Lessons from a Leprechaun Taxi Driver

As part of a European speaking tour, I’ve been staying in an old rambling hotel in Dublin, formerly a monastery. It’s been fun wandering around the underground corridors, filled with so much history and character. This morning, while checking out at reception, I was pleasantly surprised to meet what I can only describe as a leprechaun taxi driver. I had just asked how I get a taxi, when this vibrant little fellow literally popped out from behind a pillar. “At yer soivice” he announced.

He quickly and effortlessly loaded my two heavy cases into his taxi, and we were on our way. I asked him where he’d appeared from, and for the next 10 minutes I had a lesson from a true master in local area marketing.

He explained how he never sits in his taxi waiting for passengers. He waits in the hotel lobbies. He had seen me dragging my luggage along the corridor, figured I’d need a taxi, and waited for the magic moment when he could be of service. He said he made it his business to build relationships with the managers of the hotels by always being helpful. He told me how he’d recently travelled into town for the hotel chef, to get some unsalted butter for the famous violinist, André Rieu, who had been staying at the hotel. “I’m often called on by the managers and staff at various hotels to do special errands, because they know I’ll do whatever it takes to help them out” he said.

Illustration of Leprechaun Taxi Driver

He told me he always tries to be friendly and helpful at every opportunity, how he has so much work he can’t keep up, and how it makes him laugh when he sees other drivers miserably sitting in their taxis complaining about their lack of work. He then asked what I did for a living, and we were quickly engaged in a dynamic discussion on the psychology of everyday life. I told him I was impressed at his nimbleness of body and mind. It was at that point he told me the following story.

Looking at yourself in the mirror

Here’s what he said. “I had been an overweight, self-indulgent, lethargic slob. Over time I’d developed a pain in my right shoulder, which a line-up of top doctors, surgeons, acupuncturists and physiotherapists had been unable to fix. A physiotherapist, who worked with the Irish Olympic team, had been giving me a dry needling treatment. After four sessions she asked if I was feeling any relief. I had to be honest and told her the treatment was ineffective.”

“She reflected for a moment and then said ‘I want you to come over here, stand sideways in front of this mirror, and tell me how you feel about what you see’. I looked over at this pathetic image of myself and told her it wasn’t a pretty sight. Then in a firm but kind voice she said ‘Here’s what you need to do. You need to book yourself into a gym and train consistently every day. You need to start eating right and looking after yourself. And in three months, not only will you be feeling good about yourself, your shoulder pain will be gone.’ As she spoke I had tingles running up my spine. She was the first person to tell me the truth about the real source of my problem.”

“From that moment I gave up the grog, started eating properly and exercised every day. Six months later I was feeling great and my shoulder problem had vanished. This woman saved my life. No doubt about it. And I now have so much energy, I am having a ball!”

The penny drops

After he had dropped me off, I reflected on our talk and I realised he had been practising many of the evidence-based strategies from FRI’s Franchisee Wheel of Excellence that I’ve been presenting all week. These are:

  • Build a network of supporters. Take an interest in others and how you can help them out, and they’ll reciprocate.
  • Be enthusiastic about your work and make it fun. We all like to engage with people who are obviously enjoying themselves
  • Cultivate a growth mindset. Be proactive, set yourself challenges that require effort, and actively seek feedback on how you can improve.
  • Maintain your personal vitality. Care for your body, mind and spirit by exercising sensibly, being intensely curious, showing gratitude, and strengthening your positive character traits.
  • Master what matters. Work out what’s important to the long term success of your business and invest time each week on these more strategic tasks.

I really enjoyed my ride with the leprechaun taxi driver, and I hope you enjoyed reading this Tip.


Greg Nathan is a psychologist, author and an international expert on the franchise relationship. Connect with him on Google+ or Linkedin.

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