October 28, 2011

The Solar System of Our Lives

Maybe we all have orbits. Some sort of weird system dictating who’s around us – who circles in and out of our lives and at what frequency. Do we have our own gravity? Is it some inherent quality that draws people together? Some would call it chemistry, some would call it fate. Some call it dumb luck. Who’s to say, really?

Whether cosmos or heavens, there are outside forces at work in our lives. You can believe in physics, spirituality, or none of the above. You can believe in waking up warm and safe, you can believe in a simple song that's dear to you. You can believe in anything but you must believe in forces.

Maybe we’re like planets. We’re spinning, never stationary, never looking in the same place for long. Eventually some other astrological body comes near and we are drawn towards it and then it departs and we’re in orbit again, waiting for the next event.

We're always changing. We experience our own personal ice ages, floods, heat waves, tornadoes, hurricanes, and any other maelstrom you can think of. But they come and they go. They come and yield to more temperate times.

If we’re planets, we’re seeing stars. We’re seeing light, we’re seeing hope, and we’re seeing the sun through that deep black blanket of space. Nothing travels faster than the speed of light so where are we off to in such a hurry?

October 25, 2011

Embracing Positivity: Update

A while I ago I wrote a post declaring that I was going to embrace positivity. My prediction at the time was that it would last and I'm happy to report that it has indeed lasted.

I want to take a moment to reiterate something: it's not that everything is sunshine and rainbows, it's more about seeing the positive aspects of situations. Even with a situation that is predominantly negative there is always something positive to embrace. For example, "It could have been worse," or, "Hey, at least we're not dead." And you know what? If we are dead that sucks but I won't have any time to think about it so why would I care?

I've found that some switch inside my brain has made me focus on the positive. I strongly suspect it's due to my new degree program and the fact that I'm not wasting away in some god damn call centre or dead-end job. However, this has trickled down even into social situations. I find the same things that used to bother me before don't bother me as much and I'm even more empowered to speak my mind, for better or for worse. I guess in a sense it's not really embracing positivity, maybe it's the fact that I simply do not care at all about negative things that happen because they can't help me. So I dismiss them. Figuratively. If there's a problem or something I'll deal with it but I'm not going to lose sleep over it. I refuse to let any of that stuff stress me out.

David Allen, if you're out there reading this, you've noticed something peculiar about it all. You've noticed that I seem happier and I seem luckier. We theorized together that it might be the happiness that makes people lucky. I don't know, maybe it's not worth analysing. But it is another positive and my policy dictates that I will take it.

In the end, why worry? What's the point?

October 16, 2011

Write up for Professional Development....on my personality?

Earlier in the year, UNB Counselling Services asked us to fill out a personality test online that would be used at a later date in order to help the MBA students better understand themselves and give them direction in terms of what careers they are searching for. It has been over a month since we have taken the online tests. Now an entire module concerning the results and our career path has begun to take root.

Erin Crossland began our seminar by explaining some critical facts about personality types using a plethora of handouts as an aid to summarize information. In short order, we were given a list of the four scales used to sort out our personalities. We were then told to fill out a sheet as a means of guessing where we stood on those four scales. Each scale is given weight in the form of a preference score, which has a maximum value of 70. Theoretically if you were exactly in the middle of the scale then you would equally exhibit traits of both categories on the scale. The first scale forces a choice between extraversion characteristics and introversion characteristics. Extraverts get their energy by using outside factors such as events or people. Introverts get their energy from within using concepts such as ideas, pictures, and memories. The second scale involved sensing and intuition. Sensors pay attention to physical reality while people who use the intuition side of the scale get most of their details from deriving the meaning behind things and their patterns. The third scale separates thinking and feeling. Thinkers care more about the logic behind a situation while feelers care about the emotional consequences of a decision or situation. The last scale involved judging and perceiving. People who use judging crave order and plan things out methodically. People who use perceiving are flexible and generally dislike planning. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test takes your answers to various questions and places you on these scales at certain preference scores.

