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Showing posts from 2020

On being alone but together ...

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My father used to tell us that the best day of his life was when they invented the Walkman because from that day on the 4 kids (yes, there were 4 of us) just put on our headphones and bopped away silently in the backseat and through the house instead of talking.  I always found it insulting that he wouldn't enjoy every moment of conversing with his kids.Now I have kids. Now I get it!Well, sort of ...Last year, when my youngest finally moved into the age where he could have a connected device and headphones, I totally got where my dad was coming from.  Suddenly those car trips became peaceful, allowing me to enjoy my retro 80's hair metal without the non-stop complaints.  Allowing me to carry on conversation with my fellow adult passengers without too much self-censoring (my language can get salty when I'm behind the wheel).  Finally after years of catering to the needs of, and conversing with, young kids I was free to generally act like an adult - I had actually forgotten …

On Goldfish and Attention Spans ...

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"He has the attention span of a goldfish!"I've heard this said many times in my life, but until recently I'd never questioned the origins of this saying.  Turns out that, in the eyes of science, fish have very short attention spans - almost to the point of a disorder as made famous by Dory of the Finding Nemo series.The basis for this statement is that a fish can be caught on a hook, fooled by a neon pink worm, endure the trama of being pulled from its watery home, having a metal face piercing forcibly removed by pliers, suffer a near death experience, then be released back into the water only to be caught again by the same baited hook a few minutes later (I didn't check if this could happen a third time, but I'm hoping that even fish can learn!).As I think about this, I realize that this doesn't actually apply to attention span, but to all of memory - we all do it and, quite frankly, the path to success is often equated to the idea of moving on from fail…

On Lockdown, Being Social and Mental Health ...

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The other day was my sons 8th birthday.  In these days of COVID and lockdown, social distancing, masks and general uncertainty, many of the activities that usually interest groups of little boys were not really an option.  Also, group sizes, personal "bubbles" and other virus spread control strategies, meant that our options were limited. In order to celebrate his birthday properly we needed to take a new approach.  A COVID driven birthday strategy.  Essentially all of the various activities were spread out over a week - dinner with family and in-laws, play-dates with his friends and one small group outing (to glow-in-the-dark mini-golf, as you can see in the picture).  Each event had a focused group, and time was spent to discuss the comfort levels of the invitees (and in some cases, their parents) to ensure that everyone's COVID risk management and risk tolerance was properly considered.
What I failed to consider was my own COVID related, isolation driven mental health i…

On the Good Old Days ...

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So I came across this meme the other day and dozens of comments reminiscing on the old "Glory Days".  What became increasingly clear as I read the comments is that EVERYONE thought that their youth was the "best time to be alive" and that the current generation of youth had moved on from that particular social media site because it's full of old people being nostalgic.

The past 6 months of my life have been spent in the company of my children - 14 and 7.  We are no longer separated for work and school.  We coexist in the same space and I am very aware of the world they are living in.  One thing that has become clear to me is that the world they live in, one that is connected and enabled by technology, is clearly a better place to grow up than when I did in the cold war (and in Canada where I lived, a language war) era of 70s/80s, and far more than the post world-war, racial unrest world my parents lived in the 50s/60s.

Let's start with some of the social f…

On Rejecting what is Useless...

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"Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own." - Bruce Lee I have been a Bruce Lee fan almost as long as I can remember.  Just the other day I was just thinking about a grade 10 field trip to downtown Montreal to see a court case (that's a whole other story) when Kenny, Andrew and I snuck off to a martial arts store in China town to buy practice nunchucks, ninja stars and Bruce Lee posters.

Since then, Bruce Lee has had a huge impact on my life.  I have studied his moves and his movies. I have battled myself to develop a physique somewhere between his and my other hero Arnold Schwarzenegger.  I have spent years studying martial arts, including Wing Chun Kung Fu, in an attempt to parallel Bruce's journey somehow.  I have read dozens of books on his life and his philosophy.  My whole life I have been connected to the art and philosophy of Bruce Lee.

Until recently, this connection was physical and martial - I read the philosophy …

On Fixing what is Broken ...

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"As soon as you realise that [something] is a problem, you should fix it.  Don't be a dumbass." - Dolly Parton, Billboard.com

I didn't think I'd ever quote the wisdom of Dolly Parton, but this quote shows me at least 2 things: you can't survive a life in a cut-throat business like music without a lot of intelligence; and, if you make a judgement about something, based on NOTHING, then you should be prepared to revisit that opinion when new information presents itself.

All my life I have made mistakes.  I have certainly lost more than I've won.  I have been wrong more times that I care to count. I am also guilty of being so self-righteous in my convictions that I could not see how any person could possibly see the situation differently than I.  I have been so self-assured that victory was my right that, in a loss, I was convinced there were other factors at play, and therefore there was no wisdom to be gained from the experience other than "other peo…

On the Power of Positive thought ...

