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Ride the Postmaster Coaster
By Joe Bodary
Michigan State Board Corresponding Secretary and Retired Postmaster of Lincoln Park, MI
I recently took my grandsons to an amusement park. The two youngest ones, 6 and 7, just hit the 48-inch mark to ride the big roller coasters. I watched them go on the rides; my days are over for those big coasters.
When they got off, I asked, “How was it?” They responded, “Well, first it was going okay, then it started to climb slowly uphill. That was okay, too, because it was slow. Then it went over the top and I was screaming because it came down so fast I could hardly breathe!
“Then it went over a few smaller hills before I could catch my breath. Then it smoothed out and it was good, but then it started climbing again. I was so nervous because I knew what was going to happen, but I was ready this time and it was fun coming down. It was a great ride! I’m getting back in line to go again.”
This sounded like a summary of my postal career! First it was going okay as I climbed the corporate ladder and became a supervisor. Then, much to my surprise, many times, things would be going great, but, suddenly, I was hit with something I didn’t know anything about, yet was held accountable. I learned to accept my mistake and take responsibility for it. Then, I was prepared for the next bump in my career, such as climbing up to postmaster.
We all have those days, weeks or even months when we only seem to be going down—so many reports, adding new reports all the time, time crunches, customer issues, employee issues and missing one thing to handle another while trying to balance on that coaster. You must remember to take a breath, relax and be prepared for the next loop you are approaching.
I often wrote down on a piece of paper everything I had to do, then crossed each item off as I did it. I carried the leftovers to the next day, added the new stuff and continued. I seemed to catch my breath doing this and became more productive.
But then you hit that corkscrew turn, such as the OIG walking into your office, requesting your key log, but you don’t have it current as it seemed less important than everything else. Accept responsibility, correct the issue, add it to your list and keep going.
Each hill seems to get smaller as you develop into a professional, organized leader. When those big hills suddenly pop up, you are prepared. You take a deep breath and glide over.
Your employees look up to you for direction. When they see you get up and go back in line for the next coaster, they trust your leadership and feel safe following your lead. December is one of the tallest hills coming directly after election season—it’s a double hit. Yet you handle both with ease as you ride the coaster of postmaster.
Enjoy your holiday season; ride on!