Wednesday, December 31, 2014

This Is How We Date Now

We don’t commit now. We don’t see the point. They’ve always said there are so many fish in the sea, but never before has that sea of fish been right at our fingertips on OkCupid, Tinder, Grindr, Dattch, take your pick. We can order up a human being in the same way we can order up pad thai on Seamless. We think intimacy lies in a perfectly-executed string of emoji. We think effort is a “good morning” text. We say romance is dead, because maybe it is, but maybe we just need to reinvent it. Maybe romance in our modern age is putting the phone down long enough to look in each other’s eyes at dinner. Maybe romance is deleting Tinder off your phone after an incredible first date with someone. Maybe romance is still there, we just don’t know what it looks like now.

 When we choose—if we COMMIT—we are still one eye wandering at the options. We want the beautiful cut of filet mignon, but we’re too busy eyeing the mediocre buffet, because choice. Because choice. Our choices are killing us. We think choice means something. We think opportunity is good. We think the more chances we have, the better. But, it makes everything watered-down. Never mind actually feeling satisfied, we don’t even understand what satisfaction looks like, sounds like, feels like. We’re one foot out the door, because outside that door is more, more, more. We don’t see who’s right in front of our eyes asking to be loved, because no one is asking to be loved. We long for something that we still want to believe exists. Yet, we are looking for the next thrill, the next jolt of excitement, the next instant gratification.

 We soothe ourselves and distract ourselves and, if we can’t even face the demons inside our own brain, how can we be expected to stick something out, to love someone even when it’s not easy to love them? We bail. We leave. We see a limitless world in a way that no generation before us has seen. We can open up a new tab, look at pictures of Portugal, pull out a Visa, and book a plane ticket. We don’t do this, but we can. The point is that we know we can, even if we don’t have the resources to do so. There are always other tantalizing options. Open up Instagram and see the lives of others, the life we could have. See the places we’re not traveling to. See the lives we’re not living. See the people we’re not dating. We bombard ourselves with STIMULI, input, input, input, and we wonder why we’re miserable. We wonder why we’re dissatisfied. We wonder why nothing lasts and everything feels a little hopeless. Because, we have no idea how to see our lives for what they are, instead of what they aren’t.

 And, even if we find it. Say we find that person we love who loves us. Commitment. Intimacy. “I love you.” We do it. We find it. Then, quickly, we live it for others. We tell people we’re in a relationship on Facebook. We throw our pictures up on Instagram. We become a “we.” We make it seem shiny and perfect because what we choose to share is the highlight reel. We don’t share the 3am fights, the reddened eyes, the tear-stained bedsheets. We don’t write status updates about how their love for us shines a light on where we don’t love ourselves. We don’t tweet 140 characters of sadness when we’re having the kinds of conversations that can make or break the future of our love. This is not what we share. Shiny picture. Happy couple. Love is perfect.

 Then, we see these other happy, shiny couples and we compare. We are The Emoji Generation. Choice Culture. The Comparison Generation. Measuring up. Good enough. The best. Never before have we had such an incredible cornucopia of markers for what it looks like to live the Best Life Possible. We input, input, input and soon find ourselves in despair. We’ll never be good enough, because what we’re trying to measure up to just does not even exist. These lives do not exist. These relationships do not exist. Yet, we can’t believe it. We see it with our own eyes. And, we want it. And, we will make ourselves miserable until we get it.

 So, we break up. We break up because we’re not good enough, our lives aren’t good enough, our relationship isn’t good enough. We swipe, swipe, swipe, just a bit more on Tinder. We order someone up to our door just like a pizza. And, the cycle starts again. Emoji. “Good morning” text. Intimacy. Put down the phone. Couple selfie. Shiny, happy couple. Compare. Compare. Compare. The inevitable creeping in of latent, subtle dissatisfaction. The fights. “Something is wrong, but I don’t know what it is.” “This isn’t working.” “I need something more.” And, we break up. Another love lost. Another graveyard of shiny, happy couple selfies.

