Thursday, April 30, 2009

Strange Twist

So after acting like I don't exist for a few weeks, my employer has thrown a strange twist at me. They want me to fly out to Idaho to do some training. But before I get into that, there is a reason this is so odd.

On Monday I went for a run so I could think about my future and what I want now that I know I'm not going to Austin. I ran through some scenarios in my head and there was only one that really felt like it resonated. I need to quit my job.

After a little more thought, I realized that it all lines up just right. I can quit on May 29th, which is the two year anniversary of when I started working here. That gives me a month to make arrangements and make sure I'm not jumping into a big pile of nothing or some fleeting hopes and dreams of magic success.

My idea is to switch to doing consulting work on a case by case basis. That way instead of having my employer be my only customer, I can start to diversify and build a bigger base of skills and contacts. If I build my income back up to the current level in that model, there is still a growing potential for more income sources and areas to test out. Also, there is more risk but more control since the more time and effort I put into it, the more I should get back out.

Following this line of thought, I'd have to give my two week notice on May 15. Interestingly enough, now they want me to fly out on May 19-21.

So I'm a little torn. At this point this is all still a work in progress. Most of the advice I've gotten since I came up with the idea has been to not jump into something unless I have a plan. I have two weeks to put something together, so I'm going to see what I can do. The Toastmasters conference is this weekend so I figure that and Craig's List will be my best bets for starting to build up a network of clients.

So, here goes nothing.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Plan B

I've spent the last 3 months working on an application to a business school in Austin, Texas. As I've mentioned in the past, my goal is start my own business, and I've attempted this several times now. This school is built around accelerating students through the learning curve so that they have all the tools they need to do just that. Unfortunately, I was rejected.

So the question is, now what?

Before I answer that, what really bothers me about this is something that happened that made me apply to the school. I was reading their website after hearing about it from my brother and I got this feeling. It was more than a gut feeling, it felt like it came right from my bones. Like everything that makes me who I am was pulling me toward this school. It just felt so absolutely right. So to get that feeling, put all the work in to apply to the school and then get rejected is soul crushing.

So now what? Now I figure out what Plan B is and do that. The nice thing about this process is that it has helped me identify the areas in my life that must change and the strong areas that I don't want to change. So I have to start cutting out the bad and building on the good. Even though I won't be doing what I so desperately wanted to, at least I know what needs to be done. I think it's false to pretend like rejection is really something good, I mostly think people are just lying to themselves when they say that. I am going to try and get at least something from it to help soften the impact of the blow.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I've built a cage around myself. From the outside it looks like a comfortable place, nice place to live, quiet workplace, weekly routine of things to do. Still a cage.

There is this idea that I and I'm sure many others subscribe to in our everyday lives. You commit to a routine, convincing yourself that you're progressing. Each day earns some more money and you're building to this day when you can finally be free. You can turn in your 9-5 for that peaceful, happy retirement that you've earned through sacrifice of all the best years of your life. There are just enough small victories along the way to keep a person appeased into continuing to live quietly.

I feel it's all an illusion. The society we've built up around ourselves along with the ideas that keep it going are really just a house of cards keeping the truth out. There are many people on the other side, shouting to us to come outside, but its so hard. Once you get into the routine, you've set a standard. How can you not work to keep it? Why would you want to lose now for the hope of an uncertain future regardless of the potential benefits?

Why? Because it's the truth. Outside of our cages is the lifestyle people were suppose to live. Maybe it doesn't include as much modern luxury but it does include what we desire at our core. Meaning.

We all desire to matter. To be something great. To make a difference.

I know for myself that I am not making that difference in my cage. I'm the hamster running on the wheel. I desire to do something that matters but that is not what is asked of me in the cage. Just keep spinning, don't disrupt the flow. That is what is asked of me.

But there is no reprieve. All that exists is wrestling with the fear that keeps you where you are until, hopefully, one day you break through. I just hope I have what it takes to make it to that point.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I think I'm starting to get a better understanding of how people see me. This is mainly because of the people who are doing to me what I must do to other people.

Let me take a second to explain. When people send me emails, I respond usually within the hour if not immediately. When people call me, even if they don't leave a message, I call them back, usually right when I see the missed call.

Recently I've met some people who respond constantly with no delay to any message they are sent. It's nice at first, but then after a while you start running out of stuff to say back. They're all about results, results, results. I don't have any results for some of the stuff I'm working on. It's because I'm afraid and don't put the effort into it that I should. I know this, I hate this, but it's extremely hard to force yourself to act on something, even when you don't have anything else to do.

So clearly I do this same thing to other people. They're doing what they want and moving at their own pace and enjoying it and I keep making demands of them to do more or do what I think they should. That must be really annoying.

Knowing this, I'm not sure what is a good solution. Most people seem to be able to generate stuff to do when they are bored. Maybe my lack of focus on detail is what saves me time but then kills me later because of the lack of recall. Also, my jumping from thing to thing leads to a large amount of projects left uncompleted or pending. I never seem to make the time to accomplish big things.

Ironically enough, the big things that I have accomplished and taken the time to do right are the ones I usually end up happy about. An example is my car. I took a long time searching around to determine all the criteria that mattered to me. Then I tried out a lot of cars and finally had put together all the info I needed to make a decision. To this day I'm extremely happy with and excited about my car.

