A Reader’s Advice: How to Think in New Ways for the New Year Ahead

    GaryZandstraHere’s a basic yet important piece of business advice: Just smile.

    When someone gets your goat…or you’re feeling frustrated…or you need a break. Give yourself or the situation at hand a big grin. Then, walk away. Having a few minutes to process can make all the difference, according to reader Gary Zandstra.

    As he submitted to the Break Room, Zandstra has worked in church production and as an AV systems integrator for more than 35 years. He currently works in Business Development for Dan Vos Construction Co. Inc. in Ada, Mich.

    “I’m not really a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, primarily because when I make them they tend to last about one-to-two weeks. However I do like to take the opportunity at this time of year to re-evaluate, re-focus and re-energize what I’m doing in anticipation of the coming New Year,” Zandstra said.

    “As I do this and reflect upon over a quarter of a century of experience of doing live production in some fashion or another, I find a desire to return to the absolute basics.”

    To that end, here’s Zandstra’s thoughts on the New Year and beyond.

    1. Just smile: No matter how frustrating, how intense or how upset I am at the time, just smile and walk away. Every time I don’t do this I end up regretting how I act and what I say in the heat of the moment. If I smile, listen and then walk away, I have the opportunity and time to process the information and take some of the emotion out of the situation.

    2. Admit my mistakes: Every time that something goes wrong and I try to pass the blame on to someone or something else I end up asking myself “Why didn’t I just own up to it?” It can be difficult, because on one hand I want to be the leader, in charge, the one who makes thing happen. However, when things don’t go as planned, I don’t always want to be the leader and accept the responsibility. I want to blame someone or something. In the end, it’s always best to admit our mistakes.

    3. Build others up…all of the time: I have this habit of avoiding confrontation. In doing this, I will sometimes not mention to a person that I am bothered by what they have done. That alone isn’t good, but it’s even worse if I were to go around and complain to someone else about what the person did to bother me. I see this happen very often, and regrettably, have participated in it many times.

    4. Improve my craft: Musicians rehearse, they practice at home and then with others they are playing with in advance of a Sunday morning service. What do I do to practice at my craft? I do participate in some rehearsals but they are usually sound checks for the sound team and a quick run through for the band. One thing I can do is to get the music in advance, and actually listen to it, critically. I can listen and then plan and prepare as to how I can best reproduce what I’m hearing.

    5. Further embrace digital: OK, I admit it, until fairly recently, I was a little intimidated by some of the digital consoles out there. Part of the reason is that I had long used a premium analog console, so I didn’t have to mix on a ton of digital boards. I liked where I was and didn’t want to “embrace the change.” Who would have thought that the kid, of so many years ago, that fanatically embraced digital processing would have been intimidated by a little ol’ digital console? Eventually, I came around—in part, and perhaps a bit ironically—because of a New Year’s resolution a couple of years ago. If you’re in the same boat, perhaps this is the year.