gurustu's muse the daily thoughts of an every day guru
Daily Guru Thoughts
Thursday, March 31, 2005 No Time for Doubt... Faith does not guarantee success, but Doubt surely guarantees failure. So believe!
This has been one very hectic week, of isolation and chaos; deadlines and dead silences; of races run, and success running away even faster.
This was a week where most of us simply ran out of time... and I haven't had the time to figure out what it all means yet.
For the Doubter, whom I grew quite fond of, this was a very bad week. The time to salvage her reputation, and her career, simple ran out. Seeing them call her into the office, and escorting her out was a memory neither one of us wanted.
And tonight, something else I didn't want -- a very big project simply ran out of time too. With just hours left to the end of the first quarter, we struggled to get one last thing working properly. We had eight videos riding on this one little thing... success meant tripling our quota; which would lead to a whole bunch of other good stuff down the line. By 7 O'clock, the team decided it was a lost cause and gave up for the night. The basket with all the eggs was dropped.
I don't know what the repercussions of this are. It can be perceived that something rather nit-picky stopped the show... or it can be perceived that I did not deliver. The Doubter felt the repercussions of perception. Will the same Perceiver be kind or of like mind towards me?
I did all that was asked of me. This change was a last minute opinion by the last person to see it. Will it be held against them for stopping the show? Or against me for not stopping the block?
I guess only time will tell.
And as I stood at the vending machine, staring at a $1.35 bottle of orange juice, I looked down at the $1.25 in my hand... and realized the power that just-a-little-bit-more can have.
I closed the door behind me and walked empty-handed into the night.
Monday, March 28, 2005 Pivotal Moments... There is great freedom, and even greater sacrifice, standing at the fork in the road.
There are going to be times when we're in the middle of a single event, sometimes shocking, other times seemingly small; yet how we handle that moment will change the course of our lives forever.
Today seemed to be filled with them. One friend just got approved for a house, another is opening his theater Off-Broadway and a third just lost her job. Each one is so different, yet similarly epic in their impact. No matter the outcome, one this is certain: neither one of their lives will be the same.
It's just amazing to watch from my own little peak.
I too am having pivotal moments as we speak. As the pre-approvals for mortgages are coming through, I now face a huge change in my life too. How I handle this will dictate where I live, how much I will spend for quite sometime to come. There are new friends and new adventures that I can only imagine right now.
As I stand at my pinnacle, I can see for miles... and yet clouds obscure my view. It won't be until I set foot down into the valleys that I will I truly know what details lie ahead.
I hope all my friends find similar richness along their roadways.
Sunday, March 27, 2005 Brave New Worlds Brave new worlds are beyond your reach... so venture out to get closer!
We often become complacent, or just so busy living as we're living, that we forget that there's a whole different world just outside the one we've grown accustomed to.
It really could just be next door... but if we become too afraid or lazy or just-plain-uninterested, we think of Life as a Small World... and never truly see how big we ourselves can become.
I've been on the house-hunt lately, because well, it's just time. I got myself out of debt, I systematically improved my FICO score and have arrived at a place where I CAN do it. Like a bird old enough to fly, it's time to leave this nest to see what the skies have in store for me.
It's been an interesting adventure so far. For one, I've looked at my old neighborhood in a new way. Places I've never considered, or zoomed past while getting groceries, have suddenly blossomed with possibilities. I've gone down into the valleys and up into the hills. I've discovered places I had never seen before, and some I plan on not seeing again if I can help it. I've discovered that what feels like a complete change is really only a couple of miles away. Whoda thunk it?
Do you know what makes it a brave new world? Taking one step more than the ones before.
Just try it. One step. You'll see how much bravery it really takes... and just how enriching the whole adventure truly is.
Go take a walk your neighborhood... go a totally different way... then come back and tell me what you found.
Thursday, March 24, 2005 Quiet isn't always gentle Quiet is empty. We're the ones who fill it up with solitude or desperation.
I've had nearly a week of isolation, partly because I have to work on the video project; partly because I just don't want to be out among all the cubes. My way of "laying low" is literally to be out of sight.
However, mine is not a peaceful quiet. Moments of great strides are interrupted by the 'ding' of new emails. I trepidly trip on over to my inbox... either sighing at the sight of spam or clicking with dread at the responses of certain people.
It really wasn't as bad as my mind was creating. In the silence, I've been playing out the stories of chaos, much in line with the way things have been lately. When the emails are tame, or even friendly, it takes me aback a little bit. I'm not sure what to make of it... or even whether to trust it. I'm hoping it's just tinges of paranoia setting in :-) Otherwise, the alternative is that they really are out to get me. 8-o
I'm working through all the issues of the past few weeks... not just processing them, but planning proactive steps to overcome my woes.
