Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

I’m not all that much into labels – unless it’s grouchy ladies in front of me in the grocery, or a lunatic driving too slowly in the left lane. I tend not to label “all younger generations.”  

But, I can tell you one thing most Baby Boomers are NOT.  That's a generation of people expecting undeserved pats on the back, or other rewards for just doing our jobs.

Several corporations surveyed employees.  Answers were similar.  Let me back up.  First, I don’t agree with some of the questions.  “Has anyone complimented you this week?  Does your manager care about you as a person?”

Since I’m a business coach, I’m sensitive to such thoughts.  But, I certainly wasn’t privileged to that kind of working atmosphere.  When hired, my boss said, “This is your pay.  This is your job.”  I said, “OK” and did my job.  If I produced above and beyond, which my Dad taught me to do as a matter of course, I considered it "my job.”  As my wise Dad said, “Do a good job for yourself.  The only thing you have is your name.”  With that kind of attitude, daily pats on the back weren’t necessary.  Nice, yes, but not essential to my existence.

There’s a big BUT coming. But, I see many young people – at my age that pretty well encompasses anyone from 0 to 55 – who complain to their bosses if they don’t feel “loved” at work.   Nearly 20 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t think their bosses appreciate them as individuals.  They also said their bosses like their work. Excuse me!?!  I’m sure at least 90% of my bosses didn’t appreciate me as an individual – outside of me doing my job, that is.

I call today’s thinking the “trophy” mentality.  Children often are given a trophy just for playing on a team, even  if that team didn’t win a game.  If they had won, would the parents have bought them cars?  Children say to parents, “If I finish my homework, will you buy me something?”  My Mom and Dad, had I asked that question, would simply have kept on working the crossword puzzle.  I was taught – and expected – to do my best in any given situation.  I knew my parents loved me, and appreciated me, and adored me.  My gosh, they did that without trophies.

I’ve only had one boss in my career who seemed to care about me as a person.  He’s the best manager I ever had because of that.  Another BUT.  But, I had other managers who just expected me to get the job done and treated me fairly when I did.  They were OK managers, too.  I also had incredibly stupid managers, but it wasn’t just because they didn’t care about me.

I’ll end this preaching and translate it to my marriage.  If I told Brenda, “I’ll take the garbage out if you’ll buy me a butterscotch dipped ice cream cone,” she’d give me “the look,” snap her fingers, point to the garbage, and watch as I hustled it outside.

If I came in from mowing the yard and found a trophy on the counter that read, “My favorite special person,” I wouldn’t even notice it.  It would be for one of the grandchildren.  Well, maybe not.  Actually there would be four trophies, one for each child, all worded precisely the same.   Hmm???

Date of Blog Story: 
September 10, 2009

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