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Friday, August 6, 2010

Somebody’s Watching

I read, years ago, something General Colin Powell wrote. He reflected upon a story someone had once told him. Three guys were hired to dig a ditch. One leaned on his shovel and babbled on about someday owning the company. The second guy grumbled because he felt he was working too many hours for too little pay. The third guy just kept on digging.

Years later, the first ditch digger was still babbling on, hardly lifting his shovel. The second guy feigned an injury and was receiving disability. The third guy owned the company.

Powell took from that story this lesson: someone is always watching. He used it well, when he worked, as a young man, mopping the floors of a local soft-drink bottling plant.

Powell made the decision to be the best mopper he could be. He was doing well and then, one day, he was tested.

A worker mishandled 50 cases of cola and they crashed to the concrete. The floor was covered with the sugary cola. All of this crushed Powell's spirit, but he kept mopping. He literally told himself, “Mop right to left-left to right.”

At last, the summer came to an end. The foreman delivered a short message to Powell, "You mop floors pretty good." The next summer, that same foreman promoted Powell to filling the bottles. The summer after that, Powell was made deputy foreman.

The lesson held, someone was watching.

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