Absolutely Attitude: The Next Level of Boldness
I didn’t think much of it the first time I heard Horacio Berrones say that powerful word. I can’t even remember if he said it to me or another customer at Grounded, the trendy new coffee shop in town. Horacio – who I’ve known as Chito since moving to Glen Rose – is the manager at Grounded.
I’m convinced that his favorite word is … “Absolutely!”
Radical honesty: I never would have used the adjective “powerful” to describe that adverb until I started hearing Chito say it over and over again. And I have heard him say it a lot.
When I’m not on the road speaking, I’m usually tucked in one of the front booths at Grounded, working away. (The WiFi is strong, the coffee is delicious and its a great place for a coaching session.)
Anytime I ask Chito for something, his response is … “Absolutely!”
“Hey, Chito … it’s kind of cold in here today. Is there any way we can adjust the thermostat just a little?”
“Hey, Chito … I had something come up and I need to take off. Can I swap out my mug of coffee for a To Go Cup?”
“Hey, Chito … no gluten free pastries today?”
“Would you like me to make some?”
“Would you be willing to do that?”
Those are all very real examples, but he’s not just catering to me. I’ve heard Chito do this with hundreds of other customers, too.
But here is the part of the story that really caught my attention and inspired me to write a blog post about it. Again, the word itself is impactful, but it’s the tone in Chito’s voice and his immediate action that make it so powerful.
It’s almost as if he’s saying, “I’m so glad you’re here. I want to do anything and everything in my power to make your experience better.”
Now, when Chito intentionally springs into action, he could go back into the storeroom, sit on a box and think to himself, “How the heck am I going to pull this off?” But I never see that; other customers don’t see that either. We hear the genuine tone in his voice and see him dash off as he confidently utters … “Absolutely!”
In a world where customer service is an after-thought, Chito has taken it to another level – with one word!
One morning, while I was working from my “Coffice,” I pulled Chito aside and told him how much I appreciated his commitment to this “Absolutely Attitude.” (I totally just coined that for him!) I also told Chito that I was curious where his simplistic approach to customer service came from.
This was his honest response: “I don’t know.”
He shared that he had never worked in the food industry or at a restaurant before getting the job at Grounded. He did mention that he served our country as a staff sergeant in the United States Army.
“That probably played a big role in it,” Chito explained. “In the military, you have to know the answer or know where to get the answer. ‘I don’t know’ is not acceptable.”
As we visited, he told me a little about his upbringing. He said it was rough. I won’t go into all the details that he shared, but he did mention that his mom’s house in San Antonio was riddled with bullet holes. He said when they moved from San Antonio to Houston, their neighborhood didn’t get much better.
He admitted that his environment growing up made him hard, and he told me that before getting married and having kids he was arrogant and self-centered.
I wondered why he was opening up and sharing so much.
Then he said something that explained everything: “I’m just grateful to get the opportunity to do what I do every day.”
You: “Where the heck are you going with all of this?”
The answer is simple.
This is going to totally embarrass him, but we all need to be more like Chito. We need to live with a grateful heart and have an “Absolutely Attitude.”
Real quick … I’m going to go down a pretty large rabbit hole (don’t worry, I’ll climb out of it; I always do) …
Have you seen the movie “Yes, Man” with Jim Carey.
It’s a decent film with a profound message – say “yes” to everything and see all the wonderfully great things that happen.
This has always been my takeaway from the movie: More often than not, we slam the door to opportunity before it's even all the way open. We are so quick to say “no,” especially if it’s outside our comfort zone, breaks our daily routine or is sprinkled with a hint of uncertainty.
“Want to go to lunch on…”
“Want to go on a cruise next…”
Seriously, sometimes the opportunity is not even fully presented to us and we shut that shit down!
I wrote about the “hamster wheel of life” in The Tacos and Chocolate Diet, where we’re running and running and running and not going anywhere. Saying “No” – and closing those doors of opportunity and possibility – perpetuates the hamster wheel’s momentum.
When I was teaching a continuing education class at TCU, one of my students said: “The hamster wheel is easy. You know what to expect. There are no surprises. If you get off the hamster wheel and do something out of the ordinary, there is a possibility it could throw off your whole week.”
I asked for an example.
