Recently, through open discussions with a few of my staff, some of our conversations would wander off course. These were meetings fashioned just to allow free dialogue between myself and each one of them and held in a private setting. Sort of a meeting to get to know them a little better and allow them the same in return.
As an aside, while I write I usually enjoy listening to a variety of music on low in the background. Scrolling through titles I came across an older Beatles selection called “There Are Places I Remember” from their Rubber Soul album. This prompted me, during the course of my conversations with my staff, to tell a few stories where I have been and this usually elicits reminiscing from them at times.
How often do you think back on the path you have made as you advance through your work life? Did you experience tough times and figured out how to move forward? Did you have some simply outstanding memories?
I think back to the days when I was a red seal plumber in northern Manitoba. Often times flying in a single-engine aircraft on large soft turf tires, pipe strapped outside to the wing struts and the interior full of boxes of fitting and tools with barely enough room for the pilot, let alone me. Landing on very short uneven fields on some remote island near the NWT border with Manitoba was exhilarating!
We had fired two men who hated working at a camp in northern Manitoba so I drove them on the frozen winter road the 75 miles back to a small airport. Problem was the vehicle was an old 64 Mercury pickup and the temperature was -50 Celsius. All the way they argued with each other, at times trying to draw me into the discussion. The front seat was crowded, I was young and that road was rough and twisting as the plows had to wind around frozen muskeg for 75 miles. Coming to a slight left-hand bend and into a shallow dip, the truck suddenly broke free and spun three time in the middle of the road while doing 60 mph. I managed to keep it on the road. The arguing stopped. When we got to town they changed their mind and instead of going to the airport, “drop us at the hotel” is all they could say. I went in with them. If we had crashed at -50 we would not survive. That road was not travelled a lot when temperatures hit that low.
When I was back in B.C. working in Vancouver for a commercial plumbing company, I met a fellow who worked for the Langley School District. One day he advised me he had set up an interview for me with the man in charge of facilities. So I drove out to this man’s home in a rural part of Langley and met him. He invited me into his kitchen and on the warm sunny spring day, we conversed over coffee at his dining room table. When we had finished, and without hesitation, he hired me. That was pretty memorable.
I have hundreds of stories that help explain my work life and why I am the way I am. So do you. Use those memories to help you through tough times. Use them to help explain to others the different roads one can take as all of it helps build your character, and that can be beneficial especially if you recognize what you have. Engage your staff.