Defining Success at Work

Where does the power of success reside? In the ability to adapt, recover and respond. In the ability to show up again and again while maintaining character, attitude and self-control. When we are successful at perseverance, we are successful in much.

StrongHerPurpose
Business Planning Meeting

We came around the corner at the same time and both stopped abruptly.  In the middle of the aisle, near the small toys and candy boxes, a puppy had left us a little puppy-type gift.  The type that rules like, “No Pets Allowed” tries to avoid.  Marley and I look at each other and she sighed.  “I’ll get this one,” she said.  “You had that kid with the mac and cheese incident.” 

Ah, I had indeed.  A customer was in shopping with her four-year old when he suddenly didn’t feel well.  Unable to hold down his lunch, he got sick on the sales floor in the middle of the bike aisle.  A look of pure horror washed over his mom’s face and like a military-trained emergency rescue mission, she scooped him up in her arms and proceeded to make a run for the exit.  The restrooms were far closer, but unfamiliar with the layout and obviously wanting to hide her very existence, she headed for the car.  He was sick all the way to the front doors.  Being the manager on duty, I responded immediately and commenced mopping and sanitizing as quickly as I could.

The puppy however, was a different story.  Apparently, this customer thought it appropriate to shop with her pet in tow on a random Tuesday afternoon and then abandon the need to clean up after Fido when he was less than potty trained.  Let me interject that we are not a pet store.  We love your furry friend, but we have polite rules and requests in place in order to avoid situations like we found this day.  A mop wasn’t going to cut it. 


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Retail management involves a variety of skills I have acquired through experience…ones that education alone cannot prepare you for.  I have been called on as a maintenance mechanic, plumber, electrician, counselor, relationship expert, mediator, HVAC inspector, groundskeeper, safety patrol and service agent.  I have worked to free a bird who flew in through open doors and subsequently panicked that his access to nature had been stripped from his life-plan.  I have observed customers who chased other customers out of the store for suspected stealing (while screaming “thief!!!” as loudly as possible), where ultimately a car chase also ensued and laws were probably broken.  Then there was the time that security proceeded to fire a taser at an individual and drop him at the checkout lane in the entrance of the store.  Customers thought someone had been shot and proceeded to take shelter in areas of the store.  We worked to quickly assure each one of their safety and a lot of phone calls with corporate happened that day. 

I have sandbagged entrances while staying open in a hurricane; dumped plastic toyboxes full of water from one to another from 20’ in the air, while trying to keep the backroom from flooding in a torrential rainstorm; and responded to a customer who was threatening bodily harm to everyone in her path if we did not pull her order faster. 


Today I have cheese in my pocket.  It has hardened overnight and has a glossy sheen that I feel is keenly unnatural for a dairy product.  Chatting in my team for our morning routine, I reach in and discover its presence.  It is unwrapped and appears to have been slightly enjoyed and then rejected as the edges were nibbled.  The evening before at closing, my associate and I discovered the remnants of a foot-long sandwich which had been partially consumed on a $1,000 pair of living room chairs near the front of the store.  Also left behind were leaves of lettuce and open packets of mustard.  Worth noting is that we do not serve food at our location.  We have home goods and décor, pillows and canvas art.  You cannot purchase lunch here, or dinner for that matter.

After washing down the discovery and restoring our product to its former glory, we exit to find the rest of the meal smashed on the ground in front of the entryway.  Sigh.  I continue to clean and toss the bread in the bushes for the squirrels.  It is already past my bedtime and I’m 10 years into this venture of management, so I’m feeling a little weary today.

So, why continue?  Why continue putting my effort to business everyday when the glory of business management seems so elusive?  I get up every morning, dress up, put on my makeup, tame this wild mane of curls into something presentable and proceed to stock shelves, welcome customers, be a counselor, teacher, friend, advocate, coach and business acumen aficionado. 


So, why?  It is because of passion. It is because I love my team, my customers and I’m proud of my product.  I am thrilled to see customers excited about styling a particular space in their home and leaving with ideas that they are simply giddy to implement.  They feel enlightened, engaged and invigorated to make their homes exactly into the space they love to live in.  Your immediate space around you is a reflection of your personal taste, style and expression. It is a chance to express exactly who you are.  My home is my sanctuary and I love every little piece of it.

What can we do when we feel the challenges at work are insurmountable or we feel overwhelmed?  What happens when we face a situation that may not even be in our job description or even on our radar of apparent skills?  We persevere.  We are amazing creatures with the ability to adapt, recover and respond.  We strive to maintain respect of those around us, even when another human has made a less-than-amazing choice that leaves you dealing with the aftermath.

Take a deep breath, friend.  Take a step away, if necessary.  Reach out for help and expertise of those above and around you who can lend wisdom and advice.  Remember that work is work and it does not define your life story.  When I managed a coffee shop my superior manager would just say something to the effect of, “It’s just water over beans, guys! We can handle it!”  Work has given me stressful days, hilarious antics, and challenged my character, at times.  I have laughed over my job, cried over my job, obsessed over my job, and quit 1,000 times in my mind.  I know, however, that getting to work with the people around me has also shaped me into a better version of myself.  I have met amazing individuals whom have impacted my life journey in so many ways.  I’m thankful for the friendships and opportunities my career has afforded me.  I’m thankful that several companies have entrusted me in my role with decision-making processes that impacts millions of dollars in revenue each year. 

When I’m in the trenches and working through the daily grind, I’m still thankful.  Success can be defined in different ways.  Sometimes it is hitting big goals and celebrating achievements, sometimes it is helping a colleague or employee through a tough decision, and sometimes it is climbing up on the roof, investigating odd smells, and receiving freight trucks in the middle of the night.  However we define success, it is usually one step at a time.  The power lies in sticking through the tough times and shining bright in the more celebratory moments.  It’s putting the best version of myself forward in every circumstance, living through the moment, and rising in the morning to do it all again.

Rachel Asks: What tough situations are you facing in your work day and what would best help you to overcome the challenge?  How can you leverage others around you to assist you in achieving your goals for success?  What would help you feel amazing today?

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