Transitions

In what may be the fourth or fifth reboot of this blog, we are going to talk about transitions! Every stage of life has them, going from our 20’s to our 30’s, going from being single to being married, no kids to more kids…..you get the idea.

When I first started this blog, it was a foray into eventual public speaking, career changes, book writing and more. Well, funny thing is, none of those things are come to pass. I still hope to eventually write a book. However, I think public speaking on its own is probably not in the cards for me.

However, this does not make me sad or disappointing. As we grow, we must learn and adapt. Realistically, being a public speaker would put a strain on my home life because with that is usually quite a bit of travel. That being said, I have found a new way of progressing.

Being in my current field of IT for almost 20 years now, I have learned a fair amount of things. I have made my share of mistakes and have had both awesome and scary scenarios pop up. All of these experiences have now led me into a leadership role in technology. More and more, I am asked to talk with and mentor younger, less experienced technologists in how best to learn and grow.

This has been a great experience for me as well and I will be starting to formalize these thoughts and perspectives in an official blog called newITthoughts.com. If you have the interest, take a look. I will still be contributing to this blog, but I will do more of a business/leadership focus in that blog.

The point is….we must all transition. Sometimes these are forced upon us, sometimes they are by choice. Either way, it is how we deal with it that makes that be difference. Do we crumble with the change or do we embrace it and make the best of the situation? The answer to that is the key to our future and what lies ahead.

Examine.

Golden

adult aged baby care

Common things, like sense and courtesy, seem have have taken a brief leave of absence from our world.  We have been living in a social media driven society for the past 5 years, if not more.  The proliferation of information, nowadays, is increasing at a rapid rate.  News that once took days, weeks, months to spread, now is global (viral) within seconds.

Think you’re safe from being found out if you did something against the norm, let alone wrong?  Not a chance.

While no one is perfect, there are some simple rules to live by in order to ensure you stay out of the spotlight.  Actually, there’s one rule in particular.  I think we’ve all heard of it.  The Golden Rule.  While it is biblical in it’s origins, one does not have to be devout to agree that it’s pretty straight forward and easy to abide.

I mean, let’s break it down.  With the outbreak of #metoo and #blacklivesmatter, wouldn’t a lot of that be solved by the Golden Rule?  I may be oversimplifying the matter, but I don’t think so.  And, please DO NOT take this as an intent to minimize the above two movements, as I am not doing that either.  All I am saying, is that following the Golden Rule allows us to surround ourselves with the types of influences that will continue to make us happy.

Again, no one is perfect.  So, what happens if we don’t follow the Golden Rule?  Well, I know that if I find myself having wronged someone, I do what I can to make it right.  Which, goes back to the rule itself.  I expect that wrongs will be done to me, from time to time, but I expect that those who have done so will attempt to make it right as I would them.  If they don’t, then I don’t have a place for them in my life.

Easy in writing, hard in practice.  But you know what happens when you practice something hard?  It becomes easier.  Easier to cut out the negativity and toxic vibes out of your life.  Easier to be unto others as you would want them to be to you.  Try it out.  See what happens?  I wish the 1% would practice this more often and be appropriate role models to the rest of us, but like I said before….common sense and courtesy have left the building for awhile.  Until they return, be your own role model.

Examine.

Regrets

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One of the unfortunate aspects of life is the feeling of regret.  Maybe unfortunate is the wrong term to use, but it is the first term that comes to mind.  The whole idea of regret is that one is sad or disappointed in either an action or a missed opportunity.

However, in the idea of balance and perspective, what is regret if not an absolute learning tool?  Yeah sure, it sucked that you were not able to go to the Taylor Swift concert that your daughter was begging you to take her too because you had to work late that day.  Yeah sure, it sucked that you were checking your phone in while driving and ended up swerving lanes, getting noticed by a cop, and getting a hefty ticket for it.  Yeah sure, it sucked that you decided to not ask for his/her number.

The examples above show the variety of breadth and depth of regret.  What they all have in common, however, is that they all show different levels of control and opportunity.

Let’s take the easy one first….getting his/her number.  Man, what a missed opportunity, right?  Well, maybe or maybe not.  The point is that to dwell on what could have been doesn’t actually solve anything.  Next time you have an opportunity for a number, might as well take it.  Doesn’t mean you have to use it, right?  Learning Achieved!

How about the checking phone while driving?  Sure, regretful.  However, in the grand scheme of things, getting out of that situation with just a ticket is a godsend.  We all know that scenario could have played out in a much more traumatic way.  Next time, put the phone down, ensure no trauma from a simple regretful action.  Learning Achieved!

