June 30, 2011

A watered down Americano

One of my favorite drinks is a café Americano. This is basically one or two shots of espresso combined with boiling water.

When I went to the coffee shop down the street from my office, I ordered the drink. The guy behind the counter was new (this was his second day) and obviously nervous. And, he was left alone with no additional support!

He prepared the drink, handed it over, and mentioned that he tried to make the drink the best that he could, but wasn’t sure if he got it right. He assured me that if the drink wasn’t to my satisfaction, he would give it another try.

I sipped the hot beverage, and immediately knew that it was no good. There was clearly too much water and not enough espresso. However, instead of taking the opportunity of a teachable moment, of giving him the opportunity to learn, I politely and kindly stated that it was just fine and wished him the best.

Now, I may have thought that I was simply being a nice guy. I didn’t want to stress him out or leave him feeling like he messed up.

In reality, I hurt him, the product, and the brand. From this point forward, he is going to believe that this is how an Americano is made. Instead of being a little bit uncomfortable and providing honest and open feedback with understanding, feedback that could make the product better for everyone and could have helped him to grow and learn, I backed off.

When you are given the opportunity to voice your opinion on a product or service, it is your responsibility to speak up. If you don’t, you may come to find that the product that you have come to enjoy the most has lost its flavor, that it is boring, and simply watered down.

June 28, 2011

Messy life and messy notes

A friend and I were talking some time ago about how valuable handwritten notes truly are. There is something special about creating a handwritten note, and there is something even more special in receiving one.

If you think about it, a handwritten note is a lot like life.

Handwritten notes are sometimes messy. That's absolutely okay, because life gets messy sometimes too.

Handwritten notes are full of character, just as our lives should be.

There is no delete key in life, there is not a spell check option, and you certainly cannot change the entire story by simply highlighting some text on a screen and changing what was there.

Sometimes depending on the person writing the note, the handwriting can be hard to read and the message difficult to understand. That's a lot like life too.

When creating a handwritten note, a lot of thought can go into finding the perfect combination of words to express exactly what you are trying to say. When the writing is done, we look back and see scratched out words, places where we have tried to squeeze in another word, or even arrows that fly off onto some other tangent. Life also contains places we have tried to scratch out and start again, tweaking and noodling and iterating, as we work to find our way.

Sometimes, in a handwritten note, you can see when the ink begins to run dry, or when tears have been shed by the writer. You can sense the emotion of the writer as she or he commits his or her heart to paper. Passion is transformed from heart to hand, and energy flows to the medium that the writer is working in.

Sometimes, notes are happy, sometimes they are sad, but they are always unique. You are unique too. There is not another soul or life that has been created that is just like you.

You have to live life passionately without fear of being too messy, be true to the story that you are writing, and hope that the ending is one that you, the writer, can be proud of, no matter how misunderstood it might be.