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Posts Tagged ‘decision making’

Photo Credit: Envios @Flickr

Photo Credit: Envios @Flickr

With very little cash, I headed towards Washington, D.C. to gain a little more perspective on my (possible) future as a social justice maverick who uses artwork as an advocacy tool.

The Rayburn foyer, where our exhibit is being displayed, has hideous carpet. I wonder if all government buildings in D.C. have such crappy design.  

Tonight, we are taking 3 hours to set up the Congo/Women exhibit (lasting well into 12 am), despite 12 volunteers and an energetic 3 year old (L’s son).  

After we’re done, my colleague W and I leave and head to our hotel. I get an immediate gush of smallness. Everything feels so tiny now. I feel so tiny right now. I hope I don’t feel any smaller tomorrow, I fear I might disappear.

W and I have a meeting with an NGO the next morning to pitch a partnership with our Human Trafficking project.  During the meeting, they don’t ask many questions, but they want to snatch our marketing materials. I feel like the bad guy when I tell them they can’t keep them.

W is nicer than I am about that kind of stuff – she offers to send a digital copy.

W always thinks of the nicer stuff to say. I’m a little too forward and direct with people sometimes.

After handshakes and goodbyes, we cab over to the Rayburn. We have to hang around for several hours because our event doesn’t end until 7 pm that night (we arrive shortly after 12 pm). And, we have to break down the installation afterwards – but that shouldn’t take long.

Our guest speakers arrive and the program begins. After hearing Stephen Lewis, my gush of smallness evaporates.

Nothing is out of place.

What I’m doing makes sense.  

No ridiculousness or second guessing anything that is happening. I think that can be rare for people.  When you’ve been out of work for as long as I have, second guessing becomes par t of your daily language.

To clarify, there are a lot of things you can do while you have a job that don’t make sense. You may think they are unnecessary, a waste of time or even beneath you. Yet, when don’t have a job; there is very little excuse to do things that don’t make sense to you.

And, that’s the core of good, stimulating and worthwhile growth – the stuff that makes sense. Stick to the continuities that are logical for you before you become part of doing something (for a paycheck) that doesn’t make sense.

Instead of hammering at what you think works, do what makes sense to you no matter how out of whack it may initially seem (like going to D.C. with very little money to help set up a one-night exhibit in a government building).

This is not about being reckless. It’s about taking steps towards the most fulfilling risks and reaping their rewards.

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Photo Credit: Regolare @Flickr

Photo Credit: Regolare @Flickr

Perhaps this post is ill-timed. Maybe, in a deep recession, I shouldn’t suggest that job hopping is (still) beneficial

Nonetheless, today, I’m interested in giving you something a little ridiculous to think about.

You can always top yourself – NOT

Besides the completely 1990’s phrasing used above – topping yourself  is not always the (greatest) end result.  

Outdoing what has already been done becomes a repeat exercise in …what?

If you are determined to best yourself over and over again as long as you can – it will ultimately become unfulfilling, not to mention, BORING.

Among other things, moving away from (or beyond?) your professional zenith requires spreading your scope of experience while maintaing focus

The tricky party is being fooled into believing a unique and forseeable set of risks are in your way.

In reality, you’re only re-hashing previous obstacles. Why accept the possibility of exhausted options when, instead, you can reinvent the same challenges over and over again?

Its a paradoxical complexity shading a simple truth: such challenges ask for very little. In fact, they may insist you become medicore (on the inside) bit by bit.  

Have principles. Learn to walk away

Dave Chappelle essentially gave Comedy Central the kiss of death when he refused to return to Chappelle’s Show. The common knowledge – opinion? – is that the comedian felt his style of comedy was becoming warped by the writers and producers.

Others contend that he was crazy and out of control.

This is not the first time people have travelled down a successful road, danced with greatness and then, moved on. Despite what the world may think about such actions, acting upon them empowers you beyond the usual shifts in career and job adventures.

Instead of becoming subdued by your own power and success, take it at “face value.” Respect it for what it is – and what it isn’t.

Respect for your work (and yourself) requires handling decisions on whether to exploit it and your talents for fame or fortune. Prepare to live with the consequences of accepting or rejecting either of those paths.

Once that is done – you can walk away- and have it be your choice.

Leave a Mystery

Knowing everything you could possibly know about something leaves little to wonder about. What happens?

You move on. The allure is lost because your interest depletes to zero. In an information saturated world, you aren’t necessarily growing just because the knowledge is there.

