Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

A Day to Work on Your Attitude and Go Fishing! September 2, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:53 pm


As we celebrate Labor Day today, let’s remember the reason for it: all those who work and labor. Quick history before I move onto today’s blog:


Labor Day pays tribute to American workers and their achievements, sacrifices, and contributions. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a national holiday in 1894. To all you laborers who have today off, enjoy your day and to those who don’t, thank you!


The challenge for many employers and workers will start back up tomorrow as we head back to the office, the store, the plant, the school, and other places of employment. It’s every boss’s dream to have a successful business filled with people who are happy to be there and ironically the needs of an organization and the needs of its workers are often the same: creativity, passion, flexibility, and devotion. But how do we get there? One proven way? Fish! Yep, fish. As in Seattle’s fish mongers.


The fish mongers at Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market are famous. Tourists line up to see them in action and locals buy many a cod and salmon from them. It may all look like fun and games from the outside, but their jobs are anything but glamorous. They must hate their jobs and have horrible attitudes, right? Wrong. In fact, their work ethic is among some of the best and if you don’t believe me, I’ve got a book for you. It’s called “Fish!”



Billed as “a proven way to boost morale and improve results,” I first heard about “Fish!” during a staff development training some years back. I was fascinated by the concept it details and always meant to buy the book but never got around to it. Then this summer I took an impromptu trip to Seattle and bought it as my official souvenir. I finished it in one reading.


Since its first printing in 2000, the book has sold more than 5 million copies in 35 languages. It is one of the best-selling books of all time and is used today by executives and trainers across the globe as a way to improve morale, increase production, build trust, and develop teamwork in businesses big and small. So what ‘s the secret?  The “Fish Philosophy,” which has four simple but effective practices: Choose Your Attitude, Play, Make Their Day, and Be There, all of which can be applied at work and in every phase of your life. When applied daily, they help anyone be more energized, effective, and fulfilled. You will also experience a positive change in your relationships and in yourself. In the end, it’s all about shifting things toward the positive and who doesn’t want that?!


But, they aren’t a “to do” list of rules to check off, but rather a way of thinking. The Fish Philosophy is a way, not a day.



In short, the book tells the story of Mary Jane, a big time boss lady whose staff just isn’t happy. She happens upon the Fish Market and is stunned at the sounds of laughter and remarkable energy emitting from an otherwise non-desirable workplace. She befriends fish monger Lonny, trains her staff in his four-step philosophy, and the rest is staff improvement and training history. At first hesitant and skeptical, Mary Jane’s staff reluctantly took part (they had no choice!) but ended up embracing the model and became an amazing, award-winning group. How’d they do it? First, by changing the way they looked at things.





This is the core of the four Fish Philosophy ingredients. Without it, the others won’t happen.  In a nutshell, it comfirms that even though you may not have a choice where you work or the job you have, you have a choice about the way you do your work. Like a fish monger, you can love what you do even if you may not be doing exactly what you love. By accepting the fact that you always have a choice about the attitude you bring to the job, you realize you choose the kind of day you have. So, as long as you are going to work, you might as well make it the best day you can, right?


It sounds simple to understand, but may be a bit difficult to do. For starters, stop with the victim mentality. The “woe is me” attitude is killing this country right now. Pull up your boot straps and grow up. Don’t take things so personal and don’t blame others for your problems. Instead, make the best of it and accentuate the positives, what few there may be.


Yes, we may not have multiple choices where we work or the job we have, but we have everything to do with how we approach that work. If you want to change your culture, change your conversations. If you gripe and complain, make sure your words lead to solutions or accomplishments. Your attitude my friends, has a lot to do with how you are treated and what happens to you. Bring your best qualities to work every day regardless of what is happening around you. Your choice. Choose your attitude!




This second ingredient of the Fish Philosophy may sound frivolous, but it’s anything but. Think about it, happy people are healthier people and happy people treat others well. Creating and allowing opportunities for staff members to play together results in an energy-filled workplace, promotes problem solving, stimulates creativity, decreases turnover, and improves teamwork.


Everyone wants to play on a winning team, right? So what are the traits of winners? They take pride in what they do, they work hard, and they have fun. In this type of workplace, time passes quickly and work becomes a reward rather than just a way to rewards.


Yes, take the business seriously but look for ways to incorporate serious fun too.




This third ingredient is all about is all about making memories for others…good memories. Not only is this good for business, it gives individuals personal satisfaction in knowing they made someone’s day.


Start by asking “what can I do?” and then find creative ways to engage clients and always respectfully include them in your workings. Always be on the lookout for the next opportunity to provide positivity and whatever you do, be fully engaged in your work and be present. This leads us to…




We are a distracted society. Always on our phones and forever so busy. Not good. Not always productive.


Instead, how about being fully present and focused on what others need from you? Look people in the eye; focus on them not on your messages. Show them consideration and truly listen to them. Acknowledge their needs and their accomplishments. Aren’t all of these traits the very ones you in turn want from others? Be the first to demonstrate them.



These are all lessons that build better workplaces but they also build social competence, something so desperately needed in today’s schools, society, and world as a whole. So in the end, if you want to transform your work into your passion or simply crave energy, spirit, and fun, think of Fish! It might not be the end-all solution to all workplace or personal trials and troubles, but if it can work wonders on fish mongers, I’m pretty sure it can work for you and your staff and maybe, just maybe, result in personal and/or organizational transformation. In the end, sometimes in order to change the culture, you have to change yourself. You can choose to change or not. Change is risky, but so is the risk of not changing. Maybe it’s time to go fishing .





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