“. . . you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” – Matthew 11:25
A major corporation could not figure out how one of its competitors consistently outperformed them in nearly every measurable category such as profitability, stock performance, customer satisfaction, employee retention, and safety. Both were excellent companies and among the world’s largest. A friend of mine, a fellow executive coach, who happened to be doing some contract work with the company at the time, shared with me how the company had employed brilliant people to do exhaustive studies of their competitor’s processes and business model, yet failed to identify the secret sauce of their success. The secret it seems, that in addition to their exceptional processes and business model, was their focus on people – customers, vendors, employees – and how they were treated and cared for. It was right before their eyes yet hidden in plain sight.
You may be familiar with the story about the lesson Fred Rogers, of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame, had learned from his mother. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” he once shared with his television audience, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people helping.’” A powerful message for sure, but I wonder how impactful it might have been were it not for two words, which until recently I had failed to notice – “look for.” Amid all the scary news, Mrs. Rogers was trying to teach her young son that there are also beautiful things going on by good people. . . BUT, you have to remember to “look for” it.
Told together these two stories offer a metaphor for Jesus’ teaching, “. . . you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” My coach friend kept encouraging the “wise and learned” corporate executives to “look for” how their competitor treated people, the true secret of their success, which though in plain sight, remained hidden; while a small child, through his mother’s encouragement, “looked for” and discovered much goodness taking place even amidst scary news.
We too are constantly subjected to scary news, yet how like the “wise and learned” we neglect to “look for” the helpers, the goodness of people – our neighbors and friends, sometimes hidden in plain sight. They are our hope and good news amidst the scary.