My end result was a ENTJ type personality. It means that I scored higher on extraversion, intuition, thinking, and judging than on any other category. ENTJ types are outgoing, logical, and decisive. They lead by using concepts and excel at setting the appropriate goals for others. ENTJs have the tendency to take control of situations, using their intuition to drive them and aid in setting their goals. They are very logical to the point where we almost have a reverence for impersonal logic, as harsh and cold as that may be. I’d like to think that it’s not so much that we ignore other peoples’ emotions or that we’re incapable of sensing them in certain situations, but rather that we recognize them and tend to make the most logical decision anyway since it makes the most sense strategically. This may seem like a strength, and the ability to put feelings aside and focus on logic for a moment is indeed a strength, but it can be a great weakness too. One of the sheets that I was given lists this as a challenge my personality type must overcome. It explains, “You may make decisions based on logic or what you think you should do and neglect what is most important to you.” This particular quote resonated with me on a personal level as most of the mistakes I believe I’ve made in my life have more than likely been for this reason. The sacrifice of everything else for the sake of making the “best” decision. However, the personality report offers a solution: “Ask yourself what is truly important in the long term and whether this decision promotes that or is simply the most logical choice.” Simply put, maybe the most logical choice isn’t always the best choice for me.

The implications of this personality test can apply in a scholastic sense as well. In the MBA program we do a lot of group work. Naturally, being in a management program, we all tend to want to wrestle control from other people. The trick is striking a compromise. If we can better know ourselves and communicate that to others in a better way, perhaps we can work better together in groups by knowing what is most important to the people in each group. Certainly an understanding of our own personalities can aid us in knowing where to focus our energies and knowing which challenges may lie ahead for us.

The concept of the module and the seminar is extremely interesting. People naturally assume they know themselves implicitly. Sometimes you need to see something official written on paper to really drive a few of those ideas to the forefront in your mind. The knowledge that is gained from this process will help in a myriad of matters – not just in the MBA program or work. It helps in life in general. Whether that facet is family, friendship, romance, or any other type of relationship, knowing who you are and what you place importance on as a person aids you in discovering your strengths and weaknesses. As a true ENTJ, I like to know my strengths and weaknesses in order to form the correct strategy for myself. Knowing one of my biggest weaknesses quoted above, I can take that strategic view and ingest a little more emotion and feeling into it so that I not only do what’s right to satisfy the logical part of the situation at hand but also to ensure that I am satisfied emotionally from it as well. I guess it’s sometimes easier to be aware of everything else around you, be inward thinking, and still not take the action that satisfies your emotional needs. For me, that is the takeaway from this seminar: another option to cover for a perceived weakness and to turn that weakness into a great strength.

October 15, 2011

The mind as a weapon

The mind is a weapon.

There's a common belief in society that I feel is a misconception. It is the belief that there is a limited number of things that we can be good at. I'm not saying that if I asked someone they wouldn't tell me they think they can do a great number of things well because that wouldn't happen. I believe that there is a societal cause that makes people believe they can only be great at a few things.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I'm good at everything. I'm not. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I'm good at nothing. That's sure as hell not true. I'll mention upfront that I've got an ego and I recognize the effect it probably has on my perception. I like that about me. I'm great at more than a few things. I like that too.

Maybe the things that I'm good at might not be apparent to people other than myself. Granted, there are some activities that I do that no one else has seen. Take some of my writing for example. Not the stuff on here but the stuff in my personal collection. The novel I've begun to write is a great example. Thus far it dwarfs all my other works and has a lot of potential. It's very unlikely that someone will see it until I've got in the form I'd like to have it presented in. Other things might be more apparent. I'd like to think that I'm a deep thinker and a good strategist.

It's probably pointless to even argue this. Everyone is going to say something along the lines of what I've said. I have abilities few people are aware of and some that many people are aware of. We all do. Nice point of commonality there. My real point I'm hoping to drive home here (and I've stated this time and again) is that I think people need to be more self-confident in general and believe in themselves. The mind is powerful. As humans it's the most powerful weapon we have at our disposal. And it is a weapon. But you've got to be careful. If you let that weapon turn against you, it could really mess up your perspective. But if you look at situations as opportunities and your own potential as limitless, the mind is the weapon that helps you implement what you already know about yourself.

