Tag Archives: Goals

The Doing of It

I imagine that we all think of ourselves as doers – people who can do what needs to be done to get where we want or need to be.  It starts with the encouragement that most of us got when we did something simple like pile of couple of blocks on top of each other at an early age.  (That felt good, I want to do that again.)

 

My father was a doer – he made his lists, he planned, he checked tools and supplies, and one by one he checked off the points on the list until it was time to make a new list.  He had many skills that are useful for a homeowner and each of the houses that we owned showed some result of his carpentry, electrical, plumbing or other abilities before we put that house on the market and moved to the next one.

 

Dad built these bookshelves at Mom's request

Dad built these bookshelves at Mom’s request

Growing up watching him and sometimes helping, I thought I was a do-it-yourself-er.  Despite his flashes of irritation, he made it look wonderful to craft a new thing or fix something up.  It seemed very industrious, and clearly this was something to aspire to be.  But, I have come to the conclusion that while I might be an itinerate helper of a do-it-yourself-er, I am not – myself – a do-it-yourself kind of person.  At least in relation to work around the house.  I am very good at admiring a finely done piece of handiwork and I have picked up a bit of knowledge about the right way to do some of the tasks which is helpful when I hire out.

 

Mom, while more of an imaginer – an excellent idea person, was a doer in her own way.  No lists, well maybe a jotted thought here or there or a cut out article.  She too had handicraft skills because of her fascination with creation.  She learned to sew, knit, and crochet.  She tried her hand at gardening and drawing (stick figures).  I whiled away hours watching her turn a length of fabric into an article of clothing.  She was a better teacher than dad, but there could be flashes of impatience if a question was ill-timed.

 

We never talked about the difference between talking, dreaming, planning and doing.  The difference between short-term effort on a project and long term industry to create a life and support a family. The fact that some doing leads to a greater thing and some isn’t so effective. Does anyone really talk about these differences?

 

How well we each are at creating our own success is dependent upon how well we internalize the lessons we experienced in regards to doing.  There is much to the doing of it.

 

© 2015 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

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Come Banging After Me

I have lost count of the number of times that I started to learn to play the piano.  My mom had an old black upright piano that moved with us from state to state and sounded beautiful to me whenever she played – but the years and the moves weren’t kind to the poor instrument.  It was a relic of her childhood, carried over into mine.  At some point during my college years she treated herself to a new piano that now lives at my brother’s house.

 

Mom was more than happy to teach us to play when we took an interest.  But she wasn’t going to come banging after us to practice, or in any way harangue us for this or any other endeavor.  She loved to play, but had her moments during those learning years when she had to be pressed to continue by her mother.  She had a picture of herself as a concert pianist, unrealized because she didn’t put in the necessary hours of practice and single minded dedication.

 

Mom at a piano, not the one I mention - and long before she was 'mom'.

Mom at a piano, not the one I mention – and long before she was ‘mom’.

My nieces’ dance recital has brought this and other creative efforts to mind, as it does every year.  I am enchanted by the growth of their skill, poise and grace each year.  I don’t have to be there for the moments when they just don’t have it in them to go to a particular class.  When they have to make a choice between practice and another activity.  I just now realized that I haven’t ever asked my sister how much effort she puts into banging after them to work through a momentary dip in interest and effort.  I know that she puts a lot of her own time and effort into making their ability to dance a reality.

 

I took dance classes too, here and there – now and then.  We didn’t ever have the facility and the talented people that my nieces have had the pleasure to be exposed, that perhaps they don’t recognize as a gift.  The other gift that they may not recognize is the time and expense that my sister puts into their pursuit.

