Author Harvey Mackay was waiting in line for a taxi at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie and freshly pressed black slacks, Wally the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back door. Harvey noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside — spotlessly clean.
As Wally slid behind the wheel, he said, “Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.” Jokingly, Harvey said, “No, I’d prefer a soft drink.” Wally smiled and said, “No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice.” Almost stuttering, Harvey said, “I’ll take a Diet Coke.”
Handing Harvey his drink, Wally said, “If you’d like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.” As the taxi pulled away from the curb, Wally handed Harvey a laminated card and said, “These are the stations I get and the music they play if you’d like to listen to the radio.” As if that weren’t enough, Wally told Harvey the air conditioning was on and asked if the temperature was comfortable.
The driver then advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of day. Wally also let Harvey know that he’d be happy to chat and tell him about some of the sights or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts.
“Tell me, Wally,” the amazed passenger asked, “have you always served customers like this?” Wally smiled and looked in the rear view mirror. “No, not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard a personal growth guru on the radio saying that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. He said, ‘Stop complaining. Differentiate yourself from your competition. Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.’
“So I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers unfriendly and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.”
“I take it that has paid off for you,” Harvey said. “It sure has,” Wally replied. “My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year, I’ll probably quadruple it.”
Looking around church, it’s easy to see those things we don’t like. The worship service went long last week (quack). The people sitting behind me kept talking during the service (quack). We’re spending too much money (quack). We didn’t sing any hymns I knew last week (quack). I couldn’t find a parking place close to the entrance (quack).
It’s one thing to bring a concern to the attention of the congregation’s leadership. Effective leaders always value a “feedback loop” that brings them accurate and timely information. What makes us a duck is when our outlook on the church or our ministry is always negative or critical; when nothing ever measures up or is acceptable.
Wally the cab driver made a different choice. He decided to stop quacking like a duck and to start soaring like an eagle. Sounds like a good approach to me.