Hi Nerdforce Nation! I have something a bit different for you today. It appears that so many can foster a negative attitude about the world. Through my years attending Dreamforce and interacting with the Success Community, I have learned to find the good and the positive that surround us. We recently brought on a new Project Manager here at our company; and in my attempts to portray the epitomical optimist, he has outshone me in every way. Over the last few months, Bradley Stair has posted an Encouragement meme to the company through Chatter and email every day. He has organized events around the office to bring about a stronger community feeling and instituted a grander sense of comradery than I could have ever hoped to do myself. I asked him to bring his story to Nerdforce as guest blogger. You’ll find just a small handful of his messages peppered throughout. All of you #AwesomeAdmins should be so lucky to have a Bradley in your org.
“The economy is crap right now. We just cannot continue to operate with our current costs. You have been a great employee for this company, but we cannot continue to keep you.”
These are the words I heard after being called into my boss’s office in March of 2015. The oil industry was declining. Oil prices were plummeting, and companies like mine were laying people off as fast as they could to try to survive.
Being laid off from a company feels a lot like a breakup; a lot of the same used up analogies. Basically, the whole thing is one giant “It’s not you, it’s me” routine. The company was trying to convince me how much better off I was going to be without the steady paycheck. I was even hit with a “Keep in touch” or “Can we still be Friends?” line. All of the madness comes to an end with a kind handshake and a “Good Luck”.
So, I was faced with a choice. Where did I want my career to go? More importantly, what kind of employee did I want to be? That decision became obvious and simple at the same time. I wanted to be a leader. I was going to stop worrying about titles and salaries and trying to become a boss, and start to be a leader for whatever company I would work for. It was a definite mindset shift from a “me” focus to an “us” focus.
A few months later, I was given an opportunity to be a project manager for a company called World Water Works, Inc. This company is a truly amazing company. 17 years ago, 3 men started it in a garage. They knew they had an amazing product and went the industrial equivalent of door to door spreading the word. Since that time, the company has grown each and every year. To be asked to join a small company that is growing is a fantastic opportunity.
So what does this look like? I work on an amazing team. There are four people in my group and each one is hard working and non-assuming. We all care about this company; and that, more than anything, is a gigantic blessing. I have a great boss that does all she can to have our back and be there for us if we need her. My focus is simply to help all 3 of them in whatever ways I can.
I read a fantastic that was recommended by my father called “Fish” by Stephen C. Lundin, Ph. D., Harry Paul, and John Christensen. This is a story that starts in Seattle, WA. It is a story about a woman who is assigned a group within her organization that is referred to as a “Toxic Waste Dump”. She was given a directive to improve the department or the department would be outsourced. While walking around town during her lunch break, she comes across the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market. This fish market is famous for their energy and customer engagement.
There are 4 points this book focuses on:
- Choose your Attitude
- Make Their Day
- Be Present
I won’t ruin the book by talking too much about it, but I will say that it is probably my favorite book about workplaces motivation out there. I chose to focus first on the “Play” aspect of the book. Our company is not immune to having its challenges. We have some divides between departments and between the shop and office. To me, this is an easy fix. I worked with our corporate relations department to put together a little Ladder Ball tournament. I was told by some that it would never work. That no one would ever want to participate in something like this. We ended up getting 32 people, 16 teams to play. Countless more were out watching and having a nice time, and ultimately, the goal was accomplished. People from every department were interacting and having a good time.
Here is the funny thing about naysayers; they never seem to have any reason on why they are a naysayer. Because of this, I have chosen to look at a naysayer as validation that an idea is a good one. If a person is starting to make waves in a positive direction, there is going to be someone who thinks it cannot be done. That person will be faced with a choice, either fold, or take it as a validation that they are on the right track.
Here is the moral to my little story. When I was laid off, my mindset changed. I chose to believe in people. I chose to believe that people are an asset and very valuable. I chose to look past the headline of a person, and dig down deeper into the story. It is easy to react to the headline of a person. It is more valuable to an organization if you find out the headline. I chose to be a leader in the company, and not just another employee.