Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Your Choice

If you were in Seattle, Wash., you'd be in for a treat if you took your cup of coffee and walked over to the Pike Place Fish Market. At this market you can buy fish, see a show and walk away with a smile. The energetic staff at the market lives out a business model that guarantees the visitor a good time. You will be treated to songs, stand-up comedy and may even have to duck a fish as employees sling low-flying fare from the front of the counter to the back for weighing, wrapping and a quick toss back for the customer. The mood is lively and everyone is in good spirits. The fun-loving employees have an attitude -- and it's contagious.

One of the four parts of the successful model practiced by these fish market employees is summed up as "Choose Your Attitude." One employee said it this way: "When I come to work I can choose to be upbeat and have a good time or I can choose to be tired and grumpy. I choose to be upbeat and the day goes by faster."

It sounds too easy, doesn't it? Choose your attitude?

Let's put it to the test.

Suppose there is a long line of female college students at the airport's security check point. Each is somehow unaware the jewelry around their necks, wrists and ankles will get them rejected by the metal detector. This, in turn, requires extra passes through the magnetometer for other metal objects fastened in place but out of view. Behind them seasoned business travelers and other frequent flyers stand sock-footed with their shoes on a conveyor belt, their laptops pulled from their cases and their sundry cosmetic and shaving accoutrement spread out for the world to see. Let's see if choosing an attitude is productive.

Choice One: Veteran travelers can mock and quietly (or not so quietly) insult the mental abilities of college-aged travelers, the state of training of the TSA agents and, in general, put everyone within earshot in a bad mood. (Yeah. That's something I want to have: fellow travelers on an airplane angry before the plane even takes off.)

Choice Two: A traveler waiting behind the girls shares the simple wisdom of taking off all the bling and placing it in the tub he just handed her while securing tubs for her friends; he then steps aside to let the loudest of the complainers go ahead.

This choice brings smiles to the TSA agents, gets the line moving and everyone leaves the security area in a much better mood.

A wise choice? It would seem so.

Now, what about the time when your teenage son calls and tells you "the car's been in an accident"? Will a moment of pause and a decision to choose your attitude be beneficial in this instance? Let's see, you can yell at him, make him feel really bad (not that he doesn't already) and take away his driving privileges, or you can let him know you're thankful he's not hurt, give him a big hug when you see him and encourage him when he gets back behind the wheel -- a wiser and more careful driver.

Guys, choose wisely. There's a lot riding on it.

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