I am a proud Virginia Tech alumnus. Though I graduated years ago, I still remember the first time I ever saw the lunch pail.  

The Hokies have a proud tradition of playing hard-nosed defense. In 1995, Bud Foster (Defensive Coordinator) introduced the concept of a blue-collar approach to his defensive unit. He brought an old, beat-up lunch pail to practice and told the story of the coal minor who worked hard every day and was proud to carry it. To this day, the player who shows an outstanding commitment to the ideals of the Hokie defense (which are kept inside the pail) gets to hold on to the treasured object for the week. It is an honor that players fight for and cherish when they bring it to games each Saturday.

I try to bring my own lunch pail to work every day. Inside it would say something like this: “Work hard, believe in your company, your team and yourself. Get the job done. No excuses.”

I think my teammates (our associates here at Benefitfocus) have lunch pails, too. All of them have at least four “game plans” inside: Anticipatory Service, Respect the Individual, Celebrate and Together. Mine also has this year’s Product Management theme in it: Scouting. Our Director of Products (and my mentor who I look up to every day), Kadedra Kiner, presents us with a theme each year and challenges us to abide by it. I’m paraphrasing here, but it goes something like this:

“I will do my best to always be well (in fact over) prepared. I wholeheartedly accept my role… for all clients to provide them with the best level of service available and help increase my value to the organization.”

Pretty good lunch pail material. I bet you have a lunch pail, too. I bet you are proud of what is inside of it. If you don’t have it written down on a piece of paper, you might want to do that as a reminder when things get tough.

As busy as we are and as hard as we work for our clients and our company, it is a good idea to focus on the lunch pail items on a daily basis. It’s hard to do with all of the emails and details that we need to attend to every day. But think about it this way… what difference does it make if you are playing man-to-man coverage or zone defense if you don’t have 11 players on the field? The big picture is important, and it is inside your lunch pail.