“Since I returned from Vietnam, I have had bad minutes, but never a bad day.” -Ed Mechenbier
Ed Mechenbier’s life changed in 1967. He ejected himself from the F-4 he was piloting about 30 miles northeast of Hanoi. He spent the next 2,100 days as a P.O.W. (about six years). When you ask little children what they want to be when they grow up you will never hear them say, “Oh! That’s easy! I want to be a prisoner of war!” But that became Mechenbier’s life…and job. “You discover the resilience of the human body and the human spirit… Five minutes ago I was a knight in shining armor… Now I’ve got a bunch of people… they are all pointing guns and I am going where they tell me to,” explained the hero. “The war for me was not a personal thing… you’re still in combat. He’s still your enemy; you’re still his enemy. And you’re both trying to do your job.”
Are you dealing with adverse working conditions? Maybe it’s a shortage of employees, poor management, a lack of resources or capital, inadequate facilities or something all together different. Perhaps it’s a boss who is harsh or difficult. (Hopefully he/she doesn’t beat you incessantly like Mechenbier’s “bosses” did him in the Vietnam P.O.W. camp!) May I encourage you to focus on the other 95% of your workplace context? Like Mechenbier, you may be unable to change the adverse or undesirable components present in your workplace situation. If you can change them, do so! If not, simply make a decison now to concentrate, celebrate and dwell on the positive, strong and best elements of your daily call and the opportunities that go with it.
Years after his release, Mechenbier was speaking to cancer patients with brain tumors. They were dwelling on the torture part of being a P.O.W. “Time out!” he exhorted! “The torture, like your sickness, is a very small percent of your day-to-day problems. Your life goes on, our life went on.” It’s natural to gravitate to what’s wrong… at work and everywhere else.
Today’s workplace challenge is to gravitate to those things that are right at work! Cultivate a winning perspective. For goodness’ sake, there is no perfect job, of course. Eliminate what negative influences you can. Then move on. Highlight your successes at work. Enjoy your associates. Celebrate personal workplace (and company) victories. Be thankful for all the bright spots and focus on all that is good in your workplace context. Paul said, “Whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think on these things.” (Phil. 4:8) There you have it! Even if you’ve been blown out of the sky and you are free-falling, praise God for parachutes! Have a great day. Focus on all that’s good today as you crank up your day at work. Then go enjoy the rest of your week!