Foul weather a wet blanket at shops

Good news here from Maine: It finally stopped raining. The skies changed to a funny blue color and completion of a new Ark is on hold (which I was relieved to hear because I hit a wall on where to place the hot tub!) In June, Maine received five times its annual average rainfall, with approximately 23 of the 30 days being cooler, overcast and wet — soaking wet — as a result!

It wasn’t ideal weather for jumping out at every stop ready to tote and promote. Keeping yourself and the promotional items dry from the truck to the shop and back was a task all its own.

You could say that the foul weather started to wear on everyone’s good “nature.” And just like the folks who always want to talk about the economy, there were those that ranted about the weather upon my arrival in the shop (my only solace — at least it wasn’t about the economy).

Sales are challenging enough without tackling forces beyond our control, but we have to forge ahead with what we’re dealt. There is no doubt most of us have a spring in our step when the weather is favorable, as opposed to a day that has 120-percent humidity and sweltering heat or where rain is coming down in sheets and the meteorologist says not to plan any barbeques for the weekend either.

Waking up refreshed and ready for the day can quickly turn sour listening to the dismal forecast on the morning news. We are creatures of comfort — little things like the weather, coupled with everything else weighing on our minds, are all it takes to change who our customers, friends and family will see that day. We’ve all witnessed it.

Years ago, when I worked for a construction equipment rental company, we had a portable screener that would need its screens changed depending on what material the customer wanted to produce. There are very few things in life that I truly dislike, but this is near the top of the list. I absolutely despised changing the screens — it down-right stunk. The job was done outside, rain or shine, took about three hours to complete and nothing ever went right. Some of the bolts would be rounded from abrasion, so out came the torch to cut them off. Rocks would jam the screen in place at times, so I would have to hammer them free. Bolt holes never seemed to line up, so I had to get out a portable power unit to assist with aligning the clamp-down plates — and then if I dropped a tool! It just sucked.

I changed those screens many times during my employment there with the same animosity. Finally, one day while taking a break to get some water and shade, I came to the realization that this task wasn’t the issue; it was me and my negative attitude towards it. Changing those screens would always have to be done, and I was always going to be the one doing it.

“It is what it is,” I thought to myself, “so suck it up and get it done!”

That day in the shade I had a chance to look around and realized I had things pretty good except for my perception of the task at hand. Perception — it was all in how I looked at it, and I saw it as an obstacle instead of a challenge. Each screen-changing session became quicker after that moment, to the point where I trimmed almost an hour off my normal time.

OK, so I wasn’t a fan of the steady rain in June either, but all things considered, it could have been worse. By the nature of our business, we interact with many different people and we all have folks on our routes that pull inward and focus solely on how bad their day, week, or life seems to be. The cons always outweigh any pros in their conversations. I like to play devil’s advocate and bring up the positives in their lives to provoke thought and reflection. Is it our job to be part psychiatrist/part coach? Maybe, maybe not; but you know that you have played the part.

Staying positive in everything you do will change everything you do, so look around, take stock of what you have and live life well!

Joe Poulin is a mobile tool distributor based in Gray, Maine, for Mac Tools. Send any comments or feedback you have for Joe by e-mail to brendan@pten.com

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