“Is this a happy day for you?” I cheerfully asked the sales clerk as I was checking out of a large retail store.  Ironically, “Joy to the World” was playing in the background and twinkling holiday lights were everywhere.  To be honest, my query had an ulterior motive.  I was trying to lift up the outer corners of her despondent countenance.

But, she was not taking my obvious cheer-you-up bait.  Without looking up from her toil she said, “I am paid to correctly ring up and bag up what people buy as quickly as I can.  They don’t pay me enough to be happy.  Frankly, I wish was shopping, not running this register.”  I left with a feeling of sadness despite the tone of the festive season that engulfed me.

She was delivering service like a light, not like a candle.  Lights are important.  They give us an antidote to the darkness enabling us to continue our activities despite what nature delivers late in the day.  They illuminate our path and amplify our vision.  And, they typically are either on or off.  Some might have a rheostat allowing adjustment to “on,” but they are still utilitarian aids.  The sales clerk saw her job as being on, doing her chores, and then at some predetermined time, being off.

Innovative service is more like a candle.  It provides many of the useful functions of a light but it enchants us with its animated flicker and compelling warmth.  When we dine on special occasions or worship in scared locations, we do not just turn up the lights; we celebrate with a lighted candle.  Birthday cakes are special residences for candles.  Couples light a single candle together at weddings to symbolize unity.  Holiday decorations are filled with candles—actual or simulated.

Service like a candle is upbeat, spirited and alive.  It does more than make the way bright; it also makes the way warm and special.  It is a happy maker.   This season let your customers see your magical candle, not just your mandatory light.