Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The End of 2013

And so we reach the end of 2013.

Am I where I really wanted to be at this date?  That is the ruler and metrics I am using this year because these are the ones that matter.  When I started out 2013 I (theoretically) had a vision and a plan.  How did I do?

Not well.  In some cases these were due to items beyond my control, as they always are.  In other cases I simply did not reach where I wanted to be.  The failures are the most instructive part because they will tell me far more than my successes about what went wrong and why I did not achieve the results I was hoping for.  Bottom line?  I have what I would like to have happen and then I have what I am committed to making happen.  The canyon between these two is where I tend to fall in.

Okay, easy enough to say.  How do I fix things, you might ask?

I think one of the single biggest points of failure for myself is my inability to concentrate on a few things.  As I have noted before, I am a generalist.  It is almost an instinctive need to do a great many things.  This is a blessing in know a great deal about a great deal; it is a curse when trying to focus.  Therefore, the first point of changing is to narrow (considerably) my list of goals for the year.

The second point - and the harder one for me - is to focus on that mythical five and ten year plan.  I am a great tactical person but strategy comes slower to me - partially because I am not in a position in much of my life to be strategic, partially because I lack the learning.  I need those plans because then I can link my current goals to that larger plan and goal.  What do I want to be, who do I want to be in five and ten years - and even beyond?  These pictures need to guide what I am doing today.

The final point is focus on what I am doing.  I have fought indolence and sloth and a dislike of practice most of my life.  If I had the one big thing I need to get rid of this year (and why is it that we always focus on what we are going to do, not what we are going to get rid of), it would be this.  I need to do now what needs doing, not put it off or convince myself in my mind it will take too long or is too hard.

The great thing about the old year passing?  It is gone.  All that remains lies before us, a golden land of possibilities and probabilities.

Welcome to 2014.

Monday, December 30, 2013

30,000

Sometime over the last weekend I exceeded 30,000 hits.

I am surprised - and grateful.  I have had this blog since 2005 (yes, the old records are still there) but did not really pick up with writing more regularly until 2008.  That has lead to something which is perhaps the longest project I have undertaken -  5 years of semi-regular journaling of my life (this is post 1629).

How many people are legitimate in that 30,000?  Probably about 90%. I have had a huge hit ratio on my posting of an Easter Meditation from March 0f 2008 which convinces me that most of that is a spam linked e-mail.  I am sure that if I look back I can find the same sort of thing earlier on, before I took steps to prevent the posting of random comments from spammers.

But even with that, that is 27,000 or so views from people that in some shape or form were sincere about reading it.  To them - to you - thank you.  I sit here 5 days a week in the morning, coffee in hand, writing up whatever comes to my mind.  The fact that you take the time to read my musings (or rantings, depending on how you want to look at it) is humbling.

Does this blog do everything I wanted it too?  At one point I would have said no - after all, this was going to be the mechanism by which I achieved literary greatness.  What I have come to realize is that this is really much more of an online journal, a way to touch bases with people of my life in a form that I might not be able to do. In one or two cases, I have (hopefully) served a purpose in the life of a reader as well, which is sort of what any author ultimately hopes to do.

So again, thank you for your support.  It is deeply appreciated and continues to encourage me.  On to 100,000 views.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Trimming and Cutting of Careers

What do I want to do?

I am continuing to struggle with my life's path as I go through this exercise of setting goals.  As I sat down last night and worked in a desultory fashion, what I found is that my list covered lots of interests that I have, but hardly anything around actually finding or changing what I do for a living.  This is a little counterproductive at first glance as none of these things seems to lead to something that would allow it to replace my primary form of income.  Which in itself is bothersome as I truly do not see a long term future - either in personal challenge or in employment - in the field.

So what to do?  I cannot force myself to suddenly embrace what I do in a holocaust of interest - I have tried this before with very limited success.  It is like pouring charcoal lighter on a fire:  big flame, then nothing.  Even a longer term slow attempt to find areas of expertise leads to another set of realizations about what is available locally and the thought of having to relocate and re-start all over.

