Step aside Socrates and Plato, back away back Nietzsche and Kierkegaard; there’s a new (and way cooler) philosopher on the radar! And just like those wise old men with long, scraggly beards sitting crossed legged in mouths of caves contemplating life, this wise sage also dispelled his wisdom from high atop a snowy mountain; and his many followers affectionately knew him simply as “Griz”… **
Flashback: I met Griz way back in the late 90’s while working at busy ski resort; he was a very chill guy whose job it was to oversee all of staff (“lifties”) who ran the chairlifts throughout the ski season. Every year Griz would hire a fresh crew of about 60 staff – mostly youth – who’d flock up the hill to ride their snowboards, party, get drunk, party, hopefully get laid, party, and maybe even do a little work – usually in that order. Most arrived as mostly horny thrill seekers with dreams of becoming local legends, and let’s just say that most of these kids were not the most disciplined employees in the world. Put it this way: Come November, Griz always had a Motley Crew on his hands, but not to worry – he was just the man for the job.
I say this because Griz was the most laid back guy in the world, and didn’t let trivial things like slovenly, drunken youth bother him, instead taking everything that came down the pipe calmly in stride. In all the years I knew him I don’t think I ever saw him get angry, because he had a quiet discipline which affirmed that “freaking out” about most scenarios really didn’t accomplish anything, so why bother? As a boss, he was always quietly positive and upbeat, overseeing his crew with a firmness and discipline they related to and respected. This was largely in part to the calming “Jeff Spicoli” way he got his message across, if you know what I mean. (If not, Google it) Throughout the season Griz tended to those kids like a shepherd would a prized flock, being careful not to let them wander too far from their chosen paths; and within a few weeks every year his crew always ran like a well-oiled machine.
“Every Day’s a School Day”
I don’t know if Griz’s laid back attitude was due to the lack of oxygen at 9,000 feet or because he always ran on “Mountain Time”, but somehow whenever the rest of us were stressed out and running around like chickens with our heads cut off, Griz was always as cool as a cucumber, not at all frazzled like those of us around him. I distinctly remember this one time, after a particularly long and gruelling day serving demanding tourists, I noticed him and his gang in a corner of my pub having a great old time, so I poured a couple of jugs of beer, grabbed an extra glass and plunked myself down next to my friend to bitch and moan about my crappy day.
Griz patiently listened to my moaning and complaining, but was neither overly emotional nor fazed by what I had to say; seems he’d also had his share of frustrations that day, courtesy of a couple of his guys showing up that morning still drunk from the night before. But here’s the thing; rather than getting all riled up about how they let him down, etc, he remained cool, calm and collect. I asked why these situations didn’t rattle him in the same way they did everyone else, and I’ll never forget his response: Before answering he paused, flashed a huge “Cheshire cat” grin and said “Every day’s a school day” before triumphantly raising his glass to mine for a toast. With a little prodding on my behalf (and filling up his glass so he had no choice) I got him to expand on his thought.
Griz explained that whenever he finds himself in a frustrating situation he has a choice; either freak out and accomplish nothing, or keep his cool, deal with the problem at hand, and then – most important of all- walk away with the lesson to avoid same frustration in the future. He always crowned these moments off by repeating the mantra “Every day’s a school day” which somehow allowed him to move forward from the situation calmer and wiser… brilliant, eh? He went on to say, for example, like that very morning if he found himself in knee-deep fresh powder working at a lift because something didn’t go as planned, he wouldn’t complain about the bitter cold or how his day was ruined; instead he’d remind himself “Every day’s a school day” and do whatever he had to so as not to repeat the scenario again. In fact in one incident when the handle broke on his case of beer causing smashed bottles and valuable contents to splatter all over the floor, Griz famously said – you guessed it – “Every day’s a school day” (although he sort of cursed this time around) pledging next time around to grip the case better! How ever, legend has it that it was punctuated with profanity and the famous smile was lacking this time around…
Griz applies this philosophy to good discoveries as well; like when his staff would surprise him by demonstrating an outstanding ability at their job, or display a unique and hidden talent – like the liftie who played the flute for his customers – Griz would grin in happy wonder, reminding himself that “Every day’s a school day” whilst relishing in his new discovery. As I sat at the table quaffing beer, Griz was teaching me that me that this brilliant philosophy applies to just about everything in life, and showed me that having a positive attitude means that we can take away good from any situation, even if it doesn’t always seem so at the time.
I learned a valuable lesson that day; Griz framed a powerful idea that by remaining calm, and taking it all in stride, anyone can experience success, regardless of the situation. Instead of going ballistic and freaking out when things don’t go our way, he showed me that it’s far more productive to take a deep breath, and remember the wise words from a mountaintop sage and things will always work out better and more positively.
Since then I’ve learned that reminding myself “Every day’s a school day” will not just take the sting out of a bad situation, it will probably prevent it from occurring again in the future. That’s not to say I still don’t get frustrated or anxious with certain situations, it’s jus now, thanks to Griz, I have a little lifeline to pull me back to sanity whenever I get overwhelmed. So I guess what I really want to say is “Thanks for the wisdom Griz! The next beers are on me!” and hope that I get the opportunity to honor that offer once again.
**Name changed to protect the innocent slaughter of/spillage of beer…
What are some of the methods of learning or cool philosophies have guided you in your life that you’d recommend to our tribe of “Hard Core Over-Achievers”? Let us know; we’d love to hear your stories!