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I recently wrote about spreading and on-boarding negativity.  I don't think I've ever seen as much of that as I do these days BUT there is always the other side of the coin - being positive ... to others and to yourself. As I've said before, there are 2 things we can control - our actions and our reactions.

To start, we must understand what is going on right now.  The entire world is going through a change.  Change is difficult and stressful.  The lack of routine, feeling of a loss of security and no real "enemy" to direct the stress and anger at has many of us directing our stress outwards in a scatter-shot manner.

I'm not big on Oprah, nor am I a subscriber to the Karma newsletter, but I do know that energy compounds and you get back what you put out, plus some extra.  Trading in insults and negativity is going to bring that same energy in return.  Being positive, constructive and polite will bring you more open ears and more support. Your actions have con…

On Entering the New World ...

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This week, for basically the first time in 6 months, I crawled out from my basement hideaway to experience the new world.  I ate dinner at a restaurant and took my car in for servicing ... both were very interesting and very surreal experiences.

Of course, to me, like the rest of us, wearing masks is a new experience.  The masks I have are not the most comfortable thing I can imagine (especially compared to a life mostly lived in pyjamas and oversized t-shirts) but, like everything else, I expect they will improve as time moves on.  To be honest, as a lifetime asthma and asthma-like allergy sufferer, who has been hospitalised and put on oxygen on at least 5 occasions, they are nothing compared to what compromised lung function feels like.  This may be controversial but, to me, if there is even a small percentage chance that I spread something that might put someone in a hospital on a mask then I will make that small sacrifice to wear a mask ALL DAY, EVERY DAY so that they don't h…

On Taking it Easy ...

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As is sit enjoying a coffee and watching the sun rise through the fog, thinking of the enjoyment of the day ahead, the laughter and company of friends and family, the zen of a paddleboard ride on a quiet lake, it strikes me how ironic is it that we - me included - onboard stress into our lives, or add it into others lives, for no good reason.

There is really only one story that has dominated world news for months now.  It's a divisive one.  There is the science and health community perspective, whose sole focus is reducing the impact of the pandemic on people and the health systems that provide the full spectrum of health care.  There is also the economic component, the job losses and business closures that are the result of the health safety measures put in place.  Between those is the governing aspect of bringing factual information, stability and comfort to the people.

All of this stress is coming out in the heated debates and social justice movements we are seeing the world o…

On Acting like Grownups ...

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Whenever I read the news these days, I am reminded of an elementary school with 200 or so kids on the playground.

Basically, you have 3 or 4 bullies hanging around, the biggest and loudest of the group, pushing and shoving each other and engaging in wars-of-words and fabricated, or at least exaggerated, accusations of bad behaviour.  They're trying to steal each others sports gear, and each one is prepared to defend themselves with a baseball bat or hockey stick.  There is always 1 or 2 outsiders that are trying to enter this group, but they're generally rejected or forced through a degrading hazing ritual to gain acceptance.

At the other end of the playground you have a few young lost souls.  They are trying to figure out how they fit in a world in which they don't seem to be included, or even considered.  They're seen as odd and weak by the bullies and often suffer from physical and verbal aggression.

Then there are the middle 150.  Boys and girls in groups of 5 or …

On White Privilege ...

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I am a heterosexual white male, English speaking, from a Christian family, living in North America with no visible disabilities.
I have been in a quiet room with one other person. I have walked through a park alone at night.  I have gone on dates with relative strangers and just hung out at their house.  I have been blackout drunk in public.  I have NEVER feared rape.
I have walked down the street and people do not cross to the other side.  I have never had a racial slur yelled at me from a stranger on the street or a passing car.  I have never been to an interview with the concern that, because of the colour of my skin, I will not get the job no matter how well I perform.  I have never feared being stopped and asked about my actions or intentions by police so long as I am acting in a generally decent way.  Even when I have acted irresponsibly and recklessly I have NEVER been treated without respect from those with authority.
I do not worry that my first language, the one taught me b…

On Fragile Progress ...

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As I read all the news stories about the US government and TikTok I am struck by 2 things: first, how similar we all are everywhere; and, how the world runs on the assumption of bad intentions from others and we stress and scramble to protect ourselves from a threat that really isn't there. I say assumption because we are pre-emptively attempting to stop an action from happening - and given that we are creatures with free-will there is no definitive proof, ever, that bad-thing will ever come to pass.
The regional governors now have direct control over their territories. Fear will keep the local systems in line. - Governor Tarkin, Star Wars

So first, TikTok.  The argument here is that another government could decide to steal your personal information at any moment.  Think about what that means.  How personal is your personal information really?  We all offer personal information to relative strangers all the time.  Sharing personal information is how we develop trust and closeness …

On Imagination and the Collective Memory ...

