Saturday, January 31, 2009

Story Of A Nudge

Jodi in Hiding
Originally uploaded by drewmaniac

I've said it before. Sometimes we just need a nudge.

There was a point in my life when I had nearly hit rock bottom, when it comes to the area of gainful employment. I had invested far too many years working in a middle management job at Wal-Mart. Yes, that Wal-Mart. There was not much of a future there and I knew it. I had taken the job in the first place because a few years before I had become desperate for any job.

Burned out and knowing I needed to do something different, even anything different, I had looked for other jobs. But I was reluctant to take the necessary steps to go anywhere different. Partly because I didn't know what I wanted to do and partly because I was afraid.

One day as I was working as a cashier (there's a story behind the middle management to cashier bit, but I'll save that for another day), an old friend and former co-worker, Elena came through my check out line. She didn't greet me. She didn't ask me how I was doing. She didn't even make small talk. What she did was nudge me. She immediately asked with a hint of disgust, "Why are you doing this?! You are better than this! You are smarter than this!"

The following week I had an interview at her employer, got the job, and had turned in my two weeks at Wal-Mart, kissing retail goodbye.

Four months after that I found myself in Cincinnati visiting with Procter & Gamble (a customer of ours). I distinctly remember looking out one of the windows of the twin towers of their world headquarters and watching the city pass by that morning. As we waited for the meeting to begin I wasn't thinking about what we were going to say or how well the meeting was going to go. I was thinking about Elena and the nudge she had given me. It had turned my life around and given me some opportunities to dig out of the mess of the previous years.

Sometimes it's a simple encouraging word. Sometimes a pat on the back, a simple question, or as in my case a kick to the hinder part that nudges someone and gets them moving.

Is there someone you know who needs a nudge? Why not figure out a way to get them moving? It might just turn their life around. They'll be thanking you for it years later.


James said...

Your story touched me because I'm working in a dead end job and I though the people I work with wanted me to just do something better with my life. Now, I realize they're trying to nudge me into a better life.

Chris McDaniel said...

Why are you still doing that? While it's not Wal-mart, you're STILL much better and SO much smarter than your unnamed current employer, too. (Even though I'm not a hottie Russian expatriate, consider yourself nudged again.)

jimmy said...

I got, not a nudge but rather, an outright kick in the pants in 07 that got me started going to school. I was working at yet another job that could just fire me at any moment for any reason (real or not) and I just thought, "That's it, no more." No more would I be expendable. So I enrolled and am now on my way to a piece of paper which will render me a little less worthy of the trashcan.

Andrew Weaver said...

@James - I'm glad to hear it. Now that you realize they're nudging you, do something about it. :)

@Chris - How did I know you would say that? Haha... patience... I'm working on those plans.

@Jimmy aka Travesty - You got to keep working through that goal. Or you'll end up getting kicked again.