Are you a Starbucks fan? I am not particularly. I find the coffee quite strong, even for me. However, I do like their employment practices.
The other day I heard an interview with the CEO , Howard Schultz. Howard was explaining about the history of the company, its vision, ideals, challenges, troubles and successes. He shared that he owes his success to his wife of thirty-four years, Sherry.
At the time that Howard was planning to buy Starbucks (at that point it was a three coffee house operation with an additional three Pete's coffee places), he was trying to raise capital. He envisioned a company that was more than just coffee shops. They would be a place for community. He also envisioned a company that in treating its employees well would be the foundation for success. Employees who catch the vision, feel that they are part of a bigger ideal, work together, have respect for one another, have a connection to the success of the operation by providing great customer service, which brings in customers, which leads to profits.
During this time his wife was eight months pregnant with their first child and still working full-time. His in-laws came for a visit. As one might expect, his father-in-law suggested, "Let's go for a walk, son." On the walk, his father-in-law got right to the point. "I applaud what you are trying to do. But let's look at the facts: Your wife is eight months pregnant. She is working full-time. You do not have a salary or income. It is time to get rid of your hobby and get a job." As Howard recounts he was embarrassed, mortified and realized that his father-in-law was right. Howard was torn because he didn't want to give up the dream yet he knew that things were tough.
That evening, Sherry asked Howard, "So, you went for a walk with my dad?" Howard relayed the talk. Immediately, Sherry said, " No way are we giving it up." Howard said that if Sherry had agreed with her dad, Howard would've stopped then and not pursued the dream. But those words of encouragement carried him through. Currently there are over 22,000 Starbucks across the globe.
All from some encouraging words.
Sometimes the words are big statements, like Sherry's. Those encouraging words were filled with sacrifice and hard times. Not only does the one who has the dream struggle, so does the one who encourages. It may take a long time before the dream comes to fruition. During which time it is easy to become discouraged.
Other times the words can seem small but still carry a big impact. "You can complete a 5K." "You handled that difficult client well." "You would make such a good mentor." "Have you ever thought about taking art lessons?" The words might even be said in an off-handed way. But they might just be what the listener needs.
What about you? Do you need some words of encouragement today? Can you offer some to those around you? Have you ever received encouragement? How did that make you feel? Was it life-changing?
Who can you encourage today?