I went to get a routine SMOG check on my car and got more than I paid for.
You see, I take my car to Ned. He’s a good guy — really honest and reliable. In fact, he’s almost brutally honest at times. But I never feel like I’m getting cheated when he’s working on my car. He tells me what I need to do and then I get it done — no questions. He only has two other employees and they both make me smile. One is shorter and really serious most of the time. He doesn’t say much, but you know he’s taking care of business. The other is louder and loves to chat. Many times I’ve found him singing while fixing breaks or joking with the other customers. Ned however, is a mix of the two. He’s serious about cars and knows a ton of information, yet he loves to talk about life, photography, and this past visit he talked about business.
The conversation actually began as we were talking about photography. It actually surprises me how much Ned loves photography. He even showed me a few of his shots on his really dirty, oil covered computer in the shop. In our conversation about business he asked me what my plans were for photography. I told him I was still learning a ton, trying to build clients, and working on getting my equipment up to speed. But Ned said something that sort of surprised me — he told me I need to “know people.” With his accent (which I think is middle eastern?), he said:
Shay, you have a good relationships, I can tell. But you need to keep learning and know people. You think ‘I could do this by myself’ because you are young, but you need to continue to allow people to help you. You will look back on your life in business and it will be the people around you who have gotten you where you are.
What intrigues me most about Ned’s comments is how similar they are to those men who led great companies to the top in the book “Good to Great” (which I have talked about before). Some of the greatest C.E.O’s in the world attribute their success to the people on their teams and not their leadership.
The basic facts are that we can never stop learning. When we stop learning, we stop growing. This has been a recurring theme I have heard from numerous businessmen and pastors and I can’t help but think that’s the point of Ned was trying to communicate. You see, if you leave me alone by myself my skills will only go as far as I can take them — which probably won’t be far. But when you allow other people to teach and mentor you and help you — you will grow. This is true in both business and our spiritual lives. We need the input of others. This why accountability works and why the Church is so important. We need each other. It’s only by the grace of God that I can continue to learn and be shaped, and my prayer is I’ll listen to the simple yet important advice of my mechanic.