“Is he always this happy? Or did we just catch him on a good day?”
“Nah, that’s just him. He’s always like this.”
Last month I had my first experience with Stanford’s Product Realization Lab and it was a fantastic one. Dan, the TA responsible for the Foundry portion of the PRL, may have been covered in black soot, but in stark contrast to his hands and clothes, his face was beaming. Not the bubbly kind of happiness that comes across as forced, but that genuine warmth that comes from a person with an infectious smile. He might as well had a stamp on his forehead that read “I’m an optimist” because that’s what the rest of his being was screaming. He was only one of a dozen people in the Foundry, but his effect was disproportionate. The work we were doing was dirty, stressful and we were all complete novices, but Dan’s enthusiam made up for much of that and I found myself just enjoying being in the Foundry. I attribute much of that to Dan.
Since that first night I worked in the Foundry, I’ve had opportunity to work in other parts of the PRL, all with similar experiences. I’ve found most of the TA’s to be just like Dan—friendly, happy and optimistic. I believe that because the TA’s are happy, the PRL is a happy place to be.
What kind of effect do I have on people? Am I the kind of person bringing energy and optimism to a room? I’d like to think that I’m doing okay in that area. If you ask my wife, she would tell you I’m a stark optimist. That’s the way I feel inside. I’m just not sure if that’s always apparent on the surface. It’s something I’d like to work on.
We could all benefit from being like the TA’s from the PRL. I don’t believe that life is lived in a constant state of happiness, we all experience up and downs, but I think that we could make the world better for those we interact with on a daily basis just by being a little friendlier and optimistic.