“A friend asked me to go out to dinner the other night, and I said no. It had nothing to do with prior obligations or the fact I didn’t want to see my friend. It had everything to do with how it was going to impact the next day and possibly the day after that.
“I knew I’d get to bed late, and I’d be tired the whole next day. I knew I wouldn’t want to get up and go to the gym, so I’d have to go after work – if I went at all. If I did talk myself into going to the gym after work, I’d miss my favorite TV show. I thought about just recording it and watching it later, but that would mean going to bed late two nights in a row and….”
She abruptly stopped her example and said: “It’s just easier to do the same ol’ same ol’.”
Some people in the class tucked their lips and gave her a “you’re absolutely right” nod.
Others stared blankly at the desk in front of them, a little embarrassed because she had just described them.
I chose to tuck my lips and nod. She had nailed it.
This had such a profound impact on me that when I speak to companies and organizations, I’ll sometimes throw down the gauntlet and challenge them to say “Yes” for 48 hours.
“Let’s get off the hamster wheel and just see what kind of cool shit happens,” I tell the audience. “Let’s stop closing the door to potential opportunities; commit to two days of saying ‘Yes’ to everything. Let’s ride!”
Note: If I challenge a room full of strangers to do this, I also agree to say “Yes” for 48 hours. Without ruining some of the content in my follow-up book, Stop Eating Shit Sandwiches, I have some eye-opening stories from some of these two-day experiments. (Hell, my wife got her very first IPhone because she pushed to get it on one of these “Yes Days.”)
Time to climb out of the rabbit hole, bring this back to Chito and tie a nice red ribbon around this blog post…
What if we didn’t say “Yes” for 48 hours? What if we said “Absolutely” instead?
Forty-eight hours – two full days – of saying “Absolutely” to any and all opportunities that come our way. Could you be that bold? Could you throw caution to the wind and just see what happens?
You don’t have to advertise it to your family and friends - just start doing it.
“Mom … can we go to the movies this weekend?”
“Dad … will you help me build a mountain bike course in our backyard?”
“I’m going to mark something off my life list this weekend, do you want to go?”
“Absolutely! What are we doing?”
(Fill in the blank with something over-the-top cool, like go skydiving, play paintball or taste test every dipping sauce at Chick-fil-A.)
There are a couple/few disclaimers that I feel inclined to add to this revamped challenge:
1. Don’t break the law.
“Do you want to cook and distribute methamphetamine with me this weekend?”
Your answer should NOT be “Absolutely.”
2. Don’t do anything that might cost you your life.
“Do you want to drink bleach and see if our poop turns white?”
Again … “Absolutely” needs to be avoided in this obscure scenario, too.
3. Don’t just say “Absolutely” – say it like Chito says it. Do it with a genuine tone of excitement and take intentional action immediately afterwards. That’s the key to this particular challenge. That’s what differentiates it from just saying “Yes.”
“Do you want to paint our faces before the high school football game tonight?”
“Absolutely! I’ll go buy the paint!”
_ _ _
You: “What’s the point of doing this?”
Just see how it changes your mindset, and more importantly, see how it impacts the person presenting the opportunity or asking the question.
I did a test run on my son.
“When we re-do the upstairs, can we paint the walls dark grey,” he randomly asked one day.
“Absolutely,” I responded without hesitation.
He flashed a look of surprise. His eyes said, “really?” He waited for me to recoil.
I just smiled and nodded my head, validating my answer to his off-the-wall request.
He smiled back at me and then shifted his focus back to the football he was tossing around the living room.
So … again … are you this bold? Can you do it? I’m willing to give it a ride if you are.
Last disclaimer … I want to hear about your “48 Hours of Absolutely.” I want you to share the awesome opportunities that you jumped at. I also want to hear about the “oh, shit” moments that initially made you cringe before taking a deep breath and saying …
_ _ _
Last thing before I send you off with your newly adopted “Absolutely Attitude” …
I want to finish sharing about my candid conversation with Chito. Towards the end of our discussion, I asked him if he liked working at Grounded. It was a rhoteorical question, because anyone and everyone can tell that he whole-heartedly does.
But he still felt inclined to answer it. He flashed a big smile and said: “I love it!”
“What do you love about it?”
“I guess I love the interaction with the people,” Chito said. “I love when people say, ‘there is something different about this place.’ ”
“There is … absolutely!”