Every so often, I encounter the most amazing teammates in the most unlikely places.
A few years ago, it was a busboy at a pizzeria in Cumberland, MD. Not long before that, it was a window washer in Spartanburg, SC.
These individuals are genuine assets to their organizations—their teams. They somehow seem to move faster and get more done than everyone else. They also seem to have exceptionally positive attitudes and take a tremendous amount of pride in their work, no matter how insignificant that work may be perceived to be.
The busboy cleared his tables quicker and with more enthusiasm for busing tables than anyone I had ever seen. The wait time at his restaurant was greatly reduced because of how fast he got the tables ready. Customers were happy. Management was even more happy.
The window washer moved just as fast, yet had no tolerance for any streaks or missed spots on his glass.
They both took PRIDE in their craft. The actual craft was irrelevant to them, but the pride part mattered. You could see it in their eyes.
Recently, my family and I moved. And as anyone who has ever endured the process of moving will attest, it is not a particularly pleasant experience.
However, this moving experience proved to be otherwise, as I once again stumbled across one of those amazing teammates.
When the moving truck pulled up, I noticed only the driver got out of the vehicle. This concerned me.
I asked the driver if he had a crew coming to help, to which he nonchalantly replied, “No, just me and Darnell. He’ll be here soon.”
As the driver proceeded to make preparations for the unload, I took a look at the humungous tractor-trailer filled with our stuff, and thought to myself, “I hope this Darnell character is built like a Greek god, otherwise, this is going to take forever.”
When Darnell finally arrived on the scene, I was disappointed to discover there was nothing Herculean about him.
In fact, the only thing relatively noteworthy about his physical stature was his uncanny resemblance to Will Smith’s sidekick on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, DJ Jazzy Jeff. (No offense intended to either party!)
But as the saying goes, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Darnell soon reminded me of this.
I witnessed him lift the heaviest boxes and pieces of furniture with ease, time and time again. He had a technique where he sort of slung the boxes on his back and took off—with expedience.
It was impressive to watch him work.
It was more impressive to listen to him work.
Darnell was a fountain of positivity. As he lugged another big box up the steps, he looked at my wife with his golden smile and said, “Do what you love. Love what you do. And I just love helping people.”
While Darnell and the driver were unloading their truck, another delivery truck from a local company where we had bought some new pieces of furniture arrived at my house. They’re weren’t supposed to arrive until later in the day.
The understandable reaction for the moving company would have been to complain about our lack of coordination and be angered by the inconvenience.
Darnell’s response: “No problem. We just got to all play in the same sandbox. That’s all. It’ll be alright.”
Most people don’t respond that way. They want to assign blame and have things resolved for their benefit. They can’t see beyond their own desires.
But Darnell’s response is how good teammates think and react.
Good teammates think SHARE. They think about what is best for the team and not what is best for their immediate needs. In this case, Darnell understood my family didn’t deliberately intend to inconvenience him. He also understood that working with the other delivery truck would keep us happy.
Happy customers mean referrals and repeat business for the moving company—his team.
Ironically, there was a moment when the men from the delivery company were struggling to figure out how to get an awkwardly-shaped piece of furniture up the stairs. Darnell stepped right in and helped them.
He didn’t roll his eyes. He didn’t stop to complain. He took action and helped them.
Afterwards, I asked Darnell how he came to have such a positive attitude. “You got to realize, life is short and you only get one time around. You can’t just get on a treadmill and zombie out,” he replied.
His response made my heart smile.
He went on to tell me that he has been married for 26 years and is the proud father of three daughters. That means he understands loyalty too.
I have become increasingly more aware lately of how valuable enthusiastic, positive-minded individuals like Darnell are to successful organizations.
Without them, progress is begrudgingly achieved…if achieved at all. Teammates with attitudes and energy like Darnell allow the team’s success to flow freely.
When the move was complete and Darnell headed out the door for the final time, I heard him say, to no one in particular, “Peace and tranquility. Wow! What a beautiful day today is.”
Darnell, thank you for making our moving experience one to remember and for reminding us all of the significant impact one good teammate can have on even the most dreaded endeavor.
I hope Darnell’s company appreciates what an asset he is to them.
Remember: Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.
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