Fish! Philosophy News and Updates
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Have you ever heard of a man named Vic Cianca? If the name doesn’t ring a bell, don’t worry: he’s one of the many unsung heroes of the world who make their communities just a little bit better by virtue of being themselves. Vic Cianca was a traffic cop in Pittsburgh who was beloved for his, shall we say, unique ways of directing traffic every day on the job. Rather than just standing there, pointing the way with his arms, he truly made the job his own–from pretending to fall asleep when distracted drivers failed to move, to pleading with traffic to keep going, to even using legs and other limbs to direct cars, Cianca turned this one intersection into his own Jester’s Court every day he worked. He even gained some notoriety for his antics: not only did everyone in the city love him, but his passion and humor even made it into the hit 1980’s movie Flashdance, where he served as inspiration for Jennifer Beals’ would-be dancer. Sadly, Vic Cianca passed away in 2010 at the age of 92, but the way he approached his job can still inspire how we approach our own, every day of the week.
Learning to give and receive criticism professionally and effectively is hands-down one of the most important professional skills anybody can learn, but also hands-down one of the hardest. Hearing we’ve done something wrong is a huge emotional trigger for most people, and conversely, most of us who pride ourselves on being generally nice and respectful people get huge anxiety at the thought of providing critical feedback to someone else. Criticism is an unavoidable part of life, whether in work, relationships, friendships, and family dynamics, and for good reason: constructive feedback is how we learn and improve ourselves and can lead to personal growth rather than emotional or professional stagnation.
If it’s been a while since you checked your generational calendar, take a peek: The oldest Millennials are now in their forties, and even the youngest are generally past traditional college age. That means that if you haven’t noticed already, Millennials are likely a huge part of your organization’s workforce. Plenty of ink has been spilled about working with Millennials, but let us spill just a bit more: this generation isn’t made up of children, but rather regular human beings with the same feelings as the rest of us. But it is true that as they’ve aged into the workforce, they’ve also brought about a change in culture and a change in professional norms. So here’s some tips for how you can use the FISH! Philosophy to help you navigate the changing workplace with your new, younger teammates.
It seems hard to go through the world nowadays without hearing about the concept of mindfulness, but if this is your first time, let us be your introduction. Mindfulness is essentially just the idea of attuning yourself to the present moment and paying deep, close attention to your surroundings and tasks at hand, without letting your mind wander or letting intrusive thoughts serve as a distraction. Mindfulness is hugely popular in the world of wellness, therapeutic practice, and self-help, and it’s easy to see why. When we practice mindfulness, we align our minds and our bodies rather than letting them drift apart or allowing our minds to do what they do best: ruminating and anticipating that which might hurt us.
If you regularly read this blog, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the 4 core practices of the Fish! Philosophy: Be There, Play, Make Their Day, and Choose Your Attitude. These principles are at the center of everything we do, and they’re the foundations that make Fish! so effective in the school or workplace. However, just like any skill or piece of knowledge, it helps to revisit something you know intimately in order to re-establish the benefits and reinforce the importance of that skill. By spending a bit of time to refamiliarize yourself with something you’ve spent so much time practicing, it makes it salient again, allowing you to put front and center in your mind something that may otherwise have taken a back seat due to familiarity or confidence. So today, let’s take another look at the first of these core skills: Be There. We’ll discuss what it is, why it’s important, and how it can take your organizational effectiveness and personal happiness to the next level.
Far too often, we push Play to the side in our lives, and we wonder why our mental health suffers! When we feel depressed, anxious, irritable, or other adverse mental health symptoms, it’s easy to write it off as the result of us being too busy–too many responsibilities, too much job pressure, too many chores or errands, and generally too much being asked of our time. While this may be true, what if part of the issue was not that too much is being asked of our time, and more that we aren’t allocating our time to the things our brains truly need to thrive? It’s easy to hear “just spend more time playing” and file it away under other feel-good “self-care” suggestions like “take a bubble bath” or “have some chocolate,” but the truth is, Play is not just something that’s fun to do, it’s necessary to maintain our mental health. And play is far from just games and sports: as we’ve talked about at-length in the past, Play is about how we think and how we engage in the world. It’s about grappling with complex ideas, non-linear solutions to problems, and thinking creatively about the world around us. So how does that help our mental health?
It may not always feel like it when we get bogged down in stress and responsibilities, but having fun is as important a part of our well-being as anything else. Fun isn’t just something that you do to fill free time; some psychologists even go so far as to say that having fun is as important to our emotional well-being as feeling loved. And for a lot of us, “work” and “fun” are considered antonyms; polar opposites even! If this is you, don’t feel too bad–even we at FISH! are guilty of falling into this habit. After all, we make it a point to emphasize that the core pillar of Play is a way of thinking, and try to get people to understand it beyond just as a synonym for “fun.” But with fun being such a core human need, we’d all do better to examine it more closely and see how we can work it into our workplaces, rather than try to ignore it or set it aside completely.
Leadership comes in many forms. It’s a cliche to say, but it’s true! From heading up a multi-million dollar company, to working as a manager, to taking the reigns of a project on your team, to even just showing up for your kids, friends, and community outside of your work, leadership can encompass acts big and small, professional and personal, and truly permeate every aspect of our life. But for many people, great leadership isn’t something they really understand until they see it. Your boss handing you an assignment may be an act of management, but if they aren’t inspiring you to do your best or going out of their way to give you the support you need, are they really displaying true leadership? We feel that the FISH! Philosophy goes hand-in-hand with a concept known as Servant Leadership, and believe that by following the 4 core pillars of FISH!, you can mold yourself into a true servant leader that strives to make their team the best they can be.
Burnout isn’t fun. That’s obvious, but it’s worth saying up-front. Being burnt out is a uniquely different feeling than regular, everyday stress–after all, your average stressors may cause you discomfort in the moment, but once they pass, the feeling dissipates, and we go back to our day-to-day life. But when those stressors are constant, they begin to add up. Slowly but surely, the feeling stops going away and starts becoming constant. Even the smallest stressors cause you to pull your hair out, and it feels like no matter what you do, you’re struggling to keep your head above water. This is burnout. So what do you do when you’re feeling burnout? Fortunately, the FISH! Philosophy isn’t just great for making a welcoming, productive workplace–you can apply the four pillars of FISH! to help you manage burnout and get yourself back on an even keel.
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