FISH! Philosophy

FISH Philosophy

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The FISH! Philosophy


I have been doing corporate leadership development work for almost two decades, and I have personally worked with thousands of managers.

As I look back to the types of people that I have worked with, I notice that there are several patterns. 

What do I mean by “patterns”? 

By patterns I mean that some managers tend to be introverts, some others tend to lead by example, some others prefer to ask questions rather than to tell employees what to do, etc.

The variety is as diverse as it is interesting. 

And one specific type of manager that stands out, it is the type of manager that has consistently built strong, productive, and win-win relationships with their team members, with their internal and external customers, with their internal and external suppliers, etc.

And how did this type of manager build such powerful—and profitable—relationships?

The answer to this question is deceptively simple.

However, inside its simplicity lies its elegance and its effectiveness. 

I repeat my question: 

How did these managers build such powerful—and profitable—relationships?


All they did was to learn, to embrace, and to live the “FISH! Philosophy” 

The “FISH! Philosophy”?

What is that? 

How did the “FISH! Philosophy” come to be? 

In 1998 John Christensen—with the assumption that most people like to work in an environment that is fun, energizing, and where they can make a difference—created this philosophy with the intention to boost morale and improve results.

There are already several companies that are purposefully—and successfully—implementing this FISH Philosophy. For example: The Sprint call center in Lenexa, Kansas, USA; the Rochester Ford Toyota in Rochester, Minnesota, USA, and the Wild Wadi Water Park in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

This “FISH Philosophy” has four central, simple, and interconnected habits: 

  1. Choose your attitude
  2. Be present
  3. Make someone’s day
  4. Play at work

First FISH! Philosophy habit


It is 100 percent under your control the way you choose how you respond to life. 

When you accept that you choose your attitude—you will always have a choice about the way you do your work—even if you have no choice about the work itself.

It is up to you to bring your best self to work, and to give your best to the work you do. 

Always ask yourself this simple question, 

“What is my attitude right now? Is it helping me to be my most effective?”

Self-awareness is key. 

Second FISH! Philosophy habit


This principle means that you take the time to “smell the roses,” that you allow life to have meaning for you, and that you are fully engaged in whatever it is that you are doing—in every moment—including your interactions with the people you work with. 

This principle means that—when you are with someone—you are present, focused, and you are listening (not making judgments or typing on your keyboard while this “someone” is speaking with you). 

Are you able to understand the other person and to really see the world from her perspective? 

Again, self-awareness is key. 

Third FISH! Philosophy habit


Be inclusive and give simple gestures of recognition to make people feel genuinely appreciated and valued.

A simple smile might be enough—but remember—you must be genuine.

You could even turn every encounter into a pleasant experience for someone else.

Just keep it simple.

Remember, every time you make someone else feel good, you feel good too. 

Once again, self-awareness is key. 

Fourth FISH! Philosophy habit


Take your work seriously, and simultaneously take yourself lightly. 

Play is not about a specific activity, play is about your mindset.

A playful attitude helps you to shift your perspective, to see new opportunities, and to expand your possibilities. 

Fun leads to creativity and resourcefulness.

You will feel energized, and you will energize the people around you. 

And once again, self-awareness is key.


It is your choice: 

  1. What attitude you decide to have right now is your choice
  2. How present you decide to be right now is your choice
  3. What impact you decide to have on people right now is your choice
  4. How playful you decide to be right now is your choice 

It is your choice … 

It is up to you to decide how you want to live your work, and your life.


I have no relationship whatsoever with the people who promote the “FISH! Philosophy.” The only reason I am sharing it with you here it is because I strongly believe you can benefit from it by building strong, productive, and win-win relationships with everybody around you :)