 On to the next. Searching for the elusive more. The next fix. The next gratification. The next quick hit. Living our lives in 140 characters, 5 second snaps, frozen filtered images, four minute movies, attention here, attention there. More as an illusion. We worry about settling, all the while making ourselves suffer thinking that anything less than the shiny, happy filtered life we’ve been accustomed to is settling. What is settling? We don’t know, but we don’t want it. If it’s not perfect, it’s settling. If it’s not glittery filtered love, settling. If it’s not Pinterest-worthy, settling.

 We realize that this more we want is a lie.

 We want phone calls. We want to see a face we love absent of the blue dim of a phone screen. We want slowness. We want simplicity. We want a life that does not need the validation of likes, favorites, comments, upvotes. We may not know yet that we want this, but we do. We want connection, true connection. We want a love that builds, not a love that gets discarded for the next hit. We want to come home to people. We want to lay down our heads at the end of our lives and know we lived well, we lived our lives. This is what we want even if we don’t know it yet. We want to unplug so we can reconnect. We want the perfection found in the imperfection. We want the feeling of love but we want it to look a certain way so that other will approve of it too. We want to pick and choose because we want love without the risk and pain of loss.

 Yet, that is not how it works. This is not how we date now. This is not how we love now.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Organizational Change

College is an interesting creature. Sometimes it beats you up and leaves you for dead and other times it is invigorating and can push you to become something more. This last semester I had moments of both sides of this animal. There were a few classes that I simply did not care about and it was clearly apparent and there were other classes that I absolutely loved. Part of the reason why I loved my classes were they helped me gain that real world experience I needed and they were heavy on strategy.

I loved my strategy classes, including one class were we worked with an organization to help them in a turnaround situation. It was fascinating and loved the tools and assignments we used in our class lectures. As a wrap-up for the end of the semester, our professor divided the class into three groups and told us to illustrate what we had learned on the whiteboards at the front of the room. She did her best to help us out a bit after we presented our initial thoughts by giving us a short list of some principles she wanted to make sure we included:


Some of us took the basic business diagram approach with a very professional-style and format:

Others decided to be slightly more creative and made more of a flow path illustration:

With my group I saw this as an opportunity to use some creative freedom and do my best to illustrate the turnaround process in a RSA whiteboard animation style:

It couldn't be quite as sophisticated as RSA animation because I only had 20 minutes to plan out our process and design the board but in the end, I think it came out half-way decent.

The idea is that there is a struggle between maintaining the status quo and allowing for change. In a turnaround situation, change has to win out but when it does, the markers or red flags show up in a few different places that we can look at. If we see the need to change, we have to assess the cost of fixing the company or whether it would be better to liquidate and let it die. If we are going to fix it, we need to look at the strengths and core competencies of the company. Do we want to focus on a financial fix with cutting costs or is this more behavioral and cultural? Once we have a general idea of our approach then we can follow Kotter's Model while we watch where our company is on the change curve. If successfully implemented, a company should be able to recover and get back to growth and prosperity down the road.

