The other morning we had to go to the clinic for bloodwork and afterwards we stopped for a bite of breakfast on our way to the mall for a walk. Fasting labs meant that we could not have breakfast before the blood draw and at first I’d planned on simply stopping for a bagel. We tossed a couple breakfast stops around for a couple minutes and realized our most reliable choice was a place called Johnny V’s in West Allis.
This isn’t really a restaurant review. In thinking about where to go I got off on a sidetrack about the “idea” of reliability. To me, reliability is big. Maybe that’s because trust is big on my list of admirable traits and they are inseparably linked.
What makes a restaurant a reliable place to go? The answer, I suspect, is everything. From the way you are treated when you first walk in the door, to the service your wait staff provide, the timeliness of the food, the quality of the food, and whether it’s what you expected … or not.
This particular place happens to be a family restaurant — similar to but different from the slew of so called Greek Family Restaurants that populate much of Milwaukee. The ownership hasn’t changed in a long time, for the most part the employees haven’t changed either, there is a culture there of taking good care of customers.
And that’s what life ought to be about, I think. Taking good care of the people in your life whether you’re a business owner, a parent, an employee or a dependent: take good care of the people in your life — no matter their relationship to you.
You see, and I’m sure we have all seen examples of this, it’s one thing to get people to perform the way you want to — any old idiot can accomplish that using gimicks and threats. But to get people to WANT to do their best; to get people to WANT to follow your lead — that’s something quite different.
That’s something quite special.
I’m not sure how much of a leader I ever was or have been. Most of the time I have worked alone, or at most in very small groups. I think in my ministry days I had the confidence and trust of my congregation but to be honest that was a long time ago now and hindsight is always better than reality so that’s not a thing I choose to spend much time thinking about.
It takes a certain mindset to WANT to be a leader. With my INTP personality, leadership isn’t something that was high on my list of goals. I was more into understanding and getting things done than I was into socializing. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t observed and appreciated those who did do those things, extraordinary individuals who truly inspired others go go beyond their own inclinations and achieve extraordinary results time after time after time.
To be honest, I don’t see a lot of stable leadership right now around us. There is a big emphasis on expedience and that’s all the sadder — expedience doesn’t lead to longevity. But, the thing about human behavior is that we all get to live out our own lives as we see fit and there’s no sense in telling someone that they are fighting the short game when they should be fighting the longer one. Maybe they’ll figure it out on their own; perhaps not — in any event I’m still free to look at the long term needs and how others are addressing them — and how I do too — and live my own life accordingly.
I think I have always been prone to patronize, and socialize with businesses and people whom I could trust. It doesn’t take much to kill trust, so the list of people and businesses I continue to trust shrinks over time. If I have to I’ll add in another name here or there to fill out what I need in my life — giving someone/some group a chance when someone else has fallen off the list, but I know that I tend to play life close to my chest and I’m not in a big hurry to be hurt by people who can’t be trusted.
When it comes to food we experiment a lot. We love to try new places. When it comes to people — as you have read in my blog over the last years — we experiment too. We give people a shot to discover who they are. Some prove themselves to be worthy of trust; others don’t. We remember the ones who are; we sort of forget about those who aren’t. And we keep coming back to those who are.
There’s nothing magical about it. And even in my youth I wasn’t the guy who was attracted by the bad girl, or the bad boy… badness doesn’t have any appeal to me. Trustworthiness does. Reliability does. It’s not quite as exciting, but I can find plenty of excitement on my own — excitement that I choose.
And for all our restaurant experimentations — we keep coming back to those who are reliable. That means something to me.