It was the beautifully aligned glasses across the open table that gave me the flashback.
I was about 24 and selling insurance. To supplement my income, I waited tables in a popular restaurant in Washington, D.C. (Georgetown). On this particular shift, I was standing around doing nothing and the manager (a young person, as well) came to me and said...
“If you don't have anything else to do right now, in your section, make sure all the place settings are nicely aligned. I want you to imagine a string held over your row of tables, above the glasses. Those glasses should be perfectly aligned. Understand?”
It's possible she added a please or two, but my attitude made sure I didn't hear it. (I wasn't yet a Smover.)
I remember thinking (and saying with my eyes, I'm sure), “You're a fanatic.” I remember being angry and thinking her request was just busywork.
And now, like so many things with more than quarter-century of added experience, if I were to see a video of my response, I know I'd be embarrassed.
She was serious about her work. She Crossed The Line. And now, she's the reason I like going to particular restaurants, shopping at particular stores, and working with particular people and organizations.
Attention to detail. Care. To a fanatical level.
Long shot, but if you think you're the fanatic I'm writing about (you were a manager at J. Paul's in the early 90s), please call or email me. I'd love to send you an apology gift. Really.
If you're a leader (with a title or not), what are you doing on a regular basis (an all-the-time thing rather than a sometimes thing) to inspire that deeper care and attention that we all want (inspire ... not control)? Call or email anytime. I'd love to hear what's working for you.
Reading and discussing one or two of my books (below) might also be helpful to you.
Sometimes people are more open to the “let's get fanatical” message when it comes from someone not so close to the situation.