 

There are so many options, so many interesting pursuits that we could take on – intellectual, creative, etc.  A whole lot of factors have to convene just so to create excellence – dedication and a support system being just the start.  Regardless of dedication, sometimes the difference just comes down to having someone to come banging after you when your energy and dedication flag a bit.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

This is Me, this Might be Me, Is this Me

I am currently reading Harriet Reisen’s biography of Louisa May Alcott.  I was given the book by my aunt and I am greatly enjoying it and learning a lot.  I am also remembering how much I enjoyed Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys when I was younger.  I am named after Beth.  (She dies you know, which devastated me when I read that part at the age of twelve.  Thankfully I survived past the age of fifteen despite the fate of my namesake.)

DSC03784

Anyway, her parents were idealists and the part that I want to ruminate about today is something that the author mentions had an effect on Louisa – falling short of who you should be.  I am taken with this concept.  I’m not sure which thought thread to follow first.

 

Who decides who you should be?  What criteria do they apply if it is someone other than yourself, such as your parents?  What criteria should you apply to decide for yourself who you should be?  Who is to decide if you are falling short of this ideal of who you should be?  How long should it take to get to who you should be?  Maybe you are just still on your way to this end point.

 

From an ethical standpoint, I do agree that there are aspects of self that you should be.  You decide what this ideal ethical self is like, where your ethical barriers lie.  And life is all about falling short of this ideal of who you should be, in small moments and less than ideal circumstances, and then striving even harder to be it.

 

What do you think?  Are you intrigued by this notion of falling short of who you should be?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Sprinters Running Marathons

I don’t run.  For that matter I don’t jog, trot or canter either.  I have been known to lope and I’ve been told I walk at a pretty fast pace.  I well remember the joy that came along when, as a child, I would burst into a sprint.  (And then because I was mostly bookish, I would gasp and pant for several minutes.)

 

But I digress, I think in part due to the burgeoning spring which encourages thoughts of being outdoors and being active.  This post isn’t about literal running of any kind.  It is about understanding the right pace and energy level for a project or activity.  Most of us start out full of energy and enthusiasm for a new venture but if we didn’t clearly understand how the venture would go, we can let our pace lag well before the finish.

forward

I’ve been known to sit comfortably on my couch and turn on the last portion of a long race like the Marathon during the Olympics or the Tour de France.  It amazes me that the athletes who are still in the race at this point can find it in themselves to increase their pace at the very end.  These people have mastered the art of being in it for the long haul.  They can portion their energy and hold something back to make a strong finish.

 

How many times have you found yourself agreeing to something, thinking in the short term, only to feel disgust build as the thing goes on and grates at you?  I’ve told the story how I accepted the request to be called by my first and middle names at the start of a job only to have to get everyone to change a now established habit when I started to think long term.  How many marriages end simply because the two people weren’t really thinking long term at the start, were just entranced by their love goggles?  How many times were you ill-suited for a job that you took?  How many projects are in a partially completed stage around your house?

 

Relationships of all kinds can be entered into casually, even if intensely, and rarely do we think about how they may develop and last.  Sprint or marathon tells over time.

 

Tasks and projects should be easier to identify as sprint or marathon, but this will require a bit of planning before the plunge.

 

Have you mastered the art of identifying and planning properly for a sprint or a marathon?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Determined, Stubborn, Obstinate

I’ve been called all of these things.  I think sometimes it was meant to be unflattering at best.  I remember one conversation when I was told that I am rigid and I said if the word disciplined were inserted instead, I would accept the charge.  The accusation was wielded by someone who had a more unstructured method of approaching life than I.

 

Determined I accept and include in my own self-definition.  It is a trait that I am proud to claim, one that I cultivate on more hesitant days, in uncertain moments.  Figuring out how to call it up in moments of need is almost like discovering a super power.  I picture determination like a muscle – we must all have it – but as we who are over a certain age have found, muscles must be regularly activated or they go soft.  (But there are always exercises to revive them.)

 

Stubborn can come in handy and I have been known to warn a potential adversary that I practice stubborn quite well.  I have to really believe in the cause and you had better have a really compelling argument for your position.  Compromise is an acceptable end.  But then again, I might just be reformulating my points that I conceded for now for another run later.  I do understand that stubborn should be applied in small doses, or it can turn into this next word.

