We had the first snow today. After leaving the house and walking for ten minutes I looked like a little snow man. (Un)fortunately, it did not stay. However, the forecast promises more snow and cold weather.
I went to a cafe/bar/restaurant called “Rochus” to try their breakfast. Frankly, I was not too impressed, nevertheless my stomach feels much better. I felt the portion was rather small and I did not get everything that was mentioned on the menu. Furthermore, the Earl Grey I ordered seemed rather weak. I couldn’t tell from the smell that they gave me the right tea and frankly, I am still not convinced. I would have said it was a Darjeeling. So to test my nose I came home and brewed me an Earl Grey – it certainly smells much stronger of Bergamot.
While being in the “Rochus” I continued reading the previous issue of the ACM Communications (Volume 48, No. 10). Two articles caught my interest in particular. The one focused on “Digital Aids for an Aging Society” and the other on social networks – “Community: From Neighborhood to Network“. The following quote from the second article I want to repeat here:
Most community ties are now specialized, with different network members supplying emotional support, information, material aid, social identity, and s sense of belonging. […]
People move in multiple, partial social circles, with limited involvement in each.1
Why did I pick this one? Recently I have been thinking about communities. Why is it so difficult to build up a new one at a new place nowadays? What was so good about the places I lived before? I feel this quote gives a partial answer – involvement. Previously, I think, I have been much more involved with the people at the different places. I took more time to listen to their problems, to provide support and to interact. While partially work is to blame for a lack of time nowadays, I think I do not commit emotionally as much as I used to. On the one hand, I spend a considerable amount of time and heart to keep in touch with my friends from the other places. On the other hand, I think the first part of the quote is important – specialised circles. My friends mostly offer the support I need and they are only a phone call, an IM chat or an email away. Once I discussed problems with them I leave it there and this means that people here do not get to know me at all. Similarly, since I do not share much with them, I do not ask about their well-being enough, leaving me emotionally disconnected from my environment.
Which brings me to another important thing of this week – “Fish!” 2. This is a fictitious story “about finding the deep source of energy, creativity, and passion”3. I ordered the book and it arrive during the week. One night I thought I read a bit of it – I ended up reading the whole book and thinking about it for most of the rest of the night.
While working for the Unit for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching at Kent I have been introduced to the Fish philosophy. It is based on a story from the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle. (It is the first time I browse through their website and I think it is a great site of ideas and fun – there are even ecards, pictures and movie clips.) The book tells the story of Mary Jane transforming the “toxic energy dump” department into a thriving unit, exemplary for the whole company. She does it by learning some very basic but essential concepts from the fishmongers. These concepts are:
- Choose Your Attitude
- Make Their Day
- Be Present
Some might think this book has been written for the business world only, I think it applies to life in general. It provides some vital lessons on interacting with friends and every person you meet. Which brings me back to “involvement”. While it is much easier to write down these words than changing oneself, I will change my attitude to be more involved – more present.
There are a few more quotes I would like to share:
I will need to risk the possibility of failure. […] [T]o take no action is to fail for sure.4
There is always a choice about the way you do your work, even if there is not a choice about the work itself.5
[…] my grandmother didn’t love dishwashing. She brought love to dishwashing,[…]6
Life is too precious just to be passing through to retirement.7
The past is history
The future is a mystery
Today is a gift
That is why we call it the present 8
In “Fish!” there is also a reference to “Moments of Truth” by Jan Carlzon. Basically, it is about the company-customer relationship. The first Google-hit “The CEO Refresher – Moments of Truth, Misery & Magic” by Shep Hyken introduces this concept briefly – it gave me enough information to get an idea. Another hit “Can you manage the ‘Moments of Truth’?” provided a compelling example of a “Moment of Truth”.
I hope you will enjoy Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results as much as I did and that it will give you some energy, too.
1Barry Wellman. Digital aids for an aging society, ACM Communications. Volume 48, Number 10, page 54. October 2005.
2Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen. Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results, Hyperion, March 2000.
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