Monday, December 30, 2013

Sunday, December 29, 2013

All In Your Head

Today at church a lot of the discussions we had were from lessons centered on the doctrine of the family. In our church, the focus of what we teach is around a Christ- or gospel-centered family unit. This teaching was further reinforced in 1995 the following proclamation was shared in the Relief Society Session of General Conference.
The comment made today was that when it comes to fostering and strengthening a relationship, the majority of what goes on in a relationship actually happens in your head. I don't think I would disagree with that at all. In fact I think there is a lot of truth to that. For example, I don't think anyone has any business in being in a relationship with someone that they do not trust. I think it would be an absolute nightmare in fact.
 
The reason I'm posting something about this is during this Christmas break, I must not being super smiley or happy all the time because the number of people who have asked me if I am doing okay or telling me to smile more has been way too many. Not as many as the number of people who asked why I am not married yet but that is a different animal all together. If you were wondering, it was ten times at the last two church events.
 
 
I normally would try to defend myself or come up with some excuse as to explain my situation: I'm tired, been busy, not a lot of friends to hang out with at home, bored... But to be honest, none of those define how I choose to feel. I make that choice. And there has been moments when a smile has happened naturally to slide across my face: spending time with the nieces, seeing and catching up with old friends, or the occasional message from friends I made back in Utah. I don't know what has changed. I've seen a lot of things in my short life and I've a lot to be grateful for. So is it as simple as needing to exercise more? Do I need to stress less over my future?
 
If people could see me with my family, they would realize that yes, I do like serious deep personal conversations but I am also the kind of person that can turn that kind of a conversation in seconds with a little bit of wit and humor. I am also the introvert in a very loud extroverted family. I am known to randomly bust a move or start singing in my own house. And generally, my poker face is a smile. So when I am not smiling all the time, this doesn't mean that there has to be something wrong in my life - I might just be simply thinking! And if you haven't noticed, I think a lot.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bill Watterson Tribute on Zen Pencils

I have always enjoyed Bill Watterson. He was my favorite cartoonist as a kid and I grew up reading the philosophies and adventures of a hugely imaginative and mischievous blonde boy named Calvin with his rocket ship underpants and his trusted companion and pet stuffed tiger, Hobbes. In fact, there are only two comics I will make sure that I own so I can share them with my future children and family and they would be a thorough and hopefully complete collection of Calvin & Hobbes as well as the TV Series, Avator: The Last Airbender. Until you experience them, don't hate on them. So without any surprise, I heartedly agree that a quote by Bill Watterson cartooned online at Zen Pencils was and should be the most popular cartoon for 2013.

Understanding the Walls

One of the things I have realized is although I love spending time with my family, my family is huge! I have a brother, sisters, parents, their families, and then I feel like each of them have their own "family" of friends wherever they go. I feel like I have my immediate family. I can't even explain how important I think it is to have that and to value them so much but then, if it is important to me then why is it that I don't feel like I have it when I know that in the back of my mind that I probably do.

I always wanted to grow up to be like my namesake and grandpa: Glenn Collette. He was loved by almost everyone and loved everyone. Sometimes with a tough love. He wasn't perfect - let's be clear. But at the same time, I feel like the ward that I live in now out at school is a bit... unwelcoming. That is probably why they have so many activities that are rescue efforts. I have never tried so hard to extend myself and try to get know people and continually get cold responses back. Still, I know how important my relationship with God is so I keep going and I don't jump wards because going to the temple and knowing my leaders is important to me too. In our church, your congregation is based on location and geographical areas along with priesthood presence.

I want to be able to feel like there are people who care about me and that are willing to let me become a part of their lives so I can care about them too. If it continues to be this bad next semester, for my own sanity, I may move somewhere else, which sucks because my roommates are fantastic.

Either way, I need to figure out of this break whether the walls that I see in front of me as I try to get to know different people, are they theirs or are they mine? Walls are responses of the body to emotional damage as a way to protect the heart. So that begs the question, is the person who cares less in a relationship really in control or are they a hopeless cause? How much effort should a person be willing to put in before it is past the breaking point? When is it good to let go and how do you do it? And maybe if I search hard enough I will find inside myself "an invincible summer."

Monday, December 23, 2013

Controlling the Actors

I have heard before that the mind is like a stage where only one actor can be on at one time. I have always thought that I whenever I had a fear or a temptation or a bad thought enter my stage that I immediately had to push it out and replace it with a good one. I always had to have a quiver of arrows of good thoughts at the ready to slay the devils in my mind as they came in and out of the spotlight. However being defensive is never your best offense.

Maybe the best way I can defeat my own demons is to simply slow down. Immobilize the thoughts and question them. Freeze them. Clear my stage and wait a minute or two. Collect myself and my thoughts and then instead of moving something weak into the fray to react to the disruption, I instead can move something strong into my mind instead. To be perfectly honest, I have doubts about myself and most of them come from within. I am still trying to prove them wrong but while I struggle in building more faith in myself, I can rely on the faith of others. I can rely on the faith of my family, my friends, and my God. I can do all things He asks of me and I am worth something to them.

