Dont give up so easily

Don’t give up after the first try

Or the Second,

Or the third.

If I could go back in time and give my younger self a lesson, it would be that you cant give up so quickly, There is no magic light switch that you can flip and get instant results. I used to think if I put in a little hard work, I could coast the rest of the way to what ever finish line I was chasing.

Early in life I figured out that I didn’t have to put a lot of effort into my school work and I could still pass, I didn’t care about impressing the teachers, well most of them anyways. I only tried hard in life in areas that I wanted to, areas where I thought it might benefit me later in life. I knew that in the real world outside of school I was not going to be doing algebra on a daily basis in what ever job I would get.

Fast forward in life and you cant do the same thing in college. Some of the classes, yes, but if you want to graduate, you are going to have to put in a sustained effort to get to that much anticipated graduation day. You had to play by their rules, jump through hoops. The first time I failed a class it was a wake up call. I learned that you could not coast through life. If I had given up, after the first time I failed a class, I would have never made my way to graduation day.

I went to college with a full awareness that academia and the real world are two different things, and I was going to run into some professors that did not have a realistic view of the world beyond the class room. Much of the practical knowledge I learned is long forgotten, but the lessons and philosophies I learned will stick with me forever.

Life isn’t easy,
Life requires grit
What you put into life you get out of it.
You cannot coast through life and expect great results

If you give up on the first try, you might be livin in a van, down by the river !

On Personal Development

I was first introduced to the Myers Briggs system when I was working for a large company, it was part of their career development for the employees. It worked a little too well for them, as much as they tried to keep me from leaving a promising corporate career, I learned that I didn’t enjoy what I was doing because I was trying to fake being an extrovert.

Learning that I was INFJ changed my life. I didn’t know it at the time, but it would change my outlook on life entirely. Its been over 5 years since I discovered those 4 letters, and I am still discovering new things about it today.

I found out I am not the only weird one out there, there are actually others who are wired like me ! Not many, as I don’t think I have met one in real life, but they do exist !

My corporate mentors taught me a lot, but one thing I didn’t agree with was always fixing your weaknesses. Fix the weak link, a team is only as strong as its weakest member. Sure you need to work on your weaknesses, but why not leverage your strengths instead ? Why have the person who is a terrible public speaker present a meeting to the big wigs at corporate ? Why have the guy who is terrible at writing write an article for the news print ?

Everyone should work on their weaknesses from time to time, but if you are going to do a big project, why take a fish out of water ?

My personnel development is always changing, every time I learn something new I add it to my list of things to do or not do. Part of my plan was starting this blog to document my journey and be able to see my progress over time. I have a lot of things going on, from creative writing to personal finance . A few of my goals are:

-Finish my novel – I have been working on this since 2014, I am not going to disclose to many details yet as I am not quite ready.
-Set aside more time for creative pursuits (see above)
-Create passive income – part of my financial goals
-Grow my passive income to replace my active income/work for myself
-Write at least 2 blog posts per month
– Exercise at least 3x per week

All of my goals require me to get up a few hours before I go to work. Currently my day job requires me to work 10 hour shifts, and when I get home I am almost always too tired to do much besides eat dinner and relax. In order to get things done I have to do it before work. Also I have 2 small children at home and my wife works full time, and if you have ever tried to get any work done around small children you know what I am talking about, the only time the house is quiet is around 4am.

It all takes small steps, one of my biggest goals is to leave my current job and not work for another employer. I am going to be self employed and work entirely online. I want to travel with my family and its not easy to do it when you have to go into a day job for 40 to 50 hours each week.

As an INFJ a few things I have picked up over the years,
I need alone and quiet time – hiking does wonders
I need some sort of outlet for my creative energy, whether it is working on building/fixing something in the garage or writing my novel, the energy gets stored up and or wasted if I dont put it to good use
I need to exercise regularly and eat well, sounds like common sense, but getting exercise and fresh air does wonders for your soul
I need a balance of social time and alone time

I listed a few of my goals for personal development, what are yours ? Any suggestions ?

The grass always looks greener on the other side

Sometimes its hard to get over that fence, but when you do, and you look back, you realize the grass was green the whole time, you just had to see it from a different angle. Sometimes it hard to see outside the bubble you live in.

Its hard for the gold fish to experience life outside the fish tank. Some people live in a small opaque bubble, others in a large transparent bubble, some are always trying to expand their bubble and see what is on the out side. How do you know what you don’t know ? Some people let their bubble get smaller and smaller and they are ok with it. Their worldview shrinks so slowly they don’t even realize it . You cant call yourself worldly if you don’t travel more than a few miles away from your house.

