TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – When I was asked to write a commentary, I was deeply honored, but immediately started to panic. I wondered what I could offer as inspiration for another. A wise person told me to write about what motivates me and makes me unique.
After much contemplation and discussion, I realized I am motivated by the community of people I work with every day. I find great happiness and purpose working for and with these people. As I thought more, I realized a healthy perspective is also responsible for this happiness.
A person can make an impact in an organization regardless of their position. Satisfaction and happiness do not have to originate from the top of an organization. I also believe that one person, regardless of their position, can start a ripple effect of happiness throughout the organization. Little changes often lead to big and permanent changes.
So how does one make the change to choose happiness at work? There are a couple of steps I have learned over my 32 years of military service. These steps are: choose your attitude and effort, be the glue and blur the lines between work and play.
Each of us has absolute control over our effort and attitude. Be the person that has a can-do and will-do attitude. Focus on what can be done, rather than what can’t be done. Find a way to say yes, rather than searching how to get to no. By having this attitude, you can positively impact how you feel and perform your job. If someone comes to you with a problem and it does not fall in your lane, do not simply turn them away with an “I don’t do that.” Take a couple extra minutes to help find the right person to solve the problem. This small act will pay big dividends by making the person feel valued as an important part of the team. Effort and attitude go a long way in building a strong team and community.
Be the glue. The glue person brings people together and builds community as the heart and soul of a successful organization. These people drive the organization to continuous improvement. This can be done by the smallest of acts. Get to know your squadron and your customers. If you are walking down the hall, make eye contact, say hi and ask how the other person is doing. That very simple act of eye contact can infuse another with a greater sense of belonging and energy. These brief encounters form connections which fuel openness and empathy, leading to a host of gains in performance and success. Step out of your office and expand your knowledge of what your teammates accomplish. Having a brief knowledge of what your squadron does helps you connect with them and build community. Some of the most successful people that I have worked with have realized that to handle challenges and obstacles successfully, they need to pool the resources of those around them and capitalize on even the smallest moment they have spent interacting with others.
Lastly, blur the lines between work and play. We do not always have to clock in and clock out with our noses to the grindstone. Make the time to have fun and laugh. Play music at work. Even if you work in a customer service area, it does not mean that you can’t play music. You will be surprised how playing music can uplift the atmosphere of a workspace. Take the time to laugh. Such a simple act as laughing not only can make you feel good, but also the people around you. Take a minute and walk around your office. Tell a joke, share a story and engage in human connection. Not only will you benefit, your team will as well.
Thirty-two years is a lifetime of service. At this point, one starts to think of a legacy. I want my legacy to be an organization that performs highly because of the community we formed. I believe we can all make choices for the good of our community by maintaining a high level of effort, having a positive attitude, being the glue and most importantly, figuring out how to blend work and play. My challenge is for you to do the same.