Paul Butler | 3 common-sense workplace rules

Paul Butler: Going the Extra Mile

I so much enjoy my new hobby. It’s free and it gets me out into the fresh air. This new hobby also enables me to take in some more exercise and meet new people. My new hobby is: litter-picking. I love living in Santa Clarita for many reasons, one of which is the beautiful paseo system we have in Valencia, weaving in and out of our neighborhoods. I figure that while I’m walking, I may as well pick up some litter.  

I’m thinking about starting up a club called “The Litter-Picking and Coffee Club.” I hope others would join. I even started brainstorming with my wife about the three club rules I could establish: (1) Safety First, (2) Have a Happy Heart and (3) Make Friends. It dawned on me these are also three common-sense rules for any workplace.  

Safety First 

I was pleased to read the latest information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that the number of fatal workplace injuries has decreased from the last reported year. But one death is one too many. I was shocked to read not only that there were 4,764 workplace fatalities last year but also an estimated 120,000 workers died from contracting occupational diseases.  

As employers and workplace leaders we need to continue to do all we can to make the workplace as safe as possible. Safety must always be our first priority over profits.  

Have a Happy Heart 

For most of us, a large portion of our lifetime hours are spent at work. In fact, the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime, according to a recent Gettysburg College study. It’s safe to say our job can have a huge impact on our quality of life.  

My belief system is that we only live once, so why not endeavor to have peace with all people as much as it depends upon you? The workplace is just a collection of people trying to get things done, and therein lies the problem. So many people spend their days biting and snapping at others rather than focusing on the task. Poor workplace relationships can be a major cause of stress in a person’s life.  

On one of my litter-picking walks recently, an angry passerby was aghast at how much litter I’d picked up. She bitterly expressed how much this annoyed her by saying, “I really don’t like many people at all,” and walked off never to be seen since. I wonder if she’s the same person whose Wi-Fi address pops up as “I Hate People.” 

When we start the litter-picking club I don’t want people to have an angry heart while picking up trash. Sadly, people will always drop trash. I can choose to be bitter about that or focus on trying to make the neighborhood look even better. Either way, the effort invested is the same but I’ve found that the internal returns are much better if I choose the latter.  

Make Friends 

According to the annual Gallup workplace poll, one of the main reasons people stay at a job is because they have at least one colleague they’d call a friend. As an employee I found that people principle to be so true.  

I figured this could be a good rule for the litter-picking club: We have a job to do but let’s make friends while we do it. I guess that’s why I tagged the “coffee” part on to the club’s name.  

So, there are my three simple rules for the yet-to-be-launched Litter-Picking and Coffee Club, and I think they make sense in the workplace: (1) Safety First (2) Have a Happy Heart and (3) Make Friends.  

Oh, and a good leader makes for a great workplace and my wife supervises my litter-picking. Sometimes she sees things with her super vision I didn’t catch and sometimes she even helps me, both of which a good manager does.  

I hope you’ll join my club — our neighborhoods and workplaces need you.  

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia ( For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected]. 

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