The truth is the human mind needs to play.
NATURE DOES NOT CARE
How horrible it must be to live forever. Nature teaches us to let go and set aside the things we don’t need. Nature does not rush. It does not thrust everything upon us like the modern world. Nature does not yell, “Figure me out!” Nature says, “Admire me or do not – I could care less what you think."
HOW DO YOU SEE THE WORLD
Oh our collective busyness. We hold it tight in our hands. No clamoring to be heard will overcome it. Earnest listening remains an elusive wish, a hope that is ungiven. Spare me your pearls. Withhold from telling me your extreme ideology. For how I interpret the world is custom to me.
DON'T CLAMOR TO BE HEARD
We start bending at an early age because we are doing something that is not authentic to our true self. Don’t waste time trying to get someone to value you. Don’t waste time clamoring to be heard – speak your own truth.
THE ARTISTS ARE OUR SOOTHSAYERS
I like to stay close to art. It shows me the personal expressions of others and how they see the world. It keeps me curious. It keeps me from having to slunk into the understood. Art keeps me from sliding into vocabulary with no taste. The Internet with all its knowledge cannot feed my human senses.
The problem with social media is that it brings overwhelming information to relationships. It encourages us to judge and compare ourselves to others in many cases. From the news cycle to sharing images, we share without regard, not realizing that we are short circuiting our conversations. We share a new promotion or raise not realizing our neighbor just lost his or her job. Worse, is we don’t give the other side a chance to share or we deprive them of the chance to tell their story. Our busyness leaves us no time to listen to one another, to be present for those that are in front of us, to be fully there when we are talking to others.
THE POWER OF WRITING
Writing is my refuge. It’s where I go to cast a spell on another. I use it to craft my incantations both strong and weak. It allows me to tiptoe atop a picket fence. It brings me solace in times of strife and the power to absorb change. It can be a hard place to live. Many ships have set sail without me. It's ok, my magic does not depend on others. Twice around the world is a treasure enough for me. Nature and solitude are my companions.
DOUBLE TROUBLE WITH TECHNOLOGY
Technology is taking the place of skills. I don't know if this is good or bad. What I do know is that working with technology can create an environment that feels sterile. Like a hospital. They greet us with salutations from the land of Jargonia. They say, "In our country we talk about hiring people that can multi-task and communicate at a world class level. We teach our younger employees how to be polite and speak with euphemism. Eventually, they will graduate to be a Senior person that can sling clichés within a community of practice. Our workers must learn to imitate so they can master the language of Jargonia." None of this takes place without the loss of authenticity.
IN PRAISE OF TEACHERS
The job of the teacher is to take the pain out of learning. It is hard work to infuse lessons with vibrant colors and stories that set aside the sterility of the technology. If done well, we act as a sounding board to allow others to articulate their perceptions of a problem. We give our students a break from their “to-do lists from hell.” By listening to others, we help them parse the differences between what they mean versus what they say. Hooray for teachers.
We create magic when we give others the time to tell their stories. It is like multiplying the books you read. Books, like bees, have to make a comeback. It is in listening to others that we help them maneuver around the natural and technological barriers that frustrate them.
THE POWER OF BEING INVISIBLE
I’ve seen people complain about being invisible in the workplace. To this I say that there is great power in being invisible. I need to pull up an old quote that I read by Bill Russell. He was a famous NBA basketball player back in the day. He was adept at positioning himself where the next play was going to be. He said, “Invisibility opens doors, creates opportunity, where none seemed to exist before. When we are unseen, we have an enormous advantage in moving in, doing things we wish or need to do, and in the process, to change the very dynamic of existing, seemingly closed, patterns.” So, there you have it. If you are already in position and can impact others without their knowing it, then you have discovered the power of invisibility. To pull it off requires a secret spell. Quotation is attributed to Bill Russell.
EAT MORE CHOCOLATE
I don't have the best of everything but I do have some dark chocolate. I eat it every night when the clock is split in half. It is the sort of thing that transports me from whatever cares and anxious thoughts are gerbiling in my mind, into the present moment. It holds me there.
