Of Oranges & Overachievers

You can do a quick Internet search and end up with heaps and heaps of stories that will explain what it means to be a good employee. These stories are packed with the latest buzz words and attempt to show you the latest “in” theories about employee engagement and motivation. However, I am here to tell you that it is not necessary to research and then re-search online for what an employee needs to do in order to be successful.

Instead, remember the Parable of the Oranges.

The Parable Of The Oranges

There was a young man who had ambitions to work for a company because it paid very well and was very prestigious. He prepared his résumé and had several interviews. Eventually, he was given an entry-level position.

Then he turned his ambition to his next goal—a supervisor position that would afford him even greater prestige and more pay. So he completed the tasks he was given. He came in early some mornings and stayed late so the boss would see him putting in long hours.

After five years, a supervisor position finally became available. But, much to the young man’s dismay, another employee, who had only worked for the company for six months was given the promotion. The young man was very angry, and he went to his boss and demanded an explanation.

The wise boss said, “Before I answer your questions, would you do a favor for me?”

“Yes, sure,” said the employee.

“Would you go to the store and buy some oranges? My wife needs them.”

The young man agreed and went to the store. When he returned, the boss asked, “What kind of oranges did you buy?”

“I don’t know,” the young man answered. “You just said to buy oranges, and these are oranges. Here they are.”

“How much did they cost?” the boss asked. “Well, I’m not sure,” was the reply. “You gave me $30. Here is your receipt, and here is your change.”

“Thank you,” said the boss. “Now, please have a seat and pay careful attention.”

Then the boss called in the employee who had received the promotion and asked him to do the same job. The new guy readily agreed and went to the store.

When he returned, the boss asked, “What kind of oranges did you buy?”

“Well,” the new guy replied, “the store had many varieties — there were Navel oranges, Valencia oranges, blood oranges, tangerines and many others — I didn’t know which kind to buy. But I remembered you said your wife needed the oranges, so I called her. She said she was having a party and that she was going to make orange juice. So I asked the grocer which of all these oranges would make the best orange juice. He said the Valencia orange was full of very sweet juice, so that’s what I bought. I dropped them by your home on my way back to the office. Your wife was very pleased.”

“How much did they cost?” the boss asked. “Well, that was another problem. I didn’t know how many to buy, so I once again called your wife and asked her how many guests she was expecting. She said 20. I asked the grocer how many oranges would be needed to make juice for 20 people, and it was a lot. So, I asked the grocer if he could give me a quantity discount, and he did! These oranges normally cost 75 cents each, but I only paid 50 cents apiece. Here is your change and the receipt.” The boss smiled and said, “Thank you; you may go.”

He looked over at the young man who had been watching. The young man stood up, slumped his shoulders and said, “I see what you mean,” as he walked dejectedly out of the office.

How To Apply This Story To The Motorcycle Industry

Great story, right? But how does that story help you? If you’re in the motorcycle industry, remember that meeting your personal goals isn’t going to make you the best employee. What it will do is give you tunnel vision.

By just showing up and doing your job, you don’t stand out. That’s what everyone is already doing… And you are ALL getting paid just to do that. In order to be more, to do more and to succeed, you have to be willing to go the extra mile for your employer. You have to be more than motivated.

Are you a parts counter employee? Don’t just hand a part to someone. Ask questions. Go the extra mile. Don’t just give good customer service, BE a good customer servant. If you spend the time needed to become invested in your customers, your employer and the job, you’ll find something crazy will happen… your motivation and enthusiasm will push you towards your goals.

Better yet, you won’t be pushing alone. Those people who see your motivation will notice it and they’ll be in your cheering section as you strive toward the finish line!

Oh yeah, one more important lesson from the parable of the oranges: If you really want to know what is going on, check with the boss’ wife! Leaving women out of the equation is never a good idea since they control the purse strings in many households and make up almost 20% of motorcycle ownership these days.


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