My On-Going Coronavirus Diary

I live in a Global Pandemic.

A perceived lack of control permeates my life and a wave of overreaction washes across everything.

The latest News brings updates, mostly of the Virus’ spread.

It’s yet too early for even minor promotions of Hope and Promise to go unmolested.

Today, a little more ground was again lost to the Pandemic’s hold.

There is an overarching sense of loss and helplessness in the community. People wait.

And actual instances of the virus hereabouts number but a single case; this carried in by a now self-quarantined cruise ship traveler.

A SINGLE local case and all THIS.

I live in Santa Cruz, California; upon the coast known elsewhere since the 1820’s for its perceived flakiness and more recently, Liberalism.

Life around here has changed.

By 5.00pm the usually increased rush-hour traffic down 41st street is less. There are fewer people around.

The high-speed frantic commutes to Silicon Valley are diminished. Companies are stressing working from home.

When I venture out in the evening, restaurant traffic is light and quiet. The onset of bustling activity fueled by freshening Spring weather has stalled. Parking is available and convenient.

Hereabouts, waiter service is quick and readily accessible. Servers are keen to chat about their slowed business and its sudden decline though last weekend and now more so each passing day.

Last Saturday I ran by Ferry from Alameda across the Bay into San Francisco. Visible human activity is massively diminished.

The streets there are open, barely sprinkled with pedestrians. Ghirardelli Square seems unpopulated. Cable cars leave the Terminus half-filled yet bathed in sunlight. The eternal lines and waits for trolleys are gone.

The temporary Saturday market at the Ferry Building was unusually quiet; it packed-up and disappeared without trace well before 4.00pm.

A State of Emergency was declared by a somber San Francisco Mayor a couple of weeks ago. An Emergency without a single incident of the virus on record.

Declarations of Emergency quickly earmarks available funds for those who raise their hands early. It’s hard to know the difference between selfish grabs and wise proaction. We can only hope for the best as there will be typically poor oversight of follow-on spending.

Hyper-vigilantism to Pandemic risks is the norm. OVERreaction is generally SAFE to promote, as only UNDERreaction is historically retroactively scrutinized or Proven Wrong.

Immediately the virus was announced in Wuhan, it’s prospects for Global spread seemed clear.

Withing days, maps of China lit up recording new cases blossoming within and throughout her borders. Containment immediately seemed an improbable dream.

Concurrently, disconnected contamination cases sprouted in Europe, epitomizing uncontrolled spread.

International (Six Nations Rugby) sporting events were soon and suddenly postponed in Italy and France. Gatherings of 5000+ people were then outlawed in France.

Italy appeared to head the list of Virus activity. Soon France shut down all gatherings, Germany had reported problems and borders with reportedly highly infected Iran were being closed.

South Korea soon emerged with proactive and accelerated mass testing. Their readiness likely stems from recent post-pandemic experiences and fears of their immediate neighbors’ incompetence.

Just a couple of weeks ago I made a personal journey back East to Delaware. It seemed reasonable to get in a trip before things broke loose on domestic travel restrictions; timing proved about right.

After being gone just six days my return flight through Denver was enlightening. Bathrooms had rows of sinks filled with soap bubbles and residue with used paper towels piling up in corners.

Usually, many male travelers don’t ever wash their hands during bathroom visits. Not so much now.

The original journey out East from San Jose was enlightening, too. Blue-gloved TSA Security agents handled hundreds of Drivers Licenses as they checked ID’s; endless touching, 100’s of plastic cards.

From the outset of this pandemic what I seem to notice each day is the complete absence of viable transmission suppression protocol. Opportunity to contaminate and spread germs abounds.

However, there is still only ONE confirmed Coronavirus case in the district I reside. Perhaps necessity will clean up behavior as the virus spreads?

In fairness, most people have never been exposed to rigorous protocols and medically clean processing.

We rely on simple, repeated hand washing and checking spray from coughs. Minor measures are all we typically support.

Fortunately, even these basic steps are reportedly adequate, THIS time.

Highly communicable airborne pathogens require MUCH more care. How will we fare when future Pandemics require such levels of diligence and know-how?

Each day brings news from fighting political factions and blame. There are SIDES taken; each believes and continuously implies only THEIR folks knows what to do and how to save the people. Politicization is the game, Nationally and Globally.

Government figures routinely take the stage and make their plays.

