Lisa and I just returned from a week at Disney World where we met up with our daughter, Heather (seven months pregnant) and our son’s girlfriend and fellow Disney freak, Lori Johnson. We were also able to spend time with our good friends Steve and Michelle Luck who are now living in the Orlando area. This was a trip a while in the making and was even written into Lisa’s contract when we came to California having been planned since late last year. It was good to get to a place we were familiar with and to see everyone.
With the exception of a stomach virus I contracted while there – it was a wonderful trip. There is nothing quite as bad as being sick at the happiest place on earth. I came back to California ten pounds lighter and still recovering. I told Lisa I would like a “Disney do-over” since this trip was such as disaster for me. We now get back into the swing of things here in California with a little more than five weeks remaining of our time here. Having been gone since December 7th – we are looking forward to getting home. Life in Loma Linda is comfortable and easy-going. But where Gettysburg was full of history and activity – Loma Linda has very little to see and do that does not cost an arm and a leg. We still enjoy the weather and breath-taking mountain views and will certainly miss the vistas that only California can provide. But our hearts are in Kentucky.
Now back to Disney World. It’s funny how my mind works – that is I tend to see things and get stuck on images that others may see but soon forget. During an evening at Epcot something happened that really impressed me about how Disney works that made me think it should be the way of every company and organization in the world. We had just finished watching the night-time fireworks show, “Illuminations”, and were exiting the park along with the other thousands of guests. As we were herded along, someone in our group spotted a group of Disney workers lined up along the side of the shuffling crowd. They were wearing those large, white Mickey Mouse gloves and giving everyone a “high-five” as they walked past. I could not help myself but had to move to the side and smack hands with them. Their smiles were infectious and I quickly realized from the brooms they were holding that they were custodians. Further upon hearing their dialect – guessed they were of Haitian descent. They were so happy and having so much fun saying good-bye to everyone and I thought how great it was that they had been allowed to be such a sweet part of the “show”.
Over the course of the week we watched some fantastic stage shows that featured some amazing performers. Some received standing ovations for their performances and deservedly so. But my mind kept going back to those workers at Epcot. Wouldn’t it be great if organizations had a way of being more inclusive of all their staff – not just the ones with degrees or certificates of achievement or letters behind their names? How cool would it be for custodians in a school, for example, to be given Mickey Mouse gloves in the morning and slapping “high fives” with every student that enters the building.
One summer years ago my brother worked at a Baptist conference center in North Carolina called “Ridegcrest”. There he worked in the cafeteria washing dishes. I remember him telling us that they called their large, industrial size washer “the dragon” and before each shift, the workers would gather and sing the National Anthem before starting it up. It became a tradition. I actually visited him that summer and witnessed for myself their singing the anthem and guess what? I wanted to be a dishwasher at Ridgecrest. It was the coolest thing I had seen – they had made washing dishes seem like fun.
Businesses and organizations seem so focused on efficiency, production and outcomes that they may forget the importance of first making every employee feel valuable. But beyond that it may be necessary to find a way to make a workplace fun.
If nothing else – just give everyone Micky gloves.
Steve and Lisa