Tag Archives: Change

Reminder – Please Follow Me on bareedwriting.com

reminder

Good morning!

I wanted to remind all of my readers that I am now blogging on http://bareedwriting.com/.

Hope to see and hear from everyone there!

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Changes Afoot to My Blogs

There is so much that I didn’t know when I started this blog on a Saturday morning last December.  I had been thinking about blogging for some time, but the actual start was a bit on impulse.  This means that there were a lot of details that I didn’t understand.  (Well, if we waited to understand everything perfectly before we acted, we would rarely act, yes?)

 

I’ve learned more about blogging by actually doing it than I would have in reading about it or asking bloggers vague questions.  (That’s the thing about learning, half the battle is knowing what questions to ask.)  But in learning, and formulating a better idea of what I wanted to do, I ended up with a couple of blogs.  One of which is branded (http://bareedwriting.com/).

 

public domain image

public domain image

I’ve made the decision to merge my blogging efforts to my branded URL.  I hope that all of you wonderful readers who have been following me here will come over and follow me at http://bareedwriting.com/.

 

Starting on Monday September 16th, I will move these essays from Practical Business over to my BAReed Writing blog and I do hope that you come over and follow me there.

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations, All rights reserved

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When did Built to Last become Planned Obsolescence?

I could do a bit of research and find out the actual answer to my question from a marketing or product development standpoint, but that isn’t my objective.  (If you know, please do share.)  I’m more interested in this question in an esoteric manner; we seem to have started this idea with products, quietly and slowly (washers and dryers used to be built for 15-20 years, now 8 seems to be the norm yet they cost comparatively more!) and the idea has spread to other parts of business and life.

End of Child Labor is Progress (Cotton mill workers,1909.Lewis Hines, National Child Labor Collection-Library of Congress.)

End of Child Labor is Progress (Cotton mill workers,1909.Lewis Hines, National Child Labor Collection-Library of Congress.)

 

Now progress is different than planned obsolescence – I learned to type on an old manual typewriter (my pinky fingers will never forget the force exerted to depress those keys was nearly beyond their power) and am thrilled to now use Word on my laptop to create.  That is progress, new inventions to improve upon old process.  Calligraphy and quill pens are now lovely in living history settings and used for artistic expression, but we will stick with our gel pens, thanks.

 

And as for applying the concept of obsolete to people, well skills might get a little stale, but not a person.  A person who has learned how to navigate a changing world always has something to offer.  We might have to slow down our hurry just a bit, sit down and have a chat, and then cull through the conversation for the good stuff.  But there will be good stuff; solid knowledge on making a life, earning a living, solving problems.

 

Older people might not know their way around all of these devices, but should your GPS break most would be capable and happy to show you how to read a map.  To tell you a story or two about the area where you find yourself.  How it once was, how it came to be what you see before you.  Sometimes this means a place quite different as the story progresses, but since nature is cyclical sometimes it means returning to something similar to what it was before.

 

One of the answers to my question might be, ‘that’s progress’.  Hmmm.  It seems to be more about pure commerce to me, which is what it is; but then we should carefully consider what parts of the world to apply the concept.

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

 

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Outrage Overload

The Age of Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason developed in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe and America (the fact that history as taught in our schools has a decidedly European and American bent is a topic for a different blog, but a worthy topic.)  We have moved from that age through the Industrial Age and now are in the waning years of the Information Age.  What to call the current age?  Well, outrage, umbrage, discord and conflict/confrontation are so prevalent that this might become known as the Age of Outrage.  People in general seem to be mere moments away from boiling over about any number of touchy subjects – and the list of touchy subjects just grows without resolution on any of the older items.

public domain

public domain

 

What is an office worker to do?  We have this notion that emotions don’t belong at the office, but we spend many hours toiling a few feet away from a number of other humans.  It would be nice to have a cordial and also meaningful relationship with all of them since we see them a great deal more than we see our own family.  We already know to stay away from the two oldest items on the touchy list – religion and politics.  (And how sad and ironic that something which was meant to be inclusive, religion, is so divisive.)

 

I have my own list of subjects that get my dander up, certainly.  But the tagline for this blog is Reasonable Expectations.  Hence why I started the count of named Ages with the Age of Reason (besides starting with the Iron Age would have made for a long, boring list) because I think that this could help us before future historians do dub this the Age of Outrage.

