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Little things – Cleaning up in life in a big way

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Years ago when I was starting out my career and life, I hit a road block. I graduated from university and was ready to take on the world; however, the world was not ready for me. I applied for jobs that I was suited for, and no one took notice. I applied for jobs that I was not suited for, and no one took notice. Someone who did take notice was a lovely man named Carson A and he hired me as a janitor in a hospital while I tried to figure things out. Carson told me: “this is NOT your career and job but as you figure out your life, come and work with me. If you have interviews scheduled and you have a shift, you go”…so I became a janitor with a lovely degree on my wall.

For an entire year, I accumulated rejection letter after rejection letter but I did not let that phase me. One thing my father always told me, and this remains with me to this day, “I don’t care what you do for a living but if you are doing a job, do the best job possible because your reputation is always on the line and you don’t know who is watching”. My father always took great care in all that he did and continues to do that. This sat with me and I made sure that I did not let my pride get the better of me and I put my head down and became the best janitor possible. I took great care in mopping floors, there was not one rubbish bin that was full after my shift and the railings/tops of doors never looked so clean…and I did all this super fast and always with a smile. I was NOT going to let this job stand in the way of my life and career. You see, my reputation was on the line and I did not want anyone to think that I did not care. Fast forward to today and you can still see that I go out of my way to do the best and be the best. Not in a competitive way but in a personal best kind of way. I want people to know I genuinely care about what ever I do.

One of my alumni Matt M holds the same view. He shared a story with me about a time when he took some students to an academic competition and they got to meet a top CEO and senior executives of a Fortune 500 company. They all sat in a posh corporate boardroom and listened to what the executives had to say. At the end, pleasantries were exchanged and all the students got up to leave. As they left, what they did not realize is that the CEO picked up peoples cups, saucers and drinks. If one of those students would have just gotten up and taken their used cups/saucers and placed it to the side, that would have sent a powerful message to the CEO. All the students that were in the boardroom that day were dynamic and amazing; however, the one who would have gotten up and placed their dishes to the side would have stood out. Now this does not happen all the time but you make this a habit and do those little things others are not doing and you have no idea who is watching and the perception it leaves. I suppose the reason the CEO picked things up was because he felt that if they made the mess, they should clean it up. I take it from my experience when I was 18 and cleaning up after people to today where I still do that. Be different by doing small things, not because it will get you recognition, but because it is the right thing to do. I don’t do this thinking that it will gain favor in others people’s eyes. It just shows your genuine you. Take the time to do the small things in life because the ripple effect it has over time is huge. This characteristic becomes your reputation. Remember, character is who you are and reputation is people’s perception of who you are. It is easy to let your reputation be one of caring. As Souza said: “Dance as if no one is watching…”…they are!


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