“What am I going to do with her?” John Andrews, CEO of Sunblade, Inc., a distributor of saw blades
in northern New Jersey, had just been informed by his office manager Nina, that Dee had called in for
the third time this month to say she was going to be late. The mornings were important for Sunblade,
especially Dee’s role, which required an hour each morning calling both existing customers and
prospects. It was a process the company put in place years ago, and when the process was applied
consistently, sales were the result. Dee’s absence meant no calls and lost sales for the week.
“John, you keep bending the rules for Dee and she just keeps pushing the envelope to see how
much further you’ll bend them. I told you last year to fire her. Why don’t you just fire her already?”
Nina had lost her patience for Dee’s poor attendance and sense of entitlement. Nina wanted Dee fired
but John just could not bring himself to do so.
“But I see so much potential in her, Nina. If I could just break her of some of these bad habits she
holds on to, she would shine. I just know it.”
Dee Worthy worked as a secretary for Sunblade. Her pay for the past two years was meager,
primarily due to her “bad habits,” as John began to call them. She was a young twenty-four-year-old,
heavy set to the point of being unhealthy. She had a pleasant smile and an attractive face. Most of Dee’s
colleagues described her as a hardworking, conscientious, and a punctual employee. These same
people also described Dee as lazy, neglectful, and tardy. At times she exhibited creativity, a great work
ethic, and incredible promise, but eventually she always fell back into tardiness, distraction, and
indifference. The root cause, many suspected, were family issues from which Dee sought refuge in
food. Her near-obesity caused health issues, which manifested in frequent sick days.
“A vicious circle of bad habits,” John admonished Dee at one of their many meetings following a
cycle of absences.
In Dee’s family circle she was the functional one. Her ability to earn even a meager income made
her the family banker. John often tried to paint a picture of her reality, how her family was dragging
her down due to their own bad habits and their seeming inability to draw a consistent income.
Unfortunately, Dee never took John’s advice to heart. John recognized her vulnerability when it came
to her family. Recognizing this weakness, her family took full advantage of Dee. Dee’s insecurities
didn’t help matters, either. “I’m not that smart,” she often said to others around the office. “My cousin
is the smart one in the family. She got the main course and all I got were the leftovers.”
“Her cousin?” John barked at Nina. “The smart one with two children out of wedlock – who lives
with her and hasn’t had a job in over two years? Jeez.”
“I need to talk to you about something personal.”
John had grown so tired of these repetitious personal meetings with Dee, which were more and
“I got a second job as a bartender and I will need to leave early on Fridays.”
John could tell from the look on Dee’s face that she feared these meetings as much as John had
grown tired of them. “How early Dee?” he asked in a clearly frustrated tone.
“I need to leave at four p.m.”
Work hours ended for everyone else at five-thirty p.m. John knew this would create a major
problem for the other employees, who would resent seeing John as catering to Dee and bending the
rules again, rules that didn’t seem to apply to Dee. John feared that he would be sending the wrong
message to everyone if he didn’t exact some concessions from Dee.
“I will agree to this on two conditions.”
“Yes?” Dee replied sheepishly.
“The first condition is that you will have to make up the missing time on Thursdays.” Some
members of the staff worked late on Thursdays, finalizing orders for the next week, so he felt her
presence might thwart any staff assertions that Dee was getting special treatment.
“The second condition is that if you fail to live up to condition number one, by the third time I
will have no choice but to terminate your employment.”
Dee, very reluctantly, agreed to the terms. What choice did she have really? She needed the extra
money. Dee left his office and as the day wore on she grew resentful of her boss, thinking he was
singling her out and being hard on her. She felt he should cut her a break. She had a lot on her plate.
He was, she decided, wrong in forcing her to comply with their agreement.
