“We change, but always at a cost: to win this you lose that.”

manwithblinders cartoon

Nick eats eight meals a day. He has little containers of food that he brings to work. He goes to Sam’s Club to buy the big bags of broccoli and diapers.

Kevin takes long bike rides with a group. They stop at a buffet after their rides.

Rick has 2 dogs which he misses every day when he comes to work.

So my story is… these people. Their stories become part of my story. The story of our lives is the background in our lives. The stuff that gets blurred out as we acclimate to the noise or don’t bother to ask.

As we get more focused on getting from point A to point B…apartment to house, house to bigger house, less pay to more pay, this partner to that partner, single to married, searching for the cool place to go and hang…we miss all the infinite points between. Those points are the people, places, and opportunities. They form the canvas of our life. When they’re connected, they become our life drawing.

That’s why when our actions are made without context, without others, without a why, without looking around first, then those actions become indefinite, their borders hazy, and after years of this, our life ceases to be meaningful.

The aim is not make a straight line. The point is not to hit each point, each milestone, checking the box, then seeking the next one. The point is to expand over our canvas, not stay isolated in our office, career, home, or family. The intent is to learn, and absorption doesn’t work unless you’re listening and putting yourself out there.

We do need goals. But what are the goals? Career, personal life, family life…how much effort to spend in each bucket? The tangibles can be met fairly easily, especially here in the US, but what happens when you realize that you’ve lost years of experience, potential friends, lovers, and new places, because your goals became your life, and living the moments fell off the list?

“We change, but always at a cost: to win this you lose that.”
– Geoffrey Wolff

Choose carefully, but just make sure you choose. The tangibles are easy to measure. The intangibles are not. Thing is, we’re here for the intangibles.

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Recess like a child

recess revolution 3

I started my run, and it was like any other day. But when I made my way around the school parking lot this time, I heard screams. I continued jogging down the driveway, the screams mixed with a screeching sound. I kept going, and as I rounded the corner of the building, I finally caught sight of a playground full of children. The swing sets were swinging. Kids were scattered in small groups, playing made up games, while others clambered over jungle gyms. They looked like they were having fun. More fun than me. Then I thought, what happened to my recess?

I want recess back

Who took our recess anyway? Was it the high school administrators who just don’t have enough hours in the day to spare us? Or was it the colleges who don’t need you to have recess? No, it was me. High school offers arts and music. College offers the opportunity to make your own schedule and club network. But, intent on being productive, after high school and college, I forgot that the movement and unstructured socializing of recess is what keeps a person loose.

I made my way around the playground and noticed 4 or 5 kids lining up at the top of a small hill. There was some direction from the more authoritative members of the group, and then they all dropped to their knees and then their sides and rolled giggling down the hill. They were creating their own fun, maybe tired of the jungle gym and swing sets.

Recess keeps us thinking creatively. During my work day, even if I just take a walk to the coffee station and have a short conversation, I come back to my desk with more energy. More focused. Rested, and in fact more productive. Studies have shown this. The breaks during intense periods of study and work are important in resting the brain. It’s almost like the recuperation of muscle after you’re broken it down after exercise. And productivity decreases if we don’t take a recess.

The judge bangs down his gavel, “We will recess.”

We need a judge in our head, observing our actions. He is silent, patient, resolute. So when we lose our focus, when we blink our eyes and stare away from the screen to refocus them. When we raise our head and realize we’ve been in the same position for an hour. That’s when the gavel comes down.

BANG

“Time for a short recess.”
“But I just need to finish this part up, it’ll just take.-“
“I said, Recess.”
“Look, if I just bust through this, I will-“
“You will finish it, yes, but will it be right? Will you do it the same way, instead of thinking of a better way to do it?”
“I guess not.”
He points sternly out the window, “Now go play. It looks like your friends need a fourth for four square.”

Will this offensive cartoon determine how you vote?

Is this an offensive cartoon?

Thinking this way about Democrats is just as wrong as thinking that Republicans are selfish, judgmental moralists.

There are plenty of those people in both Parties.

This is funny because it is a cartoon, but it’s a lot less funny because it’s dividing us based on ideology…an ideology that I don’t see being put into practice by either party. Meanwhile, bigger issues are neglected as both parties are supporting deficit spending, market manipulation (see the last one’s disastrous result in 2008), and protecting us from unseen enemy by waging perpetual war and taking our right to trial (NDAA 2012)

What do you think is important in this year’s election?

