An alternate title to this post could be Thanksgiving in July. But Chick-Fil-A just sounds better, and also I love waffle fries more than mashed potatoes. But whatever.
I bring this up because during one of my I’ve Had It With This Kid’s Attitude Moments in early June, it dawned on me that the Grumbling levels in the Dalke household had reached an all-time high. And on the flip side, the Gratitude was in short supply. I mean, seriously.
After a road trip full of groans and grumbles over Every Little Thing, I started to wonder how I could make my child be like those happy kids who work at Chick-Fil-A and respond to my requests with, “My pleasure.”
And…bingo. That’s exactly how I decided that our family needed to undergo some pseudo-Chick-Fil-A-Happy training.
Which basically meant that every time I asked Luke to put his laundry away, or take his dishes to the sink, I prompted him to respond with, “My pleasure”. This was a swell idea and all, but it required that I micromanage the process. And frankly, no child responds well to a nagging parakeet-trainer of a mother who constantly repeats the same phrase for the sweet baby parakeet to mimic back to them. (As if.)
This particular strategy annoyed both of us. Not to mention that my end goal here is not to have a mannerly robot (or a parakeet). Rather, my mission as a parent is to grow a grateful heart in a 9 year old soul.
So what did I do? Nothing. I gave up on the My Pleasure kick roughly three weeks into it because this helicopter training method failed and I couldn’t figure out why. For the love of chicken nuggets, it shouldn’t be that hard to respond to your mother without huffing and puffing over the pathetic misery of accompanying her on a quick trip to the grocery store.
Because believe me, kid, I don’t take a whole lot of joy in pushing a metal cart down aisle after aisle of a food store, simultaneously dodging screaming toddlers and making critical decisions about which brand of yogurt to buy. But I do it because it’s MY JOB. And YOUR JOB is to BE THANKFUL. So there, dang it.
Soon after I gave up on Gratitude Ever Happening Here, it occurred to me that Chick-Fil-a’s success in creating a kind, courteous culture could not possibly be developed in an environment of hounding control. There’s no way a manager can force teenage employees to treat customers with kindness by nagging them into such unnatural behavior.
Mostly because (a) humans are not naturally kind, and (b) nagging produces temporary behavior change that will only last 2.4 seconds (or until the dishwasher needs to be unloaded).
So how does Chick-Fil-a management get their employees to automatically respond with “My pleasure…”?
They model the kind, servant-hearted behavior themselves.
Go stinking figure. So basically my own behavior is the best form of teaching. Well that’s just hashtag awesome.
The main idea of “servant leadership, is that leaders serve the staff. Managers treat their employees how they want those employees, in turn, to treat customers. If we have to keep telling people what to do, it means we’re not modeling the behavior ourselves. If we’re living it every day, we don’t need to talk about it.” –Dan Cathy, Chick-Fil-A President & COO
And here I thought Luke needed some kind of Chick-fil-A-Military Bootcamp that would shape a little humility and kindness into him. When in reality, I just needed to quit complaining myself, and focus on cultivating a grace-full culture in our home. (That, or hope Luke can swing a job at Chick-Fil-A when he gets to be a teenager.)
But since I don’t want to count on that, I came up with this plan to Grow Real Gratitude. And since we all need accountability, I would LOVE for you to join me! Here’s the plan:
Growing Real Gratitude (a.k.a. Growing Happy Kids Like Chick-Fil-A) (#mypleasure)
–Keep a jar of small, blank note cards on the highly trafficked kitchen counter. (Sort of like a condiment counter, but really not.)
–Count my blessings. I’ll use these blank cards to daily list my blessings. At the end of the week, I’ll hang them on the Blessing Wall. Which is really just our kitchen wall, and I just came up with that Fancy Name as I typed the last sentence. All that to say, there is no fancy remodeling necessary for this Gratitude Project; but wouldn’t it be awesome if we all literally turned our kitchen walls into Blessing Walls?
Also, p.s., the intent here is not to create a legalistic “Have To” kind of structure (because there’s no life-growth in that either!); instead, the hope is to provide a visible prompt toward the truth that we always have more than enough of what matters. Turning our eyes to all that we have is the antidote for a complaining heart.
–Model Gratitude by serving others on purpose. (Which, hello. I realize this means God will constantly show up with opportunities.) (Lord, have mercy. It bites to be so innately selfish.)
–Respond to others’ requests with a sincere smile and a “My Pleasure...” (As opposed to the What. Is. It. Now?” kind of responses I’ve given in the impatient moments of mid-July.)
I will not…
1) Nag. I will not nag. I will not nag. (Praying for a divine brainwash to help me with this one.)
2) Drop the project completely when I forget to write anything down on Day 3. Yes, I’m good at the all-or-nothing thing. But you know what? There’s always more grace.
This Gratitude Project will be fun and everything. But there’s part of me that really wants to pull up to one of those drive-thru speakers and order a 6 piece nugget meal with a diet coke, and a grateful kid on the side.
But I’m sure a few months from now, I will cheerfully tell you that it was all my pleasure.
Will you join me?
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