He died for me. I wasn't just worth something but I was worth someone. God loved me enough that His Son gave up His own life for me. And He did so willingly because He has faith in the kind of man I will become. He trusts me and not only should that be enough but what that means is that I am enough. I can do this. He knows it and I have always been able to do it. I just need to focus on what is and not what can or could be. Fear is accepting that the only choice we have is to fail. However our history as well as our future was already written. If we choose to accept Christ as our Savior and Redeemer and we let that choice guide all things in our lives, we have already succeeded. It is only through Him and by Him that we are able to and have already overcome all things.

If we are to write our own story then it should be simple: I choose Him. And I will continue to choose Him again and again and again. And because of that choice, all other choices will lead to eternal life in an eternal family surrounded and maintained by the love of God. This life is but an instant in the grand scheme of eternities. I have to willing to commit my life to Him as He did for me.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Eight Steps to Properly Engage Others

       1.       Open with Transparent Purpose and a Level Playing Field

To open a conversation or gathering, describe the concerns that began the process, define where the change effort is at this moment, describe what the organization needs from us right now, and give some idea of the structure of this step.

The key is to tell the whole story. This includes weaknesses and failures. Don’t protect people from bad news in the name of protecting them from anxiety. Anxiety is the natural state, best handled in the light of day. The only caution is to keep it short and informal, with more from the heart than from the head.

2.       Renegotiate Expectations about Participation

From experience, when someone is confused or anxious by what we say, our response is to repeat it again louder, as if turning up the volume will solve the problem. As participants, we enter these discussion expecting something to happen to us. We expect to be entertained or taught. In every discussion, both sides have a job to do. There is a balance.

3.       Changing the Environment

There is no right way to change our rearrange your environment. There is no one right way to sit or structure a room. They all can work. What matters is that everyone is engaged in adapting the structure to the task at hand. When we know that each of us can make the shifts to fit our own purpose and still serve the overall purpose as well. In so doing, we have chosen to be accountable for the relationship and no longer have to be held bound to it.

4.       Create a Platform for Openness and Doubt

To have proper communication those that instigate a discussion need to both tell the truth about failure and uncertainty, as well as create an environment where there is an opportunity for all voices and viewpoints to be heard. Reality in the words of those who agree to the discussion become as important as the reality of the instigator – perhaps more important.

Creating this platform allows for a restoration of faith that is central to any change or improvement effort. Until we can speak in public, our sense of what is real – our doubts and reservations and our past disappointments – we are unable to invest in a different future. If we cannot say no, our yes has no meaning.

The key conversation that needs to go public is about people’s doubts and reservations. If doubt and even cynicism cannot be publicly expressed, then internal commitment cannot be offered freely. Some doubts give guidance for improvement; others don’t. People are not as orderly as machines, and many doubts go unanswered. In creating high engagement, it is the expression of doubt that counts, not its resolution. We cannot construct a plan that eliminates all doubts, but we can always acknowledge them. We can acknowledge cynicism and make room for it without being paralyzed by it.

Openness and reciprocity need to occur each time we meet. Even when we are implementing complicated changes, there has to be a relatively public platform for people’s concerns to be voiced and viewpoints to be sought. Relationships change, influence shifts, and boundaries are threatened; dialogue, widely held, is the only way to find new stability. Reassurances don’t help. We waste time when we are attempting to reassure, calm, and tell a story than when we have a conversation. If the speaker does not speak of doubt and uncertainty, and talk about failure if it has occurred, there has been no straight story. People’s trust in an individual comes down not so much whether that person is right, but to whether they are willing to tell the truth.

5.       Ask “What Do We Want to Create Together?”

There is no more profound question than this one, and none more difficult to answer in any meaningful way. It is the question on which real accountability hinges. There are two parts to the question: the question of creation and the question of together.

“Do we want to create?” is the dangerous part of the question. If yes, then we are beginning to define a future that ultimately we are responsible for. The second part of the question, “Do we want to create something together?” is also difficult to answer. We may be used to creating something on our own or in our unit, but when you ask, in effect, “What can we create together that we cannot create alone?” you are asking for a whole other level. To create something together, we have to cross boundaries and possibly yield territory. This question opens us to the possibility and confronts us with the reluctance of attending to someone else before ourselves.

6.       Create a New Conversation

A change in action is preceded by a change in the conversation. Old conversations lead to old actions. We want people to take positions that they cannot defend. Then we know we are in new territory. Old conversations become a refuge, a way for us to find safety. If changing the conversation does nothing else, it gives hope that each time we come together, we have the capacity to transform our experience. Change, surprise and unrest, are always within our reach. They are just waiting to come into existence.

7.       Choose Commitment and Accountability

We build capacity when commitment and accountability are chosen. We have lost faith in our willingness to choose to be accountable. We think we can produce accountability with incentives. The alternative is to have faith that there are conditions in which people want to be accountable: they want to set high goals, care for the well-being of the relationship, and know how they are doing. We need to be accountable to both God as well as to our significant others. This accountability is stronger when we move away from bartering or contractual relationships to real commitment.

A personal commitment means that we agree to do something that is not conditional on the response of someone else. That is why the word promise is so appropriate. If we make our commitments conditional on the response from another, they are really not commitments but are conditional and can be withdrawn if the other side does not deliver. A commitment is a promise or a pledge to do something. Period. There is nothing expected in return; it is only a choice to be made.