 

public domain - Understandably angry about conditions for women in India

public domain – Understandably angry about conditions for women in India

Outrage is a response of powerlessness, where reason is a considered decision for growth.  Outrage is complaining on steroids and complaining (kvetching, whining) is pointing out something that you think is wrong but waiting for someone else to come along and fix it.  But fix it the way that you think it should be fixed or the complaints just escalate.  Some offices are so full of complaining that you can practically see it in the air, until the big boss walks through and then there isn’t even a hint.

 

Reason identifies a problem, tracks it to a root or roots and then sets about coming up with potential solutions.  (This isn’t the use of reason as in an alternate word for excuse, rather sound judgment and good sense – thinking, application of knowledge and logic.)  Reason offers a path to a better place, a place where the touchy subject no longer holds any power or sway because we know how to correct, prevent or avoid the cause.

 

Outrage started out as a reasonable tool to gain the fickle attention of the public – all of us in the general populous who are stretching the hours of our day to fit in all of the necessary components – who might otherwise distractedly nod agreement, yes worthy cause please just catch me later.  But now the outrage is such a kneejerk reaction to every touchy thing, and the list of these must come on a scroll that rivals Santa’s naughty or nice list, that it is harder and harder to even get that little acknowledgement of agreement for a worthy touchy issue.

 

We need a reset, to solutions – reason.  Starting with common ground, identification of root causes using facts which aren’t filtered through any bias.  We’ve tried more outrage as a means to get attention to the growing list of worthy touchy subjects and it led to overload and dismissal.

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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The State of My Year (To Date)

thinkHow could I resist today’s Daily Prompt, Daily Prompt: The State of Your Year.  Since this has been a year of transition for me, it is a great idea to review and take stock.  Am I in position to ‘gain traction’ (sorry for the buzz phrase); what have I done well, what can I improve?

 

I’ve mentioned before that in our house, growing up, analysis was not only encouraged, it was expected.  But it must be appropriate analysis, I have learned as I have matured, or it leads to analysis paralysis.  You have to pick the parameters of your analysis, define your expectations, and determine the appropriate controls – which all sounds much more complicated than it really is.

 

My favorite question to ask myself (and to consider when I’m interacting with others) is ‘what is my intent?’.  Knowing where I want to wind up helps me better to decide how to get there and whether or not I’m taking the right path.  It also helps me to decide whether a goal is worthy or should be changed or scrapped.  (I don’t understand people who pursue a goal that is no longer valid out of a dogged determination to finish what they start.)

 

Anyway, back to my year.  I have learned a great deal this year and met quite a few interesting people – none of which would have happened if I had continued on my previous track.  That track was getting pretty mucky and odious, but it was familiar and so I admit to waffling on next steps until some of them were decided for me.

 

Some of the things that I have learned, or re-learned this year:

  • Skills necessary for job search rarely match skills needed for most jobs
  • Being open to new experiences doesn’t mean that you won’t also have to mourn what was expected
  • Memorizing is hard when you haven’t done it for a long time
  • Surviving something that you feared is very freeing (I’ve had to learn this one a few times in the past decade, I’ve got this one down – do you hear that Fate?)

 

This has been a year of the unexpected for me, but I think that I have mostly managed it with the right attitude.  We do only get one life and there are sweeping changes and snail-paced days mixed into it, but as Studs Terkel told Rick Kogan when he was 93, “I’m feeling interested in life.”  I think I’m in good shape, at least in the interest respect.

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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When We are All Attempting to Differentiate Ourselves, Why Don’t We Like to be Different?

We are each busy in our own way, consciously or not so much, proving to ourselves and our spheres that we are relevant and valuable – making a contribution that matters.

Back in January, I wrote a post called Different.  With all of the current angst, the idea of people being ‘different’ is topical; for all ages, creeds, and ethnicities.  Different is the essence of diversity and it doesn’t stop with the color of our skin, hair and eyes.  Here is a pertinent excerpt from the earlier post:

“In our eternal human quest to simplify, we usually allow only two choices for something new – Right or Wrong.  I propose a third choice which should be prominent – Different.  Putting something new in this area for a time allows for reflection, consideration, exploration.  It allows for adjustment.

This is kind of like driving.  Most of us seem to have the idea that we must have our foot on either the brake or the gas (only 2 choices).  When I was teaching my sons how to drive, I talked to them about coasting as a viable option.  It gives you time to think before coming to a decision – therefore hopefully making your decision stronger.  Of course, this is an option and should not be used in an emergency, say when the car in front of you suddenly stops.  But if you are paying attention, you have time to think if you allow your car to coast toward potential issues.

