Freedom Philosophy — CEO Blog

It’s all in how you look at it.

I should have been in Ireland today. Had it all planned out; flights, accommodations, itinerary, pocket full of euros. I was even packed days before departure. Nature, however, had other plans. Hurricane Irma developed and started on a collision course with Florida. My daughter, who is a TV Reporter for WPEC in West Palm Beach, got the news that her vacation was cancelled. It’s an all hands on deck situation. I could not leave her behind. There goes Ireland. I knew this was a possibility; I bought flight insurance, booked as many places as possible that I could cancel without penalty. All the preparations were made to go and not to go.

Yet all the provisions and planning, all the lengths to account for almost every possibility, none changed the emotional response as the maybes became definites and the inevitable began to unfold. Anxiety, uncertainty, led to disappointment and a little anger, but those feelings quickly passed and turned into concern and fear. While I was focused on a trip, an adventure, I forgot what was really at stake. There is a category 5 hurricane, a hurricane being called “potentially catastrophic”, heading straight toward my little girl and her job is to report on the impact of this historic storm; to be in it. Trip? What trip? There are bigger things at play and if a canceled trip is the worst thing that comes from this then I will consider myself blessed. That’s called perspective.

Knock on wood, cross your fingers, light a candle, we won’t have to deal with a similar situation or other form of hardship, but it makes you stop and think about the ones we do experience and how we react to them. We have a tendency to get worked up about lesser matters. We get anxious about change (almost any kind); we lose patience when systems are on the fritz or don’t respond fast enough; we get frustrated by a hectic day or offended by a misspoken word or email.  We forget to put things in perspective. This is not to say we should accept mediocrity or allow things to inhibit our ability to serve our members or each other. We should, instead, recognize that life will have its share of disappointments and inconveniences and that they can be viewed in a different light. Think about it. We’ve all found ourselves in unexpected situations. Things happen, perhaps outside our control, and that’s the time to ask yourself; is this a problem to be dealt with or an opportunity to be embraced? Something you’ve been wanting or waiting for with anticipation or excitement is easy. The stuff that tests what we’re made of comes from circumstances we didn’t foresee or thought might come about, but didn’t give much thought.  No matter what changes come, what opportunity or setback, no matter what preparation is done, success or failure ultimately comes down to the individual’s ability to take a breath, put things into context, focus on what’s important and change things for the better. This requires we embrace the possibilities, even if they are small in nature, short in duration, or come with an extra burden, because each one builds on the foundation that ultimately creates a person’s character or the culture of an organization.

I’m not foolish (no really), but I do believe in the power of positivity and if you focus on what matters, things will eventually work out as they should even if we can’t recognize it immediately. Life is a culmination of experiences; failures and successes, chances and misses. You persevere, keep negativity to a minimum, avoid excuses or placing blame and find solutions; you adapt and move on. I guess you could say I’m an optimist; which is not always easy.  I believe there is good in most people, positives in most situations and opportunities around every corner; we just have to look for them (sometimes really hard).  And yes, opportunities can seem few and far between, but the right ones will come if we have the desire, focus on the good and, whenever possible, strive to change the things that hold us back.  We are trying to build something better at Freedom.  A better place to work; a better place to bank. This takes time.  Not everyone will share the vision, not everyone will succeed, not every step will be easy, but good things can happen just from being the best we can be each day regardless of our assigned role. Support your team, be open to learning and sharing your knowledge, seek and find how to serve, listen and build relationships with members and each other, find solutions and, most importantly, remember that “people helping people” is not just a credit union philosophy; it’s a way of life.

Mike