But accepting both of those items leaves me where I find myself today:  finding many things of interest which I desire to do or pursue while leaving the largest area of my life at this moment essentially untouched.  It is as if I am gardening around a huge tree, knowing that it will block light to the rest of my garden but still continuing to plant in hopes that something will come up.

The tree's the thing of course:  it either needs to be trimmed up or cut down.  But in either of these examples those trimmings or indeed the entire tree itself cannot sit there:  it has to be hauled off to somewhere and either carefully trimmed after that or completely replaced with a new plant.  And it is in those things - the trimming or the cutting down and replacing - that I find myself caught.

It all boils down to two simple questions:

1) What do you want to do?
2) How badly do you want to do it?
3) How will replace what you currently have?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Certain Reluctance

A quiet day for getting ready for work.  No school so of course no-one else is up yet.  I myself did not set my alarm even though I knew I had to get up to work.  I am banking on traffic being not nearly as terrible as it usually is to get to work.  There is also, to be fair, a certain reluctance on my part to get out the door.  So I sit here in the early morning twilight with only the light of this year's Christmas Tree to keep me company.

There is a certain reluctance to leaving because I know the world is out there as well.  The world and the decisions that leaving the house will necessitate me making.  The thoughts that I will have address.  The feelings I will have to confront.

Perhaps it sounds overly dramatic.  I do not know that I intend it to.  At the same time I can say that there are times in one's life where one can sense potential changes and storms awaiting just beyond the horizon and one is possessed with the intense need to simply delay them.

Delay, any good achiever will tell you, is the killer.  It is the thing that will cause us to put off things that we should be dealing with. It is the the art of the procrastinator, the realm of those who consistently fail.  This habit of delay will create a life of delay.

And it is true.  The habit of delay will kill a life.

But arguably not every day is a day of action.  There are times and days where perhaps, just for a while, the idea of a certain reluctance has merit to it  Time like today where, in the midst of a quiet Christmas tree and colored lights,  the fate of a life can be pushed off for a little while.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His Kingdom
To order it and establish it with judgement and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this."
- Isaiah 9: 6-7

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Words We Cannot Say

Most people believe that our relationships should be measured by the extent to which we can speak with another person, the discussions that we can ultimately have with them.  By this measure, the discussions become an indicator to the extent to which we trust the person.

I wonder if instead most people have this backwards:  that our relationships should not be measured by the extent to the which we can speak with them, but rather by the words we cannot say to them.

In most relationships there are a series of areas that we simply cannot address.  There are subjects too sensitive, areas too painful, thoughts too revealing.  These are the words that we cannot speak, the words that if they are spoken usually create great anxiety and consternation.  

We come to instinctively know these words as we discover the bounds of our relationships.  We come to understand the areas beyond which we cannot go.  Sometimes these barriers are immediately apparent; sometimes these barriers are erected over time.  But they are still there, corralling the words we cannot speak from the exposure of that relationship.

Think for a minute:  how many times in a fit of anger or melancholy are we willing to reveal to a stranger the innermost secrets of our lives because we are frustrated?  How is it that we cannot do the same to people much closer to us?  Thus the words that cannot spoken become the measure of our true willingness to be honest, not our so-called willingness to be honest with merely anybody.

How do such words come to be?  I truly do not understand it fully myself.  I wish I did, because herein lies the great key to true relationships.  They start, I suppose, by accident or even intent, the sudden realization that something creates pain or that something is simply "off limits" for a conversation.  Once discovered, these areas become protected, like the scar tissue of an old wound, becoming noticeably different than the parts of the relationship around us by its distinctiveness and silence surrounding it.  Left alone, these become the obstacles of our relationships as we spend our time threading through them as we try to seek to relate to each other in a way that does not invoke them.

