What ‘Lessons in Success’ come from Washing Cars?

Luke Warm Water is best for Removing Grit

I’m normally writing blogs slagging my kids, so this one is a welcome change. When I got a new car recently, Linda wanted to take my ‘old’ (2006) car – because she really liked it. There was only one problem. It hadn’t been cleaned for ages and looked like a mobile version of Dunsink Dump. I then rediscovered a brilliant concept. It’s called delegation. Cillian was lying in the bed, mentally rehearsing how he would approach next years Leaving Certificate (not). One €10 note later and he was busy dragging the Hoover out from under the stairs. Bribery and sweets – two key parenting accessories!

Happy Ending: Now the way this story normally ends is as follows. The kids do a job. Then I have to re-do it as they make a bags of it (substitute your own more colourful word for ‘bags’). Not this time. He pulled out the mats. Washed down the interior. Polished the seats and sprayed the dashboard. 2 hours sweat equity (he was paid just less than the legal minimum wage – but don’t worry, the story will never get out). Cillian was pleased with the result. Linda, inspection completed, was smiling. I was delighted to get off the hook. Don’t you just love a happy ending?

Boss’s Job: In the nature of my work, I get to meet a lot of people who are unhappy in their roles. Many times I’ve met executives who want to do their boss’s job. They tell me that their boss is brain dead, a bullying dictator, a ‘couldn’t care less’ gobshite or some variation on those themes. Then they tell me how they personally would do a great job if they inhabited the boss’s chair. Picture the scene. Someone who is underperforming in their own role – is making a case that they would over-perform in a bigger, more complex role. As arguments go, this one is inherently weak. I usually tell them to do their own job superbly well before they make a pitch to sing on a bigger stage. Even menial jobs can be done brilliantly well – as Cillian displayed when he cleaned the car for Linda.

The Message: Take care of the future by being terrific at today’s job. Acquire a success habit by delivering high quality projects on time and on cost. And watch tomorrow take care of itself. Delivering on the day job is the best way to build career success. Now, drop back onto dipped headlights and don’t be focused too far out the road.

Paul Mooney

PS: Thought for the Day: Met a guy last week that said he was giving up completely on dieting and just going to buy new clothes!


Know someone who’d benefit from reading this blog? Forward it on or ask them to contact paul@tandemconsulting.ie and we will add them to the mailing list. If you’d like to have a discussion about management or organisation development, give me a call on 087 2439019.


About Tandem Consulting

Paul Mooney holds a Ph.D. and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Sociology from Trinity College, along with a National Diploma in Industrial Relations (NCI). He has a post-Graduate Diploma and a Masters in Coaching from UCD. Paul, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is widely recognised as an expert on organisation and individual change. He began his working life as a butcher in Dublin before moving into production management. He subsequently held a number of human resource positions in Ireland and Asia - with General Electric and Sterling Drug. Between 2007 and 2010, Paul held the position of President, National College of Ireland. Paul is currently Managing Partner of Tandem Consulting, a team of senior OD and change specialists. He has run consulting assignments in 20+ countries and is the author of 12 books. Areas of expertise include: • Organisational Development/Change & conflict resolution • Leadership Development/Executive Coaching • Human Resource Management/employee engagement
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