Friday, December 26, 2014

100 National Geographic Personality Facts

  1. Your personality at 3 years old predicts your personality at age 26.
  2. Opposites don't attract: In general, people prefer mates with similar personality traits.
  3. Happy people are more likely to help people in need.
  4. Machiavellianism, a manipulative personality style, is measured in units of Machs.
  5. Studies show that people with high self-esteem believe they are more popular than they actually are.
  6. When they are depressed, women are more likely to cry; men are more likely to become aggressive.
  7. People can accurately judge a stranger's personality based on a Facebook profile.
  8. Animals ranging from chimpanzees to fishing spiders demonstrate distinct personalitites.
  9. In an experiment on a college campus, zero women agreed to have sex with a stranger who approached them; 75 percent of men agreed.
  10. More than 500 different words describe emotional states.
  11. In one study, people who were emotionally stable (low in neuroticism) had the strongest immune responses to hepatitis B vaccine.
  12. People high in neuroticism have difficulty telling positive stories about themselves.
  13. Babies begin to exhibit a self-concept, as measured by recognizing themselves in a mirror, at 18 months on average.
  14. Extraverts tend to seek out songs with heavy bass lines.
  15. Close to 20,000 adjectives in the English language describe personality traits.
  16. In one experiment, people who score high and low in extraversion were shown pictures of puppies while receiving magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). High-scoring people showed more brain activity than low scorers.
  17. People who score high on openness measures have more vivid dreams than others, and they are more likely to remember their dreams.
  18. A study of U.S. regional variations in personality traits identified the most conscientious state as Florida.
  19. People who do volunteer work typically score high on measures of both agreeableness and extraversion.
  20. Scoring high on neuroticism scales is not the same as being neurotic. To psychologists, neurosis is an old-fashioned term for a mental disorder such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  21. Upbringing does affect religious and political beliefs as well as health habits. Children are likely to reflect their parents' attitudes, as well as their smoking and drinking habits.
  22. Studies indicate that success among top executives at for-profit companies is most strongly linked to honest and integrity.
  23. Strengths are genetically linked, particularly between father and son and mother and daughter. Parenting also affects some strengths such as love of learning.
  24. After 9/11, American respondents showed increased strengths of hope, faith, and love.
  25. Northern Europeans born in cold months score higher on sensation seeking than those born in warm months.
  26. In men, but not in women, extraversion increases with physical size.
  27. Children as young as five make firm moral judgments.
  28. The propensity to marry or to stay single is strongly heritable.
  29. From adolescence to young adulthood, men's self-esteem increases and women's decreases.
  30. Studies show that birth order has little effect on personality, although it does affect family dynamics.
  31. North Dakota has more extraverts than any other state.
  32. Forgiveness is more characteristic of people who score high on the agreeableness and emotional stability scales.
  33. Men are more likely to be distressed by sexual infidelity; women by emotional infidelity.
  34. Brain scans of people contemplating the trolley problem show that the "fat man" scenario evokes activity in a part of the brain that governs emotional conflict resolution.
  35. During the two World Wars, hard-pressed Germans ate dog meat. Their name for it translates as "blockade mutton."
  36. The belief that you can definitely do what you set out to do is known as self-efficacy.
  37. Psychologist Abraham Maslow theorized that needs form a hierarchy, from most to least basic: physiological (such as the need for food), safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization.
  38. Power-motivated people experience higher blood pressure and increased muscle tone when they are challenged for dominance.
  39. U.S. presidents with a high need for affiliation were more likely to be involved in scandals.
  40. People who receive supportive responses from their partners send out more positive e-mails afterward.
  41. Women who are more motivated by power tend to have more children.
  42. People who score high in the need for affiliation have stronger immune systems than others do.
  43. Bosses with a high need for power are more susceptible to flattery from underlings.
  44. A study showed that bowlers who rarely smile while facing the pins, despite results, often smile when facing their companions.
  45. People who have internal conflicts between the goals they truly want and those that are imposed upon them are more likely to have stress-related illnesses.
  46. Farmers with a high need to achieve are more productive than other farmers are.
  47. Many people suffering from Huntington's disease cannot recognize an expression of disgust.
  48. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, U.S.-Soviet communications contained strong power imagery in the early stages and more affiliation imagery in the later stages.
  49. Employees who use for or more of their strengths at work report greater job satisfaction than those who use fewer strengths.
  50. People who score high on neuroticism scales are more likely to say that the process of reaching their goals is stressful and usually ends in failure.
  51. Promotion-oriented people approach new relationships by looking for matches; prevention-oriented folks try to avoid mismatches.