Yesterday brought on more major sporting event closures and delays. Independent countries are isolating from others who might worsen their pathogen flow.

A new strategy is to Delay the Peak of the outbreak nationally; to skew the (hopefully diminished) heart of the crisis to Summer months when medical services are better prepared and less seasonally stressed.

Where I live there is testing newly on-line to check only suspected carriers. Without speedy, broad-based testing yet readily available the exact extent of Community contamination remains fundamentally unknown.

My two most local Hospital Emergency Rooms have tent facilities set up outside. The idea is to test people there and not allow uncontrolled building entry.

Guards stationed at the door ask every visitor if they have basic symptoms such as elevated Temperature, Coughing or Breathing Difficulty before permitting entry. Those offering affirmations are sent to the tent(s).

It now seems the death rates for this Pandemic should hold below seasonal ‘flu’s, but it’s spread may prove more prolific. At risk are currently expected only those with compromised immune systems, especially older people.

Still, there is only one local (self-quarantined) virus carrier testing positive.

And each day my neighborhood seems just a little quieter, except for apparently undiminished numbers of surfers at Pleasure Point.

Over the weekend in San Francisco a Fisherman’s Walk waiter told me his bus journey through China Town was uncharacteristically deserted.

Chinese restaurants are experiencing slowdowns. I’m guessing more than other businesses.

Last weekend the large, thriving Alameda Chinese waterfront restaurant I pass regularly showed clear signs of depleted activity.

During recent weeks the transportation industry has been preparing for what has now occurred.

Flights are cancelled, others lightly loaded. Deals for future fares and cleanliness assurances abound.

Countries continue to disconnect from one another; protected borders potentially bring a level of control to mitigate internal infection rates.

People still travel to work. Public transportations promote their hygiene and cleaning practices.

Most folks know that even perfect cleanliness is compromised as the first passenger steps aboard.

Past Pandemics have progressed in phases. First, perceived slowdowns in new cases, success of treatment(s) and quarantines, then survivors return to business as usual.

But setbacks occur. There can be flare-ups in numbers of new cases; sometimes the next wave is more overwhelming than the first.

The 2009 H1N1 flu Pandemic hit the US hard. There were over 60 million cases and 12,500 deaths on the heels of the 2008 financial collapse. Yet this disaster passed almost invisibly with minimal media coverage.

As I write there are presumed 1,500 Coronavirus cases and 40 deaths, Domestically (US). And this is fronted by the frenzied face of global, media-driven panic.

Sadly, The Reality and Importance of Events is defined by deliberately Promoted Agendas. It has always been the case.

Today there is no national News of decline in new Coronavirus cases. There is no palpable, immediate hope or promise. Perhaps tomorrow?

Still, there IS extensive on-line guidance about protecting oneself during the Pandemic. Use this info and help/ guide those in need of sensible instruction.

It certainly seems the worst is yet to come.

Yet many people are already suffering indirect consequences of this Coronavirus. It weighs on us. It can sap joy from our lives.

Hopefully these are the ONLY consequences and inconveniences we experience.

It’s wise to hold on to optimism during this Pandemic. There WILL be an eventual decline in sickness incidents. The Emergency WILL ultimately end. This too shall pass.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

 

Think YOU Know What’s Right & Wrong?

 At least one time every day I check on the News, perusing Local, National and Global events.

My personal approach these days is to scan both ends of the media spectrum to try and decipher the reality of any significant situation. It’s often the best methodology to pursue nowadays.

This system is typical; excepting for those whose time, affiliations and/or curiosity cause them to visit only one pole of available coverage.

And, in the process I am amazed daily by news of behavior exhibited by one faction(/person) or another.

There is always some act, crime or deed been perpetrated which makes me wonder, “Why would they do that?”

I doubt my feelings are unusual, but rather quite common.

It makes you question if people “Know Right from Wrong.” And upon reflection, I doubt they do. Let me explain…

There is little formal training in most cultures that comprehensively delineates RIGHT from WRONG Actions, Thought and Behavior.

Yes, there are LAWS. These may be laid down by Civil (or Military) authorities and Religious Institutions.

Also, there are Expectations, Common Sense and Social Pressures in-play.

Parents and Teachers typically provide their influences.

But there are few, systematically organized, comprehensive Codified Listings from which we can readily learn. Rather, we sit before a smorgasbord of exposures. This arrangement facilitates individual perspectives being formed.

