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Do Your Best

The other night, I went out to get some candy and some soda for my wife and my kids. We're going to go rent a movie, went to the 7-Eleven, and while I was there, I saw a guy who was sitting behind the counter. There were two guys, not much work going on, and suddenly out of the blue, he just grabbed a bottle of Windex and came around the counter. He started to clean the window and also the door. As I watched him, as I watched him while I was waiting online, I just realized he was doing a really nice job. He was doing a great job with it, and in fact, he was kind of perfect.

I thought, you know, it doesn't matter what your job is in life, you just have to do your best. You know, to attach yourself to, "Okay, I'm going to be a janitor, I'm going to be a brain surgeon, I'm going to be a policeman, I'm going to be a teacher," just to simply pursue excellence and to do your best every single day. It doesn't mean you're a perfectionist; it just simply means that you're pursuing what the Greeks would call arete or excellence.

When I worked with Tony Condon, he was a janitor at a public high school. He was perfect, you know, I liked him, but at one point, you know, I think I was getting this guy. I think I was a good worker because I was a good worker. He looked at me, he said, "Al Kevin, smiling Kevin, you're getting lazy, man, you're getting lazy." And I'm like, "Oh, that hurt more than a right hook." What do you mean I'm getting lazy? Because I liked this guy. I respected his work ethic.

He goes, "You stripped the floors and you didn't move the safe." I looked at this thing; it was gigantic, it was huge. Like you, Superman would have had a hard time moving this thing. It's always there, why move the damn safe to strip the floors underneath the safe, and then you have to wax? I mean, just leave it there. But that's not how Tony did it. Tony's job was to make the high school look perfect. Tony always wanted to make sure he dotted every "i," he crossed every "t," he had his checklist. Nothing got overlooked, nothing got ignored, and it was just simple.

It was just simple stuff, you know, strip the floors, wax the floors, clean every single desk, any piece of profanity that was written on those desks at that high school, we had to scrub off. Anything that was written on the walls, we had to remove. So, we cleaned it all summer long or there was nothing going on in it, and it was just perfect and ready for the day after day.

So, he knew for him it was important that kids come into a clean environment, a good environment, and that's a sense of idealism that I think, you know, I certainly, I can't just say I learned it just from him, but it is reinforced in me. That's just an important thing; it's just to pay attention to the small things because the small things are the big things.

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