Why Not Your Best?

The world lost a beloved leader today… Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, died at the age of 93. His legacy is far-reaching – including a testimony to the power of servant leadership in our world. For all of us who were fortunate to work with him, Truett modeled both integrity of heart and skillful hands. He was the quintessential servant leader.
I had the privilege to work with Truett for more than 35 years. He was my sole interviewer when I was hired to join the Chick-fil-A corporate staff in 1978. Over the years, I was blessed to have a front row seat to witness his generosity, compassion, business savvy and wisdom. One of Truett’s many talents was his storytelling.
The right story, well told and well-timed, resonates deeply with people. Truett understood this at an intuitive level; he also understood the power of repetition. He combined these ideas and told us many of the same stories over and over again. This was not forgetfulness – rather it was an attempt to help all of us understand and remember the timeless principles embedded in each story he told. I call it strategic repetition.
One of my favorites is a story Truett first told in 1978 …

After graduating from the Naval Academy, Jimmy Carter was interviewing with Hyman Rickover for a position on the newly formed team charged with developing nuclear submarines. During their meeting, Carter was asked about his academic accomplishments. The future president proudly shared he had graduated in the top 10% of his class.

After hearing this, Rickover asked a single question, “Did you always give your best?”

Carter, bound by his personal integrity, told him, “No, sir. Not at all times.”

Rickover’s response, “Why not?”

With that question, the future admiral and father of the modern Navy stood and left the room leaving Carter alone with his thoughts.

Throughout his life, Truett retold this story and asked our entire organization:

“Why not… why not your best?”

Every time I heard him ask this question, it was a reminder that to reach our full, God-given potential, we must give our best. Truett had the moral authority to ask us this question based on the example he set and the life he lived. For his challenge and example, I am forever grateful.
Some might say, “I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t met Truett Cathy.” My response, “I don’t know who I’d be had I not met him.” He marked me and changed the trajectory of my life. He always inspired me to give my best.
How about you? If Truett were here, he’d ask you… “Why not your best?”[GLS_Shield]

Leave a comment



Chery Gegelman

6 years ago

A beautiful life, an inspiring story. Thank you for sharing. …Thoughts and prayers to his entire family. (The ones at home and at work.)

Mark

6 years ago

Thank you, Chery. We are celebrating Truett’s amazing life and legacy! Mark

John Archer

6 years ago

Mark,
I was saddened when I read your Blog this morning of Mr. Cathy passing away. Though I never met him I’ve seen how his influence has impacted you as I’ve read your books and heard you speak.
May the Lord truly bless Mr. Cathy’s family.
John Archer

Mark

6 years ago

Thanks, John. We are celebrating a life well-lived and a lading legacy. Mark

Randy

6 years ago

What a great man and mentor Truett was to all who knew him. He lived out his mission to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all his resources. And he certainly made a lasting impact with his life. Well written Mark.
My prayers are with you and the CFA family. Thanks for passing on Truett’s reminder that we all should give our best!

Mark

6 years ago

Thanks for your encouragement and your friendship! Mark

Andy Holt

6 years ago

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about such a great man. Truett defined his life through his service to others. He saw no conflict in biblical principls and running a business. His legacy continues because he touched so many of us in a real and authentic way! An example for all of us to follow.

Mark

6 years ago

Andy, thanks for joining the conversation! Truett was, and still is, a great role model. Mark

Mark McDowell

6 years ago

Cathey has been one of my personal heroes for years.

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