There have been a few times in life, well actually more than a few where I suffered from grass is greener syndrome. I would be in a situation, and I felt like all I needed was a change , or a jump over the fence, and eventually I got there, just to realize the same problems are on the other side of the fence too. But since I was in my bubble I had a hard time seeing what was on the other side of the fence. There have a many times when I was in a menial job, or one with terrible working hours, and getting over the fence was a stepping stone into a better situation. A lot of companies want smart people, but people not smart enough to realize they are being taken advantage of. I lost a job, due to a price crash of commodities, and I took the first job I could find. I had a baby at home and needed some income. The first job I got wasn’t great, but it was some money coming in. It was seasonal, as in I was going to get laid at the end of the season, but it was better than no money coming in. I only worked there about a month before a better opportunity presented itself, and I put in my notice. The last day of work, my boss had to give me a ride home (I had a company truck that I had to return) and I was talking with him, and he told me, “ I need smart people, but people who are not smart enough to realize that they can get better jobs”. That quote has stuck with me, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that is how a lot of the world works.

A lot of people hate their jobs, but they either don’t want to leave, or don’t have the ambition to learn how to do something they really want to. Or they have given themselves the golden handcuffs, The longer you stay in that job you hate, the smaller your bubble gets, the wall start shrinking, and you are not growing, and if you are not growing, you are dying.

So many things can limit your bubble, your job, your location, your school. But you can expand your bubble by seeking new experiences and new people. Some times its not always easy to get a new job, or the one you want just isn’t there. If you what you want doesn’t exist, why not create your own ?

The bubble is constantly pushing and pulling, you are expanding it when you go somewhere new, or take that new job in a new city. But eventually the new memories start to fade, and you need to make more to replenish the fading ones. You might start running into diminishing returns for the new experiences, and that’s when you have to realize the grass is green right under your feet, and choose your next adventures carefully.

How to deal with change

Hem and Haw

I just finished reading a book titled, Who Moved my Cheese ? Its a very short and simple book, it took me about an hour to read it. Its very simple but a powerful read. There are 4 characters; Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw. Sniff and Scurry are mice and Hem and Haw are Littlepeople who look kinda like people but are the size of mice. They all live in the Maze, and they all look for Cheese. The maze is an analogy for what ever you want it to be, your career, your persoal life, your relationships, etc. the Cheese is an analogy for money, your spouse, etc. you get the idea.

Every day the 4 characters leave their houses and run out into the Maze looking for Cheese. Their names have almost literal meaning. Scurry runs out into the maze and up and down all the corridors looking for his Cheese, he runs fast, but he needs a little direction, this is where Sniff comes in, Sniff uses his nose and chases the Cheese in a more methodical way, he sniffs and when he hits a dead end, he makes a note of it and sniffs his way into another area. He keeps going slowly with the help of Scurry until they find some cheese. They don’t over complicate things, they just go until they find their Cheese. They have jogging shoes, and they wear them until they find the Cheese, then hang them on their neck in case they need to put them on again. Each day they roam the Maze for Cheese and then return home at the end of the day.

Hem and Haw are more complex than Sniff and Scurry, they have emotions and beliefs that they follow and sometimes can get in the way of finding their Cheese. In the beginning they are the same as Sniff and Scurry, they put on their jogging shoes, go out into the Maze and look for the Cheese. They find cheese here and they are make note of it. They make maps and use tools to always look for new Cheese. Eventually All 4 characters find their way to Cheese Station C. Cheese Station C has more than enough Cheese for all of them for a long time, it is a huge pile of Cheese and looks like it could never run out.

Even after finding the Cheese Station, Sniff and Scurry continue their way of doing things, they are mice after all, they leave their houses, go out into the Maze and find Cheese Station C, eat their Cheese and go home. Hem and Haw are a little different, they move their houses right next door to the Cheese station, and they dont have to go out into Maze anymore, they wake up, walk right next door and have their cheese. They build their life around the Cheese, add rooms to their houses, invite friends over to share the cheese sometimes. They dont know where the Cheese came from or how it got there, but the most important thing is there is a lot of it. Hem and Haw get very comfortable and never go out into the Maze anymore,

