Turn survival into service and get ready to soar…

My daytimer is old fashioned. It has a zipper and index tabs, calendars, and well thumbed pages. It holds notecards and stamps, for meaningful correspondence. It spills over with theatre tickets, dental appointments and sticky notes, with birthdays and anniversaries, pencilled in, in the
hopes that I’ll remember.

It’s a portable office, really, with lists of clients, resources, and an optimistic forward calendar up to 2010.

At the very front, scribbled on a sticky note, are words of gold.

“When you shift from a “compulsion to survive” toward a ” commitment to serve others” your life will explode into success”.

I wish they were my words, but they belong to Robin Sharma, author-mentor-coach-speaker.

However, where the words come from isn¹t nearly as important as what we do with them.

Since my day-to-day life embraces those remarkable people who choose to start their own businesses, I think these words have even greater significance. People with the energy, commitment, courage, humour and resourcefulness to work for themselves often find truth in this statement. At first we start businesses to survive, to do it differently, to meet a need that we’ve just identified.

But soon after, the word “service” must enter our lexicon if we¹re to stay in for the long haul.

This proved true Wednesday night several hundred times over when the gymnasium at Georgian College was transformed into a glamorous reception and banquet facility to host the Bell Canada Business Awards. Organized by the Greater Barrie Chamber of Commerce, assisted by the City of Barrie’s Economic Development Office and sponsored by Bell Canada, the awards recognize 10 categories, with the 11th being Entrepreneur Award of Excellence.

While all of the nominees in all of the categories are recognized for their business excellence, they were applauded for their community service. And whether the finalists were the top winner in their category, or simply a finalist, it is a proud moment to be selected by your peers. Retail nods went to Bradford Greenhouse; Manufacturing went to GreGor Homes; Service went to The Jones Group; Hospitality to Michael & Marion’s; Home Office to Lighthouse Consulting. New Business went to TNR Industrial Doors, an employee-takeover of a business being closed by its American owners. Marketing went to Jeff Walters Diamonds. CFB Borden took the Community Award. Island Ink Jet won the Green award and Water Depot was chosen Mayor’s
employer of the year.

And then Barrie’s godfather of service excellence, pioneer of retail, staff, and self management, Arch Brown, took the podium to introduce the award which bears his name. All of us, whether in business, or working for
someone else, would benefit from Arch’s reminder to us. As Arch applauded Alfred Hambsch of Barrie Metals as recipient of “his” award, he graced us all…

He said he started this award to show appreciation for the community’s support of his 33 years as a local Canadian Tire dealer… the largest store north of Toronto. He wanted to perpetuate and promote entrepreneurship. He didn’t want to participate in the selection, but he sure wanted a hand in the rating guidelines.

While the real estate industry is known for “location, location, location” Arch feels the words of a major retail success have to be “service, service, service.”

He commented that businesses in every category could fall into the same genre.

“The public craves service. Those who offer service have a simpler task.” Arch, who has received both an Order of Ontario and an Order of Canada, points out that the awards are not related to his business acumen, nor his retailing beliefs, but to his consistent service to his community.

So, why am I going on about this, you ask?

Well, first because of the awe-some plethora of volunteer and service talent represented at the podium on Wednesday night. Each of the businesses recognized for excellence has a strong commitment to service, to looking outside themselves and seeing a need and meeting that need head on. Every one of the businesses present has a strong, rich history of giving. They give well in their businesses and they give to their community.

And then there is the team of skilled businesses who actually produce the awards. Beyond the sponsorship of Bell and local media, dozens of individuals served as judges, worked to create the magic of the evening.
Those folks are giving service, too.

Isn¹t this one of the best things about Barrie? It¹s the rich fabric of community, with an ability to put our shoulders to the wheel and achieve enormous feats all in the name of service.

So let’s look at that line again… “When you shift from a “compulsion to survive” toward a “commitment to serve others” your life will explode into success.”

Sounds do-able. Belongs at the front of my book. Gives direction on living a great life.

Thanks, Arch. And thanks to the excellence represented by each of the nominations for these awards.