Finally, the hard one.  Missing a concert.  What isn’t said in this example are the auxiliary details.  Was a promise made to the daughter?  Was the “working late” at work an emergency and unknown scenario?  Too many scenarios to choose from, right?  Well…maybe.  The devil’s in the details, so the point is to examine each detail and determine if a better choice could have been made.  It does not good to be regretful for things out of your control.  But you can make small incremental changes for the better.  Plus, there will always be more concerts to go to.

Examining how you are living your life is paramount to the success of living a happy life.  I’m not saying it’s easy to make changes.  We all know that it is not.  But the first step to making changes is to realize that regretting the decisions you have made does not actually propel you forward.   Learning from regretful decisions or moments is forward progress.  And any amount, large or small, of forward progress is the right kind of progress to make.

Examine.

A Good Cry

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I was having a conversation the other day and it eventually led to the subject of crying.  The question was posed, “Why do we hold in tears and the effort of crying?  Sometimes you just need a good cry.”  It got me thinking.  Why DO we not cry?

Sometimes it might be due to not wanting to show weakness/fear/whatever in front of someone.  Sometimes it’s an embarrassment factor that stops you from letting the tears flow.  And then sometimes it’s the fear that if you start crying, you may never stop.

I know that I have felt all three of these at different points in my life.  But, if I am honest with myself, I am probably leaning toward the third reason above.

I remember at one point, my dad telling me that if “you’re going to cry, you can just go to your room.”  In hindsight, and in previous conversations with my parents, I’m sure in that moment I was being a pill of a child and was probably crying to either get attention or get what I wanted.  My dad wasn’t condemning me to a lifetime of room-crying.  Nonetheless, that particular statement stuck with me and it was always my default reaction to tears. Go to my room or another private place.

Even to this day, if I feel that I am going to have tears, I will find a private place, a restroom, my car, whatever.  This is probably a normal thing, hiding while crying, right?  But in those moments, I do have that nagging fear that if I let the emotions turn on too far, there may be no stopping it.

I take this moment to pause any “worriers” out there….I am not depressed or have thoughts of never ending sadness.  Each time I have ever cried, I assure you, I have stopped.  🙂

The point is, that in that moment, you may just never know.  I have talked with people who suffer from migraines and it’s similar.  Even though they get migraines and they KNOW that they will eventually go away, there’s that “in-the-moment” fear that it won’t.  That this pressure will never subside and that the rest of their life will be pain and misery.

Can this translate to other parts of life and society?  I’m sure it can.  The key is to make sure you do that gut-check with reality and what is KNOWN.  Not what is unknown.  Emotions can be fleeting or they can linger.  If you find that you cannot see through the fog or the light, please seek help.  There are trained professionals who can and will be happy to help out.

I like to preach a “mind over matter” mentality, but I’m also a realist.  In the end, you have to decide what is best.  You have to decide when you are at your limit and when you need to ask for help.  Self help for as long as you can, then call on your village.  If you don’t have a village, go find one.

Sometimes you just need a good long cry.  Trust me, it won’t last forever.  Also, you can find sympathy if you ask for it.  We aren’t alone, let’s work together to make sure that no one feels like they won’t stop crying if they start.

Examine.

Patience

The evolution of air flight has been an amazing accomplishment over the years. It is definitely one of those things that I don’t completely understand, but completely appreciate. That being said, it is not always a smooth journey.

I am actually writing this from my flight. I sit here with my family, each one of them “plugged in” to their electronic device of choice as we soar through turbulent skies.

In front of us are a family of six. Behind us a series of strangers around a father and son separated by the aisle. The family of six are zonked out for now, the father and son, stewing in frustration.

You see, as we all were boarding, everyone was taking their seats and arranging their belongings. Our aisle was empty when we arrived so I took advantage of the extra space to open up our carryons and organize the “distractions” for the upcoming long flight. Then one of the people came to sit in our aisle and I quickly mobilized do allow them to sit down.

Eventually we were all in our seats and the flight attendants were calling for closing up the plane. All of a son, the father behind us gets up and opens the overhead compartment to get something out of his bag. He starts cursing under his breath and, it seems, takes everything out of his bag. The flight attendant approaches, asking if he can help. The father snaps back that he does not, to which the attendant lets him know that we cannot move the plane until he sits down. The father curses and slams the overhead compartment shut.

Oh boy, we can’t wait to see what “shifts during flight”.