I wish had done better in my stats class. If I had applied myself, I might have come away with some valuable tools and discernment. Insights like not categorizing people. Many years ago, I learned about overfitting with data. Overfitting as best as I understand it means we are being too discriminatory. If I apply it to those around me, I might look past them. In truth, most people are a collection of interests and emotions. Social media extremism and our hurry up atmosphere have caused the loss of the ability to appreciate those in front of me for who they are. If I am cavalier in my attitude about it, I subconsciously slap a label or title on them. As my Hollywood friends say, "I've typecast them." To my friends in the software world, it means something else. At any rate, I pour all I know into that label and I eventually arrive at a non-thinking consensus. I might decide this person is not interesting or she is this or that. I think I understand them. I do not. I apply this to the complex issues of the day from politics to communities of people. It's the sort of thing that everybody does. It is popular sentiment, but this does not make it right. I need to remember that judgement leads to an abrupt stop in thinking. There's no more discussion or discovery. I need to give others the time to tell their stories and be who they are. As I listen to them it's like multiplying the books I read. I can help them discover what is already within them and bring it out. Boy I wish I had paid attention in stats class; I'm still figuring it out.
Everything show it's age with time
Everything shows it’s age with time. Over time, even people begin to change in their thinking. As a Gen X’er, I straddle the Boomer Blockade and the Millennials. I am here to tell my older counter parts to relax. The younger generation has things well in hand. They are skillful and thoughtful in how they work. What older workers need to do is to accept and adapt to change. This is good news. Now that I know what to do, I can admit I’m terrible at it. Some of us older workers need to take different roles. This will allow the younger and more agile workers to position themselves. In most cases, we can fill a fabulous supporting cast member role. A role that helps the younger generation shine and get to the next level. It takes nothing away from us. My point is this, to progress we need to let go of outdated thinking. Sort of like letting go of anger. As the world grows more complex, it requires a nimble mind to ensure we don’t fall into extreme thinking. Gen X’ers can offer wisdom to help younger professionals discern and understand that not everything falls into simple dogmatic right and wrong camps. Many ideas do not. We should resist extreme ideologies. Those of us that are older and have mellowed in our thinking should stand as the guard rails to help those coming up. If you can’t move out at least move over and be a supporting cast member that helps others to shine.
COMMON GOALS FOR TEAM BUILDING
Accomplishing team goals. I think the conundrum for many of us is that it’s hard to follow other people’s direction and ideas. We get focused on following explicit processes rather than just adopting the values and principles of certain methodologies. It ends up moving us out of our natural flow into something that feels foreign. Can we agree on a worthy goal? If we can, then there’s a good chance, we’ll succeed. Start by having your individual team members list out the practical things they need to happen to feel fulfilled and successful in their work. Try to personalize them, customize them for team members. Maybe ask them which ideas they believe in and which ones they don’t. The ones they don’t believe in will be the ones they won’t get behind. Image below: Don't forget the fun!
Why I left Twitter. There seems to be a certain amount of meanness circulating around. An amalgam of prejudice and extremism that I don’t want to be a part of. Actually, I won’t tolerate it, not in my feed anyways. Not today Satan! We need to embrace diversity, inclusion, and stop this ridiculous book banning happening in our school libraries. I feel like we are regressing. We should stop using anesthetizing jargon and language that does not do anything but demonize whole swaths of people.
The trouble with computers
In the post-Covid era my approach to work has changed. My “to-do” list from hell is measurable. It feels like a never-ending stream of interruptions. The list keeps piling up from emails, direct messages, and meetings. At some point I end up recycling taskers from the bottom of queue to the top and swear, “Today is the day I finish this.” Of course, this pales in comparison to what so many young Moms are doing: getting the family up, fixing breakfast, getting their kids dressed and off to school. Now, I don’t mean to throw the dads under the bus but let’s be real, Dad has already woofed down his food in case he does not get official breakfast. At work we are expected to drive high-performing cultures. And we do. We drive each other bonkers with gentle reminders and interruptions. There are important issues to discuss. Issues like whether you are willing to drink the office swill or are you one of those 'boujie' latte drinkers? Well, there’s no time to discuss these in depth because most of us have a meeting to get to. Which brings me to an important point. We need to make time for fun. The truth is the human mind needs to play. I mean these days I barely have time for checking my social media let alone conducting any real structured procrastination. I think it is because of the computer, I’m still analyzing and will report back when I have proof. I am putting it on my list.
Instead of quiet quitting how about quiet performing
Quiet quitting is crap. I was recently reading about the "quiet quitting" trend. In the current vernacular it sounds like an excuse. Instead of "quiet quitting" how about we do "quiet performing." "Quiet performing" is when we surge our performance when needed and we take an operational pause if that's needed, without drawing attention to ourselves. We should normalize taking the initiative and getting things done. The best thing we can do for people that are burned out is to meet them where they are at in life. We can be present and listen to them. We can provide good leadership that stamps out fear and sheds artificial busyness when we see it.
