One of the things that I enjoy doing is blogging while in a different country. I don’t know exactly why except that it’s a totally different feeling to be typing from across the globe. I’m awake at an ungodly hour and realizing that I’ll need to be awake and alert in a few hours. Yet, the jet lag struggle is still real. I’m currently on a short trip to Paris and it’s cool. Good people, good food, different culture. While I’ll never wait this long again before I go on a vacation, I must say that the wait and the countdown was all worth it. I think about the fact that that going out of the country is on the bucket lists of a lot of people but yet they never get the chance to go because of situations and various circumstances. I’m grateful that it’s my second time here and it’s a totally different experience. I’ve gotten the chance to ride the subway more and (redundant I know) eat a lot of French food. I have picked up a few more key French phases and connected with some old friends. It’s been good so far. However, I find myself taking less pictures than I did last year and enjoying the moments more without the need to capture it with a picture. Great feeling. I should never have made this trip only last one week. My one regret so far.
I ran across this article that was posted by one of my Facebook friends. You can read it here. To be completely fair, I think that it can be categorized as an opinion piece. To be clear, I do not agree with a lot of the author says but I think he has some valid points. I’m someone who tends to see things in black and white and although I know that life doesn’t always happen that way, I do appreciate the times when things are clear cut. That being said, I’ve read multiple discussions on social media where people have posted things as fact that really aren’t. The author uses several example of this and brings out the point that opinions can be wrong. The fact that it’s your opinion doesn’t negate the fact that you’re wrong. Of course we live in a world where tolerance (supposedly) is what many people report they are striving towards. No one wants to hear that they are wrong and no one wants to be the elected person to tell the individual that they are, in fact, very wrong. These confrontations about right vs. wrong are often relegated to social media because it’s less intimidating than challenging someone to their face and telling them that they are wrong. You can hide behind your computer screen and argue your opinion like a pro–with the help of google and additional sources. A perfect environment. Last thing. The author specifically mentions the opinion of many people who believe that vaccines don’t cause autism. it’s a huge debate these days with some serious implications. All I’ll say is that I’ve personally met parents who have kids who developed autism after getting vaccinated. But that’s just opinion–or so they say.
Not too long ago I saw a post from a friend that said that there is no such thing as having new friends of the opposite sex. If you haven’t been friends with them for at least two or three years then you’re just out of luck. The first thing I thought about after reading that post was that there may be some truth to that. Depending on the situation, most people of the opposite sex don’t meet people just to be friends. There are ulterior motives that include networking or additional “benefits” that motivate people. I’m not saying that no one meets new friends of the opposite sex but I doubt that is always the primary motivation. People meet other people for personal gain as adults. Things aren’t as simple as it is when you have friends as a kid. I’ve met a lot of people in the last few years. However, the process of making someone of the opposite sex a “true” platonic friend is much more complicated than it used to be. There’s always something that one person wants from the other and very rarely does this include “true friendship.” It’s just the way of the world. Friendship is often given as a consolation prize or a compromise because both people aren’t on the same page. The point of all this is to say that it’s rare as an adult to be absolutely 100% friends with someone of the opposite sex from the very moment you meet them without thinking of what they can do for you, who they know that they can connect you to, or if there’s a chance for some additional personal gain in some way.
I’m not exactly a fan of change. I’m not against it because I know that I don’t have a choice and that it will happen regardless of what I think or feel. However, it’s often not a comfortable or pleasant experience. There’s frequently quoted prayer about changing the things we can’t accept and accepting the things we can’t change. I’ve learned that there are some things that we can definitely change about ourselves. While we can’t always change our environments and move away, sometimes a change in mindset makes all the difference. About a six weeks ago I decided to change course a bit and pursue something that I had never tried before. Despite the fact that I don’t care for change, I usually like having new experiences when the trepidation wears off. Feeling like you don’t have any control is one of the quickest ways to start acting irrationally. I learned this quickly in my work with others. The more options available, the more people feel as if their words are important–even if they aren’t. This new endeavor is by far something that I’m not used to. However, I know without a doubt that I’ll regret it for a significant period time if I don’t push forward and go after it. I’ve never quite agreed with the “one size fits all” mentality and despite the initial discomfort associated with the unfamiliar, I know that it’s the right decision to make. The pros and cons have been weighed and ironically things have started to line up in a way I didn’t expect since deciding on this new course of action. In some circles people would call that confirmation. I have analyzed and overanalyzed and yet the same course of action still presents as the most logical direction to go. I’ve learned that there are some things I can’t change and some things that I can. And now it’s time to make one of those “change-able” changes.