Leaving mysteries expands the the 3-dimensionality of your career. If you are interested in expanding your professional peak without becoming stale, engage in a mystery.

In short, fresh perspectives breathe new life into your own professional vision.

Being at your peak has little to do with how much you already know, but what little there is left to find out. 

How far are you stretching your current knowledge? What are you giving others to discover and what are you discovering from them?

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Photo Credit: Guille @Flickr

Photo Credit: Guille @Flickr

I keep my tax information in a sweater drawer. Everything that should be important in my life is in a legal size manila folder next to a 10 year old Express sweater.

Half of my bills, mortgage documents and medical invoices are in an accordion file folder at my “home.”

I put home in quotes because, technically, I haven’t lived there in months.

I’ve unofficially re-located my life’s headquarters to my boyfriend’s condo. Oh sure, it’s a nice place to live – but I still have my “mortgage.”

My volunteer work and community journalism articles are stored on a flash drive. My boyfriend insists (nags) that I back up my data on the laptop or computer in the house. I assure him that I will, but I don’t. I’m a bit of a passive-aggressive procrastinator (sometimes).

I only do things in a hurry if I’m not told to do them.

Other than that, you’ll have to wait a month of Sundays for me to get it done. Maybe, that’s a trait I will need to fix. Not today. Perhaps, tomorrow.

I stupidly think out of some vain attempt to do it my way – “As long as I have the flash drive – why back up?”

That’s a very dangerous game, Ms. Moore,” my boyfriend would (inevitably) say.

Approximately 75% of my life is stored in bytes and drawers. My world is compartmentalized by electronic folders and Office Depot paper. I feel organizationally fragmented…bit…by…bit.

The old, sage advice is to leave your job at work and your personal life at home. I wonder how often those worlds whirl and mesh and blend within each other. What do you call work/life balance for those who don’t officially “work” but have way too much going on in their life?

I hate using such buzz words – work/life balance. I always thought, at some point, they always would be the same – the work/life part. Yet, in what case is your life never really work (and vice versa)?

In reality, one is probably only worrying about work/life balance until one part of the term is seriously missing from the equation.

And so, to make up for the missing pieces? My job hunt, my volunteer work, my finances and whatever else gets stored in various parts between the North and Southsides of Chicago. It would take a 1 hour and 25 minute trip to meld the spectrums of my dually fragmented, overly documented world.

I don’t itch to get another job, I just know I need to get another job. My only fear resides within the realms of money, not professional continuity. I am wondering if that makes me an unrealized outlier of the Gen Y group. Parts me wants to prove the other parts of me wrong.

Plainly, they are the bits and pieces that managed successful job hopping and a house renovation.

Yet, they simultaneously tango with the parts that cling to self-doubt and dissatisfaction.

I have trouble keeping track of those accomplishments and the goals I set for myself because they are physically (and mentally) hiding. They are in computer hard drives, flash drives, accordion file folders, home offices 2 El rides away and sweater drawers.

So, I am thinking I will have to learn to blend my life into another kind of balance.  I will have to (re)create that sweet spot of stableness and (re)discover my organizational center.

After all, the center is where the strength lies. Without it, we just become missing pieces that dwindle…bit by bit.

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The Emerald City

The Emerald City

There are days when you wake up and can seize the day. Your opportunity to achieve great things is limitless. The world is yours and it is good.

And, there are other days when your freshly ironed shirt of self-confidence has several creases of self-doubt in it. This is one of those days.

The “it’ factor of my life appears short-sighted. Should the unlimitedness of my potential be something that really is attainable in a lifetime?

Is it supposed to be? Every twenty-something I know feels like their life is heading toward some vast unknown greatness or never-abiding flux and uncertainty.

I get disappointed when I’m not sure where my path is headed.  I’m not looking for answers. I’m looking for proof. I want proof that I’m doing something right.

The great things that I want seem so far out of reach. What is this greatness? It’s so grand. It’s all mysterious.  It’s shrouded in adjectives that only seem to blur what it really is.

In passing moments, I wish I could see what the other people say they see in me. At other moments, my talents feel like wisps of smoke that can be blown out by anyone. The grand spectacle that could be my life is just some normal person playing out a bunch of theatrics – like the Wizard of Oz. 

Yet, unlike the Wizard, I don’t have a big balloon in which I can sail away into “new and unfound things.” I have to stay right there in the Emerald City and eke out an existence amongst the others.

