1999 I was working on $66 million systems overhaul at the World Bank. Every Monday morning one of our top analysts (I’ll call him Mark) would come in with his extra-huge (Venti) cup from Starbucks, pure caffeinated lift. I was stunned by the size of his chemical jolt. Mark was one of the best. He understood the guts of our data set like no one else and could create correlations to satisfy any query. In my mind, he was way underpaid, one of the most valuable people on the team.
We had pulled him from the front office where he served, always ready to generate a report for the VP at a moment’s notice. But the real value was Mark’s deep understanding of how to correlate data, finding dependencies and relationships that could be plumbed for pure business power.
Every Monday morning I would watch as he began to work on that gargantuan coffee. The thing was, he came in with a smile and a pleasant swing in his step. He came to work with enthusiasm and determination. After working side-by-side with him I learned that his parents had recently passed away and he was flying back-and-forth to his home country in South America to ensure smooth operation of the family business. All this while he was helping us. Mark had his hands full. Yet, every Monday he hit the deck ready for action. It was a joy to work with him.
His focus was intense. He was 100% present with the task at hand, and his intellectual prowess was visible. At the same time he was gracious and friendly, even happy.
What I learned from Mark is that every Monday is a new beginning. It’s like January 1st, only focused on the week. Early Monday morning you have five days spread out in front of you, with the potential for increasing momentum and real progress. In this regard, the first day of the week is unique. That is why Mark attacked every Monday morning with such joy.
Monday holds a special promise: the chance to make real progress. Look ahead and dream what is possible in the next five days. They will never come again, and yet here they are in all their glory. I think I’ll head down for an oversized cup of (decaf) Joe right now!
Seth Kahan is a Change Leadership specialist. He has consulted with CEOs and executives in over 50 world-class organizations that include Shell, World Bank, Peace Corps, Marriott, Prudential, American Society of Association Executives, International Bridge Tunnel and Turnpike Association, Project Management Institute, and NASA. He is the founder of Seth Kahan’s CEO Leaders Forum, a community of CEOs working together to innovate through the current economy. His next book, Getting Change Right: Creating Rapid, Widespread Engagement will be published in spring 2010