Years ago, I read a great comment by a man whose name, A. Lou Vickery, was new to me. I wasn’t able to find out much about him, except as the author of several books, most of them published during the last quarter of the 20th century.
But this quote captured my attention: “Four short words sum up what has lifted most successful individuals above the crowd: a little bit more. They did all that was expected of them and a little bit more.”
Wise words, indeed! They reminded me of a story Naomi Rhode told, when I worked with her on her book, titled: My Father’s Hand: A Daughter’s Reflection on a Father’s Wisdom. Naomi is one of the nation’s finest professional speakers, and a past president of both National Speakers Association and the Global Speakers Federation.
In the book, Naomi relates one of her father’s favorite stories, which illustrates the point Vickery made. She wrote: “Having lived through the ‘Great Depression’ in our country, my Dad had a true appreciation of thrift. But far beyond thrift was a philosophy of giving. He’d often tell the story of the shopkeeper during the Great Depression:
‘This shopkeeper was different than all the other shopkeepers in town. When you came into his shop to buy five pounds of coffee beans, he would take his marvelous scale and put a five-pound weight on one side, and the empty container on the other. Then, he would ceremoniously put the scoop into the bag of freshly roasted coffee beans, scooping and scooping until the once empty container was perfectly balanced with the five-pound weight.
‘The shopkeeper would then pause – and ‘twinkle’ – and dip the scoop into the bag of beans one more time. With a smile, he would empty that extra scoop of coffee beans on top of what he had so carefully measured, overflowing the container and tipping the scales in favor of you, the customer.
‘As he smiled and twinkled, he would say “Lagniappe,” which in French Creole means: “every bit you paid for, and then just a little bit extra.” It was obviously that “little bit extra” which had created, built and successfully retained the business other shops lost during that difficult time in our nation’s history.”