The self check out kiosk
Making sense of the modern world. Probably like your community, almost overnight our grocery stores have installed the self-check-out kiosks. This is even more evidence that technology is taking the place of skills throughout our society. Except for when my wife was telling me that I was scanning too slow, I actually enjoyed being the checker myself. I need to work on my bagging skills. Like most men I can’t multitask for crap, but before I get distracted, I want talk about the impressions I absorbed during the process. I feel empathy for the hourly checkers standing on their feet, mindlessly scanning item after item. As an aside, I am inclined to think this is a good use for technology and it is ok to displace the people doing this with the exception of teenagers. I feel like every young person should have a character-building job that they can say sucked. Nothing makes those of us carrying the financial load happier. Now back to my impressions of the self-checkout kiosk. I don’t relish scanning 100 items so I will go to someone more efficient than myself. The point I want convey indirectly is that it’s not just that technology is here to stay, it’s that the mindset that comes from accepting technology is as critical as the automation itself. I’m still learning how to find the kumquats in the look up catalog. I find it useful to ask the teenager in charge of the check out pods if he or she can help me find the fruit look up portion on the kiosk screen. Sometimes I get too many of something and need to ask where to leave it. When I leave the store, I know I will have done my job in helping the next generation build out their character.
GET RID OF HYPER-CONSUMERISM AND HYPER-INVIDUALISM
“The only truth is music.” – Jack Kerouac. /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// I hate to preach to the converted, but I was pressed into service. As I watched both college and pro football over the weekend it struck me that we’ve become hyper-individualized. Our great American football is dominated by hyper-consumerism. I don’t know that the clock is ever going to turn back. What I do know is that I can’t take one more stupid insurance advertisement, at least until Monday night. I think we should all call the insurance firms and play their commercials back to them in an automated loop fashion. We could even offer them a survey at the end to see if they enjoyed their service. I don’t want to sound cranky, so I’ll leave you with a change of tone. ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// “But who knows what she spoke to the darkness, alone, in the bitter watches of the night, when all her life seemed shrinking, and the walls of her bower closing in about her, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
Dream Your Dream
The dream shifts from time to time. Can you recognize when the center of gravity has shifted? It’s not easy. People want to hear and see themselves coming back as themselves on a variety of platforms. They want to make it. They aspire and want to turn these into real world actions. Many of them want to and try. Many of them won’t realize their specific dream, but it should not be taken for naught. If you learn something while doing it, then it is worth it. You might have discovered you are an exploratory learner and need structure or scaffolding to help make sense of your thoughts. What is your melody? What is your cadence? What is important is to resonate. Create curiosity with your own style. Awareness might follow but then again maybe you need to couple it with reach. There are plenty of Marketing guru’s here to help you figure it out. The difficult part of the Internet and platforms like LinkedIn is how much of the content becomes homogenized. It’s like a cacophony of Jackdaws sitting in the tree limbs squawking. It was Ernest Hemingway that said, “There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring.” Dream your dream. This is what is important. You don’t have to live unlike others. But you do need to embrace your own style and your own authenticity to make it.
Do you want to be right or do you want a relationship?
Although I make a living with computers, I prefer to live my private life in a world with sensations. A short walk outside was all it took to remind me of this. While strolling down a favorite path I witnessed two birds in a fracas about 20 feet ahead on the side of the path. I must admit I don’t know much about birds. I have no fancy ornithological theory to explain what was happening. In an instant they flew behind some bushes, and I could hear more flutter than I could see feathers. Before I knew it, it was over. It seemed all too brief. I let my observations wash over me. They kept me there for moment. No analysis was done, just gratitude in getting to see nature. The more I reflected on it, I thought about how our society holds analysis in high esteem. I remember my daughter telling me her teacher was showing her how to analyze a piece of literature. Of course, like most parents, I proffered a soft response of, “What about reading for fun? Is that part of it?” “No Dad it’s about analysis and breaking things down,” she replied. Sounds fun and interesting. Sort of like when Kafka put forth, “an intellectual sawdust the others have chewed up for me.” For me, I need to stay close to the primal feelings I have about issues. There are times where I might need to abstract myself up and out, but sometimes it feels good to realize that I am part of nature and not separate from it. Sometimes it feels good to let go of my scientific rigor and allow my intuition to guide me. I might be wrong. It’s okay to be wrong in this case. In fact, it is somewhat cathartic to admit that you don’t have to be right. Being blessed with a long-lasting marriage I often remind myself, “Do you want to be right, or do you want a relationship?” Of course, I choose the relationship. Nature moves imperceptibly while most of the modern world has no patience for things to work these days. I can demand things to run on time, as they did in the days of old. It is easy to take the promises of those around me and not do analysis. A blind acceptance will not suffice in most situations. But in nature, I can let go, I can be part of it with no analysis demanded. I only need to slow down and look for beauty.
