Service begins with happy employees? Maybe…


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I’ve been in a few conversations lately both at and about work and in other forums (like church), and they have centered around those elusive and mysterious things we call “happiness” and “good attitude.”

I’m not a complex guy. I believe that my attitude and outlook on life and how I approach both work and life are entirely up to me. Sure, there are innumerable variables and outside forces pushing on me and my perspective of the world, but the bottom line is I have the most important choice I can make every second every second of every day. In between the stimulus and my response, I can pause, and have the opportunity to choose my response. There is tremendous power in that. I don’t always make the right choice, but knowing that is entirely my decision is a powerful thing.

Nobody can “make” me happy or unhappy. A slight bit of editorial liberty with Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote about inferiority works for me:

“Nobody can make you feel (any way) without your consent…”

A number of years ago, I read a Tom Peters book entitled “Brand You.” The premise of the book is basically that the days of gold watches for long service, of the natural job progression being an upward slope that you were given because you showed up and that our employer has any bearing on our happiness and job satisfaction are basically all fallacies.

“The defining idea… is that “They” aren’t in charge of our careers – and by extension our lives – anymore. We are. It is up to US.”


I googled “work happiness” the other night. Yes, my life is THAT exciting… (grin… well, I was on a work trip, it was at the hotel… I guess that’s a good excuse…) I found a blog site called “Chief Happiness Officer”. He has some interesting ideas. I found some nuggets worth sharing. The author has his book, “Happy Hour is 9 to 5” available to read online free of charge. One theme that is in sync with my personal belief that my happiness at work is up to me.

So how does this affect service? Frankly, if you have ever been victim of an inherently unhappy frontline employee it will be an easy jump to make. But think about it – unhappy coworkers, negativity and NOT choosing to be positive or “happy” at work are like a virus, and easily spread to others until the whole office is hacking and coughing and nobody really knows why…

What’s your choice today?

Gus Strand
Service Matters
I'm a lifelong service practitioner and customer evangelist. I've spent the last 20 years in a career in corporate L&D and credit my service focus to a grandfather that had an "old school" small town hardware store. You know the type - worn wood floors, china and Osterizers in the front window, a pipe threader out back and everything - including hot coffee - in between. I've a DNA-level service and learning focus with experience in companies that defined service in ways that other companies strive for: Wal-Mart in Sam's day, Coldwater Creek, Harry & David, Dell and more.


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