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“Make me a bicycle, clown!”

How do you feel when you’re asked to lead or participate in a “special project?” Do you take it as an “Attaboy! meaning you’ve been selected because of your previous success on smaller or similar projects? Perhaps you’ve been recognized as someone who goes the extra mile and deserves the opportunity? Or, do you take it as an “Aw shucks!” meaning you already have a “day job” so why in the world would you want more work to do? Maybe the higher-ups think you don’t already have enough work to do so they’re piling on? Maybe they just couldn’t find anyone else to do it?

In the end, it may be that the project is within an area of the business that you manage, or because your job will be directly impacted by the project’s scope. Ultimately, the attitude you take into the project will make all the difference.

Consider this comical exchange from the 2005 movie, “Wedding Crashers,” involving a bratty kid and Vince Vaughn’s character, Jeremy Grey. The following takes place after Jeremy has created a number of more simplistic balloon animals for kids attending a wedding, much to their delight:

  • Bratty Kid: I want a bicycle.
  • Jeremy Grey: A bicycle? Well, a bicycle will take a lot of balloons and honestly, Uncle Jeremy is a little tired right now so why don’t we do something like, uh, let’s say a giraffe?
  • Bratty Kid: I just want a bicycle!
  • Jeremy Grey: Why… why are you yelling at me?
  • Bratty Kid: Whatever. Make me a bicycle, clown!

Stunned by the Bratty Kid’s insistence, Jeremy pauses before putting on a smile and creating the balloon bicycle for the kid, who offers a grin in return (albeit no “Thank you!”). Now, I’m not suggesting that your business leaders are the Bratty Kid, per se, but they very well might be the wedding guests watching the situation play out. Despite the Bratty Kid’s special request (and the fact that he told rather than asked), Jeremy set forth to prove himself capable.

Jeremy had already successfully completed many smaller projects and was now ready for a bigger challenge, and while his “day job” wasn’t technically that of a clown, the requisite skills had been confidently demonstrated – and thus a new challenge was presented to him. He accepts it with the understanding that it will be noticed. In spite of his reluctance, Jeremy approached the request with honesty and ultimately chose to keep on working, rather than stymie the situation with a roadblock. In the end, Jeremy’s positive attitude made his customers happy and kept him in positive favor with the other wedding guests.

So the next time you’re told to “make a bicycle out of balloons,” I encourage you to take the “Attaboy!” approach and look at it as an opportunity. I’m willing to bet the end result will look a lot more like a bicycle than if you said, “Aw shucks!”

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