One day all 4 characters show up to Cheese Station C and there is no more Cheese. Sniff and Scurry look around, realize the is no cheese, and don’t waste any time heading back out into the maze too look for new Cheese. Hem and Haw are just flabbergasted that there is no Cheese. Who moved it ? Why would they do that? What they didn’t see what that the pile of Cheese was slowly getting smaller because they ate some everyday, and it never got replaced. Hem is adamant that someone moved it and is playing tricks on them, and that the Cheese will come back someday. He gets angry and blames everyone else for the Cheese being gone. Haw reluctantly goes along, but after he starts thinking about his situation a little harder, he realized that someone didn’t move the cheese, actually they just ate it all, they Cheese pile got smaller and smaller, started getting moldy and eventually it was gone, and no one was going to replace it. Hem on the other hand , keeps holding out that the Cheese will come back, Haw wants to go back out into the Maze and look for more, it has been a long time since he was out in the Maze, he had grown fat and comfortable next to Cheese Station C, and at first he didn’t want to admit that the Cheese was gone, but after a while he realized that the Cheese is not coming back and he has to go look for more. After his realization, he tries to convince Hem to come out with him to look for new Cheese. Hem will have no part of it, he is going to stay with Cheese Station C until more comes, and he is not going to go back into the maze.

Haw goes back out into the maze, at first it is difficult, its been a very long time since he left the Cheese Station, he could hardly remember what it was like, at first he moved slow, and cautious, but he found a rhythm after a bit and started to remember what it was like. He found bits of Cheese here and there, but not much. One day he found some and took it back to Hem. Look Hem, there is new cheese out there ! Come out and try some. Hem refused, he didn’t want this new cheese, and refused to even try it. Hem was weak from lack of Cheese, but refused to try the new Cheese, still hoping that New Cheese would appear at Cheese Station C.

Haw left Cheese Station C, and went back out in the maze, he was actually starting to like it out in the Maze, it was a new adventure around each corner, he went to parts of the Maze he had never been before.

Eventually Haw found a new Cheese station, Cheese Station N. Sniff and Scurry were already there, and it looked like they had been there a while. There was enough Cheese to go around for a long time. Haw learned a lot, he learned that he is going to pay closer attention to the writing on the wall, and not get too comfortable at his New Cheese Station. He is going to pay attention to the details, and be prepared to go out in the Maze again if he has too, he will not wait until he Cheese is moldy or gone. He is going to keep him self in shape and be ready and embrace change.

This book has a very simple story, but after you read it, you will notice you have always known one of the characters somewhere in your life, whether its work, school, family. The lessons here can be applied to almost anything in life. You can read the entire story for yourself here Which characters are you ?

Public Speaking for Introverts

So, you have to make a pubic speech. Whether it is for school, or work or something different, many introverts have found themselves in this same situation. So what do you do ? Freak out that you have to get up in front of a bunch of people who you may or may not know, and talk for a while, no matter how long you have to be up there , it can seem like torture.

But, there are things you can do to make it easier. Yes, I know what you are thinking, you can’t hop on the bus out of town and skip the whole thing.

Its not all that bad, in fact introverts can be some of the best public speakers.

The key is to prepare, prepare and prepare !

I used to have weekly meetings where all the upper management would be there and I had to present my agenda. At first it was daunting, being right out of college, and having to present an something to a bunch of seasoned professionals.

I saw one of my co workers go into the meeting un prepared, he was late, didn’t remember what the plan was, he didn’t have his paperwork in order. I watched the management tear him to shreds, it was not a good day for him. I was not going to let that happen to me. Long before each meeting I would go over my plan, have all the paperwork printed out ahead of time( you know in case the printer decided to go all Office Space right before the meeting). I would go over and over all my materials, and try and think of every angle that could be asked. There were certain people who would not question me, but there were others that would want to know every little detail. I prepared every detail, every angle, tried to think of every question that could possibly be asked. I had an answer or plan for every single one, I didn’t want to be caught off guard.

Practice , and preparation are the key to a good pubic speech or meeting. Find someone who you can can be your audience, who can play the devils advocate. Make notes, but you should strive not to rely on them, keep them as a reference in case of a brain fart, or someone asks a question to throw you off topic.

Try to involve the audience at some point. Ask someone in the front row their name, and involve them a little bit, I find this helps you relate to audience, even if you are speaking to a complete group of strangers.

I still don’t enjoy pubic speaking, and I probably never will, but I can do it if I need to, and so can you. Its not as bad as you think, and the more you do it, the easier it will get. Once its over, you can breathe a sigh of relief.

The many faces of people at work

The work world is full of many types of people, some are more suited to deal with a noisy and competitive environment, and some are not. There are co workers you like, and others you want to see rolled up in a carpet and tossed off a bridge. Some are good mentors, and others will look out only for themselves and yet others are good company men. Here are a few types of people I have worked with and how to deal with them.

