Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Lesson Of Lucy

I had an interaction today with an amazing employee from a well-known company. This is about another of those type of workers. It is from March 19, 2011.

Last week, I was blessed to be able to attend two days of the National Christian School Association annual convention which this year was held in San Antonio. Our hotel was The Menger, founded in 1859 and located across the street from The Alamo; talk about being surrounded by history! We had wonderful devotional times as you might expect from a meeting of those whose calling is educating children in the Lord. There were also terrific speakers on a variety of topics and challenges which American schools, public and private, face today. My favorite was David Cottrell, a well-known expert on leadership with an emphasis on Christ. (Here is his website if you would like to take a look: We heard David several times but I particularly enjoyed the three hour morning session when he used references from his highly regarded book, Monday Morning Mentoring. I think in every effective presentation, there is one moment or illustration that grabs you. This the one that grabbed me.

Before launching his career in the motivational/leadership field, David Cottrell was an executive with FedEx. He told us about the company and how FedEx made it a goal to win the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, despite the fact that no service company had ever been the recipient. FedEx poured a substantial amount of energy into obtaining this prize. The award process had elimination rounds and the FedEx execs were called to a meeting where they would hear an evaluation of their performance by a third party. The FedEx group listened while an advocate, an elderly gentleman none of them recognized, stood up and told the committee why he was endorsing the candidacy of FedEx. The stranger, who was from Wisconsin, related it went back to Lucy Nigren, a FedEx employee in a Milwaukee branch. Three times he had visited the same FedEx outlet, a former Fox Photo hut in a parking lot, with a package. All three times Lucy Nigren handled his order. Three times, he asked her questions about the company while she was handling his shipment and three times she answered in an incredibly enthusiastic and insightful manner while treating him as her most valued customer, even though she did not know she was being evaluated. The advocate, whose input could be positive or negative, stated his interaction with Lucy was so impressive that he was of the opinion that FedEx should win the Baldrige Award. When he finished and sat down, the FedEx executives looked at each other and asked, "Does anybody know Lucy Nigren?" None of them did. FedEx went on to win the award, a ground breaker for service industry candidates. David stated they might have won anyway- they had the data and the statistics to convince the judges they were doing a great job. But who knows, the reason they won might be traceable back to a worker that some mistakenly would consider low level. I would guess nobody at FedEx ever viewed that young lady from Milwaukee with those eyes!

We never know who is watching us or listening to us, do we? Often, it's the overlooked or maybe under appreciated who make biggest differences in major events. What was the name of the widow in Israel who gave two pennies and received praise from the Savior for her generosity? Who was the boy who brought the loaves and fishes when 5000+ were fed in the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels? And Andrew, the apostle who brought the boy to the attention of Jesus, seemed to live in the shadow of his more charismatic brother, Peter. I've had students come back and tell me they became teachers because of what they heard in my classes... and usually, I had no idea I was having any impact. I'll bet Lucy Nigren was just being herself in her tiny outpost but look how she blessed FedEx simply by being faithful to what she believed in, her company. Can the Lord expect anything less from us, His followers? Someone will be paying attention.

Applicable quote of the day:
“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.”
Henry Ford

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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PJ said...

Hey Steve! I think if we would ALL treat everyone we come in contact with like they are an "important" person, we would all be better off. I know we would feel better about ourselves and I know God would feel better about us too. I was tell Rob of "Settled in Heaven" today that His study was on my most favorite verse. Philippians 4:8--Finally brethren, what soever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, thing on these things. In short, to me this says don't dwell on and produce negativity. If we are pleasant to others then our day will be pleasant also.

By the way, while in San Antonio, did you get a chance to go to the SAS Shoe Factory? It is really neat. All kinds of antique things including cars, and you can get nickel cokes and dime bags of popcorn! LOL! YAY!

God Bless!

SRMyers said...

Thanks for telling the story about Ms Nigren. She's an excellent example for all of to follow. Whether we're working in a customer service related job or just going about our daily lives, we do need to show kindness to other people. A simple smile or kind word to a stranger might be just enough to show them that someone does care about them. While other people might not remember us, God will because we're living according to his Word.

Pam said...

You have a great blog! Lucy is a perfect example of how an employee should approach her job. Thanks for the story and inspiration! Have a blessed Sunday!