Perhaps the best ‘boss’ I ever had was a man named Jay Dickey. He still is named that, but he hasn’t been my boss for over 10 years. I went to work for him in the grocery store he managed back in the late 90s. As bosses go, he was the best, period. Again, in my opinion he still is, but I don’t have the pleasure of being his employee anymore. He had the gift of making his employees feel valued, worthy, and appreciated. If you couldn’t make it in his store, it was for no other reason than because as an employee (and possibly as a person) you sucked. That may sound harsh, but certainly true. Jay’s store had the lowest employee turnover in the entire division, and the corporate offices knew it. They also knew that his store was the last chance to salvage an employee whose career was headed into the ditch. Again, if you couldn’t turn it around in his store, then you only had yourself to blame…
Because he worked with human beings, he knew that we made mistakes, and allowed for it. I made my share, and believe me I was held accountable by him. He didn’t delegate the responsibility to some lackey, he dealt with employees and customers personally. That’s just how he rolled.
Jay pulled no punches in speaking truthfully. The one formal reprimand that I ever had to get from him had two simple words hand written on the form: STAY CALM. It was a two-sided instruction.
1) Stay calm when doing your job and don’t let your energy distract you from accuracy in transactions.
2) Stay calm once you realize you’ve made the mistake, and you’ll learn from it.
Jay was the first employer who let me in on the key to my success: I mattered. He brought me that realization at a critical point in my life. Ever since then, I’ve tried to take his lessons with me. Here are a few more.
• The dirtbags are out there…don’t let them drag you down.
• Being poor is no excuse. People have more to give than just money.
• Don’t expect others to clean up your mess. You made it, you own it.
• Truly helping someone is never a waste of time.
• What goes around comes around.
These lessons aren’t verbatim, but things that I’ve discovered as a result of working for the man known among my co-workers as “Daddy Jay.” He valued honesty and integrity, and most of all treating people better than they deserved.
All of these things came back to me this week when; I was accosted by a neighbor who had nothing more productive to do than lash out at me because she was angry, and because I happened to be there.
Her rudeness was beyond inexcusable, and it made me very angry. All I could do at the moment was to stay calm, try to speak reasonably, and leave as soon as I was able.
I would be lying if I said that I put it behind me right away. It took a while. I vented to my very patient husband (a few times), I hibernated for a day, and ultimately I reminded myself that I hadn’t done anything to warrant the neighbor’s nastiness. She just wanted to drag me down, get me to clean up her mess, and give nothing in return except a bad attitude.
Even though it sucks to have her as a neighbor, I’ll treat her better than she deserves. Because I successfully “Stayed Calm” and I know that would make Daddy Jay proud…also because, what goes around comes around, and she’ll have only herself to blame.