The Hair

Fred Johnson 2015By Fred Johnson
Executive Vice President and General Manager

If you know me well it will come as no surprise that I cannot stand hair on a bathroom sink. A bathroom sink is a special place. For most, it’s the last stop before bed and the first on the morning road to becoming presentable.

Such a place must be kept pristine. Thus you can imagine my dismay the other morning when while shaving I noticed the reflection of a huge hair in my mirror. Instinctively, I reached down to remove this aberration. Only, it wasn’t there. Immediately my mind — already thoroughly caffeinated for the day — reconciled that the hair had simply blown away. The shave resumed, and then — there it was again in the mirror. Thus began a chase to find the hair which was clearly visible in the mirror but otherwise nowhere in sight. I found the blasted thing only by doing so in the reflection of the mirror. You see, the mirror was flipped to its magnification setting since I can’t see without my glasses and using sharp objects when you can’t see is always a dicey proposition. Bottom line, I was looking for a hair the size of what I saw. No such hair existed. The real thing was an entirely different size, barely visible.

So what is my point? Am I simply trying to say that challenges we face often appear much larger than they really are? Yes, but that’s not all. There is also a flip side. Sometimes problems exist even when they are not readily visible or easily understood. Popular psychology or conventional wisdom would teach you that the most important issues are those most easily perceived or those that loudly demand attention. An old adage familiar to many is “the squeaky wheel always gets the grease.” However, true leadership and wisdom exact a much more difficult path. It is imperative that when we address matters of substance, either in our personal or professional lives, we strive to see challenges in a proper perspective. We neither overreact when we see something in magnification, nor do we glance casually at the landscape and pronounce it clean unless we see something huge staring back at us.

The rural telecommunications industry is undergoing a period of change unprecedented since the breakup of the Bell Company in 1983. Many of our challenges appear huge and demand immediate attention. Still, we must look beyond them to a new landscape and consider that some of the fundamental issues which must be addressed may not presently be visible in a casual sweep. Those of us charged with leadership cannot simply be excused by saying, “We didn’t see that coming.” I am grateful to our Board of Directors and to our national leadership for their support in allowing us to spend the time necessary to get these things right as we strive to keep FTC relevant to you and your communities.

I challenge you to apply the same principles in your business, family and relational lives. Remember that nothing worthwhile ever comes without some form of effort. Challenges are an inevitable part of life, some small and some large. Perspective makes a huge difference. So see things as they really are. Only then can your response be most efficient.