When I was in college, I worked for six academic quarters in a cooperative education work program. The experience was valuable because my employers gave me meaningful work assignments in a broad range of technology areas. That translated into credible work experience and helped me secure a job a month before my graduation date. In one of the assignments, I was designated to support a corporate phone system. Keep in mind this was over twenty-five years ago when PBX equipment was large, all handsets required a wire, and VOIP wasn’t a thing.
What made the assignment memorable was the manager, Jeff. In our initial meeting, he took me to the basement of the building to show me the PBX and wiring patch panel. As we approached the room, I could already hear the click-click-clack-clack of the PBX. He opened the door and there in the center of the room was a huge piece of equipment far larger than any I had seen before for a computing device. Two of the four walls were full of blue and white thin wires running from one side to the other. The room had concrete walls with plywood for mounting the patch panel and other telecommunications devices. There was no place to sit and no flashy decor. It was raw and bare bones.
And then…..Jeff spoke.
He explained this was the system that managed every phone call in the building. This was the system we interfaced with to program phone extensions, call forwarding, hunt groups, voice mail, etc. His voice was elevated in excitement and the speed of his delivery quickened. He worked his way up to his finale which was to reveal the machine did all that with an 8086 processor inside. He was extremely proud to manage a device that didn’t require the more modern (at the time) 80486 and Pentium processors found in LAN servers of the day. “This is grrrreat”, Jeff was well known for saying.
Here’s the thing. Because I was blinded by technology specs, I missed the most important part of the experience. Jeff was passionate about his job. He brought positive energy to his work environment. He found joy in doing his job of making sure others in the company had reliable and functioning communication devices. He gave 100% of himself to 100% of his job duties. For as long as I worked with Jeff, he was a source of positive energy in the workplace.
I wish we had more Jeffs in the world. I wish I could be more like Jeff showing positive energy every day, finding strengths with the tools at-hand, and staying focused on my core mission. The longer I work, the more I appreciate people like Jeff. Positive energy is contagious in the workplace. It’s like a magnet. Be like Jeff…
Onward and upward.
Photo credit: Thumbs up… by Guido van Nispen via Creative Commons https://flic.kr/p/TjMmYj