Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Last Of The Quiet Places

The last quiet place in my office is gone. I went into the men's room yesterday morning and there was music being piped in. I know on some dairy farms they play classical music for the cows because it is believed that it makes them produce more milk. I'm not sure what music in the men's room is supposed to produce. This mentality of filling every space outside the work areas with noise began a while back when they put televisions in the break rooms. What was once a reasonably quiet sanctuary became filled with the sounds of game shows, Judge Judy, and soap operas. A few months ago someone started pumping rock and roll into the previously quiet stairwells. I almost fell down the stairs one day after an involuntary dance move was caused by the blaring of Prince's 1999 anthem. I thought to myself as I tripped, "I'm gonna fall like it's 1999"! The men's room was my last refuge. Now there is no where to go for quiet. My actual workspace is reasonably quiet if you don't count ringing telephones and the general activity and conversations of the people around you. In the past someone had the vision to replace a building behind my office with a park. Green space in the downtown area is always a welcome sight. Now is the time for someone to have a new vision that provides some quiet space within the building. The average person is bombarded on a daily basis with thousands of images and all kinds of audio noise. What we need are some places where we can go and simply bathe in the silence. Everyone who knows me, or reads these thoughts, knows I love rock and roll music, but not everywhere, all the time. As one of the monks says, "Even Beethoven is noise if played all day". All of this reminds me of a comedy skit I saw once. A man goes to a crowded beach where everyone is listening to music from their boom boxes. The man quietly unfolds his beach towel , sits down, gets out his head phones and puts on a nature tape of ocean waves.

Why do other people sometimes drive you crazy? Why do you do the same to them? Why do people often seem to be at odds? One tool that helps deal with this is the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator. This is a personality type test that I'm sure many of you are familiar with. Every time I take the test I come out the same. I am an Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiver or INFP. After the last time I took this test I had something of an epiphany. It wasn't a completely new insight. I think it was something I already knew about myself but it really hit home this time. I think I finally realize why I find so much of life, and especially work, exhausting. My personality is in conflict with most of the ways of the world. I am an Introvert in an extroverted, ego driven world. I am an Intuitive in a "show me the data" work environment. I make judgements based on my personal values rather than someone else's rules. I prefer my life open ended and not bound by other people's schedules or deadlines. I am not suggesting that the whole world change to meet my personal needs, although that would be very nice. Of course, that will never happen. It's just that I realize more than ever that I spend a lot of energy living outside my personal comfort zone. I will still have to do this on a regular basis and I am OK with that. I guess the epiphany for me is the realization of how much energy this demands of me. Some of you will feel this in different ways. Those of you with a personality type opposite of mine thrive on what drives me crazy. Perhaps you can't live without human interaction. Maybe you aren't able to make decisions without data. You wouldn't dream of breaking the rules. A life without dates, times, and deadlines is unimaginable to you. We are all different in how we deal with life and it's demands. If you are unfamiliar with the Myers-Briggs and wonder about your type, I have included a link to an on-line test that you can take and score yourself. It may answer a lot of questions you have about your own behavior and preferences.

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