Chapter 51 – Corner Cutters
Leadership is doing what’s right
when no one is watching.
– George Van Valkenburg
The world is made up of corner cutters. It could be your spouse, your coworkers, your boss, your friends, your family, and yes, yourself. We all have been corner cutters at times, trying to make things a little easier on ourselves. Whether it’s not making up your bed right or studying just to pass the test and not to ace it, or running eight laps around the gym and cutting the corners, being a corner cutter is no way to get through life.
When we run laps at Mighty Bluebird Field, if I catch one person cutting a corner even by a step I make the whole team redo the laps. When we’re running line drills, I require each athlete to touch the line on the turn and on the starting line. If anybody misses touching that line even by one inch I make the whole team start over and rerun the line drills. Why do I make such a big deal out of inches and cutting corners? I do so because in sports that’s often the difference between winning and losing. Hopefully it teaches the kids a more important lesson in life.
In business being a corner cutter can be even more serious than in athletics. Can you imagine corner cutting if you were an airline pilot, an airline mechanic, a sky diver, a taxi cab driver, a neurosurgeon, a heart surgeon, or had any other job that might involve someone’s life? Certainly we don’t want corner cutters when it comes to those professions. Even if you’re working in the financial world–let’s say you’re an investment broker, an insurance agent, or a bank loan officer-if you cut a corner you could end up with a commitment unfulfilled and a lawsuit soon to follow. I can tell you that as the employer of 30 employees at The Hatcher Agency I know who my corner cutters are, and I know the ones who will absolutely never cut corners. When I have a huge prospect or client that I want to make sure is taken care of, you can be sure I don’t give that case to the corner cutters. In fact, corner cutters don’t last very long at The Hatcher Agency. If you’ve ever cut the corner on me just one time, it causes me not to trust you for a long, long time with my most prized clients. All clients want to know that they can count on you to do it right when nobody’s watching, to execute, and to not cut any corners when taking care of their client.
This next sentence may be the most important sentence in the book if you could remember it the rest of your life. If you will agree not to cut corners and to do whatever you’re doing to the best of your ability, and if you’ll agree to take on whatever project you’re doing and try to do it better than anybody else in the world then you will be a millionaire someday. I don’t care what it is you’re doing, if you become the best in the world at it, you’ll become a millionaire. I don’t care if you want to be a cook; I don’t care if you want to be an aerobics instructor, a physician, a painter, a builder, a coach, an architect…if you absolutely refuse to cut corners and work to be the best in the world at your profession, you will be paid handsomely for it. Think about it…think of the best person in any possible industry and you’ll find yourself a millionaire. Find that millionaire and you’ll find someone who is not a corner cutter.
I teach my kids when we’re in practice that it actually feels good to know you’re not cutting corners, that you’re running a little further than the other guy, that you’re doing a little extra, and most importantly, that you’re not cheating yourself. In the end, corner cutters will never be as satisfied with their life. Those who don’t cut corners have the satisfaction of doing a job right, and that satisfaction stays with you for the rest of your life.
After reading this chapter I hope that as you go through your day you will notice the corner cutters in life. A building that hasn’t been built to top notch standards, a person who is wearing a wrinkled shirt and hasn’t taken the time to iron it, a limousine driver who doesn’t take the time to roll out the red carpet, a man who doesn’t take the time to open the door for a girl, you’ll see corner cutters everywhere everyday. Just make sure you’re not one of them and again, we’ll see you at the top.