I’m the outsider

awareness

Totally need one of these on my desk

Acute awareness of anything is not always a good thing. For most people it brings clarity in a confusing situation, lets you see something that you didn’t realize before, or lets you empathize with someone else to help them through something. In my case though, I’ve become acutely aware of the fact that even after 7 months at my current job, I still feel like an outsider. Nothing specific that makes me feel this way, just little hints that I’m still not one of the crowd or a trusted member of the company fold. Sure, everyone is courteous and friendly and will often engage in conversation at the drop of a dime. Free coffee here is our “water cooler” and conversations at the coffee pot are an hourly occurrence if you’re inclined to participate.

My introverted nature I’m sure doesn’t help this feeling though. In fact, I’m almost sure its detrimental to me in situations like this one where I’m the “new guy” in a group where the average tenure of an employee is well over 12 years. I work with people that in some cases were hired by the current CEO, not many people can say that at a company that exceeds a few hundred people, let alone a company that is pushing 5,000 employees. I’m 7 months in and still feel that I’m navigating the political waters of how management operates. The learning curve here is mighty steep and has proved to be a difficult journey to say the least.

Having to adapt to a corporate environment here, if you can call it that, has been daunting after having worked in what I consider normal environments for the better part of 18 years. There are so many levels that you have to fight with to get anything done and partnering that with an ever changing focus and direction makes it all but impossible unless you know people. That’s where my issues comes into full focus, I just don’t know the people I need to in order to get certain projects completed. I’m viewed as an outsider with my crazy notions of how something should be done and asking questions as to why it isn’t. My radar doesn’t quite tune to the “I built this process you’re shooting holes in” negative attitude that normally greets me during some conversations.

There is a very real sense that work is done to propel a career or protect a legacy of “it’s always been done like this” that, if changed, requires people to learn something new. I’ve found through experience that changing a routine in a corporate office is probably the hardest thing you can do as complacency takes root and is as hard to remove as a weed with a 2 foot long root into the ground. All of this struggle adds to my awareness that I’m an outsider and until I yield to the status quo, I will continue to be an outsider.

I’m not sure that my future with this company is going to be along one. I keep pushing forward handling obstacles as they come, but my energy and motivation are taking huge hits while doing it. My only hope at this point is that the retirement train keeps moving ahead and some of the crusty bits go away. My dealings with other “new people” (essentially 5 years or less with the company) have been positive. If some of those people can get their way into the vacated positions, I think I might have a chance to make a real difference. Until that happens though, I have to struggle to get anything done as the “outsider”.

The summer is going to be interesting….

#awareness, #change, #corporate

Individuals are smart, people are stupid

Naked Security: Cyberbullying is worse than face-to-face bullying, teens say

StopBullying

I’ve talked about this before here and here.  It’s a topic I feel VERY strongly about having been bullied through my entire school career.  My daughter, who will be 9 in December, is most likely going to be bullied at some point in her school career as well.  There are some traits I can see will be topics for other children to point out and make fun of.  Both my wife and I are doing our best to raise her with self confidence and instill in her that she can manufacture her own strength.  That is a lesson in life that neither of us had when we were growing up.  We also didn’t have pervasive 24/7 technology driving our bullies over 20 years ago.

So, before anyone gets offended by the title, here is my explanation.  Individuals in this context are normal, intelligent and sane minded people that act on impulses with morality and knowing right from wrong.  They’re able to see a situation or problem, make judgements on the correct course of action, then act on those decisions.  People in this context are just the opposite of an individual.  People refers to a crowd of individuals that have lost the ability to think on their own, they’re following a slightly smarter individual that is empowered by the “people” behind them.  The thoughts and actions of people are justified if more than one person performs the unintelligent or insane action.  Mob mentality is what its referred to as in the news.

Lets steal some stuff then burn it down!

Lets steal some stuff then burn it down!

Explanation done, this same idea holds true online.  The consequences are much much worse however in that individuals that are targeted often are alone.  They feel alone, they are alone, no one is supporting them.  The article at the top goes into some detail, but I think fails in trying to address the root of the problem by using emojis that evoke compassion.  Really?  WTF is that about?  We are so afraid of offending someone or pissing off someone that we end up not being candid and blunt about the true nature of the problem.  Here is my theory.

  • Parents are partially to blame for not monitoring what their kids are doing online.  Growing up it was easy to keep tabs on a child.  Mom screamed out the door and we came running or we were home when the street lights came on.  Trouble, if caught, would easily be communicated.
  • Schools are partially to blame for not being tougher on the kids who do bully.  The schools are bound by ridiculous rules and policies that turn their discipline from a sword into a spork.  No one benefits from that.
  • Kids are partially to blame in that they’re not getting the right life lessons from people around them.  From age 7 to about 15, children are literally soaking up the world like a shop vac sucking water out of a basement.  What they see, do and hear shapes their decision processes for the rest of their lives.
  • Technology is partially to blame due to its pervasive ability to completely take over someones life.  We have, as a society, come to depend on our technology and are starting to lose the ability to function without it.  How many times have you asked someone for a phone number and heard back “it’s in my phone, which I don’t have right now.”

