It was the summer of 1976 at Camp Sussex, and I was hard at work in the kitchen as usual. The kitchen was over 100 degrees, and that day we were preparing Chinese food for 500 people.
You have to understand what making that many meals entails. That required 2000 pounds of chicken. Cooking 2000 pounds of chicken takes hours because you had to pick all of the chicken off the bones! We paired the chicken with fried rice, which was cooked in a massive frying pan that heated up the already steaming hot room even more.
But it was worth it, because chicken chow mein and fried rice was not only one of my favorite meals but one of the camp's consensus favorites as well.
I got out of the kitchen around 1:30 that afternoon after working over 7 hours preparing the meal. My coworker Wayne Kaufman, aka Satch, and I went for a dip in the lake to cool off after a scorching hot morning. After hanging out for a bit, we ended up falling asleep.
When we woke up, we realized it was 6:20pm, which meant that the whole camp was set already. Nobody came and woke us up!
We got to the kitchen and fought with everyone else saying it wasn't fair that we cooked the meal and didn't get to serve it. It got pretty physical and even dangerous.
Our biggest mistake was berating my mentor Alzie Jackson, who had us removed from the kitchen. We said a lot of vulgar things I can't say on this blog, because we had so much pride for the meal we cooked.
Alzie's explanation (or dare I say, excuse) for not waking us was simple. He said "you guys work very hard, I wanted to let you sleep in."
We didn't like that answer, but it was too late to do anything about it.
Are you all in at your job to the point where you don't ever want to miss a moment of work? Alzie was such a motivational genius that even after working all day in temperatures often exceeding 100 degrees over the course of 90+ hours per week, we still didn't want to miss a beat.
We never got a night off, because we didn't want nights off. The reward for us after a hard day's work preparing a meal was being able to serve it to the kids at the camp.
Inclusion breeds commitment.
Are you a motivator as a manager? Do your employees want to work more than they have to? Or do your employees take advantage of every opportunity to leave?
Alzie (pictured below) was a great manager. This story proved that to me.
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