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Monthly Archives: November 2008

While I was at my children’s Thanksgiving feast today, I was making small talk with their teacher.  I have not had many opportunities to speak with her one on one, so I took the opportunity today and I got a sneak peak into why she teaches the way she does.  She said something that I have heard many times, but she had a slightly different take on it.  She was talking about picking battles and winning wars, and she said that many teaches pick their battles, however she does not.  In her mind, she wins every battle, plain and simple.

I simply thought that there were some things that were worth sacrificing in order to win the over all war.  To me, that was just how the game was played.  I guess there are those that want to win at all costs, no matter what the consequences are.  By not picking your battles and going at each one as a must win, sometimes you are giving up far more than you stand to gain.  By allowing your opponent to get a win every once in awhile, it keeps the war waging, and sets you up for more wins down the road.

In terms of parenting, sometimes it is worth letting your child get a win here and there, it makes them happy, it gives them a sense of individuality, it gives them some pride.  In the end, the battle that you let them win is most likely insignificant, but you win the war.  The war of raising a well balanced, happy child.  In terms of business, sometimes we need to give up a little (loose a battle) in order to get what we really want (the war).  In the end you have reached your goal, you have gotten what it is you desired, you won the war.  By picking your battles, you win your war.  And in the end, it is all about you anyways isn’t it? 🙂

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Or friend, or connect?  Whatever the term is for the social network or social application or social utility you are on, why do you do it?

Given the nature of the line of work I am in (web company, socially related) I have a presence on the “major” social sites, and the reasons vary as to why and how I use each.  I must say that with all of them, the reason I started out using them is slightly different from how I use them now.  In the beginning, I was using them as a means of research and to keep up with what my co-workers and other industry types were doing and saying.  However (at least for two of them) more and more people I know outside of the industry started setting up shop on these social sites, and I began to get more and more requests from them.

I tried to follow a rule of thumb that I would not friend, connect or follow anyone that I did not know personally or have at  least had personal contact with (worked with, but never physically met; spoken on the phone before; etc).  Of course that was a rule of thumb, and there have been exceptions, but I have tried to stick with it for the most part.  To me, especially in the friending or connecting situations, by me accepting that invite it is as if I am partly vouching for that person.  I would not vouch for someone that I do not know at all, would you?

What blows my mind are the people that have maxed out thier friend list on say Facebook (I beleive the max is 5000, can you really “know” that many people), or follow 40k + people on Twitter (yes, believe me, they are out there).  So why do they do it?  Is it ego, are they trying to build a cult following, perhaps establishing their personal brand?  I guess what it comes down to is what is your purpose behind using these social utilities?  For me, I use them to keep up with those that I know, for others it is a whole nother game that I guess I am just not playing 😉

“I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And listen to the ripples as they moan
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own”

These words were made popular by the Grateful Dead as part of Black Muddy River off of the Touch of Grey album.  When I was a senior in high school, I felt such a draw to the song, that I thought it would be okay to borrow a few lines from the song to include in a poem I was writing for English class.  I was having writer’s block, could not come up with the rest of the poem I was working on, so I worked these lyrics into the poem.  I figured no one would notice, especially my teacher.  For one, she was not a Dead Head, nor was the song really that popular.  After all, it was part of an assignment I needed to finish and turn in, and I would soon forget about it and move on.  I turned in the poem without giving much thought to the fact that I had “lifted” some lines from someone else’s work and claimed it as my own.

Fast forward a few months and it was getting close to graduation time.  Every year, the English department published a collection of writings from the students for that year, and lo and behold they chose a couple of poems I had written.  I was honored, I never thought of myself as a writer, but obviously someone liked what I had done and it was being included in the collection.  I did not really pay too much attention to which ones of my poems were being included, and wouldn’t you know that one of them was the one in which I borrowed those lyrics.

It was a week before graduation, the day before the collection was to be published.  I got a note that my English teacher wanted to see me.  Uh oh, I knew this could not be good.  Upon final proofing of the collection, someone noticed that those lines in my peom were not original.  I had been found out, and my English teacher was not pleased.  At first, she threatened to keep me from graduating, I had caused a very big wrinkle in the publishing of this collection.  After she calmed down, she had settled on what my punishment would be.  I had to pay to have the poem removed from the publication and for it to be reprinted.  On top of that, I had to unbind and rebind all of the publications.  I learned a very valuable lesson that day, it never pays to fake it and claim someone else’s work as your own, people will eventually see right through you.

The moral of this story is:  be yourself, be original.  When you fake it and claim someone else’s work as your own, you will eventually be found out and loose any crediability that you had.

Inspiration, it is one of those funny things that can sneak up on you without you knowing or even looking for it.  It can take many shapes, it can be both good and bad, but it purpose is the same – to cause you to do something different, something potentially much better, maybe even something inspirational to someone else.

Throughout my life, I have been inspired by many things, from a book I have read, a speech I had heard, from an action of a friend or a loved one.  I have also been inspired by some things that would at first glance seem like they would not be inspirational at all.  An erratic driver, and obnoxious sports fan, a drunken and belligerent patron at a bar.  See, even in those acts, I found inspiration.  Inspiration to be a better driver because I do not want to be “that driver”.  Inspiration to not be a poor sport, inspiration to not be “that guy”.  I guess the higher purpose of these negative acts was to inspire me to be a better person.

Inspiration does not have to be some profound thing, in fact it can be found in everyday things.  If you are looking for it, you can find it.  It is up to you to decide what to do with it.  Take your blinders off and embrace it and make a change, or go about your business and continue to not see the forest for the trees.  The choice is yours.  For me, I try my best to cut through the noise and recognize inspiration when it hits me.  Do I always take it and make a change for the better, no, but that will not keep me from trying.