There is a price tag for doing what is right, instead of what is easy.
When we lived in Chicago, I bought a “Groupon” so our family could try a new restaurant. When I presented the Groupon at the end of our meal, the snarky waitress said, “I’m sorry, you can’t use that today, it’s a holiday weekend.”
Now, I happen to have read all of the small print to ensure there were no restrictions on the Groupon. There weren’t.
I politely responded, “I’m sorry, I’ve read all the small print, I didn’t see any restrictions. Please help me see if I missed something.” She replied, “I don’t know if it says it on there, I just know we aren’t taking them today.”
“I’m sorry, that doesn’t work for me.”
She left and returned with her manager. The conversation repeated itself. The manager was nicer, but she ended the conversation saying, “I’m sorry but you’ll have to pay for the entire bill and use the discount you purchased on another day.”
I remained calm while responding to the manager, “Again, I’m sorry, but that doesn’t work for me. I’m going to pay the price that’s on the Groupon, since that is the contract you made with your customers.”
She said, “I’ll call the police!” I said, “Please do.”
I added, “They would be interested to know that a business is advertising one thing and selling another. I think that might be fraudulent.”
The manager said, “Wait here.”
At this point my wife was touching my hand saying, “Rob, please just pay the bill with cash and let’s go.” My teenage daughter, on the other hand, was kind of looking forward to watching her dad get arrested!
The manager of the restaurant returned saying, “I called the owner and he said that he’ll offer you a one-time exception; you can use your Groupon.” I thanked her and asked her to extend my thanks to the owner. I left a very nice tip and we drove home. It was an interesting conversation in the car.
Was I “attempting to prove a point?” No. At least that wasn’t my motivation. Was I “mad?” No—I was really more scared.
“Scared? Really?” my daughter asked.
Yes. No one wants to confront someone else and I certainly did not want to embarrass my family or myself. I was fairly certain the law would be on my side, but I didn’t know what mood the police would be in when they showed up. I felt the restaurant was saying, “We advertised one thing but we are going to bait and switch our customers.” I didn’t want them pulling those shenanigans on an elderly couple or single mom.
At the end of the day, I’ve been working on my courage. Here is what the research affirms: courage starts small and grows with use. That makes sense. Navy Seals weren’t so courageous on day one. But the hard work, training, discipline, and always doing what is right makes them some of the most courageous people I know.
The #1 way to increase your courage is to choose between doing what is right and doing what is easy. If you keep on making the right choices, your courage will grow—every time! So tell the truth, admit the mistake, give the money back, and don’t compromise in the little things.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Can you choose one “small thing” that you need to start with this week? Take that small step of courage in the right direction. Then do it again. Then again. You’re on your way to becoming a more courageous leader. You can do it!
P. S. Have you or has someone you know taken a “step of courage in the right direction?” If so, let me know about it. I might use the story in an upcoming book!