Different is similar to coasting.  It is a safe place to try out a new idea, theory, concept without immediately categorizing it.

Putting something unfamiliar in the Different, or wait and see, category gives you time to look it over – both actively and passively.  Give it a test drive, see how it looks on a shelf in your house, mention it in casual conversation.  Unfamiliar or new isn’t bad, it’s just different.”

In January I was referring more to events and things, today I am focusing on people.  I have had the pleasure to meet people from varied backgrounds in my life and I am the richer for it.  We like to be comfortable, and we are never more comfortable than when we are insulated in a group of people just like ourselves.  Here is the thing that I have learned as I go about meeting people, we have more similarities than differences once we get to know each other.

diversity

“Since the majority of me

Rejects the majority of you,

Debating ends forthwith, and we

Divide.”

~Philip Larkin

When we see distaste of diversity called out like this, we want to find a way to be more inclusive.   Our better selves want a quotation like this to be representative of our actions:

“He who is different from me does not impoverish me – he enriches me. Our unity is constituted in something higher than ourselves – in Man… For no man seeks to hear his own echo, or to find his reflection in the glass.”

~Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Flight to Arras (Pilote De Guerre), 1942

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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Orienteering, Office Politics & Blind Trust

Some of us plan, others meander, and still others outright stumble along through our work life.  Depending on the stage of life we find ourselves, or the task we are engaged in, we may do some combination of these three things.  I decided that I just had to see if I could connect the dots between this story, 8 Drivers Blindly Followed GPS into Disaster and my blog theme.  Particularly since I just posted something about trust.

 

Certainly we can’t be expected to be expert at everything required to be successful in this complex modern life, so we must rely upon others to guide us at times.  The basic assumption should still be that we must stay clued in to whether the aid we have chosen is providing useful assistance; we must keep our own common sense engaged.

 

No device has yet been marketed that will provide step by step guidance through a work day in the office.  (I’m sure someone out there is working to create one.)  Therefore we must rely upon orienteering, dead-reckoning, the kindness of others – whatever local signposts seem to offer the best clues in negotiating our tasks, our co-workers, bosses, clients, etc.  Pick the wrong one and follow it too far past when common sense starts humming, then screaming warning and we end up in some lake or bog – or up a cherry tree.

 

orienteeringOrienteering relies upon a compass, a map and your own abilities to interpret all the signs.  What does the map translate into in your office – hopefully thoughtfully and clearly written protocols on best practices for your tasks?  (Check the date of the last update, or the creation date – well written but obsolete maps make for interesting gift wrap but not much more.  No date, well…)  And the compass would be the direction that you are given by the person passing out your tasks.  Then it is all yours to put it together and make something useful and sensible.

 

Everyone can get stuck pondering the validity of staying the course or bailing.  Think about these hapless folks the next time you find yourself wondering whether to question the prevailing direction or to follow it.

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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Lesson Learned, Until it’s Not

lessonI was entirely too practiced at avoidance behavior in my younger years.  I can readily admit this now because my boys are beyond the point at which they can use this against me in their own arguments.  Time after time I would convince myself that it was easier to miss my curfew than stop making my way home and call to announce my tardiness and face immediate wrath.  (This was long before cell phones.)

 

What I know now and could not, could not get through my thick skull back then was that the ire was most likely made exponentially greater by my avoidance tactics.  I would promise myself as I endured whatever fallout came from my stupidity that I would learn this time.  I would give advance notice.  (Missing curfew was pretty much a given if I wanted a social life – I didn’t have a car and my curfew was by far the earliest among my friends.  Sleep-overs were a win-win solution that I did employ as often as possible.)  Time after time in the heat of the moment, I would ignore my resolve and avoid the confrontation until I arrived home.

 

But we’re all adults and we don’t have curfews.  No, but we have bosses and clients and co-workers who all have expectations of us.  And some among us simply cannot, cannot seem to believe that facing the issue is the best means (outside of heading off the issue in the first place) of lessening the fallout.

 

While raising my boys, I sowed many different seeds on the wrong-headedness of avoidance as a viable choice for solution.  I promised to hold my tongue and offer a lower or even no punishment if they would come forward and tell me right away.  As a manager, I was always frustrated when I would have to have similar conversations with an employee.

 

There are plenty of lessons that must legitimately be relearned because the tools or rules have changed – i.e. the newest Microsoft Office product which is always just a bit scrambled from our previous understanding comes to mind.  If there are any examples when avoidance actually worked, I don’t know about them.

