Friday, October 22, 2010

Random Thoughts Volume VII

Generosity is tough in hard times. Too often, however, people only think of generosity in terms of donating money. There are three basic wells that one can draw from in order to give. They are called time, talent, and treasure. All of us have something to give. I would like to add one more category. It is the gift of yourself. In my lifetime I have known many people who really didn't have much in terms of talent or wealth. However, what they had in abundance was personality and spirit. They were just a joy to be around. I need people like this around me because I tend to be withdrawn. I am an off the chart introvert. I need people and friends to stand outside my cave and yell, "Mikey, come out and play"! So maybe you have little time, talent, or treasure. Look in the mirror. Perhaps your most abundant gift to others is yourself.

"He who is outside the door has already got a good part of his journey behind him".
-Dutch proverb

The first step in any journey is usually the hardest. Once that first step is taken, the second one usually comes easier. Change is very similar. The idea of change can be more frightening than the actual change. I admit that I haven't always liked change. I am a creature of habit who likes his routines and the familiar. Once when I was accused of being resistant to chance I replied, "No, I'm not. I just prefer stability". Whether you love it or hate it, it's going to happen. In my 25 years with my employer the only constant has been change. The act of changing can be painful and uncomfortable but it can also be exciting. I have also learned over and over through the many changes I have gone through that today's newness is tomorrow's routine. I have lost count of all the change in my life to which I have adapted. There is only one thing in my life that hasn't changed. I still have the same wife after 36 years.

Most people don't want much. It's my experience that most people just want love and acceptance and a reasonable sense of security. I have never been ambitious in worldly terms. All I have ever wanted beyond what I just mentioned is a simple and uncomplicated life with a minimum of drama. It is very difficult to want so little and to actually get it. Forrest Gump was right. Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get. This reality can make one nervous. When life seems to good, you can find yourself wondering what will happen to mess that up. Everyone knows I admire the Buddha. He teaches that all things are impermanent. This is both comforting and disturbing. It means that good things probably won't last forever. However, it also means that bad things don't last forever either. What's the point? The point is that you should enjoy every moment of your life but be prepared for the impermanence of it. When a change occurs that you don't like, just hang on and wait for the goodness that is hidden within it. All things happen for a reason.

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind".
-Dr. Seuss

I don't think Dr. Seuss is encouraging us to tell everyone off. We all know that is not prudent. I think what he is saying is be true to who you are and speak from your heart. Earlier this week in my office many people attended some leadership training with our VP. Part of his message was to express his desire to eliminate fear in the workplace. Fear is counterproductive. I believe our VP wants to replace fear, and it's cousin, anxiety, with openness, cooperation, and mutual respect. I believe that good communication skills are very important in the elimination of fear and anxiety. I have long been a believer that it's not what you say but how you say it. The delivery is as important as the message. When the message is delivered poorly it is almost always misunderstood and when the message is insincere, everyone knows it. We must all speak the truth with integrity. The truth will set some people free and it will annoy others. That's what truth does.

Today is my last day in the department where I have worked for a long time. I am being loaned to another department for six months. I am sad to be leaving my department and I am especially sad to be leaving behind a great team of people that have reported to me. Many of us have worked together for a long time. I may not have always wanted to come to work but I never dreaded it either. I have tried to be who I am and to say what I feel. Some days I did that better than other days. I will continue doing this in my new department because I don't know how to be any other way. I have been a little emotionally overwhelmed this week. People sometimes say, "I'm not feeling the love". I cannot say that. I have definitely been feeling the love this week, especially from the people who report to me.

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