I have a story for you. It’s about motivation, happiness, and the value of bringing your “A Game” to every transaction. First, I should tell you that my office is 45 miles away from where I live and I’m lucky enough to have a public transportation option–the CCTA Link Express. Riding the bus makes me feel like I’m doing something good for the planet but it comes at a cost. Taking the bus requires some planning and patience on my part. Sometimes when I board that bus I am stressed out, distracted and irritable. Enter Buddy.
Buddy is my bus driver. I guess there must be days when Buddy would rather do almost anything than navigate a giant bus through rush hour traffic in the snow, ice, wind, and rain transporting a load of commuters in various stages of morning grumpiness. But you would never know. Buddy greets every passenger with a cheery welcome and big smile. He teases and jokes with the regulars. He coaches the newbies on how to pay, where to get on and off and introduces them to the ‘regulars’. If someone arrives without exact change or is a little short, Buddy makes it right. Before his run begins he puts up motivational signs, posters, flags and little banners to give his riders something to focus on if they choose not to nap, read the paper or work via the on-board wifi.
Just before he pulls onto the highway Buddy introduces himself, welcomes everyone aboard and thanks us all for riding with him. Near the end of the trip he thanks us all again and shares some bit of trivia or a poem! He has a kind word for every person as they hop off the bus, frequently reminding us to put on hats and gloves.
Think I’m exaggerating? One of his passengers nominated him for Vermonter of the Year! The thing is all of this is 100% sincere. Getting me to work safely is what Buddy got up to do!
If you haven’t connected the dots on where I am heading with this story, let me do it for you. Buddy loves his job! His passion is contagious. Being in the company of someone who loves what they are doing leaves me inspired, happy. I leave that experience determined to find a way to make someone’s life better. Paying it forward becomes my goal for the day.
I frequently meet farmers with that same level of passion. They love what they do so much that their joy just spills over into every transaction. They might be worried about some aspect of their business. There might be family problems keeping them up at night. But, when they show up for market, or when they are making deliveries you don’t see the worry, the stress, the anxiety. You see someone who loves what they do. In spite of the frustration and disappointment, they would not trade their life with anyone. They make it a point to know their customers. They take time to catch up on the news. They ask questions and listen to the responses. They fuss over their displays, care for their products, and never fail to say thank-you. This kind of love and caring is contagious. And our society needs a lot more of that passion.
Every profession has a few “Buddy’s”. They make the world a better place. I think farming has more than the average number. So, in these final hours of 2011 give some thought to your career choice. Are you a Buddy? If not, what changes can you make that will bring you that level of happiness? Where will you find joy in the coming year? Will you be an inspiration to those who do business with you? No matter what labor fills your days I hope you find great joy in your work and look for ways to pass on that passion to those you interact with.