If we commit in this spirit, all the issues and conflict and confusion simply disappears. At the moment of commitment, the relationship becomes ours to create, and in the act of committing, we can find our freedom. There will still be obstacles and disappointment, but they will not breed cynicism, for we were not choosing on the basis of another’s action. If there is an affirmation or loss of faith, it will not in others but in ourselves.

8.       Focus on Gifts

We live in a world that is much more interested in our weaknesses and deficiencies than in our strengths and gifts. This is so common that we have even come to believe that it is useful. Not so. Most of us have been working on our deficiencies for much of our life and look at the progress we have made. The primary impact of focusing on weaknesses is that it breeds self-doubt and makes us easier to control.

We fear that if everyone really understood their strength and value, things might not hold together. Why would we settle for anything less than what we deserve? Why would shoot for anything but the best? We are blind to and embarrassed by our gifts, our capacity to forgive ourselves, our affirmation of the value we bring. Despite our shyness and the discomfort we feel in talking about gifts, nothing brings success faster than focusing on our strengths.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. As we let our own Light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson

Leadership by Lamination


We interfere with real change and service when we think that progress grows out of the vision of the leader. The myth is that if we can just make the message sufficiently clear and compelling, if we can describe the burning platform with enough urgency and a bright tomorrow with enough zeal, change will occur. This leads to a great emphasis on communicating the vision and the business case for change.

The problem here is twofold. First, we affirmed, at the moment of lamination, that the leader’s vision was the one that counted. We all wanted to know what they were seeking. Once we knew this, we could all align ourselves and proceed to live it out. However, most often it was actually a support person who wrote the vision and brought it back to the leader for approval. But the product reflected the leader’s thoughts, and they gave it their stamp. This was fine for the leaders who created the vision – fine, that is, if they had created it primarily for themselves and sought guidance for their own actions through it.

Unfortunately, the visions were usually designed for others. We believed that the top should decide the culture that the middle and bottom would live by. This is the mind-set that takes the power out of vision, even though the middle and the bottom want to hear what the top has in mind. The fact that everyone wants to know the vision of the top does not make it meaningful.

Most frequently, when the group hears the vision of the leader, they are vaguely disappointed. The message designed to mobilize energy actually drains it. It is because they all read the same. I finally realized that it was the act of creating a vision that matters, not so much the content of what it was.


The second consequence of lamination was that a leader’s vision could now withstand the ravages of wind, and rain, and dark of night. That is why we laminated it: so it would last forever. That is the fallacy. A leader’s vision is not only not the point, but it is not immortal. Everyone in a group needs to struggle with the question of what kind of future they want to create, and that vision is something that is alive and open to change. Vision is more a dialogue than a declaration. It is an important conversation, a significant stretch of the imagination, and it needs to emerge as a collective work-in-progress from each unit. Once a vision is laminated, it loses its life.

With vision, there is also a major difference in setting standards and setting expectations. To have high expectations of others is to have faith in them. It is an expression of optimism and hope in the capacities of another. It is an expression of the connection between people and is experienced as support. Standard setting, as it is most commonly used to trigger change, is born not of support but of disappointment and demand.

We need to avoid planning something in a huddle that is supposed to change the behavior of others outside of the circle. We do not fix people. Our task is to stay focused on the gifts and capacities of people and what they can do about their own actions. Change and accountability occur when we live them, not preach them. Each of us wants feedback on how we are doing. But the feedback does not create the doing. While they are useful tools for measuring performance, they need to be under the control of those doing the work and need to be kept in perspective as simply one part of making change. Much of what matters cannot be measured, and our interactions need to reflect that.

Friday, December 20, 2013

I Am Ted Mosby

I was taking a serious break from things today and I know I relate myself to stories and characters from stories. My mom sometimes compares me to Leonard from the Big Bang Theory. I am guessing it is mostly because of the whole nerdy engineering side of me but I am trying to step away from that in grad school and with consulting. I don't think I will successfully depart from it entirely though. The point is I had a super relaxing day today and I got a chance to just vege out with some laundry, hot chocolate, and one of my favorite shows, How I Met Your Mother. It is like a modern day version of Friends - still a little crude but the central story is basically the same. After watching a whole season today, I realized that I am a lot like Ted Mosby.


The best way to sum up Ted Mosby is that he is a not-so-successful architect in New York who has a rough history of failed relationships. Ted is constantly in search for "The One." He has an interesting set of friends who carry a variety of roles, one of which is played by Neil Patrick Harris who makes this whole show dirty but hilarious.

 
The thing about Ted is he is loyal to a T, has an odd sense of morality and humor, actually he is all-around odd at times. The point being is that he is a good guy who keeps following his dreams and doesn't care how society tells him to conform. So it isn't a perfect fit but if you watch the show, one of two things will happen: you will love it or you will hate it. But here is a piece of wisdom I totally can relate to from the episodes I watched today:

"I don't need your help, okay? I can take care of myself. And ya maybe... Maybe there are some girls who wouldn't like it that I called them right away or said things too soon. But guess what? Those aren't the right girls for me. And maybe the right girl is the one who loves that I do those things because that is just who I am and I am not going to change because of some stupid three days rule."

 I wish I knew the end of the story, my story. I wish I could flash forward sometimes and see who it is and how things were going to be. I wish I knew for a fact that everything was going to be okay.


But then again I guess that is why he requires so much of us. He expects us to trust him, to have faith in the plan, and pick ourselves back up when things get hard. I need to find joy in the journey and learn to look for the best in every situation because in the end, everything is going to be okay. Everything will fall into place as it should and always seems to do.