As the flight goes on, the attendant checks in and asks if they are okay, obviously aware of the mounting frustration. Father and son say they are fine each time and you can sense the tension clearing.

It was amazing to see the flight attendant remain calm and composed. I realize that they deal with this every day, but I can vividly remember many times where flight attendants snap back and escalate the situation. Not this time, though.

I can tell you that the tension was thick at the back of the plane where we were sitting, but through calm words and offers of assistance, the situation diffused.

It is a nice reminder to not fight fire with fire. Keeping a cool head tends to prevail. It did in this case. So, thank you Mr. Flight Attendant. You definitely showed the power of patience and allowed us all to have an enjoyable flight.

Examine.

Gifts and Invites

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It might be time to throw away some old-fashioned social norms.  In particular, I am speaking of gift giving and invitations.

No, I’m not saying we should STOP giving gifts and STOP inviting people to things.  Rather, I feel it is time to stop having negative emotional responses to them.

Hear me out here.  Gift giving a a thoughtful process, right?  You see something that you think someone else will enjoy, so you buy it for them.  Sometimes it is spontaneous and sometimes it’s for a specific occasion.

But here’s where the obsolete social norm comes into play.  If someone gives us a gift, we feel compelled to return the favor.  Right?  WHY?  I mean, really…why?  Isn’t the whole idea of a gift….well, giving?  I know someone who keeps a closet full of random, wrapped gifts, just in case someone brings a gift over and they were caught un-prepared.

“Oh, my!  Thank you for this amazing print of the cover art from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.  It just so happens, I have something for you too!  Haven’t you always wanted a set of Tiffany glasses???”

I’m sorry…I would almost be MORE offended for getting a thoughtless reciprocated-induced gift, than no gift at all.  The best gifts are the genuine gifts.  Not gifts for gifts sake.

Which brings us to invitations.  Invites are a funny thing.  Have you ever invited someone because you felt you had to?  How about NOT inviting someone because you thought they wouldn’t have fun or wouldn’t be able to make it anyway?

Hogwash to both, I say.  Again, the purpose of invitations is to invite people to a certain gathering or occasion you are organizing.  There should be a definite reason and desire behind each invitation.  Invites should NOT be influenced by what someone may or may not think about said invitation.  They should be focused on whether or not YOU want them at the occasion.

On the flip side, if you don’t get invited, try not to be too harsh on the invitee.  There could be NUMEROUS reasons you don’t get invited.  If it truly bothers you, then you should ask them directly, but not offensively.  This could be the third social norm that is outdated.

“I don’t want to ask them because they might get offended.”  Wait, so you would rather stew about being offended, then have a conversation about it?  Not healthy, my friends.  Not healthy at all.

The idea here is to stay genuine.  Genuine gifts leads to genuine happiness. Genuine invites leads to genuine happiness.  Genuine conversations leads to….well, genuine answers, which is where we should all strive to be.  It’s how we all become better and happier in the long run….genuinely.

Examine.

Control

What does control mean to you? To some, it means the ability to influence others. To others, it’s the ability to influence yourself.

What about the circumstances that we find ourselves in every day? Can we really control those?

We’ve all heard that saying about being granted the patience to deal with those things we cannot change. But it’s really true. If there is something we cannot control, what benefit do we gain by worrying about it?

Instead, we should focus on what we can control and how we can react to things that we cannot control.

In the IT world, I preach to my team that we need to be more proactive. Work on preventing future pitfalls, accidents and incidents as best we can. This makes our jobs easier. Of course, we can never be 100%, so then I reinforce to my team that is is not the mistake or incident that matters most, but how we react to it.

When we can’t control the negative, we must do what we can to make the most positive out of it. It is not always easy, but it is possible. When we learn from the things that we cannot control, our jobs become much easier.

The same can be said for life, in general. We cannot control everything, but we can learn. Learning is one of the keys to success and happiness. Learn what makes you happy, control what you can to achieve that happiness.

If we learn that we can’t control everything, anything can happen.

Examine.

Thunder and Lightning

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Have you ever went to talk with someone and they just go-off, explode, bite your head off, etc…?  Have you ever done that to someone else?  It happens, a lot, and usually takes the receiving party by surprise.

Have you ever met someone who is very sad, maybe depressed, and unsure how to react?