Is there a solution to this?  I hesitate to suggest one.  Certainly one can make the argument that one should seek to tear away at these barriers, to make true honesty a policy in every one of our relationships.  But this does not always work either and too often "true honesty" is simply a pretense for hurting others in the name of exculpating ourselves - the very thing that these inner barriers were created for.  Perhaps we could look at doing this - we should always look to deepen relationships instead of constricting them - but always with gentleness and keen eye to when we are beginning to cause pain.  Even the greatest scar will in time fade - but it certainly cannot be forced along.

So we take stock of our relationships not be what we can say but by what we cannot, would we find ourselves in the same position of feeling that we are surrounded by true relationships?  Or will we discover that we are entrenched in a maze of built up barriers carefully designed to move communication down narrow paths specifically designed to prevent discovering certain things?

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Count of Monte Cristo

I re-read The Count of Monte Cristo  yesterday.  It was another one of those things: I started with a remembrance of a particular section, then I sat down to begin to read and before I knew if I was deeply engrossed all day in the novel all over again.  It took me all day to read - but is there really any better way to spend a cold winter's day than with a good book?

As I read it touched some deep places inside of me, places of self worth and value.  Reading of him I find that he is so much that I am not:  action oriented, knowledgeable, purposeful, clever, skillful, commanding, magnetic.  In other words, he bears qualities that I wish I had.

But then the thought bedevils me:  how do approach such qualities, especially as I am?  These things seem so far from my life as to be unapproachable - and even if I tried to integrate them I think I would only find that they create more dissonance in my life than good.

But could I create another life, another person?

This is the thought that tugged at me as I closed the book, then went back and read one or two select sections.  Create a new persona.  Be, essentially, someone else.

Yes, I am aware that the Internet makes it easier than ever to find out about anyone.  Yes, I am aware that my picture is undoubtedly out there.  Yes, I am aware there are certain things in which creating a "New You" is patently illegal.  I am not talking about that, of course.

What I am talking about is creating a persona, a person somewhat like myself but myself as I wish I could be, to live somewhere out here amongst the electric pluses of the Internet.  Someone who could give a platform to try some of the thoughts and behaviors I would like to try, maybe even give them a dry run or two before throwing them out to the wider public.

I have no idea what this gentleman would be called, although creating a back story might be fun.  I have no real idea what he wants to do yet or how he wants to make his mark on the world.  All I do know is that somewhere behind the real life is the life I want to be, the image I have in my mind - and it is not as I currently am, huddled over a computer screen trying to deal with the minutiae of a small company.  It is grander, more elaborate than that.

Who is this other man and how do I find him?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Southwest Solstice

Pregnant clouds blow in,
rain and warmth are left behind:
Winter has arrived?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Work Dreams

I woke up this morning dreaming about work.

It was not the cool part of work either - it was a dream about me coming in afterwords to pull some items together for a study and then explaining the background of what I was doing to some other individuals.  There were visuals, music, even an experiment or two.

And then I woke up - only to realize that I actually still had to go to work this morning.

There is something fundamentally unfair about this.  It seems that this is one of the jokes of the mind that is just wrong.  The concept that somehow one would think about something in one's off time that one then immediately gets to get up and do is possibly one of the most depressing things I can think of.

Why not the other way?  Why can I never dream of something wonderful - and then wake up to find that I am actually going to do the wonderful thing?  Is it that I do not spend enough time thinking about it? (If that is the case, it will never happen as I scarcely spend lots of time at any point thinking about those such things.)

And maybe that is the point.  Maybe I need to spend more time thinking about better or more enjoyable things than work.  Because waking up to work after dreaming about work is hardly the way I want to spend my life.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Speed of Christmas

Another Christmas when it scarcely feels like Christmas.

When I was growing up I remember Christmas as this magical time that seemed to go on forever, extending from Thanksgiving for some infinite amount of time until the actual day of Christmas.  Time, it seemed, continued to slow down until it was moving at a crawl.  We had the trappings thereof as well: first the boxes would come down from the attic and the lights would go  up on the tree, followed by various and sundry decorations and the presents as Bing Crosby crooned us on towards Christmas Eve.