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

 

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Office Survival, the Chameleon

The chameleon has come to represent the ultimate flip-flopper; one who has no real self-definition or internalized characteristics, instead one who takes on the best characteristic of the moment.  We are confusing the visual as the whole, instead of just an outward appearance which may or may not completely reflect the chameleon’s true nature.  Maybe we have it all wrong and should consider the positive aspects of this creature.

chameleon

What if the chameleon is just really good at marketing those of its existing characteristics that suit the current model?  The chameleon takes on the colors of its surroundings – the texture of its skin doesn’t change, nor does its size, and it certainly doesn’t stop being in the amphibian family.  If it were sentient, it wouldn’t change its thought process, likes/dislikes, its work ethic and so on.  It is just using tools developed over history to best advantage to survive its current environment.  Clever, perhaps even enviable.

 

We are in a period of rapid change on so many levels of our environment, and we can be forgiven – indeed should be – if we find it tiring in the extreme.  I wrote this early on in my blogging experience, Embrace it or Resist it Change Happens and feel the need to update my thoughts on change because I have changed in these short months.  (For one thing, I’ve learned how to imbed hyperlinks like this one – which I think is a pretty cool trick because I am easily amused.)

 

I could probably decide to write once a month about change and not have to repeat myself.  (This is true about a lot of seemingly simple topics, really.)  I won’t because that would be boring and predictable which would negate the qualities of survival that I’m thinking about right now.

 

The chameleon uses a fear response to decide to activate its skill of blending, so it becomes a prompt to do something instead of a paralyzing occasion.  I think that is admirable, the chameleon is helping itself to get through the current situation by using learned and innate skills.  It is adapting, at least temporarily to its environment.

 

This ability to adapt has allowed survival and can be a boost into the next level of existence, which is to thrive in the environment.  Grow where you are planted – look for the familiar and even features to appreciate where you find yourself, while you work to find a more suitable environment for the future.

 

You don’t have to like something to see its merit – while I don’t like math, I am savvy enough to know I need to apply it to my money management so that I don’t become a target.

 

Chameleons show us the possibility in taking advantage of our skills to turn a potential danger environment into an asset.  Calling someone a chameleon is quite the compliment.

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

 

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Change the Angle, Create Mental Space

I’ve been having some great new experiences lately, but somehow that hasn’t prevented me from being a bit on the cranky side.  I don’t like being cranky and I certainly don’t ever intentionally share it when I am.  So I’m consciously working through my cranky to get out the other side.

stormy

This morning as it rains, fingers crossed for my friends who are still bailing out from the round last week, I decided to look at things a different way instead of questioning why I’m crabby.  (By the way, whoever forgot to turn off their request for rain when we were in drought last year can turn it off now.)  Sometimes it is better to accept a thing that is, but to adjust to give it less of a priority.

 

So I’m inching around, looking for a sunnier view of things and while I am at it I remembered a conversation that I had with an employee a few years ago.  She had to send an email out to resolve an issue and she asked me to read it first because it had the potential to be sensitive.  I suggested that she reframe her whole premise in a more positive light and rearrange her facts to reduce the emphasis on a couple of problematic ones.  She told me that she felt that was dishonest.  While admiring her straightforwardness, I was a bit taken aback at her use of such a strong word in a conversation with a boss.  (I know bosses who would have considered her insubordinate, I disagree.)

 

Perhaps my suggestions smacked of being disingenuous. (Check out the differences in meanings if you are at all unsure.) I told her as much – but followed up by asking her intent.  Was she determined to be straightforward and walk into a sensitivity bramble, or did she want to resolve the original issue?  My suggestion would achieve the latter more easily than hers.

 

One person’s weeds are another’s wild flowers – except for dandelions, even for the folks that like them on their salads.  (You really shouldn’t eat the ones growing in yards.)  Principles are highly necessary, but shouldn’t always be held in a short view.  Sometimes we should walk around the principle and even take a few steps back to see it from different angles and distances.  I too am a straightforward person, but I can couch my communications in a manner that will best convey my intent without compromising my straightforward tendencies.

sunny

In this world where we seem to honor confrontation over many more worthy traits, wouldn’t it be a nice change of pace if we took that walk around our ire (principle) and thought about what we intend to gain before we act on it?  I promise I will closely monitor if my cranky is the driving motivator for my actions and words in the days to come until it loosens its hold on me.

 

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

 

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