives. Sadly, most of us live our lives in a way that is focused on satisfying ourselves. What would happen if we lived to improve more than our own existence? We would be in danger of improving upon the lives of others.
So open your eyes wide, and make the commitment to “make it better.” Whether it is the organization you serve in, or the lives of people around you, search for small ways to improve the existence of other people. Make sacrifices to give to someone else. Look for “lollipop moments” everywhere you go.