Co-Worker: “I don’t know why you are so positive all the time, all you ever seem to do is smile.”
Me: “Positive all the time? You should see my Facebook posts.”
I once had a on-line friend whom we shall call Frosty. and the only real important thing to know about her is that she is Canadian. She had this crazy knack to take all the fun out of being miserable. I remember one particular day this way: Work sucked, some things I wanted didn’t go my way. I wanted nothing more than to get home and forget about work. Along the way, it seemed I hit every stop light and fell behind every slow driver. I finally got home, and someone I wanted to talk to was no longer available. I also vaguely remember I got some bills that were going to be tough to pay right away. In short, there was a lot of things in my life I was pissed off about.
So Frosty reaches out to me and says: “So, my boss and I went to lunch today, and as we were sitting in a restaurant, a car crashed through the front window. Came within 5 feet of hitting me. I almost died. But … meh … no big deal. How was your day?”
All I could respond with was … well … with nothing. Cause as much as I wanted to hate my day, I didn’t get almost run over eating lunch. But that was Frosty. Granted, she wasn’t a ray of sunshine all the time, but she had this knack of putting my troubles in perspective.
Back in my early days at Cessna, we called that the Canadian Spin. It was a term penned from my first Cessna boss, Jason Zagula, whom I put up there with the best bosses I ever had. He was, of course, Canadian – and like my friend Frosty, had the great skill of looking at the most troubling of situations and ‘spin it’ to the positive. The most obvious came when I was called into the first meeting to tell us that layoffs were coming. As all of us were slowly moping our way out of that meeting with the cloud of losing our jobs over our head, he said “Well, they do say you should live in interesting times, and this will make our times interesting.”
These days, I can say those roles are now reversed. Over the last five weeks, plants in my company went trough some of their most trying times – and my job was to get them through it, come hell or high water. It’s that specific reason why I haven’t posted a meaty blog post for most of the last 5 weeks … key phrase is ‘posted’, I drafted some, but couldn’t be sure if that would turn into things that wouldn’t be use me in a court of law (no, seriously … I am saying — court … of … law). It has been a grind to say the least, a meat grinder of sorts. But my role, more than anything, was to be that part that remains positive.
Granted, not always. My duty was to define to my management the real situation, that many times meant being blunt about the problems and direct about the changes that needed to be made. Also, I had to be realistic about what I was seeing; being the person who states facts as much as being the person who shows what needs to be done.
But I would be lying if I didn’t tell you the doom and gloom was everywhere. A bad result anywhere could mean we would lose work, a lot of work – which would mean we lose people, and a very real risk an entire plant could be shut down. Around me were the people who were sure that was going to happen. Deep down, I knew that the possibility was there, but there is a difference in my mind between a ‘possibility’ and a ‘likelihood’. So, in my own blunt honesty, I made sure it was known that those who saw no light at the end of tunnel that there was in deed a light. After weeks of taking that attitude at different plants, that got me the reputation of an optimist.
Believe me, I am no optimist.
Though, sometimes that is all it takes to pull out the Canadian Spin. I didn’t believe that layoffs were more promising because my life was more interesting; but I realized that my life was more than a layoff, or more than a plant shutdown. Though it was a more realistic statement to those I was around. I have a very demanding dog to come home to every day. Those around me had wife and kids – had serious hobbies – had other important stuff around them – had real lives. I found myself talking to them about those things, getting them to remember that was what was important. Like Frosty when she reminded me that life wasn’t about getting a few bad stoplights, it was enjoying your lunch without someone running you over INSIDE a restaurant. Life is not work. Life is what work allows you to do. That may have been my job to remind the rest of the people I work with about, but it was also my job to remind myself.
Call it Canadian Spin, but I am at least a few generations separated from those maple sucking bastards.