Thursday, May 22, 2014

Stay on Brand

Life throws hardballs. And as spring rides in waves of pollen--triggering my allergies--I learn to ride with it. Work's been challenging--lots of projects at once and a huge learning curve for much of it. And, there are the daily tasks and the clerical pieces. Managing demands that I prioritize, and that includes time for sleep, friends, family and tending to my health. My doctor was so upset with me for skipping appointments and staying on top of bloodwork to monitor my levels. Granted all my hard work training for races and the vanity of lifting to look good for summer pay off in good bloodwork tests, but I'm a far cry from being a doctor, and we all need the help of those wiser about these things. And so it is with my career. It's time to connect with other HR professionals and get their suggestions and ideas about how to build a solid role at my current gig. And so it is with my clutter, finding a new partner--all of it. Life is so much more fun with wisdom of others. And there's healthy risk--for some reason, I have the balls to apply to be the Men's Health cover guy for November. I remember all the stabs at fame I've taken in my lifetime, and they make me smile. This time though, it's all about service. I'm glad I've lived a life worthwhile. And though I have miles to go (I believe) before I sleep, I love taking a pause to celebrate--I'm me. Live well. It's good to be back.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gratitude

There's so much I've written. There are essences I want to remind myself about--however, it has been written about Thanksgiving, the Holidays, end of year rituals, performance reviews, quiet time and reflection, holiday office parties, even about death. That all is happening now. As a Human Resources Manager for a small team, it's devastating to experience the death of a colleague. And as we say goodbye, and honor what he brought to our team, sadness and grief, and wondering if there's anything anyone could have done more of to keep his brilliant candle burning just longer--a decade, a year, weeks to say goodbye properly... I sit here at a loss. I think about his mother, and friends, and at this time of year. And I bless them--hold them in love and we'll see what the right action is. He is. He was loved. I ask myself (and we ask ourselves about the importance of things at this time of year anyway), what is most important. I want to go to some deep thought. However, it appears to me that being in the present is all there truly is. Be here now. Be with the grief of suddenly losing someone vibrant, alive, caring, trustworthy, upstanding, who just wanted to be of service so intensely. Be with the love of those who remain--thoughtful, kind, available. Be the one of whom love will be written when we too draw our last breath. Imagine our last encounter with a being is the one we're in now, and find a way to have that be our best moment--the one we treasured. I find breathing helpful in the moment. The simple act of letting the air into the body, and exhaling completely. This is life. And let that breath inform the process of thinking, and doing, and resting. There's much written about gratitude. This year, I'm simply grateful to be alive, and to be able to call on many significant others who are still with us. Bless the departed.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Celebrating Happiness

I suppose I will continue to learn how to celebrate the happiness and achievements of others for the rest of my life. It's hard sometimes to let go of the nagging thought that their is a limit to good in the world and I have to hardscrabble my way to get mine. James is now happy with someone else and it's all public out there. It's time to really let go. My dating adventures after have been less fruitful and I wonder if I'll be single for the rest of time. There's really no way to know and it's really none of my business trying to figure that out. What is present now is my loving relationship with my godson, those I mentor, my dear friends, family and my new colleagues. There I can focus for now and celebrate that others have a love that wafts sweet warm kisses in the morning to go with New York's most romantic fall dawns. For now, it's me and my pillow. Celebrate happiness.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Swimming Through Uncertainty

And we're back in the workforce. As an HR Manager, it's a whole new world. There is so much to manage at once, and as a new HR Manager, I have to find my rhythm in asking questions, making decisions, prioritizing, taking actions, pacing, rest... There's so much to do.

It's very similar to swimming in the Long Island Sound, which I did yesterday during the Jarden Westchester Triathlon. It's amazing how intimidating something can be, and yet if you train hard for it, and show up, amazing things happen. I was fairly peaceful, even though two years ago this 0.9 mile swim would have been a crazy impossible thing for me to do.

Gently, over time, with lots of help, I got to yesterday at 7:24am. When the horn sounded, I stepped into the water with some confidence, some fear, and a decision to do this well. And I had moments when I felt lost, and WAS lost, and I recalibrated. There were times I swam alongside others, and I noticed it was easier to make a go of it. So it is in life.

The water is a fully pressurized situation, and lots is unknown. There were floaty things in the water, and I had no idea what they were, and in the moment that was less important than focusing my energy to move forward along the prescribed path of the race--the sooner I was out, the more energy I'd have for the remaining tasks. There were people who bumped and pushed, there were helpful folks who gave direction and support. I rolled with it.

There will be much I'll have to adjust to in this new role. I must be present for the first 90 days. It's a time of "probation" but moreso, it's a time to share who I am. The story of me in this organization will be writ in a few days and has already begun. It's harder to rewrite than to start the story well. It's in the way I show up each day, my temperament, the questions I ask--what's important to me inside and outside the organization's foci. I need to rest, learn, ask. Soak it all in as a sponge, and share what helps others to connect with me, join others so they see me as a good addition to the whole--someone valuable to the success of swimming ahead, rather than dead weight dragging all down.

Nobody wants to swim in the ocean of uncertainty for too long. We all prefer sure land. We know another dive into the ocean of life is on the horizon. Work well.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sabbatical

I'm a big fan of time off.

There's an hour or two or maybe time when we sleep. If practical or if needed just once in a while, turn the electronics off. Give your mind a time to be quiet. Loved the NY Times take on this--http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/fashion/step-away-from-the-phone.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&adxnnl=1&ref=general&src=me&adxnnlx=1379881290-MOJ9w6ZSpUGlyaiSgr5oLw

Take a weekend, or a treasured holiday time. Again, give the body time to recharge and engage with the people, connect with the places, learn from the things that fuel your passion.

