The hidden leadership skill you can ignite today

randy gilson

Randy Gilson and his house of many colors

I used to travel to Pittsburgh on business a lot (great city!) and always stayed at the same hotel near the office. The highlight of my trip each week was breakfast at the hotel.

It was not due to their fluffy eggs or crispy bacon … it was because of Randy Gilson. I would guess that Randy was about 40 years old and he had been a server at that hotel for at least 10 years. What others might consider a boring or dead-end job, Randy approached with unbridled joy and enthusiasm.

“HELLO MARK! How are you doing?” was his typical greeting. “How can I help you today?”

Randy, an artist by trade, would help his breakfast customers with directions or pull out a calendar of events for his beloved city. Every stranger he met became a friend.

randylandRandy was so happy, so kind, that people frequently stayed in the hotel just to be seated in his section at breakfast. His larger than life personality spilled over to his multi-colored Northshore home (“Randyland“), which has become a city landmark. He would happily pull out pictures of his latest home creation or of some new eclectic object he added to his yard.

His sheer enthusiasm lit up the room and made all of the employees surrounding him a better, happier team.

Every time I met Randy I was reminded of advice my first boss gave me: “The most important quality for an employee is enthusiasm,” he said. “All things being equal, enthusiasm alone can make a big difference.”

I took his advice to heart … and I needed to because some of the tasks I was assigned as an entry-level employee were pretty dismal. But I discovered something — if I ACTED enthusiastic, I would eventually FEEL enthusiastic. And this attitude infected everybody around me.

I came to understand that “enthusiasm” was a decision, not necessarily a innate personality trait. I could decide to be upbeat even if I was not necessarily feeling upbeat and this became a key leadership skill.

I think this also shows up on the social web, doesn’t it? Think of the people you enjoy following. Are they cynical and mean or upbeat?

This is a business skill you can choose to ignite today. Wouldn’t your life, your family, and your business be a happier place if you could insert a little “Randyland” every day?

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  • Brent White

    I’ve experienced Randy first hand and I can tell you, this attitude is motivating and infectious. Great article, really enjoyed the points you were making with it.
    Brent White

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  • cool! A fellow Randy fan!

  • Love this, Mark. What a great story and I LOVE the house of many colors!

  • Christine Webber

    Love the article! It links perfectly with my latest blog about reducing the risks in business, one of them being enthusiasm and passion for the work we do. Just wish I had your skill of writing in such a warm and engaging way – still working on my style!

  • It is a feast for the eyes!

  • Keep working it Christine. There’s no shortcut but it does get better and easier with time!

  • never a truer word spoken!

  • A good attitude and smile is infectious, but remember that a bad attitude and frown can be as well. So be careful how you are around people, you may have more influence than you think. People are always watching even when you don’t think they are.
    To be a good leader you need to be positive and happy so that your team will feel happy as well.

  • I read a recent article describing this as a ‘hack’? It’s not a hack, it’s what should be obvious to most people, but, because of everyone’s pessimism, it has become an ‘art’ that only certain people excel at naturally.

    I always try to be myself and converse on a personal level, rather than portray a persona online. I think I’m quite happy and would also like to think that this is reflected by some of the great relationships that I now have with online contacts.

    Great article Mark and something that everyone should adopt, there are some miserable buggers out there! 🙂

  • Hi Mark,

    A agree with you on Pittsburgh, it really is a great city. Love Randy’s attitude too. Yes, many days well, suck, and life does get in the way often, but it’s up to us to change our frame of mind daily. It ain’t easy 😉

    Most of the people I follow online have this kind of attitude. The help, they highlight others, etc. Why do I? Well, like Mr. Randy this kind of behavior is infectious, online and off. I rather like that buzz.

  • Amen to that!

  • Great reminder. I make an effort to shop in and buy from places where I feel appreciated. The person waiting on me had a great impact on how I felt about the store. Negativeness or indifferentness is a huge turnoff.

    I read another blog post recently about “Fake it till make it.” With enthusiasm this definitely fits. Even if you don’t feel very enthusiastic by stepping into it, it will come.

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  • : )

  • Thanks Barry.

  • I don’t know about a “hack.” I really do think one follows the other — if you approach life with enthusiasm, you really do begin to feel it!

  • Thanks for adding your wisdom today Michael!

  • Really great advice. It also makes the time go faster if you’re happy. Nothing slows time like sad emotions. Thanks for the great reminder. 🙂

  • Absolutely beautiful point. Now I want to stay at that hotel. Which is it?

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  • Enthusiasm is a choice. A really tough one sometimes. To help me stay positive at my job, I’ve parked further from the office in a lot that takes me on a short walk over a creek and through the woods (no, I don’t work at grandma’s house). During those extra minutes, I appreciate small things around me, take a deep breath, and thank God for something good–and for something challenging (b/c getting through it should make me a better person, right?). I might not park my car feeling positive, but the practice helps change my perspective. Really encouraging post, Mark.

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