Posts Tagged life

Universal truths and connecting the dots

Posted by on Friday, 24 February, 2012

Universal Truths, by definition are, well, universal… so it shouldn’t surprise me to have realized the connection one truth can provide to many seemingly disparate venues.

Earlier today I posted to Facebook and Google+ a link to an article by Professor Richard Beck outlining a particular break between Christian thought and behaviour. Beck had identified a thread of behaviour in Christian culture, which I am sure we’ve all seen as well: specifically the touting of Christian concepts while behaving in ways which don’t exemplify those same beliefs, and sometimes in ways which would appear to be even counter to them. At times, he challenged students, and those of us reading his article, with rather provocative words… which is, in all honesty, what got my attention and then held it. Go ahead, take a few minutes and give his article a read, I think you’ll find it worthwhile.

What struck me nearly immediately when reading Beck’s insights, wasn’t how Christians are saying one thing but doing another, but rather how closely the concepts he laid out mimicked ideas I’ve been very close to in the past few years. In particular, IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines. Sure, laugh it up, but hear me out on this…

The overarching theme in both IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines and Beck’s article is simple: “Don’t be a jerk”. Sure, there’s other various refinements and distinctions in the specifics, but really, they both distill down to the same thing. In my particular case, I am always amazed at how truly brilliant my company’s guidelines really are and often use the key components far beyond just my work life. In fact a few of these guidelines from IBM can easily and directly translate to what Beck is speaking of as well:

.

  • Respect your audience. If this isn’t obvious, well I don’t know what is. Can you imagine how this simple act would nearly wholly negate Beck’s article if we all abide by this guideline? Just imagine how many more ‘decent human beings’ would be part of this world!

 

  • Be aware of your association. In IBM, we are reminded to be aware of how our actions and words can (and do) reflect on the company, that our social presences should reflect how we’d present ourselves to clients and colleagues. Likewise, in Beck’s examples, the Christians he has encountered could seemingly stand a reminder of this guideline as it seems their actions and words have reflected poorly upon the larger faith.

 

  • Don’t pick fights. Another of the obvious tenets, but it goes on to also admonish us to be the first to correct our own mistakes. Not an easy task, but again, one which we could all benefit from regardless of our faith.

 

  • Try to add value. This one may not be immediately obvious, but it does hold true for all of us as well; don’t add to the noise if you can’t provide worthwhile information and perspective. Imagine the shift we could see if Beck’s “Sunday morning lunch crowd” took this guideline to heart as well? Would he have such words as ‘entitled’, ‘dismissive’, or ‘haughty’ to define them, or would Beck be able to begin using phrases like ‘insightful’, ‘respectful’, and ‘engaging’ to define the same group?

.

And so it came to me as I was reading Beck’s article: there are indeed universal truths which we all know deep down, but often gloss over and/or simply forget at times. Universal truths, which by obvious definition span religions, cultures, and even corporations. Truths as simply profound, and simply encapsulated by, single phrases… of those, I’d say “Don’t be a jerk” may be the greatest singular universal truth demanded by all of humanity, but far too often forgotten by the same who preach it.

So, a call to action and a challenge: Take time this weekend and read IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines, then re-read Beck’s article and reflect on how you (we) can implement some small change in our daily lives to ensure, in time, beck’s article is proven outdated and no longer relevant. Perhaps we can start by asking ourselves “does this add value?” when we go to post something online, or “am I respecting my audience” when we’re out to each for Sunday lunch…

At the very least I’ll bet you’ll like yourself a little more… I’m sure I will ūüėČ

Negativity…

Posted by on Wednesday, 4 January, 2012

Admittedly, this is an odd topic for me to be posting about.

This isn’t about overt negativity (though that is a problem as well, just not one I wish to tackle here and now), rather, this is about the passive, subtle, invasive, and far more difficult to accurately identify negativity. Negativity which manifests itself in such common ways as to be virtually unnoticed let alone identified as negative.

