Some days things just don’t go right. There are times when you have messages in your inbox coming out your ears, a whole list of phone calls to return, and not even a spare minute to inhale that stale peanut butter and jelly sandwich you were supposed to eat for lunch 3 hours ago. These are the times that we hope are short-lived, because they overwhelm us in no time flat. When my employees have times like this – feeling overwhelmed and at a loss for what to do about it – I tell them to “remember the bookstore.”
This is a reference to something I was taught by one of my managers at a job I had during college. At the time, I worked at a bookstore. It was the only bookstore on a major college campus. I enjoyed my job, but every week before a new semester started, we would be swamped with customers as every student on campus came to get their books. We had hundreds of people asking for help finding their books and lines for the registers weaving through the bookcases and (sometimes) out the front door.
It was on one such day that I went to my manager and said, “I just don’t know how to handle this. This is too much.” She taught me a lesson then that has followed me the rest of my life. She said, “Dustin, don’t worry about the line. Don’t pay attention to all the people that have been waiting for an hour to purchase their books. All I want you to worry about is the person in front of you. Focus on making sure they have a positive experience at your register. And then help the next person.”
This likely isn’t life-changing, earth-shattering news to most of you, but it’s so important to remember every now and then. Don’t worry about all the emails in your inbox right now. Take care of the one in front of you first, and then move on to the next one. Take it one step, one phone call, one person at a time. Make sure the individual you’re working with has a positive experience. So, as I say to my employees, when you feel overwhelmed, remember the bookstore.
For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: