Create Greatness – When you think no one is listening

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I got a note from a good friend of mine, Steve, today. We started off as co-workers in the retail industry (of all places, right? I mean, can you imagine walking into a store and my nutso self is helping you? I probably scared off more people than I helped).

He was transferred to my store as an Assistant Manager, and I was what was called a Trainer. Can you believe a company was crazy enough to hold me responsible in developing the future for their company? I’m surprised it’s still successful, haha! Anyway, back to the story.

Steve had high hopes of becoming a manager, but didn’t have direction. He had drive, but didn’t know what to do with it. He was very confident in being top 5 in sales in the district, but never focused on being the best. I believe now it was for reasons of having another disappointment in his life. Steve grew up in a rough area in Southern California, no true father figure, and only knew that working hard would put food on the table and money in his pocket, because that is what he learned from his mother.

I remember one Friday he came into my office and he said. “James, I am at $15000 in sales this week, that is the most I have ever had in one week and I still have one more day left!”

I told him, “Congratulations! And guess what Steve? This will be your first week you break $20000 as well!”

Steve looked at me as if I was crazy and rebutted, “HUH?!? I have never done $5000 in a day, ever! and I only work 8 hours tomorrow.” He said with a chuckle, “That isn’t happening.”

I stopped what I was doing, stared Steve right in the eyes and said, “You’re right, you won’t hit it if you don’t believe in yourself. If you can see what I see, shoot… You would have had $5000 everyday this week.”

I continued with, “Look, you just need to make a commitment to yourself, and your family… You need to promise yourself that you will not leave tomorrow until that $5000 is hit, period.” I don’t care if you get off at 5pm or you close down the store, you need to promise that you will not leave until you hit your goal.”

Steve nodded his head and left for the day. I didn’t think anything more of it since I have to do this every associate that doubts themselves. You see, retail is not really a career job for most. So you just need to make sure they enjoy what they do so that customers feel that the environment is a motivating place to shop. Steve was new to my store and it was the first time I challenged him to push himself. I hoped that my message would be taken positively vs being taken as that teacher that said the “you have all the potential in the world, you just need to use it” speech, and you ignored it.

Steve clocked in that next morning and didn’t say more than two words to me. I felt he took our conversation the previous night not too well. I let him be, and go take care of customers since we were extremely busy.

It was around 2:30 and I was taking my lunch break when Steve came into my office. “James, you know how you gave me that challenge last night, and I thought about it. I said I would give it a whirl. Let me say that I was not going stay later than 5:00 because I wanted to spend time with my family. So I had no choice but to come in today and hit my goal.”

I replied with “Fired up! Now go hit that goal because you only have about 2 hours left.”

He said, “I already did! In fact, I’m almost at $6000!”

It has been 10 years now and I still am motivated by Steve’s mindset of just trusting my words and doing it.

Steve sent me a text yesterday and here is what it said-

“It is hard to say what you did for me. I thing a lot of fatherless boys or men, are searching for approval from an older or more established man. It’s the reason so many kids fall victim to the streets. We want a man to be proud of us, and in these neighborhoods, those men are gangsters, pimps, hustlers, etc. You were that mentor for me at the time. I just wanted you to be proud of me, of my performances, or my success. You had a way of speaking that spoke to me.”

Well, Steve, these words are powerful, and I know you are paying it forward to the ones you are responsible for mentoring. You will always be considered a brother in greatness to me!

Let me end this post with this –

Each of us have a responsibility of getting the “great” out of people we are responsible for. Your words are powerful and can make people achieve things they never thought were possible.  Don’t EVER doubt yourself in your abilities!

Until next time…

Chase Greatness!

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