Thursday, April 19, 2007

My Wildest Dreams

Once the world was new our bodies felt the morning dew
That greets the brand new day, we couldn't tear ourselves away
I wonder if you care, I wonder if you still remember
Once upon a time in your wildest dreams

The Moody Blues, “Your Wildest Dreams

Last weekend I had a long talk with a good friend. I came to the realization that my sporadic social aversion comes from people letting me down. When calculating an interaction with someone, I become more apt to decline or cut short the interaction because that person or people, in general, have let me down either in a particular instance or as a pattern.

Perhaps my standards are unrealistic, but a detached analysis of situations past indicates otherwise. I want for someone close to me to have a warrior spirit: To value their relationship with me enough to not just give up at the first or second signs of distress: To feel that I’m valued more than less significant things in their life. I’ve had an opportunity at this kind of relationship on a few occasions, but the opportunity passed me by for one reason or another. When I wasn’t letting myself down, other people let me down. Over time, the pattern made me cynical. Now I just wait for people to let me down.

Romance was abundant when I was young. Emotions flowed freely between individuals and the barriers to expression were much less rampant than they are today. It has been said that love is often clouded with fear and doubt, and I feel that is the only dynamic that I may know anymore when it comes to romantic love in interpersonal relationships. I’ve not found the fact that there are any out there anymore that will go over, above, and beyond to express their feelings for me; instead I feel there to be definite differentials in my life where I’ve found myself expressing my emotions for someone and not feel them properly reciprocated. At best, it’s frustrating; at worst, it adds to my fear of having and cultivating real, true love once again in my life.

I keep asking myself whether this was manifested my professionalism and workaholic persona within me, or if it was manifest because of it. Perhaps it even qualifies as an example of the ergo hoc post proctor hoc fallacy: Coincidental correlation. Regardless, the more I go through it with the fine-tooth comb of logic, I can’t seem to reason a way out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mean People and the Little People that Call Them Mommy and Daddy

Wednesdays will be for wisdom found on T-shirts, bumper stickers, signs, and the like.


Mean people breed little mean people.

Just think of the ramifications: Kids, just like their parents. Scary as hell, if you ask me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Emotions as a Force Multiplier

Live life like the owner of a heart of stone
No one touches, touch no one

But the road gets weary when you’re all alone

I’ve spent too many nights looking over my shoulder

And the ways of the world make a heart grow colder

Richard Marx, “Wait for the Sunrise”

A good friend once enlightened me with the bit of wisdom that “people do things, ultimately, to find entertainment value.” You go to work so that you can afford to be entertained. You spend money on the best tickets for such-and-such an event to be entertained. Entertainment begets positive emotions, and people ultimately do things to lead to delight, happiness, satisfaction. Call it the pursuit of happiness, if you will. With all this talk of emotion, where does it fit into things? Yes, people condition their actions to sway away from negative feelings and to sway towards big things. Look in the news and you’ll find stories that are likely manifestations of people with hurt feelings.

The military thickened my skin, hardened my heart. I don’t feel that people are born with the capability to withstand a lot of negative emotion: Instead, it is a conditioned response to their environment. In a more technical description, emotional coldness is not necessarily a genetic function, but more a manifestation of environmental factors. By the time that I was out I was ready to put my game face on in a matter of micro-seconds: A stern-looking Patton, of sorts. I developed a single, multi-purpose emotion. I was the epitome of a warrior: I could withstand great bouts of the cold, cold world and deal with a given mission however it was called to be dealt with: I could present a warm and kind persona or a firm, mission-oriented one.

Before the military, I wasn’t this person. Often withdrawing into my introversion at the sign of the feeling of failure, I spent this time in deep reflection and constant learning. I came equipped with a warm heart and a mid-western attitude of giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. Years after being out of the military the warmth came back to my heart. The process to master is the balancing act of detachment from emotion while not losing your humanity. I still get hurt from things that I need to be detached from. I take things too personally sometimes; on the other hand, I still have the warrior in me that serves more a functional purpose.

The form of emotion or the function of fight: Herein lies the art to developing yourself. Image is everything, and people expect a leader to be simultaneously compassionate and strong. Indeed, it’s not easy.

Emotion can be a force multiplier, but it needs to be the right kind: It needs to match the purpose at hand. Self-loathing will not benefit you when the mode you need to be in is confidence. A healthy dose of ego might do the trick there, however. Be mindful not to allow the irrationality of emotion to enter the stage, though. Irrationality can be coupled with panic in some cases, and panic is caused by the sudden onset of fear or similar emotions that will otherwise cloud your better judgment.

Monday, April 16, 2007

"Monkey Business Monday" - One of the First Famous Monkeys

The chimp from the original Tarzan movies celebrated his 75th birthday recently.

I wonder if there were bananas served with the cake?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Coming Around Again

So good on paper, so romantic, but so bewildering…
…I know nothing stays the same
But if you're willing to play the game
It's coming around again.”

Carly Simon, “Coming Around Again

My mantra has been to always “go forward,” no matter what else is going on personally or with an organization. Bureaucracy, management theories, and whatever else aside, one should always be moving in a direction towards the goal. However, sometimes one can inadvertently lose sight of their progress towards this goal.

Comfort is that thing which dulls optimum effectiveness. If you get too comfortable, you’re prone to laziness. You’re prone to foolishness. A lesson from the military: When you step outside your comfort zone, only then can you experience true growth, whatever venue in your life that might be. “It builds character,” is what people say of those things that are generally unpleasant: This is why. Character is defined as someone with good repute. Perhaps doing tasks that others see as unseemly give you a good reputation? I personally think the direct meaning behind this word, in this case, isn’t necessarily…correct. Rather good reputation is built around those individuals that have shown effectiveness and efficiency in the completion of their tasks. Performing above the call of duty offers a qualitative essence to an easily quantifiable task. In other words, people notice extra effort: People notice moving forward.

Everything in life can be deduced to a game. Not the manipulative sort that will inevitably come to many a mind, but a game in the auspices of economics: An interaction between multiple intelligent agents with their own agendas, motives, and rationales. Outcomes and scenarios can reasonably be deduced with previously known, currently gathered, and assumed information regarding the other intelligent agents in said game. With this methodology one can often control their own actions to control the desired outcome of the situation.

Mind you, this is not manipulation: It is control. The difference is intent. Manipulation is a principle of the unprincipled, whereas control is a principle of the science of management. One is maladaptive while the other is required in business.

People generally resist change. People will find their optimal state of being and stay there. Sometimes this means being ahead of the curve, sometimes this means complacency. It is never too late to become the person that you want to become: If the benefit of the potential reward outweighs the discomfort that you have for putting the necessary effort and energy into the scenario, then you will find a way to make it happen. Internal motivation can overcome all.

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