Just re-read the motivational gold nugget “Fish!” (Stephen Lundin, also author of “Gung Ho!”) last night.

There were a few forgotten wisdoms in there.  His strategy for turning a boring, slave-style job into fun is four-pronged:

  1. Attitude.  You may not choose your work (and I imagine, many people who work in high-pressure corporate environments for the money, don’t necessarily relish the actual job) but you always choose your attitude to it.
  2. Play!  (Well, in both my lines of work, the music and the publishing, it’s a high-play environment so I didn’t need to be reminded of this  🙂  )
  3. 3 and 4 have more to do with customer satisfaction than your own, but I can vouch that both work:   3) Be present!  and
  4. Make their day.

These strategies work well, especially when you are your own boss.  Making their day is the most critical thing you can do to improve customer happiness.  And if you’re not fully present during a performance – well.  Need I say it?

But this book hasn’t only received good crit. 

In his book Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, anarchist Kevin Carson calls FISH! “vile”[12] and a “lesson from the powerful to the powerless”,[13]

… and I quote from Wikipedia:  Criticism

To grasp just how presumptuous Fish! really is, just try a thought experiment: imagine management’s reaction if the circumstances were reversed. Imagine the bosses’ reaction if you and your coworkers matter-of-factly announced that, henceforth, you would be working at a slower pace for the same amount of money, or that you would be receiving a higher hourly wage. Imagine telling the boss “you can’t do anything about these changes, but you can choose to have a good attitude about them!” My guess is your boss would demonstrate in short order that he does have control over events, and that it’s not his attitude that has to be adjusted. That’s because, while you may be powerless, your bosses most certainly are not.

This asymmetrical power relationship is implicit in Fish! Philosophy. And you’d better believe that the people who push it are fully aware of their agenda. […] They are the ones who do things. We are the ones that things are done to. Learn to enjoy it, or else. That’s the message of Fish! Philosophy.[13]

I guess that does apply when Fish! is used in exactly the sense in which it is written:  the slave-style admin job that the “3rd Floor” has to do without getting acknowledged, without ever being lauded, and at low pay.

I saw the same in the laboratories in which I worked.  Fish! is written for people who can’t work for themselves and can’t pick their work circumstances.   It’s a “buoy up the slaves without getting ideas into their heads” book.  Still a great book about attitude.

But if you are trying to make real changes to your life, Hyrum Smith’s “Time and Life Management” is probably more what you need.

He tells the story of a man who climbed the corporate ladder all the way to the top, ending as CEO – only to find that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.  Over 45 years of working life he’d missed every last bit of personal life he could have had.

“Time and Life Management” sneaked into my purchases when I bought a number of psychology textbooks for my add-on major.  I looked at what they had charged me and thought, “wait a minute!”.  I dug in the package and found that they had rung up and packed that book for me even though I hadn’t meant to buy it.  For a moment I played with the idea of returning it immediately for a reversal, but started reading it and decided that it was probably better that I kept it.

It was the first step towards not letting the “default path” rule my life, but to set my own goals, and shoot for (at that point unthinkable) goals such as being my own boss (and amazingly, get paid for it).  I’ve been my own boss for over 14 years now, and better paid than ever during my “slave-style” work in the laboratories.  Amazing but true.

On the book front:

Colonialist’s delightful cat story “Tabika” is now only 8 shares away from the Free Downloads Zone! With only today to go, let’s give it a final boost, whatsay?  Click on the image, which will take you to the book’s feature page, then find the little menu of buttons (top right corner) and click “like”, “share” or “tweet”.  That would be tweet and much appreciated.

Blank bookcover with clipping path

5 thoughts on “*FISH*

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