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Do you know a know-it-all? The type where they are so sure of their opinions that they actually believe their opinion as fact? Yeah. So do I.

This particular know-it-all and I conflict, hard. We just don’t get along. Her presence alone sends tension up my spine and puts a stern look on my face. I dread when she opens her mouth and cringe when she speaks. But it wasn’t always this way. There was an incident or two … or three, where we disagreed. The more we disagreed on things, the more dislike developed between us.

The thing is, I think this particular person and I are more alike than I really want to admit. We both feel passionately that we will fight hard for the things we believe. This is an admirable trait, except when you get two people with different beliefs where there can only be one solution. Either one must be defeated or you compromise.

That need to be the expert, the right one, the most knowledgable – it pulls us down into a pit of pride we probably would never label as such.

But there’s one really big difference between the two of us. I can look at the situation objectively. I can step outside my need to be right, take a look at the bigger picture, and put my pride aside for the greater good. She cannot. The more she fights her side, the more she believes she is right.

“The less we feel we need to address pride in our lives, the more it has already blinded us.”

Earlier in the book, Uninvited, TerKeurst talks about her experience with a lion. She basically says a lion doesn’t give a shit who you are or what you do, if the lion is hungry, it will eat you. (Except she says it much more eloquently.) I think of the irony that a pack of lions is called a pride, because the behavior is similar.

A person so full of pride doesn’t care who you are or what you do, he or she will “fight you to the death” to prove they are right. TerKeurst says, “The injured lion is the most vicious of all.” And how true is that? Once that prideful person feels they are losing the battle, that’s when the claws really come out.

Pride can be dangerous. (The lion type too.) Typically, we feel the need to boast about ourselves when we feel less than or rejected in some way. Think about that in the sense of the know-it-all who is so prideful that they believe their opinion as fact. They must feel so unfilled in whatever capacity that they are desperately seeking validation and acceptance from others.

Now, I don’t know that these are the reasons why this particular know-it-all is the way that she is. But it makes a lot of sense, and it’s helped me cope with her attitude. Every time she puts up a battle, I think about her need to win the argument. Because really, it’s not about the argument at all.

In the grand scheme of things, if she’s willing to tear others down (or whatever desperate move she makes) to get what she wants, that says a lot more about her than it does about anything else.



It seems the word “culture” is popping up everywhere, as people use it to describe the attitude and behaviors of a workforce.  In my area of food safety, I read a lot of articles and such expressing concern that employees simply do not care about food safety.  People cite the need for training, education, checklists, internal audits, etc., etc.  But none of those things matter if the employee, his or herself, does not care about what they do and why they are doing it.  I agree, most employees do not care about food safety, but realistically, I also think that a lot of those people don’t take pride in what they do.  “It’s only a job.”  So how do you get them to care about food safety when they don’t really care about their job?

The definition of care is:

“the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.”

I recently read that once your basic needs have been met, there is no correlation to more money making you happier.  I think a lot of employees consider their job as a fulfillment of their basic needs.  It’s a paycheck that puts food on their table and shelter over their heads.

When I was working in a restaurant nearly 15 years ago, there was no talk of food safety.  I didn’t even know the concept existed.  I was young, living paycheck to paycheck, just trying to pay my rent.  I hated working in foodservice.  People treated me badly, and it took a toll on my self-esteem.  I was trying so hard to keep my head above water financially and emotionally, that I didn’t take pride in what I was doing.  I didn’t care about the “provisions” of our customers.  I only cared about the provisions of my basic needs.  Would I have taken the extra steps to go through a training?  Yes, because it would have been part of my job.  Would I have gone above and beyond my call of duty to better the restaurant for the well-being of our customers?  Probably not.  I was bitter.  Customers treated me like shit.  Why should I care about their well-being when they clearly did not care about mine?  Treat others as you would like to be treated – I was always taught.

Then I look at our field labor employees.  We regularly train them on food safety issues.  I am out there checking them multiple times a week to ensure they are following our food safety policies.  Do I think the trainings help?  Maybe.  Do I think they genuinely care about food safety?  Not really.  I think that they know I will hold them accountable for following our food safety policies, and they follow the rules to not get written up or deal with the wrath of “Sheriff Lacy.”

Of course, I’m generally speaking.  We have some employees that feel passionately about food safety and fully understand that what they do in the field can have a great impact on their job, our company, and public health.  But I also feel passionately about food safety.  I genuinely care about what I do, which leads me to be the example and hold our employees accountable.  I take pride in what I do, and that’s reflective in my attitude and my performance.

The food safety culture of our company directly reflects how I lead the program, and the culture of our company directly reflects the attitude and performance of our leadership.  But that’s in any job, in any industry.  It’s about finding the right people, not just hiring a body.  Easier said than done, I know.  But passion is contagious.  As John C. Maxwell says,

“People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.”

It all starts at the top.  You can train people all you want, but training, education, checklists, and internal audits themselves are not going to improve the food safety culture of your business.  The culture of a company runs deeper than documentation.  Besides, documentation is after the fact.  Those of us in positions responsible for food safety are so bogged down with following up and collecting documentation, that we can’t actually be out there preventing food safety incidents from occurring. This is where the company culture plays a critical part in business.  If employees genuinely care about it, then they are preventing it.