October 11, 2011

Excerpt from my short story

The following is an excerpt from my short story I wrote in collaboration with my friend David Allen. The idea was based on a dream he had. I had the nice little challenge of making a story out of it while trying to stay true to the original concept. Some modifications were made to adapt it to the short story format. Enjoy!

On the way back to the white house we noticed that the buzz and commotion inherent in the house earlier had returned. We entered to find a great congregation in the commons. It was the same as before: People talking lightly with that same eerie smile on their faces. I began to wonder if they knew any more than I did or if they held all the answers behind that casual ease with which they conducted themselves. I decided to listen to them a little more. Maybe there was something I was missing like some sort of undertone to the conversation that might light up a bulb in my head, making everything apparent.

I stood with the group nearest to me. They were talking about the picnic and how much fun it was. There was no talk of past and no talk of future. It was frustrating. I was curious and hungry for answers to my questions. Still, I was compelled to silence as if my speaking might break some tenuous covenant of the group, sending everything crashing down. A while later I snapped out of my thoughts to notice that Eve was gone.

Not knowing where to look or being able to remember where she had gone, I decided to continue listening to a few more groups. Some time later, the serenity of each casual conversation was broken by a piercing scream. It was a woman’s scream.


Damn it!

Several people ran toward the adjacent room that the scream emanated from. Someone called out, “To the kitchen!” Well, at least I knew a little more about the layout. I rushed to follow.

What I saw in the kitchen was a gruesome sight. Eve was dead. It looked like she had been stabbed everywhere. The amount of blood was surprising. It was still running out of the fresh wounds, staining the pristine white floors. The most eerie part of it all was that there was a smile on Eve’s face like she wanted this. Who would want this?

October 10, 2011

Does Thanksgiving mean that much?

Thanksgiving is upon us. The turkey has likely entered your stomach to be digested by the acids residing inside and the turkey hangover associated therein is soon to begin. We also have a week of eating that huge-ass turkey for every meal to be thankful for. But seriously, does all of it really matter that much in 2011?

The obvious answer is no. At least in Canada the answer is no. To most of us all it means is that a turkey is likely to be eaten and you'll have your Monday off of school or work or whatever. So what is the meaning of the holiday, really?

Well, I took a look on wikipedia and found a lot of boring stuff about people making successful voyages and celebrating their homecoming. Basically completely different than the American version (which I'm sure the vast majority of them could recite from memory as is it was a nursery rhyme. However, they think all of Canada is perpetually covered in snow and are barely even aware of its existence).

It's funny. Americans freak out about their Thanksgiving. We don't really seem to care other than the fact that it gives you a holiday. It's like one-fifth of a March Break or Spring Break or whatever retarded name you want to squabble over to call it.

Personally, I don't see the big fuss. Now, this isn't only because I already have Mondays off anyway, but rather, I never saw the importance of the holiday to begin with. I like having family suppers as much as the next guy but that's about all the day has to offer really. I don't know the history behind our Thanksgiving without looking it up. I daresay the vast majority of us don't. If you do go on Jeopardy or something, seriously.

I'm not trying to belittle everyone's celebrations. I just want to be that voice in the back of your head that says, "Is this really necessary?"

From a labour point of view, we need it. I've learned that Canada has one of the highest working hours of any first-world country. So we'll take all the days off we can get.

Now Christmas, there's a freaking holiday. It's awesome. You get a lot of days off, presents, and the religious aspect is satisfied if you're into that kind of thing. Hell, I'll even take Easter. Christianity has some kickass holidays. I'm spiritual but I'll just pretend to be Christian when they come along.

I'm going to lump Thanksgiving in with the likes of Valentine's Day (except for the massive depression that Valentine's Day has. It still kills less people than Christmas depression, but still). It seems like the drive to sell more turkey as Valentine's is the drive to sell chocolate, diamond rings, and condoms. So really, it doesn't have a whole lot of meaning anymore. I'm sure it did at one time but that time has long passed us.

Anyway, just a little bit of food for thought. Enjoy the day off and the nice meal. You've earned it, internet people.