When you have read the title, all of you thought that famous phrase, right? Wtf… is he talking about? Please read a little more and judge me again, I am hoping that this little true story will lighten your day!
I am a nerd, always have been and always will be. When I was a little boy, I preferred to stay at home and watch documentaries or read books when my friends did the otherwise and played outside. I had little interest for sports where I almost suck in every single one of them (except for swimming and cycling). The team sports are something I can never do, due to the fact that I am way down on the line of ADD and cannot concentrate a thing if I have the first hints of pressure, criticism or places with full of unfamiliar faces. Over the years, I have adapted to the environment and have my defenses so that I will not suck at any organization that requires team work, but this being a team player is an effort for me that requires huge effort.
Being a nerd comes with advantages and disadvantages. I will not go through here since our topic is not about me or being a nerd but about changing the fate of a company. As I have told you above, I read out a lot. My interests lie with the Roman history, epic sagas from different cultures, Nordic mythology, science-fiction or fantastic dramas. I also love to read horror books that are focusing to supernatural. This last one led me to Stephen King, and I continuously read his books, watch any adaptations either in the form of movies or series. I do not put out any book in the front but IT and Salem`s Lot are in my top 10 books of all times. 😊
A little while ago, I was attending to a very important meeting in my company. I was asked to make a presentation but I was also challenged that this one presentation should not be boring and should catch the attendees so that the direly needed support could be given.
For days, I have prepared different slides focusing on what was needed, how the performance could be improved, what was missing… I was doing rehearsals and finding every one of them boring, so I deleted each and started doing all from the scratch.
At the day of the presentations, I was with nothing and pretty much stressed out. I was asked to be the last of the day and that was another big stress maker for me since everyone in the room would be bored and tired. I had to come up with something big but what could have made a difference?
As an automatic thing to do, I wore my earplugs, pumped up the volume and opened my e-book to randomly select a book to read for 20 mins so that I can carry away myself from the present situation to think more clearly. To my utmost luck, I had the Salem`s Lot in front of me and I started to read the book.
Those of you whom have read it, will remember the epic confrontation of Barlow and Father Callahan. Where the Father tries to save the life of the boy (Mark) and Barlow releases the boy to have the Father in one on one terms. At that remarkable scene, Barlow takes the cross from the hand of Father Callahan, breaks the arms and throw it away. Then, he speaks out the fantastic quote;
“You have forgotten the doctrine of your own church, is it not so? The cross… the bread and wine… the confessional… only symbols. Without faith, the cross is only wood, the bread baked wheat, the wine sour grapes.”
The moment I have read the speech of Barlow the vampire, a light flashed in my brain. I had my presentation; my message and I was ready.
I got into the room, sat there and patiently waited for all others to finish and did not move till my time was up. When all eyes were looking at me, waiting for me to project a miracle, I said I will only talk. This was not a light bringer answer off course, and everyone became a little more sceptic.
I started my words about how H&S is important and continued with;
“Since it is the last presentation, I will be brief and make it interactive. I wished to project you fancy slides with animations and graphics that are prepared to focus you on the subjects that I find to be the most important, but I chose to take risk and do an interactive small talk. So, I would like to begin with one thing about me, I read a lot. I read books about fiction, fantastic realms, supernatural and I am sure, most of you will see it as a waste of time. But, to me they are not. Today, I would like to start with a small dialog from a book of Stephen King, Salem`s Lot. It is about a town in Maine which apparently be invested by a coven of vampires.”
At that moment, my boss was at the point of striking me down. Everything was going bad for me, but I had already started it and there was no turning back.
I described the audience my favorite scene and quoted the words of Barlow the vampire. And asked them what he meant with them. There was a silence, but people now were looking interested, so I continued.
“The cross, the bread and the wine are symbols of a Holly belief. We can think about them also as our systems that are built to sustain us. Like Father Callahan, we have great systems that are built and carried us along the way, but somehow on the way, we had lost the faith in them. The vampires in this story, are the things that are waiting to be happening. Accidents, Amputations, Fatalities… They are immortal, they are there to wait patiently and always look for ways to happen. Whenever we are losing our belief, our faith in our systems, the systems become a liability where no one is valuing. They become ineffective and we are being threatened every day. The solution is not to search for new methods but to remember our systems, maintain them, improve them, polish their dust and make everyone in the organization to value them so that they are strong and with them, we are strong!”
With the last word I was sure that I had every single person`s attention in the room. I thanked them for listening to my speech that was for about 8 mins. As I walked down the stage, people were standing up to reach out to me and either giving me taps, shaking my hand or congratulating me. I had my eyes turned to my boss to see a smiley face which was proving me that I had it.
You would also ask for what happened after that day? Well it is now well over 2 years and during this period, we have improved our systems, received support from almost every employee and improved our performance by 50% each year.
With the help of the words of the vampire Barlow in Salem`s Lot, I helped an organization to improve its performance and regain the trust and support of its employees for H&S.