Archive for September, 2014

SWEAT Pledge Part 6

Posted: September 29, 2014 in Personal-Development
Heading down the home stretch.  To me these two are related in that they deal with giving credit where credit is due and looking inward when there are outward forces beyond my control.
10. I believe that I am a product of my choices – not my circumstances. I will never blame anyone for my shortcomings or the challenges I face. And I will never accept the credit for something I didn’t do.
I think this one is obvious when I think about it, but at the same time difficult in that it is less work to blame a situation on fate or someone else’s behavior.  That blame allows me to not look into my own reasons for doing the right thing.  Sometimes I am tired and it is easier and sometimes I just do not want to hear the answer.  I get that not every single action during the day requires introspection but even those do add up over time and it is important to reflect on those periodically.  A quick example would be fitness.  For myself, I am well out of shape and while I could blame a desk job and family responsibilities, if I look deeper I can see that even though that is true on the surface there are choices I make every day that reflect my attitude toward it.  Doing the work to get fit is not really that fun and I do have 30 minutes a day where I could be active.  I just watch that next show, YouTube video, see that it is raining, or I do not have enough money for a tennis club membership.  These really should not be enough to stop me but it is easy to allow them to stop me.  It still boils down to my choice.  Other people get fit in the same or worse circumstances so it is worth looking at my own thought process.
11. I understand the world is not fair, and I’m OK with that. I do not resent the success of others.
I think for me what comes to mind is what my parents would say to me and that is you cannot control what others do, you can only control your response to it.  What I take from that is that there will always be someone smarter, faster, richer, better looking, etc than you so you have to understand yourself and how you will tackle whatever you do.  If you are looking outward for excuses or motivation for what you can and cannot do, you will spend your time resenting what others are doing.  I know this is not easy because that is how people generally gauge how they are doing and then compare themselves to that measurement.  While some of that is fine, if you use that as the only measurement you will end up jealous and not look at how you can work to achieve those same things.

SWEAT Pledge Part 5

Posted: September 23, 2014 in Personal-Development

More than halfway through!

8. I believe the most annoying sounds in the world are whining and complaining. I will never make them. If I am unhappy in my work, I will either find a new job, or find a way to be happy.

This is a fantastic sentiment. I know I find myself getting into this. I have to remind myself I do have control. I am not forced to work for a specific company and if I am unhappy I can work to make the change. Is something like that easy? Of course not, but the point is that rather than complaining about it, I should be figuring out what I want and how to get it done. Which kind of leads to the next one.

9. I believe that my education is my responsibility, and absolutely critical to my success. I am resolved to learn as much as I can from whatever source is available to me. I will never stop learning, and understand that library cards are free.

This is probably the one that rings most true for me. With few exceptions in my life, there is not much I did not think I could learn. It boiled down to a desire to learn that specific thing. That is not a knock on whatever that was, but there is only so much time to learn stuff and at some point you have to pare it down. For me it started before I was 10 with my bike. I learned how to deal with a brutal crank system (who uses a two-piece crank with a small bolt?) and as I turned 10 I was tearing it and the other neighborhood kid’s bike to the frame. I wanted to know how it worked. From there it was helping my dad finish our basement. That meant framing, sheetrock, and finishing work. After that it was the next logical step from bikes, cars. I helped my dad tear down a 75 Celica to rebuild the engine (head gasket) and then onto my own vehicle (75 Chevy Luv). That included taking the engine out multiple times. After that came computers, then programming, and on and on. In each of those it involved reading, asking questions, and hands on experimentation. Youtube today makes that a bit easier in the research part, but I find myself doing the same thing today with music (home recording), woodworking, and even a small amount of metal working. None of that was done in official “school”, except for some of the computer stuff.  The programming was almost exclusively my own time at least until I got a job doing it. To me learning is not just the fact of learning new skills, but I feel it keeps my mind sharp and it provides an opportunity for something new.

SWEAT Pledge Part 4

Posted: September 21, 2014 in Personal-Development

This is another post in my continuing my jaunt through the SWEAT pledge from Mike Rowe.

6. I believe that my safety is my responsibility. I understand that being in “compliance” does not necessarily mean I’m out of danger.

I like this one in many ways. Mike Rowe was coming from a work safety take and that definitely is important, but I feel this really can go much further. Some examples are personal safety away from the job, making sure you have emergency food and water (earthquakes here in Washington), and doing routine maintenance on vehicles and systems in the home. I am not there yet but it is something I have been going through myself because it is important to be prepared even if I am afraid I’ll seem to be paranoid. I could see this related to financial preparedness as well. Stuff happens and it isn’t anybody’s responsibility but mine. Like the right insurance and savings against the unexpected. Again I am not perfect but it has been the last year or so that I have been thinking about this with my wife.

7. I believe the best way to distinguish myself at work is to show up early, stay late, and cheerfully volunteer for every crappy task there is.

This is another one where I mostly agree. In the mindset I absolutely agree. In practice you have to be careful. Be happy as you volunteer, it sets you apart. But make sure you have a goal in mind otherwise you may burn out for no real gain. Should I be taking the “what’s in it for me” mindset? Ultimately you do but you should be thinking win/win. If you are doing crap jobs that just get you more crap jobs then you have to think hard about that. Can doing the jobs nobody else wants be a breakthrough? Of course. But working, being strung along in a dead-end job while being promised a raise and never getting it will not help you achieve your goals. Work hard but have a goal in mind to measure against.

Continuing the saga with numbers 4 and 5.

4. I do not “follow my passion.” I bring it with me. I believe that any job can be done with passion and enthusiasm.

I’ve been thinking about this one and it is another one where I agree with the overall sentiment, but have a small issue with the phrase.  Maybe I have been brainwashed too much over the years but I think you should still work to understand yourself and move toward what you want to do.
Of course not everything you do will be your ultimate goal, maybe not even most of it.  So in that sense I wholeheartedly agree that even if it is not what you were looking for or if you are looking toward the future, give it your all.  You never know who is watching and more than that you set up the habit, and it is a habit, of bringing your effort to the job.  Does it guarantee “rags to riches” of course not but you will be happier in the long run and learn what it takes to work hard so when your chance comes you can grab it.  Brings to mind a phrase my sixth grade teacher always said; luck is preparedness meeting opportunity.  To me this another way of expressing that.

5. I deplore debt, and do all I can to avoid it. I would rather live in a tent and eat beans than borrow money to pay for a lifestyle I can’t afford.

Yep, I have to admit that even though I knew I should not use consumer debt for “stuff”, I still did.  There are various reasons and justifications but in the end I did.  It is bad because it ends up preventing you from doing what you want since eventually the bill comes due.  Then I am working to pay someone else for things that long ago ceased to be useful.  At this point I would even make the argument that education could be put in that category.  It needs careful consideration and I would be taking a really hard look at the jobs you can get after getting your desired degree.  It is just so hard to start your life so far in the hole.  Just like consumer debt, I am not working for me.  I am working for a corporate entity that cares nothing for me and will wring every last penny it can.  All of that distracts me from achieving my own goals.