In my last blog, Hey! It’s Business!, I explored how, most often, taking things personally in the business world is a VERY bad idea. Most often, but not always. With the job market so tight, knowing the difference is often the critical element to getting ahead.

So when IS the time to take business personally? The best example I know is a story John Fischer wrote about in a column entitled Service With a Smile . It’s about an attendant in the San Francisco International Airport parking garage. Here is Fischer’s account:

“His job was a simple one – mundane, by most counts – but he, of his own accord had turned it into a Hollywood production. His parking assignment was to direct cars at the garage exits so as to stagger the demand for the ticket takes. This amounted to the critical task of sending one car to his right, followed by one to his left, followed by one to his right, followed by one to his left, etc., etc.

Perhaps to break the monotony for himself, or simply because he was that kind of a person, he had decided to turn this simple job into a performance. So he added to his black uniform, white spats over this spit-shined black shoes, white gloves and a military hat. He then proceeded to do an animated dance as he pirouetted from pointing right, to pointing left, to pointing right, to pointing left again, and the result was a never-ending swirl of motion taking totally off-guard the weary traveler just trying to get a car out of the garage and get home.

But the real cap on this impressive performance was the smile on his face, which continually flashed at you, set off by his black uniform and his night black skin, as he spun around to his little dance. The result was dazzling. The ticket takers must have loved him, because I can’t imagine even the hardest personality not pulling up to a ticket booth without a smile on his or her face.

He served us, this man. With one smile and a dance step, he wiped away hours of irritation over flight delays, lost baggage and crowded seats. All that vanished into smiles that lasted all the way home. How bad is it, really, if you can smile?”

This happy man placed service before self and, no doubt, understood his impact on the mundane multitudes he briefly encountered each day. If something as simple and easy as a smile and a skip to your step can transform an entire parking garage, imagine how we can affect those we meet and work with every day.

Now that’s taking your job personally. It’s good business!

~From the desk of Becky Morlok~

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