What’s Become of the F Word?

I don't see it, hear it or read it anymore. In fact, the F word has literally disappeared overnight from the American vocabulary. Oh sure, some irate Manhattan cab driver will still employ it. A PR executive who's just been told his agency's 2009 budget has been yanked is likely to let loose. And, we Jets fans certainly call upon it on most Sundays.

But, that's not the F word to which I'm referring. You see, I'm speaking of an F word that's barely registering a pulse these days: "Fun."

Fun is gone. It's vanished, and it's bordering on becoming extinct. In its place, we've seen the sudden emergence of fun's evil twin: "Fear."

Kathryn Williams, the "W" in KRW, a top leadership/coaching firm who participated in our webinar last week, stressed the urgency of fun. She said the best leaders, the ones who will become heroes in this current economic cataclysm, are the ones who will take care of themselves first and then "administer aid" to their employees. She likened it to the airplane instructions in which adults are advised to don their own oxygen masks before applying their children's.

That makes perfect sense. I see too many executives walking around with a hangdog look on their face. Their expressions and non-verbals say it all. They're scared. They're paralyzed. They've never seen anything like the current economic climate. Well, guess what? They unknowingly project those feelings to those around them and, soon, very soon, an entire organization becomes paralyzed.
And, paralysis is a one-way ticket to business oblivion.

Heroes find a way to rise above the fray. They take time to laugh in the face of fear. They bring the other F word back to its rightful place.

So, cut your costs. Find your new revenue streams. But, don't forget about having fun, too. Williams suggests leaders find the time for neck and back massages, meditation or other forms of relaxation. Personally, I opt for a mix of stand-up comedy, long-distance running and any sort of historical/biographical/comedic reading material.  

I also go out of my way to inject humor in the workplace, whether it's through hallway banter or an e-mail comment purposely designed to elicit a chuckle. I told one of our senior directors that I see myself in the Bob Hope role at Peppercom, responsible for raising troop morale.

You can do it, too. And you should. So, check the doom-and-gloom at the reception desk when you arrive each morning. We'll get through this. And people will remember whether you led the way with cheery optimism or buried yourself in your office with a bunker-like mentality.

7 thoughts on “What’s Become of the F Word?

  1. Right on point, Admiral Cody! Most places where I have worked had little to no “Fun” involved. Usually, it’s because people took themselves too seriously. At the un-fun mood was viral and infected everyone working there! PepperCom was, hands down, the best place I’ve ever worked at because the atmosphere was positive and fun. Every once in a while, I think about how much I miss working there.
    As the wise saying goes — Always take your job seriously, but never take yourself too seriously!

  2. Steve: Good thoughts. Without humor, there would be no life worth living. As Mark Twain said about humor:
    “Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place.”

  3. Bravo, Steve. It is so easy to buy into the pervasive gloom and doom in our current culture and remain a “grumpy gills” (to quote “Finding Nemo”) 24/7. What a wretched way to go through one’s day.
    To paraphrase Gloria Gaynor, we will survive — especially those of us who wear a smile.

  4. Well said, Steve. Had a really bad week last week re: low account activity. Took the weekend to reflect what is good to adjust my attitude. This week brought a much better frame of mind to create approaches that will make rain. Bottom line: take the pause that refreshes.

  5. Right on Steve with today’s blog. It’s easy to get discouraged and every day is a battle. But coming into the office with a positive attitude is important. And I can personally speak to it for the three years that I was it of work.
    I remember years ago just getting on the bus to trek into New York City every morning. There would be 30-35 people on the bus ready for the drudgery. But I would get on with a smile on my face and greet the bus driver with an upbeat hello.
    Relative to the office atmosphere and worrying about who’s going to receive the next pink slip, I would be jovial and break the tension. I think staff works best when it’s “loosey-goosey.” There’s enough stress and tension during the workday with meetings, meeting clients’ expectations, etc.
    This is a period of survival of the fittest and it’s important to come to the office with your “game face” on. But nobody said we can’t make it fun. Keep up the banter.