– German Proverb
Time flies like the wind. Fruit flies like bananas.
2. Don’t come up to the net behind nothing.
One night after finishing inventory for the Food and Beverage department, the group of managers decided to get a bite to eat. On the way to the all night food restaurant, Brad Smith, a best friend and frequent tennis partner of mine – presented a viewpoint which I disagreed with and challenged. It was something that I probably should not have argued about, but what the heck! I did, and when I had concluded (what I thought was quite a good spur-of-the-moment argument), Brad spoke and proceeded to demolish it. Where I had opinions, he had facts; where I had theories,he had statistics. He obviously knew so much more about the subject than I did that his viewpoint prevailed.
When we finally arrived at the restaurant (it seemed like it took an eternity), Brad smiled and turned to me and said, “Buddy, you should know better than to come up to the net behind nothing!”
It is true, the tennis player who follows his own weakly or badly placed shot up to the net is hopelessly vulnerable. This is true when you rush into anything without adequate preparation or planning. In every thing you do, no matter how small or large it may be, you’ve got to do your homework, get your facts straight, sharpen your skills. In other words, don’t bluff – because if you do, nine times out of ten, life will drill a backhand right past you!
Throughout the years, I’ve collected a few thoughts that for some strange reason, have stuck in my mind permanently. Thoughts or concepts that feel like they release energy make problem-solving easier and allow for shortcuts to solutions. They are not original and won’t make mountains move, but each of them have helped to make my life easier, happier and more productive. In the next several blog entries, I will try to bring to life a few of my own experiences to share with you. So here is the first one.
I hope you will find them useful too.
1. If you can’t change the facts, try changing your attitude.
I remember my first job at Six Flags over Mid-America in the spring of 1973. I started out like many of you. First I had to go through a tough selection process (my cheeks hurt from smiling.) Trying to figure out the Federal and State tax forms, going to my first orientation (not knowing a soul, but my older sister who led me around with her friends,) and finally to my first stand. I was going to make pretzels at Miss Kitty’s Theater. I was ready. Had my hair cut, clean tennis shoes, went through training, the next day at 10:00 am, the park was open!
I never worked so hard in my life. I burned pretzels, spilled sodas, slipped on salt and I didn’t get a break. But there was one person – my assistant manager – who was always cheerful, always good-humored, always smiling. I watched her that day, thousands in the park, everyone wanting to be served first and the coke machine on the blink. She was whistling like a lark. “Pardon me,” I said to her sourly, “How can you whistle in a mess like this?”
She gave me a small grin. “Gary,” she said, “when the facts won’t budge, you have to bend your attitude to fit them, that’s all.”
You’ll see it in everything you do. Faced with a given set of problems, one man may tackle them with intelligence, grace and courage; another may react with resentment and bitterness; a third my run away altogether. In any life, facts tend to remain unyielding. But attitudes are a matter of choice – and that choice is largely up to you.
What does it take to be a leader? How can you gain practical experience and knowledge in developing your leadership style and attitude? It takes time. It takes experience. You may be thrust into it. Some claim you gain it, one spoonful at a time.
Welcome to LeadersTips.
We learn by various methods. You read, you watch, you practice. This is the reading part. As a friend once told me, “Who you are in five years from now, will be based on the people you meet and the books and blogs you read.” This blog is only one arrow in your quiver. If you read this blog over time, you will see it is based on traits gleaned from the best and the brightest. Learn from the best so you can be the best. I promise it will be worth your read. We will have some fun and learn something at the same time. I encourage you to participate and post your own comments and tips as we step through this journey.
If you enjoy this blog, please follow my daily Leadership Tips on Twitter @Gary_Vien #LeadersTips.
Gary J. Vien has over 35 years of deep, practical leadership and life experiences, living and working in seven states, from coast to coast. Over the years he has written many life quotes, leadership maxims and stories in a 6 by 9 inch brown, blank journal his father gave him when he was twelve. Now he opens his journal and begins to share the wisdom and writings of these times. Read, practice and enjoy these LeadersTips from the brown journal…