Buried Treasure

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Hi, thanks for hanging out with me for a while.

I have been reflecting on my last blog entry and I felt the need to press in a little further on the impact one can have by bringing dignity to the menial.

I still think some of you out there are thinking that I am making more of this than it deserves… maybe, but I don’t think so.  There is something here our world needs to hear.

If you didn’t read the last blog I encourage you to scroll down the page and take a quick look at the story of a garbage man.

Ervin Sievers was a man who elevated a menial task… brought honor to what most people consider the worst of jobs.

In the sentence above I was going to say, “Ervin Sievers was an average person who…”.  But I decided against it.

He may have been seen as average (even below average) by society’s standards and uppity notion of what one should aspire to.

But in the bigger things in life… he was anything but average.

What’s interesting to me, and most telling, is the fact that here we are fourteen years after Ervin’s death, in an obscure blog talking about his hard work and pride in what he did with his all too short life.

There are literally millions of people who have died that were significantly more powerful and wealthy yet have not been an inspiration for a blog entry.  They have taught us no lessons.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are millions of people who work hard and have pride in what they do.  But there are few… very, very few… who elevate and dignify a menial task (that most see as being beneath them) by taking pride in their duties and doing it well.

I am no different than anyone else.  I have a tough time motivating myself to do things that I consider to be beneath me.

But this one thing I can say… I greatly value and appreciate the tasks or positions in an organization that most people consider menial or even trivial.

There is a repulsive arrogance to those who consider their role or job being superior to the grunts who do the support stuff.

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My success is not due to any personal superiority over other people.
- John Philip Sousa

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There is no question that some jobs and roles require unique skills and carry significant responsibility.  A person should be compensated accordingly… they deserve it.

Allow me to give a real life example of what I am talking about.

I have the privilege to work with lots of different leadership teams to help them become more effective in their roles of leading the organization.

One of the issues we typically discuss is the necessity of understanding the significance of all the varied tasks in the company that tend to be classified as support or mundane in nature.

We go a step further and press the most important leadership insight, genuinely valuing the contribution of these positions.

This topic becomes an important leadership discussion because appreciation for the perceived mundane is fundamentally in its crassest form, a business issue.

The companies where the workers feel genuinely valued are more successful in the long-term.  And besides that, it’s just the right thing to do!

I drive the point home by asking a series of simple questions.

Question

If you (the top leadership team) are gone for three days and the janitorial staff is gone for three days…

  • Who will be missed the most?
  • Which will have the greatest impact on morale?
  • Which will have the greatest impact on productivity?

The point becomes obvious.

This in no way suggests that leadership isn’t important, of course not!  A company would not survive nor be successful without the leadership dealing with the high level decisions and oversight that move a company forward.

All I am saying is that a person who does the less desirable jobs well is a treasure worth their weight in gold and should feel valued.

See you Monday.

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Every man I meet is in some way my superior.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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