 


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

But Is She Smart?

I think it is interesting how people value different parts or people in their lives. I feel like it reflects more on the individual themselves than anything else. So I am going to try and do a little self-reflection and try and see if I am becoming who I want to be through analyzing what I value in other people. Should be an interesting exercise... On a side note, this is the result of me studying for an accounting final exam while listening to SafetySuit on my iTunes.


So when it comes to women that I am attracted to there is obviously a physical element that shows up in upfront or initial attraction. However I don't feel like physical features are an end all kind of situation because in the end I don't spend my time on someone if they don't have a lot of inner qualities I am looking for. I am attracted a lot of the time to people who are around my age and have had a lot of life experiences that they reflect or have tried to learn from.

I am attracted to individuals who have a lot of drive, ambition, goals, and are hardworking. In a word, they are not just dreamers but achievers who strive to make their dreams a reality. I am attracted to people who can empathize and sympathize. I am attracted to people who think about other people and are caring. I am attracted to introverts. People who are shy or quiet with most people or the average stranger but when you get them among friends or family they can become the life of the party.

I don't care if the person I like has had things happen in their past but I want to date someone who strives to be better every day. I won't care what their past journey was but I am more interested in what motivates them to change. It isn't where they had to go to get here as much as why. Taking those motivations and pushing them forward, where are they trying to get to? Why is it important to them? How do they connect to that idea? How do I relate to that path? Are we going in the same direction?

On the flip side, I get super annoyed by the calorie counters and surface relationships. I feel like people need to accept their vulnerability and be willing to open up. It is frustrating to me to feel like I am listening to or trying to build a relationship with a copy of People magazine. I want substance. I want someone willing to live life and not just talk about it. I value a woman who wants a career and a family. I value someone who has a desire to know God, no matter what path they are on. I value someone who is intelligent. I value someone who knows their strengths and their weaknesses.

I probably could have kept going but the thought just crossed my mind that as I look at this list, I am looking for someone that has what I want to see in myself. I seem to want to impose my experiences and desires on the person I want to spend time with. I don't know if that is a good thing because I have dated someone that had a lot of my same weaknesses and strengths in the past and it turned out to be pretty painful, but at the same token is it really a bad thing? Wouldn't it be better to be able to relate to or connect with the other person who has been through similar experiences?


Maybe this simply signifies my personal desire to deepen the relationship I have with myself. Maybe it means that I need to be more open-minded. Either way, I have to be careful of how I put my own characteristics onto the picture of the person I am looking for and be more open to the people around me.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

iPersonic and Gallup's Strengths Center

Here is another personality test result... I find these fascinating. I took a similar test between interview rounds when I was applying to be a consultant for Gallup. I am still waiting to hear back on the results of my interviews and if I will make it to the last round which I should hear back after the holidays one way or the other. I feel confident and I will have to wait and see what happened but here's the iPersonic personality set results:


THE ENGAGED IDEALIST

Engaged Idealists are extroverted and helpful. Others find them to be very congenial and inspiring - especially as they are always willing to see the best in the other person. Their humor, their energy and their optimism attract other people.
 
Engaged Idealists are very good at communicating and are good at convincing and firing on others. That is why it is a matter of course that they often take over the leading role in groups. This personality type often produces very charismatic persons.

Engaged Idealists have an unusually strong ability to empathize. They are tolerant and generous towards others; they sometimes tend to idealize their friends. They always try to suit everybody and want their relationships to be harmonious and satisfactory. To achieve this, they are prepared to invest a great deal and to put their requirements last. As Engaged Idealists are very considerate, there is the danger of them sacrificing and overexerting themselves for others. In their job, they therefore have to be very careful not to develop a burnout syndrome.

Engaged Idealists are reliable, well organized and love structuring complicated situations. They have difficulty accepting criticism; they quickly feel hurt and misunderstood. Their perfectionism also influences their love life - they look for the perfect relationship for life. Once they have made their decision, they are faithful, well-balanced and loving partners. However, should they get involved with the wrong person, it can happen that they allow themselves to be exploited for a long time before they end the relationship.

Adjectives that describe your type:
extroverted, theoretical, emotional, planning, idealistic, committed, likable, enthusiastic, responsible, helpful, loyal, diplomatic, friendly, inspiring, caring, solicitous, optimistic, effusive, adaptable, communicative, articulate, convincing, energetic, optimistic, open, vulnerable
As an Engaged Idealist you are one of the extroverted personality types. You enjoy working in a colorfully diverse group of people who interest and inspire you. Working all by yourself is not your thing. You enjoy emphasizing with those around you and soon everybody senses the high priority and importance people represent to you. Therefore a team-oriented project is just right for you.

Your insight into human nature, your feel for your colleague’s and/or subordinate’s positive sides and potentials and your preparedness to encourage and support everyone around you to the best of your ability quickly brings them closer to you. People like to ask you for advice, appreciate your caring ways and appreciate to be taken under your wings. Within your means you are always available to others who need you because you yourself enjoy the ultimate gratification of being able to help others to make the best of themselves and to be successful mediating conflicts among people.

