從舉重學到的功課

多年前我感到自己不再年輕,所以就加入一個健身俱樂部並開始舉重健身。有一位個人教練被指派來測量我的身高體重,並準備一張表顯示我應做的運動。我就像其他會員一樣,把那張表放在健身房的檔案抽屜裡。

我定期去練習,記錄我的進度,我覺得自己進步得很快。然而,幾個月後有一天,當我去練習時,卻驚慌地發現那抽屜不見了。健身房的經理告訴我,他們已把那健身卡丟掉了。他說,他們不知道有多少人把私人物品放在那裡。此外,保管每個人的健身卡也不是他們的責任。

那些員工輕率地丟掉健身卡,且毫不在乎的態度讓我很生氣。我若知道他們會把健身卡丟掉,我就會把它放在我的健身袋中。

這事件過後沒多久,管理中心在停車場最靠近俱樂部大門的車位上貼出告示,顯示那些車位是保留給俱樂部老闆與經理的。結果停車場常常客滿,我們必須把車子停到街上。而最靠近大門的那四五個「特別」停車位空無車輛停放,但還是保留著以免老闆臨時來。

這兩個不同的事件可能不是很重要,但它們傳達出一個非常清楚的訊息。顯然這個健身俱樂部的管理人員對會員的需要沒有多大興趣。

你可能會猜到,我立刻取消我在那健身房的會員卡,改換到另一家健身房。現在經過三十年後,我仍然定期練習舉重,盡量努力保持健康。儘管我又老了許多歲,我強烈懷疑我可能比三十歲時更健康。當然我永遠無法知道,因為我原來參加的那家健身房把我以前的健身卡丟掉了,所以我無從比較。

身為工商人,我把這負面的經驗變為正向。我了解我顧客的重要性,若沒有他們,我的公司也不會存在。在做任何決定時,我努力把他們的需要與利益放在最前面。我可以用我喜歡的態度經營公司,例如「這是我的事業,我想怎麼做就可以怎麼做。」但從我在健身房的經驗,我知道我若如此,就不能長久保有顧客。

在聖經新約中,我發現有一個原則適用在這種情形:「凡事不可結黨,不可貪圖虛浮的榮耀;只要存心謙卑,各人看別人比自己強。各人不要單顧自己的事,也要顧別人的事」(腓立比書2章3-4節)。

這段經文的頭四個字是一個很好的提醒:若你沒有考慮到別人的需要與利益,你還不如什麼事都不要做

思想 / 討論題目
你是否和本文作者有類似的經驗:你惠顧的公司執行某個政策,顯然沒有考慮到你的利益?那是什麼樣的事件?你又如何回應? 要做商業決定是困難的,因為它們很複雜,無法取悅每個人。根據實際狀況,你認為應該採取什麼步驟去降低對相關人士的負面影響? 本文是討論會影響到顧客的決定。但事情若是影響到公司員工,我們是否也採用類似的思考過程?為什麼? 對你而言,「把別人看得比自己重要」如腓立比書2章3-4節所說,是容易或困難?請解釋。註:若你有聖經且想要看有關此主題的其他經文,請看:
箴言18章12節,22章4節;馬太福音20章26-28節,23章11-12節;路加福音22章25-27節;加拉太書5章13-14節

LIFE LESSONS FROM LIFTING WEIGHTS

By: Jim Mathis

Years ago I realized that youth was no longer on my side, so I decided to join a fitness club and start lifting weights to get into shape. I was assigned a personal trainer who took my measurements and prepared a chart showing the exercises I should be doing. I stored the chart in a file drawer at the gym, just as many of the other members did.

I faithfully and regularly worked out, recording my progress, which I felt was somewhat remarkable. One day a few months later, however, when I arrived for my regular workout it was disconcerting to find the file drawer was gone. I was informed by managers at the fitness club that they had thrown out the charts. They explained they did not know how many people kept personal records anyway. Besides, one individual stated, it was not their responsibility to keep track of everybody”s charts anyway.

The thoughtless discarding of the fitness charts, along with the complacent attitude of the staff, made me furious. I easily could have kept my chart in my gym bag if I had known they were going to discard them.

Not long after that incident, the management posted signs at the parking spaces closest to the door stating they were reserved for the owner and managers. It became common to see the parking lot filled, overflowing with cars parked on the street, while the four or five “special” parking spaces by the door remained vacant, being reserved in case the owner were to stop by.

These separate actions might not have seemed of major importance, but they communicated one message very clearly. It was obvious that the management of this fitness club had little interest in the needs of the members.

As you might expect, I promptly canceled my membership and moved to another gym. Now 30 years later, I still work out and lift weights regularly, striving to remain as fit and healthy as possible, despite my advancing years. I strongly suspect that I might actually be in better shape now than I was when I was 30 years old. Of course, I will never know, since my original fitness club chose to destroy my workout charts years ago, leaving me with no basis for comparison.

As a businessman, I have turned this negative experience into a positive. Realizing the importance of my customers and the reality that without them my company would cease to exist, I make a conscious effort to keep their needs and interests foremost in my decision-making. I could operate according to an attitude such as, “It is my business, and I can do what I want,” but understand from my own experience that philosophy will not retain customers for very long.

In the New Testament of the Bible, we find a principle that applies to situations such as this: “Do nothing out of selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard others as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

The first two words of that passage serve as a good reminder: If you fail to consider the needs and interests of others in whatever action you plan to take, it would be better to do nothing.

Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and recently has opened a school of photography. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
Have you ever had a similar experience to that of Jim Mathis, when a business you were patronizing implemented certain actions or policies that clearly did not take your own interests or concerns into account? What happened – and how did you respond? Obviously some business decisions are difficult, far too complex to always please everyone involved. In light of that reality, what steps do you think should be taken to minimize negative effects on the people involved? This “Monday Manna” addresses decisions that affect customers or clients. Should a similar thought process be used concerning actions that have an impact upon company staff members? Why or why not? In your opinion, how easy – or difficult -is it to “regard others as more important” than yourself, as Philippians 2:3-4 suggests? Explain your answer. If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages:

Proverbs 18:12, 22:4; Matthew 20:26-28, 23:11-12; Luke 22:25-27; Galatians 5:13-14

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