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You Bet Your Glass: Choose your attitude

Smiling or frowning, helpful or unfriendly, it’s up to you.

May 1, 2020  By Frank Fulton

Unlike Mr. Trump, I like to read. I find myself checking the news feeds on my phone whenever there’s a break in the action and I must read at least a dozen news columns a day on a range of topics I’m interested in: Trudeau; all the political scenarios throughout Canada; Trump; the tire fire of U.S. politics; climate change; business; the inequity of the capitalist system; and, of course, the Leafs when they win. I’m less interested in reading about them following a loss. I feel like the news and what’s going on in the world has made me cynical and less optimistic. It sometimes gives me a negative outlook on life and I really don’t like feeling that way.

Then I read a book called Fish!. It’s one of those self-betterment-type books that is intended to “boost morale and improve results,” plus it’s short, easy and quick to get through. The message is simple enough and I found it gave me something to think about and to work on to get my outlook back onto a positive path.

Fish! is a story about a woman who gets promoted to be the manager of a department where the work is a dull, repetitive, accounting function where everybody hates their jobs. They are just going through the motions to collect a paycheque and are disliked by everybody else in the company because of their sour, unhelpful attitudes. The department is referred to as a toxic energy dump. She is tasked with solving the problems in the department before the company decides to outsource the work. By chance, she discovers the keys to transforming her workplace deadpool in a fish market. There, the work is heavy, the day is long and the place stinks like fish, yet all the employees have great energy, have fun while working, and customers swarm to be part of the lively activity.

The underlying moral of the story is that you choose your own attitude. There is always a choice about the way you do your work and how you will approach it, even if there is not a choice about the work itself. The job may be strenuous, heavy, tedious or dull but you have a choice about the attitude you’re going to bring to the job. Smiling or frowning, it’s up to you. Upbeat or whining, it’s up to you. Helpful or unfriendly, it’s up to you. “I don’t believe that companies are necessarily prisons, but sometimes we make prisons of them by the way we choose to work there.”


You are undoubtedly aware of how you are affected by the people around you. If you have to deal with Debbie Downer or Eeyore all day long, you’re bound to be watching the clock and planning your getaway so as not to spend a minute more in your workplace than you have to. On the other hand, if you work with or for people who are friendly, helpful, energized and fun to be around, there’s a good chance your workplace is somewhere you look forward to be going. I think it’s important to empathize, ask yourself how your attitude affects the people around you, then choose to convey the type of person you would like to be dealing with yourself. I believe you’ll find it’s contagious and everybody’s day will be improved, including your own.

In addition to choosing your attitude to make today a great day, it’s also important to have some play incorporated into your day. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. You must also “be there” for your customers and team members, meaning looking for ways to reach out to find out what you can be doing to be helpful to them, offering your assistance when they need it and even including them in how you plan to do your work. If you’re successful at determining your customers or co-workers needs then fulfilling them, you will be able to “make their day.” They may even become Raving Fans, another quick and easy read I’d recommend if you’re looking to get motivated.

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