"Hardworking people are easy to like."
For almost 30 years, my friend Nick DiBenedetto, President of ND LANDSCAPING in Boston, has been providing me with some great original quotes that still echo around in my head to this day, when the situation calls for it. There are many I could mention here and few I would have to leave out. Classics like "How can you be a motivational speaker if you have never run a marathon?" That's how he got me to run the Boston Marathon with him (as a bandit for those marathon enthusiasts, sorry!) I think of those words often when I am challenging myself to try something new or just to live up to whatever role I am in at the time. "Come on brotha, you have run six miles before." That one came at mile 20 of the marathon when I was tired and not sure I wanted to continue . . . I did . . . and it inspires me in many situations today when I have the urge to quit.
There is one that he shared that is very meaningful because it came from his mother as her kids were gathered around her hospital bed: "Never be afraid of your potential." That one I consider almost every day. Then there is the one that I often remember when looking at a good seafood menu: "You gotta eat lobsta, man!" That one was shared as our families met up at a house in Maine many years ago.
The nuggets of New England wisdom are often accompanied with his laugh that magnifies the meaning of the quote. So my old buddy delivered the quote I started this newsletter with when he called this past weekend to see how we were progressing on our move from Asheville, North Carolina, to Williamsburg, Massachusetts. He caught us right in the middle of directing the team of movers and I responded, "We are having a blast."
Those are words not often associated with the process of packing, arranging a moving company, watching all of your worldly possessions go into a truck, and, in this case, preparing for a 14-hour journey from a place that you love to a place that you hoped you could learn to love. It was the young dynamic duo who arrived that morning to help us get through this process that provided the experience that made it fun and enjoyable for Beth and me. Dennis and Russell are both from Ukraine, and, from the moment they stepped out of the truck, they showed a commitment for getting the job done, servicing their customer and doing it with the positive attitude that can sometimes be missing in the service industry but shines brightly when it is present. Both had left their homes in South Florida the day before, Dennis leaving his wife and two-year-old daughter and Russell his wife and two sons. Dennis spoke fluent English with a great accent that reminded us where he was from and Russell spoke very little English but really did not have to because his great smile and energy said everything that was needed to be said. Dennis was the driver and the one responsible for the paperwork and setting the expectations with the customer, yet one thing was for certain: they were a team.
Precision of a Team
The teamwork was displayed after all the formalities of the paperwork were completed, and Dennis jumped in the truck and brought it up our steep driveway that has often been an obstacle for many first-time visitors. His skills were coached and guided as Russell directed him around the curves and safely to the top. Without hesitation, the back door of the truck was raised and tape, blankets, plastic, and dollies were gathered up and carried into the house with smiles on their faces and and a quickness in their step. Once inside, the ballet began with furniture being lifted and turned, and simultaneously wrapped and taped with precision. It was very obvious they had done this many times before and nothing went on the truck until everything was ready to go. They had a system, they knew what worked, and they followed it. The pair would only stop when we stopped them to ask a question or get their input on the move. They worked late into the night, making a long carry from our house to the only place they could have safely parked the truck. The next day they arrived when they said they would, and the final things were loaded in place right up to the last inch of the truck, and the door came down to be locked and secured. Now for the moment we were all wondering about all day long. How do you get this big truck off this mountain? As Dennis climbed into the truck, he looked our way and smiled, "I have only one chance," he said. "I will not be able to pull forward once I start backing down, but it should not be problem." With Russell's guidance and Dennis's confidence, the feat was performed flawlessly, and we watched everything we owned pull down the road and head on its way north.
It was some time in the middle of all of this initial activity that Nick's call came, and I caught myself describing what was going on in my home as a sports broadcaster would announce a big game. That's when Nick delivered his latest epic line, "It is easy to like hardworking people." Yes! Yes, it is! He was absolutely right.
A day and a half later, we met up with our moving team on another mountain in Western Massachusetts. Having driven through pouring rain and through the perils of a pandemic, we were greeted with 6 inches of freshly fallen snow that needed to be plowed from a 1400' driveway before the truck could come up. Once again, expert teamwork was on display with Russell guiding and coaching the driver and Dennis executing all the way to the top. Again the door went up, the smiles showed up, and the process displayed in Asheville was expertly reversed until everything was inside, placed where we wanted it, unwrapped, put together, and secured. The experience of watching them perform their work was so enjoyable we joked that we would consider moving again just to get to work with them again. I believe they both knew I was joking. As the paperwork was completed, the truck neatly loaded with the tools of their trade, and the door secured, Russell smiled and Dennis gave a fist bump delivering a tremendous quote of his own, "It was very much a pleasure to be of service to you." Then they were off to the next opportunity to serve.
"Hardworking people are easy to like." This thought seems to offer an opportunity for each of us to evaluate our commitment to the work we do. It would take some courage to ask ourselves, "How well am I liked where I work or when I have the opportunity to be of service to someone?" Go ahead and try it. Ask yourself the question, and see how honestly you can answer it. Consider these scenarios in your evaluation. Would coworkers be glad to have you on their crew or in their department? If you were given an important task to do like type a proposal or meet a deadline, would the person giving it to you have the confidence that it would be done correctly and on time? Or, consider this, when you get in your vehicle at the end of the day, turn the key and look into the eyes of the person in the rearview mirror, how do you feel about that person and the effort they put into their work? Dennis and Russell reminded me that being "Hardworking" is a choice, and it was clear what they chose because they were easy to like. Regardless of our answers to the questions above, there is always the opportunity to get better. Let's not be afraid of our potential.