When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things.” Joe Namath
Occasionally, my mom called me the “G-Man.” ‘G’ stood for garbage. She called me by that name whenever it was time for me to take out the trash – one of a number of chores I had been assigned. In the beginning, I did not like any part of this job. But, it belonged to me, and the “G-Man” moniker became one of my infrequent nicknames. I did not mind the label. I hated the task!
Who likes garbage detail?! No one does, I would guess. Most of the garbage I carried out was created by the entire family. Ugh! Some of it was disgusting.
We all have been, and continue to be, responsible for a particular chore that is unpleasant. It could be a necessary task in our homes, within an organization we serve, or in our current jobs. Even retired people have these tasks – all necessary at times for the greater good. Garbage that does not depart from our homes can turn into a more significant problem. There is a good end to a bad task. Do you have such a job? How is that working for you? As a kid, I dreaded the garbage task every single day.
We had a system to our garbage collection and disposal. There was a large green plastic garbage can that remained in the kitchen and a larger metal container located outside, over 100-feet away, in the alley where it was emptied by the city sanitation team each week. The smaller plastic can was also used to transport and then empty the household trash into the larger outside can. It may be hard to believe in the modern world of today, but at one time, there was no such thing as plastic garbage bags (Obviously, I have been around a while). Because all the household refuse was deposited into the plastic can, without the benefit of a plastic bag (sometimes we had paper bags), it became necessary to thoroughly wash the cans often. I not only emptied trash – I had to maintain cleanliness in the project. More reason to dislike that job! Then . . . something amazing happened that changed my outlook.
I decided to have some fun. Since the alley was the immediate destination for the garbage, I decided to use my time on the way back to do tricks with the green garbage can. I would toss the green plastic receptacle into the air, and then catch it as gravity brought it back to the ground. Impressively, I rotated the can in the air and caught it on the lip. I started with one small rotation. Eventually, I got to the point where I could consistently rotate it three times and catch it. One or two revolutions became warm-up throws. The Olympic-like feat of four spins was accomplished only on rare occasion. If there had been a “green plastic garbage rotating-catch tournament,” I would have entered and challenged anyone. I had perfected this unusual maneuver and was great at it! Actually . . . outstanding. Had there just been an Olympic category for this skill, I would have been an American champion.
The garbage rotation trick ultimately became my big bonus for doing a job that I did not particularly like. As I traveled with the smaller can to its destination, (a previously disliked responsibility), I thought about the fun I was going to have flipping the can on my way back to the house. Maybe, today I would succeed in a four-spin triumph. As you might have figured, I did not always catch the can. I am sure that these containers were not manufactured to be tossed high in the air, to land on an edge every single day. (Indeed, the Hackbarth garbage cans had a shorter endurance cycle than did our neighbors’ cans).
When you are a champion garbage can aerialist, you do not spend a lot of time thinking about the survival of inanimate objects. It’s part of the cost of developing a winner. I was a champion in my own backyard.
All of us have examples in our lives of things we really enjoy doing that may involve some things that we do not particularly enjoy doing. We do what is less fun because we know that the result will be the thing that is the most fun.
What happens when we have tasks that do not produce a happy ending? What occurs when we do things for which there is no rainbow at the end? No pot of gold. No reward or bonus. We put out the garbage and do not have a tumbling trick. I suppose that these tasks become what we hate and want to avoid. It becomes an unpleasant part of life. Do you have such a regular task? How is it affecting you?
If there is a solution, what might it be? I do think that the garbage can flipping trick of my youth hints at an appropriate answer: We need to have fun each day, particularly during the not-so-fun moments. If we determine to change our outlook and attitude during those times when we most dread the task, how easy might it be to develop a positive perspective during the pleasant moments?! A home run opportunity.
We can actually invent fun moments through less enjoyable assignments by using our imaginations. I was just a kid, delegated an initially unsavory chore and created fun in it. If a kid can find a way to succeed with just one minor, unsophisticated tool, how much more so an adult can find a way, too, with easy access to current technology and options.
Take fishing for example – a pastime I dearly love. Most folks do not much care for the unavoidable cleanup after fishing trips. Cleaning fish may be at the top of undesired tasks. However, I decided as a young boy that I loved fishing so much that I was going to find a way to like even the less sporting elements – the scaling and cleaning part.
So, I became good at cleaning fish. Through studying the best ways to accomplish this task, I became an expert. I also analyzed the anatomy of all fish, paying close attention to the eating habits of each species. I can tell you that the main source of food for redfish consists of crab. Concentrating on what I considered to be the important, pertinent investigation into all aspects of this sport allowed me to attain a new, satisfying level in the very chores many fishermen groan about and detest doing. I became an ‘anatomical aquatic research analyst!’
Today, my fish-cleaning procedures are expertly organized. I have multiple-sized Ziploc® bags for efficiently storing the filets, and use magic markers for dating and identifying the fish. Various knives are designated for specific parts of the cleaning and storage preparation processes. I use a specific refuse bucket, as well as an ice container for the filets until they can be properly sorted and bagged. The process is consistent and efficient. With many years of practice, this particular task has become fun because I have achieved proficiency at a highly competent level. It reminds me of the long ago ‘three flips and a catch’ maneuver.
What would it be like if we found a way to convert unpleasant tasks, typical in each aspect of life, into something more enjoyable? Would this make a difference? Imagine for a moment if something for which you hold the most disdain could somehow now bring a smile to your face. Perhaps you are an unrecognized champion among your own family, or in your workplace. The ugly task of today can hold promise for a welcoming smile tomorrow.
If that unsavory task became more appealing, how might the rest of our daily tasks – the ones we love – be affected? Is it possible we might take our existence to a whole new level? Could we become the person who laughs longer and louder, smiles more frequently and succeeds sooner in the most coveted of all our goals?
In the past, I did not like. . .
Now, I can’t wait to . . !
Today, I am going to have lots of fun! It starts with . . .