Pick the Weeds

We learn by example and by direct experience because there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instruction.”  Malcolm Gladwell

My best boss ever was J. Willard Marriott Jr. 

I used to be a regional manager for the Marriott Corporation and on occasion, J. Willard Marriott Jr. would visit my region to survey his hotels.  He came to one of the hotels in the south, and it was a warm, beautiful day in spring.  It was the kind of day that makes you wish you were young again.

As we approached the hotel, the manager of the property came out to greet Mr. Marriott and myself.  After exchanging pleasantries, we walked into the hotel.  We passed by a flower patch that unfortunately had some weeds in it.   Mr. Marriott got on his hands and knees and began to pull the weeds.

I had worked with Mr. Marriott enough to know to get down and help.  Unfortunately, the manager stood there and simply watched us.  Noticing this, I got up, placed my hands on his shoulders, and applied a little pressure.  He caught on and got down on his hands and knees with us.  The three of us finished the job.

Mr. Marriott did not say anything that day, but he spoke volumes.  If you see weeds, pick them.  People will get the idea.

Even though Mr. Marriott never said anything else about it, on subsequent visits to this hotel, I never, ever saw weeds in the flowerbed again. Never.

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