A Tool of “Thanksgiving” #9


Tongues of all shapes and sizes (Photo credit: robynejay)

Previously, using the illustration found in Luke 17 about the 10 Lepers, I wrote concerning the power of our verbalized faith in terms of our thankfulness in our own lives. Well this time, I’m going to speak on that subject again in this post, but I’m going to write on the power it has in the lives of those around us. To lay the basic foundation for this post, I’m going to refer to Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Just about any day of the week, a news blip can be found either on television or in the newspaper concerning gun control. As an aside, the only gun control I feel we, as Americans should seek is taught in Hunter Safety Courses. That being said, since gun control is such a hot topic in the media today, you might think that ‘tongue control’ might be as well since it supposedly has the power for life and also the power for death.

Let me tell you a story. A while back, I had two teams at the place I worked. One team of seven individuals exceptionally performed their duties with speed, quality, and enthusiasm completing their production goals set for them between eight and ten hours of a ten hour work shift. The other team of about 15 individuals never completed their goals (meaning their goals were lowered), their quality was sub-par, and even though their goals were 33% less than the other teams with twice the manpower, they took anywhere from 11-16 hours to complete 6 hours’ worth of work. I was one of the senior members on the first team and as I was talking with a good friend of mine, Sam O’Donnell, and he and I were scratching our heads trying to figure out what was wrong with team two. One of the problems was that they had no motivation to do better. They were paid to go slow, paid to work overtime, and paid to come in on typically scheduled off days to get caught up (thus more overtime). Another issue was that over half of the team spoke a primary language other than English, and not the same one at that (French, Spanish, and Somali). A third issues was that 2/3 of them were relatively ‘new,’ meaning they had been there less than six months. One day, their typical leadership had to go home early and I was asked to oversee team two for the remainder of the day. I took it as my personal challenge to figure out how to motivate this lacking and struggling team. I took over leadership about 0900, by 1100 they were at lunch and by 1500 they were cleaning up and preparing to go home 30 minutes prior to the shift being complete. This was the first time they had finished on time (let alone early) in about 10 months! Do you know how I did it? I didn’t bribe them with special favors. I didn’t buy them lunch. I didn’t yell or scream at them. I simply worked alongside them and gave out ‘atta-boys’ all afternoon long. What I mean is I jumped in the ditch with them and verbally patted them on the back all day long. They were shocked by their own abilities to finish early. It was a tremendous turning point for the entire crew. Since then, they still have had their long days, but I would say that on average, they have reduced their overtime by 40%, they get to see their families more, they go to lunch at a decent time now, and I’ve earned their respect all the while and now they are willing to do anything for me.

Death and life are in the tongue. Just like in the above true story, my appreciation, my encouragement, my upbeat demeanor, my words of affirmation motivated a surge in our workforce that nobody could figure out how else to rectify. Four other supervisors and managers had each worked days on end trying to make them more efficient to streamline their processes and all I did was simply pat them on the back with my words.

The tongue is a powerful force. James 3:2-12 calls it a fire as if it either sets something ablaze or warms the heart. Take the time to really appreciate and then verbalize it to someone today and realize the force you have. We each have that inner need to be appreciated and if we utilize those opportunities, we can effect change like nothing ever has.

I don’t know if I’ve said it here or not, but a motto that I have been trying to remember in my own life … we will always find what we are looking for. Let me say that again. We will always find what we are looking for. If we are looking for positive, we’ll find it. If we are looking for negative, we’ll find it just as well. Much like a desert the vulture seems to always find the sourest of decaying flesh and yet in the same desert, the bee finds nectar from a sweet blooming flower. For me, I have struggled with this as I tend to see the areas needing improvement. I see the flaws, the weaknesses in systems and other areas of life. So for me, I am really focusing on finding those blooms in the desert. Tell me, what do you habitually look for in life … the good or the bad?

Until later . . .

Jonathan Watson


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