I have had opportunities over my 20-plus years at Associated Food Stores to work with different sides of our business, splitting time between the internal business units from the IT development group and, more recently, retail-facing technologies. In both cases, I have accepted assignments outside of my normal day-to-day tasks, sometimes as an inconvenience or pushing me after hours. It would be easy to see these assignments as unfair, as if I’m losing time, but I have always looked at these requests as an opportunity and recognized if I completed these assignments, it meant freeing up someone else and/or limiting extra work for another team member.
As I look back on my life, I now realize “losing but not losing” is in the fabric of who I am today. Growing up with four sisters taught me about life and laid the foundation for the leader I am today, geared heavily on work ethic and treating all with respect and appreciation. I have always participated in sports but have never been the best. In school, passing was where I fell in line versus valedictorian. In my career, I have always been surrounded by team members who have covetable strengths and skills and yet I stand with them, shoulder to shoulder, today feeling confident and ahead of the game despite many of my daily challenges.
Over the past several months, I visited many of our retailers’ stores and listened to their daily struggles as they compete in their respective markets. It is amazing to listen to their stories and see firsthand the endless amount of time, resources and donations our members give to their communities. These contributions of time and money often come at moments of inconvenience, and many go unrecognized. Members have established a rich history of sacrifice, giving back and doing those things that a typical person is not willing to do.
Our owners are incredible, but they have also noted, time and time again during these visits, the same sacrifice made by several of our AFS team members. So many of you are willing to take on tasks outside of your “job descriptions” for the betterment of retailers knowing it is often done without recognition. Members continue acknowledging they are stronger today through our “One Associated” commitment. The momentum is real!
I love this time of year, starting with the gratitude of Thanksgiving followed by the festivities of Christmas which catapults us into the excitement and optimism of a new year. It is an easy time to go above and beyond, helping each other along the way, as we finish off another strong year.
I want to leave you with an invitation. Take the excitement of December and challenge yourself to “lose” or “give up” time remembering your short-term sacrifice is making a more manageable load for another department, team member, retailer, or guest.
Initial perception might show that Associated Food Stores, and its members, have “lost” daily battles since being established. Often, donations of time and money may not immediately show dividends. However, we continue to hit record highs. “One Associated” has never been stronger and as we accept assignments that seem less than ideal, we realize it is often these unseen tasks that make it possible for us to thrive, both individually and collectively, in unconventional and innovative ways.
From my family to yours, Happy Holidays from the Cameron’s! (From left to right: Chad, Wife-Jacki, son-Jack, daughter in law-Donell, Daughter-Ruby, son-Robby, girlfriend-Kiley)
Chad Cameron is the vice president of information technology and has worked at Associated Food Stores for more than 20 years.