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Beating the Odds

The Lesson of “Undercover Boss”

A press box friend from my sports writing days used to quote his grandfather: “Never interrupt a man when he’s working. There are so few of them.”

These words come to mind after I watch “Undercover Boss,” an Emmy award-winning TV show in which a disguised exec takes a low-level job. It’s a way of learning what works and what doesn’t — and WHO works and WHO doesn’t.

One theme quickly emerges. Executives value attitude. They notice who wants to be into the job, not just on the job. In the episode I saw last night, one employee acted as if he were in prison. He criticized the merchandise, spoke carelessly in front of customers, and did little to help the company succeed. Nothing about him suggested he enjoyed the work.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be,” said American author Ralph Waldo Emerson.

You might be thinking, “But what if I really don’t like my job?” That’s OK. You won’t love everything in your life. Just remember that attitude is not a feeling. It’s an action. You can do the work whether you feel like it or not. That’s what true professionals do. Would you like it if your surgeon or your airplane pilot worked only as well as he or she felt?

Words are your attitude. Body language is your attitude. Performance is your attitude. I’m always struck by the difference in toll booth attendants. Some greet you with a smile. Others act as if the money you give them carries the smallpox virus. Yet they are all working in the same circumstances.

“When we no longer can change a situation,” said said Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, “we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Perhaps life has forced you in a job you don’t like. You’re changing careers, or you’re trying to pay the bills until something better comes along. No matter what your circumstances, you’ll have an attitude. A good one or a bad one. Make sure that if you wind up on “Undercover Boss,” viewers will see the person you want to be.

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Thank you for visiting Total Game Plan. If your team, group or business needs a motivational speaker, please email coachtully @ totalgameplan.com. Here are some other resources for your success:

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To get better at anything, check out “The Improvement Factor: How Winners Turn Practice into Success.”

Do you coach females? Are you a female athlete, or the parent of one? Here’s “Was It Something I Said? A Guide to Coaching Female Athletes” by Vanessa Sullivan and Mike Tully

Need some motivation? Everyone needs it now and then. Open any page of “Thank God You’re Lazy! The Instant Cure for What’s Holding You Back” by Dr. Rob Gilbert and Mike Tully.

Are you a teacher, boss or sports coach? Here’s “Ten Things Great Coaches Know” by Mike Tully and Gary Pritchard.

Want to have your best basketball season ever? Here’s “Basketball: What Great Players Know that You Don’t Know,” by Mike Tully and Gio Grassi.


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