We all walk across this planet over the course of our lives. We all leave footprints on the earth as we pass along. Every once and a while someone walks across this planet and leaves footprints on our hearts and minds and changes the way we live on this planet. Today a great man left behind footprints that will never be erased and changes that humble those that remain. Such was the long walk of Nelson Mandela on my heart and mind. Today we bow our heads in sadness that you have left us and in joy for having been here when you walked this earth. RIP Madiba your work is done
It’s Sunday evening, and flight 278 from Toronto to London is about to board. At each gate is a gate attendant whose duties are to ensure that passengers board safely and on time. They coordinate with flight control to make sure that everything happens as quickly and as efficiently as possible. On this evening, gate 72 at Toronto Pearson International Airport, Marva was in attendance. Marva is one of my heroes.
This lady epitomises everything about what I believe is now the building of relationships. Marva is a professional. Unlike any other gate attendant I have seen anywhere; Marva finds the ability to balance, being in full control of her passenger with being respectful. You see, Marva makes no bones about what she expects of each passenger. She tells them to stay seated. She tells them to clear away from the gate. She tells them not to line up, she will call on them when ready. When she makes announcements, she starts by saying please remain seated. Marva understands that her job in terms of being able to do the best for the customers, is to ensure that they know when and where to be and that will give them a safe and quick boarding. These days, boarding an aircraft is an important element of the journey for the passengers. People rushing on board can cause health and safety issues. It makes life difficult; boarding can take too long, flights can then be delayed. So there is a whole lot of issues around it. But at the same you have a group of passengers who are all desperate to get on board, want to get their luggage in there right, want to find their seats etcetera, etcetera.
Marva does what is needed and that means Marva is a professional. In terms of engaging with customers, professionalism is a key element in that process. What does professionalism mean? One dictionary describes it as “the competence or skill expected of a professional” and then goes on to add, “The key to quality and efficiency is professionalism.”
What Marva understands is that if she is going to do her job correctly then she needs to be; respectful of her clients but not submissive to her clients or customers. In other words, it isn’t about being nice and friendly. It’s about being efficient and effective. Marva does that by looking people directly in the eye, speaking very respectfully but bluntly to people and making sure that people know where they need to be and how they need to get to where they are going and the right time and place to do that. She is an outstanding communicator, constantly informing people of progress.
One evening I was catching a flight, that there was a delay. There was an incoming flight but due to bad weather there were technical difficulties, there were problems with the airport. It was like a series of events that are taking place in and around the Toronto airport affecting most flights that were there. Marva was the one gate where everybody at all times knew everything there was to know. She was open with people when she didn’t know stuff. She told them that she didn’t, wasn’t able to give them certain information but as soon as she had it, they would have it. She spoke sternly, strongly, look people directly in the eye, made no bones about her position but did it with a respect that said: “I am doing my job for you; you have to trust me and let me do it.” And it’s that ability to be able to look somebody directly in the eye not in a subservient manner of traditional customer service but rather in a “we are equals. I am here to do a job, you will benefit by me doing my job and I can do it more effectively if you follow my instructions.” This builds a relationship of trust between the passenger and Marva. It’s that trust that’s built between them and her ability to build it which makes her the professional. And this is key to being able to engage with customers, is knowing how to do it in a way that enabled you to say and do things and the customer be not offended, upset or viewed as poor customer service. I’m quite sure that some older people or old-fashioned in their thinking may see Marva as not being giving the traditional customer service and I would agree with them. Marva is not going to give the traditional customer service because she is not there to ponder to the needs of people who will be upset regardless of what happens because they want everything their way and their whole world revolves around them. Marva has a way of making sure that people know, “I do respect you, I do want to do what’s best for you but you have to trust me and allow me to do that.” So, if anybody struggles with that it’s them who have the problem and certainly not Marva. I am consistently at gates in airports and never find somebody as a professional as I do when I see Marva on the gate of Toronto airport. Many of them are trying to give traditional customer service with at least trying to be pleasant and you can see when they turn around, they roll their eyes, they are getting frustrated because it’s just going through the motions of doing whatever they think they can do. Marva is viewing it as, “I have a relationship with you. I have a job to do, you want to know? Come. My job is to provide you with that outcome if it is at all possible. It may not be exactly the way you wanted but I will get it to you as quickly and as effectively as I can.” And it is the outcome that is more important than the process. If I can get you on board safely and you can get away on time, that’s probably going to be more important than anything else to you. And so she reminds you of that in a comment she makes to people, that we will get you on time if you follow my rules. Stand clear of the gates because you’re only going to get in the way of other people trying to board. That is going to slow the process down. Don’t come up asking me if there are any more upgrades available, I haven’t got any more upgrades available. So she is straight and clear with people at all times. Professionalism is a huge part of engaging with customers. It’s about, “I am a professional, you want to make use of my services and I am good in doing what I am doing for you. And I am prepared to practice it and improve upon it at all times.”