Now?  December seems to move faster and faster every year.  Most of it simply seems to be that corporations, no matter how they like to try and extend their schedules across twelve months, always seem to wait until the last one to try to get everything done.  They have not heard of the concept of time slowing down into Christmas - instead, they tend to speed it up until it is racing by at a clip as I desperately try to hold on to the passing bumper.

This years seems to have been the worst of all:  we have some decorations and the stockings appeared and there may even be lights in front of the house but no Christmas tree has yet graced us: if we are lucky, we can get one five days before Christmas.  With everyone in the house whipping in and out for finals and Christmas concerts and parties and random events we seem to be in a blur of motion that does not seem to lend itself to the dignity of the season.  Instead it seems to be a race to the day with every day attempting to pick up a little more speed.

But activities and finals and school are winding down; by Sunday all but the last bitter day of work will remain.  The season will suddenly come crashing into my consciousness like an avalanche.  Who knows - I may even get my shopping done.

It bothers me of course - I keep believing that Christmas should be like I remember it being, a time of quiet wonder and beauty rather than the outward cyclone of activity that it seems to have become.  But then I recall the origin of it and realize that for Mary and Joseph things were probably quite busy as well.  It is all a matter of what the real purpose of the event was - and is.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Two Tasks

Sometimes I wonder why I continue to do what I do.

I did a calculation last night.  I spent about 25% of my time on work on two types of tasks.  Just two.  In both cases, they are two which are relatively invisible to most everyone else at the company.  That was a huge number when I looked at it.  One quarter a year  - 90 days - I am only working on one of two things.

Is this a way to advance my career? It does not seem so - certainly the number fluctuate, but they are always near the top of my tasks yet I have continued in exactly the same role for 4.5 years now.  And while they are certainly some of the most important things I could be doing for the company that importance does not seem to translate into anything concrete.

But back to the question at hand:  Why do I do what I do?

Because these two groups of tasks are not easy. They involve long periods of crunching data, presenting data, defending data responding to data.  Much of the data I have to respond to are not  of my own creation - instead I am synthesizing, analyzing, and calculating.  And while they are important - really not only just to myself but to the whole company - they are essentially invisible tasks to 90% of the company. 

Where does that leave me?  Stressed before it happens.  Drained after it happens.  Waking up anticipating those days with a sense of not so much anticipation as a mild sense of dread and accepting the fact that even after we have completed the tasks at hand they were be additional work that has to be done before they are truly put to bed.

I keep thinking that somehow I am going to move beyond these things yet I scarcely seem to be able to. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Brief Attack of Irrelevance

Somewhere around Saturday evening I had an attack of irrelevance.

It started simply enough, driving along as I was coming home from a Saturday of work in preparation for an important company project.  It was a productive day and I left feeling as if I had done everything I could possibly do to prepare for the event.

But then as I drove along, I began to get cranky.

Suddenly visions of possible events - all lousy ones - filled my head.  The extra preparation which would go unnoticed if things went well.  The extra blame that would be heaped up if things did not go so well.  The lack of impact on my year end review because of prejudgements others had made.  The fact that I was doing this at all when, in the course of events, it might make no difference at all.

By the time I had gotten halfway home, most of my productive feeling was gone.

I had to consciously pull myself back from this brink of irrelevance.  I was predicting events that I had no evidence would actually come to pass. The reality, as I had to remind myself, was that the possibility of everything that I had categorized did have the potential of coming true - but so did the potential of things going right as well.  I would know that no more than I would know that the first set of things I saw coming true would happen.  I had done what I could, made my preparations.  Now I would simply have to live out the event.

I finished the ride home in a better mood - perhaps not quite the mood I had started out in but certainly not the mood I had let myself wander into either.  It was simply a matter of realizing my perspective - and being willing to talk myself back out of what I had talked myself in to.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Dark and Cold

Cold and cloudy gray,
bats no longer dive for food.
Winter has arrived

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Humility

Grappling with humility again.

Humility is tough for virtually everyone I suppose.  I am no different in that aspect.  What is always dogging me is the twin thoughts of 1)  I need to be more humble; and 2)  The humble are always overrun by those who are not.

