Optician Success 36
How Complaining Rewires Your Brain - The Nuclear Wallow Cost
If I have any regret in life, it would have to be how I have handled myself in certain less-than-ideal work environments. Most notably, the six years I spent in the Navy as nuclear propulsion operator. While I spent my 18th birthday in boot camp, my first two years in the Naval Nuclear Power Training pipeline were fine. They were difficult and miserable by-design. But I saw it as a challenge. While some of my classmates literally lost their minds from the stress (think going postal on a rooftop with a bb gun) and over half didn’t graduate, I took pride in being able to stick with it and make through. I was even selected for additional training that would later allow me to spend my working hours in an air conditioned lab analyzing water chemistry and radiological samples, while others spent their time sweating their asses off in a 100+ degree nuclear-powered engine room.
Luckily for me, I suppose, during those first couple years, I didn’t have much time to complain. But, once I got to the fleet, that changed. I often found myself in seemingly endless periods of “forced inactivity” (hurry up and wait) or pointless busywork. I struggled with politics of the nuclear Navy and arbitrary, often ridiculous rules. Turns out I’m not a good rule follower. File that under things that are good to know BEFORE you join the military.
In the nuclear Navy, there were generally two kinds of people: the “ “lifers” a.k.a. “dig its”, and those that were just doing their time. You can guess which camp I fell into. Predictably, there was much complaining and making fun of the “dig its.” “FTN” was our mantra (I’ll let you figure that one out, but you won’t need long.). Complaining seemed like a good way to pass time, a way to let off steam, a means of connecting with others wallowing in the same sea of suck. Looking back, the complaining and commiserating quickly led me to the self-fulfilling prophecy that I had no choice but to be miserable for the next four years. After all, there was no way I was going to be a “lifer.” I’m embarrassed by all this, as I write it now, but I literally viewed my remaining time as prison sentence, only looking forward to the day I would get out. I was probably the closest I’ve ever been to clinical depression, in my life. It turns out complaining can do that to you.
Again, it’s not as if I wasn’t actually surrounded by assholes and bullshit—welcome to the military—but just a small change in mindset could have made all the difference in the world. Who knows, I might have been a lifer (I doubt it). I occasionally think of what might have come from that experience had I focused on the good and what I had within my control. For starters, I’d probably be able to look back on that time as an interesting experience instead of what is now mostly a dark hole. After all, I was in the Navy, on the storied aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, with eight nuclear reactors (Nimitz class carriers only have two), that launched and recovered Tomcats and Hornets, at the end of the Cold War… I mean how cool is that!? There’s no doubt there were opportunities for me learn and grow that I failed to take advantage of. And there’s the small that matter of passing up a $32,000 bonus, promotion to E-6, and a shore assignment as an instructor, in exchange for just two more years—all because I couldn’t see past my complaining and [mostly] self-imposed misery.
One of the most important Rock Star Optician principles—in addition to “Stop Complaining”—is “There is no such thing as failure.” There’s something to be learned from every situation we find ourselves in and every decision we me make. I learned countless lessons from the time I spent in the Navy and the mistakes I made, some of which I didn’t fully realize until much later in life. Among them was wisdom the ancient Stoic philosophers Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius figured out centuries ago, that we should resist the urge to view the situations we end up in as either good or bad. When it comes down to it, once we’re in them, they just are and the only thing that matters how we choose to respond. The right attitude, the right mindset, the right response can make all the difference. Complaining is not the right response.
“Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”
-Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
Want To Give It A Try?
Power of Mindset
3 mindsets that will lead to success. These seem strangely familiar.
Doing It His Way
I like this guy. He doesn’t seem like much of rule follower either.
“At least half of my new customers are folks who have purchased eyewear online and are now ready to work with a real-life optician in a real-life shop, where they will receive warm, professional service and a unique, high-quality product.
Shopping is changing, and I am addressing that by continuing to do things the way I have always done them. I embrace new technologies, but I’m strongly grounded in the world of old-fashioned retail, and my customers recognize the lasting value of this.”
- Coyote DeGroot, Labrabbit Optics
OpticianWorks Video Lesson of the Week
This week Prism Concepts I: Prism STUFF - The Gong Show Edition… next week, Prism Concepts II, even more Prism STUFF.