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Be Happy, or Be Gone!

When I was in high school at P.K. Yonge, I loved playing football. It was my game! In the fall, I lived, breathed and ate football! But, since my father had past, I spent my summers working whatever jobs I could fine to help make my way. Before my senior year, my mother remarried, and she let me stay in the Campen homestead on my own. That summer I worked at the W. T. Grant store and had a second job working construction of the new Post Office and Federal Building in Gainesville. After my construction job ended at 3:30, I would drive back home to Waldo, shower, put on slacks, and drive back to Gainesville where I would clock-in at 5 and work till closing. Because there was no money for this luxury of living alone from my mother, I needed those jobs to pay bills and have enough money to take my girlfriend to the movies. And when school started in the fall, I decided to give up my beloved football and keep working at W.T. Grant. Practices and games just didn’t mesh with my work schedule. The night of our school’s first football game, I was able to get off work and attended the game. It about ate me up watching my friends out there playing the game I loved! Sitting there in the stands, I knew I just had to give up the job and get back on the team. The next morning, I went to the store manager and gave him two week notice so I could play football my senior year. His immediate reply was, “Go ahead and clock out now.” Surprised, I replied, “I’m happy to give you two weeks’ notice. I don’t want to leave you in the lurch!” To that he said, “Never forget this young man. When someone wants to leave, they need to leave immediately! If you aren’t happy somewhere – you need to be gone!” And he was right. It’s doubtful that my job would have been very much on my mind because I really wanted to be elsewhere. My happy place was the football field, not W.T. Grant. In my 30 years of owning markets and malls, I’ve had hundreds of employees, thousands of vendors, along with thousands upon thousands of customers. “Be Happy or Be Gone” is the cornerstone in my business philosophy. I believe that if anyone is unhappy at our facility, they should not be there. Of course, we do our best to see if there is some reasonable way to make the person “be happy,” but if that doesn’t work, they should “be gone.” An unhappy employee is a cancer to the culture and productivity of a business. Their negative energy eats away at other employees and very likely makes them unhappy too. For certain, you are not doing an unhappy employee any favors by keeping them in your business. If they are unhappy working for you, give them the opportunity to find a place to work that they enjoy and find fulfilling! And you may not know this, but you can “fire” an unhappy customer. We do everything we can to make our customers happy, but every once in a while, a customer will come into one of my businesses that is just not happy and there is no way to make them happy. In particular, if a customer is disruptive or verbally abusive, we will escort them to the door and tell them not to return. It is not worth any amount of money to let the poison of a person like that be inside your business. Be Happy or Be Gone ensures a happy environment for our wonderful employees and customers who are glad to be there! To take this one step further, the same is true in our daily lives. When difficulty comes my way, I see if I can do something to transform unhappiness into happiness. If you recall in last week’s article, we talked about navigating the roadblocks in life by finding another path. If I can find a path from difficulty to happiness in a situation, I’m all about it. But, if there is no happy resolution to the problem, then I, and I alone, need to be responsible enough to make a change. The truth is, the only person who really controls my happiness is me. I am the one that can either change my thoughts to see something differently or remove myself from an unhappy situation. It’s the right thing to do and is beneficial to all concerned. Truly, we all can be happier by making the decision to either become happy with where we are or become happy by removing ourselves from an unhappy situation. It’s our choice. Be happy or be gone. By doing so, you can live a life of JOY.

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