I’ve been working on the concept for this post in my head over the past three months now. But today it came to me from such a different perspective, that I’ve had to stop and re-evaluate how I put this out there. So let me be clear here: everything in this post stems from bits I don’t like about myself, things I see as a reflection of me elsewhere in the world both on-line and off.

I’ve noticed in the past 37+ years of my life, what I will call a personality trait geared towards negativity. Some may call it pessimism, and at times it is (lord knows no one has ever mistaken me for an optimist). At other times, I’d go as far as to call it a sense of entitlement or selfishness. But, most often, it is just a subtlety of verbiage which casts a grey pall upon the mundane; a way of simply missing the positive in a situation and instead focusing on a down-side, problem, or general dislike.

With the abundance of over-sharing on the social web, this negativity is highlighted and brought into greater focus. Complaints, or simply negatively tinged updates run rampant and, by my guesstimation, likely make up as much as 65% of all posts on social sites. Obviously I am shooting from the hip here, with no real data to back this up, just observation over the past few years, but regardless of actual numbers the sentiment stands: there is constant negativity around us all. And it is getting worse. (See what I did there?)

Something as simple as lamenting what that doughnut your boss brought in for the team at work is going to do to your diet seems innocuous enough as single status update. But, when combined with all the other updates coming across your wall/feed/dash, and in such numbers from the same people, you can’t help but be affected by it all… sooner or later that negativity will get to you, even when (or perhaps especially if) you are one of the worst offenders of it all.

Because I am as much of a perpetrator of this problem as I also observe it, I’d like to challenge you to take a moment with me and look at our own posts/status/updates over the past week and try to see them from a different perspective: are those posts tinged with a negative slant? Are the positive ones actually born of a negative perspective? Is there a way to shift the complaint to a win? Join me and let’s work to shift our perspective to the positive and see what happens!

I figure if I try and change the small stuff, the Tweets/ Facebook statuses/ G+ updates/ Blog posts, those things which I have editorial review over before clicking the share or publish button, perhaps it will become habit and bleed into other areas in my life. Perhaps, just perhaps, a slight adjustment here or there will have more dramatic ripple effects and the people around me will soon find me to be more pleasant to interact with and not as negative a person as I’ve been for the past few decades.

I’ll tell you, tough as it is for me, I feel better already.

 

 

This is not a resolution…

Posted by on Friday, 30 December, 2011

… but…

I WILL be back to blogging once per week in 2012. The latter three months in 2011 became a bit hectic for me which resulted in an emotional depletion of energy, which in turn meant I had no energy left to write. This became overly evident to me in my vain failed attempt to do NaNoWriMo this year. I’d thought that forcing myself to write would jump start me back into the habit, but alas, it just proved too much this time round and I ran out of gas by day 15 without hopes of completion, nor inspiration to continue.

Odd, though, since I HAVE been inspired to blog and write… the muse has been working in my head, just the time and energy seem to have found other venues. Wouldn’t it be nice for the muse to bring her own energy reserves along for the ride, so that when inspiration hits you also have the energy to put the words to paper? Ah, to be so lucky.

That all said, my 2011 goal was to blog once per week, and in general I almost accomplished that… here… If you add in the 3 Drunken Celts blog, and my work blog (in which I posted on average about 3.75 times per week), then I think I actually blew my goal out of the water. But I can’t, in good conscience, claim my work blog as part of the goal since the spirit of it was to blog personally and flex a more creative muscle than I am able to at work. So, I’m maintaining that goal for 2012 as well: one personal blog of some substance, per week, all year, no exceptions, no excuses. If 2012 shapes out to be as interesting as it seems from my present viewpoint, I shouldn’t be worrying about a lack of topics to discuss or experiences to relay.

I am hoping that with some added focus I can make this coming year the year of “Very BIG THINGS” for me, see some of my efforts start to pay off, and possibly become one of those few critical pivotal years in my life…. we shall see.

I’ll leave you with this: one of my recent photographs taken from within my home office on a rather chilly day, the ice had built up a bit overnight on the roof below my window, and then the sun peaked out… perhaps this will also be the year in which I take my photography to a new level as well…

A study in texture:

Click to enlarge