New Year’s Resolution (Part 1)

For me, resolution at New Years has more to do with optics — how well I see the world — rather than making commitments. Though my physical vision deteriorates with age, I believe that I “see” better with each passing year.

There are two aspects to my improved sight. First, my abilities to see empathetically occur more frequently. I can even occasionally see through my son’s or wife’s eyes. At work I try to see things through the eyes of the young associates I work with and help to develop. However, at work I find it much more difficult to empathize with the perspectives of my peers and leaders of the firm. Most of them have worked their entire careers there and are challenged to see the need to embrace change.

I am also working on my context sight, understanding the situations and the emotional state of others. Context also improves sight. When I see things only through my context and my feelings I am myopic to the feelings of others.

Reading about all the horrors and hatred in the world from the Middle East to Africa to my home town makes me wish for greater resolution for all in this new year.

I resolve to see the other person’s point of view in 2007.

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I Love When People and Software Do What They Are Supposed to Do

Too often people and/or things don’t work. Let’s start with people. Two weeks a go I had a plumber come over, fix nothing and charge me $125 for a service call. With hardware and software, given my relative ignorance I often spend hours trying to make things act as they should or with incompetent help desk folk.

Today things generally went well. A garage door spring sprang Saturday night and it took 2 hour for me to get the door manually open so that we could remove my wife’s car from the garage.  Called the repair guy Sunday Christmas eve day. Since this was not an emergency made an appointment for Tuesday morning. We have used the same one man shop for 12 years. He lives in a distant suburb and have contemplated finding someone closer. NEVER. This man shows up when he says he will, fixes what is broke, does it quickly and is always reasonable. He has talked me out of spending alot when he felt we could do as well for less. Once again he came, fixed, presented a reasonable bill and drove off into the day.

I then spent part of the day setting up Outlook to handle our email so that my wife could have her new Palm Pilot totally integrated. This was not the 1-2-3 process as I thought it would be but with liberal use of the help functions of both Outlook and our email provider I got it to work in less than a gazillion hours. This is all I ask of computer/software. That the help functions provide enough info to allow me to figure things out. Today I am smiling.

Go Blackhawks!

Went to an exciting hockey game tonight. The team from Chi town beat the Dallas Stars 2-1. The Stars are one of the best teams in the league. The Blackhawks seem to be coming around under new coach Denis Savard. The game was exciting throughout. Thanks to team President Peter Wirtz for some fantastic tickets.

I can’t wait to do this again.

Bad Start to My Week of Holiday Cheer

First day off we finished the last of our holiday shopping. I then succumbed to a 2 hour nap even though I slept a full 8 that night. I have two strong reactions to naps. One side of my brain thinks they are a waste of time. I should be tough and get done one of the thousands of things that always need doing.

The other – and clearly more intelligent – part  find naps sublime! Giving it to the feelings of the moment, getting that deep REM sleep. What could be wrong.

No, haven’t hit the reason for the title yet. Came home from a family party at 10:30 last night to find our garage door not working. This seems to happen 1 -2 times a year though it was replaced not that long ago. One of the giant springs snapped and was lodged tightly in a corner. Two hours later I had the spring out had dropped a screw and was not much closer to getting the door open manually as I was when I started.

Round two this morning. I am not sure if this qualifies under my “small things are small” philosophy. Another hour with no results and I feel that this will become BIG.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Me

I was tagged by my buddy Frank to come up with five things. His are wild. Even if you do not know him they are worth checking out. Mine are:

