I can still remember standing by my father’s side at his little service station watching him break his back under his customers’ cars--sweat pouring from his brow, black grease permanently embedded under his nails and into the cracks of his palms--only to see him wipe his hands as clean as possible, rest one gently on a concerned customer’s shoulder, and calmly assure her that everything was okay. It was just a loose bolt or something.
“And please,” he’d say holding up his hands. “Put your wallet away. It was no big deal.”
You know what? It was a big deal. It was the biggest of deals. And it has taken me far too long to appreciate the lesson he was trying to teach me: It’s all connected. Transparent, honest, caring relationships bring meaning, happiness and growth to your business and to your life.
My dad loved cars, but not as an end; as a means. Cars were his way to connect with people. He was driven by their needs, not by his ego or the noise of the competitive environment.
His garage ended up turning into a sort of sanctuary, where people from miles around would bring their problems, their favorite desserts, and their life stories. And my dad saw it as his purpose to take care of them all; to be their advocate and trusted advisor.
Whenever he thought he could use his connections and expertise to help save them time, money, or aggravation, he did it. He went deeper and deeper into his relationships, adding new products, sourcing new suppliers, doing anything that would add happiness to their lives.
Alas, my dad never did become “rich” by today’s standards. But by focusing on what mattered most--incessantly and creatively adding significance and meaning to people’s lives--he achieved more wealth than any person I’ve met in my thirty plus years in business.
My dad labored for love. And I miss him, and his example, very much.
Happy Labor Day to you and to those dear to you. I hope you labor for love as well.
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