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Come with me on this mental journey for a moment ...
Imagine a high speed foot chase is taking place on a busy city street.  The runner, trying to escape his aggressor takes refuge in a mostly empty theatre.  The foot chase has now become a tense game of hide'n'seek ... the pursuer, through the low theatre light, sees this target ducked down behind a stage prop, hoping to remain unseen.  Looking towards the roof, he notices a sandbag - that functions as a stage curtain counter-weight - is directly overhead of his not-so-well hidden target.  His eyes follow the complicated mess of ropes and pulleys until he spots the mooring and the knot that, once unravelled, will set the sandbag into free-fall, landing on the hidden subject, temporarily immobilising them to allow for capture, or perhaps just public humiliation.
Can you picture that?  I am sure you've seen it 100 times over in movies and cartoons.  I am sure that you can feel the weight of the bag on you and probably have…

On Sensational News Headlines ...

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So, July 30th was Child Trafficking Awareness Day. The statistic that the media and advocates often quote is 'Half a million child abductions in the United States per year'.  Wow.  Child abduction is terrible and it definitely happens.  It is sick and we need to remove this evil from the world, for sure.
In order to draw attention to any problem, the advocate must define why this problem is worth caring about and possibly, why its worth your money or time.  The objective is to play on the human capacity for empathy ... the more people/families impacted by the issue, the more stress the observer will feel and the more empathy they'll feel towards the victims, driving them towards an action.  It's how TV dramas work, how movies work and how new media works.  No one will consume media that doesn't invoke a feeling in us.  Honestly, who would read or watch a news story that 99.99% of people on the planet had a regular day.  90+% of them went to work or school.  Almost…

On Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millenials and Gen Z ...

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In broad terms, the world is currently made up of Baby Boomers, Generation X (like me), Millennials (aka. Generation Y) and Generation Z.  To begin, each and every one of these groups, during their formative years, were the most progressive generation that has ever been.  Their experience of the world during that period will influence their idea of what the ideal world should be in order to provide maximum personal happiness ... how can anyone anticipate the possible happiness that they would experience if the world were different?
Now this is not across the board of course, people who's experience of the world is more challenging will identify those items and passively or actively try to change the things that created their discomforts during their formative years.  This is what's know as "progress" - this is also presented as social justice, equality, liberalism and many other names ...
Why is this important? The world functions on progressing experience and continuou…

On Strategy and Execution ...

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There is a saying "A goal without a plan is just a wish" and it is so very true.  Sometimes we are so anxious to start the execution, excited to start a sprint towards the finish that we forget about the planning part.  We have all done it - we think we have a target, an end state, and we start to move towards it - then, at some point, you realise that you can't actually define what "it" is anymore ... so you wouldn't even know it if you got there.

First off, we need to realise that there is no end state, there is no finish line - only a pass-through into something bigger.  What we are actually shooting for is a marker on a much longer journey.  For example: in sports, an individual may wish to play professionally.  First, they must develop enough basic skill to qualify for a team - or find a team that will invest in training the individual to a certain level.  Next, that individual will need to improve their skills and develop their body to compete in inc…

On Actions and Reactions ...

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I was chatting with some friends the other day and they were telling me about an experience they had with an UberEats driver who parked in a handicap spot for his pickup.  My friend confronted the UberEats driver about parking in a handicap spot by mentioning that there is a large fine for doing so.  The driver attempted to stare her down and intimidate her and she stood her ground but the situation was going to a bad place with words exchanged.  Her significant other - a tall, large and tattooed man - was able to de-escalate through increased intimidation and the UberEats driver moved from the spot.

Now, as she was telling me this story I could feel my anxiety cranking up.  We started to discuss if this was the right choice or if there were other options.  I explained that I would not have engaged that way.  That I would have calculated that there is a 99.9999% chance that nothing would happen as a result me remaining silent AND that if the 0.0001% happened, the worst outcome would …

On setting expectations ...

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There are over 6000 languages on the planet- and 2000 of those with over 1000 speakers.We’ve also all had the experience of talking with someone who, despite using the same language, because of an accent or localised slang, you are unable to properly communicate your message, intention or question.In addition to these communication languages, we often use very non-specific language when making requests with the assumption that the person receiving the request somehow has the same history, training, wisdom and point-of-view as we do, and that they will interpret the vague language we’ve used in the way we have intended it to be understood.
If we work from the assumption that all people are in the pursuit of happiness, then conversely, people should be looking to avoid stress and conflict.What this means is that conflict arises from a lack of understanding the other side’s perspective and no clear understanding of the middle ground, no willingness to listen and compromise and also an u…