“Lead the life that will make you kindly and friendly to everyone about you, and you will be surprised what a happy life you will lead.”
– Charles M. Schwab
Point to Ponder:
How would your daily interactions change if your aim was to surprise and delight everyone whose path you cross?
Adopt ‘the Disney mentality’ by treating everyone (no exceptions) with kindness, as if they are your guest.
If you live in Austin or pay a penny’s worth of attention to sports, you know that The University of Texas has a new athletic director, Steve Patterson. How this relates to my world is that my husband Russell is one of the assistant men’s basketball coaches. As anyone would expect, with new leadership comes change, new ideas and new expectations — all of which intrigue me because I’m a sucker for anything that applies to leadership, improving customer experience, relationships and bettering one’s personal and professional life.
One recent brilliant meeting the athletic department was required to attend was led by The Disney Institute. I think it’s safe to suggest that there’s not a person reading this journal who isn’t familiar with Disney and their superior products and excellent service. If you are a parent of small children like myself, Disney is my best friend friend and my worst nightmare. Their movies create an amazing experience and enhance my children’s imaginations, but the flip side is that my once charming and semi-sophisticated home has been taken over by Disney characters. Needless to say, they run an exceptional operation and I was ecstatic to learn the teaching points from the best in the world.
Upon picking Russell’s brain, he also shared the handbook and the impressive collection of notes. It’s difficult to say which philosophy or expectation is most important, however the one that resonated most with me is this:
Disney strives to surprise and delight their customers and one another, their co-workers. Regardless of business hierarchy, from the CEO to the custodians, they treat everyone as their guest. They always go the extra mile to ensure that everyone has a supreme experience.
I love that! I think it makes the most sense of any professional advice I’ve ever read or received… but what if we took it one step further? What if we applied this rule to our personal lives too? What if we treated our family members as guests and made it our daily mission to surprise and delight them, everyday? Confession: I know Russell would be beyond grateful if I treated him this way. And, to go another step, what if we treated everyone — including total strangers — as our guests? Can you imagine driving in awful Austin traffic and kindly motioning another driver who is trying to cut in front of you that he/she is welcome to slip in? I think we should try!
I really do think this Disney philosophy is the best and most practical life wisdom there is. I have no doubt that if we applied it to our personal and professional lives it would repair relationships and set us up for success in all areas of our life. I can for sure predict that life we would feel less stressful, we’d be happier, and the result would be improved health and quality of life.
Believe it or not, September is “Self-Improvement Month,” so each week we will discuss different ways we can all improve our lives. This week’s recommendation is adopting “the Disney mentality” and treating everyone (no exceptions) with kindness, like they are our guest. I have a strange suspicion that our efforts in “surprising and delighting” will lead to more personal fulfillment than anything else. It will be an exciting experiment with life-changing results, which we hope you’ll share with friends and even on social media.
For additional inspiration, check out this three minute video to see how one act of kindness by an eight year old is changing lives: