In all of our lives there are special people who cross our paths and make an indelible mark, a lasting impact.
I often talk about everyone having the ability to influence someone else. Like throwing a pebble into a pond, ripple after ripple grow out touching others and changing what is around them. That’s you! And each one of us can affect and influence others just by being who we are.
Rewind to seven years ago.
Truett Cathy was raising money for the Winshape Foundation, so I bought him in an auction. That’s right. I BOUGHT him. The auction was to raise money for a great organization, so there was a lot of participation. Truett was gracious enough to offer a day with himself as one of the top prizes. The day included airline tickets for 4, hotel rooms, and a day with Truett at a car show on his property. When I won the auction, I invited another Chick-fil-A store owner and his 13 year old son to accompany Connor (my oldest who was 10 at the time) and me.
We decided to go a day early to tour the Chick-fil-A corporate office to see (among other things) the Batmobile from Batman 2 that’s there in the building. While we were there, Truett ended up inviting us to tour his office and then took us to a speaking engagement with him! I will never forget how he was with our boys. Truett has taught boys this age for decades, so it’s no surprise that he masterful with them. He leaned in to the 13 year old and asked him, “Has your father had the sex talk with you yet?” You should have seen the horror in the boy’s eyes. “Uh, yes sir, he has” he stammered, looking to his dad for approval. Then Truett leaned in toward Connor and I was sure the same question was coming. I was nervous because I had not had The Talk with him yet, but Truett threw a curve and inquired, “Do you want to know the secret of Chick-fil-A?” Connor nodded. “Can you keep a secret, son?” Connor nodded again. “So can I!” said Truett as he walked away with a smile…
We started traveling at 5am that morning and by this time it was nearly 11pm, so Connor was wiped out. Truett decided to take us to the very first Chick-fil-A called the Dwarf House. When we arrived, he handed Connor a bag of plush cows and said, “keep up with me!” and proceeded to walk through the restaurant giving everyone a cow. When they were done, the three of us took seats one barstools. Connor looked over at me and whispered, “He spit on me!” “Who spit on you?” I asked. “Mr. Cathy!” “Forget about it. Go ahead and eat your food.” I figured that sometimes people may spit a bit when they talk, so that’s likely what happened. A few minutes later Connor made a face and looked at me again – and he looked pretty irritated. “He SPIT on me!” I looked over at Truett and he’s just sitting there giggling!” For a moment I thought, “Did he really…?” Then Truett looked up and I followed his gaze to an air conditioner condenser covered in water and realized what was happening. We all had a good laugh and I’ve never forgotten that day.
Truett loved to quote Proverbs 22:1. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.”
Truett Cathy was a great man and when his name comes to mind, I don’t think of his wealth or the company he built. I think of his gentleness with my son. I think of how he connected with people and wanted to see them truly prosper. We don’t have to do amazing feats to change our world. All we have to do is start with what you have that’s right in front of us just like Truett did every day.