Our complex sense of RIGHT and WRONG is built and formed by our cultures, written Laws and conventional expectations; unspoken pressure for conformity is enormous.

Religion-based missives paint pictures of guiding principles to embrace and fast rules we should honor.

Written Laws enumerate numerous circumstances we may encounter.

And still all this combined can in no way encompass and specifically list everything that is RIGHT or WRONG.

We rely on Common Sense to fill in the gaps. As is often mentioned, such sense can be far from common.

Additionally, people operate primarily principled by what suits their purpose; they act in their own interests. In such instances thoughts of what is Moral, Correct, Right or Wrong can often immediately fly out the window.

So, disconcertingly, our OWN opinion of what constitutes RIGHT or WRONG is far from universal.  For example…

In most Western Cultures killing is typically considered Wrong. Yet Vendettas, Honor Killings and Dispatching (commonly held) Enemies is acceptable; indeed, it is considered Right and even necessary.

That’s’ a massive disparity in perspective and between Cultural Rules.

And it continues. One Culture demands Monogamy, another Polygamy.

Other groups demand adherence to one religion and sometimes the destruction of all competing ideologies and religions. Opposing views are generally considered WRONG and often dangerous.

One reporter portrays an event in a particular way and a colleague from another publication might file an almost opposite spin.

In each of these different instances all parties believe they are in the RIGHT; additionally, they specifically believe the other side is also, WRONG. And, they might push their agenda.

Logically, in a world of absolutes (and ignoring Schrodinger’s Cat) these conflicting truths cannot co-exist.

In the end RIGHT and WRONG becomes a personal view.

Our individual versions of Right & Wrong are determined by our programming through…

  • DNA
  • Culture
  • Experiences
  • Exposure
  • Perspective
  • Position and,
  • Self-Interest(s)

So, aligning quarreling people within a single philosophy and an understanding of what is correct and appropriate is daunting if not often impossible.

To avoid tragedy, conflict and warring, humans need accept the fact that others often do NOT share the most basic common understanding of what is RIGHT or WRONG.

Securing such acceptance inevitably precedes any meaningful progress and collaboration between colliding groups, cultures and peoples.

And so too, the individual. If they do not in some way buy-into the prevailing standard (Right and Wrong) of the culture in which they exist, they are probably on a social collision course.

Religions frequently offer the greatest opportunity for conflict: If ONLY ONE is truly RIGHT are all others inherently WRONG and so damned? 

Analogously, supposedly objective individuals, wholly bound to specific political parties (in (say) a two-party situation) frequently find themselves absurdly tied to questionable arguments some “fifty percent of the time.” But still most hold the party line.

Both sides in every argument believe only they are RIGHT.

These vast dichotomies cause us to posit the question, “Is there ever a case of complete RIGHT or WRONG?” Is everything ultimately a truly grey area when fairly considered from all sides?

And unfortunately, when views become fixed and are re-enforced it is easy to manufacture and escalate conflict; inflexible people are easily manipulated.

Now look at the News. What we see can be truly alarming.

Consider the actions and behaviors of individuals, groups and people featured…

Don’t agree with what’s happening?

The protagonists aren’t always bad, mentally diseased people or sociopaths. Often, they just don’t share your view of what is RIGHT or WRONG. And they have their own agendas.

When you encounter things you don’t like, consider the perspective, position and nature of those involved. We may not like what we see, but the other side usually believes they have a valid point.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

We Are What We LEARN.

Our path in life is defined by the things we Learn. We become what we Learn.

This is affected by the subjects we choose and just as profoundly determined by those items we do not study or embrace.

We make Learning Choices to facilitate specific progress in the direction we wish to proceed.

And these CHOICES are made:

ACTIVELY…  by Positive Selection
BY DEFAULT… following the Path of Least Resistanceor made for us by circumstance
BY EXCLUSIONOpportunities Missed as a result of pursuing a singular specific target

Most ominous is Choice By Exclusion, for when one major course is followed then innumerable alternatives are passed over as the inherent consequence. This has a major impact on our lives as it defines how we will now not turn out.

Humans are conceived and born as somewhat specific, predefined entities; this by our DNA and reptilian brains with inbuilt reactions and instincts. Thereafter it’s up to us.

