The FISH! Philosophy

As promised on my last blog I wanted to share with you all the FISH! Philosophy.

When we work in the now, stop complaining and start noticing the good in our lives, recognise the importance of giving gratitude and have fun at work, then we create a working environment that makes us happy… and we all know happy employees deliver the best results. This is the foundation of FISH, with its 4 central principles of; choosing one’s attitude, playing at work, making someone’s day, and being present.

The FISH! Philosophy is inspired by a group of fishmongers from Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market ( This team is a shining example of how you can create a culture and workplace that encourages people to flourish and increase productivity. Being a fishmonger is obviously hard work, however, despite the cold and harsh conditions, they have found a way to harness a positive attitude and have fun at work.

Let’s take a closer look at each individual principle and I would like to invite you to consider 2 questions

1. When was the last time you consciously applied 1 or more of the 4 principles?

2. Could these simple principles be utilised in your place of work?

Play ~ Work made fun gets done! Play is not about games or toys; it is about your state of mind. Be creative in your problem solving. Encourage people to dare to dream. How can everyday tasks be made fun and challenging? Play energises you and the people around you. What does this mean in terms of productivity for your team? Any job can be boring if you make it boring. 

Make Their Day ~ Often when discussing the ‘make their day principle’, people complain about being too busy to stop and think about someone else. When thinking about this principle, remember to keep it simple. You might just start with smiling at someone you don’t know very well. Turn an everyday encounter into a pleasant experience for someone. Your kindness, patience and thoughtfulness will be returned. You might even enjoy making someone’s day! Think about a leader who has inspired you. For sure, they made someone’s day everyday! Look at grumpy people as a challenge. What will bring a smile to their face?

Be Present ~ Many of us need to practice this. With so many demands on our time, we often put ‘being present’ way down on the list of priorities. When was the last time you were completely in someone else’s moment? This principle means you are focused, listening and even empathising with someone. Not typing or making coffee at the same time. Do you have the ability to understand the private world of another person as if it were your own? Are you just going through the motions or are you present at work?

Choose Your Attitude ~ If you look for negativity you will be sure to find it. Empower yourself to respond to challenges and problems in a constructive and positive way. Celebrate success and sit back; you will see the energy this can bring to a workplace. There are dozens of small things you can celebrate everyday. Where do you invest your energy? Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?

Yes, it sounds good in theory, but the real question is whether or not FISH! can actually work in a bustling company filled with a wide variety of personality types and working styles. The short answer to this, I would argue, is “yes”. That said, a more elaborate answer would also include “but not all the time”.

In any workplace, the attitude of the employees is dictated by their manager or director, so their behaviors are often – for better or worse – a direct reflection of how they’re being treated within the company. If you see staff wearing smiles that look like they were painted on you’ll still be able to see the frustration and upset in their eyes. Sadly, trying to implement FISH! in these companies where the people managers only pay lip service to its motivational principles will be an exercise doomed to failure. Where FISH! does work remarkably well is within companies that are open to new ideas and new ways of managing people. 

The harsh reality for managers everywhere is that you can either motivate people through consideration, compassion and mutual respect or you can drive them forward with fear, hatred and anger. It’s a choice that you make every single day and that’s what FISH! is all about – making a choice to be a better ‘people’ manager, to be a better customer service agent, choosing to smile instead of frown, and choosing to genuinely empathise with your customer’s / people’s problems.

Gandhi was once quoted as saying “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do”. Or, in short, be the change you want to see in the world – don’t just wait for that change to happen of its own accord… Maybe FISH! can help you achieve that goal.

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