By Jami Miedema

While rearranging the office this month, I came across the book Fish! by Stephen Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen. I had heard positive reviews from those who had read it, so I was curious to learn what it was all about. The story is a parable of a manager, Mary Jane, who is put in charge of a new department at her work – a department that everyone else in the company calls the “toxic energy dump” because of their poor attitude and unaccommodating behavior. Determined to erase that stigma from her team, she sets out to find a way to bring energy into the workplace.

One afternoon, as Mary Jane is walking by Pike Place Fish, a fish market in Seattle, she’s engrossed with the playful and lively atmosphere the fishmongers create in their work environment. She strikes up a conversation with one of the employees, Lonnie, and after filling him in on her work situation, he shares with her a few lessons for creating energy and excitement in the workplace. His advice is:

Choose Your Attitude – choose to bring a positive and enthusiastic attitude to work

Play – have fun in a respectful manner

Make Their Day – engage your customers, make your interaction memorable

Be Present – focus on the customer

Mary Jane then encourages her employees to go observe the atmosphere at the fish market, and their department began implementing the four tips that Lonnie had shared. By the end of the book, the team abolishes their “toxic energy dump” label!

Now I know this is a fictional story, but what I enjoyed is that its message can apply to any position in any company. What a difference we can make just by choosing to have an optimistic attitude and making every interaction we have special for our customers, coworkers, and vendors!