It looks like your pizza arrived too quickly.

Jul 13, 2023

 I'm fortunate to be included in this year's selection of Tomorrow's Agribusiness Leaders with the Kansas Grain and Feed Association and Kansas Ag Retail Associations, and we will be meeting with congressional representatives for several days. Mixing business with pleasure, I'm extending the trip by a couple of days, and my family is accompanying me on the trip to Washington, DC. My wife and I had a trip booked a couple of years ago to hike Old Rag in Virginia that was canceled due to COVID, and we're finally getting to take that 9-mile hike as a family tomorrow. I've heard your feedback that you want the thoughts to be delivered consistently, so I'm taking advantage of my time on the plane today to allow me to focus on my family (and surviving the hike) tomorrow. I hope you enjoy this week's thoughts a day early and have a fantastic rest of your week.

My family and I recently took an evening to have dinner at the WICHITA BREWING COMPANY, LLC. It's one of my favorite restaurants. Wichita Brewing Company has many of my favorite foods and beverages. They have an extensive list of wood-fired pizzas, salads, and deliciously brewed beverages. It's one of the few places that I know of where you can get "specialty" salads in half sizes. They have a delicious Cobb salad that everyone in my family enjoys, so we get a couple of pizzas to share, and everyone orders the ½ Cobb customized to their desire. It's also the home of some of my favorite beers. I usually try something unique and follow it up with a Wingman. (FYI, Wingman is a wheat beer with a deliciously fruity finish if you're into that sort of thing.) The unique option this time was Mad Scientist #15. It was one of the best beers that I can remember having, and I hope that it becomes a full-time staple. Okay, enough about beer and pizza, and on to the impetus for my thoughts this week.

Good restaurants are usually always busy, and Wichita Brewing Company is no exception. Our server was working her tail off but running a little behind. Our salads came out slower than she probably would have hoped for. We were having a relaxing evening, so it didn't bother us at all. But as a person who has performed every task in a restaurant from dishwashing to serving to management to ownership, I understand the stress a server feels when trying to keep hungry people satisfied without food. The delay in salad delivery resulted in the pizza being delivered about a minute after the salads. The young lady who delivered our pizzas (not our server) said, "Oh, it looks like your pizza arrived too quickly." That sentence included a paradigm shift and inspired this week's thoughts.

I'm always amazed at how small words can affect everything else, and I'd like to take you through what struck me about that sentence. But first, I'd like you to consider what you'd normally hear in that situation. I would expect to hear something like "I'm sorry your salads took so long, we're just really busy" or "The kitchen is really struggling tonight." Those sentences focus on excuses and blame. They remind the guest that their salads took longer than expected or the experience wasn't perfect. Sadly, most of us hear statements focused on the negative so often that we don't even react to them.

In contrast, how she phrased it turned the entire thought process around. She didn't call attention to the salads being late but rather made a statement about how quickly the pizzas arrived. Now, the pizzas didn't actually arrive any faster than I would normally expect, but her phrasing made it seem like the kitchen was pumping out pizzas way ahead of schedule. Furthermore, she said it with confidence and a smile. The result was us feeling good about every part of the meal rather than dwelling on imperfections.

We all have the same opportunity she had on a regular basis. Our business is busy, things don't always go smoothly or exactly on schedule, and transactions are multi-step. The attitude we bring does as much to determine the outcome as nearly anything else. When you follow a coworker or product that couldn't perform on the expected timing or level, do you take the opportunity to place blame or emphasize how great you're performing now? Does your attitude focus on the negative, or do you bring positivity and solutions? I see the negativity that seems to fill public interactions everywhere I go, and their negativity excites me because it means our opportunity. We have the opportunity to be different, to be a great teammate, to point the focus to the good, to bring joy to our customers and teammates.

Most mornings before school, my children hear me tell them, "Attitude is important, so choose the right one." Attitude is a choice, and it's also the most critical component of the outcome. If we're being honest, you usually end up being defined by your attitude. I'd be willing to bet that without much effort, you'd be able to identify that person who always talks about the negative. They may complain about their previous employer. They (of course) were great employees, and the company was completely at fault for it not working out. They may be the ones always complaining about the mistakes someone else made or that the world will soon end because the "wrong" political party is in office. They are the EXHAUSTING Eeyores (bet you didn't see a Winnie the Pooh reference coming) of life! Conversely, it's easy to name the people who always leave you smiling. The teammate that doesn't beat you down when things don't go perfectly, but they partner with you to find a way to win. They forgive easily and are quick with compliments and encouragement. They are the Tiggers (BOOM - another one) of life!

That brings me to this week's challenge: deliver the pizza too soon. Regardless of what happened before your arrival, choose to bring an attitude of success and optimism. Be the best part of someone's day. Choose to go all in on success through optimism and joy. We need more of the best inside of you, so unleash the joyful Tigger inside of you and watch the way people light up when you come into the room. It'll fill your bucket in ways you can't imagine.