Kellum's Korner ... Mediocrity: The Bleeding of American ProgressAnthony O. KellumMichigan Mortgage Brokers Association, refinance boom, state of the mortgage industry Service With a Smile was a window sign of the times, as tattered and bygone as the sentiment behind it. To my dismay, service with attitude, or service for the sake of a paycheck, more adequately describes the current state of affairs. More and more, I lament the loss of owning our responsibility to serve and invest in one another. In the business community, I believe that we are, in every sense, our brothers keeperwhether we choose to acknowledge it, we are all inexorably entwined in the cycle of lifes commerce. As we oscillate from business owner to consumer, that which we sow into the lives of others, we inevitably reap. As joints neatly fitted together, both presiding chairman and parcel deliverer, from owners to patrons, we form a unified body. Our collective well-being is in jeopardy however, due to a growing negligence manifested by taking goodness for granted. Resting for decades in the comfort of undisputed economic dominance, many have embraced a culture of American arrogance founded upon self-gratification. Today, each of us bear the scars of corrupt corporate leadership which was robbed from within to serve personal gain. Idle employees without purpose or vision abhor pride in their performance. Unless we shake ourselves from this slumber, we are in danger of losing the very soul of that which made America great. We must perpetually wage war against the cancer of apathy from within and without. We must defy the cancer of the entitled employee who espouses the creed of sorry, that's not my job. Such bleeding of American productivity is summarized in one powerful encounter in October 2002. As the Washington, D.C. teenage sniper John Malvo attempted to reveal his identity to a 911 operator, he was told the matter was being handled by a different department. She transferred the call, and the shooting spree continued. As mortgage professionals, we have enjoyed a refinancing boom, new heights for home buyers, and record low interest rates for several years. In spite of changing trends, rumors of war and industry reform, we must not submit to the confines of mediocrity. As we beseech customers to invest their trust time and resources with us, complacency is a luxury that no one can afford. In order to remain relevant, we must live in the reality that its always our job to reach beyond the minimal requirements. Its always our job to strive beyond the expectations of both our public and the task at hand. From sub-standard manufactured products to service providers who care more about their wallets than human well-being, too often our haughtiness can become the root of our own demise. As we categorize people and tasks by importance and relevance, we must settle it definitively that every business task we undertake is a broadcast statement of who we are, and everyone who walks through our door is valuable and ripe with potential. That which we do not properly use, we are destined to abuse and subsequently lose--from the death of our corporate integrity, to the loss of our employees or our livelihood. As we seek to survive the obstacles before us, prosperity is promised when we wholeheartedly covenant to achieve the extraordinary. The answer to every untapped dream of success remainswhatsoever your hands find to do, do it with your might. Anthony O. Kellum is Immediate Past President of the Michigan Mortgage Brokers Association. He may be reached by phone at (248) 557-6060, ext. 16, or e-mail [email protected].