June 29, 2012

Do people "fail forward?"

Something I saw on a weekly LinkedIn email blast prompted me to write about the following topic.

There's something that I often find troubling when considering the way that people react to events. I've noticed that people are quick to assume responsibility for things that work out but often shy away from accepting responsibility for failure.

And why? Failure, in my view, is one of the fundamental building blocks of success. In fact, most things in my life I've gotten because I've failed at something, taken ownership of it, and then did not perform that activity again. Basically, each failure you have is a stepping stone that makes you better and better and better...Eventually you'll be absolutely amazing and still failing forward.

Seeing things through that lens, could you really call it failure at all? I tend not to. I call things events. Sometimes events have favorable outcomes and sometimes they have negative outcomes, but it is our emotional connection to those events that usually decides whether something was good or bad. It has been said that there are no good and evil people, only people who make decisions some agree with and others do not. In the same vein, there are no good or bad events - it's all what you make of it.

June 27, 2012

Inconsequential ideas about time

I've come to somewhat of a sad realization over the last little while: summer is basically half over now. But, you know what? Who really cares? Summer is part of life and life is infinite as long as you're living. Under that logic, what would be the point of mourning the passage of time?

I think that's a pretty unique train of thought because it's so vastly different from what society would want you to expect. They want you to think that there's never enough time; that time is scarce and thus marketable. But time is infinite and will go on forever. The truth of the matter is that if you want to make time for something you can do that. Sure, there's an opportunity cost associated with that but what of it? Time isn't a scarce resource. You don't lose time for "making" time for something else. You lose the activity you would have done instead. So no one can really make the excuse that they have no time for something. What people mean by that (but don't realize that they mean it) is that social cues prevent them from altering their plans by imposing artificial time constraints.

Okay, that's great. I just lost half the people in the room. You're probably wondering: "What does this all mean?" Well, nothing really, to tell you the truth. It's a nice exercise in thinking about something in a vastly different way and thus honing your mind, but since we all live in society and our behavior is affected by it, the argument as a whole is really inconsequential.

Still, I do see merit in ideas like this because they inspire abstract, creative thinking and debates. And God knows, I sure do love an intellectual debate (as long as I can follow it).

June 24, 2012

The magic of words, communication, and mystery.

Words have a certain way of legitimizing things. Maybe that's why I love them so much.

The other aspect about words I like is that they give clarity to thought. I've always found myself to be a very deep thinker and have been criticized for not making a huge effort to voice what I think and why I think it. Well, that's where words come in. They help me tell a story and pull a few thoughts from my mired mind, putting them under a microscope for those who are interested to observe (which is actually one purpose this blog serves).

I find that words not only bring order to chaos, but have a certain magic of their own. I liken it to a painter painting on a blank canvas. The painter has other methods of communication but none so effective and as important to him as what he could do with his paintbrush and a blank canvas. I'm not trying to compare myself to a famous painter or anything like that but I do feel a certain appeal of written communication over even verbal communication. (On a side note: Wouldn't it be kind of cool if we were all still sending handwritten letters to each other and writing terrible poetry?)

I guess there are certain parts of my personality that might seem a little bit antiquated when compared to the modern man. I like to write. I like to write bad poetry. I like to write in this introspective blog. Somewhat ironically (to me, at least), I do most of this on a computer with internet access, on social media.

I frequently wonder if we're getting too over-communicated and have posted on that topic before. There's so much emphasis today on saying absolutely everything that we're starting to forget that the quality of our thoughts matter so much more than the quantity of them. When so much is written, who will read between the lines anymore? I am suggesting that we might be better served to be just a little more secretive and a little less open than modern society would have us be. I'm not telling people to play all their cards close to their chest; I'm suggesting that we volunteer a little less to find out who wants the information before we send it out to absolutely everyone.

If I use myself as an example, I probably don't voice every single thing I think or feel but have no problem with telling people who ask about what I think. In short: I'm an open book...as long as you open the book. Words are magic and are written inside that book, describing its contents. I find that adds a little bit of mystery. And let's face it, everyone loves a good mystery, right?

June 19, 2012

Changes in behaviour and hypocrisy

I had a complex thought today thinking about hypocrisy. I don't remember what brought it about but that's not what's important here.

If you stuck a person alone in a room they would be perfectly honest with themselves and would make no effort to hide anything about themselves. You know what I mean; you're out driving and you get on this stretch of road where there's absolutely no one around you and you start belting out a song at the top of your lungs whereas you might not have normally.

Suddenly, you stick a person in a room with another, or God forbid, more than one other person and you get a markedly different story. People get a little bit more shy, people conceal a little more of themselves, people put a few guards up.

Everyone will tell you that you're not being genuine when that happens. They tell you that if you were truly comfortable - if you wanted to be yourself - you would and you would stop acting differently than you would when you're alone. That's complete bullshit.