  52. When shown a vague object in a phone, promotion-oriented people come up with more explanations for what it might be than prevention-oriented people do.
  53. Women who had positive emotional expressions in their college yearbook photos reported greater well-being and more satisfying marriages 30 years later.
  54. The simple perception that you have people to turn to in times of trouble provides some protection against the harmful effects of stress.
  55. Children who are blind from birth have the same facial expressions as those who can see.
  56. Eyewitness memories are notoriously inaccurate. In a study of guilty verdicts overturned by DNA evidence, one-third of the convictions were based on two or more mistaken eyewitnesses.
  57. People with strong power motives create narratives with themes of agency, such as mastery and status.
  58. Famous events leading to flashbulb memories include the Lincoln, Kennedy, and Olof Palme assassinations; the explosion of the shuttle Challenger; and the O.J. Simpson trial verdict.
  59. Parents who elaborate about emotions, causes, and explanations in stories develop stronger storytelling skills in their children.
  60. Psychologists find that narrators typically portray themselves as one of two kinds of protagonists in a traumatic event: John Wayne (brave) or Florence Nightingale (caring).
  61. People with depression have vaguer memories than other people. They often merge similar events into one generic occurrence.
  62. People tend to recall the most events from the period between the ages of 10 and 30.
  63. Religiosity seems to enhance positive emotions, particularly hope and optimism.
  64. Studies of children between the ages of 3 and 12 show that they have an intuitive theism that spurs them to see the hand of supernatural agency in the natural world.
  65. Grit and talent are slightly negatively correlated-perhaps because gritty people work a little harder in order to succeed.
  66. Self-regulation is closely linked to the personality trait of conscientiousness.
  67. When their willpower is depleted, people with low self-esteem become even more negative about themselves than usual.
  68. People whose mothers valued academic success, and who were later primed with the concept of mother before a test, performed better on that test.
  69. Terror management theory is a study of the basic conflict between our desire to live and our awareness of death.
  70. Money is a poor predictor of well-being. Above the poverty level, income does not correlate with happiness.
  71. There are more male psychopaths than female psychopaths.
  72. About 40 million American adults have an anxiety disorder.
  73. Self-regulation is a uniquely human trait.
  74. Workers who trained in mindfulness meditation reported feeling less anxious and more involved with their work.
  75. The values of benevolence, self-direction, and universalism are most highly valued across most cultures.
  76. Losing control of drinking leads to guilt, which leads to poorer self-regulation, which leads to more drinking.
  77. People with poor self-control learn better from rewards than they do from punishments.
  78. Self-compassion is distinct from self-pity. Self-pitying people focus on themselves, while self-compassionate people focus on their connection to others.
  79. Spellers who scored high in the personality trait of openness to experience performed worse than others at the spelling bee.
  80. In a group of adults with similar educational levels, grit steadily increased with age and was particularly noticeable in people over 65.
  81. Gritty people are less likely to change their careers frequently.
  82. Self-compassionate people are high in the traits of extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.
  83. People who are self-compassionate find compassionate images soothing; those who are self-critical find them alarming.
  84. Some studies show that women have slightly lower levels of self-compassion than men do.
  85. Personality disorders are often marked by poor social judgment, such as misinterpreting how other people behave.
  86. Age may be the best treatment for psychopathy. Antisocial behavior decreases dramatically after age 40.
  87. Men consistently value power, achievement, hedonism, stimulation, and self-direction more than women do.
  88. Having similar values is more predictive of a satisfying romantic relationship than having similar personalities.
  89. In general, people believe that their own futures are brighter than those of their peers.
  90. Nineteenth-century phrenologists believed that a bulging area at the top of the skull indicated benevolence.
  91. Hostility-one component of a "type A" personality-is a strong predictor of cardiovascular disease.
  92. The most common source of stress in daily life is concerns about weight.
  93. Great apes, dogs, and baboons perform well on tests of self-control.
  94. Women experience affection and joy much more often than men do.
  95. Hypermasculinity-excessive shows of strength or bragging about accomplishments-is a symptom of histrionic personality disorder.
  96. Seventy percent of Hindu Indians, but only 13 percent of American women, agree with this statement: "It is immoral for adults to disobey their parents."
  97. Inspection time-the time it takes to discriminate between lines of different lengths-is related to general intelligence.
  98. Up to 13 percent of people in Western countries experience extreme shyness during their lifetime.
  99. Surveys show that narcissistic disorders are the least common personality disorder-but this may be because narcissistic people don't acknowledge the problem.
  100. Researchers have identified 11 tactics of manipulation, ranging from charm to regression.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Hopeless Romantic

