I’m Now Undecided

I watched most of the Canadian leaders debate last night. I felt at times like a little kid standing in the living room watching my parents fight. I wanted to cry out “just stop yelling at each other, please!”

This was not three impassioned men who desperately believe in their vision for the future, this was one guy trying to best the other. They were vying for the twitter quote, the take down, the one liner.

They each bent the truth to suit their purpose. It was a reality TV version of politics. I began the evening with a chosen candidate, I ended undecided.

I am sure high school geography teachers are scrambling today because their planned class on reviewing the debate would prove meaningless from a learning perspective, unless they have a unit in uncivil discourse.

An event like a conversation about the economy among the three candidates who have the best chance at running the country should not elicit disdain from the electorate.

Each of those men left the stage smaller than when they arrived. They added nothing to the discussion, eroded confidence, and embarrassed themselves in the process.

Not only that but we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. If we do vote for the most reasonable choice, it’s likely that will cause the end result to be more of the same for the next four years.

We should all expect more and demand it. We want inspired leadership, not sound bite bullies who have no interest in listening.


Get a Job

I met with a university graduate yesterday who represented himself  just like everybody else. Now that he’s done school it’s time to look for a job to start his career. My sense is he wants to fit in, when what he needs to do is stand out.

I’ve known him for many years. He has a ton of great qualities and if prodded can speak excitedly about what he’d like to do. Yet, somehow, it seems he feels he’s better to fly below the radar.

I read a great Steve Jobs quote: “ we don’t hire people so we can tell them what to do, we hire them so they can tell us what to do”.

Here’s some unsolicited advice:

Instead of a passive, generic resume, and rehearsed answers to interview questions, figure out what problem you want to solve and then find the employer who needs the solution.

The line forms to the right for team players who are willing to give 100% – those aren’t unique qualities, they’re the price of admission.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you are that matters.   Give a damn. Have opinions, ideas, and arguments.   Be interesting and interested. Lean forward.

In my experience, the good jobs aren’t obvious. You’ve got to talk to a lot of people, get advice, ask, try, seek. It’s a full time thing to find a full time thing.

That all said, it’s hard to stand out in what often feels like a ‘whack a mole’ culture. There’s an assumption that it’s easier to avoid failure and disappointment if we pattern ourselves after what is deemed acceptable and normal.  It’s a trap, and if you look at anyone we celebrate as ‘successful’ – they rarely conform.

I’ve got great faith in my young friend. The future is as bright as he chooses it to be.


Who Else Is Going?

The compost tea workshop I am running this coming weekend has only one sign up. The organizer said they might cancel because ‘it’s not worth it’ for just one person. I beg to differ.

There is someone out there who decided all on their own to spend a morning with me learning about making millions of microbes for the soil – how can I disappoint them?

I like that they didn’t ask, ‘who else is going?’ Clearly they are independent thinking and self secure. Either that, or they have no friends and sign up for any course that shows up. They might ask me to keep to the time as they have crochet at 11:30.

I am not sure I’d have risked registering for my workshop by myself. I have never liked walking into a room for a meeting/class/event – and being the only one there. It feels awkward and seemingly calls into question my popularity and my discernment. If no one else is there, then it obviously isn’t any good – so what does that say about me?

It is such a relief when a second person finally arrives. I feel suddenly validated – at least I have a co-loser.

Of course, there is the whole other anxiety of why no one else signed up. Never mind being a participant on their own, what about an instructor with only one student? “Yah, I went, but when I saw I was the only one going, I figured the teacher must be a weirdo, so I ditched”.

I’m going to do the class simply because I’m now so curious about the person who is coming. Maybe we’ll become great friends. I mean, we already have something in common.

Who Are The People In My Neighbourhood?

I took over a jar of canned tomatoes and a bottle of wine to my friends next door as a thank you. They had stood vigil all day as my boat washed up on the beach and I wasn’t around. What’s great is I didn’t even ask, they just took matters into their own hands. “It’s what neighbours do”, was the modest response to the gifts.

I am surrounded by people. Sometimes it’s a temporary thing like at a coffee shop or in traffic, and others it’s more permanent like at home. But, I often live like I am on my own. I don’t regard all those around me as neighbours, they’re mostly strangers.

A friend was telling me about an exercise she did in her Psychology class. They were to put up their hand every time they had a judgment about someone else in the room. The result being a lot of arms in the air a lot of the time.

I judge, compare, compete with, or fear far more than I welcome those I don’t know.

Another friend told the story about a time when, commuting home by bike, he got into an impromptu, unspoken race with another cyclist. They silently battled for position across the bridge, until the other guy cut off my friend and they both crashed. I totally related.

I want to act like the folks next door. Just step up and respond with kindness . Whether that’s for them, or for that driver in traffic. I’d like to expand my definition of neighbour.

The boat’s a write off, but I am feeling pretty great about the people who live beside us. Just imagine what they’ll be like if we have a real problem.


Easy Come, Not So Easy Go

‘The cravings will come and go”, instructed the little how-to-quit smoking card I picked up off the ground. Easy for them to say. I don’t smoke but I know when I am in the midst of an urge, desire, or want the idea that it will subside seems impossible.

I’ve kicked coffee to the curb, and am trying to do the same with booze and sugar – but those two are proving to be a wee more persistent. But, beyond the physical, it’s the emotional stuff that I find toughest to distinguish forest from trees.

When I’m consumed – it’s hard to see the horizon. The emotion takes up residence and seems to have no interest in leaving. Not only that, it usually makes a mess of the place while it’s here.

Life can easily become more thermometer than thermostat.

The thing is, I have been on the other side, many, many times. The desire may not disappear, but it subsides enough to not cause any more trouble.   So, how come that knowledge doesn’t stick around for the next time?

I remember a boss telling me he wanted to hold his staff  ‘like this, and not like this’ – as he opened and closed his hand. I hear that in my head when I am in the midst, the grip causing my knuckles to go white. Prying back my fingers one by one and letting go feels counter-intuitive and is rarely easy – but once accomplished, has unsurprisingly proven far more right than wrong.

It is hard, and not more than a little embarrassing, to feel like I am still ‘growing up’ and learning to manage emotions rather than give in to them.

But hey, at least I’m not smoking.

Feeling Groovy

This past weekend I was accused of not walking fast enough. I think that shows real progress.

I’m not known for slow. Not that fast means I save any real time. Instead of measure twice, cut once – I’ll measure quickly, cut too short, then end up driving back to the building centre for more material. Speed may not always kill, but it can screw things up.

I had a sailing instructor once tell me the difference […]

Learning vs. Doing

The conversation was about flow. “skills are on the x axis, while difficulty is on the y. The goal is to find the point where the two intersect, up there, on the right”. Something I am good at, that is really hard to do.

I thought about how much time I spend on the lower left, the stuff of Facebook, random email, meetings, and, well, more Facebook. Meanwhile, the art project remains undone, books unread, skills […]

I Can’t Get No

I am having one of those weeks where I can’t come up with anything great to write about. I’ve started this blog about a dozen times so far. From the dog that kept me awake, to the people in the bike lane with their selfie stick, none of it seems good enough.

It’s not like my head hasn’t been filled with its usual voices of doubt, fear, arousal, and happy – I’m just having a tough […]