Tag Archive | change

You’re unique…like everybody else

I get a chuckle out of hearing people complain about certain things.

Take the weather. People everywhere complain about the weather. At the very least, it gives us something to talk about (especially if we’re not sports people). So thanks for that, weather. However, I’ve noticed some patterns about people’s complaints.

People tend to think their weather is the craziest. Sure, sure, weather elsewhere might be colder or warmer, but the weather HERE is variable and crazy! I mean it was just X degrees X days ago! I’ve heard the same joke in nearly every region I’ve lived in or visited.

“Don’t like the weather in Boulder? Wait five minutes.” *Laugh laugh laugh*

“Don’t like the weather in Portland? Wait five minutes.” *Laugh laugh laugh*

“Don’t like the weather in Raleigh? Wait five minutes.” *Laugh laugh laugh*

Well, it turns out weather is crazy most places. God doesn’t have it out against your zip code. Some days it’s going to be sunny/rainy and warm/cold…then this thing called a weather front comes in and stuff changes. Nuts, right?

Same with drivers.

“Oh well you know how San Antonio drivers are!”

“D.C. drivers are the absolute worst!”

“We have the craziest drivers in L.A., bar none!”

First, I’ve been in Tokyo and Baghdad traffic, American driving is actually pretty tepid. Second, I’m coming to realize people are just terrible drivers all around.

Whether I’m at a restaurant, airport, DMV line, grocery store line or even church…I often hear someone recounting their day.

“You don’t even know how bad it is.”

“I can’t believe this is happening to me.”

“Surely this is the worst day ever.”

Well, you might be surprised. Statistically, several thousand people probably are having the exact same sort of day you are having, from spilled coffee, to recent breakup, to traffic, to baby-mama drama or whatever (and avoiding any of the normal #firstworldproblems snark). I always got a kick out of the saying “You’re one in a million. That means in China there are 1,000 people just like you.”

Sometimes I think we become enamored with our circumstance and think we’re all alone, with no one who can relate. And sometimes I think we let our perspectives reinforce that isolation and perceived lack of commonalities.

It’s crap. For all the times I’ve clung to being miserable and alone, when I do finally break down and let people in, not only do I find many have gone through similar things, but that even people who haven’t often give wise advice anyway. I find that my own mindset has been limiting how I’ve seen things. My own mindset even affects how much I can learn from the wisdom of other people.

Take dating, even.

I visit with single friends in New York City, and you know what I’ve been told? “It’s hard to find decent people to date in New York.” Geez, really? NYC? Hard to find ‘good’ people to date? That place is supposedly filled with the stuff of legends, from a single’s perspective. I lived in D.C. for a while and even I said, “It’s hard to find decent people to date in D.C.” With all the embassies, government goings on, plays, music venues and professionals…no good ones around, huh? Same when I visited L.A., “It’s hard to find decent people to date in L.A.”

On and on, even in Belgium, even as a surfing instructor, while deployed, on dating sites, wherever…apparently everyplace sucks and if only we could live in someplace else that wasn’t anywhere, then we’d have a better shot at being happy…or having better weather…or being around better drivers.

Again, all crap. Got to attend to your mindset.

In the case of drivers, we just need to calm down. In the case of weather, we just need to own a coat.

In the case of dating and relationships, we need to reexamine our patterns. Where do we go to meet people? Do we go out to meet people? Is our body language closed or open? Do we stare at the floor or do we meet others’ gazes? Would we strike up a conversation with someone in a grocery store line? How about at the movies? If we want more culture, do we seek out culture? If we want more intellectually-stimulating people, do we go to stuff like lectures? (I didn’t fully intend on this becoming a dating-advice article, but I’ll stick with it.)

The point is our mindset is the key to most of our contentment. Better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable, you know?

Those morning people, who bound out in the early hours with the enthusiasm that makes you want to choke someone? Mindset. The person who stays patient and considerate, and then you find their wife just left, their car broke down and their job evaporated? Mindset.

Don’t be a lobotomized drone. It’s good to share pain, vent and be genuine with others. But don’t count out the power of rising above the normal craziness to try and get a larger perspective on stuff, either.

My friend shared a quote from a friend of his who passed away recently: “That’s the thing about sitting in your own shit: It’s warm and it’s yours, but you gotta get out of it sometime.”


Leaving the room I’m not in anyway

Sometimes in the office, I have to leave the room. My boss-ish (I have three), and his boss often go back and forth about the evils and pitfalls of social media. I’m never invited to the conversation–big people talk and all of that, but I hear every word.

