Recently our family enjoyed some time away on vacation in the Grand Teton National Park. In addition to the beauty of the area and the time with my wife and kids, the trip was made all the better because my parents were able to join us for part of the time. They had never been to this part of the world before and it was fun sharing this special place with them. In the evenings, when it was time for dinner, we would all jump in the minivan and drive around the town of Jackson, Wyoming in search of a restaurant. After a few passes through town, we agreed to try a Chinese restaurant that was reasonably priced and rated highly online.
The number of cars in the parking lot suggested it was a popular place and the restaurant was buzzing with activity as we stepped inside. We were seated quickly and our server introduced himself and took our order. As we waited for our food to arrive, we noticed our middle-aged waiter moving from one table to the next filling drinks and serving food. We noticed him because of how he was doing his job. He worked quickly, not out of control or overly rushed but with noticeable determination.
The serving size of the meals was large and although we were hungry, we were no match for the amount of food we had been served. We asked for to go boxes. He brought the boxes and instead of allowing us to fill them ourselves, he filled each one with remarkable speed.
My father noticed the diligence of the waiter and was impressed with how hard he worked. As he watched him work, he asked a question that was meant more as a compliment than an actual question. He raised his voice and said, “Are you the owner?” Without missing a beat, the waiter smiled slightly; looked at my father and said with a knowing tone, “Not yet.” His unconscious smile remained as he continued clearing the table and told of his hope of someday being able to have a place of his own. It was clear he was working towards a goal and I have no doubt he will succeed.
Diligence is Inspirational
I love working with diligent people. I admire people who invest themselves fully in their work as an expression of their personal character. The person who works diligently - whether they are working in a restaurant, changing a tire, overhauling an engine, or preparing for a presentation impresses me. I’ll take it a step farther; people who take personal pride in their work, who invest the time and energy needed to do get the job done, not only impress me, they inspire me. In healthy organizations, where people choose diligence over indifference, it creates an environment where people respect and admire the work of others. I assume this is why people are able to appreciate the diligent work of others even if the work they have undertaken is not something that impacts or appeals to them directly.
Hard working people recognize the efforts of other diligent people and this abiding respect transcends profession. To have such an organization, to work in a place where diligence is the norm, is possible but there is a catch, as it requires leaders willing to model and acknowledge it. The fact you are reading this article tells me you are likely willing to pay the price.