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KEITH Etc.

SKI designer Keith Arnold is not only a master at his craft but he has
a great talent for styling and polishing every finished interior to picture perfection.
Here he shares a valuable lesson in his signature witty way...

Suzanne Kasler - Inspired 2016 Winter PHOTO: PAMELA MOUGIN

LESSON LEARNED

Everywhere I have worked, I have learned... surprising things about myself...tragic shortcomings, creative insecurities, over inflated ego, blah, blah, blah...

Some years back, I got a job working for a furniture company in Los Angeles and it brought out all the bad...The job required a lot of organization. I didn't understand the computer programs they used and my boss was a dot difficult. In short, the job I was hired to do didn't exactly utilize my best qualities. I was not presenting the best Keith possible.

The work environment was not really positive and as a result my attitude suffered. I stopped caring about what I was doing. I watched the clock waiting for the moment I could leave and I fantasized about retiring at a very tender age.

I had to work so I trudged onward. I reluctantly learned how to do their excel spreadsheets and I slumped as I recorded sales and tracked inventory, and I resented every time I had to go to the boss's office and embark on a new assignment.

Suzanne Kasler - Inspired 2016 Summer

Before

Suzanne Kasler - Inspired 2016 Summer Erica George Dines

After

One day, we had a problem. Three of us were called into the principal’s office: me, Oliver and that girl that cried all the time. It seemed the principal wanted the three of us to work together towards a solution. I don't even remember what the problem was, but I do remember how me, Oliver, and the girl that cried all the time, worked together for a solution. We didn't. We made faces, squirmed and deflected.

After some time of whining, complaining and loathing, the principal said this, “Can I just say something? You guys are so disappointing. Here you are at the beginning of your careers with opportunities all around and all you do is complain and avoid. How will you ever enjoy or bring anything to the place you work or even your lives with this kind of attitude?” OMG! What the hell was I doing? I had already become a bitter old man and I didn't even have a gray hair. How would I ever be able to work the next 30 years!? I didn't want that future. I wanted to want to be at work and to enjoy at least 80% of it.

Suzanne Kasler - Inspired 2016 Summer

Before

Suzanne Kasler - Inspired 2016 Summer Emily Followill

After

Here is what I did...I quit. Surprised? Well, it was too late for me there. I was already established as the bad seed. It would take a really long time to recover and don't forget, my boss was a dot difficult. I got a different job and I vowed (to myself) I would never ever be that bitter guy again. Happy task, sad task, pain in the ass task... I was going to approach it with the best, most optimistic attitude I could muster (some days have been harder than others).

My change in perspective allowed for one of the biggest differences in my professional life. I have to admit that after that job, I found a position as a design assistant at an interiors firm and I loved it...but it was really that little talk with the dot difficult boss that changed how I approach every day. No matter what the job is, every day is not going to be fun, and every client will not be adorable, but if you make a conscious effort to handle each situation with a positive attitude it starts to feel a little more doable, and maybe even a little bit enjoyable.

Suzanne Kasler - Inspired 2016 Summer

Before

Suzanne Kasler - Inspired 2016 Summer Erica George Dines / Southern Living

After

I have no idea what happened to Oliver and the girl that cried all the time, but I really hope they changed that day too. Thirty years or so is a really long time to spend hating 8 out of 24 hours every day.

In the end, the most important lesson I learned is that even though a task may seem daunting, no matter how big of a job it is going to be, it is amazing how a positive attitude and a little creativity can turn the most intimidating project into something beautiful...

Suzanne Kasler - Inspired 2016 Winter