Two pages of instructions for
this new concept.
I found this article and some similar ones, in a 1934 issue of Ladies Home Companion. (Enlarge the page to read the text if you can’t do so. It’s interesting!) Thermostats on gas and electric ranges were still relatively new and many cooks resisted using them.
When my mother moved to Georgia in the 1930s, her mother-in-law (my grandmother, who I don’t remember but who, by all accounts, I would not have liked) had a two-burner propane gas range with a small oven. It was used for storing pans because she was convinced it wasn’t good for cooking, certainly not baking. Not when she could much more easily adjust the amount of coal in the tray under the coal oven.
What technology at work still requires you to call for help every few minutes?
For many people there is a tendency to resist learning anything that requires very much mental effort (I’m that way!) And, there is often resistance to trying to learn a process that is taught in a manner that is more confusing and demeaning than it is helpful. But, if there is equipment, technology or processes at work that all employees are expected to use regularly, commit to learning to do that part of your job effectively and efficiently.
It makes anyone sound ignorant, old, lazy and/or ridiculous, to hear them say, “I can barely turn on a computer, so I don’t check my email very often.” “Liiiiiiiisssssaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Can you load the paper in the copier?” Or, “Could you help me right away??? I have to open a file in email and I’m afraid I’ll delete everything if I start messing with buttons or keys or whatever you call them.”
It’s 2011 and we’ve all gotten used to adjusting the thermostat on ovens (even the ones I consider to be completely counter-intuitive.) We no longer stand and stare with wonder as the microwave heats a cup of water. Most of us can use at least 50% of the capabilities of our phones. We’ve acquired a lot of technological saavy. We should be past expecting someone to bail us out every time we need to unjam a piece of paper, save a photo, use email, or any other routine aspect of our work. (This advice does not necessarily extend to setting the clock on your electronic equipment at home.)
Rich Kelly, a wonderful man, good friend for years and an inadvertent philosopher, commented ruefully the other day, “If my timing was only ten percent better my life would be completely different.” Rich, that was profound and has kept me thinking about the idea ever since!
Rich is well-respected and has achieved a great deal in his life, so I know he has been in the right place at the right time on many occasions. However, there have almost certainly been situations when things would have turned out much differently if his timing about a decision or an action had been even slightly different. What about you?
In 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow starred in a romantic comedy-drama called, Sliding Doors. We see two versions of her life simultaneously. In one she catches the subway and goes home and in the other the subway doors slide shut just before she can get to them, so she has to wait for the next train. It’s a very interesting movie, (although more likely to appeal to women than to men).
What aspects of your life were the result of arriving or leaving just when you did? What might have been different if you had done one thing instead of another? Have you ever made a decision that seemed insignificant at the time but proved to be colossal in its results?
Several come to mind for me:
*Buying the Rocky Mountain News to look for a used sewing machine and seeing a classified ad that said, “Denver Police Department now hiring policewomen.”
*Walking down a hallway and meeting someone who later came to know someone who knew someone who knew someone else who became a much-needed resource.
*Calling a high school friend on a whim, which resulted in a newspaper story and unexpected contacts that enriched my life tremendously.
Most of the results of timing in our lives are never known–we simply live with them. Nevertheless, it’s fascinating to track back and consider pivotal moments, especially when you realize one of them could happen today.
Is Ownership Part of Your Character?
The history of an inspiring company culture: In 1946, the Wyoming Farm Bureau organized an insurance committee to see if it would be feasible to establish an automobile insurance company for its members. The idea became a reality and for 60 years there has been a great multi-line insurance and financial resource available to people in Wyoming and Montana. I have had the privilege of working with Mountain West Farm Bureau Insurance on several occasions. I was first introduced to the great team there by Cindy Romero, Vice President of Operations, in Laramie, at their handsome–even though windswept–headquarters. I’ve also enjoyed working with Jeff Suloff, Vice President of Claims.
CEO Roy Schmett, one of the other many nice MWFBI people I’ve met, speaks of the Mountain West culture with pride. It’s a culture that we would be wise to hold and represent in all we do. It includes: Honesty and Integrity, Teamwork, being Solution Driven, and the component that particularly impressed me: Ownership. Here is what Mountain West Farm Bureau Insurance says about that concept (I’ve added some italics to emphasize the parts that would be so refreshing if we found it in others and if we developed it ourselves.)
Our organization is only as successful as the people who comprise it. To be successful, we show up and go about our work without coaxing. We do what we say we will do, and we finish what we start. We accept total accountability for our behavior and never blame someone or something else for our actions or our results. We own the work we process, the problems we encounter and the relationships in which we are a part. Our fellow employees, agents, members and policy holders can always depend on us to be there for them.
Does that describe you? Every person you supervise? Your team or work group? You know you have work to do if there is a lot of talk that sounds as though people see themselves as victims of the system, the organization, customers or clients or unpleasant coworkers. Those are valid concerns, but a sense of ownership and appropriate actions are needed to find solutions.
If you drive into Laramie from I-80 you will see the Mountain West Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance company building. It’s the work home of some great people who are working to keep the culture of ownership alive and well. You and I should be doing the same thing!
I watched back-to-back Tron the other night–the 1982 original and the new, Tron: Legacy. I have strong memories of being very impressed with every aspect of the original and thought it would be fun to see “Part Two”. What a revelation to compare them!
It’s not surprising that the original Tron was much less technically sophisticated–29 years will do that. (It almost looked like a 1950s space invader set, in spite of how advanced we thought it was then.)
The big surprise was the tremendous improvement in the appearance, stage presence and performance of Bruce Boxleitner and Jeff Bridges. (Both who had already established themselves as excellent actors.)
At first I thought the difference might have been because of the director or simply the script. However, David Warner did his usual superb job, so it couldn’t have been that completely. I’m also quick to say that I don’t watch many movies (as opposed to cinema, film or talkies), so I’m only an audience member, not a critic that counts. However, I am capable of comparison and there was an obvious difference.
I recall reading that Harrison Ford won’t watch Star Wars because he doesn’t want to see his looks and acting then. I read an interview in which someone asked Cary Grant what he thought when he watched himself in his classic performances and he said he never did, to avoid embarrassment about the way he delivered lines in his younger acting days. I guess we all can spot our imperfections–and actors are likely more aware of them and sensitive to them than most.
It’s a shame you don’t have video of yourself doing routine work over a period of several days, five, ten, fifteen, twenty or thirty years ago. I wish you did, because you would see how much you have improved and in how many ways. You look older now and maybe less fit or more wrinkled. You may have looked more energized then. Nevertheless, I’ll bet that now you have many more insights and much more confidence, knowledge and skills. If you are still young you may think back a fewer number of years, but you may notice an even more dramatic difference in your approach to work and life.
No matter how far back you are thinking, situations that seemed very challenging to you then would seem easy to deal with now. Things that were confusing, frightening, stressful or angering then, would seem like minor issues now, because you know the background and you know how to respond. If you could see yourself at work years ago you would probably cringe at your youthful poor judgment, your inexperienced errors and your ill-informed perspectives. You’ve grown, matured and improved. Good for you!
Now, use that awareness to give you patience and empathy for newer employees. Talk to older or more-tenured employees and encourage them to relive some of their glory days and what they remember as good times for the organization. Smile at the reality that if you’re still around, you’ll be even better in five more years or ten years. Seriously, you will keep getting better as long as you are mentally and emotionally active and wanting to improve.
I’ll be anxious to see how much more impressive Bruce Boxleitner and Jeff Bridges are in Tron: To The Tenth Power.