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How to care about success and “care your way” to success

When a successful carpet layer and a successful criminal lawyer share a similar philosophy – there’s probably a lesson there for the rest of us.

That’s what I figured after I came across two pieces of writing in one week – one from retired carpet cleaner Malcom Connors of Victoria, B.C., the other about star Canadian criminal lawyer Eddie Greenspan. It turns out both men share a similar outlook – one that is key to their success.

Caring is key to success – no matter what your vocation

It’s pretty simple in concept – if not necessarily in application. It’s about caring. Caring for your clients, your employees, the quality of your work – no matter how small the job, no matter what else is on your plate.

I found the article about Eddie Greenspan in the Feb. 2009 edition of Reader’s Digest, which I was reading in a waiting room (I think it’s a Murphy’s Law that no waiting room shall have magazines less than a year old!) The magazine’s excerpt from the book: Kickstart – How Successful Canadians Got Started described how Greenspan discovered his passion for justice and his unrelenting commitment to his work, which might see him spend over 50 hours preparing a single closing argument.

But what I found most impressive was this comment: “As a lawyer, I may have many cases but each of my clients has only one – the most important case of their lives. “

I find it telling that a highly successful, well-known lawyer is careful to always remember to care about each one of his clients – to respect that while this case may be but a blip in the halls of justice; it is a momentous occasion for the defendant.

Beyond thinking like a client

This goes beyond thinking like a client – looking at a situation from a client’s point of view. This is actually, sincerely caring about what happens to another person.

It’s a discovery Malcom (Mal) Connors made over 40 years ago when he went into business in Victoria, B.C., as Island Carpet Service. Connors retired at the end of 2010 after 43 years running the business and he took out a full-page ad in the Victoria Times-Colonist to thank his “valued customers and friends”.

In the ad, he describes how some early employees were not committed to giving professional and caring workmanship, leading to customer complaints. That led to an insight at 5:00 a.m. one morning that he wanted to become “that Carpet Guy, the Specialist, the very best in my trade with a 5-star reputation and a trusted name.”

The secret to his success in meeting this goal, he explains, was realizing that life is about caring:

“It’s about being prepared to do our best every day with our minds hearts, souls, and hands. Yes, it’s about caring that our clients, customers and people we represent are left satisfied and smiling. “

The Chinese philosopher Confucius said “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

That would describe Eddie Greenspan’s experience in working with the law. It’s clearly been a passion and a calling for him.

But what happens when you can’t choose a job you love?

Mal Connors did not feel a calling to be a carpet layer. He was a shipwright who lost his job when the shipyard closed down. He lost his next job building houses when his employers retired. He jumped at the chance to work for his neighbour’s carpet contracting business not because he thought he would love the work but because he had a wife, three children and a fourth on the way to support.

What he chose, instead, was to love the job he did and care about the people he worked for and with.  Success and fulfillment followed.

The Rolling Stones called it “love the one you’re with”

I recall how adopting a similar attitude helped me change the course of a difficult job.

It was 1989 and I was working part-time for a television and radio station in southern Ontario while my husband was in graduate school. I pulled the night-time and weekend shifts and the assignments to cover community events were not the substantive topics I had in mind when I went to journalism school!

I was feeling very negative and grumpy about my work when I realized that while I couldn’t change the fact that I was stuck in situation for at least two years, I could change my perspective. I decided to care about each assignment and approach each one with a positive attitude and my fullest professional attention.

My first experience with this approach involved an assignment to cover a Christmas parade in a small town. I took the angle that this event represented small-town life in a microcosm. It wasn’t prize-winning material but it did make an impact – people commented positively about that little story for days after it ran.

As Mal Connors says: “It was really about caring – on each and every job. That’s so important. Think about it.”

We will, Mal, we will.

This article first appeared in my blog www.slateblog.ca where I explore creative ways to promote, communicate and connect. I felt the topic was also applicable to MAWlife.


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  1. deb says:

    Where do you find the time to write such great articles? Good one!

    1. Stephanie Slater says:

      Thanks! I’m starting a time management webinar tomorrow that will help me stay on track of all my commitments (I hope!) I’m also taking an online writing workshop that has made me a convert of using mind mapping to prepare my writing. Writing is pretty quick for me – right now it’s figuring out how to manage my blogs that is taking the time! Getting there!

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