2017-12-04 Issue 26 Fundamental Behavior 25 Be Positive
When we were discussing the concept of Fundamental Behaviors with David Friedman (the individual who created the concept), he stressed to us the importance of “ritualizing” the Behaviors by discussing them again and again and again. The goal, he said, was to ingrain the Behaviors into our subconscious minds so that we didn’t really have to think about what path we take when we are confronted with an ethical or moral decision. The right path would become instinctive for us. The way he explained it to us was to ask if we wake up in the morning feeling that we face a big decision of whether to brush our teeth or not. Obviously, we don’t face a daily crisis about brushing our teeth, we simply do it (I hope!). That automatic reaction is what we hope to achieve at a more serious level, of course, through our weekly discussions of our Fundamental Behaviors. I mentioned to someone recently that I simply cannot escape FB #1, “Do the right thing, always.” Whenever I have a decision to make, #1 just pops into my head and gives me a clear path to follow. The same thing with FB #7 about “Clarifying expectations,” and so many others. We’ve only been through the Behaviors once and it’s already starting to influence my decision-making in a very positive way.
Speaking of “positive,” today we arrive at FB #25, “Be positive.” Whether we realize it or not, we actually have a choice to make at any point in time: Are we going to be positive or negative? I have met many of you in the North & Central America region working for YKK and YKK AP, and I am happy to say that most of you seem to be positive about life. But not all of us fit into this positive category. Some of us have faced (and are facing) personal or work-related challenges that make it very difficult for us to be positive. Our facial expressions and our other nonverbal communication signs reveal that we simply cannot escape the pressure we are under … pressure that often comes from a source outside of work that may involve our health or the health of someone we love. Or the pressure might be financial, or marital, or child-related.
We could list 1,000 things that make it difficult for us to be positive, and they all can be valid reasons for a negative outlook. While not discounting all the reasons we are justified in being “down” or negative, I would like to ask everyone to realize that we have many choices in life, and one of them is to be positive in spite of all these valid reasons we have not to be. When you say “good morning” to your colleagues at work, does your face match the positive words, or is your face saying, “Nope, it’s another bad day in my life”?
Another key, I think, to being positive is to know that it’s not cheating if we act positive even if we really don’t feel positive. Like you, I’ve read enough self-help books over the years to know that we can mask our inner feelings in order A) to make the people around us feel more comfortable being around us, and B) to get our minds off the negative things that keep us from enjoying life more than we currently are. According to Wikipedia, the popular “fake it till you make it” idiom dates back to when Aristotle suggested that to be a virtuous person, we first need to act as a virtuous person would act. I’m not suggesting that we fake being positive; rather, I hope we will choose to be positive.
When I mentioned how our being positive will help the people with whom we work to be more comfortable, I was actually thinking of a personal experience. At one point in my life I had a boss (please don’t even try to figure out who that person was because you’d be wrong — it was not at YKK!) whose mood changed from day to day. One day he would come to work all smiles. The next day might be just the opposite: gloom and doom, signaling, “Stay the heck away from me!” Fortunately, we could quickly tell which was the “mood of the day” when he entered the front door. By the time he had greeted — or not! — the people sitting near the front door, he had revealed whether he was going to be positive or negative that day. Believe it or not, people who wanted to get something approved by him would call me and ask if this were a good day or a bad day for confronting the boss. Isn’t that sad? And definitely not the working environment in which most of us wants to spend 40 or more hours each week.
After observing and working with someone who did not start each day choosing to be positive, I determined that I would try very hard throughout my career to be positive or at the very least not to be moody. I firmly believe that our colleagues with whom we work every day deserve some consistency in our mood and our reaction to the challenges and opportunities we face together.
So please just think about the concept of choosing to be positive. And my goal regarding FB #25 is that someone will wake up one morning (tomorrow!) and make a conscious decision to be positive, just to see if it makes a difference. My other goal is that you will notice someone working around you who obviously has made the decision (the choice!) to be more positive. Last night I was reading an old book, and one character in the book was describing another character and observed, “He was a very old man, no doubt approaching 70 years old.” Ohhh, that hurt. As someone who is a few short months away from turning 70, I realize how quickly time passes. My point, in closing, is that life is too short to waste even one day. While it is easy to find reasons to be negative, there are a lot more reasons we can be positive. Count your blessings and please try to be positive.
Chairman and CEO
YKK Corporation of America