Chick-fil-A founder, S. Truett Cathy died several days ago at the age of 93. He had a powerful influence on so many people, including me and my oldest daughter. A few years ago I had the privilege of taking a small group of high school students to Chick-fil-A HQ in Atlanta to visit Mr. Cathy. He shared about the milestones in his life, about his faith in God even through difficult times, and his leadership secrets. A very gracious gentleman indeed.
A few years later my daughter worked at the local Chick-fil-A location, learning the system of customer service that has helped make this company so successful. The leadership skills she learned serve her well now that she is a first grade teacher. No better professional development than working the drive thru where you deal with people of varying attitudes and priorities.
Truett Cathy's Second Half Surge
Charles Schulz, one of my favorite authors and artists, once said:
"Just remember, when you're over the hill, you begin to pick up speed."
That was certainly the case with Mr. Cathy. He opened his first diner, The Dwarf House, with his brother in 1946, and then 20 years later opened the first Chick-fil-A in Atlanta. If you do the math, that means Truett started his first Chick-fil-A restaurant at the age of 48! It was in the second half of Truett's life that he achieved many of the successes for which he is now most famous--great encouragement for those of us who are middle aged and may be trying to figure out what's next. He was just picking up speed when he turned 50.
A remarkably classy gesture was expressed via Facebook and Twitter by Moe's Southwest Grill restaurant chain. Using a modified version of the Chick-fil-A logo, Moe's post read: "Today we are all Chick-fil-A. Our deepest sympathy for the loss of your founder and friend, S. Truett Cathy." From my conversations with an executive of Chick-fil-A this week, they were very touched by this message. Other organizations sent out similar updates, but the one from Moe's stood out because of the extra effort on the image and structure of it. I'm now a big Moe's fan and will be eating Homewrecker burritos more often.
This week I turned 50 years old, a major milestone of which I am proud. And I'm just beginning to pick up speed, too! As I have done for the last 20+ years, I took time away from work and other responsibilities on this special day to go off on a birthday retreat. I wrote down reflections on getting old(er), noting the people, achievements, insights, and major events of the past year, and prepared for the goals, relationships, and expectations for the new year. I paid special attention to how my unique genius is developing, and what I can do to create unusually high value for my family, friends, co-workers, clients, and others in my network. This experience helps me focus on what's really important to take ownership and produce the desired results.
You are special and deserve the opportunity to do the same thing on your birthday, even if that requires using a vacation day from work. No matter your age you are valuable and can use your unique genius to become the best in the world at what you love to do. The difference is whether you choose a job or choose a life. Truett Cathy chose a life and changed thousands of other lives through that courageous decision. You?