As I have reasoned before, much of my life - choice of careers, family, friends - is really (or is really supposed to be) an exercise in servanthood:  serving the needs of those I am around.  Sounds really noble, does it not?  The (at least to my selfish mind) pathetic reality is that being a servant can be depressing: you are always getting "given" actions by others to complete and one can continually be doing things for others - to the point that you will have no time to do anything for yourself.  And recognition is often scant, a difficult pill to swallow for someone who loves to be the center of attention.

Another issue - one that perhaps bugs me even more - is that those who are "above" you somehow especially see it as a their job to make sure that you serve them.  Tasks that theoretically need to be accomplished as a group or team suddenly become largely your responsibility to orchestrate and accomplish, even though we are a "team" or "group".  While theoretically this should correspond to the concept of serving, what it actually does is create the sense of servitude, not servanthood.

But I am called to be humble, to serve others.  How do I make this work with my inherent desire to be important and feel noticed rather than to serve and be satisfied with obscurity?  How do I live out the Gospel commands to have a servant's  heart?  

How does one become humble - and be satisfied with it?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pointless Day

A day of pointlessness awaits.

Not that it is not busy.  Essentially I will hit the ground from commuting running, spending the entire day (excepting lunch) in meetings or trainings.  While I am in these meetings there is work that needs to be done:  documents that need to be reviewed, items that need to be signed, questions that need to be asked - all of which, of course, will have to be filled in around the margins.  Then I will commute back home (1.5 hours it took last night) to try and cram in whatever actual life I am trying to have.  If I am smart (and I seldom am) I will try to sleep at a reasonable hour, thus further constricting my other time.  This is what my life seems to have become. 

These are those days when I sincerely ask "Is this it?"  Because I can go through the entire day, meet everyone else's expectations of me and still feel as if I have accomplished not one thing.  Which of course leaves me completely cold about starting the day at all.

It is not that life is horribly bad, I suppose.  It is just that it is so bureaucratic, so layered with tasks and jobs of little seeming importance that must be accomplished that I scarcely feel that it will be anything but a day of life ultimately wasted in the pursuit of trivia.

In other words, a pointless day

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Hesitation Considered

I am continuing to work towards my shoden certification in Iaijutsu.  The testing ultimately involves a rather diverse set of knowledge - not only kata but terminology and history as well.  It is a rather extensive set of knowledge, much of it behind the scenes for anyone who is a casual observer.

The one part that I have struggled with the most is that open hand kata - in other words, the part where one is use just one's hands to defend one's self (the world pictures this more as "karate" or some other martial art).  Some of this is knowledge, of course - I am a slow kinetic learner and so I have to repeat things a multiplicity of times -  but some of it seems to be a true mental block on my part to be able to learn things. 

This is bothersome to me.

Is it a lack of confidence?  Perhaps.  I have never really done anything like I am doing now and so (in my heart of hearts) I doubt that I can do it.  Is it a feeling that I will never be able to do it correctly (different from self confidence in that it is not my ability to do it but my ability to do it well that is in question)?  Again, perhaps - although the great secret of iaijutsu is that in fact we are on all on a journey of constant self improvement, getting incrementally better over the course of our lives.  Or could simply be a simple fear that I will accidentally hurt someone in my practicing?  Again perhaps - I have accidentally done so before in my life, although in this I can my certain:  my jousting partners are far stronger and more experienced than I.

So what is it? 

I wish I knew.  The nagging doubts constantly assail me, that I will get to the point testing and choke.  Visions of a failed test assail me, even more so than the vision of holding the menkyo (certificate) in my hand.

So what to do?

Practice.  That is all I can do.  Practice and practice again.  Move my body in the ways it should until it does what it should be doing, even if my mind continues to suffer from a lack of confidence.  Practice until my body is simply able to put my mind aside and carry on.

The reality - something I happily quote to everyone else around me - is that all experts started out as amateurs with no better knowledge base than I have.  They just got better.

