Be an Active Participant!

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When you got up this morning, went through your morning ritual of whatever it is you do to start your day and went in to work, were you excited to be doing so? Or, were you just kind of drudging along in mental cruise control, in a near zombie-like state, doing the same thing you do every morning on your way to work?

You know, leave the house at the same time. Take the same roads to the store. Have the same mindless conversation with the same clerk at the same convenience store you stop at for the same-size cup of coffee.

When you get to the register, do you give a little nod of your head in recognition and offer up a, “How’s it going?”

Does the clerk respond blandly with something akin to, “You know, same _____, different day,” as they are ringing up your order?

When you get to your lube shop, is it the same habitual series of events as it was yesterday? Do you fire up the POS system, count down the drawer and then open the bay doors — same order, every day?

If so, then you are like most people who do the same thing every day. You get into habit, doing the same things day in and day out. If you perform the same opening act to your day, every day, then you are in danger of becoming stale.

Do you find that the first couple of customers are necessary before you can really start firing on all cylinders and give the full customer service performance you are so good at, once you get in the groove?

Worse yet (and be honest with yourself here), do you sometimes get that tight little headache right between your eyebrows? You know, that one you get when you know you have to go and do the same thing you’ve done a million times, and you can just barely stand to get out there and do it again for the umpteenth time?

If any of this sounds familiar to you, then you are definitely not being active, and you are nowhere near being a participant. If this describes you, my friend, then you are in a rut. The human brain likes to be stimulated with fresh experiences, which keeps it healthy and active. The crushing sameness of repetitive work robs your subconscious of the joy of fresh experiences, and the result is low motivation, lethargic work effort and a state of mental depression that can take over everything.

The line-workers on automotive assembly lines have suffered for years with this problem. The turnover rate is surprisingly high in this kind of work, considering the extremely high payscale offered for basically unskilled labor. Alcoholism and drug addiction amongst factory line-workers is much higher than in many other industries. And, of course, we have all heard the term “going postal.” The mindless drudgery of the same repetitive actions all day, every day, experienced within a massive, churning, never-stopping machine of sorting the mail, takes its toll on the mental health of postal workers — many times in ways too horrible and heart-breaking to comprehend by the average person.

It is a given that what you feel inward, inside of you, is what you are going to project outward, outside of you. If you are bored, sad, depressed and miserable about your particular situation in life, then you are going to project all of that outward, to the rest of the world. And the rest of the world is going to do its part and reflect all of that right back at you, keeping you there — where you do not want to be.

It is a vicious cycle, a negative feedback loop that is very difficult to break.  Many try to mask the problem by pretending nothing is wrong, or they try to blunt their inner-feelings by using (or abusing) drugs and alcohol. This short-term salve only feeds the negativity, making it stronger overall.

The cure for this debilitating condition, for being in a rut is so simple and easy to do for yourself that it is difficult for some to believe it could be so simple, and therefore don’t believe it.

The first, and most important, step is to have confidence in yourself. Not confidence in what you can do, but confidence in who and what you are. Do you have sympathy and empathy for others? Do you look for opportunities to be nice to strangers? Do you make an effort to say something positive, or at the very least give a warm smile, to every single person who comes within five feet of you every day? If not, then you should start doing that every day, from right now until forever. That tiny adjustment in your attitude will shine out of you like warming rays of sunshine wherever you go. Your sunshine will spread out and shine on those around you, brightening their day and giving them a feel of your warmth.

Our big, bright sun shines on the dark, gloomy, gray moon, and the sun’s rays are reflected by the moon back to us, making the moon a bright, shining disc in the night sky. So too will the sunshine you spread be reflected back to you by all those warmed and brightened by you during the day. A small rain-shower on a bright sunny day is no problem. Once the rain stops, the sun dries things up and the nice day continues. Sometimes a little sun-shower makes you appreciate the beauty of a sunny day even more.

Problems and challenges that rain down on you during your day should also be no big deal as your internally-generated sunshine just keeps on shining. Overcoming obstacles and challenges during your day will now somehow seem to make your day more satisfying, more fulfilling. That is the glorious feeling of a quick rain on a bright sunny day.

So start your day fresh. Get up five minutes earlier than usual. You will be surprised what this does for you. Take a slightly different path to work, if you are able. Stop at a different convenience store for your morning coffee, and maybe try a different flavor, too. As you are driving to the shop, instead of crowding the guy out who is trying to jam into your lane in front of you, back off just a little and give him plenty of room to get in. You will still get there on time.

If the sun is already shining, look up and give a smile and a wink to the big yellow guy. You two guys are a team — a team that gives each other strength, intestinal fortitude and a burning desire to have an awesome day by making things happen. (Where have I heard that before?)

When you get your first customer of the day, just let the sunshine pour out of you. Your goal should most definitely not be to sell them an air filter or a transmission flush. Your primary goal with this customer and every customer is to make them happy. You make them happy by letting your internal sunshine out to shine on them, by asking them their name and then calling them by name. You make the customer happy by speaking to them with care, not with short, clipped grunts. Customers are happy when you smile at them and look them in the eye when you speak to them. Customers are happy when you proudly tell them all the things you did for them during their visit — stuff that was a part of their service they might not have realized. And they are really happy when you proudly tell them of the extra things you did for them — things that are not necessarily part of the service but you did them anyway. Customers like happy, confident techs and managers. They have confidence in people that have confidence in themselves. When a happy, self-confident technician makes a recommendation to a customer for an extra-cost part or service it is much more likely the customer will then agree with that recommendation and make the purchase.

Customers (and people in general) like to be happy. Happy customers like to spend money. How many vendors do you see at a typical football game or county fair? Plenty, because happy people like to spend money. How many vendors do you typically see at a funeral? None, because sad and somber people don’t spend money. And don’t give me the excuse that no vendors are at funerals because it isn’t respectful. We all know if there was money to be had, someone would be there peddling something.

Get your internal ball of fire, your personal sunshine to spread outward all day and you will bask in the warmth and goodness of its refection back to you all day.

Then, you will naturally begin to make things happen, instead of just reacting to things around you.

Remember, there are three kinds of people in the world:

·       Those who make things happen

·       Those who watch things happen

·       Those who look around and say “What the ____ just happened?”

Don’t be the last guy on that list, be the first guy. Don’t just “show up” for work every day — be active and participate!

As always, make it happen! 

See ya!  

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