As a business traveler for more than 30 years. I’ve always been amazed at what I have learned from people with “menial” jobs. Here are a few examples of some “menial” workers I have met:
- A singing custodian who cleaned the toilets in the San Diego airport.
- An extremely conscientious housekeeper in an Atlanta hospital.
- An over-the-top energetic man who directed cars onto a ferry boat in Jacksonville, Florida.
- An enthusiastic taxi driver in Memphis who moved to the U.S. from a developing country.
This past week, I met Harold. Harold is a wise and inspirational shoeshine professional at the Oklahoma City airport.
During the 15 minutes I sat in Harold’s chair, he dispensed a lot of wisdom:
- There is no such thing as luck. You create your own opportunities.
- If you have enough faith, you can move mountains.
- Hard work pays off. Show up every day ready to do your best.
- Love your job. “I love shining shoes more than eating ice cream and I LOVE ice cream!” Harold told me.”
- Stay out of trouble. It is easy to get into trouble, but it is hard to get out of trouble. Keep your nose clean.
- Know how to manage your money. Remember too much can ruin you.
- Do not ever play the lottery because if you win, you will likely be unhappy and usually broke after five years.
- Always be selling. “In my business, if I don’t say something to people walking by, I don’t get much business. Talk to everyone.”
- Take time to smell the roses. Life is short and stopping to appreciate the simple things is very important.
Maybe you have a Harold in your organization – someone, who like Harold, has been working for a long time (Harold’s been shining shoes for more than 50 years).
Take time to connect with the Harold’s around you. Ask them for their advice. Get their input on a problem that needs a unique perspective. Acknowledge and honor them for the work that they do.
There is a lot of wisdom and common sense right under our noses.