I bring up these emotions, specifically, because I have found that they are more impacting than their positive counterparts.  Very rarely do you meet someone who is so OVERJOYED that you think back on that moment the next day and say, “Wow, Kyle was really really happy yesterday.”  It’s more likely to be said, “Man, Kyle really bit my head off yesterday.”
**The previous statements were meant to be generic.  If your name is Kyle and you were either REALLY happy or you were REALLY mad, that is completely coincidental.**
In my experience, when these sorts of events happen, we usually take them at face value and either get offended or put-off by them.  However, what we are experiencing is the “thunder”.  As you have probably heard, thunder always follows lightning.  So, the root cause of such a strong reaction, has more than likely already taken place well ahead of when you came across the situation.

More times than not, we hold things in and let them build until a flood of emotion comes out, usually in a negative sense.  The point is, you don’t usually know the whole story of why someone acts the way they do.  Furthermore, both parties involved could benefit from that knowledge being shared.  A lot of times outbursts are cries for help, a desire to be heard.  It’s easy to be quick to judge, harder to ask deeper questions.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to swallow an outburst, especially if it seems aimed at yourself.  I can’t tell you how many times an outburst ends up causing me to outburst onto someone else.

There’s definitely a time and place to start probing for what lies underneath the surface.  So, take time to cool off (or let them cool off) and bring up the subject again.  This clears the air.  Not only that, but it allows for negative energy to dissipate, thus ending the cycle of lightning and thunder.

Examine.

Karma: Good or Bad?

Karma:  Good or Bad?

We’ve all heard of Karma, but how much of it do we believe in?  For most of us, it’s a fun way of explaining things.  Like when that guy weaves in and out of lanes while speeding down the highway and we see him pulled over a few miles later.  We say, “That’s Karma”.  Or when I find a good parking spot at the mall, I call it “Parking Karma” which really doesn’t make sense, does it?

More importantly, do we ‘invoke’ Karma equally?  I mean, do we focus on the positive as well as the negative?  The Buddhists define Karma as “the law of moral causation.”  It’s more complex than this, but basically, do good things and good things will happen to you.  Same with bad things.

It’s a nice thought, but does that mean that WHEN you have bad things happen to you, it’s because you’ve done bad in the past?  Vice versa with good.  Or is it the ‘balance’ of if something good happens to you, then something bad will happen at some point to even things out?

Well, I don’t know the answer completely, but I can tell you if you dwell/worry about either of the two preceding statements, it will drive you insane and add unnecessary stress to your life.  And I’m pretty sure that’s anti-Karma…or anti-Buddhist…or well, just not good!

I experienced a loss recently.  Without going into any details, I’ll tell you that it’s the first time in a long time that I, personally, questioned whether or not I ‘had done something wrong’ or “Karmic-ally caused the loss”.  Usually, I don’t go down that road.  Everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t know what it is.  Timing, Fate, whatever.  But this time it hit harder than anything had before.  I’ve come around to the thought that the reason will become clear and that sometimes things just happen.

I can assure you that doing good and leading a happy lifestyle surely can’t hurt.  Whether one believes in Karma or not, it never hurts to hedge a bet.  This is what you’re doing when you put good out into the world.  By doing so, it allows more and more goodness to penetrate and absorb into the world around.  And that’s never a bad thing.

Examine.

Does It Get Better?

Good, better and best conceptEmotions are an amazing driver.  They make the highs higher and the lows lower.  They can sharpen focus as well as cloud judgement.  They are the epitome of paradox.

However, when we’re up, we don’t necessarily care nor acknowledge what’s coming next.  When we are low, though, we completely shut out what’s coming.  Our emotions can drive us so low, that we tend to ask ourselves:  does it get better?

This is also the first thing that Others tell us.  “Oh, don’t worry, it’ll get better”.  “Well, there’s always tomorrow.”  Heck, I’m a huge culprit of this.  This entire site is built on such a sentiment.  However, does this really help out those whom we are targeting?

The answer is No….and Yes.  No, by itself it doesn’t help.  However, the love and sentiment behind the words do.  It’s reassurance that there are brighter days ahead which helps, however it does not give any finality of the pain and suffering.  It’s ice for the wound, numbs the pain, but isn’t a cure.

So…DOES it get better?  Yes!  How do we get there?

That, my friends, is the question that can only be answered by everyone on a personal level.  The only person who can rescue us from our lows is our self.  We have to make the decision that today will be better than yesterday and that tomorrow will be easier than today.

The keys to success is to examine and find the positive.  Hold on to what works, don’t dwell on what doesn’t.  Simple in practice…Hard in execution.  Well, Hard at first, but start small and build from there.  Go from Good to Better to Best.

Examine.