By: Kathy Kent Toney, President of Kent Business Solutions
Yours truly after my first graveyard shift
Is staying resilient a challenge during these less-than-ideal circumstances? I know for me some days have been tough to put one foot in front of the other, staying true to my goals and accomplishing what’s on my plate.
As I was thinking about the word RESILIENT, something that happened last year came to mind. So, I thought it would be great to share some things I learned about resiliency through this experience…my stint as a chocolate covered almond factory worker.
Yes, you heard that right!
In case you are wondering, I didn’t actually do this for a full-time job, so let me explain…
About a year ago, I got a call from a consulting company I partner with. They asked me if I would lead a three-day, 24-hour project…a time cycle study at a factory that makes chocolate covered almonds. This project involved timing the cycles of the processing equipment for each phase of the manufacturing operation.
The catch was this...it was three days in row and three different shifts: first day, first shift; second day, second shift; and third day…you guessed it, third shift.
At first, I balked at the idea for the following reasons:
A. I’d never done a time cycle study before.
B. I had never worked a graveyard shift, let alone a swing shift, in my life.
C. Doing these three days in a row…that would be a stretch!
D. I wasn’t sure I’d have the stamina to do it, especially at my rather mature age.
But I accepted the task and jumped in headfirst. I was between projects, so I had the time and I was feeling adventurous!
In the end, it was a great experience, and I learned a ton, especially how to be resilient in less-than-ideal circumstances.
But before I get into the meat of what I learned, here’s a funny video I’ve actually shared before and got such great comments, here is again…Lucy and Ethel as chocolate candy factory workers.
What better video to share than this!
So, what did I learn? Here are five things:
1. Always Be Open to Learning Something New
I’ve got to tell you…I LOVE my sleep! The thought of having a compromised sleep schedule over a couple days did not sit well with me. I hadn’t been up all night for a very long time, so I really wondered how I’d handle it. But I knew that learning how to do time cycle studies would be a great new tool for my consultant toolkit. The discomfort of forgoing sleep would be well worth it, and it was.
Lessons learned: Don’t let your preconceptions box you in from learning something new. Just replace the “I cant’s” with “I can’s”, staying positive and determined.
2. Try to Make the Most of Any Situation
Although there were times I felt like a walking zombie, I tried to rise above the situation. I distracted myself through striking up conversations with some of the laborers when they weren’t busy as well as talking with my co-worker on the project.
I also tried to find things to do that kept me engaged and awake, even doing some statistical analysis work I would typically have done at home, which actually benefited the client with additional project cost savings.
Lessons learned: determination and positivity is a choice. Even in the mundane or hard times, there’s a silver lining, if you open to seeing that.
3. Forge Ahead in Situations That are Less Than Ideal
Being covered in chocolate dust (I know there can be worse things), hearing ear-deafening noise (even with ear protection), sleep deprivation and staying alert to accomplish the task at hand were all challenges for me. But I kept keeping on, knowing the situation was temporary. I just kept in my mind’s eye that when the project was over, I’d be able to catch up on my sleep.
Lessons learned: Even when circumstances are challenging, make a decision to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
4. Even the Best Things, If Done too Much, Can Get Old
Here’s something you’ve probably never heard before…The wonderful smell of chocolate can actually lose its appeal. It’s true! After being in the chocolate processing room for just a short period of time, I smelled like a walking chocolate bar.
Case in point…I actually went to a networking event right after the first day on the job site. To get a few laughs, I asked some of my friends that were at the event to smell my hair. They looked at me funny, but they did so. The look on their faces after one sniff was priceless!
But, like all things in life, too much of a good thing can get old. Smelling chocolate, smelling like chocolate, and being around chocolate was enough for me. When I got home, I changed out of my clothes as quickly as possible to get the smell away from me.
Lesson learned: Too much of a good thing can sometimes be too much! “All things in moderation” is great advice.
5. Challenging Situations Can be our Best Teachers
During the middle of tough times, we may want to escape reality. But wishing you were somewhere else never works. Sometimes I have to talk myself out of demanding what I want when I’m in the middle of challenging situations. Wishing your life away often distracts us from being fully present and engaged in the moment.
One great outcome of this project is that I discovered I’m much tougher than I ever believed. And whenever we have opportunities to learn how resilient we are, that’s a great thing!
Lessons learned: Making a choice to embrace difficulties as great opportunities to grow and overcome can help prevent the desire to escape.
In closing, I just wanted to mention something. The challenges I overcame in this role obviously doesn’t compare to the ongoing challenges of the fallout of a pandemic. I’ve certainly learned a lot about resiliency as well during our post-COVID fallout. But I think some of the things I’ve learned as a chocolate almond factory worker might be of value to some of you, since we are smack-dab of challenging times.
That’ll do it for what I learned. Here are a couple of questions for you:
If you or your your business are experiencing some challenges, I’d love to be a resource for you…be it connections to individuals or organizations, etc. In whatever capacity, I’m here to help!
If that’s you, I’d love to have a chat! Just click here to schedule a virtual coffee.