Initially, we are flooded during formative years by specific culture(s), exposures, events, surroundings and incidents. These progressively begin to shape us in the very earliest years.

We are taught specific skills and behaviors. We develop consequential attitudes, propensities and perspectives. Our Psyche is formed.

But what of the impact of selective learning? By CHOICE (see earlier) we pick things to learn; those we want and others we must.

And by this very process we miss out on countless possibilities…

I learn to be a Botanist, so my expertise as a Doctor of Medicine, Engineer, Chemist, Fisherman, Hunter, Environmentalist and so on, are less. We unfortunately often see ourselves with limited range and are consequentially easily accepting of a diminished scope…

We Learn how to Present and Maintain ourselves; selecting particular code(s) of behavior, attire, routine(s), eating habits and more.

And we develop and focus on typically singular Career and Lifestyle paths. Some individuals learn a little of other fields and alternatives. But these are usually minor excursions compared to our primary pursuits.

Most areas of expertise run deep; consequently, in-depth mastery of many realms is onerous at best.

So, we become largely defined by what we Learn through Free Choice, affected by internal desires and external influence.

A direction once selected is increasingly difficult to divest as time passes.

Often, we develop side-channels or hobbies from other paths to mitigate the frustrations of our linear progressions. We learn to fish, write, dabble in medicine or (say) immerse ourselves in current affairs, etc.

But most closely follow a singular path of set career, family, activities, behavior(s), associations and friends. They venture little and stray only slightly from well-defined and boundedpaths.

We become what we have Learned and Selected.

If our Choices are narrow, so are our lives.

Only when we invest in learning from elsewhere do we broaden to expanded experience(s).

All this is can be well and good providing we choose wisely and fittingly, early on.

But what if we chose poorly?

What if we can be much more and diverse?

What if we want to change and redirect?

Some do. People make career and lifestyle changes later in their lives. Often these choices work well and become fulfilling. The opportunity usually exists when an individual has the imagination, desire and will take the plunge.

Yet it’s better if we find our way early in life. Better delay at the outset and choose wisely than wrongly invest and pursue a less attractive course.

Our ability to make course corrections depends on self-image, skills, intellect, opportunity, passion, etc. Both the Psyche and circumstance will enable or hinder new ambitions.

Initial Learning Choices ideally need to be aligned with desirable (i.e. wanted by the individual) end results. The trick is to know oneself and target wisely. Not always an easy task.

And as we progress though life we should understand how and if we change and evolve and course-correct our learning and direction accordingly.

As for guiding children (and Others), things are predictablyaligned; giving them free reign to choose, providing exposure, opportunity, encouragement and suggesting diverse possibilities all empower them to select wisely.

Did you Learn what you needed for your chosen path through life?

Have you invested in Learning that keeps you on track?

What have you Learned (or, are Learning) that helps complete who you wish to become?

There is usually some way to get on track. You can Learn what you need, and course correct.

All that is necessary is for you to imagine and choose.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

 

Anyone can Embrace Winning Ways

Ever noticed how some people just Win?

By this I mean Perform Outstandingly, Achieve Prominently or predictably Secure the Prize.

Their results are consistently good. They achieve relentlessly.

Winning happens in contests, at work, examinations, tests, conflict, battles, sporting events, finance, business etc., ALL aspects of Life.

It occurs in major and minor situations.

Being a winner isn’t entirely about Leadership or having traditionally associated characteristics, like possessing:

  • Vision
  • Charisma
  • Communication Talents, and so on (see HERE for more about True Leaders)

It also isn’t about just having Specific Skills (in Management) for mastering situations, such as:

  • Team Playing
  • Public Speaking
  • Time Management
  • Planning
  • Decision Analysis, and so on (see HERE for more about these Critical Skills)

This piece highlights COMMON ACTIONS Winners take that regularly bring them Success.

What they do consistently is:

  • Prepare
  • Attack
  • Recognize Danger

Let me explain…

By Preparing they ready themselves mentally and Physically for what is to come. They often pre-play what will occur and ENVISION (in detail) the outcome they desire. They study, make and follow essential Plans and stand prepared; always checking what the competition is doing.

 

When participating they Attack the goal and take the initiative. They don’t sit back to watch or play off their back foot. They go all-in, committed and as frantically essential to overcome obstacles. There remains controlled wisdom in their most forceful actions. Effort and focus are relentless and true Winners will not be easily intimidated.