Time to practice what I preach.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Today

There are days where I feel
that Monday is here and I am ready:
ready to take on the world,
ready to take on work.
But not today.

Today I feel unrested mentally.
Today I feel physically out of sorts:
slept not enough - or too much?
Either way, I got up late.

Today my mind is cloud with debris of the weekend,
letting things of no importance eat away my time:
Avoidance perhaps?  Pretending that what I have to do
is not coming?

Perhaps.

But today is here.
And so I try to put aside that which clouds my mind and soul
and be about the business of living.

Tomorrow will be better.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Idiot

I do not like being called an idiot.

Oh, it is not like this is a common occurrence in my life or ever has been.  Certainly no-one has walked up to me lately and said  "You know, you are an idiot".  But what I do resent - or at least what a thought process lead me to realize I resent - is the implication that I am an idiot.

An idiot?  Stupid.  Uneducated.  Do not know what I am doing - so much so that people take it upon themselves to do the things they have asked me to do.

Where did this come from?  Stellar question.  I do not really have a good answer to give.  I think of specific incidents in my life where such a thing has occurred but never the "first time" that lead to all this. More relevant, of course, is why all of this matters.

Why does it matter?  Because of the reaction it generates within me:  I become defensive, angry, even sullen in a sort of "drag my feet I will do what you want but as slowly as possibly".  Not the sort of reaction one needs if one wants to move forward with one's life.

And why does it make me feel this way?  I have given this some thought.  The reason seems to be what you are implying when you effectively treat me as an idiot.  You demean me.  You ignore what I am saying or doing and treat it as it is not important - maybe because it is wrong or not the best way to do it but just as likely because it does not meet the way you want to do it e.g. your ego.  If you are really trying to do it effectively, you will do it in public so you can effectively humiliate me in front of  everyone else and make look stupid.  Or foolish. 

Like an idiot.

This realization was actually quite freeing once it happened.  Suddenly a great deal of my reactions to certain individuals and certain situations was clearly explained.  Why is it that I can freely make and admit errors to some with no shame or reaction - even good humor - why other times such things and the reactions set my teeth on edge?  Simple.  In one situation it an error, something I have done.  In the second, it is an error but the implication is that it is something that I am.

Could pride be involved here?  Possibly.  I tend to have a vision of how I would like the world to view me and how I see myself and the implication that I am stupid or ignorant or uneducated does not play well with that vision.  To that extent, that is something I will need to resolve myself.

But the other part - that part I need to parse out internally - is simply how to avoid reacting that way in those other situations.  How do I transfer that sense of being called an idiot away from a personal assessment and into another channel?  How do I manage my rising tide of anger and resentment when such a thing happens?  Here lies ulimate conquest and power.

Being called an idiot may happen from time to time.  Taking it to heart should not.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Reflections on a Winter's Morning

As I sit typing this morning the wind is whipping across the chimney and howling down through the fireplace.  If I go and stand outside the front door the trees are bending with the force of the front as it blows in.  The ground, which betrayed nothing but the appearance of summer yesterday, is now damp from the unheard rain that fell sometimes in the night.  After a brief foray back into the Autumn that never seems to be long enough we have careened directly into Winter.

The cold is the thing I like the least.  I can certainly deal with rain.  I can even deal with the wind (although we never had a great deal like this where I came from).  The one thing that I cannot wrap my head around is cold - not just the cold of winter, but the cold that cracks your fingers and makes sure that you are never really that warm, the sort of days you wish you had the covering of snow to at least make the cold worth it.

But these are some of the best days to be inside watching.  The trees dance in the wind here unlike anything I have seen before in my life:  not the gentle swaying of the pines at the Ranch as the wind blows over the Sierras nor the majesty of the Redwoods of my college days where the trees are so large and tall that they do not seem to move at all.  The oaks and cedars here flail back and forth as if shaken by a rather large hand, standing where the larger trees would probably break

It is a privilege - and one I do not feel grateful for often enough - that I have had the opportunity to live in some many places so that I can see and experience such things.  That I can look at trees and know that they do not behave the same way other places.  That the wind roars down here from Canada where in other places I have lived it roared from over the ocean.  They both roar and they both bring rain - but how differently they do so.

