Near the end of his life, my Dad endured many of the maladies of old age — and steadily progressing Multiple Sclerosis. He didn't talk much about it, except when someone said, "Hi, how are you?" which was pretty often, because that's how we say hello around here.
He had many stock answers for "Hi, how are you." One was, "Some days good, other days (pause) better!" He would deliver this line with perfect timing and an infectious smile, and when the laugh came, he'd join in.
Another favorite answer of his for "Hi how are you" was, "Well, that depends…how much time do you have?" Always with the infectious smile.
He never kept track of who'd heard which line before. But even if you'd heard a line dozens of times, his smile made it impossible not to laugh.
He had a name for his afflictions — the debilitating arthritis, the muscles that no longer worked, the phantom pains, and so on. He called them "bonuses." When I first heard him describe his arthritis as a "bonus," I got curious.
Me: Dad. Why do you call the arthritis a 'bonus?' What do you mean by 'bonus?'
Dad: Well, son, I'm glad you asked…
Me (not aloud, of course): Uh-oh.
Dad (continuing): A bonus is something you didn't ask for, something extra, something you can live without. (pause)
Dad: And this arthritis, I can definitely live without.
part of LifeBonuses are part of Life. How we deal with them makes the difference between a happy life and something else. Here are some thoughts about dealing with bonuses.
- Humor helps
- I don't think my Dad was "naturally" funny. He led a difficult life, filled with bonuses, and he learned somehow along the way that humor helped. He learned how to be funny.
- You can be funny, too. It's a skill, like jumping rope, or adding numbers, or burning toast. I'm really great at burning toast.
- Happiness is an often-overlooked choice
- Whenever you receive a bonus, you can think about it in different ways. The choice you make affects your happiness.
- Choosing a perspective that makes you even a little bit happy might be difficult — it might require a bit of creativity. Fortunately creativity comes with being Human.
- Your choices affect the people around you
- When you choose how to deal with a bonus, your choice affects the people around you, especially the people you love.
- Hiding your suffering doesn't work — the misery leaks out eventually. Wallowing in it doesn't work either. Choosing to be as happy as you can be is a good middle path.
Whenever I receive a bonus, I eventually remember that it's an opportunity to practice dealing with bonuses. Even though I still have a lot to learn, I'm getting better at it, because long ago I received a bonus in the more conventional sense — in the form of my Dad. Maybe you received a bonus too. Top Next Issue
Love the work but not the job? Bad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? This ebook looks at what we can do to get more out of life at work. It helps you get moving again! Read Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run, filled with tips and techniques for putting zing into your work life. Order Now!
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenfSOCCzjkwZTEHRqHner@ChaccVUTdbPxmdsoaHDXoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
About Point Lookout
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.
Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.
Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.
More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Make Space for Serendipity
- Serendipity in project management is rare, in part, because we're under too much pressure to see it.
If we can reduce the pressure, wonderful things happen.
- The Solving Lamp Is Lit
- We waste a lot of time finding solutions before we understand the problem. And sometimes, we start solving
before everyone is even aware of the problem. Here's how to prevent premature solution.
- Mitigating Outsourcing Risks: I
- Outsourcing internal processes modifies the usual risk configuration of those processes, but it also
creates a special class of risks that are peculiar to the outsourcing relationship. What are some of
those risks and what can we do about them?
- The Power and Hazards of Anecdotes: I
- Anecdotes are short stories — sometimes just a single sentence. They're powerful tools of persuasion,
but they can also be dangerous, to both anecdote tellers and anecdote listeners.
- Virtual Clutter: I
- With some Web searching, you can find abundant advice for decluttering your home or office. And people
are even thinking about decluttering email inboxes. But the problem of clutter is far more widespread.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming August 23: Look Where You Aren't Looking
- Being blindsided by an adverse event could indicate the event's sudden, unexpected development. It can also indicate a failure to anticipate what could have been reasonably anticipated. How can we improve our ability to prepare for adverse events? Available here and by RSS on August 23.
- And on August 30: They Just Don't Understand
- When we cannot resolve an issue in open debate, we sometimes try to explain the obstinacy of others. The explanations we favor can tell us more about ourselves than they do about others. Available here and by RSS on August 30.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenrWJkkeFFyrDqMZSMner@ChacLrYPnNwGbhuLefFaoCanyon.com or (617) 491-6289, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
Get the ebook!
Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, USD 28.99)
Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info
- The Race to the South Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers
- On 14 December 1911, four men led by Roald
Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen
had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished.
As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to organizational leaders, business
analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. Lessons abound. Read
more about this program. Here are some dates for this program:
- The Westin Virginia Beach Town Center, 4535 Commerce Street,
Virginia Beach, VA 23462: September 13,
Monthly Meeting, Hampton Roads Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.
- CTCPA, 716 Brook Street,
Rocky Hill, CT 06067: September 20,
Full-day Workshop, Southern New England Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.
- The Westin Virginia Beach Town Center, 4535 Commerce Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23462: September 13, Monthly Meeting, Hampton Roads Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.
- Creating High Performance Virtual Teams
- Many people experience virtual teams as awkward, slow, and sometimes
frustrating. Even when most team members hail from the same nation or culture, and even when they all
speak the same language, geographic dispersion or the presence of employees from multiple enterprises
is often enough to exclude all possibility of high performance. The problem is that we lead, manage,
and support virtual teams in ways that are too much like the way we lead, manage, and support co-located
teams. In this program, Rick Brenner shows you how to change your approach to leading, managing, and
supporting virtual teams to achieve high performance using Simons' Four Spans model of high performance.
Read more about this program. Here's a date for this
- Baci Grill, 134 Berlin
Road, Berlin, CT 06416: September 19,
Monthly Meeting, Southern New England Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.
- Baci Grill, 134 Berlin Road, Berlin, CT 06416: September 19, Monthly Meeting, Southern New England Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.
- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.