Eric Upton

Live. Learn. Run.

My Life Lesson From A Starbucks Manager

Ever wonder what goes through Eric’s mind in a day?

Yeah, most people don’t either.

But humor me.

I wondered to myself “How do I get ahead of the problems I am facing?”.

When I broke down that statement, I might have gotten to the core of my “problem”.

  1. “get ahead” – My desire to be out in front.
  2. “of my problems” – I’m expecting them and I took ownership!

The good news, I suppose, was my willingness to get ahead and not be happy with “I guess that’s the way it always will be”.

In the back of my mind I quietly believed that problems were a requirement in life and that they were always coming to “take me out”.

I’ve created a cycle that is so vicious, it would scare Boudreaux, my wayward cat. (See picture below – terrifying ain’t he?)

Let’s go back a day or two in time.

I’m sitting in a familiar haunt: The neighborhood Starbucks.

You can hear the constant buzz of “Welcome to Starbucks, how may I help you” as you walk through the door. The aroma of freshly ground coffee beans fills the air. Coffee displays are stacked to the ceiling in anticipation of the Christmas season. Shinny coffee related gizmos can be found at every corner, praying that I buy them.

Being a coffee junkie, you can almost drool at the picture I’ve painted for you.

I place my order, find my spot and settle in for a little quiet time to still my brain. My throat had been sore lately so the warmth of the Skinny Vanilla Latte really felt good.

I am enjoying my drink (and the quiet), until…

The manager behind the counter barked, “We all have our assignments and we need to start doing them now!“.

My guess is that the staff had been somewhat unruly or distracting. Or a process that was in place wasn’t working. She had to right the path of the staff and she did it loudly.

Once the staff was back on track, they were a little sore but were working through with a smile nonetheless.

So I begin to wonder:

“Why am I spending my time on problems (distractions or unruly behavior) when I have assignments to do?”.

I took off the rose-colored glasses.

Naturally the first thing I do is blame myself for everything. That’s the way I’m wired. It’s some sort of guilty complex that I developed somewhere as a child that would have likely made me a good Catholic.

But I rejected the notion.

For the first time in my life, I think I accepted that not everything is because of a me and began to work on how I see things.

I started to view each failure after that in a different light.

Not from a position of “What is wrong?” but a position of “How will I fix it?”.

Going back to my original thought that started this mess:

In order to get ahead of my problems, I’ve got to ELIMINATE them.

Make them objectives, changes, barriers, whatever. A problem only will exist if you give it the time of day to consume your thoughts.

“Getting ahead and eliminating my barriers” is now my mantra…

If I want to get ahead of something, that implies that I’m behind. Being behind a problem is setting the stage for failure.

All change starts with me. All solutions start with a thought.

There’s my thought.

Eric • 12/06/2012

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