Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do

It’s a long road that doesn’t turn.

These are tough times. Granted. But I’ve learned that tough times never last … but tough people do.

Unfortunately, too many people and too many organizations lose their spirit during the tough times. They become negative, fearful, and self-defeating. So I ask you…

=> 1. What happens to your organization during the tough times?

I’ve found that negative organizations cut out all their training or stop bringing in outside speakers. They see it as an expense they can no longer afford.

By contrast, the positive organizations spend more time and money on training during the tough times. They know they’ve got to bring out the best in their people … now more than ever. They know they’ve got to keep motivating their people, so they work as a team, and stay open to change. They see training as an investment they have to make.

As noted in “The 100 Best Companies To Work For In America,” on the average, the 100 best companies lavished 43 hours of training on EACH employee every year. At brokerage firm Edward Jones, for example, new brokers are immersed in 17 weeks of classes at a cost of $50,000 to $70,000 per person. Dan Timm, a principal at the company, says, “We consider training an investment rather than an expense.”

Of course the tough times are tough. But the more enlightened people and companies are training their way through those times … rather than waiting for things to change. The less progressive folks spend their time whining. They say such things as…

=> 2. “I can’t believe how hard we have to work.”

They may say, “We have to work from the moment we come in to the moment we leave.”

I want to say, “Duh! That’s why we call it ‘work’.” In fact, I’m flabbergasted when I hear employees complain about having to work at work.

But if you’re hearing those kinds of things from your coworkers, it means the tough times are getting to them. It means you have a somewhat negative work environment on your hands. And both of those things need fixing and can be fixed with the appropriate motivational training.

Besides the “how hard we have to work” complaint, you may hear some other folks say…

=> 3. “I’m sick and tired of all these changes.”

Maybe they’re fed up with having to learn a new software program, or they’re freaked out when they have to move to another floor. They don’t want to deal with new product offerings, and they don’t want their job descriptions to change.

Well I have a three-word workshop for those people: “Deal with it.”

One professor did a great job of teaching that very lesson. One day, one of his students came to class visibly upset. On the verge of tears, the student explained he couldn’t take the final exam because his fiancé had just called off their engagement. He was distraught and couldn’t eat or sleep. He was too depressed to study, let alone be tested.

The professor asked him, “And how long do you plan on being depressed?”

The student was stunned by the question. Then he said, “I dunno. Two weeks, I guess.”

The professor said, “Fine. Come back in two weeks.” And he did.

Three months later, the student confided that until this incident, he never realized he had so much control over his moods. He discovered that he was NOT ONLY in charge of how bad he felt BUT ALSO how long he would feel bad.

Think about this the next time you get upset about the tough times. How bad do you want to feel? And for how long? It’s up to you!

Finally, you’ll hear some other nonproductive whiners say…

=> 4. “The customers expect too much.”

Maybe so. Maybe not. But let’s get real. We don’t pay employees to treat people badly. We pay them to treat customers with respect … no matter what.

Take a lesson from Wal-Mart’s famous “10-Foot Rule.” Simply put, when an employee comes within 10 feet of a customer or a coworker, he/she must smile and … at the very least … say “Hi.”

Of course you’re wondering … does it work? Absolutely! People who come to work for Wal-Mart, or shop at Wal-Mart, often say, “I knew there was something different, and better, about this place.”

Maybe it sounds silly and old fashioned. But do you hear more griping ABOUT the customers or do you see more smiling AT the customers? As the old saying goes, “A Smile is the light in the window of your face that tells people your heart is at home.”

I don’t know when the tough times will go away. But I do know the more enlightened companies are giving their people the tools they need to get through the tough times. And the more successful people focus on keeping their spirit intact instead of whining about the tough times. In “The Forbes Scrapbook Of Thought,” Paul Garrett says, “We do not need more money. We do not need more materials. What we do need is something to give a man a new spirit … The problem of today is the people of today. It is people that make the time and not the times that make people. The trouble is with man himself.”

Action:  If you’re hearing too many negative comments around the workplace, if you’re hearing too much whining about the tough times, it’s time to have a brainstorming session. It’s time to get together and list all the things you CAN do to get through the tough times.