A friend posted something online today that stopped me in my tracks.
I felt frustrated all of a sudden. Thoughts filled my head.
Memories rushed through my mind.
Faces of many, many people.
A debt I can never repay.
“So what was the post?” You might be asking. It was a press release about the death of Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-Fil-A, author, philanthropist, grandfather, father, and husband. A man that I will always remember.
Don’t just trust my words. Take a look.
10 Reasons to Never Forget Chick-Fil-A Founder Truett Cathy
It is note worthy that Cathy faithfully loved his wife, Jeannette McNeil Cathy, for over 60 years until his death. With all the accolades that he received, the success of the Chick-Fil-A business, and power that came with it, Cathy maintained a down to earth lifestyle where he served his wife and others consistently.
But not only did Cathy faithfully love his wife, he also invested heavily in other marriages. The Winshape Retreat impacts couples from all over through its marriage enrichment events as well as many other events. We never had a chance to attend a retreat put on by Winshape. But we were blessed by another marriage retreat called Sonscape put on by another organization but hosted at the Winshape facility. We heard story after story of all the marriages that the Winshape Retreats have served. We left blown away by the impact Chick-Fil-A has made on marriages.
Cathy clearly valued mentoring the next generation. Whether it was the leadership initiatives he started at Chick-Fil-A, his investment in young adolescent men at his church, or Chick-Fil-A’s investment in programs such as Impact 360, a gap year leadership development and Christian worldview education program for post-high school and pre-college students, Cathy invested heavily in equipping the next generation for maximum impact.
When you read Cathy’s bio, it is striking how many things he has done for children (not to mention his three children, 19 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren). Few people know about the way that Chick-Fil-A provides for the needs of foster care children in over 10 foster care homes. What many people will likely never read about in a Chick-Fil-A press release is the way that Chick-Fil-A doesn’t just care for them for a few years, they cover the cost of their entire college education in many cases. I’m sure Cathy would tell anyone who wants to honor his memory to donate towards changing the lives of children at the WinShape Foundation.
It would be nearly impossible to speak or write about Truett Cathy without at least mentioning the topic of leadership. Whether in his company, in his books, in his church, or in his family, Cathy led with character and consistency in a way that everyone enjoyed and few saw. I say “few saw” because he always seemed to shy away from attention and instead showcased others. A colleague of his for many years, Jimmy Collins, even wrote a book called Creative Followership. Not because he was forced to do so but because of the joy it was for him to follow a strong leader like Cathy.
Truett Cathy’s large family demonstrates his commitment to his own family. However his willingness to close his stores on Sundays, investment in marriages, and investment in helping his children achieve their dreams shows that he was a leader to valued family.
As I read his obituary, the line that struck me was how Cathy always sought “to put priniples and people ahead of profits.” Admittedly, just about every other Sunday I experience some level of frustration with him because of my insatiable craving for a Chick-Fil-A sandwich. However, the principle of not opening on Sundays which precludes me from getting a chicken sandwich from one of his stores generates tremendous respect in me for him. Somehow he manages to grow his company’s profits year after year without compromising their principles. Impressive.
Cathy valued people almost to a fault. He realized early on that exhausted and unhappy employees would certainly be a recipe for disaster. I’ve met a few different store operators of various Chick-Fil-A restaurants around the country and it seems like they all value the development of people. But not only that, they value treating people right (See my previous blog post about how customers are treated like royalty at Chick-Fil-A and the impact that has on their marketing). There are other stories of Chick-Fil-A restaurants closing during the Atlanta ice storm in order to house and feed stranded motorists. Again, impressive.
Earlier I mentioned the way Chick-Fil-A closes on Sundays. Truett Cathy knew his people needed rest. He knew they would never survive as a company with exhausted employees. I’m sure tired employees exist in Chick-Fil-A but not because they work on Sundays. I wish more top level leaders would take this approach not only with their employees but with themselves. They would like get more done, work faster, and work better.
If you aren’t committed to quality, you will likely get very mediocre results. Truett Cathy created what many say is the best chicken sandwich in the world. But he didn’t stop there. He extended his attention to quality out into the rest of the company (especially customer service) and the rest of their product line (especially the brownies, nugget trays, etc).
More than anything, Truett Cathy exemplified a life of faith. His primary commitment was to Jesus Christ. How many times do we hear about a leader who gets caught up in the attention, the money, the people, and everything else and forgets about his commitment to his faith, family, and every other ideal we hold to? Cathy invested in countless opportunities for others and I cannot be grateful enough for how God used this man in the lives of so many. A family member of mine will never be the same after getting discipled and receiving discipleship training during a multi-month program sponsored by the Cathy family.
Cathy’s faith drove him to make the decisions he made. His faith drove him to serve others even when no one watched. His faith drove him to sacrificially impact thousands of lives in ways that most people will never know.
Make your decisions today with intentionality. Decide to place principles and people above profits in your life. The profits you make will not last but the people and principles you prioritize will live on. Choose wisely.The profits you make will not last but the people and principles you prioritize will live on. Click To Tweet
Never forget Mr. Truett Cathy. And by all means, Eat Mor Chikin!