How wonderful - and suprisingly different while being the same - is God's creation.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Giving More Effort

One of the things I find I have difficulties with is giving my all in environments which are less than rewarding.  It is one thing, of course, to put your effort in where effort equals outcome.  It is quite a different thing to do where effort seems to go nowhere.

But I think I am viewing this incorrectly.

Jeffrey Gitomer at least got met to start thinking in another direction here with his article on customer service.  His point, simply put, is as follows:

"KEY POINT OF UNDERSTANDING: Once you understand that you’re serving for yourself, once you understand that your attitude will determine your communication excellence, and once you understand your personal pride will dictate your actions – at once you see your possibilities, and will have the ability to better improve your performance."

It is not about them.  That is something of a good reminder for me - them being the company, the client, the management, even other employees.  The amount of effort I put in should be somewhat divorced from any immediate results which I might not see because ultimately the level of effort (or service, as Gitomer puts it) that I put in is a benefit to me - whether from my sense of pride about how I act and what I output or from the longer return that may be realized from it )e.g. get trained, work hard, take the experience and move on).  It also allows me to work on improving my performance - that is, if I do not know where the edge of what I can do is, the change of me pushing that boundary is very limited.

There is also that indefinable quality that lets one go away from any situation like this and have the feeling that one did the best that one could, that one achieved something even if it was not recognized by anyone else.  That may seem a bit quaint for some and certainly may not yield any tangible rewards but it does give one the psychic boost of having worked as hard as one could.

So yes, effort is important even if the situation does not seem to immediately reward it.  I simply need to expand my vision to see all the possibilities.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Extroverted Invtrovert

On the way to something else yesterday I suddenly discovered that I am an extroverted introvert.

I actually realized that I like people.  I like interacting with them.  I like (heaven forfend) talking to them. Not all the time of course.  And not unconditionally.  But a great deal more than what I thought I did.

I have always considered myself an introvert.  But lately what has popped up a couple of times is that introversion is not so much preferring the absence of people as it is how you recharge.  Extroverts can charge up in atmospheres with people, introverts need quiet time away to do so.

The quiet time away for recharging has not changed for me - there are weekends where after a typical week all I want to do is crawl into a hole and read.  But recharging, as I have to make myself realize, is more of how we regain energy, not how that energy is spent.  It is like a cell phone:  the energy for it  can be used quickly or slowly but it is still used.  The phone still has to be plugged in somewhere.

What does this realization mean?  It means that I can actually concede that I like spending time with people - and it is okay to mention that to myself.  It means that I can give myself permission to seek out others to spend time with.  And it certainly means that I can (and need) to work on honing up my conversational and relational abilities to be better at making and carrying conversations.

If I realize this, I am excited to come to grips with what it actually means as move on with this knowledge.  Not that it really changes anything - but it would seem that everything changes.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Encourager?

What if your purpose in life was to encourage others in their purpose in life?

This is the thought that cross my mind over the course of the weekend - and having crossed my mind of course, refused to go away.  What if that was it?

Not a coach, you understand, or a counselor or anything as glorified as that. A cheerleader.  An encourager. 

Is it something that I enjoy?  Yes.  Nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing friends and family succeed in what they are doing, to find their place in the world.  There are few things more pleasurable than watching someone discover what they want to do in life and then encouraging them to have the confidence to do it.

The good news?  This is something I could start doing now.  Today.  There is no special equipment I need, no special training I have to acquire.  It is as simple as making phone calls or reading e-mails and being supportive.

The bad news?  It is not really a paying position. 

Am I good at it?  I think so.  Certainly I can be great encourager to others.  I have certainly assisted many of my own friends in trying new things or finding what they really want to do.  And trust me - the world is full of people who can tear at one's dreams or rip the ground out from under you.  An actual encourager is quite rare.

Professional Encourager.  Hmmm.  I wonder if there is a title for that?