Are you voting based on ideology or action?

You are the leader you’ve been looking for

Leaders don’t check their culture for approval. They have the awareness of what’s going on to determine the right direction and start a movement towards it. It’s lonely, but it begins with a trust in human nature. Not the group’s nature, but individual nature…your nature. The group will not like your idea to change, unless it’s a slamdunk positive gain for them. Otherwise, they may think you’re going in the wrong direction. Or, more likely, they’re afraid of the change or pessimistic that things will improve.

Leadership begin with self-awareness. It begins with having the courage of your convictions. But it is more than pointing out all the wrong things. Or blaming one group over another group. The leader needs to extend his courage to the group. We must have the courage to trust people. To trust their potential, to empower people to do the right thing.

This courage is particularly important today, when people see two political parties and no real difference. And yet we are scared to vote for anyone else, because we don’t have the courage in our fellow citizens that they will do the right thing. And so we continue to vote based on who is more likely to win, and not who is more likely to do the right thing once in office.

And so nothing changes.

“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” -Ralph Nader

I agree with Ralph.

So be a leader.

Start a conversation about where you think things are headed and where you think the right direction lies. Listen, don’t lecture. Exchange ideas. If we don’t, then money will determine who wins elections, just as we feared.

And it will be our fault that it continues.

When we should have known better

When he popped open the stuck car hood, I let go of the handle and smiled in amazement. “Yep,” he said, “Next time, just try to pry it up while the handle is pulled, have someone help you.”

I nodded. “So, when are you due in court?”

He shook his head, “I’ve got a jury trial in September. It’s going to be self-defense. Everything looks good.”

“That’s good,” I replied.

“See here,” he showed a picture on his cell phone of a guy with a cut over his right eye. “I didn’t even hit him on that side.”

“Yea, stuff gets crazy in a fight,” I said. “Well, would you do it again?”

“I don’t know…”

“It was avoidable, right?”

“Well, yea, it was dumb.” he said.

I nodded.

“So, let’s get your car jumped,” he said. He looked under the hood. “Your battery bolts are loose. That’ll make you lose charge.” He quickly tightened them. “They’ll come loose on older cars, but don’t tighten them too much, there’s a lead bolt inside them that goes into the battery that will get stripped.” He pulled his van around and hooked up the cables to his engine and then to mine. “Wow, hear that? Your battery is sapped. My engine was struggling after I hooked up the cables.”

After a moment, I put my key in the ignition and my car started without a problem.

He said, “Don’t worry about it, since you helped me, we’re even.”

“Thanks,’ I said. “I made something you’d like. Wait a second, I’ll be back.”

I returned and handed him a brown bag. “What’s IPA?” he asked.

“India Pale Ale” I answered.

As he drove away, I reminded myself to always try the obvious solution. But even if you don’t, you’ll probably learn something in the process of fixing it. And maybe help someone in return.

TED Talk Tuesday: Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity

School is structured. There’s a curriculum everyone must pass. There’re benchmarks that are standardized by the state. But some students get an individualized education program. Who are these lucky few? These are the ones who cannot perform at the predetermined levels. The misfits.

Schools don’t reward creativity. They reward assimilating. Ken Robinson says our students are being educated using principles from yesteryear, when our population needed to be prepared for the industrial revolution. Today, we can see that the only industry left in this country is the service industry, and it’s not a field that most people want to work in. Seth Godin observes that new careers are not with a corporation, but in creating your own niche. It’s an empowering time of change in the US, but it is also stressful. Godin agrees:

“Stressful? Of course it is. No one is trained in how to do this, in how to initiate, to visualize, to solve interesting problems and then deliver. Some see the new work as a hodgepodge of little projects, a pale imitation of a ‘real’ job. Others realize that this is a platform for a kind of art, a far more level playing field in which owning a factory isn’t a birthright for a tiny minority but something that hundreds of millions of people have the chance to do. Gears are going to be shifted regardless. In one direction is lowered expectations and plenty of burger flipping… in the other is a race to the top, in which individuals who are awaiting instructions begin to give them instead.”

If only the education system can train our children to achieve in this market.
Robinson is a master storyteller with an important area of interest, about how our education system is failing, right along with the one in four American students failing out of high school.

“If you think of it, the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people, think they’re not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized. And I think we can’t afford to go on that way.”