We need to pay attention to oblique references. I recently made one myself in an earlier post, not thinking about it. It was about making things run on time. I am not a historian but remember reading about Mussolini from WWII promising to make the trains run on time. Fast forward to today and I can see it is easy to take the promise of others, particularly our politicians. We must resist the temptation to swallow the promise. We might get someone who makes bad decisions for our democracy. It is further hampered by our hurry up society where there is limited or no patience for things to work these days. We needn’t be reflexive in our thought process. Not everything is simple to understand in today’s modern times. Some issues require nuanced understanding and complex mental processing. They require education. It took my hamster brain a couple of turns to read this quote from Dr. Leor Zimgrod, Junior Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, “Subtle difficulties with complex mental processing may subconsciously push people towards extreme doctrines that provide clearer more defined explanation of the world, making them susceptible to toxic forms of dogmatic and authoritarian ideologies.” Now I’ll admit I’m tired just reading that quote. I guess it articulated my thoughts about incrementalism not being a bad thing. In business and government maybe, we should take the lower risk route of incrementalism in our decisions. But then I start thinking about the competition. It’s a vicious cycle, I need to get back out to nature and give the hamster a rest. I hope you can too.
What is behind the giving of a social media like?
What’s behind the giving of a social media like? I did some robust research, by robust I mean a search on Google. It did not take long before I realized I needed to refine my question to giving likes on LinkedIn. Apparently, there are different kinds of likes on different kinds of platforms. I thought this was going to be a simple research project. It was not. It turns out that there are some 30 – 50 different types of social media content posts, depending how you categorize them. They range as you would expect from quotes and self-congratulatory notes to the usual sterile marketing infographic, just to name a few. There’s the how to, the tips, the selfies, and the usual holiday greetings. Quite frankly it was overwhelming. What started out as simple curiosity and ignorance was rapidly moving into the academic world. My motivation is ebbing and when my enthusiasm slows, I throw back a handful of M&M’s and finish up. I tried to answer why we give likes, but realized it is so individualistic that it would be presumptuous to assume why people like things. Some of us like things because we want to give the appearance of cordiality. We want to lift-up our friends, our colleagues and take part in their getting promoted. While in other cases we find the video touching. Sometimes we like people’s outfits and other times we want to support the causes that align with our values. All I can say is I hope if you are just getting started in creating you will continue. The more you create, the closer you come to finding your own authentic voice. It becomes easier the more you do it. You also become less reliant on likes. As to why people like some posts and not others, I’m going to leave it to the assessment makers. The answers are out there, but the weekend is calling me here.
The gentle reminder
The gentle reminder. Some days are more task oriented than others. Nowadays it seems as if I get clobbered by my never-ending to-do lists. Like most of you, I get tasks from my peers, my boss, my dotted lines, my subordinates, and the computer system itself. “It is now time for you to sign off on such and such.” Probably like you, I have administrative overhead that comes with the job. The examples are endless from completing form fields in a database to helping someone find a document or piece of data to name a few. The real benefit comes in between the spaces before and after I complete the tasks. I get time to think. Depending on how I receive the task I might use the opportunity to learn. If by chance, I got the task from my boss, I gain the opportunity to learn perspective. I get the benefit of asking, "what are you giving me and what do you expect me to do with it?" I get the added benefit of looking silly if I don’t understand it. Sometimes I have to send my own “gentle reminders or follow ups,” to those whom my task completion list depends upon. Please forgive my sarcasm but, who came up with the stupid, “a gentle reminder or a gentle nudge,” phrase anyways?! I would like to give you a gentle reminder that I can hear you trundling by my cubicle. I would also like to remind you that this is a no-trundling zone, so move out buster! It was probably some gleeful self-help guru. If there is such a thing as a good task, then it’s the one that pops up spontaneously where we get to help another human that is speaking with us. It reminds me that I learn when conversing, I learn when I am telling. The point is if I am thoughtful, I can even learn when to be away from my laptop when I know the system will send me a gentle reminder to complete such and such task before I get the first Final Reminder.