You Gotta Have Heart

The lesson of never giving up is as true in retail as it is on Broadway.

By Jim Callahan

Going way back in time, to 1955 specifically, there was a very popular Broadway musical, entitled “Damn Yankees.” If you dare to venture down memory lane that far, you might remember the song, “You Gotta Have Heart.”

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The light-hearted play depicts a struggling, New York Yankees Baseball Team mired in a season-long losing streak. The song provided impetus and inspiration, spurring a miraculous recovery and dramatic turn-around by those “Damn Yankees.”

For anyone who wants to read along, the lyrics are simply a declaration of inspiration (imagine the lyrics sung in a thick, Bronx accent):

“You gotta have heart, all you really need is heart.
When the odds are sayin’ you’ll never win,
That’s when a grin should start.
You gotta have hope.
Mustn’t sit around and mope.
Nothin’s half as better as it may appear, wait’ll next year,
And hope.
When your luck is battin’ zero,
Get your chin up off the floor, mister you can be a hero.
You can open any door. There’s nothin’ to it.”

I invite each and every c-store company as well as each management leader to let the spirit of that Broadway baseball gang inspire them to take an objective look at their own team, analyzing strengths and weaknesses. You never know what might spur innovation.
I hope 2019 is your finest opportunity yet.

Now, obviously it takes a lot more than an old song to inspire confidence in an organization, no matter how rousing the lyrics. It takes enlightened leadership, coupled with a burning desire to improve overall performance. It usually begins with a good team, one that you can be proud to have representing your company and how it projects the company’s values to your customer base.

This is equally important whether the head coach or general manager are on site or not.
Everyone wants a team that players can grow with and a team that inspires others. Broken down, you can’t push this concept without the pride factor, plus reasonable intelligence, common sense and a host of other tangibles. Employees with pride and managers who inspire pride drive results that stand out to your customers, creating an organization that polices itself and is proactive so that little issues don’t become insurmountable obstacles.
At the head of the field is a good leader who leads not through sing-alongs, but by example.

There is an old axiom that goes “people do what you inspect, not what you expect,” which holds true in workplaces that are ruled by the stick and not common operating goals. Shifting from a working environment governed by fear to one inspired by creativity is hard, but is doable.

The ability to create and nurture positive employee and customer relationships almost always rests with the person in charge and you can’t have a winning team without good leaders.

And, the best leaders seem to function with plenty of heart on display. They never shirk when it comes to protecting their employees’ best interests and they never turn a blind eye when a part of the business tanks.

The best leaders never avoid the hard part of a conversation, just as they never let their associates stray from the right path, no matter if it requires a lot more work.
Good business practices demand attention to detail. Set monthly and quarterly objectives and build in regular review dates to assess and revise your targets, accordingly.

Mistakes in business are often viewed negatively instead of as a learning opportunity, but that’s far from the truth. Mistakes are how we learn and how we grow. There’s a time to play it safe and a time to take some risks. However, avoiding all risks will ensure that you will never reach your potential.

Let me end with sincere wishes to you and yours along with a great measure of appreciation and respect for the marvelous job you do, serving the, oftentimes, fickle public that feeds our families. So as 2019 has started in earnest, here’s my sincere hope for health, harmony and happiness as the new year starts to unwind.

“Damn Yankees” is a good show, but it’s your team that should be the star.