Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Choosing to Excel

I once worked in a restaurant kitchen with a dishwasher who was a thing to behold. In a job where no one in their right mind was supposed to give a shit, this guy was a virtuoso at the dishwashing station. I mean, I still remember him over 40 years later.

This wasn’t a “nice” restaurant – but it was busy. And being the dishwasher was probably the lowest position in the place. The kitchen was like one of Dante’s seven circles of hell – really hot & really dirty, and the dishwashing station was another 30 degrees hotter, with steam constantly emanating from the infernal machine.

And yet, this guy kept his work area spotless. If a dish came out of the machine and wasn’t perfectly clean, he would hand wash it to make it perfect. At the time, I was impressed but didn’t really get it. I would think “what’s up with this guy?”

Later in life, I understood it – he was driven to excel at whatever he did. It had nothing to do with impressing anyone else – it was all about his personal set of ethics. He wasn’t waiting to be great when he got an important job. He was going to be great right now at whatever he did. I learned a very big lesson from this man.

Excelling at what we do is a choice.