New Years Day

My boss once asked me to name five goals for the coming year.  When I asked whether he wanted goals or resolutions he tilted his head to one side and looked a bit confused.  So I went on to explain that a goal is a destination and that a resolution is a path to a destination but he wouldn’t accept that at face value and a fairly lively debate ensued.  He surrendered after some time, I think proving only that one of us was more bone-headed than the other.

My first goal that year was to behave in a more professional manner and I wrote it down neatly at the top of a clean sheet of paper.  I was poised to write more but soon my doodles in the margins spilled out onto the page and I was forced to start over.

After several more sheets of very artistic doodling I conceded that I was stuck in the process and decided to embark on a slightly different path.  I reasoned that since my boss had yet to learn the difference, I would augment my one goal with four resolutions.  Brilliant.

My first three resolutions absolutely flew onto the page.  Don’t be late, don’t cuss, and be
prepared to work, all noble aspirations worthy of most any endeavor.  As I proudly reviewed my list, doubt began to creep in and I became somewhat concerned.  Maybe I should elaborate.  My list looked sparse.

So I did elaborate.  My “Don’t be late” resolution didn’t quite convey my exact intent.  I think it’s important that we be available to clients and co-workers during normal business hours so I’m not particularly fond of alternate work schedules.  It’s frustrating when a problem arises on a project and you can’t find key players because they go home at 2:00 in the afternoon.  I wrote that down.

I drew on the famous Billy Joe Shaver song “Georgia on a Fast Train” for my next elaboration.  In one verse he sings, “I had a fine Christian raising and an eighth grade education…” which I took to mean that I should be capable of conducting a professional conversation minus expletives, vulgarities, and sexual innuendos.  I let this one bleed
into my personal life too.  Drinking whiskey and playing guitars around bonfires is in no way a free pass from being a gentleman.  I Googled it.  It’s a rule somewhere.

At first glance I thought my third resolution would be the easiest yet but I was wrong.  How do you inspire an attitude?  The best I could come up with is a few guidelines to help point me in the right direction.

Being prepared to work means that if I am going to represent my company I should dress accordingly – even on casual Fridays.  I read somewhere you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have.  I like that.  I wrote it down too.

Further, if I am in fact the professional designer I claim to be, it is my responsibility to
embrace the tools of my trade.  If I anchor myself in one spot waiting for the company to improve my skills and qualifications so they can pay me more money I’m afraid the only thing I will learn is how to be a very good anchor.

My brain was tired so I stopped there.  I turned in one goal and three resolutions and every year for the next 15 years I turned in that same list and all was right with the world.  It’s an easy enough number of things for me to remember and I think I’m a better man for it.

This year I’m adding that fourth resolution to my list.  It meets all my resolution requirements.  It’s simple.  It’s direct.  It takes me further down the road towards my goal to behave in a more professional manner.  My fourth resolution is: hang up the phone.

That’s it.  No more phone in churches, meetings, classrooms, seminars, restroom stalls, restaurants, elevators, work, movie theaters, concerts, funerals, weddings, busses, trains, planes, automobiles, hospitals, waiting rooms, libraries, museums, meals, or the
grocery check-out line.  Generally, private calls in public places are rude.  To quote the late, great Otis Redding, “All I’m asking for is a little respect.”

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