Keep performing the silly theatrics and hope no one notices.

There are times when I feel I should be tougher. Smarter. Stronger. More interesting.

I (secretly) wonder if my life is staid because it is in so much flux. Change may be good. But, it becomes irrelevant when it’s unnecessary. And, there are times when I think my changes are unnecessary. I want to be validated by my own pursuits. This can be a problem. The ROI of my investments aren’t immediately evident – I begin to wonder if they are worth the time and effort.

There’s that self-doubt creeping in .

In high school, my mentor’s notes would say, “Raven has great potential, but she doesn’t speak up.” Other teachers would say, “She lets others influence her on how well she does. She listens to other people too much.”

I think that somehow I’m not doing all that I should. There’s always more…more…more. I feel impeded by my own laziness – perhaps even, doomed to mediocrity. That’s scary for me. I want to make plans that stick and don’t fail me.

But that’s the unwanted part of the learning process. Finding what works. It’s frustrating because you don’t think you have the ability to ever make the plans that will stick.

There are days when you are great. You snatch all 24 hours and what you set out to accomplish actually happens. There are other days when it’s someone else’s turn to be great. Your potential for wonderfulness isn’t up to snuff and someone else has come in to fill the void.

Our chances to achieve the wonderful wanes on Tuesday and reaches its zenith on Thursday. Then, slowing down again the next day and on Monday – it’s like nothing ever happened. We are outstanding again. 

Yet, not all days are meant to be great.

Sometimes, they are there to only fill the void. Nevertheless, on the days that are empty, I’ve decided to do this:

Job

I’ve been lazy about finding a job. It’s not for lack of trying, but more out of frustration. I haven’t been scheduling informational interviews or networking like I should. I’ve been in job-search purgatory. That’s not helping me when I have mortgage.

If I am to do anything, I need to start talking to people – mainly by doing informational interviews again. As of late, I’ve been relying too much on just the old, standard ways of getting a job. WAKE UP. We’re in a recession – I have no option to be passive (read: lazy).

My professional goals center on work in PR/Corporate communications for an NPO dedicated to social justice.

I know that’s very specific, but it’s either that or get paid to do what I enjoy already – which is my volunteer work. I have a background in cultural programming, but I won’t mind using that experience in a new industry  or a different type of career altogether.

I’ve also become mildly interested in having social media be a part of whatever career path I choose. Right now, I’m the pseudo-online community manager for the NPO I volunteer with (I helped create our e-newsletter, blog and set us up on Twitter and Facebook).

I read up on whatever I can about  the role of social media in the non-profit world.

And, of course I blog.

Volunteer Work

I also “work” as a community journalist. Yet, my goal for this year is to have a portfolio of at least 7 articles by the Spring. I’ve barely completed 2. I have to harass my Editor to give me more assignments, not drag my feet and actually get over my fear of interviewing people.

Wow.

Three things I have to get over at once before May.  I’ve also become lazy about deadlines. Time to buy a new organizer – perhaps the electronic kind to supplement my notebook.

Maybe not.

Since I also work as a co-Curator for my volunteer NPO, I’m supposed to be promoting our Darfur exhibit (and finding venues for it). I’ve started, but I’ve been frustrated by all the museums, centers, etc. being booked until 2011. We’re ready to take the tour out for 2009. I will need to discover different opportunities in which to adequately showcase our work. That means digging much harder for contacts and using up my cell phone minutes.

Might be a good time to change my rate plan.

Education

I (quickly) thought of going to graduate school. Yet, right now, I don’t think my professional goals fit with advanced schooling. Generally, I thought b-school would be a great idea, but I’m still on the fence.

I’ve been keeping in tune with the world of PR and social media, but I’m not sure what else I could be doing to add to my “self-education.”  You learn by doing. What else could I be doing? I will have to research and figure out the plans that will stick.

Well, that’s it (for now). I think I’ve filled out enough stuff to supplement the void – and hopefully, the empty days won’t seem so empty.

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Addrox @ Flickr

Photo Credit: Addrox @ Flickr

Going to work can feel like you’re going to your parent’s house. And, if your parents get on your nerves, this can be annoying.

You deal with fussy bosses (your parents), co-workers  who get away with murder (your siblings) and the occasional guilt-tripping that comes when attending office meetings (family gatherings and holiday parties).

So, sometimes, I can’t help but feel like I’m a kid all over again when I’m at work. I have to prove that I’m “grown up” to my bosses, despite the fact that they know that anyway.