My friends have told me time and again that I need to be present, to take it easy, be patient and many similar things. I feel like I am trying but apparently I have been anything but successful. I have been trying to date around lately but as usual all that means is that I really like one particular girl. And as my typical self, I failed again. She wants to be friends. Most women think this isn't the kiss of death but accompanied with the comment that I don't see you in that way... It is.

After getting some great counsel from a friend, I went to FHE on Temple Square where we planned to get some hot chocolate and look at the lights. It was a lot of fun but I did it by myself. I couldn't find anyone from my ward but I took it as an opportunity to think and to pray. So after walking around the grounds, I finally found a quiet bench on the backside of the temple. I sat down and pulled my arms inside my coat and across my chest and I began to pray. As I prayed, I began to confess to God the many frustrations and obstacles I had been facing and plead for the strength and the patience to overcome those things (whether that was feeling alone in the crowd, watching as my bank account withered away, lacking the incentive or desire to continue to apply for jobs when I kept hitting walls at every turn or facing the things out of my control when it comes to dating - basically everything).

As I sat there trying to understand the counsel and words I had heard from my friend, I couldn't help but feel so small and out of place. Here I was surrounded by hundreds of happy people, families and friends, feeling completely alone. That loneliness was the consequence of my own actions. When I really care about someone, I listen, observe, and try to understand everything that was said and left unsaid. I want to ask them questions. I want to understand. I want to help and show that I care in any way that I can. One of the things I like to do is write handwritten letters. I like to carefully think about my feelings and the words I want to say as I craft each page. I sit and think about that person. I like to think about them as they are and as they say who they want to become. I think about the memories or moments that we shared and the ones I hope to share in the future. I am the hopeless romantic.

Little do people understand or see the tears just under the surface. When I love so fully and so deeply, it is always too soon. It is too much. It is like I become an exposed nerve because I wear my heart on my sleeve. Having someone who wants to know what truly matters to you, what makes you tick and what it means to truly understand you... It scares people. It is so hard for me to stay on the surface even with surface relationships. I see when people are hurting because I can recognize certain kinds of pain... The ones I have felt before myself. I want to hold them and listen and let them know that it is going to be alright. I can see when people are excited and I want to hear their stories. I laugh as I hear them give me the play-by-play accounts. I want to hear a person's story as I try and write my own. It isn't all serious all the time. I can barely be serious for longer than a few minutes. I like to have fun and I am quick with wit, sarcasm, and all types of humor. I like to make people smile and I like to compete. Still, I have a hard time having people stick around long enough to see all of these sides of me and give me a chance to really love them and so there I was feeling and recognizing my own insignificance on a bench in the night amidst a huge crowd alone. The thought came into my mind that again it was patience. I felt like things were going to be okay even though they weren't now. I felt like although I was being comforted there were too many questions.

I got up to head back to my car to think some more before driving home and that was when I ran into her. She and her roommates had come up to the activity as well and were also lost. I tried to remember what my friend had said about being super nice and then leave. Show her what she is missing. I came up and smiled and we all talked for a minute and as we turned the corner, she and I talked a little more and both couldn't help but smile and then I apologized because I had to leave them to head back home to work on some assignments and projects. As I walked away, I just felt this huge pain in my chest start growing as it felt like I was turning my back on the one person that could fill the void that I had been feeling so much lately. It hurt as I got to my car and as I drove silently home with music playing in the background all I could think about was how much I wanted to stay.

I wanted to take photos of her and her roommates. I wanted to get to know all of them. I wanted to be friends with all of them. I wanted to hear her laughing and see her smiling at me but all I could hear in my head was her asking for more space. That smile that was once directed at me felt like a knife twisting in my chest as I imagined her and her roommates being happier with me gone. Maybe she didn't know whether or not she liked me but because she was pushing for more space said what she did. Still, she wouldn't know how much that really hurt. All I could think of mile after mile was the idiot I had been. I should have said things differently. I should have been more relaxed. I should have done this or that. I am not good enough. No one wants to love someone that they haven't had the chance to trust first. So there I was, driving home and thinking of someone that I felt drawn to while fighting back the tears as I considered that once again my actions had left me to the privacy of my own company.