FISH! -Stephen Lundin, Harry Paul, Jon Christensen ‘There is always a choice about the way you do your work, even if there is not a choice about the work itself’ A very powerful statement. As a person with a work experience of a couple of years this sentence would have changed the way i approached my work and things related to me. That’s why this book connected with me from the very beginning.
The story of the book revolves around the story of Mary Jane Ramirez and her workplace and how an accidental visit to a ‘Fish Market’ changed the way an entire department at an office as well she changed their style of working at work and improved relationships at home. As in the book the main character Mary – a person good at heart & mother of 2 children - after the death of her husband lives a life wherein she is bothered more about the job security rather than being firm and taking risks. With her transfer as a head of Operations department, a dreaded department in every sense for being unresponsive, unpleasant, negative.
In fact it is referred to as toxin energy dump. She feels the need to bring about a change in the department for its revival. A visit to a Fish Market and in particular a store named popularly known as the Pike Place Fish Market where she sees that the workers selling Fish enjoy the work they do & have a lot of fun doing so and also play along the way and involve people around in their activities. Herein the character of Lonnie comes into picture. He is worker at the store and enjoys his job. At this point Lonnie explains Mary the reason for the ‘energy’ visible at the place. He says that there are 4 ingredients that make this place run.
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He tells her only 1 principle followed and that of ‘Choose Your Attitude’. Mary impressed with the advice sought more data from her boss Bill (a person she did not have friendly relationship) and got a few insights from David Whyte’s poem which changed her for the better. She knew it was time for change. She went through even more materials like that by John Gardener and Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance. At the end of it she knew that had to be the leader who believed in herself and bring about the change. The very concept of ‘Choose Your Attitude’ was applied by her to her own thinking and then explained to her staff.
The staff agreed about the problems of the department and gave reasons for their behavior. But she had shown them a way of revival. The staff too felt the need for the change and found a leader who actually cared for them. They decided to take it in a positive way and the result was seen in the elevator where a poster of Choose Your Attitude was put up. The change had begun. With added confidence Mary along with her kids Brad and Stacy visited the market again when they learned the second ingredient of ‘Play’. A value which was displayed by a kid, which adults need to learn enjoy their work.
This taught that a lot can be learned from kids. Having fun doesn’t take the seriousness out of the business but one enjoys what one does and achieves targets. The third ingredient in creating a high-energy world famous market was ‘Make Their Day’. It was showcased by a co-worker at the store named Wolf giving the trio a fish each and was also seen when people were involved in their daily activities of the shop. The people enjoyed being a part of it to the fullest. That indeed made their day and made them happier. Also focusing ones attention on ways to make another person’s day provided a constant flow of positive feelings.
The fourth ingredient ‘Be Present’ by displayed by the workers in the way they interacted with the customers and remained attentive and interested in answering the queries of their clients. Mary decided to take her staff for the field trip and made them have a firsthand experience of the fish market and her entire staff was inspired and they were given time to think about their learning and think about the ways to implement it at workplace. The fact that a few of the staff members actually visited the fish market showed that they were influenced by the idea. They took their families along with them and they enjoyed the time spent.
With most of the employees inspired by process it was decided to create teams based on each of the 4 ingredients and they were given all needed the required support by Mary. Each of the teams presented their reports on each of the topics. Each team drafted their topic by enlisting what all would be the benefits of Play and how these could be implemented in the Office. The team Play made the members take part in a game in which circles cut from coloured paper and people stepped on them along with the music. The benefits and implementation was shown through this.
The make their day team divided the entire group into various teams. Each team was given fifteen minutes to develop strategies for supporting and enhancing the work of a key group of people. A customer survey was used as input data for the same, which took many of them by shock. The winning team which gave the best suggestion was given symbolic mementos. Next The Present Moment Team which made the employees to relax and had inspired reading took place in the entire hall. Also a number of experiences of individual employees were shared. The team decided to resolve on a few changes for better functioning.
Finally The Choose Your Attitude Team made a presentation which was brief and to the point. They decided to distribute books which would inspire individuals and have discussions on them. The strategy got implemented throughout the next year. Mary on her part too decided against quitting her job as she was confident of bringing about a change to the department and in its people. Exactly a year later the situation had changed and the department was one of the most sought after places in the company. Mary was awarded with the Chairwoman’s Award for her work. The icing on the cake was the finding of a life partner in Lonnie.
The character played of Mary is a person who has lost a few qualities along the way due to family circumstances. She rises from it and makes the workplace better for her as well as other employees present. She experiences change first hand with the relationship between her boss and also her employees. Lonnie’s character is also central to the passage. He explained Mary the various aspects of the 4 ingredients so that she could implement it at her workplace. The book has a message in each and every incidence. The frustration with jobs is experienced by all. The principles which have been mentioned have truly enriched me.
The principles of ‘Choose Your Attitude’,’ Play’, ‘Make Their Day’, ‘Be Present’ are something which i will like to apply in my daily activities in office as well as college. The approach of not quitting a job in which one is unhappy but making it a better place for oneself and the people around in utmost essential. The issues mentioned are experienced by each one of us including me and the 4 ingredients provide the key to success. Along with that the resolution of Mary Jane to bring up her kids is commendable. It teaches not to give up irrespective of any calamity and keep striving to achieve ones goals.
Even in my daily life I get sadden by events but the book has taught me to cheer myself up and try to change certain bad tendencies in me to avoid repeat of events. It has taught me to think about others, about their well being. It has taught me to care for others. The principle of including people around you in activities enriches the activity as a whole and also creates a bond between individuals. The book on the whole was an excellent learning experience on how through simple steps one can bring about a great deal of change in one’s personal as well as professional life.
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