Some FISH! Phil-osophy thoughts from our own Phil Strand, co-author of FISH! Tales and Schools of FISH!:
In the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and his friend Sallah open a tomb containing the Ark. Peering into the darkness, Jones throws a torch into the tomb, revealing thousands of poisonous snakes. Jones and Sallah look at each other, terror in their eyes. “Asps. Very dangerous,” Sallah says. “You go first.”
Sometimes that’s how it feels with our relationships. We want more trust, but we demand that others trust us first. We want to work in an environment where everybody is happy and positive, but they have to be happy first. We want people to appreciate us, after which we will return the favor.
To be a leader—and we are all leaders at work, home or in our community—you must model the behavior you want to see in others.
Our good friend, the late Shari Riley of Ranken Jordan Specialty Hospital, once told me about a CEO who wanted to introduce The FISH! Philosophy to his company. “We need more energy and service around here. We need people to have fun,” he said. “We’ll get a karaoke machine for the introduction. It’ll be great.”
Shari said him, “You do realize you will have to sing first.”
The CEO looked at her like she was crazy. “Oh, I can’t do that,” he said.
“Then don’t bring FISH! in,” Shari told him. “You can’t expect the people you lead to do something you’re not willing to do. If you want them to have fun and be there for each other, you’ve got to lead the way.”
“As a leader you’re infectious,” Rob Gregory, owner of Rochester Ford Toyota, says. “And the question you have got to ask yourself is: ‘Do people wanna catch what you’ve got?’”
If you want people to catch what you have, you first have to decide who you want to “be.” What do you want to stand for? How do you want to treat people?
Once you are clear on that, self-awareness is key. Check in with yourself throughout the day. Ask: Am I being who I want to be right now? Sometimes you have step outside your comfort zone. Take a chance. Be There for someone you don’t usually talk to. Find something nice to say to a person you may not always get along with. Start trusting the people you would like to trust you.
Ask everyone around you to help you be who you say you want to be. Give them specifics, such as “I’m trying to be a great listener” or “I want to be a caring coworker.” Ask people to hold you accountable to live your intentions. Invite them to tell you when you fall short and to recognize you when you succeed.
It may feel a little strange at first, but your willingness to listen to their coaching—and act on it—is a powerful example of personal accountability. It shows others that when it comes to being accountable, you are willing to “go first.”
There is no guarantee that anyone else will follow your example. The only person you control is you. Just focus on who you are being, and you will experience the deep satisfaction of knowing you are living with integrity. But chances are good that when you make the commitment to go first, you will have a positive impact on everyone around you.