Hump Day Replay: It’s not about the job; it’s about the passion brought to it

I was saddened today to hear that the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) is closing a number of offices across Canada, including their entire New Brunswick operations. My late father was a client of their foot-care services in 2010. Here’s a column I wrote about it afterwards.

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript

Many times, we make assumptions that the job someone has chosen in life was due to a decision made in desperation – or maybe someone had a gun to their head and forced them to do it.

I had an experience in the past week when I took my father to a seniors’ foot care clinic put on by the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON). These nurses have committed themselves to keeping the feet of older people healthy.

Now, I have to admit that the first thing that came to mind when we arrived was, “How can you do this all day?” I’m sure some of what they see is not pretty, but that is true of anyone in the health-care profession. Although I’m a fine specimen of a man, I’m sure they could even find a flaw somewhere on my body, too, if they looked hard enough after being initially blinded by the shine from my sizzling six pack of abs. OK, so maybe they’d have to shovel down a few feet to get to my abs and the glaring shine is actually coming from my pasty-white thighs. Everyone’s allowed a fantasy or two.

von-canadaThe nurse treating my father was great. The other nurse working with her didn’t have a client for the first part of our time there, so I got to talking to her. Come to find out she reads this column every week, which automatically gets her a free pass into heaven. (I have a deal with St. Peter, don’t ya know!)

At one point, I mentioned something along the vein that it must be difficult doing that type of work because some aspects of it may be unpleasant. Both nurses perked up right away. Heck no! They loved doing this and loved the challenge of taking care of a difficult situation and making people feel better. I guess you could think of them as foot renovators. They loved seeing their clients being able to walk better and be in less pain.

Well, I guess I was told! And rightfully so! I loved their answer. Although it may not be my cup of tea, you certainly want to think that the health-care provider who’s dealing with you is dedicated to making you better no matter what’s wrong with you.

I guess I could have asked the same question of a proctologist… or urologist. I mean, really, how fun can it be poking around patients’ sick “downstairs parts” all day? The answer isn’t about having fun. It’s about a commitment to – and passion for – making people feel better and getting them healthy again.

The world needs proctologists – ones passionate about getting you better. You hope you never need one, but if you do, you’re sure glad they’re around even though it may not be what it’s all cracked up to be in your world.

There’s a popular TV show on the Discovery Channel called Dirty Jobs. Every week, host Mike Rowe takes on a “dirty job” that – one assumes – not a lot of people want to do. I’ve watched the show a few times and am always amazed at how dedicated these people are in doing their so-called “dirty jobs.”

To name a few, Rowe has done the following tasks: determining the sex of porcupines (answer: “very carefully) in an animal sanctuary, animal control officer dealing with wildlife (including skunks), cricket farmer, high-rise window washer, spider venom extractor, diaper cleaner, animal renderer, bologna maker, leech trapper and maggot farmer. Now, you have to admit that some of those jobs don’t sound like too much fun, but there are people out in the world who are passionate about them. And thank goodness for that!

After all, it’s not about what you do in your career. It’s about the passion you have for what you do!

There’s another show on the Discovery Channel called Deadliest Catch. The show follows Alaskan king crab fishermen in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia. It’s cold. It’s stormy. And it’s dangerous. I’ve eaten Alaskan king crab on a few occasions and have never thought twice about the efforts made in fishing them. After watching a couple of episodes of Deadliest Catch, rest assured that I’ll savour every morsel of crab I put in my mouth from now on.

The danger and life-threatening situations those fishermen go through are horrendous. They’re paid well, apparently, but quite frankly there isn’t enough money in the world for me to do what they do, but the passion that the ships’ captains have for their jobs shines through. They want good product. They want efficient ships. They want to keep their men safe.

There are people passionate about working with dying people in palliative care. There are people passionate about being funeral directors. There are people passionate about being police officers, firefighters and paramedics. None of these are easy jobs. You find yourself dealing with danger, death, grief and illness every day.

I’ve seen coffee shop workers who serve their clients with passion whether they’re only there to make some extra cash or whether it’s their chosen career. I’ve also seen people in the same industry serve clients with a sullen, dead attitude that makes me want to run the other way. It’s not the job itself. It’s the passion in the people for the job.

Whether you want to take a crack at being a proctologist, deal with the prickly attitude of a porcupine by determining its sex, or wake the dead by whistling a tune while digging graves, remember that people are counting on you. And there’s no shame in that!

Hump Day: Depressing world news tempts one to focus on life’s simple pleasures

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always followed the news much in the same way a soaring hawk keeps its eyes on a rabbit sitting in a field. I had to know what was going on. A news junkie – that’s me!

In the ‘olden days’ before social media, though, even if you wanted to immerse yourself in the news of what was going on in the world, you still had to wait until the newscast started or until a new edition of the newspaper came out. There were no 24-hour news channels. There was no Facebook or Twitter. Heck, there wasn’t even an Internet.

For a newsaholic, it was the best thing for me at the time. I only came to realize that fact later in life when 24-hour news came into being. I guess it’s kind of like enjoying booze a bit too much and then buying a house next door to a liquor store that never closes. Access is a bit too easy.

It came to a crossroads for me with the news of the Paris terrorist attacks last Friday. Since the Christmas channels started up on satellite radio earlier this month, I’ve been pretty much only listening to that for the past few weeks, so my constant exposure to news has been diminished somewhat. Being online most of the day for work, I’m usually up to date, but I hadn’t yet heard about Paris until I got home on Friday and my son told me what was going on.

