This weekend was a time of remembering. My wife and I visited the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, GA. The magnificent museum traces the history of the U.S. infantry through realistic exhibits, amazing sound effects, with colorful displays and graphic movies. It brought back lots of memories about my years as an Army Infantry soldier.
I remembered intensive officer candidate school at nearby Fort Benning with days that started at 4:30 a.m. and often included long runs around tall jump towers in summer heat, carrying a heavy rifle, and wearing thirty pounds of gear. I remembered low crawling in the mud under rows of sharp barbed wire with live ammo buzzing a few inches above my head. There were stints of boring all-night guard duty, messy kitchen patrol, and tactical officers loudly critiquing my every move, usually ending with “Give me fifty push-ups.” Deep relationships were forged during those months. Communal hardship bonded us around a common mission we could only achieve collectively.
I also remembered the majesty of my first formal dinner in my new dress blue uniform as a newly commissioned infantry officer; an occasion when my wife could finally join me after months of separation. The raising or lowering of the American flag now took on a deeper, more noble meaning. The songs of military bands all played in the key of pride and duty. There were those hilarious times of camaraderie with fellow soldiers as well as those tender moments encouraging a comrade to keep on running, despite intense fatigue. I remembered the power of letters from home.
Memories can be powerful stuff. They shape our steps forward; they are the foundations of our dreams. Without them, life has no depth, only survival. It is memories that craft the expectations of your customers. We recall as we predict. Creating great memories for your customers is the first step in inviting them back. And their acceptance of that summons rests solely with the past you made for them. Make it a masterpiece.