I was feeling the pinch of an overbooked schedule as I walked into the Grand Rapids Coffee Shop overlooking a busy suburb on a warm Tuesday morning. I began looking around for my client but with no success. It was not unusual to hear the voice of the attendant behind the counter upon walking in, but the treatment I received was. Although, she seemed interested in waiting on me as a customer, she seemed just as interested in assisting me personally.
I had never met her before, nor had I been in this particular coffee shop. Yet the words she expressed to me and the vital information she took the time to share, stuck with me. Not only did she go out of her way to assist me, but I was left with warmth that only happens with those who exhibit excellence wrapped in kindness.

The entire transaction took only about 2 minutes. Her passion for customer service was commendable and deserved a monetary as well as a verbal commendation, which I obliged. My expression of thanks to her, in turn, reproduced an even greater desire to perform with excellence as I listened to her radiate even more kindness to the next customer upon my exit from the coffee shop.

It is safe to assume that her excellence and grateful attitude was most likely not because of her minimum wage position or her station in life. Rather, it was a decision she made to go above and beyond. She determined to make the most of every moment and maintain a heart of kindness and gratitude for every achievement, large or small.

Shiny new pennies are always easiest to spot on the ground with their coats appearing as fine gold upon first glance. They represent a value not seen at first in old, tarnished pennies. Yet, old pennies can carry a hidden value.

By comparison, when we see our world for it’s possibilities, the value of what can be gained is the same for each of us. When we choose to “polish” our view with the decision to expound on and exhibit gratitude for what we have, we can discover the treasure inside, one that can set us apart from the crowd. We will operate at a different level than those who allow the” corrosion of life” to overcome and diminish who we have the potential to become.

Below are two articles taken from a website entitled “Sperling’s Best Places.” These articles are both written about Grand Rapids but from two very different perspectives. Each one is not wrong or right but simply opinions based on experiences and outlook. As you read them, you will perceive that one sees Grand Rapids for it’s potential, garnished with gratitude for what it offers. By contrast, the other sees the same city with eyes of cynicism and despondency.

Article #1 – posted 4/08/2013 – www.bestplaces.net

“I recently moved to Pittsburgh, PA for work and currently live there (1year) and am very happy to say that I recently found a new much higher paying job as a medical technologist back in Grand Rapids and am heading back at the end of this month. If you’re looking for a healthy clean and beautiful place to live out your days then give the great city of Grand Rapids a shot, you will be very pleasantly surprised.”

Article #2 – posted 3/4/2011 – www.bestplaces.net

”Having traveled extensively in the Midwest as well as the US, if you’re looking for a mid-sized city that offers a large array of cultural opportunities, educated residents and a good balance of life…I would stay clear of Grand Rapids. Ann Arbor, Madison, WI, Pittsburgh, or Minneapolis are far better options.”

Interestingly, each writer compares both Grand Rapids and Pittsburgh but with contrasting views. So, what can be surmised from these findings?

When it comes to success in career and in life, it is not always as important to have the right circumstances as it is to maintain the right attitude. Whether we are looking at our situation, our abilities or our hometown, regardless of what encounters we might have that can “bitter the waters,” the level at which we rise above it will determine the level at which we experience success.

The true value of what lies within each of us to reach our fullest potential is real and tangible. Whether it’s hidden value is ever found depends upon our decision to “shine.” Breeding Excellence comes when we display and encourage that same spirit in others.

  Blog Post by Michelle Steffes, President of IPV Consulting