When last I checked we were all still human, weren't we? Is it not human nature to act differently around some people than around others or at least differently than how you would act alone? I think it absolutely is.

They say that we start putting up barriers constructed of carefully learned social nuances in literally any social situation. They call it hypocrisy. I call it human nature and I don't think there's anything wrong with it. In fact, I find it to be one of the random, beautiful things that life has to offer.

June 17, 2012

Little Things Add Up

The summer is a great time of year because it gives you a chance to reflect on a wide variety of things. Speaking as an MBA student who is still quite busy anyway, I find that you get a chance to just take a look at some of the less meatier aspects of life and you also get to flex your creative muscles a little bit. Often the only concern being where to get your inspiration from (and really who's to say why we think up the things we do).

There's something I remember from reading sports psychology books when preparing for curling. You picture your life and the problems you have in it as a large jar and several different sized rocks. What you need to do is cram everything into that jar including sand. The trick is that if you were to put the sand in first, you would have no room left for the bigger rocks at the end at that's what we tend to do in life. For no apparent reason, here is a picture of some sand in a jar with rocks on top of it:

The analogy is that the sand is your end result that you want, but if you go right ahead and ignore the rocks (which are your problems and responsibilities) then you won't be able to fit them in later as shown above. What you're supposed to do is deal with rocks first and then add the sand because it's able to slip in between the cracks and properly fill the jar; in other words, take care of your real life issues before you set out to attain your goals.

Anyway, the point of all this was merely to show that little things (like sand) have a clever way of adding up until they can even fill something large (like a jar). It gets you thinking about all the little things you've got going on in your life and the nice part is that the summer is a time that is very conducive to thinking about said little things. People often overlook the little things and the smaller details but that would be a mistake. After all, you can't fill your jar unless you manage your little things with the same care as you do your larger ones.

Also, before I leave, here is a jar filled with random crap:

June 11, 2012

Fantasy genre & "Are we truly free?"

I've been thinking for the past while about why I like the fantasy genre so much. Maybe it's the limitations (ie. weapons, no electricity usually, etc.). Maybe it's the characters in the novels I read. Maybe it's the thought of the world being larger.

Maybe it's some combination of the above and more. For me, it's like stepping into another world that is full of far more possibilities than our own. In that world there are no limits, little governance, no one and no society to have dominion over another man. Yes, the settings in the fantasy genre tend to be tougher. It is far more dangerous and people are often worried about mere survival rather than things like money or what movie they're going to see next week. Still, it seems to me to be a place in which a man can make himself and is truly only bound by the limits he imposes on himself. I wonder if the same holds true in a more modern setting.

Take our own world, for example. There are people who are born poor and in unfortunate circumstances. They can make great headways in life and eventually achieve a higher status. However, to me it seems that they can rise only so high in the vast majority of situations. How much do outsiders influence our lives?

The heart of the matter seems to be that the fantasy genre represents freedom to me. The freedom comes at the cost of the characters being at much greater risk and having far fewer luxuries than we do. However, how many of us can say that we are truly free for all that we have?

June 3, 2012

Thoughts about my future and the future of others as well

I often think about the future; of my own and of the people's around me. I think about what people want and why they want it. I think about what I want and why I want it.

I've done a very small amount of travelling in the world. More than many and less than many. I'd like to think that I've gained a little bit of scope in my "travels."

I've talked to many people about where they want to live and what type of job they want to do and have noticed a few things. There seem to be a large number of people who have no idea what they want to do or where they want to do it. There is an almost alarming amount of people who do seem to know exactly what they want to do and where they want to do it as well. What there doesn't seem to be a lot of is people in the middle. And by that I don't necessarily mean people who know one thing and not the other but rather people who aren't completely certain or uncertain about either of these details.

Take me, for instance. I'm relatively sure I want to remain in Atlantic Canada and work in the business field. Unlike some, I've more or less come a decision about where I want to live and what type of job I'd like to have. Unlike others, I don't know the exact details of what it is I will end up doing and where exactly it will take place. Am I regular? Are most people like this or do I fall outside of the norm in some way?

My point is that we tend to label ourselves as knowing or not knowing without imagining any type of middle ground in between. I'm the type of person who believes that there is never just black or white, but always grey. I think I frequently fall into grey categories and have a difficult time identifying others who think along the same lines. I don't mean that I'm having difficulty finding people to have an intellectual conversation with or something like that. I mean that I'd like to identify others that have some of the same uncertainties (for lack of a better word) and connect with them.

I wonder if it's a question not of looking elsewhere but of searching the same area in a way I had not looked before. Kind of like when something's been "right under your nose" for a period of time and you fail to notice it until something convinces you to look there for it. How many other things like that are there in life and what are we missing out on by giving into tunnel vision?