People have to get over the teasing that gets bestowed upon them when they make mistakes or look stupid. It can be merciless. 

You get nagged.

You’re watched. 

And then, out of nowhere, you get dressed down for stuff you don’t remember doing or happened so long ago, it just seems silly to bring it up now.

You think you are in a professional environment, but then your coworker laughs at his own joke verging somewhere between toilet humor and Chris Farley slapstick.

Roles get reversed too. You end up playing mommy to your 4 year old boss. But, the only difference is that the 4-year old gets the credit and you get the boot. Or, a grade of “mediocre performance” on your once a year employee evaluation.

So, how are people surviving this perpetual “childhood” at work?  For the next week, I’m going to examine the following  themes (in no particular order):

Proving your Independence

Ahhh, the teen years. You’ve got the license to drive, but Mom and Dad (or, better yet, your boss) just won’t let you drive – anywhere. How can you convince them to let up?

Middle Child Syndrome

You’re ignored. At least, you think you are. It seems like no matter what, you aren’t doing enough to get your boss’s attention. What gives?

Oooooh, you’re in trouble: Dealing with Mistakes

A favorite phrase of the corporati – CYA (cover your ass). But, getting in trouble for mistakes is so passe – do you want creativity or people who only do things “right”?

Role Reversal

Who’s really managing the department – and why aren’t they paying you the money to do it?

Am I missing any? Probably. Maybe you should tell me and I’ll add them to my list.

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Petar_C @ Flickr

Photo Credit: Petar_C @ Flickr

I had an interesting conversation with my Editor about the validity of social media sites and blogging. As a career journalist, it boggles his brain that people are so willing to famously record their lives for the sake of readership and attention (at least, that’s the motivation behind it, he thinks).

And, as a journalist, it makes no sense to him that people think their opinions and ideas matter so much that they should be read by (possible) thousands on the web-o-sphere.  

Despite  knowing that blogging is about conversation, I think some journalists see it as conversation circulating in a vacuum.

As for my own shortcomings as a blogger and journalist, I still have to decide how much of myself I want to reveal in my posts. I’m not against honesty – but I always think people can have too much of a good thing.

I even de-friended a “friend” on Facebook because she updated too much. I know, that’s terrible. I’m a horrible person with no soul. But at least I didn’t do it for a Whopper.  And, to further add to my (ridiculous) hypocrisy, I was the jerk who was updating her own FaceBook page a gazillion times a day via my links on Twitterfeed.

But, I felt like I was getting on  people’s nerves doing that, so I dismantled the connection.

At times, the social media/blogging experience is uber wonderful. You read breaking news, discuss cool topics and connect with people who are interested in the same things you are. Other times, I feel like I’m the only one wearing sweats in a nudist colony. Everyone is so in tune with themselves.

The barrier to entry on broadcasting yourself to the world is so low, everyone wants an opportunity to chronicle every (insane) mundane event in their life. From cataloging hundreds of photos on Facebook to tweeting obscene updates on Twitter. Even blogging – your opinions count in the blogosphere (but only if someone is reading them).

So, instead, soul searching  morphs to a point where it becomes self-flagellation. Instead of having the secret embarrassment of making mistakes, people blog/FB/tweet about their not-so-secret pains and upsets. What happens with the intimate connection of just keeping some revelations to yourself? What happens with having whatever clarity of thought be just for you and no one else?

There’s transparency – and then there’s unabashed nekkidness.

But, I guess that is the point. The democratization of information. But, when did that include the democratization of extreme self-awareness to be witnessed by all?

Everyone is scrambling for a voice. People want recognition. They want to be heard. People need to learn from others. But then, only the rest of the world seems to be paying attention to the same percentage of people. Was your life any more (or less) interesting before you got a blog? Do 475 people really need to see you making out with your ex-boyfriend on Facebook? How thoughtful is that post about your girlfriend dumping you on your birthday?

Particularly, I’m interested in being meaningful. Blending complexity. Creating autonomy. Building relationships. And, I’m not sure how well people are blending, creating and building when they are so narrowly focused on steering attention on themselves.

I haven’t been able to (yet) reconcile the distinct voice I can have in the chattering mass of the blogosphere. Or, justify not having my photos scattered all over the web universe. Maybe that makes me (too) intensely private. But, in a world where everyone seems to be watching (and wants to be watched) the idea of keeping it to yourself seems dead.

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