But I've discovered the value in some time off in between gigs. I'm thinking of a couple months of sabbatical each five years or so, to recalibrate my career engine. Creative folks often have this naturally between plays, movies or television shows, whether they are in front of the camera or supporting the production. It is often a time of nervous frantic grasping for the next gig as a person at sea grasping for a buoy. It can be a calmer endeavor with appropriate search actions along with a time for reflection on the past work. What went well? What could I have done differently for greater effectiveness in myself and with others. What goals were met and what did I do well that contributed? What goals were missed and what was my part? How can I make a different choice next time?

It is in this pause, that we can soberly and thoughtfully reflect in preparation for the next go. It's hard to review your form while running, or swimming or working. It's easier in that pause between. And so it's been for me. This has been two months of asking hard questions about work and showing up and being a good teammate, a good co-worker, while being a family member, a good friend and a mentor for others. Was I a good citizen, a good neighbor and fellow commuter? What would I change next time I'm in the race to go to work again? Statistically, we're out of work a couple times more than prior generations during our careers. See these sabbaticals as times for reflection, pause and rejuvenation, rather than give in to the nervous energy. We work so hard now, this is a new way to pace the self over a long career. Many of us will work more total years than our parents. I got a good sense of how much I'll enjoy my retirement and what I'll do to fill the time in addition to my many volunteering service gigs. It was lovely to taste that now, as an appetizer to the main course. The only regret is that I've poorly set aside the funding for this important part of my career development. Must attend to that next gig.

It's a favorite thing of mine on vacations in new cities, to watch workers dash to work. How do they treat themselves, their bodies as they throw themselves into the effort of work? How do they treat the people they pass, the homeless, the less fortunate, the less symbolized? And I remind myself, once back, to hold the most important things important. We are human beings, rather than human doings.

Live well.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tiny Steps Forward

Maybe I thought things would happen faster than they are happening.

I've honestly thought about packing it all in and going home.

Except for one tricky thing--where's home? The parental unit disavowed me around the whole gay thing a long time ago. My brother is just setting up his home. And on some level, I'm learning I still have so much work left to do to create my own home--a truly solid sense of identity.

This "sabbatical" is forming it more wholly and it's amazing to watch it unfold. And there are some nibbles now around ways I could potentially earn again and support myself, so that bodes some hope to stay put and build home here and now for myself. Finally.

On some level, success was a way to prove to my father that I'd made it. It's dawning that a more interesting route is to mine the authentic me, to build my own home base, find my true tribe of brothers (in addition to the awesome live one I have) and go forth from there.

Rudimentary to some, aha moment for me.

Who am I truly? What do I bring to the workplace, truly, beautifully and with ease that's of value that commands a salary that allows me to continue to viably live in this amazing city? What do I need in time, work load, what can I reasonably do?

And in this break from the 9-5+, how can I best take care of myself so I'm ready to give authentically and be a part of a team, rather than a lone ranger proving himself to his father? Pulling up the bootstraps is so 1920's.

2010's are about working collaboratively to find mutual solutions, and solving across a matrix of shareholder concerns, both individually and collectively.

Live well.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

WSJ.com twerks on Passion

WSJ.com just twerked on passion. I'm upset because the articles are usually spot on and brilliant.

As with most journalism, it's written with a catchy title that seems at first to completely "debunk" traditional wisdom (or upend some basic anchor for reality). We all see through these clickable links as desperate siren calls for click-throughs and readership to build ad dollar revenue, and yet we still click away our time.

In this article it's transparent because the meat of the article then backtracks and tries to weave in the opposite idea, using passion as a factor in initial career choices and in the development of new directions for mature workers.

It then treads dangerous territory in telling people the crap (sorry, this article angered me) that they can "wear out" their passion" in the workplace. The alternative proferred is to get excited about what the job market has to offer and build a career around that and internally generate passion about what brings in the dollars to fund your life. I think that's absurd. To avoid using passion in the job decision process is almost fatal to a normal healthy psyche. True, you could end up doing something quite lucrative and build up a great 401k retirement fund and establish a good outward seeming life. It's just that if you die mid-career, your legacy will be divorced from what you care about. Many people find that by making this flawed choice, by the time they retire from a job that just followed the market forces, their internal spiritual and psychological core is vacant, they are left feeling deeply alone and without any psychological/emotional/relational moorings that connect them to what gives their lives meaning (that is, passion.)

The article glosses over the reality that passion shifts in our lives--as we get older, as our lives change. The case study used in the article of someone who graduated in the 1990's illustrates this. How dull a person he'd be if what got him jazzed at 21 was the main driver of his life at 40? Most of us have passions that wax and wane over time. Having children generates new exciting drivers in our lives, sometimes transformative ones. Accidents, love, disease, aging--all these and more--shift our passion foci and shape what might make sense for our future work lives.

There are several important variables to review in taking the next step in a career. And, the market and its needs are an important one. There are school loans, family financial obligations and quality of life choices to fund. There is a minimum salary requirement for most of us that's quasi-non-negotiable.

But though I think the article is irresponsible in schilling for clicks and painting an incomplete picture for passion as a variable in a job hunt and career direction, I hope the comments area gets a good conversation going, as much as Miley's ad campaign booster for MTV got women talking about empowerment and art. Passion is but one variable, of many, though for my money it's the most important one.

See link to article here: http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052702304692804577285512604918248-lMyQjAxMTAzMDIwNzEyNDcyWj.html?mod=wsj_valetbottom_email#_methods=onPlusOne%2C_ready%2C_close%2C_open%2C_resizeMe%2C_renderstart%2Concircled%2Conload&id=I0_1377613568052&parent=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com&pfname=&rpctoken=8053469