Monday, March 21, 2005 Quiet on the set... Before you eat up your whole day, make sure to carve out a little piece of quiet.
Because of my recent computer problems, I've had a lot less time on the computer and a lot more time to do other stuff. It's kind of nice. Sure I'll admit I'm a techoholic and have experienced a bit of withdrawal... but now I'm a well rested techoholic who remembers what the bedroom looks like.
The weekend was spent cleaning up and going through some old boxes that had never even been given a label, let alone a decent place to rest all these months. I got more chances to get out of the house and check out the neighborhood... which helps since I'm looking at it in a whole new way anyway.
Work is also quiet, though certainly not in the same way. I'm behind closed doors, shut off from the rest of the world. Having to use the computer in the little video studio has not been a pain at all... but a really nice little getaway. It's a small office. I close the door, open the windows to look out at the mountains and turn on the lamps I bought at Target, and it's very homey. Being out of sight puts me out of mind for most people, so they leave me to my own little world. It's very reminiscent of my days of self-employment; where I only talked to people online and had very little face-to-face time. A mixed bag really. Still, it's been worthwhile. I'm actually getting more work done, so I'm in no real hurry to get the computer fixed and get back out to the world of Cubeland.
Right now, I'm actually on that troubled laptop. The "fix" they did has quieted down the backslashes for most of the time, so it's back to my old ways just a little bit (no really, I can quit at any time).
I really shouldn't \take\ any cha\nce\s and \\\\\\\\\\\\ (just kidding!).
I like the quiet... I think I'm off to get me another "peace."
Wednesday, March 16, 2005 Feeling the \backslash Be mindful of the little things, for those are the ones that'll come back in the biggest way.
It started off simply. At first I thought my finger had slip. A backslash kept appearing when I least expected it. I'd be goi\ng along and al\l of a sudden I'd be like "huh?" So I'd fix it and move on.
Steadily \it\ got wo\rse, and be\f\o\r\e I kne\w it\ th\ey w\e\r\e e\\v\er\y\w\\h\e\r\e... until i\t\ ju\st co\ll\ap\sed in\to an\ end\l\e\s\s s\tre\am of \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\.
No matter what I tried to do, they wouldn't stop. It became impossible to go anywhere or do anything, but watch the a\n\i\m\a\t\i\o\n go by. The MIS department replaced the keyboard with one that didn't have a period, so not only could I not stop the backslash, I couldn't stop a sentence either!
I had to use the computer in the studio today. Not that I minded the quiet isolation, but it's amazing how we take those little things for granted. It's kind of like stubbing your little toe. Gets your attnetion in a big way, doesn't it?
Some people were quick to blame Karma or Mercury in Retrograde, others were ready to blame my eating habits around my desk. I just decided that this was a lesson in how to adapt quickly and not think of myself as a victim... to remind myself that the little things do make a big difference... just like me :-)
Tuesday, March 15, 2005 The Sea of Chaos Chaos is not always as random as it appears. There are swirls and patterns that can not only bring order, but catapult you to success.
Things have been going crazy lately. There have been a lot of people rocking the boat. Some because they just want to be the Captain, some because they took the wrong boat and others because they're rowing with only one oar.
Most of my peers are befuddled by the turbulent waters. Yet with all the things I've been through personally, this is like a casual swim.
I see this now as an opportunity to get even stronger. I don't have to let anyone blame me for their oversights and misunderstandings. I can still do the things I know are right, and just, and just right. I'm not the problem and I don't have to be a part of their problem... and I certainly don't have let their problem create more problems for me.
I'm over my sadness... but now I'm getting angry. It's as if I'm going through the phases of grief. And maybe I am... I'm grieving the loss of what I thought this job was supposed to be; the loss of my golden boy reputation... and maybe the loss of still waters.
I'm adjusting my sails to the ever-fickle winds. After all, that's the only way to ride off into the sunset. It's still going to be rough seas for a while, but there is no destination without the journey.
Friday, March 11, 2005 Coming back Water finds its own level, even after the flood.
Slowly but surely, the waters have receded, the damage assessed and the rebuilding has begun. I don't mean to equate myself with the not-so-distant tsunami, so I'll say it was more like our recent rain damage. Nonetheless, the point is about rebuilding after something destructive.
In a way, my life had been more like a house on the hillside. I was going about happy-go-lucky while the rains came down. It wasn't until the foundation gave way that I really took notice.
So now as I watch every move I make, every word I say, I AM growing stronger. I realize some of my own subtleties that undermine my reputation. By taking control of the fragments, I have a chance to rebuild a much bigger and stronger ME.
