My absolute favorite movie is It’s a Wonderful Life. I especially love watching it during the holiday season! It may sound sentimental, but Jimmy Stewart’s passion about how important the Bailey Building and Loan Association is to the people of Bedford Falls never fails to bring tears to my eyes.
One of my firmest convictions is that our wake – those waves and ripples of consequences that follow our every action – is much bigger than we can ever imagine. Everything you do and everything you don’t do affects the people around you and your business, far, far more than you realize. Even the most self-centered, egotistical person you know wildly underestimates the power of his wake. I know our friends at Barry-Wehmiller share this view – they call it the “ripple effect.”
We talk a lot about wake at The Container Store. Each and every one of our employees is mindful of the power of their wake in all they do – how they support and develop their colleagues, how they work with a customer or a vendor, and how they contribute to the community. I love reading the comments from our customers about the impact our employees have on their lives – not just their storage problems, mind you . . . their lives!
I’ll share one story that I recently heard from one of our store employees. A woman approached our employee in the parking lot of our store with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. As the woman got closer, our employee recognized her as a customer she had worked with recently. The customer said, “I just had to come back and tell you how much I appreciate what you did for me. You designed a new master closet for me and it wasn’t just great – it absolutely changed my life! When I get ready for work I am filled with a sense of peace and calm – it starts my day off in such a refreshing way, I can’t tell you what a difference it makes in my overall happiness. So I wanted to bring you flowers to thank you!”
Our employee certainly didn’t expect to change someone’s life when she got up and went to work that day – and didn’t expect to get flowers for her efforts! But she still worked her hardest to create the best organizational solution possible for this customer and her efforts ended up being so much more impactful than she would have ever thought.
When you get an entire organization that’s mindful of its wake, some pretty incredible things can happen. That’s something that we love so much about Barry-Wehmiller – the company empowers its employees to do great things at work, and go home feeling great about themselves at night! That’s a win-win for everyone – and just think about how Barry-Wehmiller employees’ actions are positively impacting everyone connected to their company.
Now, I know real life is not a Frank Capra movie with Clarence coming down from Heaven and bells ringing when an angel gets his wings and all. But I’ve always believed there’s a lot of magic in real life. We can all make that magic happen with the power of wake!
Kip Tindell is co-founder, Chairman and CEO of The Container Store. He is the author of Uncontainable: How Passion, Committment and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives. You can find more leadership insight from Kip and The Container Store on their “What We Stand For” blog.