I think the reason I have a problem at work is because of my location. Being in the middle of an open cubicle room, I feel like people can always see what I'm doing. This makes me think I have to always have the appearance that I'm working or busy, even when I'm not. Even when I am working, I feel like any distraction pulls my focus away even when wearing headphones. So I have a situation where I'm setting myself up for failure.

Having these thoughts is always a dual edged sword. It's like now you know what the problem is, but most of the time the solution seems out of my control. So you end up just stewing in the problem.


I belong to Toastmasters and am working my way through the original manual to get the ten speeches finished in order to get my Competent Communicator award. Last night I gave my ninth speech. Normally, I'd post the speech here but I did a presentation with slides, so it wouldn't make a lot of sense without all the elements.

I learned something interesting in giving the speech. For each speech I've spent a lot of time crafting an informative and interesting mixture of content. I figured this approach would keep the audience's attention while giving them valuable advice they can start to apply. I've found that the reaction is never what I would expect.

Here is an example. Last night I started my speech by saying "You're fired!". The idea was to grab attention because people are worried because there is constant talk about how bad the economy is right now. I then talked about steps that people can take to remove that fear by diversifying their income sources.

At the end, the feedback I got was pretty standard. "Great speech". "Very informative". The one that stood out was that I could have said "You're fired" like Trump does in his Celebrity Apprentice show.

So what I've learned from this is that people really don't care about the content of your speech. You could give them the advice of jumping off a bridge or hiding their money under the mattress. It's all about entertainment. Relatable entertainment. Which means pop culture references, word play, unexpected shifts and anything for a laugh.

I'm not sure why this is. I have a feeling that when you present something that seems academic in nature, you're challenging people to think. After a long day at work most people are tired of thinking. They want to shut down and be entertained. This is why athletes, musicians and entertainers get paid so much money.

I have a feeling this is part of the reason my blog is not popular. I could post random photoshoped images and probably get orders of magnitude more hits than I do currently.

So the question is what to do with this knowledge. I write this blog mainly for myself to help organize my thoughts and capture knowledge gained, so I don't anticipate changing that any time soon. I also write these speeches because I have a message I want to get out. I will have to change my approach in that area though, because people don't care about your message if you don't wrap it right. Maybe I'll write the tenth speech the way I normally would, and then from there forward I'll just play to the crowd as much as possible.

I'm still left a little unsettled by this. I don't want to judge, people work hard and deserve to live their lives the way they want to. I seem to have a personal obsession with growth and progress, and it usually makes me unhappy because I'm always pushing to do more. So if others have found a way to be happy and that's what it takes, then I wish them the best. This life is short with fleeting rewards for hard effort. Finding any kind of happiness and holding onto it as long as possible is sometimes all we really have. I'm not ready to give up my quest and abandon my ways, but at least now I hope I can go forward with a clearer understanding.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Personality Theory

I've posted some before about Personality Theory. I even went through my period of denial about being an ENFP and claiming that I'm an INFP. Recently I invested more time into learning about some additional complexities that I hadn't though of before, which is how I determined my real type. I'll share the additional layers and how they work.

The first layer of the theory are the 16 different types themselves. They revolve around the four main categories that govern how an individual operates, mainly the I/E, N/S, F/T and J/P distinction. Rather than discussing each type, you can take the test or read about the different possibilities here.

The second layer is the interaction between the types. The same site I just mentioned includes a handy chart for determining the interaction between the types and how they work here. I was able to determine my type by taking various relationships I have and figuring out which relationships between myself and the other individuals fit correctly in the chart. Once I had solidified my type, I made a key insight.

Usually when you try to determine someone else's personality, you think of specific examples or general behavioral trends the person follows and map it to the right type. The problem with this is that there is a large bias based on the side of the person that you see. So you may be really introverted and then think someone else is just because you only see and interact with them in environments that accent those qualities in the targeted individual. Either that or your like/dislike of that person could influence you to project qualities onto them. So the only way to remove the bias is to look at the patterns of your relationship. Then you can map the actual pattern of your relationship back to the chart to determine what type they must be.

The third layer is the type of relationship you have with the person. The interaction may be a negative one, but if the person holds the right role in your life relative to you, then it could be just right for what you would want. An example would be a Mother having a supervision relationship with a child or a significant other being your duality type. I believe that when we line up the right interaction in the right role is where the idea of 'soul mate' relationships comes from. It's not that there is some uniqueness to the person that you were destined for each other, it's that you matched up all the components just right.

Clearly it is no simple task to engineer your whole social sphere. The nice thing about this knowledge is that you can spot problems early or open yourself up to possibilities that you would not have recognized otherwise. Maybe you know someone who is your duality type, but because you didn't hit off a great relationship right away you never invested the time to develop it further. You could be missing out on something truly exceptional, but with this knowledge you'll know it's worth putting in the extra effort for the potential of a rewarding long term relationship.

This is as deep as I have taken this at this point. There are a lot of other variables like background, interests, education, intelligence, environment, etc which play a role in the development of relationships. Those effects, like the effects of personality interactions, play a lesser role to the individuals desire to make a relationship work. Having the information provides a tool though for collecting information and using it to make more accurate decisions.