 

But they also Recognize danger. They change and adapt before AND during competition; balance and thought is required in both physical and mental commitment. As critical moments emerge, they must be recognized and adaptation (if only temporary) should occur. Then back on the ATTACK as early as possible and sensible, to re-enforce or gain advantage(s).

These behaviors (Prepare, Attack, Recognize Danger) are Universal. They apply to ALL competitive situations.

You must Know, Manage and Adapt to the competition and competitors.

It doesn’t matter if you’re playing high level competitive sport, challenging for a promotion or betting on an office football pool. This approach ALWAYS APPLIES (whether its buried within your thoughts or displayed in your physical action(s)).

Some competitions are Physical and Intense, others equally formidable yet more Cerebral.

You can witness Winning Behavior all around you. It’s in top Athletes, Business scenarios, Political situations, Academia, Research and Development, etc. It is everywhere.

Anyone can embrace this Winning Approach.

If you don’t RECOGNIZE the importance of these factors you will not be one of the winners; certainly not consistently or without a (unpredictable and/or a rare) lucky break.

Those who perform and achieve outstandingly are not lucky, but prepared, recognizing and taking the appropriate actions required with the energy and commitment essential to securing their goal(s). They learn and practice the difficult things that might lay ahead as/if/when necessary and then prepare themselves to the extent required. Their successful results are noticeably consistent.

Got any major areas where you’d like to win?

Have even minor events coming up where you’d at LEAST like a great showing? Want to just do much better?

Then consider what it takes and how success might be secured: Prepare, Attack, Recognize Danger.

Try it and see. It works!

 

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

The Agony of Waiting

We are all waiting for something or someone.

There is always a wait in progress; either in queues or for notification, our turn, people, results, events and so on.

Waiting can be easy or difficult, sometimes very difficult. Often, we cannot readily control the experience.

And in some situations, we never ultimately achieve any finality; there is no closure.

This can be excruciating, a mental torture.

The difficulties we experience depend upon the nature of the wait, its:

Importance or Seriousness
Urgency
Long-term Impact

Issues weighted heavily in these Three Criteria can be daunting.

Sometimes events are seemingly suspended over us like a sword of Damocles. The experience can be exhausting.

Some people seem more able to just suck it up, although most will inevitably just take on as much grief and frustration as they can bear.

And yet not all matters demand we adhere to some arbitrary schedule for resolution; we don’t always just have to wait. Issues can often be resolved more quickly than we initially realize.

It’s always wise to Question, Check and Ask. On some occasions we can push for those answers we really must have and deserve.

Waits can be a little easier if they are shared with others or if the outcome is relatively certain. But often this is not the case.

Most of us are not generally trained in the general art of waiting. There are many approaches; mostly revolving around self-distraction.

If the Wait is more painful, distraction must be more profound
It must also occupy you both physically and mentally

Some people cannot be that easily distracted; this depends upon their personality. A more intensely focused individual can find it almost impossible to be effectively distracted.

Others believe that the slightest lapse in their concentration bodes poorly for the desired outcome; they remain fixed within the process of waiting.

I am personally not good at waiting; never have been, though have learned to be somewhat better at finding relief through self-distraction.

Typically, Difficult Waits: Relationship Resolutions, Personal Job Decisions, Health Issues, Financial Matters etc. can all be tough when seemingly faced alone.

Less Difficult Waits are often shared events where others face similar outcomes: Exam Results, Transportation Problems, Broad Organizational changes etc. Sharing may mitigate the burden in many such cases.

Depending on the psyche of the individual involved sometimes even the simplest waiting events can be tough; especially when the Three Criteria (Importance / Urgency / Long-Term Impact) are heavily loaded and you feel alone.

The pain of someone suffering, waiting for news can often be eased by sharing; empathy alone can be a wonderful, palliative panacea.

Are you aware of someone else’s “waiting?” Ever reviewed how the Three Criteria are stacking up for them? How strong is their personal ability to muddle through this crisis?

Is there a way you can and should help ease their burden?

Perhaps you are grieving and struggling through your own waiting? Anything you should do to get some relief and ease the pain?

Sometimes simple / brief distractions are all that is required: Play games, Listen to music, Do simple chores, Run errands; anything to just pre-occupy and Stay Busy.

More profound distraction takes greater commitment to shake up the mindset: Visit new places, Engage in activities that demand attention and focus, Meet new people, Seek (safe) excitement, etc.

