Blane Sheffield

My Journey

The Key to Exemplary Work Ethic!

Good evening, my name is Henry. Welcome to this restroom. I take great pride in its appearance and in the wide variety of toiletries you see displayed elegantly across the granite counter top before you.

You are not making eye contact with me or returning my greeting so I can only assume that you are here for some very urgent business. That’s quite alright. I see this in my line of work. I will not keep you.

I believe stall number three is available and does not have a neighbor at this time. Stall three can accommodate wheelchairs and is a little roomier than the rest – you will find it quite comfortable. And clean. I see to that every 45 minutes to an hour, my friend.

Before you enter, may I offer you some reading material? I have the latest issues of…oh, alright then. I see you’ve closed the door. It will be my pleasure to now whistle loudly enough to obscure your bathroom noises from the other patrons here, but not so loudly as to be a distraction from your intended purpose.

Welcome back from the battlefield. Ha ha. That’s my little joke. Truly, however, I am glad you’ve come out unharmed. I was concerned for a brief but meaningful period of time for your safety.

May I interest you in a breath mint? I do not mean to say that you need one, my friend. People do not realize this about me, but I notice things. For example, I notice that there is not a ring on your finger and I wonder if your evening would be enhanced by some mouthwash or a treatment of body spray. Of course I am happy to provide either from my collection.

I have stepped silently into your blind spot as you wash your hands for one very important reason. I would like to provide you with this dry and flat paper towel for your convenience. Please take it from my hand when you are ready. There is no rush. I will also be happy to dry your hands for you if that is what you require. I am at your service.

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. When you removed the dry and flat paper towel from my hand, I quickly replaced it with another – just as dry and every bit as flat as the first. Please, use as many as you need. It is my pleasure to provide you with these paper towels.

I realize that picking up paper towels from a pile two feet away from your own hand is a difficult and arduous task, but I am happy to provide you with this service without ever being asked to do so. I am also happy to take your discarded towels and deposit them in the trash for your convenience.

Nothing would bring me greater joy than to see you leave this room with comfortably evacuated bowels and clean, dry hands. I believe we have satisfied both of those requirements. I wonder if you might consider that justification enough for leaving a small token of your appreciation in the tip jar conveniently located within your line of vision as you make your way toward the exit.

Either way, it was a pleasure serving you this evening. I hope to welcome you again soon.

~ Henry

True, the above is intended and first received as a funny story, nevertheless one with a great lesson to learn for those wise and humble enough to realize it! What is it that you do for a living? Maybe your not a restroom attendant but the same care and dedication can be applied to your responsibilities to those you support, regardless of your occupation.

One thing that seems like a dying culture in today’s work force is the appreciation of having a job, period! So many young men graduate from their first career (what must have seemed like one) to enter their second, the workforce. In this new world they’ll be earning an income needed to begin paying their own way through life, where growing up and going to school that burden lied mainly on their parents or guardians. Now it’s their turn to learn the art of setting money back for more than the newest release of their favorite on-line game.

More often than not, our first jobs out of school are jobs at the beginning of the pay scale, without benefits, and often part-time. Yet the work is hard and difficult and your being given task that are less than enjoyable such as cleaning restrooms, mopping floors, and taking out the trash. It’s not fun, doesn’t pay much, and can be humbling but it’s a right of passage that can teach a young man valuable work ethic if he’ll pay attention and receive it as such. Too many times I’ve been in fast food restaurants (where first jobs or common) to notice young people just going through the motions of their responsibilities half heartedly, if at all heartedly. Proper greetings, a smile, and eye-to-eye contact are not something that seems to come natural to them. They appear to pay more attention to the clock on the wall anxious for the required break times and wanting it to be quitting time than to their duties. I wish we as managers would make it a higher priority to take these young men and ladies under our wings and teach them how to do more than the mere task required of them to physically do their job. It’s so important they learn the real skills that will help them become successful as they grow, especially that of being appreciative to their employer for giving them the chance to work, teaching them the skills of whatever industry they’re working in, and paying them to learn them.

My biggest beef is not the youth but the men of women of my own generation who often are the same, unappreciative and expecting more from their employers than they really have the right to “expect”. It’s disheartening to see men and women who have spent many years in their craft and are now making a fair pay for all those years with benefits, insurance, etc.. Have you known managers who won’t perform certain task, feeling they have “earned” the right to now delegate those task? And when they’re asked by their management to do something they feel is beneath them in their current position they get offended and hurt, and if they do perform the task, the quality shows their lack of enthusiasm.

One of the things I count among my truest blessings is having the fortune of having managers in my younger years that were the opposite of the above and taught all in their supervision by example rather than demand. They were there in the ditches with us working as hard as any of us, as long as any of us, and getting as dirty as any of us. Those are the true leaders!

I spent a good number of years as a much younger man working for one employer and I gave my job my all every day, always eager to learn anything from any source, and willing to spend more hours than I was compensated for to increase that learning as I honed my skills and experience. Those years paid off in many ways with my advancing in responsibility and position, to the occasional envy of some co-workers that didn’t understand the “how”.

What I’ll always remember more than any of those accomplishments was a woman who held one of the top positions in the agency. This lady recognized my efforts and ask me to consider a newly created director level position that would put me responsible for the design, implementation and managing of some of the state’s largest technology projects.

This lady made great efforts teaching me and others under her supervision a management culture we then knew as “servant leadership”. She taught us to realize that it’s not our product or our services that make the company profitable but the staff we’ve been given the good fortune to supervise. Take care of them! Provide them the best resources and tools you can muster and always, always, show them your appreciation on a daily basis!!

Following her example, and the like example of other great leaders I’ve been blessed to work for (though it felt more like work with) since, I’ve committed myself to hopefully instilling this management style in as many under my supervision as possible since.

Young and older men alike, if you have ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart to feel, the funny story this article started with is now a lot more than funny to you, it’s a valuable example of how any task given you is a blessing and it’s our responsibility to give every task given us 100%! Show your employer, manager, employees, and co-workers that you’re willing to do anything needed to get the job done and take on those task that you don’t care for, or may even think is unfair, with a smile and real effort!

I’ll leave you with a quote that I’ve always admired…

Napoleon Hill 2

Keeping it Old-School!

-Blane

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