The Power to Turn a Life Around

While this troubled economy lingers, there might never be a better time than right now to increase your efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of your employees.

As I reflected on gracious words attributed to a motivational speaker, the late professor Leo Buscaglia, I was both struck by his gentle touch, and simultaneously inspired by the power and wisdom contained in the message. It read:

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the power to turn a life around.”

It gave pause to bringing this “power” more into focus and use. It’s a power we all possess and quite obviously those of us in management are in the enviable position of being able to exercise this powerful influence over many others—a tremendous privilege that comes with an element of responsibility that we might tend to overlook or under use.

While we might not always be able to turn life around, we are definitely in a position to strongly influence others in a positive manner. We would all take pleasure and pride in knowing we played even a small part in that process.

Professor Buscaglia’s message assures us that it doesn’t have to be a tangible item or cost money. A simple pat on the back, an “attaboy or attagirl” or even a simple smile all go a long way toward making someone feel special. And, how long has it been since you, yourself felt special. Perhaps the best way to gain this winning feeling is by being special to others. It doesn’t cost a thing.

Don’t Wait Another Day
There might never be a better time than right now to increase your efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of your employees, especially now during an economy that is more troubled than most any of us can recall.

Right now we are witnessing more unemployment, underemployment, failed and failing businesses, which is troublesome for management, but maybe more so for frontline employees. But these troubled times offer us both challenges and opportunities.

It is indeed a great time to recognize and reward successes and efforts, no matter how small they seem. Believe me, family and employees alike will appreciate it. I’ve talked to a lot of employees lately, more customers and loads of truckers, and while they are bearing up on the surface, there is an undeniable tenseness and struggle going on just below their Mendoza line. It begs for stress relief.

Jobs are being lost at an unprecedented rate, homes foreclosed in record numbers, vehicles being repossessed and lights and heat being turned off. Hope is difficult to see and kindness is in short supply.

As we bear witness to this change in the American lifestyle and realize that we are indeed only as strong as our customer base, we struggle with how to do our part to make things better without damaging the trough that feeds the families that depend on us.

Let’s do all we can to help—tangible and financial if possible—but, there can be no doubt that we are all able to give that simple touch, caring smile, simple words of inspiration, and a listening ear, all of which have the power to touch the life of someone who needs it. As Forrest Gump might say “special is as special does.”

Jim Callahan has more than 40 years experience as a convenience store and petroleum marketer. His Convenience Store Solutions blog appears regularly on He can be reached at (678) 485-4773 or via e-mail at


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