Sunday, March 20, 2016

"Goals are overrated" and "You can always go to Puyallup" or "You can always move firewood"

Goals are over-rated
There has been no feedback from my interview.  The conversation was great, challenging, interesting and with a good exchange of strategic ideas and opportunities.  It would appear that the CEO is looking for a twenty-something totally unencumbered by legacy information technology, a hip person, someone likely to be seen on the pages of Fast Company.

I like Fast Company.  While looking up the URL I read an article that explained why setting goals might be holding me back.  The first major paragraph heading was "We Only Set Goals After Bad Things Happen."  Check, but from my perspective I did not think that setting goals was a self-improvement project.  It says that self-improvement habits take 21 days to stick.  I'm at about 800 days and some of my goals have still not become a habit.

"Most Goals Are Bids For Self-Validation."  This article is depressing me.  Reading further it appears that goals really are an effort at achieving recognition from others.  Well, my goal of employment has not resulted in recognition and my goals regarding monetization of this blog have also evaded recognition.  Did I say this Fast Company article is depressing?

New skills, the acquisition of knowledge and personal growth set a better stage for change and accomplishment.  There are a myriad of things that fall under this category over the past previously labelled "failure" days.  I guess that's good.  The bottom line is to simply focus on what's motivating you or what's important.  I should give credit to the author, Suzan Bond, who wrote the "Anti-Goal Guide" (Twitter @suzanbond).  What she suggests parallels my work in lean continuous process improvement.  Set smaller goals along themes, ensuring measurability and strive for continuous improvement, eliminating all the classic forms of waste.

You can always go to Puyallup...
Back in the day I spent some time at Ft. Lewis, Washington.  I'm sure it's all changed now but back then you were busy all the time and standing around all the time all without sleep.  The short weekend leaves were exhausting but great.  Typically they involved the things that young military personnel are prone to do.  The standard line was "when in doubt you can always go to Puyallup."  For whatever reason I went to a drag race at Puyallup, something that I had no interest then or now.

This video is from 1963 but this is the place I was in 1969.  There was a short guardrail and no fence.  We were about 25 feet from the starting line.  I distinctly remember an engine blowing and a piston landing next to us. 

Moving Firewood...
There are plenty of jokes about firewood as a fuel source.  After you consider chainsaw costs, truck costs, injuries, beverages and time you could just buy propane or fuel oil and have some time off.

Generally I like dealing with firewood and all the opportunities it presents.  This happens to be a wheelbarrow load of white ash.  Dried appropriately it burns well, second to oak.  Spitting is a joy.  We also have some black ash of which certain components are used for basket making.  It involves removing the bark and then peeling the inner bark into splints. Part of the process involves beating the log with a club.  I've tried this but have not found it enjoyable

watch repair
There is no real reason to wear a watch now that we all carry smart phones.  Of course when the street criminal asks you what time it is and you pull out your iPhone and he leaves with it you will wish you had a watch.  The past decade I've gone through a lot of watches, more than I ever did before.  

I'm doing more with my time, more physical things, more time outside, more time struggling with real tools and equipment.  Lost watches and broken watch bands seem a monthly thing.  Vowing to be more careful I bought another $35 watch.  It quit working after two months.  Others that have stopped have simply been discarded assuming that it was not worthwhile to have someone replace the battery.  

Looking at the back of the watch I thought of my paternal grandfather whose retirement job was clock repair and cleaning.  He'd sit in his basement under a small lamp and carefully do his craft.  At the time I was uninterested.  His tools were later sent to my cousin in Oregon.  Digging around in my desk I found a set of screwdrivers that I purchased in 1990 or so to take apart a 20MB disk drive; I have no idea why i wanted to do that.  Using the 1.4mm srewdriver I took off the back and removed the battery.  Amazon Prime provided a replacement for $2.50.  Hey...I'm a watch repairman.  Bring me your watches!

Am I done?
In a conversation with the far-distant (geographically) son we discussed my pseudo-interview.  His comment, paraphrased, was "well I thought you didn't want to do that any more anyway, that you wanted to do x,y & z."  I need to thank him for reminding me of that and I need to thank Suzann Bond for reminding me that most goals suck.  

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Good/Bad Dog Good/Bad Co-Worker Replacement


While I never intend to 'retire,' I am in a bit of a transition. Today I was reading "99 Retirement Tips" from a financial planning firm, Fisher Investments. Fisher is a fee-based financial planning firm.  Their services are high quality and their website contains considerable good, introductory advice.  In this particular brochure I was struck by the comment that "...pets can replace co-workers..." While it would have been handy and entertaining to have employees who could sit or rollover on command or enthusiastically retrieve a stick, the "99 Tips..." book would indicate that a dog should be able to twist the truth, leverage organizational politics to their advantage or on a more positive note put lunch on their corporate credit card, or at least that's what I read into it.  Further consideration of co-worker replacement follows.

Co-Worker Versus Dog Scoreboard
Command Co-Worker Points Dog Points
Pats on head Lawsuit 0 Loves it 1
Rub bellyCould go either way1Loves it1
Rest room Lots of time spent there 0 Always outside 1
"Come"Have to check Outlook0Always. "Do I get a treat?"1
Likes TreatsFree food is good1Loves it1
Hit w/ newspaperLawsuit likely & "Can I
read that when you're done?"
Quickly forgets
Leash & collarSome like it0Expected1
Happy to see youNot really0Always1
WeekendsAbsent0What's a weekend?1
Sick daysUses them0Rare.  Coughs up grass
"Sit"Expects reprimands or
0OK.  "Do I get a treat?"1
TravelLikes Vegas conventions0Only to dog park.1
"Fetch""I'm on my lunch break."0Yes. "Do I get a treat?"1
"Mud Events"Team building0Yes.  "What's a team?"1
Use nose to identify
Not usually.0Of course.  Cannot read
ID Badge.

Certainly one can find some humor in this but the reality is that the loss of co-workers is a big deal, especially those with whom you've build personal relationships or those that you simply enjoyed, and it's hard to keep those once you've left an organization.  Their framework is the organization.  While it might still be important to you it's in your past, all part of "I used too..."   You need to focus on building your future. This past week I had a great hour and a half conversation with the CEO of a local firm.  It was challenging, tested my knowledge of my own specialty area and of the broader construction, design and engineering industry.  It was the kind of conversation that I miss.

There is a danger in going back even if that is what you really liked to do.  My focus is increasingly on looking forward primarily in personal development and income-producing areas that are new...and a challenge.  Of course I can get a job or fees doing what I did before but if I pare off the surface points of that past engagement it's not really what I want going forward.  This post evolved into a personal statement because...I don't even have a dumb job.