Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 5, Issue 32;   August 10, 2005: Bonuses

Bonuses

by

How we deal with adversity can make the difference between happiness and something else. And how we deal with adversity depends on how we see it.
Wheelchair basketball

Retired Senior Airman Ryan Gallo makes a pass during the Air Force wheelchair basketball game against the Navy at the 2014 Warrior Games Sept. 29, 2014, at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Air Force team lost 38-19 and would go on to play Special Operations in the next round. Photo courtesy U.S Air Force by Staff Sgt. Devon Suits.

Near the end of his life, my Dad endured many of the maladies of old age — and steadily progressing Multiple Sclerosis. He didn't talk much about it, except when someone said, "Hi, how are you?" which was pretty often, because that's how we say hello around here.

He had many stock answers for "Hi, how are you." One was, "Some days good, other days (pause) better!" He would deliver this line with perfect timing and an infectious smile, and when the laugh came, he'd join in.

Another favorite answer of his for "Hi how are you" was, "Well, that depends…how much time do you have?" Always with the infectious smile.

He never kept track of who'd heard which line before. But even if you'd heard a line dozens of times, his smile made it impossible not to laugh.

He had a name for his afflictions — the debilitating arthritis, the muscles that no longer worked, the phantom pains, and so on. He called them "bonuses." When I first heard him describe his arthritis as a "bonus," I got curious.

Me: Dad. Why do you call the arthritis a 'bonus?' What do you mean by 'bonus?'

Dad: Well, son, I'm glad you asked…

Me (not aloud, of course): Uh-oh.

Dad (continuing): A bonus is something you didn't ask for, something extra, something you can live without. (pause)

Me: Yeah…

Dad: And this arthritis, I can definitely live without.

Ba-dum-bum.

Bonuses are
part of Life
Bonuses are part of Life. How we deal with them makes the difference between a happy life and something else. Here are some thoughts about dealing with bonuses.

Humor helps
I don't think my Dad was "naturally" funny. He led a difficult life, filled with bonuses, and he learned somehow along the way that humor helped. He learned how to be funny.
You can be funny, too. It's a skill, like jumping rope, or adding numbers, or burning toast. I'm really great at burning toast.
Happiness is an often-overlooked choice
Whenever you receive a bonus, you can think about it in different ways. The choice you make affects your happiness.
Choosing a perspective that makes you even a little bit happy might be difficult — it might require a bit of creativity. Fortunately creativity comes with being Human.
Your choices affect the people around you
When you choose how to deal with a bonus, your choice affects the people around you, especially the people you love.
Hiding your suffering doesn't work — the misery leaks out eventually. Wallowing in it doesn't work either. Choosing to be as happy as you can be is a good middle path.

Whenever I receive a bonus, I eventually remember that it's an opportunity to practice dealing with bonuses. Even though I still have a lot to learn, I'm getting better at it, because long ago I received a bonus in the more conventional sense — in the form of my Dad. Maybe you received a bonus too. Go to top Top  Next issue: Controlling Condescension  Next Issue

Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunLove the work but not the job? Bad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? This ebook looks at what we can do to get more out of life at work. It helps you get moving again! Read Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run, filled with tips and techniques for putting zing into your work life. Order Now!

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenPxEivNzkpIgTBDhgner@ChacCyDGTiIJXaRJzXxfoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:

PadlocksDiagonal Collaborations: Dazzling or Dangerous?
Collaborations can be very productive. There are some traps though, especially when the collaborators are of different rank, with the partner of lower rank reporting to a peer of the other. Here are some tips for preventing conflict in diagonal collaborations.
The Town of Wescott, Wisconsin is recognized as Tree City 2005Workplace Myths: Motivating People
Up and down the org chart, you can find bits of business wisdom about motivating people. We generally believe these theories without question. How many of them are true? How many are myths? What are some of these myths and why do they persist?
The giant sequoiaThe Good, the Bad, and the Complicated
In fiction and movies, the world is often simple. There's a protagonist, a goal, and a series of obstacles. The protagonists and goals are good, and the obstacles are bad. Real life is more complicated.
A single-strand knotTangled Thread Troubles
Even when we use a facilitator to manage a discussion, managing a queue for contributors can sometimes lead to problems. Here's a little catalog of those difficulties.
Sherlock Holmes and Doctor WatsonHow to Make Good Guesses: Tactics
Making good guesses probably does take talent to be among the first rank of those who make guesses. But being in the second rank is pretty good, too, and we can learn how to do that. Here are some tactics for guessing.

See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness and Problem Solving and Creativity for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) speaks at a recent Senate hearingComing October 17: Overt Belligerence in Meetings
Some meetings lose their way in vain attempts to mollify a belligerent participant who simply will not be mollified. Here's one scenario that fits this pattern. Available here and by RSS on October 17.
A man, standing, explaining something to a woman, seatedAnd on October 24: Conversation Irritants: I
Conversations at work can be frustrating even when everyone tries to be polite, clear, and unambiguous. But some people actually try to be nasty, unclear, and ambiguous. Here's Part I of a small collection of their techniques. Available here and by RSS on October 24.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenJYSAfJMkAUAETitBner@ChacHEwMLPAAEQsCYogVoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Follow me at Google+ or share a post Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!
Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunBad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? Learn what we can do when we love the work but not the job.
101 Tips for Managing ConflictFed up with tense, explosive meetings? Are you the target of a bully? Learn how to make peace with conflict.
101 Tips for Managing ChangeAre you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt?
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.