Before I get in to the convo that drove me from my roost this morning, a bit of context.

I’ve been chipping away at the DINFOS barnacles since January, trying to expose the hull so we can build from that. Most businesses do things out of tradition (it has worked before) or comfort (it is safe/easy) that may or may not be the best approach to a current problem. In the case of social media, most legacy approaches aren’t compatible (booooo email!). Social media requires a drastic change in workplace culture–not only because the tools are new, but the way people interact must also change.

Regardless, and social media trendiness aside, huge and small corporations alike discovered the social media concepts  attractive to the public have immense time- and cost-saving benefits for corporate processes. Typically dubbed “Enterprise 2.0“, the idea is that many social media trends (blogs, wikis, social networks, file sharing) are translatable to business practices.

Translatable, that is, once culture is revolutionized. Otherwise, leveraging social media is like selling a new printer to someone without a computer.

This is where things get very tricky. It’s a two-front war for social media in the workplace.

On the Western Front is social media training–what it is and how to use it; just like teaching someone the new copier or holding new quarterly training on the CEO’s new business philosophy. On the Eastern Front, however, is the quagmire of changing how people solve problems and interact. This can’t be overlooked. Social media is more than just getting people to log in to wikis, it’s a very different approach to interaction and work processes. Adoption rates of SM initiatives in the workplace often stall. Sometimes it’s because an initiative is poorly implemented, but often enough it’s the second front to the internal culture social media revolution–the work ethic and philosophy of the individual worker.

Whereas back in the day, I might think I should hold on to all of my knowledge. If my boss or coworkers wanted to know about my specialty, they’d have to come to me. My turf was my worth. My lane kept me employed. If someone else knew how to do what I did, I might get fired.

Not true, but information hoarding is usually how we work. Even with email, I must send out information to one set of recipients. It’s closed and temporary. Anyone else who wants to know the same info must be sent another message from someone in the know.

What companies are finding out is that when a fundamental change in workplace culture happens, contributors are not fired because they’ve given up their secrets, they are embraced by the emerging collaborative community. Although everyone might have my slide shows from past presentations, for example; I am still seen as the go-to person when people have questions. My job shifts from being a content creator to being a content manager. I, in my frequent contributions, empower others to grow and learn. I contribute to the health of the organization and give people a sense of ownership when they contribute to my projects, and likewise I gain when I contribute to theirs.

This is actually the area I’m the most interested in. There are untold thousands of social media advocates and snake oil salesmen touting the cure-all benefits of interfacing with the public through social media. Far fewer, it seems, are those who instead are focusing on the introspective approach to social media–how companies can harness the feelings of ownership and contribution amongst employees, while allowing managers far greater oversight and confidence in the day-to-day operations of a business.

This brings us to the present and the latest conversation by those who decide how much day-to-day sway I have. I am always elated to hear my boss(es) talking about work instead of golf or family visits or bands or church outings; so there was that going for them. Working in a quiet corner of the building makes tuning out the conversations that do transpire a bit trickier, but I normally rock out my headphones. Every once in awhile, my ears perk up when I hear key words like social media, collaboration, wikis, silly, security nightmare or young people. Remember, I’ve been beating the SM drums since January, so these guys have all heard my pitches about collaborative atmospheres, culture revolutions, wikis, blogs, standards of practice, unified Web presence–all of that.

In this particluar case, in the hour before most people show up for work, the boss(es) were discussing “working together on documents.” Bigger boss was talking to smaller boss about how they were having a hell of a time working together with other groups on document authoring. Apparently there are emails galore about certain documents. Different people have different versions. It’s hard to know what changes were made by what section and when. There’s no way of getting comments together in one spot to discuss possible changes…on and on.

WIKIS WIKIS! I screamed in my head, trying to punch through any barriers to thought projection I might have picked up during my six years of bureaucratic morass. Small boss must have picked up on my cues.

“What about a wiki? We could put some of these things on there,” small boss said.

“Maybe, but if we used a wiki, what would happen to the way we normal did things? Would we have to ask people to change their routines? Would they just go to the wiki instead of the shared drives and documents they normally went to?” big boss asked.

“Ah, good point.”

“See? Just saying ‘wiki’ is more than just saying ‘wiki.'”

“Ok, so what else can we do?”

“Well, I think we’ll schedule some meetings and try to get these emails under control.”

And so I left. Even when you lead a horse to water and even when you kick it in the knees and shove its head under, dumb bastard might still die of thirst.


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