And by doing so, I'm becoming ever-more-increasingly-aware of the weaknesses of others; people in power... or people I thought had power. I see their struggles even more clearly now; and am saddened by the way I see them turn that weakness into a weapon against others. "Can't we all just get along?" isn't something they pay much attention to.
I've also seen how other fragmented people have not picked up their own pieces. After being given advice, and encouragement and a lot of chances; they still continue to play the victim. They get so blinded by their own self-pity that they refuse to see a way out.
It brings out the worst in them, and the worst in others. It's amazing to see how others turn on the weak; showing us that people aren't that much different than wild animals. We only wear our spots on our ties.
Watching that go on from the sidelines tells me not only WHAT to avoid, but WHO to avoid as well. The attackers are showing their teeth. Having been bitten before, I'll be shy enough to stay clear.
It's a long road ahead for me. I won't be able to turn my back and I'll have to be watching ten steps ahead at all times. It's not the way I want it to be, but if it's the way it's going to be, then I'm the one who'll have to adapt.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005 Show and Tell... You cannot really teach anything to anyone, you can simply give others opportunities to learn.
OK, pencils down everyone!
Remember those days? It indicated that the test was over. For better or worse, the pain of the test was at last behind you.
I miss those days.
Back then, the test was simple (even when it seemed hard). There was a subject and some questions and you either got it right or you didn't. Sure, essay questions weren't as clear cut as true/false, but at least the teacher didn't come back to tell you that the true and false questions were now switched, and you're wrong.
In the world of big business tough, the rules change all the time. What was once OK is now completely wrong, and what was unheard of in the distant past is now just that, far gone.
It's just really tough when it's one person changing the rules to make you wrong.
It's certainly not a good thing for morale. In those instances, you have to dig deeper within yourself to find the strength to carry you up and away. And you have to believe it's still possible, with every step you take.
Two days ago, I was asked to conduct a "show and tell" meeting. It's public agenda was to inform all the new people of what we do an who does what. The hidden ones went much farther than that. They were designed to mark territory and to make some people look bad in front of the others. Those weren't MY agenda's, but I had to be a player nonetheless. I focused on two things... information and proper procedure. If everyone got the message, no one would have to look bad.
My personal agenda was to not look bad, especially under the scrutinizing gaze of my manager. As you can tell by the past weeks, I've been under the microscope. I had to make sure my blemishes didn't show.
As it turned out, the people whom this was designed for never made it to the meeting, and I got very little feedback. I can only hope that silence is positive and not just another log in a performance report.
But even though I'm not fortunately enough to get positive feedback, I took the time to give it today.
There is a new designer who is working for another team. She just started and has been inundated with panicked projects. After a very rough two days of mistakes, violated procedures and rewrites, she and I sat down to debrief. I reassured her that there was nothing wrong with what she did. In fact, it gave us an excellent opportunity to learn for next time.
When she said "I wish I knew that before" I responded with "then you wouldn't have learned this lesson. Hindsight is 20/20, much clearer than foresight. Now's the best time to use it." I also sat for an extra 20 minutes and brainstormed some ideas for upcoming projects and got her excited about the process. "I wish we could have done that, but we didn't have the time," came the expected response. So I answered, "then take the time next time."
You see, I don't see mistakes as failure. I see them as opportunities to grow. They're not just sayings to put up on a sign, then use against someone in a review. I treat others the way I wish I were treated.
Monday, March 07, 2005 Be brave... Being Brave isn't getting rid of Fear; it's putting Fear in the back seat while you continue to drive.
This has been a very interesting, if not very trying, time. Some people have been telling me to "be brave" through all this; while still others (and you know who you are ;-) have called me "brave" for living life openly here on the web.
I suppose it takes a certain type of bravado to talk about my own life, but it's not really the whole picture. By the time it gets here, it's been editted and polished and reflected on. It's not life in Real Time. It's as much a reality show as Survivor, but without the bugs.
What I really want to share here is not so much my personal life, but rather the human condition that I find myself in on a daily basis. If I escaped to some mountain someplace, like any good Guru should, I could talk about my navel and how you too could reach enlightenment by coming up to the mountain. But could you really relate?
Since I want to be a teacher, I decided that I would live here, among everyone else and teach by example. Going through this teaches me as well; writing through it acts as my own therapy and sharing it, hopefully, helps you deal with it when you see it in your own life.
Being human means life in a soft shell. That's very brave just by itself.
So I'm just being human.
How 'brave' do you consider yourself? How 'brave' do others think you are?
Sunday, March 06, 2005 Now now now Be mindful of the present, for the past and future love to sneak up on you to steal it away.