You are well suited to be an executive: It is difficult to resist your charisma, your enthusiasm and your ability to excite and motivate others. Authoritarian management attitudes are not your thing; it is your way to convince others of a project’s reason and significance who will then look forward to follow you voluntarily. You place a lot of value on creating the willingness to cooperate in others and with your gift to motivate that usually comes easy to you. You do not enjoy conflicts, need harmony and invest lots of energy and time in a good working climate and a harmonic relationship of your colleagues among each other.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alright, not too shabby and I feel like it was reasonably accurate. Now, I am going to share some of the results I got back from the Strengths Center testing I took on Gallup's website. This test wasn't free like the iPersonic test was. Instead, Gallup charged me $9.00. Still, I felt like it was important since in the interview I thought they might ask me about my strengths and they did so free question!


TOP 5 STRENGTHS
  1. Strategic - People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
  2. Achiever - People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
  3. Learner - People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
  4. Developer - People who are especially talented in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential in others. They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from these improvements.
  5. Individualization - People who are especially talented in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.
STRATEGIC:
By nature, you may see solutions before other people know there is a problem. You might start formulating answers before your teammates, coworkers, or classmates understand the question. Sometimes you generate numerous ideas before sorting to the one that makes the most sense in a particular situation. Chances are good that you select the right combination of words to convey your ideas or feelings. In the middle of discussions, your vocabulary provides you with precise phrases and terminology. You probably express yourself with ease and grace. Because of your strengths, you may pay attention to some of the things going on around you. Perhaps you listen, quiz people, read, or take notes. As you accumulate information, you might disregard what is unrelated, and pay heed to what seems important. Sometimes the more you reflect on what you know, certain problems reveal themselves, and eventually some solutions start taking shape in your mind. Then you try to select the best plan from your list of options. It’s very likely that you may notice that multiple solutions to nagging problems just pop into your mind. Sometimes you study each option from many different angles. Perhaps you carefully evaluate the entire situation, then choose the alternative that makes the most sense. Why? Maybe you aim to outscore or outperform your rivals. Instinctively, you periodically identify problems others fail to notice. You might create solutions and find the right answers. Perhaps you yearn to improve certain things about yourself, other people, or situations. Maybe you are drawn to specific kinds of classes, books, or activities. Why? Maybe they promise to give you the skills or knowledge you seek.  

ACHIEVER:
It’s very likely that you sometimes dive into challenging situations because you trust yourself to survive or excel. Maybe you know that you have the talent to deal with obstacles or hazards as you encounter them. Launching new ventures might thrill you. Tackling impossible goals might energize you. Stepping out of your comfort zone into unfamiliar territory might stimulate you. Because of your strengths, you often go out of your way to stay informed about newsworthy topics. Numerous people probably count on you to tell them about information updates, due dates, meeting changes, or special assignments. Driven by your talents, you sometimes feel more favorable about yourself and life in general when you are functioning at an optimal level. Being “number one” or named the best might motivate you to do even more and better work in the coming hours, days, weeks, or months. Instinctively, you do a fine job of imparting knowledge to individuals. You spend a lot of time preparing appropriate stories, vivid examples, graphic illustrations, or useful materials to enliven your training sessions. By nature, you may push yourself to be the best or the victor when your performance or results are being compared to those of specific individuals. Periodically you seek answers to resolve doubts you may have about your abilities. You might examine particular assumptions — that is, things taken to be true without proof — rather than automatically accept them. If perplexed, you occasionally investigate the situation. You might do this because you have set certain expectations for yourself.

LEARNER:
Chances are good that you may enjoy pondering what you can revise, correct, renovate, upgrade, or relocate. When you are curious about a person, event, topic, project, activity, or idea, you probably devote a bit more energy and time to studying it. By nature, you sometimes devote yourself to gaining knowledge or acquiring skills. You may be happy with life when you have ample time to make discoveries. How? You might read, solve problems, write, rehearse, or practice. Driven by your talents, you occasionally figure out what factors caused someone to behave in a certain way. Once in a while, you present evidence that explains why a particular event occurred. Perhaps some people rely on you to help them find reasonable explanations. It’s very likely that you feel life is wonderful when you can channel your mental and physical energy into things that intrigue you. Your interest is ordinarily piqued — that is, awakened or aroused — by activities, ideas, problems, opportunities, and people that challenge your mind. Because of your strengths, you might have a particular desire for knowledge. Perhaps you feel it makes little sense to skim through a book and read only the highlights. You might want to delve more deeply into intriguing subjects than most people. Maybe you love to gather all kinds of information.

DEVELOPER:
Driven by your talents, you may embolden some people so they begin believing in themselves. Perhaps you help them realize certain things they can accomplish in the future. Sometimes you remind them about certain things they already do well. Chances are good that you now and then encourage people and bolster their confidence. Sometimes you stir up a sense of accomplishment in them. Because of your strengths, you might motivate certain kinds of people. You may patiently observe, ask questions of, and listen to each individual. Perhaps this is how you pinpoint someone’s talents, interests, goals, background, or experiences. In the process, you might discover the best way to train, coach, or praise the person. It’s very likely that you periodically empower individuals by expressing your confidence in them. Perhaps you comment favorably about their knowledge, skills, talents, or successes. You might feel that life is grand when your words of encouragement or support motivate someone to excel or attempt something for the first time. By nature, you occasionally enhance the quality of your own life by helping people who might benefit from your knowledge, experiences, or talents. Sometimes your optimistic attitude inspires individuals to support others the way you support them.

