Can we really make a difference?

About 2 years ago McDonalds introduced a new type of wooden chair into their refurbishment programme. On the face of it this was no big deal but for me it ended the opportunity for me to work in the stores as I had been for many years.

When I was 25 years of age I started a professional career in basketball joining Sunderland. I shared a house with 2 Americans and they were very keen on weight training so I joined in. After a few weeks I was feeling a pain in my back which I ignored. The pain got worse and worse until in a match I made a sudden move and slipped a disc in my back or prolapsed disc for the official term. One of these Americans was Randy Haefner who has become a very good friend and is attending my wedding to Julie on 9th May this year as guest of honour.

This injury virtually ended my basketball career but I chose to carry on as I had made a Commitment (one of the 5 key pillars of Mental Resilience which are described in detail in my upcoming book). I found a good Osteopath and managed to play for two years travelling all over the world playing and having a great time. My last ever match was winning the playoff finals at Empire Pool Wembley in front of 10,000 people and live BBC TV coverage.

Unfortunately this left me with a weak back which I have managed well ever since, but one thing which is important is that I don’t sit in an upright chair – I need a chair which leans back. And this brings me back to the new McDonalds design – the new chairs are very upright and within minutes I can feel pain in my back. So my love affair with McDonalds as one of my virtual offices came to an end in any refurbished stores.

It made me think whether writing to the Chief Executive Officer of McDonalds would be worth it, but I rationalised that if I explained the situation maybe they would change the design of the chairs just for me. So I wrote to the CEO explaining my situation and received a reply from one of her staff to say that the chairs adhere to the Health and Safety standards and thanked me for my communication. I obviously knew when I wrote that it was very unlikely indeed that they would change the design for one person but I wrote it anyway.

My local McDonald’s in Nottingham (where I worked from most days) was due to be refurbished and these new chairs appeared as expected so I stopped going. For around 18 months I avoided any refurbished McDonalds as I knew that I couldn’t sit in any of their seats (all their seats including the chairs were very upright). Then one day I noticed, when I popped into a refurbished store, that there was a chair which was black and leant back at a perfect angle for my back. This really surprised me so I got a tea and worked there.

This started to happen more frequently around the country – these chairs started to appear randomly in refurbished stores. Whenever I have a meeting/workshop/coaching or speaking event around the country I like to get up very early beat the traffic and get to a McDonalds to prepare beforehand. This means I don’t have any traffic hold ups, I have time to relax beforehand and am always just a few minutes away from the venue so no last minute panic.

These chairs are now appearing very quickly all over the country – I’ve also noticed that they are thicker than the original upright ones and I think I know what has happened. I believe that the original chairs were too thin and were breaking so they have gone  back to the manufacturers to increase the thickness of the laminate and at the same time have asked them to change the angle of the chairs to make them lean back a little.

Is this due to my letter to the CEO –  maybe? I don’t actually know if this is the case, I have written to the CEO to thank her and haven’t as yet received a reply. It may be a coincidence or it may be that following my letter, the comments were noted and they took the opportunity when the re-design was in progress to change the angle.

The learning from this is that we never know what impact we can make with our words and actions. It was a pain for me to find the CEO details and write the e-mail to her but I have a sneaking feeling that it was this e-mail 18 months down the line which affected this change.

So if you think that something just isn’t worth the effort, think again because maybe it will be.

Have a great week.


Share this post!