The Little Hallelujah of Gratitude
As we move forward to the balance of this calendar year, I think about our goals and vision. Our goal is the same, as it should be: To see more patients. We have believed in this goal because it is the perfect description of what we seek to do, each day.
But, like a bell sounding, one other thing remains a need, for us, for our clients, for our clinicians, and for patients far and near.
It’s gratitude. And it reminds me of something I experienced many years ago when I worked at a grocery store. I hope you’ll be patient as I share this.
I got tips for taking out groceries, and all I had to do was wear a tie and look presentable and be friendly to the customers who needed help. It didn't take me long to learn how to spot those who tipped a dollar, which in the early 1980's was a solid tip. A week or so into this job, I knew the big tippers on sight and tried to get at the end of one of the store's 4 lines to be ready to bag for those big tippers.
The owner of the store was named Jerome Merlin, a short man with a big laugh who treated us all fairly and simply wanted us to be polite and helpful to the customers. If you had to work on an aisle adjusting the canned goods - "blocking" the aisle, as he called it - he'd come by and hand you a bag of chips to munch on while you worked.
At the end of the night Mr. Merlin would cash out your change for dollar bills. Folding money. He'd smile while we counted it and send one of us out to the parking lot to pull his Cadillac around for Mrs. Merlin, who was a cashier.
Be careful, he'd say, and he had a sneaky little smile.
That was many years ago. Mr. Merlin has long since left this world, but today I thought of his wonderful store and all the memories I got working there - learning how to bag groceries and be generous to customers, learning what it meant to expect others to do the right thing no matter what.
If there's anything about business and leadership that I learned from Mr. Merlin it's this one simple truth: A humble leader willing to express gratitude to his employees will find in return a group of people willing to do their best to keep on working in the presence of that one most inviting thing: gratitude.
In my experience, a true business leader, the real deal, knows that gratitude makes the engine go. That's the only kind of leader others will choose to follow. It's the choosing part that matters most.
Why? Because nothing solves a morale problem like gratitude. Nothing motivates others in dry seasons like gratitude. Nothing turns around a lousy day like gratitude. Nothing feels better than the little hallelujah of gratitude.
Hats off to Mr. Merlin, the emperor of folding money and fairness to others, who understood long before I ever could have that gratitude draws the right kind of crowds.
As we move into the fall of this year, my vision is very simple. To be grateful, and to share that gratitude with others.