Deb Sofield


I don’t know a single successful person

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I don’t know a single successful person that leaves their shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot.

I freely admit that I am probably in the 2% of people who love to go grocery shopping. I always have a list, but I also like to wander the aisles to see what else is in the market. It’s not that I have to buy anything; I’m just fascinated by packaging, current must-have mineral waters, acai berry teas and live lobsters in the tank with the little rubber bands on their finger-crushing claws.

I tend to shop everywhere because of my curiosity and my addiction to oddly flavored chips. I always get a cart, just in case I feel the need to buy something, but the one thing I always (try to) do is park my cart in the shopping cart holding box in the parking lot. Why? For practical reasons, because it is a nuisance to have to drive around a row of shopping carts to get into a parking space, and for personal reasons–it is just who I am, someone who likes to finish the job.

The one place you never have to worry about running into a cart is Aldi because you pay .25 cents for your cart and then you get your .25 cents back when you return your cart. Voila! Problem solved! It is a beautiful thing.

When I saw the quote that I am using for today, it just struck me as a dividing line, but, I’ll let you decide what side of the line you’re on. Here is what it means to me. I have been in business for over 30 years and, in that time, the lessons I have learned have shaped me into the businesswoman that I am. I started out in politics, working on campaigns, and then I became a licensed auctioneer. Then I tried real estate, then law school (for a few weeks), then sales with an ad agency. And then I looked around and it struck me that I was making others wealthy off my ability; honestly, that didn’t make any sense to me. I decided that I could and should create my own wealth, and with a friend we started an ad agency. Over time, other opportunities presented themselves, and I chose to move on to open my own business without associates and I’ve never looked back.

In those early years of business growth and hard-fought wisdom, I came to quickly realize that many of my actions we’re scrutinized by other jealous people, which is fine, but to keep myself in check with who I strive to be, I realized that to win respect of outsiders, and to keep my personal honor and, frankly, to live up to my personal standards, I decided it would be best for me to go the extra mile.

I put the cart back in place every time.

No one can honestly criticize you when you do the right thing. And if they do, it falls on deaf ears, because it becomes painfully obvious that they are hiding their shortcomings by calling out your “perceived” mistakes.

In the scheme of life it’s probably not a big deal where you leave “the cart” (whatever it may be in your own life), but if you’re leaving the cart in a place that will cause harm to others, or can be used against you as someone who does not complete the task or if it becomes a pattern of willful neglect, be aware that others are watching and taking note of your negligence.

I don’t know a single successful person that leaves their shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot. I am not sure who said the quote that I am using for today, but with all the shortcuts I see people trying to take in business or in relationships or in their personal life, I have to ask, “Why?”

Does it seem easier to give a halfhearted response? You know it never works out successfully that way. Does it no longer seem important? Really? You made a decision at one time to do the work, to be the supportive partner or to honor your code of conduct. Why did you abandon the idea or opportunity? What I am asking you is this: why did you dishonor yourself?

Listen, I know it is a pain to return the cart, and maybe you’re thinking I am making a big deal over a small issue (unless you’ve busted a taillight due to a cart accident), but what I’m really asking you to consider is the bigger idea in your life of what else have you left undone, now sitting to the side, waiting to be finished or at least put back in place.

A few years ago I was at my favorite store, and I was in a hurry, so after I loaded my car, I saw a guy walking into the store and I asked him if he would take my cart back and he said, yes. As I was pulling out, I noticed that while he took my cart, he abandoned it a few cars away on a tree trunk. “What the heck,” I thought, and it was all I could do not to find him and say (yell) to him, “If you’re not going to finish the job, why did you take it?” And what was he thinking? And, “Don’t say you’re willing to help and not do it.” But, in an instant, it dawned on me that ultimately it was my responsibility to finalize the landing place for that silly cart because I picked it up, used it, unloaded it and didn’t put it back in its place, assuming that a total stranger, who said he’d take it, would finish my job.

I don’t ask strangers anymore to take my cart back. If someone offers, then I give it to them but only then will I leave my task unfinished.

I know that there are a lot of ways to show success in today’s world, and many people have beaten the odds to become wildly successful; while that is to be admired, I am pretty sure that, along the way, many of these same people are the ones who let their word be their bond, showed up when they promised and took care of themselves and those who are in their care.

No doubt, there are plenty of successful people who left the cart hooked up on a tree stump or on the side of the crossing lane and not back in the holding pen. And I am sure that not every successful person is a perfect example of statesmanship, dying loyalty or righteousness, but somewhere along the way, more people than not figured out how to park the cart and leave a clean safe space for others. It is not hard to do–it just takes an extra minute of time to do the right thing–and if you were to be honest with yourself, you have an extra minute…everyone does.

So, today, you have a choice: you can use up and then abandon the responsibilities that you have before you, leaving it for someone else to fix, or you can clean up and finish the job that you started. I know it’s easy to say and seems so hard to do until you realize that you really do have the time; you’re just choosing not to do the work. It is an intentional choice to commit to finishing the job…or not. So, before you willfully discard my advice thinking that it is for someone else, stop and think about those who are left hanging because you bailed on your responsibility and haven’t made the right, honest and true decision to complete the task before you.

Friend, you’ve left the cart in the middle of the parking lot and you’re causing harm. Come on! You are better than that… I know you are.

I’m hoping that you will notice the pattern of many successful people who have figured out how to magnificently maneuver what they need to make life easier and then, once they complete the task, they do the simple act of putting back into place the items they used to make the transaction quicker, easier and more efficient so they can, with swiftness, catch the next cart of opportunity laden with prospects for a successful, happy, full and fulfilled life.

So, when you’re tempted to wimp out and dump the cart, remember that Deb doesn’t know a single successful person that leaves their shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot, and since you’re a friend of Deb’s…park the cart.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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