Alex talks about the lesson he learned from Adam Corolla. (At end of this blog.- ed.)
I learned the same lesson from Jim Caldwell. Caldwell was my store manager at the Publix On The Island in Venice, Florida. After just one day as a bagger, I was promoted to the stock crew. Which would have been kinda cool if I was a teenager saving for a car.
But I was the former Director of Public Relations for NIKE and in my 50′s.
There’s a life lesson right there. Best job I could find at the time. I’m not too proud.
I am many things but I am certainly not my job. (Though, admittedly, I’ve tried to be a few times.)
Managed to get a real good workout five days a week.
Caldwell was self-described as “dumb of a box of rocks.” But he had worked long and hard for the company and was a millionaire. Documented. I have seen the paperwork. I saw the paperwork as he was trying to recruit me into management. “You’re the smartest, hardest working man I got and this could make you rich.”
I demurred. “I don’t want to be rich*, I want to be happy,” I told him. “Anyway, I’m only smarter and harder working than you. I’m calling bullshit here.” He laughed. He was just trying to help me out. I explained where I come from – that glorious idyllic city called Portland, Oregon – getting promoted did not involve an extra 10 hours a week. I ended up as produce manager and Jim retired. Last I heard, he’d gotten his captain’s license and was busy moving somebody else’s yacht from one glorious port to another.
Back to Corolla. I was walking with Jim Caldwell, checking out the store. There was an empty paper cup on the floor and we watched a young employee stroll right on by the cup, almost had to step around it.
“Billy!” Caldwell called out. “Son!”
Billy turned, unable to quell the “Oh, shit, I’m screwed” expression which filled his face. Head down, he returned and stood in front of Jim.
“Get your hands out of your pockets,” Jim began. “See that cup?”
“Yes,” Billy replied.
“Not the first time, is it,” Jim asked, but it wasn’t a question.
Billy looked puzzled. He wasn’t a bad kid, just – you know – a teenager. “No, sir.”
“Whether it is yours or not, whether you put it there or not, you see trash on the floor, you pick it up. And you put it where it belongs.”
Billy bent down, picked up the cup and quickly walked off.
I had heard the lesson before – I have the boxed ears to prove it – but I had never watched the lesson before. I got it.
These days, I not only bend over and pick the cup up, I consider such an act good exercise.
But…peel that onion back until you get to the stinky part… Corolla and Caldwell were really talking about personal responsibility and aggression.
Alex: “Eventually, it just became a way of life like anything. I read something from Adam Carolla in his book, about how he struggled with motivation as a kid since his parents were apathetic welfare-recipient potheads. He said he was going to a construction gig one day and he saw a coffee cup on the floor of his truck. He thought he should clean that, but eh…he didn’t feel like it. Then he thought about when he was done with the coffee cup he was using, if he just put it next to this one they would both be clinking, and he’d have two to clean. He was tired as hell from a long shift and was just that lazy, but -
Then he stopped himself. What the hell am I doing, he asked. In the time I’m thinking about this I could have just done it. So from that day on the second he thought of cleaning that cup or doing something, instead of continuing to think about it he would just attack it right then or schedule it to be attacked later, realizing in the time he thought of something he could just finish the task.”
* Not that being rich wouldn’t make me happier. Then or now. – JDW