  1. I hit my kid. From the ages of 4-9 my son would frequently come up to groups of adults that I was talking to and  proclaim ” My father hits me”.  The first few times I was as mortified as the people standing around me often were new acquaintances. Then I developed a routine. “How many times did I hit you, D?” “Once”  he would reply. “And how old were you”.  “Three”. “And have I hit you since”. “No” he would say matter of factly. “Thanks, now go play with the other kids.” I would then talk of how a month or so before his fourth birthday we were having a tough father/son day. He was not doing whatever it was that I had asked him to which led to me chasing him around the house. When he got in his bedroom, he went kind of ostrich on me with his head on the floor, hands over his head and this butt sticking up to the sky.  While we had a no spanking rule, I lost it for a moment. Smack!  He was more stunned than hurt. I felt worse than he did. A story was born that day.
  2. Singing messages. Back in the days of being single and when answering machines were relatively new, I sang. I made up greetings using tunes of Elvis, Buddy Holiday, the Beatles and others. Mostly Rock and Roll, some R&B. You had to really want to leave me a message because these little ditties could last over a minute in the early days when the machines used tape not chips for the greetings. I remember how disappointed I was when my new machine used a chip and limited greetings to 30 seconds. I learned to sing fast. Wish I had kept them.
  3. The year of bedtimes stories. Before my son went teenager on me I was the one with the privilege of tucking him in at night. It was a very special time for me and I hope for him. Early on we would just talk or I would read to him. It would help him relax and fall asleep. Sometime around age 8 or 9 I started telling original stories. This lasted every night for over a year. Several series were developed. First the boy and his magic llama. The lama could talk and would transport them through both space and time. There were the two German shepherds. Dog brothers owned by human brothers with their separate families. The two families would go on trips together. Nine kids total ranging from a few years to upper teens. Needless to say, the dogs often did heroic things. Knights of the round table and the three friends (a few years older than my son)  were two more favorites. The hang gliding family only lasted a few episodes.
  4. Fear of falling off mountains. I do not really have a fear of heights, I have a fear of falling off really tall things. If there is a safety rail or an enclosed observation area, looking down is np. On the other hand, if there is nothing to stop my rapid decent into the abyss I am terrified. Considering that my family, including me, loves to hike in the mountains this can cause the occasional problem when the path narrows beyond my comfort zone. I have been known to move an inch at a time, hugging the side of the mountain as my wife and son skip merrily ahead. I can not even drive on some mountain roads. Every once in a while, I try to force the issue. On a hike at Lake Louise we came to a path that narrowly wound upward for 100 yards. Once past this section there was a beautiful view of mountains and valleys. My desire to snap the perfect picture momentarily overcame all else.  I made it maybe 20 feet when I panicked and faster than I have ever moved I made a 90 degree turn to the right finding myself on a slope consisting of loose rocks the size of softballs. Getting back down was both challenging and embarrassing as I had to respond to dozens of hikers asking me if I was OK. Did I look OK?
  5. I received a Fathers Day gift before I was a father. Well before I met my wife and son, I had a friend who was a single mom. The birth father never had anything to do with his child. Long story. I had time, she needed help and her daughter was as cute as they come. So I helped out. A Lot. It seemed like the right thing to do. In fact I never thought of it twice until I had friends ask what the hell I was doing. Being a good friend, a mench, would be my typical response. Yes, at times I fed, bathed, changed the diapers of and played with Lucy. I even stayed over night a couple of times when her mom had to be out of town. Lucy and I became close. I am pretty good at the early years. I can toss kids up and down to make them laugh, read to them and go to the park. When she was three she gave me a fathers day present she made in preschool. She and her mom moved away a number of years ago and while I keep in touch by phone I have missed most of her growing up. She is 16 and a sophomore. In college.

Honorable mentions include my peanut butter addiction, karaoke, dancing on a giant speaker, my desire to be a comedian (no chance) or a columnist (think Dave Barry) and my ability to jitterbug reasonably well.

Can’t Believe That Two Weeks Have Flown By

It has been almost two weeks since I posted anything new. I have a few stories to share but it seems that I am too tired when I get home to think straight. I will be off this week – yes both mentally “off” as well as not going to work. Will try to catch up. The mental exercise helps.

BTW there are 4 police cars on the street in front of my house at 10 am. Have no idea what is going on but no guns are drawn so that is a good thing.

Performance Appraisals

Virtually all employees in any organization are subjected to performance appraisals. That is when your boss tells you how you performed over the past year and if you are lucky that you got a raise and/or bonus. As many employees who receive them also hate them — a slight exaggeration at best.

I had a perfectly Dilbert — like PA this year. My boss said NOTHING positive about my performance. The closest she came was a double negative, something to the effect that she did had no reason to believe that I was a bad supervisor.

My raise and bonus were actually OK. A bit less than I thought I deserved but that is par for the course. Yet I walked out less motivated to succeed than when I walked in. COME ON PEOPLE. It is not that hard to find good things to say even with employees that need to improve. We all can use some positive reinforcement now and then.

Lucky for my people that they have me for a boss and that I have learned from the best what not to do!