By Jim Callahan
So what does football have to do with addressing employee and management performance levels at convenience stores and truck stops? More than you might imagine.
First though, I was struck with an idea from a non-sports author named Robert Crais, who said: “You have to be tougher than the pain.” I add humbly: ‘And the situation.” Because, when you combine those two concepts, you’ve actually mixed some key ingredients that make a great employee and a much better supervisor.
Football players must learn to play through pain and anguish, hardship and disappointment and while to a much lesser extent so do all of us who comprise the backbone of the c-stores industry.
I’ve had the privilege of being involved in the industry since 1968 and while it was a long time ago and it was only high school, I played three years of football. My biggest take-a-way lesson from the gridiron came during my first year. Before our first game I was so fatigued and discouraged that I came close to quitting.
What I didn’t realize was that by the very next day everything would come together. Something clicked and the task at hand became quite doable. In fact, it became quite routine.
Though I was never a star player, the lessons I learned on the field made me a star performer in my profession. I was able to work through almost any illness or injury because I took solace in the words of some famous football legends and began to understand the drive and commitment it takes to make a successful occupation.
LOU AND THE GUYS
On to those sayings:
• “Motivation is simple: you eliminate those who are not properly motivated!” —Lou Holtz, head coach of University of Arkansas. Lou tells us that he’s not even going to deal with you if you aren’t self-motivated.
• “Fatigue can make cowards of us all.” —Green Bay Packers’ Vince Lombardi. The lesson is push yourself and don’t give into it until you’ve fought the tough fight. Get out of that bed and get to work—we know you’re tired and yes we know there are many days when you just don’t feel good—you can do it and when it becomes a routine, you will likely be higher management material.
• “The one who complains about the way the ball bounces is, usually the one who dropped it.” —Another Lou Holtz gem. Lou is saying don’t gripe or make excuses.
• Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden, who coached until age 75, informed those that tried to get him to quit: “After you retire there’s only one big event left…. and I ain’t ready for that.” Bobby was still pushing himself that late in life, shaming any flimsy excuses we might come up with.
• My personal favorite comes from Coach Paul Dietzel of LSU: “You can learn more character on the two-yard line than anywhere else in life.” Think about that; having covered 98 yards of a 100-yard football field and needing only two more yards for a touchdown and perhaps victory, both the offense and the defense must dig in and dig deep within themselves in order to gain success.
• “Finish the drill.” —Georgia Bulldogs’ coach Mark Richt’s mantra, which can mean finish your shift strong.
Working when we are tired or not feeling well or being called in on our day off are not fun things, but when you are part of a successful c-store team and are confident that you are making a difference every day, it takes much of the discomfort away. It places us on the road to being champions, as one or all of those coaches likely told their players at one time.
Jim Callahan has more than 40 years of experience as a convenience store and petroleum marketer. His Convenience Store Solutions blog appears regularly on CSDecisions.com. He can be reached at (678) 485-4773 or via e-mail at [email protected].