The Waffle House Experience
An executive I was recently talking with shared a personal but incredibly relevant story. Her mother is elderly and is struggling with the vicious disease of Alzheimer's.
This executive regularly takes her mom on day trips in order that they might spend time together. This trip was to the local Waffle House, a favorite of her mother's. While they were eating, an older man came up to her mom and said, "what a beautiful smile you have". He gently touched her hand and went on his way. She was a bit confused but no doubt enjoyed that fact that she had just been given a sweet compliment by a stranger.
They continued their meal as another gentleman approached their booth. He said, "I have been watching you and your mom and it reminded me of the times I took my Dad to do the very same thing. Those are precious memories to me. Thank you for reminding me of those good times. Please allow me to buy your lunch today." With that, he put a gift of cash on the table and walked away. The executive was moved and appreciated the kind gestures of the two strangers. Then she saw them. Across the restaurant there sat a young family. She took the cash and paid the gift forward providing the family the gift of their meal.
As she told me this story, the executive was excited to be able to speak into the lives of those around her. But just as important, was the fact that she allowed others to speak into her life and into her mother's. What a great example of how we are to lead. Out of our leadership should flow opportunities to give as well as the humility to receive. This executive's leadership on a personal level demonstrated that ability. While leading her loved ones, she graciously allowed others to invest. All the while she was aware of the importance of "paying it forward" to others.
Thank you Kim for reminding me that when we as leaders understand how to give and receive we will make a difference!
Dr. Larry Little, CEO