INDIVIDUALIZATION:
Chances are good that you periodically help individuals see the humor in particular types of situations. Driven by your talents, you may enjoy befriending newcomers. This might explain why you regularly step forward to introduce yourself to new classmates, coworkers, teammates, or friends of your family. Perhaps you ask questions that are guaranteed to stimulate discussions with people you are meeting for the first time. It’s very likely that you occasionally show certain individuals your personal or professional plans for the coming months, years, or decades. Perhaps this helps them understand where you are headed, how you plan to proceed step by step, and why you say success is possible. Because of your strengths, you sometimes offer guidance to friends who seek your assistance. Maybe you keep your opinions, recommendations, or suggestions to yourself until you are invited to share them. By nature, you might enjoy assisting certain groups by sharing your innovative thoughts with them. Perhaps people rely on you to present more creative proposals or solutions than anyone else.

Lost in an Imagination

Dreams, creativity, and imagination are all words that describe someone that can picture possibilities in his future or can see the world in a different way. For me, these kinds of moments or thoughts happen all the time. When I talk to people on the phone, I listen carefully to what is being said so much so that I begin to picture or visualize what is happening. However how I visualize it and what would be reality becomes different as my mind begins to take what I hear and starts to picture it as a cartoon. Then as the person continues to talk my mind continues its own little drama until I finally think of something really funny and I laugh out loud. A little confused, this typically sparks conversation with whoever I am listening to but in the end I heard and retained everything that was said.

Other times, I will have the craziest dreams too. The dreams that I remember though are my daydreams. When I sleep at night, I typically sleep so soundly that I don't remember them unless I wake up mid-dream in the morning to go to bathroom or something, then I can pick up wherever I left off in my story. My daydreams are fantastic though. Whether it is the dreams I have in class or during meetings, I can continue to retain all the information that is being presented to me but like the phone conversations I make my reality my own.


There are places I want to go and things I want to do. And when it comes to the interactions I have with people I always picture things I would want to happen. For example, I had a dream last night that I met up with a girl that I like at a bar with my friends. Now that I live in Salt Lake I go to bars with my classmates a lot - bar food is sooooo good. I don't drink but it is fun to sing karaoke and go to trivia night and stuff. Anyways, I met this girl there and after hanging out with my friends for a while we decided to go back to her place and watch a movie. We were on our couch and we had made popcorn and even though we were watching the TV from other ends of the couch we took the popcorn and tried to throw it to each other to see if we could catch it in our mouths. In a few minutes we were laughing hard core and in the end we were cuddling watching the movie.

Again, the reason why I have this blog is because my mind is a beautiful place where I am able to see the world that I want. However, it isn't reality and in all reality, people see a lot of the behaviors and stories and standards being old fashioned and out of date. It isn't accepted except in conversation to be romantic, a gentleman, or have a sense of old-fashioned manners. So again, I am left to my imagination. One of these days it might happen though. Maybe one day, I will be as fortunate or as brave as Walter Mitty. One day, it will happen...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I'm an Extremist

In case the US government wants to know, I am not the extremist that you are looking for. The more time I am spending in my MBA program, the more I am learning about myself. I am a learner. I am a driver. I am persistent and I don't believe in impossible scenarios. I also have learned that there are also a few things that I am good at that are assets for most people but can be weaknesses for me.

I am an extremely good listener and I love to be a strategic planner. I listen so well that the amount of information that I glean from things is overwhelming. I over analyze because of how well I notice the details. Body language, tone, the words that are being used, the underlying assumptions and things that aren't being said, I see it all and hear it all. There are only three options for me:
  1.  After pulling all the different stories from this mass of data in my head, I put myself in the shoes of that individual or entity and use what I know of their past and patterns of natural human behaviors and look at the problem or situation from their perspective. The issue is that there are so many assumptions that go into this and there is also the fun fact that a lot of human behavior is NOT logical. At times we are run by our emotions. So really, I might be able to predict what is happening but I absolutely have no way of knowing. If it sounds like a headache, it is.
  2. The other thing I do is with this predictive way of thinking, I plan out a LOT of what I do. I don't all the time... When I am getting to know people, I am authentic and vulnerable and I choose to be myself. However, I still want to at least have a plan of what is the next step. What's next? That screws me over ALL THE TIME when it comes to dating. I am not obsessed with marriage. I just want to have a plan for what's next. In business, it is a huge asset because I am strategic in my interactions and in the way I approach things. It is what has helped me go places where I never thought would have been options for me.
  3. The last option is the most simple and the best choice, however it is the hardest one for me because of my personality. I let go and let the other person choose. I can't control it. I can't influence the result. The only thing that result if I choose to act is usually going to be a reaction and the outcome is typically going to be a negative one.
 It isn't just I struggle with being patient. I can be patient - that isn't the root cause of the problem. The problem is that I am a perfectionist and I don't know if my efforts were good enough. It rolls back to the fact that I need to have more faith in myself. It is why I feel like I need to know what people are thinking. I want to have their approval. I want their acceptance. It is so stressful but it is just another way that people like myself show our insecurities. If I did have faith in myself, then I would assume that my interactions would lead to further interactions or opportunities.

