One of the advantages of my career has been seeing how various products are manufactured. In the early days I was always puzzled as to how employees on assembly lines could enjoy the repetitiveness since work is always a continuum through which the end is never reached.
This changed one day in the final assembly plant of HIS Jeans in Tennessee. I watched as the pieces of fabric slowly took the look of the final product as they moved through the factory.
When we arrived at the last spot in the process before folding and packing, I was amazed at the sea of canvas laundry bins leading up to a sewing station where the button was placed on the waist. There stood a lady with her back to the ocean standing next to a single bin. I watched as she reached into the bin, took out a pair of jeans, reached into another basket and took out the snap, and then fastened the snap to the jeans.
Harold, who was giving me the tour, said she had been doing the same job for 23 years. He wanted me to notice that she never looked at the snap but was still able to sew it on with the logo consistently horizontal. Over the years she had learned instinctively how to handle this requirement, a task that was a struggle to many others.
However this quality aspect of the lady was not the most impressive or intriguing characteristic of the lady. You see, she had the biggest smile of all the workers I had seen in the factory. Almost spellbound by her enthusiasm I watched her for an extended period. Pick up jean, pick up snap, sew, place completed jeans in another basket, repeat. And every time she completed a bin there were dozens more waiting.
As an individual that loves to check-off completed assignments on a task list I had to know why she was so positive.I asked her why she loved her job so much.
She looked me in the eye to reply without slowing down her sewing, ‘Its bought my house, paid for the first three college educations in my family, buys gifts for my grandchildren, and is helping me save up for retirement. And all the while I do this I am able to see in my head how this has helped my family and praise my Lord for how good He is to me.’
Humbled by her words, I realized that we each have different motivators in our lives. Her blessing is that she found a job that aligned with her motivational factors. Her job was not work, it was a piece of good fortune.
Life Lesson – Diversity comes in many forms.
Rick Weaver is an accomplished business executive with experience in retail, market analysis, supply chain enhancement, project management, team building, and process improvement. He has founded Max Impact (http://www.getmaximpact.com), a leadership and business strategy development company, and MBC Global, a global commerce and education organization. Rick has also written “Life’s Leadership Lessons”, a blend of real-life stories where people, events, and things have provided insight into outstanding leadership.
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