This weekend I had the privilege of walking 39 miles in two days for the Avon39 Breast Cancer walk. The walk is emotionally and physically challenging. Most participants walk to honor family and friends who are survivors, currently undergoing treatment, or who have already lost their lives because of this disease. I was impressed by how many walkers had been doing this walk for years—one group I met had been walking for 17 years. That is commitment!
Walking 39 miles is hard work on a warm, sunny day. It was even harder because the first 26.2 miles on day one were cold and rainy. Yet thousands walked without complaint. They were on a mission to crush this disease and bad weather was no match for their determination.
Over the course of the two days, evidence of the participants’ commitment and dedication to the cause of curing breast cancer was everywhere. In addition to the thousands of walkers, there were hundreds of volunteers who kept the route safe by stopping traffic at intersections to allow the walkers to pass, marking the route, staffing the water stops and rest breaks, and cleaning up the trail markers and any trash that might have been overlooked by participants as they walked. The opening and closing ceremonies and the basecamp at the end of day one required hundreds of volunteers who also shared a passionate commitment to the cause.
Along the route, people stood cheering us on. They had signs and banners offering encouragement, saying thank you, handing out snacks and treats, offering cold bottles of water, and one at one home the offer of a bathroom to any walkers who needed one. This was especially appreciated because after using a porta-john multiple times, you gain a new appreciation for the joys of indoor plumbing!
As I walked and observed the participants, volunteers, and groups of people cheering us on, I reflected on the two critical lessons that can be applied to hiring the right people for your business.
Hire for Commitment
The first priority for every business must be to hire for commitment. The dedication and focus on the mission I observed during this walk is one that we wish we could have in each employee in our business. Too often, small businesses accept average or sub par performance because they feel they are unable to find talented people who will share their commitment. The truth is that any business can build this commitment in their staff. It starts with being clear about your mission and why people would support it. You can read more about finding that clarity here.
The second critical lesson from this walk is the importance of gratitude. The power of the words “thank you” heard frequently from everyone we passed fueled us. Those words powered the walkers through the cold, rainy day. Thank you kept each foot moving forward when our muscles screamed in protest and blisters made each step a battle with pain. The faces of the people saying thank you were diverse and especially moving coming from the small children who stood in the rain holding signs and passing out treats with their parents. The 39.3 miles was about 100,000 steps and I heard thank you about five times for each step along the way. Try saying thank you five or ten times more often than you do now and watch what happens.
I challenge you to become clear about your mission and communicate that to your employees and potential employees. Remember to show gratitude and appreciation for your employees’ commitment. The transformation you experience will be amazing.
If you’d like to see photos from the weekend, click here.
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