If I didn't have those insecurities I could use my powers of observation and strategy for good and eventually I would be able to find a way to take over the world! I would be unstoppable! Seriously though, life would be so much better if I spent enough time working on who I am so that I could have more faith in myself.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Key to Success is Unconditional

The secret to a good relationship is the ability to tolerate differences and embrace imperfections. The most compatible couples have great levels of patience and tolerance for each other. They strengthen their relationship by holding on to each other in worst circumstances. Although they disagree on various things they have an amazing understanding for each other. They face all their problems together and they are there for each other no matter what life throws at them. They just want to be together even though they have seen the absolute worst in each other. They don’t want to give up on each other even though they have put each other through hell. It is the wisdom, maturity, understanding, commitment and unconditional love that make a relationship work and last forever.

 
"Unconditionally"
by Katy Perry

Oh no, did I get too close?
Oh, did I almost see what's really on the inside?
All your insecurities
All the dirty laundry
Never made me blink one time

Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally
There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
I will love you unconditionally

Come just as you are to me
Don't need apologies
Know that you are worthy
I'll take your bad days with your good
Walk through the storm I would
I do it all because I love you, I love you

Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally
There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
I will love you unconditionally

So open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart

Acceptance is the key to be
To be truly free
Will you do the same for me?

Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally
There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
'Cause I will love you unconditionally
I will love you
I will love you
I will love you unconditionally

Self-Identity: Fear Versus Faith

I have been thinking a lot about this concept of self-identity. I am a reflective individual and I strive for improving myself daily. There are some strengths and weaknesses that both come from looking at yourself in the mirror and they all boil down to at what magnification do you do it and in what light.

I had a Christmas party that I went to tonight at my work in downtown Salt Lake. I don't do selfies but here is one. The reason for the exception is simple. Here is a picture of me completely unaltered and unfiltered taken with my phone, which is as old school as mobile phones come nowadays. Cell phones are practically mobile offices not just phones and to have a camera on your old school "slider" is still deemed archaic when it isn't connected wirelessly to the internet through Pinterest, Instagram or Snapchat.

The things I want to accentuate are these: I like skinny ties, white on black looks just as good as black on white, and when you shave, I will admit, you look better than when you don't. That isn't really what I am getting at but I figure I might as well agree to the shaving part. If I didn't have facial hair and my face was as smooth as a baby's bottom, I would be a happy man. It really is more an annoyance than anything else.

The point I want to make is the media is a poison in our society because of the way it alters self-image. Here is a quote that will help to illustrate my point: Cindy Crawford, international super model, once was noted in saying, "I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford." Women are plagued with this ideal that they have to impossibly live up to and I don't even like using extreme verbiage such as "impossible" however in this case, it is quite literal. With computers programs and the digital age, women are shown in advertising and in the media the picture of the optimal or perfect Woman - the Woman we should all desire and live up to. This Woman who does not exist but was designed and made digitally in a virtual world is the role model for hundreds upon thousands upon millions of women. Impossibly skinny, without flaws or wrinkles or pores of any kind. She does not exist. And how does media use the Woman but to sell objects by transforming her and dehumanizing her into an object herself. She no longer is a person but a possession or an idol.

This concept of self-identity and removing the impossible ideals that society gives you is not only prevalent for women but for men. I can confess that there are days and times, not just when I was in high school, where I thought of myself as not good enough because of what I looked like. I wasn't big enough, tall enough, muscular enough, strong enough, witty enough, outgoing and extroverted enough, I wasn't the life of the party, and the list goes on and on. These thoughts and false truths that I would tell myself over and over again caused me to convince myself that I couldn't associate or date certain people because I wasn't in their league or I wasn't cool enough. It is amazing how much outside influences can affect our thinking.

I am sure no little African boy thought of himself as being black until someone told him. In the same manner, when we are little kids we think we can do anything. We don't think of ourselves not being big enough. When we age and become "mature," we don't think of ourselves as being any older or fragile than when we were 25 years old. For me, I feel like it was my size - I still hadn't hit 100 lbs even when I was 15 years old as a freshman in high school. I wasn't big enough to play football. I was too smart to hang out with the jocks. I was too shy to talk to the pretty girls. I created and accepted all these barriers that were put in front of me, limiting my own personal potential.

This idea originated tonight in part as I was driving away from a party. I had a friend who invited me to come to her roommate's birthday party. I was overdressed, a little tired, and after waiting for my friend to come (who really was the only person I wanted to talk to) I realized that I wanted to go home, get ready for bed, and watch a movie. As I was driving, the thought came to me that I needed to face my fears of social fears for large groups. I need to be more extroverted. Then I thought to myself, who said? Why do I have to be extroverted? Why do I need to feel comfortable and enjoy socializing in large groups?

Society affects the way that people perceive their own value. For instance, a child may not strive to push himself in his education because when it comes to school, he may have been told that he was successful because he was smart. He excelled in sports because he was gifted. Why couldn't we tell our children instead that they were successful or excelled because they worked hard? Wouldn't that persuade the next generation to work harder instead of thinking that things would come naturally to them. And even if that was true that they were naturally gifted, could they not find out that fact through self-discovery?

