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Monday, November 7, 2011

Passionate About Your Work?

How many of you “zone out” while the flight attendant gives safety instructions?  I admit, it’s my usual practice.  As soon at the attendant says, “put your mask on first, and then proceed to put on the child’s mask” I start thinking to myself blah blah blah.

But last week – for the first time in a long time – I actually paid attention.

No, it wasn’t by choice.  It wasn’t because I have good judgment.  Let’s just say the flight attendant – a hyped up, bald man in his mid-50’s –MADE me and everyone else on the plane pay attention. 

Here’s how he did it. 

Passion 101.

“Excuse me, Miss, eyes on me!  Sir, I’m going to need you to put your paper down.  You in the blue jacket, can you please stop talking to your neighbor?”

I almost laughed out loud.  And I could hear snickers throughout the plane.  Who did this guy think he was, and why was he so anal about routine flight instructions?

He went on:

“I run a safe flight.  Period.  There are some simple safety tips you need to know if we have to use them.  Look, I know some of you never pay attention to this stuff, but today you’re on my watch.  Today, your safety is my responsibility.”

The snickering stopped.  The plane became silent.  (Yes, even the babies stopped whining for a few minutes.) 

His passion was obvious.  His tone was one of concern.  And he had a captive audience.

This guy actually cares about his job.  He cares about us.  And if I ever get stuck in an emergency, I want him leading the way!

For the next five minutes, I learned more about flight safety than I’ve learned in every prior flight – combined!  And he didn’t stop at safety.  He went on to check on passenger comfort and even injected some light humor.

“Is the temperature ok for you?  Too hot or too cold?  Does anyone need a bottled water before takeoff?  Everyone know how to work the reading lights?  For those of you who want to sleep, just let me know and I’ll be happy to wake you up when we arrive at our destination.  At no extra charge!”

The flight took off without a hitch, and he proceeded to work about his duties with little fanfare.  I continued to watch him carefully.  He wasn’t intrusive or overbearing, just pleasant and diligent. 

After the flight, I couldn’t help myself.  I had to ask him.  “Sir, I couldn’t help but noticing.  Are you always this passionate about your work?”

He gave me a big smile and replied, “Attitude is EVERYTHING!”

The Apostle Paul describes it like this:

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.  (Col 3:23-24)

I wonder, what would our daily work look like – I mean really look like – if we were passionate about our work?


Chris Patton said...

Susan, that is incredible! I only fly five or six times a year, but that adds up over a couple of decades. I have never seen a flight attendant treat their job like that!

What does that say about the rest of us? Are flight attendants the only ones who are dispassionate about their jobs? I don't think so!

We ALL need to take a lesson from that and go out there today with some serious passion! For some more than others, there is probably a lot of making up to do!

This relates to my post here today. I still can't get this quote out of my head!

Susan DiMickele said...

Thanks Chris, I'm headed over to read your post now!

joan said...

There is some real truth here.

I had a similar experience in September when I was traveling back from Chicago visiting my daughter in college. This airline is known for its outstanding customer service. And I must admit the flight attendant as well as the pilot's passion prevailed.

Keli Gwyn said...

Thanks for sharing this story, Susan. It's amazing how much impact we can have when we put our all into what we're doing, as this flight attendant did. He wasn't just doing a job; he was caring about people.

Jean Wise said...

What a great story and so true that passion just oozes out of a person, doesn't it? love his dedication and enthusiasm, attention to detail. lots of lessons in this post.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Wow, impressive! What airlines?

I'm afraid sometimes I might be too much so. I see it in the eyes of my friends when I begin to talk about my characters as though they are real. ;)

But I know all about the zone. Even wrote about it today.
~ Wendy

Amy Sullivan said...

Ok, I want to be on that flight! Most of the time I pretend to sleep when I'm getting the "What do if we crash talk".

I know I don't show passion each day at my job, but I sure hope I show a good attitude.

BigD said...

I was on a flight last year where a passenger got chewed-out for talking during the safety presentation. We all sat, dumb-struck. (Wasn't done with humor at all.)
I have to admit, I was okay with it.
I'm not a good flyer. I'm the one counting seat rows to the nearest exit (you need to know, in case the lights go out in a crash). I also keep my seat belt fastened. And I don't wear dangerous fabrics (like nylon) on flights that can melt in a fire.
Did I mention flying makes me nervous?
Anyway, I appreciate the flight attendant's attitude. I feel like it's hard to keep up that attitude over time--especially when I've been in the same job for 15 years!

Shanda said...

Thank you for the reminder to be passionate about everything I do. It makes a different both in my life and in the lives of others. Complacency kills.

Laura said...

I admit, I don't fly much, but I don't think I've ever seen a flight attendant passionate about that safety demonstration. It reminds me of that story in Enchantment where Guy tells about the flight attendant who had made a little rhyme (or was it a rap?) out of the thing. It got everyones attention and applause!

You are making me wonder how I can show my passion at work tomorrow, Susan.

Karna said...

Hi Susan, I found your blog through the Hear It, Use It community and appreciate your reminder, here, about how we portray the work we do and the impact it has on others. Several people who are passionate about their work and their life came to my mind -- I'll think of them today as I go about my daily interactions.

Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

I had a flight attendant like that once, and my response was just like yours -- I wanted to hear what he had to say. That speaks volumes to us in our work, doesn't it?

In teaching, it's interesting -- a passion for your subject area isn't enough. You do have to love the kids, rascals though they be!

Ann Kroeker said...

Attitude is everything! Great reminder, and a memorable story about someone who cares about his job instead of going through the motions.

I'm inspired!

Michelle DeRusha@Graceful said...

I just love this post, Susan -- you have lit a new fire in me to approach my job with a postive attitude and maybe even a little passion, too.

BTW, I always pay attention to the instructions. I think I'm a little superstitious and am afraid that I'll jinx the flight if I don't tune in to the safety instructions.

I know, I have some neuroses.

Alison said...

Appreciated that post, Susan! I have that scripture on a wall in my office. When I feel out of sorts or want to phone in my performance, I look at it and am forced to take stock of my attitude. If only we had more flight attendants like that guy! said...

Which carrier was it? You have to think it might also have to do with the carrier and who they are hiring and how they are training. At least I'd like to think so.

Great example for all of us, Susan, and thanks for forcefully bringing it to our attention. :)

Susan DiMickele said...

The carrier was US Air - think it was a flight ran by Air Wisconsin.