“His Name is Carlos”

mop.jpgI’ve learned through the years that you never know what you might be reading that will end up pointing you toward God.  Yesterday, I was skimming through the new Forbes magazine (print edition) and began reading a page written by Rich Karlgaard, the publisher.  His page was entitled, "Godly Work."  What an encouraging article!

He quotes from Nancy Ortberg:

Ortberg spoke of how her mentor, Max De Pree, former CEO of Herman Miller, engaged his workers, ‘Max had a rule for his leadership team.  Every Wednesday they were to bring a brown bag lunch and go down to the factory floor, where the furniture was being made, to eat.  They were to sit and listen for an hour to get to know the names of the workers on the floor and to learn about the obstacles workers were facing as they did their jobs, as well as hear about the ideas they had for future designs.’

Ortberg herself was at one time an emergency room nurse.  One night she witnessed an astonishing leadership act: It was about 10:30 p.m.  The room was a mess.  I was finishing up some work on the chart before going home.  The doctor with whom I loved working was debriefing a new doctor, who had done a very respectable, competent job, telling him what he’d done well and what he could have done differently.

Then he put his hand on the young doctor’s shoulder and said, ‘When you finished, did you notice the young man from housekeeping who came in to clean the room?’  There was a completely blank look on the young doctor’s face.

The older doctor said, ‘His name is Carlos.  He’s been here for three years.  He does a fabulous job.  When he comes in he gets the room turned around so fast that you and I can get our next patients in quickly.  His wife’s name is Maria.  They have four children.’  Then he named each of the four children and gave each child’s age.

The older doctor went on to say, ‘He lives in a rented house about three blocks from here, in Santa Ana.  They’ve been up from Mexico for about five years.  His name is Carlos,’ he repeated.  Then he said, ‘Next week I would like for you to tell me something about Carlos that I don’t already know.  Okay?  Now let’s go check on the rest of the patients.’

Ortberg recalls: ‘I remember standing there writing my nursing notes — stunned — and thinking, I have just witnessed breathtaking leadership.’

(Rich Karlgaard, "Godly Work" in Forbes, April 23, 2007)

I love this story!  Have you seen or witnessed moments like this one?  What is there about this story that is so important and refreshing?  Is there a key person in your business or church who is invisible to some people but in fact is critical to your work?

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13 thoughts on ““His Name is Carlos”

  1. Jim,
    You have struck my passion this morning. God has put an incredible buden on my heart for the Carloses in this world. I am talking about all of the seemingly invisible workers we blindly walk past every day. Can you imagine a world without sanitation workers or grocery store checkers? I am convinced that we take them all for granted. When was the last time we actually had a conversation with the person who is checking us out at the grocery store? I met a very nice young man yesterday named Charles at the HEB near Baylor. We had a brief conversation while he scanned my things. He is not a Baylor student, but goes to school at one of the other colleges in town. Can you imagine having to deal with the moodiness or self-absorbtion of some of us when we are in public? Remember, God doesn’t think of any of our gifts as menial. We shouldn’t either.

  2. I love people who can do the "dirty work" of our world.  You can read my blog and see why I say that.  We had a terrible problem with our sewage system which created an unbelievable mess.  The two young men who came and cleaned it up don’t know how much I appreciate them. 
    I’ll say too that my wife is the quiet helper and confidant in my life.  She is unassuming and never in the spotlight, but she just keeps on working and helping and serving others.  What an inspiration!

  3. Jim,
    Stoppin in from Scot’s. Thanks for this insightful post. A poignant reminder to appreciate those who are not in the limelight and to go out of our way to tell them how valuable they are to getting the job done.
    I also appreciated your comment on Tippens’ book over at Scot’s.

  4. As you noticed at the conclusion of my latest blog, I mentioned that God most often speaks to us in the mundane or regular routine of life. I think a custodian that served at Greg England’s church in Long Beach when he first moved there was a great example of what you are talking about. As I recall, he was a PHd and taught at a university for awhile but decided to take time off from the stress of his environment to just serve. He chose this job. I have to think that he was the most over-qualified janitor on the planet at that time–sort of a Good Will Hunting type.

    I am amazed at how so many of us take for granted all those who serve us. My wife is a college teacher and she always had someone in her classes who is a waiter/waitress. These workers always comment on what poor tippers some people are–especially those Sunday church goers. Needless to say we always greet our waiter/waitress and give a 20% tip. But there are some wonderful stories inside of those people who serve in jobs that keep us happy and comfortable.

    Thanks for your thoughts.


  5. Keith (Reid),Thanks for a great comment.  I have been in that grocery store many times and could just see that check out line you were in.  I appreciate the reminder of the need to see the Carlos’ of this world. 

  6. Steve,A very good reminder about waiters/waitresses and other service workers.  I have heard the same comments made regarding the "after church" crowd on Sundays.  That is sad.Thanks Steve. 

  7. Great story.  People like the doctor have a gift I think – it’s an extra measure of love.  Love takes time, at odd times, to connect.  My neighbor came over to borrow my truck yesterday to fetch a truckload of mulch.  I had an urge to drive him to get the stuff instead of simply loaning the truck.  What a blessing!  I hadn’t talked with him for months – a busy guy he is.  All it took was some time.  I think we need to discipline ourselves to slow down our hurried, often superfluous lives to talk to at least one person a day who is not on our usual "route" and discover a new "fact" God can use in us.

  8. This was a great story.  I have already sent the post to several co-workers.  My manager in Temple just loved it and asked if he could pass it on.  He already comes to Waco monthly and takes out 3 employees to lunch to get to know them and for them to get to know him.  Everyone has a "story" and is interesting if we get to know them.  Thanks for this post.  Gail 

  9. What a wonderful reminder. Without the ones behind the scenes, the scenes could be ugly.
    Steve’s comment reminded me of something I heard a long time ago, but I don’t remember where. "It doesn’t matter how high up the ladder you are, you had to start at the bottom rung."