Being a pedestrian can be a nerve wracking experience. While I drive a lot, I usually park a significant distance away from where I am supposed to be in case I want to avoid traffic and leave early. It’s a classic introvert move. Last summer when I traveled to France I walked everywhere. Well, with the exception of the occasional water taxi. I must say that the drivers in Europe operate on an unspoken set of rules I never understood. Instead I was thankful that I didn’t decide driving in a foreign country was something I had to do. I wanted hundreds of near accidents that involved cars, buses, and people walking. Cars just refused to yield to people walking so you had to move out the way or suffer the consequences. Needless to say, I was very alert and cautious when walking and crossing streets. I guess the fact that I was alone the entire time helped me to be more cautious. I recently moved and my apartment complex reminds me of a smaller version of French streets. People pull out without looking and race around searching for a parking spot and forget about the possibility that someone could be walking. My nerves have improved since France so it’s not a big deal to me anymore. It just means I have to be more aware of my surroundings. That’s always a good thing.
Last night I had the opportunity to listen to a presentation about diversity vs. inclusion that was by far the best one I’ve heard on the topic to date. The topic of diversity is something that has been played out. Yet, it’s a conversation that continues to happen because it’s still needed. Interestingly, the presenter brought out the fact that a discussion around inclusion can be much more fruitful than continuing to go down the path of diversity training. The thing about inclusion training is that it involves everyone. You aren’t expecting the one person of color in the room to speak on their race and there’s a reduction in the frustrated sighs of people who are subjected to yet another lecture in diversity. The funny thing is that when everyone feels included, diversity will happen naturally and not feel so forced. People will be more comfortable having open dialogue about topics that aren’t deemed politically correct. One thing that speaker brought attention to was Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you want to know more about it, google is just a few clicks away. To put it simply, we have to be aware of where people are on the hierarchy and learn to relate to them at that level. The speaker brought out the fact that when a group of people is worried about their basic needs (food, water, shelter, etc) an intellectual talk on an abstract topic will never interest them. It’s not relevant to their world at the moment and doesn’t fit into the current needs that they have. By the same token, if someone is higher up on the hierarchy then a discussion about basic needs or safety immediately feels like someone is talking down to them or isn’t on their level. A while ago, I did a post about being exclusive and while I think that there is an appropriate setting for that type of thing, the workplace isn’t it. Most people would agree that it’s a lot easier to get everyone on board with a particular plan or goal if you give everyone partial ownership of the plan. While this doesn’t mean that you delegate duties in a hundred directions, it means that you are deliberately inclusive and give everyone a part to play. People tend to feel happier about their job, themselves, and their projects when they feel that they are a valuable player in the equation.
I commented to a colleague of mine the other day that the work we do naturally makes us cynical. I’m not an expert in human behavior or personality but I’ve found that many of the clients I work with have ulterior motives. I think that’s something people don’t always want to acknowledge but it still continues to be true. There are certain times of the year where you see more people depressed because of relationships, then there’s the season of behavior problems with kids and adolescents. Somewhere in the year the presenting challenge changes to people experimenting with a new drug or hallucination with agitation. These cycles go on every year. While they aren’t always predictable, they still happen in a certain order. As I’ve said before in a previous blog, sometimes the key to not getting stuck in the dysfunction of others is to realize that you can only do so much. I can’t fix your spouse, I can’t change the fact that you’re being bullied, I can’t personally guarantee that you’ll never feel depressed again. I’ve come to the realization that life isn’t about fixing people. It’s about laying out their choices and attempting to create an environment where they feel empowered to make the right choices. And when all else fails, respecting the fact that they are ultimately the decision maker and only intervening when it’s absolutely necessary. The interesting thing is that it’s often my job to intervene. Taking away someone’s rights to make their own decisions isn’t something that’s enjoyable but it’s required. Life would be so much better for a lot of people if they took the time to think before making decisions that lead to actions when they are extremely sad, angry, or tired. But that won’t change anytime soon and as my colleagues say, I guess it’s the ultimate job security.