Stinky Feet


Can a man who's warm understand one who's freezing? -Alexander Solzhenitsyn

As part of my Disney training, I completed over 400 hours of “in-costume” training at over 50 different roles and locations at Walt Disney World. As a Vice President, I hauled trash at the Magic Kingdom, made beds at the Grand Floridian, sold tickets at Epcot, cleaned the broiler at quick service restaurants, and sold merchandise in the stores. This was long before the popularity of programs like "Undercover Boss."

With each experience, I gained an appreciation for how tough these jobs are. My back ached after making beds for eight hours. I was hot, sweaty and dirty from being a custodian. I understood what it was like to be asked, "Where are the restrooms?" one hundred times a day. I also developed strong relationships with the Cast Members who worked with me. These were the people closest to our guests, and I learned about barriers that prevented our Cast Members from providing outstanding service—issues I was able to fix back in the office.

Afterwards I often received calls from people who had worked with me about how new policies were helping or hindering their efforts to provide great service.

Walking in another person's shoes:

  • Creates empathy, respect, appreciation and humility.
  • Allows us to become slower to judge, more compassionate and wiser.
  • Helps us see opportunities more clearly and often create bonds that help us achieve those opportunities.

All these benefits are part of a surpassing life and increase the diversity and depth of our relationships.

Action Points
• Be willing to work alongside others to better understand them.
• If you are in a leadership role, have your staff people work on the frontline, especially in busy periods.

Compassion, wisdom, respect for others, and humility

Excerpted from Chapter 21, Stinky Feet, of The Surpassing Life: 52 Practical Ways to Achieve Personal Excellence,

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