Learning from a Broken Clock

Image result for grandfather clock

We have several old clocks around our house – a collection of sorts – and most of them don’t work properly, my wife and I just like them.  Anyway, while walking through the house the other day, I passed by one of these non-working clocks and said something to my daughter that my dad used to say when he saw a broken clock or watch, “Do you know what I like about this clock?  It’s right twice a day.”  My daughter laughed at my dumb old joke, but moments later, a lesson suddenly occurred to me.  We can find the good in just about everything…and…anybody if we look for it.

Why does this seemingly obvious thing matter?  Well, how many times do you walk through your workplace and miss all of the great things your employees or co-workers do day after day?  How much could it change people’s spirit and engagement to have their contributions recognized more often?

Look, I’ve worked in many places and some I remember as having good environments and some having not so good environments.  However, most places in my recollection weren’t good or bad all of the time, they were good or bad in the moment depending on which manager or co-worker was around.  It’s just that the ones I remember as good were good most of the time and the bad ones were bad most of the time.

As I pondered this, I got to thinking about the differences in the two types of people creating these distinct environments, and the more I thought, the more it occurred to me that the biggest difference in the people was what they did upon first contact.  The people that created a good environment with their presence almost always started things with a positive word, a hearty “Good morning” followed by something nice to say about you or your work.  They made it clear that, at minimum, you, to use the clock metaphor, kept good time at least twice a day.  On the flipside however, the people who created a poor environment invariably had very little good to say, everything was business, business, business with no comment about anything you were doing right, in fact, there was almost no comment about anything human, everything was taken down to some sort of bottom line.  The more I considered this, I was reminded me of that old question, “Do you brighten a room by your arrival or your departure?”

So, given that, I have to ask.  Do you brighten your workplace or do you darken it?  Do you look for what your employees or co-workers do right or what they do wrong?  If you are in the latter camp, what do you need to do to make yourself more aware of all of the great things people do instead of first finding all of the things they do wrong or don’t do?  What good things can you think of that you could remark on to brighten your workplace?    I think you will find that much like my clocks, people may be in many ways broken but there is almost always some minimum amount of “correct time” in them.

Let’s make now the time to lead a change in your workplace, your home, and your world.  Today, no time to waste here; make a conscious effort to proactively look for one thing good with every person you interact with.  See if you can make a positive comment to them about that thing.  Keep doing this every day until it becomes a habit.  See how it changes your workplace, your home, your world…and you.

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