Time flies when you’re having fun! It’s been 20 years since our award-winning video, FISH!, introduced The FISH! Philosophy to the world. Over the next year, we’ll celebrate by sharing inspiring stories, tips and activities to help you continue to live the four practices. Be sure to look for special offers on our programs and workshops throughout the year.

In this month’s blog, we kick off 20 Years of FISH! with 10 great quotes from people who have used The FISH! Philosophy to improve their work and lives:

1. “Nobody can put you in a bad mood without your permission.” Pete Cicero, Fiskars
It’s easy to let unpleasant people or situations drag you down. Why let them dictate how you feel the rest of the day? Why give them that much power over you?

Nobody chooses your attitude except you. Once you take charge of that choice, you can decide how to respond—say, to confront or to chill—in a way that helps you be the person you want to be and have the day you want to have.

2. “Be There means no one ever has to be alone.” First grader, Gage Elementary School
A wise observation from a six-year-old. With email, smartphones and social media, we are more connected than ever, yet studies show we increasingly feel alone.

Lack of social connection is associated with poor health outcomes more than obesity, smoking or high blood pressure. When we feel alone, we become anxious and depressed.

When we take time to Be There for each other—to empathize and understand—we can be our best. We are more fulfilled, confident and team-oriented.     

3. “There’s nobody I know that doesn’t feel good about themselves if they truly help somebody out.” Al Utesch, Rochester Ford Toyota
Helping people is the foundation of business. The more people you help, the more they’ll come back to you to be helped.

The main benefit of Make Their Day is what it does for you as a person. When you brighten someone’s day, not because you want something from them but because that is who you want to be, you receive a gift that adds meaning to your life.

4. “When we go to church, a ballgame, a hobby, community project, we throw our whole selves into it. Then we come to work. And somewhere along the line somebody told us it’s time to stop playing and time to work. Why can’t work be fun?” Mark Lenz, Tennessee College of Applied Technology
How much of your work life do you spend wishing you were someplace else? Play is a way of approaching every part of your life, whether it’s something you love to do or something you have to do.

Play isn’t about throwing fish—unless you’re a fishmonger. It’s about throwing yourself into every moment of your life.

5. “FISH! is an invitation. The easiest way to kill it is to mandate it.” David St. Germain, Chaska High School
FISH! is a philosophy. You can’t force it on people or prescribe exactly how they do it. Instead you invite people to try it and see if it works. If it does, they live it because they believe in it. That’s the only motivation that works.

The best invitation you can make is through your own example. When people experience the difference FISH! makes for you, they are more likely to want to join in. A few committed people can spread the philosophy more than any mandate.

6. “The FISH! Philosophy pulls together the four parts of being human at work, and being who you are.” Shari Riley, Ranken Jordan Specialty Hospital
How often do you put on a mask at work? Not a literal mask, but an emotional disguise that hides who you really are.

Our good friend Shari, who died a few years ago, was a nurse. She was passionate about being there for her patients and coworkers. She laughed with them and cried with them. Every day she came to work fully aware of how her attitude affected others.

Shari chose to be herself at work before she ever heard of FISH!, but she said it gave her a name for who she was “being”—and reminded her to keep being it. 

7. “Whether I’m in a hotel, buying gas or getting a haircut, everything’s all about interactions. The dollar’s the same in every bank. Why do you go back to that particular bank? Because of the interactions you have with people there. Do they make you feel special? Are they there for you?” Mike Saunders, Isothermal Community College
The entire foundation of business is meeting people’s needs. They will only come back to do business with you if you do.

Never underestimate the importance of your customer interactions. Are they caring or apathetic? Genuine or scripted? Real or robotic?

8. “We all struggle at times and when you see somebody struggling, you think, ‘Gee, that guy is being a jerk. Well, sometimes you’re that jerk.’” Dwight Lambert, Tile Tech Roofing
Your attitude is your choice. Depending what caused it, you may be perfectly entitled to it. But your choice always has an impact on others.

Is that the impact you want to have? Is it helping your team or customers? Is it helping you to be the person you want to be?

9. “The FISH! Philosophy is more important in a doctor’s office than a fish market.” Dr. Larry Alexander, ophthalmologist
Sure, the four practices of FISH! work in a fish market. But what about a serious place like a medical office?

Many people are nervous and apprehensive when they see a doctor. They interact with several people there—the receptionist, the nurse, the doctor and maybe a lab technician. Each interaction has the potential to ease their fear, address their concerns, make them feel welcome and create a “wow” experience.

10. “We look at it like this: You try it and it works, fabulous. You try it and it doesn’t work, we say, ‘So what did we learn from this?’” Mary Hogan, Sprint
It might be OK to keep doing things the same way if the world wasn’t changing so fast. Experts say up to 85 percent of the jobs in 2030 haven’t been invented yet.

Humans are wired to solve problems. It doesn’t mean betting the farm on every new idea. Just give people a chance to be creative, look for better ways to do their jobs and have fun along the way. When you do, studies show they are happier and more engaged.