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More Than Parking Cars and Serving Coffee: Knowing Your Why

By: Ben Zapata, Founder & CEO

If you have read my past posts or heard me speak before, or if you follow Omega on social media, you probably know that I am a fan of Simon Sinek. I have read many of his books, and I am a big believer in his golden circles principle of starting with “why.” I have adopted the golden circles into our new employee orientation, and I made them part of my presentation during a company culture seminar. As you can see, I’m sold on knowing your why—I’m all in. I recently came across two examples of individuals with seemingly simple jobs who understand their purpose.

A Simple Act of Kindness

The event that brought on this article was a simple act of kindness from an Omega employee, Luke, a valet at the Ochsner Kenner hospital. A patient had decided to leave the hospital, and Luke offered his help. Sitting in a wheelchair, the patient told Luke about his faith, even showing Luke the picture of Jesus in his wallet. Luke offered the patient something so simple: a prayer.

The only reason we know about Luke’s act of kindness is because a hospital visitor captured the moment and shared it on social media. Luke knows that his job is to park cars: to get in the car when the driver gets out, take the car to its parking location, and retrieve the car when the driver returns. But Luke also knows that his job is so much more than parking cars.

People visit hospitals for a number of reasons. They might be sick, or they might be visiting a family member who is sick. They might be celebrating the birth of a new baby in the family. Any person who pulls into a hospital parking lot might be feeling a wide variety of emotions—scared, overjoyed, exhausted, and many others. The valet’s purpose, as Luke clearly understands, is to make the person’s day just a little easier, and to show genuine warmth in the process. If a valet starts with their “why,” they are going to add light to someone’s day, just like Luke did.

Christmas Eve at the Airport

I recently came across this video where Ryan Estis describes getting a cup of coffee. He sets the scene so well: it’s Christmas Eve at the Minneapolis airport, and he predicts that the airport is the last place anyone would want to be.

As Ryan gets a cup of coffee, he is surprised by his encounter with the barista, Lily. Lily welcomes him with a smile, she commits to making the perfect latte, she asks about his family, and she genuinely offers her best wishes. Curious by her demeanor, Ryan can’t help but ask Lily about making connections while serving coffee. Lily replies that she is not serving coffee, rather she is “pouring happiness into people’s lives.”

Like Luke, Lily’s job is seemingly simple: one is parking cars, and one is pouring coffee. But also like Luke, Lily knows her “why.” She knows that travel is stressful, especially on Christmas Eve. She knows that she has an opportunity to serve coffee with a smile, and that doing so can make someone’s time at the airport just a little less stressful. By stating that she is pouring happiness, Lily shows that she understands her ability to impact someone’s day. She knows she is doing more than pouring coffee.

We all know what we do—Luke parks cars and Lily pours coffee—and we know how we do it—take the keys from the driver if you’re Luke, and brew coffee to pour into a cup for Lily. Just like Luke and Lily did, I am constantly thinking about my “why,” as well as Omega’s “why.” Considering your purpose is always a worthwhile conversation to have with yourself and your team, and your employees.

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