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Insights: Spring - a Time to Fly
September 01, 2009

Spring - a Time to Fly

In this issue Bill pays homage to the special season of Spring and suggests that this, not New Year, is the ideal time to make lasting changes

Yes, today officially heralds the season of Spring in South Africa!

Here in the Cape, it's a blustery old day with lots of blue sky interspersed with dark clouds and occasional showers... pretty typical of the changeable weather that we experience with the onset of Spring.

A good time for change

And change, or making a change, is what I want to talk about today.

In many respects, I believe September represents a more practical time to institute changes in one's life than the more traditional start to the New Year.

New Year is an emotional time in many ways. It's a time when families are together, when celebration is the order of the day, when holidays are in full swing and when the excesses of the Christmas period are acknowledged but not yet fully accounted for. It's a heady time when resolutions are easy to make yet difficult to embrace.

A 'feet-on-the-ground' time

September, on the other hand, is much more of a feet-on-the-ground time. It's a time when the spirit is lifted by lighter and warmer days; a period when the signs of regeneration and renewal are all around us, yet a time when we are still very much embroiled in normal day-to-day living, when the consequences of our actions remain unclouded by any 'devil may care' spirit that the festive season may impart.

Making a change to one's life during September has the added benefit that, come the advent of the festive period, the change - not the need to change - is what one can look forward to reflecting on. The New Year becomes a time to build on the changes you have already made rather than a time to confront the need to change.

Robert Louis Stevenson once said: "Everybody lives by selling something."

I invite you to take a little time out of your routine and think about that statement - what exactly is it you are 'selling'? What small changes could you make today do become many times more effective at it?

The power of change

This morning, one of our Insights readers (thank you, Zelda) sent me an article that, for me, demonstrated the incredible power of making small changes to the way we do things. I have scoured the Internet looking for the source, so that I may attribute this correctly, but without luck. As the article appears, unattributed on many other blogs, I feel sure it was written by someone who wanted to share it widely, so I'm going to share it with you. It's fairly lengthy but I promise you it's well worth the read...

Ducks quack... Eagles fly!

Years ago, my friend, Harvey Mackay, told me a wonderful story about a cab driver that proved this point. He was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for Harvey.

He handed my friend a laminated card and said: "I'm Wally, your driver. While I'm loading your bags in the trunk I'd like you to read my mission statement."

Taken aback, Harvey read the card. It said: Wally's Mission Statement: "To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment." This blew Harvey away, especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly clean!

As he slid behind the wheel, Wally said, "Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf." My friend said jokingly, "No, I'd prefer a soft drink." Wally smiled and said, "No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice."

Almost stuttering, Harvey said, "I'll take a Diet Coke." Handing him his drink, Wally said, "If you'd like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated and USA Today."

As they were pulling away, Wally handed my friend another laminated card. "These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you'd like to listen to the radio."

And as if that weren't enough, Wally told Harvey that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for him. Then he advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of day. He also let him know that he'd be happy to chat and tell him about some of the sights or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts.

"Tell me, Wally," my amazed friend asked the driver, "have you always served customers like this?" Wally smiled into the rearview mirror. "No, not always. In fact, it's only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard the personal growth guru, Wayne Dyer, on the radio one day. He had just written a book called You'll See It When You Believe It. Dyer said that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you'll rarely disappoint yourself.

He said, 'Stop complaining! Differentiate yourself from your competition. Don't be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.'"

"That hit me right between the eyes," said Wally. "Dyer was really talking about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more."

"I take it that has paid off for you," Harvey said. "It sure has," Wally replied. "My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I'll probably quadruple it. You were lucky to get me today. I don't sit at cabstands anymore. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine. If I can't pick them up myself, I get a reliable cabbie friend to do it and I take a piece of the action."

Wally was phenomenal. He was running a limo service out of a Yellow Cab. I've probably told that story to more than fifty cab drivers over the years, and only two took the idea and ran with it. Whenever I go to their cities, I give them a call. The rest of the drivers quacked like ducks and told me all the reasons they couldn't do any of what I was suggesting.

Wally the Cab Driver made a different choice. He decided to stop quacking like ducks and start soaring like eagles.

So, what are you?

Food for though, hey!

Till next time,

Warm Regards


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