I'd been with my dad at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte for several days.
The first day I walked in, I noticed this mat in the elevator.
It hit me that this had to be a series.
Sure enough the next day I walked in, it had changed to this one .
The elevators all had these custom mats that were changed daily.
The attitude they wanted to present was to expect the best.
They wanted to stand out from any other hospital. And to me they did, not from the mat but from the level of caring and service everyone exhibited. It was extraordinary.
They set me up from the moment I stepped onto that elevator.
As a professional motivational speaker, I have flown United Airlines a lot. I remember when a captain got on the intercom as the door shut and said, "Good morning ladies and gentlemen. It's a great day to fly! We're so glad you joined us today."
That expectation announcement lifted our spirits. I found myself thinking, "Hey, if this guy thinks it is a good day to fly, then it must be a good day to fly" and I looked out the window.
Contrast that to the book by Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. It's hard to get past the first chapter with her rant against people telling her to be positive after a breast cancer diagnosis.
To her, positive expectations are bad.
So, what's the alternative to a positive outlook?
She doesn't seem to answer that question and she seems to discount all the research showing setting positive expectations really can make a difference in many areas of human interaction.
Will it cure terminal illness? Probably not and people who go around only being fanatically positive are annoying and working hard at keeping up such appearances.
But so many people are running around being "realists," "devil's advocates," and "practical" that they live their lives at 50 percent. Why?
Because they are actually afraid of giving over to the power of being positive.
They deride the movie The Secret or the whole positive thinking movement from Norman Vincent Peal to Zig Ziglar.
I see it occasionally in my audiences on a person with their hands crossed over their chest whispering to a person next to them, "It will never work." And what do they get for it?
An unwelcome mat.
You want to have great customer service, you have to put your foot down that you want to make the other person's day. That means you often have to find something to hold onto that is positive in your life, a deadline you met, a sales call you made, a great employee you rewarded.
Only from that can you genuinely set the stage for customers to be lifted up with an expectation of better things.
At Carolinas Medical Center, that's not just a saying, it is shown every day when they make sure their customers, clients and staff see what they are trying to accomplish - excellent customer service.
And while my dad passed away a short time later, they did everything they could to make sure both of us were surrounded by hope and the possible.