Greetings. In the children's story "Mr. Singer's Nicknames," James Kruss tells a tale about an insurance agent name Johann Jakob Singer who takes his first trip to the island of Helgoland. Upon his arrival he is welcomed by "Thunder" Pastor Rasmussen–a popular local minister with a booming voice–and informed "that everyone who lives on Helgoland has an added name, a nickname."
"How dreadful!" Mr. Singer responds, "I am sure I will not be awarded any nickname. I am an honorable man who works and does his duty."
But little does he realize that from the moment his ship comes into view the locals have been studying him carefully and coming up with all sorts of nicknames. And the fact that he is small, thin, stork-like, wears a pair of pince-nez eyeglasses and bright yellow spats, and represents the Society for the Care of Lobsterfishermen's Widows simply adds to their interest and creativity. Yet he remains convinced that he will spend an entire week among the Helgolanders without being "nicknamed," and this conviction leads him to place a wager with the Pastor that he will leave the island simply being called Mr. Singer. It's a bet he cannot win.
In fact, the locals seem entirely capable of coming up with an endless supply of nicknames. Nicknames that their visitor will only discover on the last day of his trip. But more importantly, nicknames that show their endearment for the things that set Mr. Singer apart and make him uniquely valuable.
Which makes one wonder why Mr. Singer "dreaded" receiving a nickname in the first place. And might make all of us wonder why we don't make more of an effort to create endearing and powerful nicknames for all of our colleagues–whether they are new to our island or have been there for most of their careers. Nicknames that demonstrate in a humorous way our clear understanding of the things that set them apart and make them uniquely valuable to our current and future success.
So why not find the time to collaborate in creating nicknames for everyone in your company or organization? Nicknames they would be proud to possess and that would strengthen their connection with everyone else. Nicknames that create greater energy and engagement.
And to get yourself in the mood, why not read this delightful story as a team? If you can't find it at your local library, send me a quick note and I'll gladly lend you my copy.
We win in business and in life when we take the time to notice people. And when we honor them with the true appreciation and respect that a thoughtful nickname brings.