Tag Archives: Skills

Crafting Things and Quiet Time

I have been trying to find my way back to writer mode.  Kitten is now 13 weeks old and the current challenges are normal kittenly concerns – don’t chew that electrical cord, not a good idea to pounce on a sleeping dog, unrolling the entire toilet paper roll is a bad idea.  (He has particular trouble with that last one as the unrolling makes him so gleeful.)  Now the vigilance is similar to parental, but not quite so intense.  Still, I am struggling with getting my mind into a fertile writing groove.

 

I have had time to think about creativity.  I always find it interesting to steer a conversation onto a person’s impression of their own creativity, especially if I consider that person to be creative in some manner.  It is rare for the person to define themselves as creative.  “Oh, no I am (fill in the blank with any number of adjectives)…”  Creative seems to be something reserved for the application of lofty projects and considerable talent.

 

Crafty is often the chosen adjective, more likely if my conversation companion is female.  Crafty seems to fall within the realm of hobbyist, putterer, occasional participant.  Somehow people are more comfortable identifying themselves as crafty – or some word that directly identifies their chosen mode of creative expression such as knitter, woodworker – than claiming to be creative.

 

Both of my parents were creative, crafty – dad with woodworking and mom with sewing.  I spent hours quietly watching each work on projects as a child.  Dad also painted, made models, and drew.  Mom also wrote, played the piano, and learned dozens of crafts over her lifetime.  I grew up expecting creativity to be a part of life.  Not only to admire what others did, but to participate in something creative of my own.

 

It takes time for quiet thought, this ability to create.  Melville said that a writer needs to be in a ‘quiet, grass growing’ mood to write and I think that applies to almost any other creative endeavor.  Time must be carved out of an overfull schedule, understanding of when the mind is most fertile for ideas to grow.  It should be a block of uninterrupted time.  Which is hard to arrange with a small creature in the house.

Egonforblog

I am eager to get my writing muscles back into shape, but fear I will not be a regular poster for some time unfortunately.

 

So, what about you – do you consider yourself creative?

 

© 2015 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Advertisements

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

The Lack of Possession that Killed the Impression

I’ve never claimed to be a grammarian.  My time as an English major was spent reading literature, not parsing sentence structure.  (Though a tortured sentence could make my enjoyment of any story come to a screeching halt.)  Spelling, now – I used to be pretty good at correct spelling until Microsoft Word made me a little soft.  (It’s my fingers that can’t spell, not my brain – really – they get a lot of little squiggly red lines.)

 

The most basic point of decent grammar and spelling are to create common understanding so that we can communicate.  Given that, I suppose my grammar is sound enough due to all the practice of reading and writing, just don’t ask me much beyond explaining nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives.  I base most of my grammar judgment in how a sentence or phrase sounds when I read it out loud.  (A trick I highly recommend before you send out that message to anyone whose opinion matters.)

 

I am still doing much better than some people.  Such as those who never grasped the important task that the apostrophe holds in showing possession.  This must be why we had to do pages and pages of Bill’s dog and Laura’s pencil ad nauseam and still too many people might call this Beths blog as if it were written by numerous people named Beth.  (Clearly they don’t do their typing on Microsoft Word because I just had to tell it to ignore Beths.)

 

public domain image

public domain image

And since I brought up their – more possession – it shouldn’t be confused with they’re there, as in they are there in that moment to understand their proper usage.

 

Maybe in this world of text speak and informal interaction it isn’t as important to make the proper spelling and grammatical impression.  But maybe it is – if you want the job, or the grade, or to show your erudition.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Creativity Clocked In

The number of people who say that they aren’t creative astounds me.  Maybe they have a very narrow definition of creativity?  Maybe they don’t want to talk about their creative efforts because they don’t want to be judged?  Maybe someone once told them that they aren’t creative?

 

I think that we all have our creative moments, if we don’t define creativity too tightly, with too many restrictions.  To my thinking, creativity should be pleasing to the creator and build positive energy.  It should be something that we encourage in everyone.  A little quiet time, some mental space and more people might be able to tap into their own creative vein.

 

I have tried my own hand at sewing, knitting, painting, drawing, wood burning, wood working, writing, photography, acting, music, gardening, cooking, baking, crochet, embroidery (even designing my own pieces), and other pursuits that refuse to come to mind right now.  I tried each of these things because they interested me.  I have been somewhat more successful at some than at others, but I enjoyed learning about the process even if I was disappointed in the result.

Some of my past creative output

Some of my past creative output

 

I suppose there are those who might say some of the things that I listed aren’t creative – back to defining creativity.  I do define almost anything that can be subjectively applied and have a different end result as potentially creative.

 

I am impressed by the creativity that other people show.  I am particularly impressed by people who are able to make a living using their creative skills.  For many of us, creativity is something that is mostly applied to hobbies – though I have used creative thinking more than once at work.

 

I’m not entirely sure that I could be creative on demand.  Though sticking with any creative pursuit does require a certain amount of discipline.  And one of the biggest keys to creativity is being able to tap into the right mindset, so perhaps creativity on demand is just a matter of making sure that you tend the path, or paths, to that mindset.

 

I was very lucky to have two parents who were highly creative in their own ways.  (Though I am wondering now how they might each respond to being called creative.)  Both of my parents encouraged us to take on creative pursuits, and each spent time on their own creative outlets to lead by example.

 

The results of other people’s creativity are easily found on the internet and these can be inspiration to try something out for ourselves, or hindrance out of fear that our own effort won’t be so accomplished.  I don’t think that deciding to express creativity requires accomplishment.  Do you?

