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Apr 01 2015
ICEL Recap: John Bytheway
Erik Wright, CBF, Spectrum Engineers, Inc.
It was hard to find a seat at this year's ICEL Executive Appreciation Luncheon which was entitled "Oh, That's Bad - No, That's Good!" Why? It meant that it was attended in record numbers! Extra tables were set up and the adjoining conference room was opened to accommodate our ICEL membership and their esteemed guests. Which was good, right? No, this too was bad because as I searched out my friends' tables for empty seats I was rejected by that irksome napkin draped over the seat back indicating it was reserved for their honored guest so I had to sit alone - but no, that was also good! I wasn't alone for long. Two individuals that I respect and admire greatly joined me at my table, and I had the privilege to be able to get to know one of our newest members - opportunities that I would have otherwise missed out! Like that timeless comedy sketch between the barber and his customer in the country-music variety show "Hee-Haw" John Bytheway reminded us that depending upon our perspective we can see the good in what otherwise would seem to be bad. During our trials or difficult times, we often fail to see the big picture and focus on the negative aspects of what lies immediately before us. However, each of us can look back at our lives and see that the difficult times often brought wonderful opportunities or blessings, provided we give it a little 'time and perspective.'

At the time, Bytheway would never have thought that there could ever be anything good out of hearing the words uttered over the phone "There's four fire trucks in front of your house, you better come home now!" Then, seeing the smoke billowing upward as he approached his neighborhood, any chance of reprieve from his worst thoughts were abolished! His kitchen was completely destroyed and his entire house was damaged by smoke. Bad, right? No, that's good! With time and perspective, Bytheway recounted that never in his life had he witnessed such acts of kindness and service of the like that he had received from friends and neighbors after this event. From this he recognized what mattered most to him - his family of eight and pets were safe and his love for his friends and neighbors grew immensely. And on a lighter side, the insurance paid for a new kitchen, new carpet, new floors, and new sheet rock and paint! A tragedy, no - an inconvenience, perhaps.

While having an optimistic perspective is important, being aware of your strengths and weakness while enduring your trials are equally important. John Bytheway says that "we can't change the trail we have in life, but we can make the hike easier if we change what's in our pack!" We can't change how steep and arduous the trail we are on might be, but if we had the wisdom to know what we should carry along with us in our packs we can make the trek much more enjoyable. Packing unnecessary burdens of self-doubt, helplessness, anger, or whatever excess baggage you are carrying will make your journey tough. The key is to continue to trudge along and doing so lightly. No matter what life is like now, things can really change if you keep going up the trail. Relating the story of donating a kidney to his older brother he was able to resonate the mantra "you'll be happier in life if you can focus on what you can give instead of what you can get."

Tying these important traits together, he thoughtfully correlated this back to business. He claimed that "business situations almost always come down to 'people' situations." We learn that often times high IQ's and GPA's don't translate into exemplary job performance. It takes something more than just book smarts or cognitive capacity to do your job well. The answer lies somewhere in what has been called 'Emotional Intelligence' or EQ. This can be generally defined as one's ability to recognize and understand their own emotions and to manage them in a way to effectively respond to the needs of others. Similarly, in the way Hawkeye in MASH was more successful in his leadership skills than others with perhaps higher IQ's. Thus, being optimistic, self-aware, and showing empathy we can all find the good when all seems to indicate things are bad.

We were fortunate to have John Bytheway present to us last month. We will look forward to hearing from him again!