The Mentor;

Genuinely wants to help you learn and progress your career. I have found this type to be pretty rare, most people at this level of management are only out for themselves (see company man ). They will help you get the resources you need to do your job, and will drop what they are working on to help you for a few minutes. They are high achievers and really like to share their achievements with you, and help you do the same thing. The mentor has a stake in the company and really believes in people. They will not tolerate laziness and give the slackers fair warning and will get rid of the people that don’t pull their own weight. The mentor is good for the company, and good for the people. He will challenge you and keep you on your toes. He brings up the level of everyone. If you find one, learn as much as you can from them.

The Company Man:

This guy is only out for himself and the company, and will bulldoze what ever is in his way to get things done. Will take out people who slow him down, does not help others achieve, and will surround himself with yes men, and will knock down the level of anyone around him. The company man appears very confident, but on the inside he is full of fear, fear that someone will come along and knock him off his pedestal, and he will do everything he can to keep himself alone in the high tower. Don’t trust them, and don’t get personal.

The person who knows they wont get fired:

If you have ever worked a union gig, or a place with shareholders you know who I am talking about. They whine and complain, and do just the bare minimum to get by. They know its difficult to get fired and will exploit the shit out of it. They don’t pull their weight, and try to make everyone else miserable. Others have to pick up the slack for them.

Goldenboy/girl:

Similar to The person who knows they wont get fired, but they have some sort of inn with the boss or higher ups. Maybe their Mom is in management at another location or their uncle is upper management. They name drop a lot and are always on the defense. They are usually useless and they only reason they got the job is because they are related somehow, they most likely could not land a job or cut it anywhere their “mommy” hasn’t pulled strings for them. Let them burn themselves down.

The Narcissist:

One of the worst people you can run into. They are smart, conning and very manipulative. Its all about them, they will bring everyone down to their level, and tear down concrete walls to make sure that everyone knows that the world revolves around them. They are never wrong, and will never admit fault. Watch out for the narcs, and avoid them at all costs. If they are really smart, and most of the ones I have ran into are, they can be hard to spot at first, but eventually their true colors will come out. Eventually will burn themselves to the ground and look for a new job. If you are a threat to them, they will try to take you out.

The introvert:

The one who gets things done behind the scenes. They will do an amazing job, but you will never know how they did it. Always at their desk working on something, usually with headphones on or the door closed. Leave them alone and let them work, they will come to you if they need something. Quiet and outspoken , but never underestimate an introvert !

The needy co worker:

The person who is always roaming around looking for some poor soul to listen to their problems. Their work ethic can be good or bad, as they are usually combined with one of the other types. When they walk by, pretend you have to go to the bathroom for an hour.

The fall guy:

The person you blame when the shit hits the fan. Also known as FNG.

The short timer:

Just there for a little bit to earn a few bucks then skips town. Bad attitude, and just there for a check.

The gray wolf:

Does what ever he/she wants to and gets the job done, usually very good at their job. They are good to have around, but don’t expect them to be much of a team player, as they do jobs best when working, alone similar to the Introvert. Wont take part in gossip or politics, wont follow the rules, they just want to do their job and go home.

Golden Handcuffs:

Been at the same job for years on end, makes a ton of money, but hates the job. Hence the golden handcuffs, usually just winding down the clock till retirement. They want to leave, but wont take a pay cut, making themselves miserable. They might whine and complain, but they will diligently do their work.

The guy who refuses to change:

Stuck in their ways since 1986. Refuses to change and adapt, holds onto old technologies and ways of doing things. Hates change period. When they are forced to change, they will sink or swim. If they refuse to change, they are shown the door.

The straight shooter:

Does their job, doesn’t whine, complain, bs, blame anyone, follows the rules to a T. Does what the boss says, no more, no less. Does their job and goes home.

The endless dreamer:

The one who is always coming up with crazy and impractical ideas, often flighty. Sometimes comes up with a good idea, and when its good, its good. Often the fall guy, they have a hard time following rules , and often get into trouble when doing one of their crazy ideas, loves attention. They can do a really good job if they put their mind to it, but their head is often in the clouds. They usually are cheap entertainment, as long as they are not putting anyone in danger.

The Diva:

This applies to guys and gals ! The perpetual complainer, whiner and moaner. But most of them do their job well, they just have to complain about every little thing over and over and over. Nothing is perfect in their world.