 

Writer’s note:  I am changing my writing schedule because summer is a very busy season at my workplace.  I love the challenge of coming up with topics to share here, and was proud of myself for keeping up with it during this last frigid winter when my thoughts were frozen, but I hope to find a balance between keeping things fresh here and keeping my team motivated through our busy weeks.  I will be posting on Tuesdays and Fridays, which hopefully will give all of us a bit of time to enjoy the summer months.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

A Chance to Lead

You decide if this post is about group dynamics or individual leadership.  Several things have gotten me to think about leadership from different angles recently.  Talk about leadership is everywhere, a distinct meaning of what it really is, is not so prevalent.

 

Have you ever been in a group where everyone is trying to lead – whether there is an established leader or not?  Everyone is working to get the upper hand for their own agenda and chaos ensues.

 

George Washington in 1775 (public domain image)

George Washington in 1775 (public domain image)

Have you ever been in a group where no one wants to take the lead – even if there is a designated leader?  Aimless chaos usually ensues, along with plenty of finger pointing when nothing is accomplished.

 

Have you had opportunities to lead?  How did they come about?  I had an employee once who would regularly tell everyone and anyone that she never got any opportunity to lead.  Because she expected the opportunity to come gift wrapped with a tag that read ‘This is Your Chance to Lead’.  When she would ask me about leadership opportunities, I would start to enumerate specific recent instances that were opportunities to show leadership – to direct a circumstance to her expected outcome.

 

Have you been on a team with a leadership vacuum?  How did you respond?  If you created your own method to get your work done and perhaps to help your coworkers do the same did you see that as leadership?

 

Have you ever known a leader who complained that they had to do everything because otherwise it wasn’t done right… because the only right way was their way?

 

A boss should be a leader, but a true leader doesn’t have to be a boss.  I know I have quotations about leadership, being a boss and the distinguishing characteristics of each in a quote book that I keep, but those will have to go in a future post on leadership.

 

What do you have to say about group dynamics, leadership, and bosses?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

The 7 10 Split

The pins are as far apart as they can be and still be on the same lane.  It is still your turn, and mathematically speaking you can pick up this spare.  But it takes skill, calm and a confluence of several factors.  Bowling as life lesson, not just beer swilling league fun.

 

public domain clip art

public domain clip art

I bet if you start to think about it, you will remember one and then another and another instance when you had two elements that were supposed to be working together or part of a larger whole in some way that were far apart and working independently to inhibit the larger goal.  (Passively, as in the case with the pins, or less so.)  There are ways to get these elements back into the larger plan, but it could take cunning – at the very least it will take time and effort on your part to figure out a solution and implement it.

 

I bowled on leagues on and off for years and I’ve been involved in volunteer groups, training sessions and plenty of office situations and only just this morning had the realization that there are parallels in these set ups.  From a higher level strategic point of view, there are similarities in the solutions.  I, or you, have to figure out the trajectory that will bring the elements together and keep the game going.  Now in life we probably don’t want to violently knock one element into or against the other – particularly since quite often these elements will be people.  Co-workers, vendors, colleagues, partners.

 

Sometimes the straightforward, ‘hey where are you at with your part of this project’, approach works like a charm.  Sometimes a bit of cajoling and sometimes it is a grueling game of inching the parties closer together.  It can be an endurance test for us, a question of keeping up our energy and resolve – keeping our eyes on the intended end.  Mentally testing out different solutions for alignment and success.

 

Then stepping up to the lane, ball in hand, squaring our shoulders, positioning our feet, eyes set on the pins at the other end.  Stride up, swing the ball and let it go.

 

© 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

The Sarcastic Muse

Writing. Information. Inspiration. Sarcasm guaranteed.

Stefanie O'Connell

Just another WordPress.com site

Retirement - Only the Beginning

Retirement Planning Beyond Financial

Voices In His Head

Recognized as Blog Of The Year! (unfortunately, it was given the year 1910, the start of the Great Depression)

O at the Edges

Musings on poetry, language, perception, numbers, food, and anything else that slips through the cracks.

Chicago Guy 14

Chicago's Street Corner Spirits

BAReed Writing, Business Writing

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

Dancing Beastie

Seasonal living in a Scottish castle

The Middlest Sister

There are 5 sisters. She's the middlest.

Eyes Like Carnivals

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

Blog to Work

Blogging your way to a job.

r a r a s a u r

frightfully wondrous things happen here.

Stephanie Raffelock

A good story can transform the way that you see the world.

Always The Write Time Blog

Ramblings and Rhetoric

The Art of Non-Conformity

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

xplorenorthshore

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Medievalists.net

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

The Creative Penn

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

Gifts Of The Journey

The Fearless Pursuit Of A Life Worth Living

Betty Generic

Through the glass darkly

an interconnected life...

Discovering the threads that connect us, one story at a time.

TED Blog

The TED Blog shares interesting news about TED, TED Talks video, the TED Prize and more.

animatingyourlife

A great WordPress.com site

Second Star to the Right

and straight on 'til morning

CAHOOTS

Success is meant to be shared

Daniel Nester

essayist, poet, college prof, hubby, dad, Queen fan

Bob Mayer

Write on the River

Farmlet

Living cheaply and richly on an acre in Puna, Hawaii

J T Weaver

When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose. — Dylan.

Homepreneurs

Work From Home

inspirationenergy

be inspired to greatness

Gen Y Girl

Twentysomething. Annoyed with corporate BS. Obsessed with Gen Y. Not bratty. Just opinionated.

Jenna Dee

....living with a following wind

David Gaughran

Let's Get Digital