It had been a very busy week. The mountain of unfiled paper on my desk was growing daily. My scratch-pad pages of to-do lists were everywhere. My cat Casey is battling kidney disease and barely eating due to nausea. It was Friday. I was tired. I was stressed out. And then I heard about Paris.

You know what? To my utter surprise, I pretty much just ignored it. I’m not saying it was the right thing to do, but I really wasn’t open to more negativity and stress. I just wasn’t. And I’m not going to apologize for it, either. My cup runneth over with bad news. I’m full. Can’t do it anymore!

Of course, it was impossible to completely isolate myself from the negativity. There were the innocent victims to think about – and who can’t feel just awful for them, their families and friends? And for the country, too. Paris – the City of Light – plunged into fear and darkness. It’s scary. It’s sad. It’s enraging – and entirely depressing.

For the most part, I stayed away from the Paris news coverage. I couldn’t handle it. I went to a concert. I listened to Christmas music. I watched sitcoms and comedy specials. I needed to laugh. There’s only so much a person can take before they snap. Well, I snapped like a fine cracker being broken in half.

Mystical Mandala Coloring BookRecently, I started dabbling in the new adult colouring book phenomenon. I ordered one online, bought myself a 48-pack of coloured pencils (haven’t had those since elementary school!) and decided to try it out. It’s all the rage, apparently – especially among women, from what I can tell. But hey, I’m not sexist. I’ve been known to knit a scarf or two – or 20. Surely, I can do a bit of colouring without being ordered to tear up my man card.

It’s relaxing and hypnotic. It puts you in a bit of a trance. While I know the horrible things going on in the world won’t go away, I also know I have to take care of my psyche. And sometimes, you just have turn up the Christmas tunes, sharpen some coloured pencils and start colouring like your sanity depends on it.

I’m not ignoring the world; I’m just learning how to deal with it. Sometimes, you have to take a vacation from reality in order to better cope with it later.

Hump Day: Remember to be grateful to your network for your success

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

Last week – along with nearly 1,000 other people – I attended Junior Achievement’s New Brunswick Business Hall of Fame Gala. Three of New Brunswick’s pre-eminent business leaders were inducted that night: David Hawkins, Camille Thériault and Larry Nelson. They were certainly humble in receiving their awards and went out of their way to recognize those who helped them get where they are today, including their families and past and present colleagues.

It was the second such business gala I’d attended in recent weeks, the other being the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards which saw a number of local entrepreneurs recognized by the Chamber for their achievements. Again, the winners were all humble and grateful and thanked those who played important roles in their growth and success.

I must say that the winners at both galas were very happy. No one lobbied for these awards. They had to be nominated by others, but each and every one of them was happy. It seems like an odd thing to notice, but this isn’t always the case when people receive awards. Some people act like we’re bothering them when they win. ‘Well, excuse me! Is that Emmy too heavy?’

Now, I’m not saying that your head needs to explode while you’re on stage, but at least try to look like you care. If there’s one thing that drives me nuts is people who win a big award and get up to the microphone on stage and act like they could not care less. At least pretend for our sake that you appreciate it!

When I saw Whoopi Goldberg at Casino New Brunswick a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t help but remember her Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress in 1991. Had the show not been cut short when her bus caught fire outside, I wanted to try and ask her about it during the planned question-and-answer session. She didn’t even try to hide her joy at winning the Oscar. I’ve watched the YouTube clip of her win a few times, and it always puts me in a good mood.

award acceptanceCut to a certain actress who won an Emmy a few years ago (I can’t even remember her name) whose only two words upon receiving her award were, “Thank you!” and then she walked away. Many people said they loved her speech instead of having to listen to her drone on and on. I, for one, was not impressed. If you have fans out there and people who have supported you throughout the years, you owe it to them to at least thank them publicly and act a little pleased and grateful.

Like I said, your head doesn’t have to explode in fireworks on stage, but at least try to act like you care. If not, either don’t accept the nomination or stay home. (It always drives me crazy when an award winner is not present.)

We all have networks. When we achieve something special, we owe it to them to recognize their assistance and support. Without them, we could never do what we do – no matter how little or how great. If we reach a pinnacle, there’s nothing wrong with showing how happy and grateful we are. There are always many people who are very happy and grateful for our success! Let them be happy for us – and don’t be afraid to acknowledge them!

As one ages, people come in and out of our life. Hopefully, people evolve and mature along the way. I’ve certainly noticed that through attending a number of high school and university reunions. Most people get better with age.

If you’re in business, especially, people come and go from your professional life, too. Employees and co-workers become clients – or competitors. Clients become co-workers – or even bosses. It’s important not to burn your bridges. You never know when people are going to wander back into your life, so it’s best not to adopt a scorched-earth mentality when dealing with others. Again, this is something you only really grow to appreciate as you age.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thanked my lucky stars for having kept my big mouth shut. ‘Did you hear? So-and-so just got a new job and is now our biggest client!’ Am I ever glad I didn’t burn my bridges with them all those years ago!

Personal and professional networks are to be nurtured, appreciated and never taken for granted. When we win, our network wins because we couldn’t have done it without them. Now, smile for the camera and accept your award! Your network will be smiling right along with you!