If I had to choose a word to describe this weekend, it would be "overcast." The weather was sunny and warm, with a slight breeze from the South/Southeast, by the way.
No matter. I brought my lil black raincloud with me. Despite my best attempted efforts to focus on the task at hand (I had more than my hands full) and taking my happy thoughts and rose colored glasses out of storage, my mind either wandered back to the events of the past week; or forward to the week that lies ahead. Sadness, fear and anger were there to greet me.
The trick is to do it anyway. I struggle with the same day-to-day concerns as everyone else. It's because I live within the world. I don't want to rise above it. Instead, I want to help it rise above.
I understand how attachment and desire causes suffering. I've been there, done that. But right now, I'd much rather separate some other people from their misperceptions, rather than separate from my own.
It's a dark and dreary place, with everything falling down around me. But that's just the forecast for the homes on the hill. I'll be fine.
Friday, March 04, 2005 No time to wait... They say that when a student is ready, the teacher appears... well, sometimes there's things you just have to learn on your own. So don't wait.
I know my strengths and weaknesses fairly well. I'll even admit them freely to anyone that'll listen. So when I got the "wake up call" at the beginning of the week, I didn't really hear anything new. The only surprise was just how much trouble I might be in because of one person's interpretation of who I am.
Again, I am not perfect (shocking, isn't it?). My boss has needs that I've not been meeting (hey, keep it clean, people!) and I owe it to her (and to myself) to step up to the plate and hit a home run (egads, reduced to sports analogies!).
In the past I've tried to compensate for my weaknesses while focusing on my strengths. I surround myself with people who do well with all the things I do not. That way, the TEAM is strong. I never saw that as a bad thing. I didn't expect to be accused of wasting time on doing what I do best and not focusing enough on the things I don't do. I didn't expect that giving those tasks to the most qualified people would come back to haunt me (I actually got accused of looking toward the techie person FOUR TIMES during a meeting!).
Although I wear many hats during the day, I've got quite a few more to put on (that is, if I intend to make it through this latest crisis).
I still have a product to create. In fact, I've been told I have to be more hands-on (literally, click the mouse hands-on, do the job myself sort of thing). If the quality slips, I'll be the one to get the brunt of it.
Planning, analysis and reporting needs to be A LOT more. It's a full time job that I need to do in a quarter of my time.
Then there's the full time jobs of sales and marketing, communications, client relations and manager; with the part time jobs of writer, graphic artist and editor.
And now we add to the mix... employee trying to save his reputation (and his job). As I've said in the past, I've not managed UP very well. I work in a culture where all they ever do is manage up, and I've "wasted time" managing down to my team and my projects. I can't let that go, of course. I'm just stuck in the middle with a split decision to make.
With all my plates full, a couple of strikes against me and no time outs, this is one of the toughest games I have to play.
Thursday, March 03, 2005 The Wounds of Change Sometimes Life will wound you. Don't get wound up about it. Get on your heels and heal.
It's been a rough couple of days for me, on many levels. Standing out in the cold on Sunday caught up with me on Monday. Sniffling, coughing and unable to move from my twisted back, I stayed home on Tuesday. Oh, I worked. I wasn't sick enough to defy workaholism... but I wasn't in any shape to leave the house.
I also needed the time to adjust to some strange rumblings in the air. Monday's meeting was nothing short of "odd" and I found myself writing a number of emails explaining myself to people who should know better.
I didn't know better. I sorta knew, but I didn't want to face up to the fact that people have not been what they seem. My rose colored glasses were turning blood red, and I was getting concerned.
Then the winds changed, taking the sails and the paddle with them.
Wednesday morning greeted me with one of those we-need-to-talk-behind-closed-doors kind of meeting. The boss wanted to unload, to make it perfectly clear how she saw my world through her eyes. It wasn't a pretty picture.
She is a firm believer that perception is reality, and that gives her permission to make decisions based on that opinion. It's great when you're the greatest thing since sliced bread; it's bad when she's holding the knife.
I sat there with an open mind, willing to listen to what she had to say; willing to learn what it is I need to do to regain (if possible) the faith she had in me when I started here. I refused to make excuses and promised her that the changes she's asking for WILL be done.
Did I want to run and hide in my Cancerian shell? You bet! But that would do nothing but harm.
I admitted my 'weaknesses' ... I manage DOWN very well (empowering and motivating the team) but I don't manage UP well (reports, projections, crunched numbers). I open up my mouth and give away good ideas too soon. It creates the impression that I over promise and under deliver. And after all, perception is reality.
I did try to get her to see how much progress we've mad, and how we've exceeded our original goals, but unfortunately, she wouldn't have it. The rules have changed after the fact and now I'm on the wrong side of the favor line.