Notwithstanding, Dee obliged her boss and this new schedule for a time. The staff seemed to
accept this arrangement and did not make waves for John. However, after some weeks went by, Dee
began to steal a few minutes here and there on Thursdays. Nina noticed this trend first and informed
John confronted Dee on a Friday morning and said, “Strike one, Dee. You left early yesterday.”
Dee was angry. She knew John was too busy to notice her early departures and that Nina must
have ratted her out. Dee reluctantly forced herself back to the regimen for a time, but subsequently
fell back into her bad habits.
“Strike two, Dee,” John advised her on another Friday following another breach of their
agreement. The third strike did not take long, and on another Friday Dee found herself unemployed.
Two weeks passed since she had been forced to vacate her apartment. Her family had abandoned
her. No one even tried to reach out to Dee to see how she was doing following the separation. Dee ran
out of money, with not even enough for a meal. One night, succumbing to the hunger pains that were
now all too familiar, she decided to visit St. Michael’s food kitchen for a hot meal. But as she
approached the food kitchen, she could not coax herself onto the line of poor people waiting outside.
She walked around the block desperately trying to find the courage and humility to join the line.
Jan Goode had been watching Dee. He manned the outside line of the kitchen as a volunteer. His
job was to help move the line along and direct the hungry into the facility for a hot meal. Jan began to
notice Dee after her fourth trip past the kitchen and he could see that she was distressed. Jan asked one
of the volunteers to take his place momentarily and he walked over to Dee, who was now sitting on
the curb with her hands covering her face, sobbing.
“Are you hungry?” Jan asked.
“Excuse me?” she mumbled back.
“I volunteer at the kitchen. I noticed you’ve been passing by for the past two hours. Why don’t you
come in for some food?”
“I can’t.” Dee drew her hands to her face and began to cry. “I can’t. I’m, I’m just too humiliated.”
Dee lost all control and her body shook with her sobs.
Composing herself, she looked up at Jan. “I never thought I’d ever be in this situation. I’ve done
this to myself, you know. I made this all happen. I’m my own worst enemy. I blew a great job with a
great boss in a great company.” Dee lost her composure again and began to sob, then once again
“My boss tried to make me see things as they really were. I just didn’t listen to him. I am such a
failure in life.” Something she said or something about her situation rattled Jan. It all sounded too
familiar and brought back some old memories Jan had thought he had long ago erased. This upset
Jan. He excused himself and walked back into the kitchen. He emerged a short time later with a
container of food for Dee.
“My name is Jan Goode. I understand what you are going through and I think I can help.” Jan
handed Dee the container.
“Help, me? Do you find people jobs or something?”
“Not exactly.” Jan paused and repeated the words a stranger had spoken to him so many years ago,
“I’m just a man looking in a very old mirror. Come by the kitchen tomorrow night after close.”
Dee spent the night in the bed of a local shelter, pondering the words uttered by Jan. I’m just a man
looking in a very old mirror. She wondered to herself, What did it mean? The words reverberated in
her head until sleep arrived.
Dee met with Jan the next night and Jan shared his own story. “A long time ago, I lost my job
under circumstances similar to your own. I lost all hope. I was rescued by a stranger who helped me
turn my life around.”
“How did he help you turn your life around?” Dee implored. Jan shifted in his seat and took a
“This individual shared ten principles with me that changed my life forever. I went from
unemployed to the CEO of the company that now employs me. Following these laws was not easy. He
called them the Rich Habits. But follow them I did, and ten years ago the laws brought me to my
current position in life.”
“What are these Rich Habits?” Dee asked, in a more demanding, but sincere manner.
“That’s not how it works, Dee. You have to go through a training program. When you’re
sponsored there’s no cost. The program will teach you everything you need to know to turn your life
around.” Jan reached into his pocket and pulled out a pen and paper and jotted a phone number down
for Dee. “His name is J.C. Jobs. Call his office in the morning. Tell them Jan Goode sponsored you.”
Dee did as Jan advised and secured her place in line at the next session of the Rich Habit Training