If you're not familiar with the reference, it comes from the movie Madagascar and the subsequent sequel and TV series (The Penguins of Madagascar). It's said by the leader of the penguins, such as in this YouTube clip. Basically, he says it when the penguins know something the others around them don't know, especially if that is something is not good. The phrase came to mind after reading this post from Tim Ford (@sqlagentman):
I'll sum up the blog post here, but it's one that really should be read in its entirety. Basically, Tim was relying on a vendor to deliver a fix and the vendor failed. Multiple times. And the vendor failed because of very easily avoidable issues. So now Tim's organization is going to have to scramble through an unplanned application upgrade, all because the vendor couldn't do what we'd consider some pretty straight forward steps. Now that I've given the brief synopsis, go ahead and go read Tim's post.
In a situation like this there isn't a whole lot we can do. We're still dependent on the vendor to deliver something that works. Getting angry and ranting and raving and losing our cool may make us feel better for the short term, but the problem remains. And the person on the phone... it may not be his or her fault. So going off probably won't get us anywhere. So what can we do? One of the things I've picked up is losing my cool doesn't help me. Usually afterwards I just feel worse. So that brings me back to, "Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave."
The best attitude is to just smile at the situation and accept that it's what we have before us. That's not to say we sit pat and do nothing. But rather, we control ourselves, assess the situation, and look for what positive steps we can make going forward. Kind of like the Chiarello - Talde confrontation from Top Chef Masters. We can choose our response. Chiarello remarked during the show that he wanted to go off, but he didn't. Watching the episode, I could see him working to control his response to Talde's screaming. Or we can be like Talde, losing our heads. The choice is ours. But we'll typically get more accomplished with cooler heads. Hence the philosophy of "Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave." It's something I know I need to do a better job with, so I'll probably add it to my goals tracking and record when I get into a situation when I feel my temperature rising and how I reacted. Then after some time I'll take a look and compare the times I reacted well to the time I didn't. Hopefully over time I'll see that I've chosen the right approach, even when I was boiling. That's the goal.