The Curious Case Of The Skipping Waiter

The Curious Case Of The Skipping Waiter

My eyes were bloodshot and I was sitting with two men that were twice my age. We were solving their organization's issues on 5 pieces of paper with 3 different colored pens. It was a frenzy of power struggle and politics. I was dodging the undercurrents of tyranny and hoping to bring about an amicable solution that would catapult the organization to the next global level. Better Internet presence, cooler stories, snapshots of personalities, a conversation on Jay Leno, having tea with the Chinese; we went through it all and I was rigid, intense, trying so hard to add value and hoping that when I did it would be given a medal.

We all want medals. I noticed my own shirt: it looked professional, so I could act professional. I think the people I was consulting for really liked me. I hoped they did.

Then after hearing the two of them talk back on forth on an idea I presented about "simple internal systems," I lost track of everything. I consciously fell asleep and drifted into my coffee cup. And took a big sip. I looked up all of a sudden and saw a waiter coming to work. He was skipping in to work. SKIPPING! Excited to serve people croissants and coffee. His face had a slapped-on smile that wouldn't go away. He probably rode to work on a bicycle.

Then the clock struck 11am. I had never skipped to my office. I didn't smile when I greeted my secretary. I didn't care about serving coffee. My accountants had thrown me into the pit of the "bottom line." It's all I could see and pretty much all I could think of. Why didn't I SKIP to work? Despite the fact that skipping has the potential to look undignified, there was something about this guy that excited him about his work. He just looked like he wanted to be there.

In that moment I experienced a paradigm shift that would alter the way I viewed "work" forever. There was more to life than the “bottom line," more than the organizational politicking that was going on between my clients. There was an attitude I could adopt to enjoying my job so much, with a sense of purpose, that it became infectious in the people around me.

The money would remain important, but far more important was the value I added by addressing what I did with passion, zeal, and excellence. The zeal birthed by the realization that I was making a difference in the lives of people around me and not just being a perpetual minion under the subjugation of 'the system.'

Finding The Passion, Not Waiting For It

If you cannot find a passion for what you do perhaps you are in the wrong place. Not necessarily physically but in the wrong place with regards to your attitude. If there is no vision for change coming down from the top of your organization, well perhaps you better kick start it in your own life. Find a better reason for life than the paycheck at the end of the month. Create a bigger picture for your life. Lift up your head from the hum-drum of daily routine long enough to stare your life full in the face.

Let your attitude be one of giving value. Giving a smile that costs you no more than allowing a few muscles to work. Incidentally, the act of smiling has been scientifically validated to improve your happiness. Go on, try it. Smile for 30 seconds. See the emotional change in you? You serve people because you are making their life better, not because you are trying to fill some impossible quota set by the accounts department. You work because you are making a difference in the universe, making it a better place for the rest of us to enjoy with you. That is the sort of attitude that will get you skipping to work.

"Snap!" My clients asked me a question. I smiled and said "Tell me again so I can answer correctly." I kept on smiling. And then answered. They were happy and said I was an amazing contribution to their company. I walked away got in my car and said to myself, "No longer will I walk to work, I will skip, I will smile and I will serve my employees and my clients like that waiter served coffee. Eagerly and excitedly.” That was a while ago and it's changed my life. Be in love with what you do. If you're not, go to a coffee shop and find a waiter who just loves to serve you. Watch, learn, catch his zeal, and change.

Photos via: Gwenaël Piaser & Alessandro Prada