Many years ago, I was asked to read a book before I started a new job. The book was FISH! by Stephen C. Lundin, Ph. D., Harry Paul and John Christensen. This was my first job out of college and I was raring to go and excited to have some reading material prior to starting. I had never heard of the book and only initially knew what I read from the cover; 2 million copies sold and a remarkable way to boost morale and improve results. I thought that was interesting and took the few hours to read it; at only about 100 pages I just sat at my desk until I was done.
I took a lot away from FISH! and would encourage everyone who works anywhere, so pretty much everyone, to read it. However, there is one topic from the book, in particular, that I would like to focus on here. That is to choose your attitude. Having gone to the bookshelf and pulled it out, I will likely reread it and discuss the book itself in detail later. For this post though, I specifically chose not to reread the book yet because I wanted to be able to discuss the ideas I have formed over the past seven years.
Getting the Idea: The idea of choosing your attitude has to come from somewhere, be it this blog, the book itself, a coworker mentioning the way of thinking, etc. No matter how it comes to be, the important thing is to understand what it means; or at least means to you. For me, choose your attitude means to deliberately act in certain way when at work – regardless of what the specific situation. Understanding that the most important time to choose your attitude is in difficult situations that overwhelm the senses.
Thinking about implementing it: Once you have head wrapped your head around the idea, you have to think about how this can fit into your general way of thinking at work. Run a self-assessment on how you feel. Do you like your job? Do you like your coworkers? Do you like your boss? Do you like the work you are doing? Do you like your desk, office location, parking situation, etc.? After you have answered these questions for yourself, you can think about how you can choose to be positive about it. Short of quitting your job, which is always a possibility, you have the opportunity to view your situation in a positive light. Sometimes this can be very difficult, I certainly understand and have lived that, but I have always tried to hold to having a positive attitude which results in positive behaviors.
Testing it out: Now comes the fun part. Go to work and be positive. When you see the person you don’t particularly care for, simply smile and say, “good morning.” At your desk, put up a picture of your loved ones. If you already have that up, put a picture of your favorite vacation or a place you are looking forward to going to next. If you need something more challenging or would like to explore another aspect of your job, talk to your manager/boss/supervisor about taking on a project to try it out. When something goes wrong, be objective and try to learn from it and share your thoughts. If you need ideas, just ask me and I will try to help you out.
Making changes as needed: After you have started to actually choose to be positive, especially when it is difficult, think about how it went. Are there changes you need to make? If so, test out new ideas. For me, the easiest way to get in the mindset, especially during tough times, I find a mirror (and with no one looking at me) and just smile. I smile into the mirror and see the happy guy on the other side. It may sound simple, or corny, but it can really work for me. If you see yourself happy, then it is easier to get in that mindset. You can try what works for me and/or come up with your own process.
There it is, just that simple. Writing has made me think about what I have learned about choosing my attitude over the last few years. While I generally have a positive outlook on life and it may be easier for me to look through rose-colored glasses, I still have rough days just like everyone else. That is when I am truly tested and have to put in extra effort to choose my attitude.
Please share your ideas for keeping a positive attitude in a tough situation at work in a comment below.
5 thoughts on “Choose Your Attitude – FISH! Philosophy”
Josh, thanks for these thoughtful comments and suggestions. I absolutely agree that our attitude is something that we do have control over, particularly in difficult situations where our default may be to allow our attitude to go down the gutter. The first step to preventing that default reaction is to gain an awareness that we ARE capable of creating our own attitudes, which is why this post really resonated with me.
I recently read a book called Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander which really illustrates these points as well. Interesting suggestion about smiling in a mirror, I’ll have to give that a shot. What works for me is simply taking some deep breaths. Go outside, listen to a favorite song, and just breathe in fresh air — that always puts things in perspective and recenters me.
Again, thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Griffin. I agree that a “breathe of fresh air” can do a lot of good.
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