From Worst to First

I don’t know if you heard about it, but the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup Finals a few days ago.  I know, it’s old news.  But in Chicago, where we don’t have much to cheer about athletically these days, the celebration lives on.  The players have been all over town with that massive cup and many a true and bandwagon fan has been able to touch or even drink out of the cup.  All I can think of when I hear that is all the germs that are living on it.  EWWWW.  But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t take a swig if given the opportunity.  After all, I wasn’t even born the last time this team took the cup and the only other team I can say that about is the Cubs.  With a 102 year drought, I don’t think I’ll ever catch their record.  Anywho, one of the things that’s come up is the fact that only 5 years ago, the Chicago Blackhawks were rated the worst team in the NHL.  Dead last.  And in 5 short years, the franchise did a dramatic turnaround that touched all areas of their organization from the top down.  The first big thing that happened was the elder Wirtz retired and passed the leadership on to first his son Peter and then to Rocky who runs it now.  The new generation had a different way of operating that was greatly needed.  Fans had been ignored, games not televised, star players dealt away or cast away, new talent recruitment was non existent.  It was clear changes had to be made.  Difficult changes.  I’m sure it wasn’t easy to tell Dad that his way of doing things was no longer the way of the Blackhawks.  Family dinners had to have been fun.  But time marches on and if you don’t evolve and reinvent, you become irrelevant.  Change is never easy but if you don’t ask yourself why you are doing the same thing the same way over and over, you run the risk of getting stuck in a rut and not staying cutting edge.  Turning around an entrenched organization must have been a monumental task but look at the rewards the Blackhawks reaped for doing so.  It all started with the thinking at the top.  This type of reversal can happen to any organization, company or person.  You just have to start at the top.

Seriously?

Turns out one of the guiding principles of my life wasn’t a genius idea I came up with but was identified early by the renown actor Peter Ustinov.  He said “It is our responsibilities, not ourselves, that we should take seriously“.  I’ve often been heard saying about myself and the work I did when I was selling television advertising time, “I take my job seriously, not myself.”  Beyond the obvious meaning of the words, I’ve never really thought about what that meant.  At it’s most basic interpretation, I think it meant that I took my clients and my company’s goals very seriously, with all associated diligence to their business.  At the same time, the impatience, anger and pressures that were directed at me during negotiations or budgeting weren’t taken personally.  I recognized these negatives were a result of things stressing the other person and were beyond my control.  I tried my best to help with whatever it was I could impact.

Now that I am self employed, I realize this truism is even more relevant.  I am working very hard, getting my business set up, managing every last detail, spending long hours in pursuit of work, putting myself out there as much as I can.  However this time I am the product.  So the line between taking the job and not the self seriously gets a little harder to draw.  Especially when I don’t get chosen to do the work.  Remembering that being invited again and again to audition for the job is a win.  If I wasn’t doing something right, I wouldn’t get the calls.  The jobs will come, just keep taking the work seriously.