The same is true when it comes to relationships. If we are told that women are simply objects and men are simply emotionless, and at times mindless, protectors how do we interpret the heroes and heroines in the popular series, the Hunger Games? Is Gale the ideal hero or is it Peeta? Who better personifies what a Man should be? How about Katniss? How does she either conform or reject social norms? Society teaches us that we deserve things and that we should be more worried about our own self-gratification than serving and providing for others. The first thing we sacrifice for a price is ourselves when we begin to focus on what we are to gain.

Which one is most important: the norm or the personality? I would say that the best way to come to know one's self is to reject the idea of norms. The issue of racism, sexism, religious intolerance, sexual intolerance, and discrimination of any kind originates from the classification of people when people are a group of individuals, none of which are the same. This kind of classifying of people is another form of objectification. In our religion, Christ was the perfect Man. He was the epitome and personification of everything a Man should be and yet, he possessed so many feminine qualities.

If I was to take this conversation full circle, how does this apply to my social interactions... I do not like to conform. I do not like to play the game. I do not like to hold back and I choose not to wear a mask. I do my best to be authentic and to be willing to accept and embrace my vulnerability when it comes to relationships and trust. So how am I ever going to be able to meet someone when I refuse to run from the true fears that dominate our society? We all have two innate human needs: to be loved and to love. The paradox is we focus on the first when we can only find its fullness in focusing on the latter. Lasting relationships are simply not found. Relationships are kept and created through building them with faith in each other, ourselves, and in God.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Application Marathon

So I have been applying for a lot of consulting internship positions for this upcoming summer and I get this email back from one of the companies:

"An initial review of your application encourages us to learn more about you. If you meet all candidate requirements such as talent, skills, education, and experience for the position you selected, we will move forward with the next step in the application process. If you are in the United States or Canada, please call..."

So the way I interpret that is... Your social security number checks out and you don't seem to be a murderer or a rapist but we didn't read anything you sent us (since most people don't know what country New Hampshire is in... It may be its own country for all we know) or pay close enough attention to see what position you were applying for... So call us and we can talk over the phone. Oh! And be ready for anything because if we like you then it may be a long phone call.

Just kidding! I am actually really excited. I have a lot of companies that I have applied to and the list is going to continue to grow throughout the holiday season. I hope that things work out because if not, I am glad that I have the UVF internship that I working at right now. It isn't good to have those blank periods of time on a resume and I like the fact that I am working. I just hope that I will be ready for everything.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Forgiveness and Socializing

I was talking to a few people this afternoon about my social habits. Obviously people who I trust and care about and feel like they do the same for me but also people who I feel will be candid and honest with me as well. I feel like people give engineers crap about not being very good at being social people. Well, now I know why I fit into that category as well as I think I know better how to fix it. I take no credit for this because the only thing I did was be willing to ask for help and ask the right questions but I am going to work on this and hopefully things will change.

First off, if you ever met me in person you would realize off the bat how analytical I am. The example that was given to me was that when it comes to decisions, schools, work, applications, networking... I read people well. I make a plan. I decide in advance what I will do, what I will say, who I need to talk to, and if I don't have enough information in advance then I am adaptable and I am able to adjust my plan to the present. I look at people and I analyze them. This is probably why I can be a great salesman at times because I plan what I am going to say and I can see the pain points that need to be solved. I am a people watcher. I see in people who they are - the good, the bad, the ugly, but mostly the good.

It is an interesting phenomenon because I see all of it and I am willing to accept the good and try and help others see their potential but for myself I am not so forgiving. I am my own judge, jury, and executioner. My roommates think my dating habits are those of a wild man; however, this isn't the case. When I meet people, I see them for who they are. I see all of the good that they have or can have in their lives because of the gifts and talents that they have been given. I want to get to know them. I am interested in them. The issue is that I then subconsciously compare them to myself and want to hold on so tightly because in my heart I feel like they are better than me and that I don't deserve to be with them when I forgot the most important thing. There is only one person who knows my self-worth, and that person isn't even myself.

Other people do not define you. Their judgments and actions don't define your value. You do not define your value. Only God who made you and your Savior who died for you, understand who you really are and know much you really are worth. When I am feeling like I am not up to par with the people that I am attracted to then maybe I should spend some more time working on who I am and start by getting out of the snares and traps that I have allowed myself to fall in. I can't help others out of their traps if I am limping around in mine.

I need to forgive myself completely.

It is not that I act like a puppy dog around every woman that walks on the face of the earth. I am confident. It is that I fall victim to the same issues that I recently counseled one of my other friends about, a lack of patience. My friend had posted that "... girls are like ... Fire ... Stay away, feel cold ... Stay closed, get burnt." There is some truth to that but the way to help overcome that is through the process that he and I are going about things. This is how I responded:

"I would rather get burnt until I find the spot closest to the fire where I am most comfortable then die in the cold by myself. There are things a lot worse than being cold so don't choose that when inside you and I both know it isn't the best choice. If we were willing to move slower we would find the sweet spot faster but it is our impatience that get the best of us."

 The issue is that again we don't define our self-worth correctly. Until we truly understand it and are taught it by the Person who truly knows, then we sell ourselves short. If we know our true value, we would share a little bit of ourselves and then wait for the other person to respond. Still, it is a two-way street. What I say next is not out of pride but understanding. We need to see if this other person we are interested in is really someone that knows their value and matches ours. Again, it is not the value or perceived level of value that we are trying to match but the way in which that value was gained or determined. I need to be patient. I need to once again learn who I am and the way I do that is as important as actually doing it.