Wow, I’ve just found this on YouTube. What a great session that was, hope you enjoy this clip.
The definition of ‘Folly’ is when all the evidence is that this is not going to work, but you soooo badly want to make it happen, you go for it anyway. You start developing your own reasoning to justify your actions, and then you suddenly find out that you are too far in and you can’t go back. This is different to a ‘mistake’. A mistake is where you are doing the right thing but inadvertently something goes wrong that you were not expecting or was outside your scope of thinking.
The designers of folly in the American Government shutdown this year explained that they represent the American people (although they are a minority) and that their electorate elected them to fight these issues (speaking about Obamacare). This is a typical example of developing reasoning to justify their actions…..folly.
News Alert….Your electorate elected you to know how they feel on issues and enter into reasonable debate and find compromise. Forcing the Government shutdown and costing the country billions of dollars and people their jobs, is not negotiation, it is not compromise, it is not doing what your electorate want ……and it certainly is not representing your people in the manner you are required to do!!!
The trouble with folly is that it is born out of arrogance, whereas mistakes are born out of ignorance. Ignorance can be healed through learning. Generally people forgive a mistake provided you have learnt from it. The trouble with arrogance is that it leads to justification, and people are less forgiving of folly and certainly do not like justification.
The result of folly is statements like “We fought the good fight, but we lost”! (John Bahner 16th October 2013). Already blame is coming out from the people that manufactured the Government shutdown and caused the problem, accusing member of their own Party for not standing with them in their folly! This arrogance is a disaster waiting to repeat itself.
I don’t know who said it, but wise words once uttered to a young boy (who I was at the time) said, “Mother Nature will only let you move to the next level when you have learnt all the lessons from the level where you are”. Those that practice folly are content in their arrogance and are very clever at being able to manipulate the information to justify their thinking and their behaviours. The trouble with this is that they get stuck at the level they are and never move to another level. It takes a major hit in the face for them to learn the lesson and possibly move to another level.
I have a suggestion to solve this in future. If ever the situation gets to the point where the Government shuts down, then the two political parties should be required to fund the shut down until they open for business again. The elected people were elected to do a job and if they can’t do it properly and end up shutting down the Government, their political parties should foot the bill until they start doing their job again.
Just a thought!!
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I have sat here keeping my mouth shut, but I can’t hold back any more.
I warned the Republican Party when Obama won the election the first time that they are in danger of putting themselves into the wilderness from the electorate. Now I am predicting that the Republican Party is close to becoming un-electable both in the primaries and the main election.
Certainly John Boehner has lost his job, and should go. Many times allegations have been levied at Obama for showing lack of leadership, and with good cause to say so. But, Boehner has committed several dire mistakes as a politician and is now damaging to the party. On a good day, he has never depicted a solid and dependable leader of men, but you loose everything when you renege on a deal. His word has no value now and so it makes it impossible for him to be trusted or be credible….and that is not a good position to hold a leadership position in the Party.
I use the word ‘Party’ very loosely, since it is not a single party and has divided in the way I predicted it would. My suggestion would be to get rid of Boehner and put someone in position that can call a vote and get Government open and the debt ceiling raised.
Rebuilding credibility as a Party is now far more important than Obamacare. Obamacare is now a non-issue and should be quietly dropped and move on quietly. Those that are so passionate on repealing Obamacare have lost their focus and are not in touch with the electorate as a whole and are not taking a longer term view on their future.
The world is watching the United States make a fool of itself. What makes United States great is its strength militarily, its freedom of speech and its financial stability. That is why the vast majority of the world trades in American dollars. To make a fool of yourself militarily as Bush did with Iraq after 9/11, is stupid but not devastating. Having arguments between parties, allowing lobbyists to influence Government is pathetic but not the end of the world. But allowing the financial stability of the country to be put in doubt for Party Political gain, is simply incredulous and those behind it should be held for treason.
I am not putting the blame fully at the door of the Republican Party, as I believe the whole lot have some blood on their hands. But the Republican Party has totally lost all sense of reason and given Democrats the upper hand and painted themselves into a corner. Even the areas they traditionally had strong support from, are ridiculing them.
Time to have a clear out. Will the last one leaving please turn out the lights?