 

photo credit: Wikipedia

photo credit: Wikipedia

Obstinate, hmm.  This one has been leveled mostly by people whose most compelling argument is ‘because’.  Obstinate means “characterized by inflexible persistence or an unyielding attitude” (per http://dictionary.reference.com/).  I don’t see any point in obstinacy, unless a person has no interest in learning new things.  Of course, I mentioned above that stubborn can become intractable and turn into obstinacy – no for the sake of no.  If I know that I am right then I imagine that can appear obstinate to my opposite.

 

Being determined is a good thing when tempered with an openness to new information.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

The Unintended Time Commitment

Do you know how long it takes you to do all the little things that you do through the course of a regular day?  I think that most of us would probably be surprised at the time that can accumulate when we do incidental tasks.  And the time that we spend on nothing activities while busy feeling harried and like we have no time to ourselves.

time

Back in my childhood my mom would have a habit of asking my dad to stop at the store – just for a minute – when we would be on our way home from a family activity.  Groan.  Mom would ‘run in’ and we would be trapped in the car waiting.  If she ever really did come out with just the one thing that she originally went in for, I can’t recall.  What I do remember would be the agonizing moment when she would come out with 2 or 3 bags of other things she realized we could use.  She saw it as time saving, while we lost ages from our lives that we could never recover.

 

The TV is an old standby for unintended time commitments, and it has been joined by the internet.  We never have to be alone with our own thoughts now, thanks to smart phones – but this also means that we might not ever be present in the moment with the person across from us at the table.  But I digress.

 

I got the idea for this post when I had a run of mornings recently that the time on the car’s clock surprised me.  I have a set time that I want to leave the bedroom, I thought I had hit that time but then somehow lost minutes between the bedroom and pulling the car out of the garage.  What the??  In my thinking I left the bedroom, picked up my purse, put on my coat and went to the garage – about a minute of time.  But, no, I was picking up and putting away things, looking for other things – eating bits of time here and there that I didn’t mean to do.

 

Famous words, “I’m just going to… before I do…”; suddenly that unintended time commitment, which was going to be a momentary distraction or a little filler, is something much larger.  And dangerous.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Asking the Wrong Thing of Someone

Is a person failing at a task when they simply do not have the right temperament to do the task?  (I’m not talking about skill here.)  Or did the person who set them to the task set them up to fail?  Granted in the all too frequent situation of job insecurity these days, many people stretch in one way or another because any job that brings in a paycheck is better than the alternative.  But we’ll set that aside too.

 

There are people who pick up rather easily on tasks, even someone complex ones, and others who will be great at the task but must be given time to learn it at what would seem to be a glacial pace to that fast learner, but is just right.  Both of these temperaments will excel at the task once the training is done – but if the more deliberate learner isn’t given the time to make the task his or her own they will probably fail.

public domain image

public domain image

 

Most people work better when they know their boundaries – my job starts here, covers this area, and ends here; anything outside that area belongs to someone else.  A person with a collaborative mindset will fit perfectly into a job with overlapping responsibilities, while a person who is best when working entirely independently will struggle.  A person who likes narrow boundaries will implode in a situation with nebulous boundaries – particularly if they are also cautious.

 

When I’m interviewing a candidate, I like to ask them what sort of student they are – not were, but are.  This will tell me a lot about their temperament.  Will they ask me to better define the parameters of the question – do I mean back when they were in school?  What do I mean by student?  Or will they dive in with a canned answer that they are up for anything and love to learn?  This isn’t a trick question on my part (I don’t like trick questions.)  No, I want to make sure that I won’t be asking the wrong thing of anyone.  I don’t like to be set up to fail, and I will make every effort not to do so to anyone else.

 

Failure is a part of life, and can be useful sometimes.  But we don’t need regular and unceasing doses of it with no end in sight.  Being in a job where you are asked to do something counter to your temperament regularly is quite wearing.

 

Have you been there, what was your solution?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

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