A mentor of mine recently hit his 80th birthday. In a recent small gathering of friends, he took some time to talk about what he has learned along the way. For decades this individual was a high profile leader of large organizations. He has written dozens of books, mostly on leadership, traveled all over the world speaking to groups of up to 100,000 people, and counseled both Presidents and foreign dignitaries. The scale of his influence would be difficult to quantify. He has aged gracefully but has not escaped without his fair share of wounds and the scars to prove it.

He reflected on a season in which he made a very public mistake and the subsequent fall out for him and his family. In some circles, his reputation was forever tarnished. He experienced, first hand, the fragility of success.

by Trevor Lee

One of my first jobs was a waiter at a chain restaurant in my small hometown. Early on in my training I was shadowing an experienced server. As a part of the training I would write down the orders alongside her and we’d enter them into the POS together. There was a table of four young guys who came in and were a little disrespectful from the start–nothing terrible–but enough to put me on edge. They ordered and about fifteen minutes later their food came out. We stopped by a few minutes later (three to be exact–that was procedure!) to check on them.

“This isn’t what I ordered,” one of the young men told us flatly.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” my trainer responded. “What was your order?”

He told us what he supposedly ordered and then asked to see a manager to report our failure to get his order right. As we walked away from the table my trainer said under her breath, “The customer is always right.”