My wife and I are split on the technology front unfortunately.  I’ve had multiple computers and phones for years now due to my fierce separation of work and personal tech.  Work doesn’t need to know what I do on home time.  I don’t carry a phone on Sunday, not because I’m religious or anything, I just need to disconnect one day per week.  It supports my requirement for solitude.  My wife, mother in law, brother, etc. are all the same in their reaction:  “How can we get a hold of you if there’s an emergency?”  My response is always the same:  “The same way you would get a hold of me 20 years ago, leave a message.”  It’s received with mixed reactions.

I want my daughter to be exposed to technology, but on my terms.  I know there is absolutely horrible content on the Internet and I can’t shield her from all of it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try and watch her activity daily.  My wife gives her the iPod and leaves her alone.  I give her the iPod and want to sit with her and watch what she does.  My wife lets her on the desktop to do math homework and leaves her alone.  I sit with her and watch what she does and helps when needed.  Technology for me is a tool and should be used as such.  You don’t carry around your hammer or wrench 24/7 so why should you carry around your smart phone 24/7?

I’ve digressed unfortunately, such is that of a random mind.  I hope that I’m giving my daughter the sense of safety that she can tell us anything that is bothering her so we can take the most appropriate actions to help her.  I’m aware that our involvement in her life will be more and more unwelcome, but that doesn’t mean that I stop helping her.  It’s just a shift in helping to something indirect rather than direct, such as a meeting with the Principal after hours as I did two weeks ago.  I hope that my daughter never experiences bullying or cyberbullying, but the reality is that she will.

It needs to stop and it starts with awareness and an individual to counter the decision of people.

#anger, #awareness, #bullying, #cruelty, #depression, #dignity

Be color brave and achieve on your own

MellodyHobsonMellody Hobson: Be color blind or color brave

Having been a TED viewer for a few years now since Jamie Oliver did his documentaries on school cafeteria food in the U.S., this one struck a cord with me.  It’d definitely worth the 15 minutes to watch the whole thing.  I was overly impressed with her ability to convey what she was thinking in a manner that didn’t cause shock and awkwardness, which she explains during her talk.

A friend has posted this to their Facebook page for a clearly different reason than what the talk is actually about.  Their focus was on the two points in the talk.  The first point was her going to a prestigious talk with a colleague and being mistaken for “the help”.  Their second point was focused on the question “When will it be weird to walk into a corporate board room and see all white men?”; a point that took less than 30 seconds to explain and which they were also totally out of context and off base with their comments.

Here is a woman that has faced adversity her entire life, for many reasons I’m sure.  A few she touched on in the talk.  Despite her having to endure this adversity, she has become a successful woman as a Board Chairperson, one of two in the country of Fortune 500 companies.  I personally don’t find that surprising given that I’ve known for years that hard work, perseverance and determination to get what you want always pays off in the long term.  I’ve also long held the belief that if you’re qualified for a position you have as much a chance as anyone else to receive it.  Nothing other than experience and education should be considered but unfortunately that isn’t the world we live in right now.

Prior to the real world, our children are learning that “everyone wins” and you get as many chances to get it right.  Everyone doesn’t win, its a fact of life.  I grew up with the ideal that few win and many lose.  I’m OK with that, I’m stronger for that.  I’d like to know when that changed so drastically that a millennial will cry and complain when they don’t get a job or their friends are hired before them.  The culture that was pressed into them was one of inclusion and winning, but the real world, approximately 80% of their life, is completely the opposite.  Why are we condoning this kind of teaching to our children?  The children that will be running the country in 20-30 years that we’ll, as pre-seniors, rely upon to make decisions on our behalf.

Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School where he gave them 11 rules that weren’t taught to them in school.  These are the same kids that will be looking for jobs and expecting the same type of treatment they had in school.

  1. Life is not fair – get used to it!
  2. The world won’t care about your self-esteem.  The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
  3. You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school.  You won’t be a vice-president with a mobile phone until you earn both.
  4. If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss.
  5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity.  Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping:  they called it opportunity.
  6. If you mess up, it’s not your parents fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
  7. Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now.  They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were.  So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
  8. Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT.  In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer.  This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
  9. Life is not divided into semesters.  You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF.  Do that on your own time.
  10. Television is NOT real life.  In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to real jobs.
  11. Be nice to nerds.  Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

Tying this all together, Mellody worked her ass off to get to where she is.  She didn’t have to learn any of the rules above because they didn’t apply to her.  Her Mom was the inspiration she needed to just “know” nothing wasn’t within her reach to achieve.  My views on teaching and the school system are the main reason that I do not have a strong relationship with my only brother.  I’m not willing to accept my daughter learning how NOT to be and struggle for years until she learns these life lessons.

I’m about to embark on a new job in a few weeks that I achieved on my own.  No one helped me, no one gave me a pass.  I worked hard, learned tough lessons and most importantly “lost” a hell of a lot before I started winning.  These kids should listen more to people that know better, instead I witness a 20 something check his mobile phone during an interview I’m conducting.  WTH?

#awareness, #education, #life-lessons, #racism