Fifty years ago, my grandfather started a trucking company. As a successful entrepreneur and business owner, he liked to impart great words of wisdom to his offspring. His favorite phrase was, “You are only as good as your last delivery,” and he reminded us of it frequently. Of course, when you’re five, advice like that means absolutely nothing.
Fortunately, though, he said it often enough for me to remember it. And I’m glad I do. Now that I am slightly older than five, I have come to appreciate the true depth of his favorite phrase. I’m not in the trucking industry, but as one living with a heart condition, I’ve thought about the deeper meaning of his words as they apply to my own life many times. Every day, I want to know I’ve delivered my best. As I lay my head down at night, I want to feel at peace, for my girls to know how much I adore them, for my husband to know how grateful I am for his love and support, and for my parents to know they’ve been the biggest inspiration for my career and success.
My grandfather has since passed on. But my personal interpretation of his slogan is only the beginning of his legacy. Year after year, my family keeps the company and the trucks rolling, always making sure their last delivery would make my grandfather proud. Many of the relationships he built and clients he served are still supporting the company today.
My grandfather’s influence has outlived him, and here’s why: Not only did he take ownership of failures (of which there were quite a few), he also took his word very seriously. He made sure every delivery was taken care of with the attitude that the entire reputation of the company rested on it. Whether it was goods being shipped across the country by truck or following through on his promise to make it to a client meeting or even to come to one of my softball games, he was always a man of integrity. He delivered what he promised, every time.
Today, as a business owner and entrepreneur, I can look back and see that sharing his favorite mantra with his team members, co-workers, family, and friends was my grandfather’s way of inspiring us to do better and be better. It was his reminder to keep integrity front and foremost, to focus on the big picture and remember that a rough day doesn’t have to turn into a rough week or month. Even when mistakes happen, you can always turn things around by choosing positive behaviors and actions. When you do, you choose to make it a positive delivery.
Another of his favorite sayings was to “keep the faith,” and, up until he passed away, it was another promise on which he never failed to deliver. For as long as he lived, he spent his time and money making sure his children and grandkids never wanted for the things he lacked growing up. Personally as much as professionally, he delivered every time.
We’ve all been through it this year, but there’s much to be grateful for. If you take some time to look back over 2020 and brainstorm all the deliveries you successfully made in both your professional life and your personal life – deliveries to yourself, your family, and your company – I bet you’ll find it’s not a short or meager list at all.
My grandfather passed away 10 years ago this Christmas, and somehow, he keeps on delivering. As we head into a new year, I know you will, too.
Keep the faith.