One of the best things about about the work I do is that I am in constant contact with others throughout our industry. I believe some of the best people in the world are air conditioning guys and gals. We’re good people who have a passion to serve others and excel at our ability to do so.

Among those who excel, I’ve found a common thread. It is that nearly all of them have become, or are on their way to becoming, the best at just one thing. After speaking with them for a minute or two, it becomes clear about what their primary focus is and they speak with humility and a near reverence for what it is they stand for. Of course they’re always excited about the subject as well.

We can look at Willis Carrie, who was Psychometric Man. Dave Lennox was Mr. Heating. Doc Rusk specialized in basic accounting and how to run a business, and Ron Smith preached service agreements. Jim Smith taught us to love everybody. Then there’s Matt Michel, who ties many of us together through Service Roundtable, and my always-inspirational business partner, Dominick Guarino and his endless leadership in the comfort revolution.

So what one thing do you stand for? What are you the best at, or becoming the best at? None of our leaders entered any contests to win a “best at” award. They just earned their position over time as they served the industry.

You also don’t have to be the best in the industry, either. All that’s required is that you be the best in whatever your sphere of influence is. First you become the best in your department of the company, then the best in your company, then your town, the region, etc. And remember, there’s rarely a contest to enter or awards to win. In your rating and status, you’ll be the judge and decide when you’ve achieved another level of being the best.

Straight From the Orthodontist's Mouth

I learned this principle from my childrens’ orthodontist many years ago. It was mentioned in the middle of a conversation one day. He probably doesn’t even remember it. But it had a profound effect on me. I taught it to my children, and each of them is thriving in their chosen directions in life. All four are in college now, and none are at the very top of their classes, as far as grades are concerned. They’re close, but they’re more focused and have a far better long-term view of their futures that those who simply know how to get good grades. In the long run, each of them believes they will be at the top of their fields, according to their version of what success is. They hold a belief and are working to fulfill their desired to be best at their one thing as they view it.

So how does that apply to each of us? I assure you that if you run around telling everyone that you’re the best that’s ever been, that you’re headed for disappointment. The quest is a quiet and personal one. Success comes from holding one constant vision of what needs to be accomplished and working on it every day. Remember, there are no single contests to qualify you as the best, because your definition of what makes you the best is yours only.

On the other hand, if you have the appropriate passion for your quest, the contests will arrive daily as you execute and practice your chosen work. The contests may appear on a service call, or during an installation. For some of you it may be the defining moment during a sales call when you solve a customer’s concern, or during a disciplinary session with one of your employees or co-workers where you create a way to salvage their job and re-energize their careers.

Compare a career or life filled with a desire to contribute as one the best, as opposed to just holding down a job. The steady force of wanting to turn into the best can make all the difference in the world.

One fault I find in many good people in our industry is that their focus and attention is wasted on the “flavor of the month.” Many are running from one product or service to another because it’s new or trendy. Some company leaders have never riveted the vision or purpose of their company on a single foundational idea that everyone can sink their teeth into. What remains is a company without an ongoing purpose that they can become the best at, but rather feel their focus will be changed with the next trend that walks in the door.

The image and culture that your customers see in you, your employees, and your company also strongly influences the commitment they hold towards you. If they see you constantly shifting and trying to find your way, they are far less likely to remain with you when they’re approached by one of your competitors.

Most important is that if you can find a rock or anchor to tie your efforts to and seek to become the best at something. Maybe there’s nothing that comes to mind right now. That’s an acceptable answer, as long as you begin to seek a mission and purpose in which you can excel.

Make it Worthwhile

Whatever it is, make it worthwhile to others as well as yourself. We’re in an industry where we’ve chosen to serve others. Service is what really makes life full and rewarding. I know the best service techs in the industry; they’ve never entered a contest. I know the industry’s best salespeople; none have ever received a public award, and few know their closing rates are over 90%. I know the best kitchen exhaust balancer in the world; he doesn’t even know he’s won that title. I know the best customer service representative in the industry; her customers and technicians are so loyal to her, she controls the entire company. I know the best guy in the country at making an air conditioning system dehumidify. I know the guy who’s the best at measuring the average wetbulb temperatures ever; he’s a pioneer. I know the best manufacturer’s field service representative. Everybody loves this guy — well, not all the time — but he’s the best there is.

So, who are you? What do you stand for?

Congratulations if you’re the best; become better. You see, once you win the title of the best, you then have the responsibility to bring others to your level.

If you’re at the point in your life that it’s just now time to make this decision, congratulations again. I’m excited for your future. Become the best at one thing.

Rob “Doc” Falke serves the industry as president of National Comfort Institute a training company specializing in measuring, rating, improving and verifying HVAC system performance. If you're an HVAC contractor or technician interested a Extreme Weather Duct Diagnostic Test Procedure, contact Doc at robf@nationalcomfortinstitute.com or call him at 800/633-7058. Go to NCI’s website at www.nationalcomfortinstitute.com for free information, technical articles and downloads.