The key is to turn any PAINFUL Wait into the most PLEASANT DISTRACTION possible. And if at first you don’t succeed rethink, reset and try again with all the consideration you should afford.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

 

How Did I Get Here.

Ever ask yourself this question?

It’s not about getting up in the morning and going somewhere. This is regarding where you are in life.

Your question may relate to where and how you live, your job, relationship(s), cultural surrounds, position, attitude, beliefs or yes, even physical location.

We arrive at a specific point by following unique and usually very diverse paths. And here we are.

Often, we ask ourselves about where we find ourselves because something just feels wrong. But any time we choose to reflect upon and consider our path the past can be surprising.

We generally form a self-image of who we will become at a very early age; we see ourselves being a specific way. Arguably, it is said this impression is well-formed by the age of seven years.

In any event a guiding image is likely formed very early on.

And, one would expect this (image) to be influenced by our genes, family, experiences, exposure, position, culture, psyche etc.; a large collection of influencers.

Most of our lives are spent reinforcing and securing a path that moves us towards that strongly ingrained original impression.

But there is no reason that early image cannot be modified or even dramatically changed. Consider…

In the recent past many people lived and died within a small geographical area. Their needs were sufficiently fulfilled and so they remained constrained by immediately available infrastructure, opportunity and their own imagination.

Today we are free to expand our horizons and aspirations; communications, transportation and wealth are more prevalent each passing decade.

This means our self-image can be more inclusive and adventurous, benefitting from more expansive exposure.

The limited exposures of a child from 50 years ago is now superseded by seemingly limitless modern industrial-era possibilities and the colorful images that flood today’s world.

Perhaps this is the reason we see so many later-stage lifestyle changes being made; early childhood perspectives are constantly being refreshed, modified and even over-written.

But let’s return to the original question…

Do you like being where you are?

Is that job (or relationship, culture, location, career, lifestyle, future-outlook, etc.) what you want?

Must you accept what is and now what likely will be?

Of course, the intuitive answer is, “no.”

Logically, with no material restraints we can simply walk awayfrom any situation; unless there are emotional shackles. Humans typically respond to their own ingrained commitments to duty, honor, responsibilities in ways that will either free them to change or bind them with sustaining behavior.

Our established moral beliefs determine how and if we stick with our established norms and outlook.

It is interesting to look back at our paths through life. Often, we have travelled far from our origins to here. Sometimes there is almost no distance at all.

Some people find themselves on other continents, speaking a different language, immersed in cultures quite distinct from their origins. It is doubtful the early self-images these individualspossessed as young children match the current situation.

When people find themselves far removed from their origins, are they conflicted? Would not their childhood expectations (and self-images) pull on them still?

To understand where we are, we must know where we once were.

Our view of both stations needs to be clear. And only then can we see the points of inflection that moved us from our origins to the present.

These things are good to know. It’s wiser and healthier to have basic insight into who we are now and from where we came (mentally, physically, psychologically). We are molded by what we can or cannot control and circumstance.

So, how did you get here; where here means this precise location, situation and point in time?

Do you like where you are and are headed?

If not, maybe there are opportunities to change some aspects to what you might prefer? It is always your choice.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

Do You Recognize YOUR Addiction?

We all have our addictions; things in our lives we’d be better off without.

They include a broad range of types, some less obviously recognizable than others…

Narcotics
Alcohol
Over-Indulgence/ Obsessions
Habits
Behaviors
Activities
Relationships, and even
Social Roles/ Standings

Being addicted is not just about presenting as a falling-down drunk that needs to be helped to bed. There are many subtle types of addiction which are comparably harmful.

Precise definitions of Addiction are as numerous as the authoritative sources that reference them.

For our purposes here let’s say (the Noun) Addiction is…

“The state of being controlled by something that is psychologically or physically harmful to your interests and difficult to quit.”

Many types of Addiction are now more commonly recognized as a form of disease.

The most obvious recognized Addictions (Drugs, Alcohol abuse) are treated by having the victim/sufferer break away from the situations and associations that expose them to their specific problem.

So, Alcoholics stay away from bars, manage situations where drinking will occur and avoid relationships where alcohol is a central fixture. Much the same approach is employed by recovering drug abusers.

Make no mistake, it is a tough proposition to adopt this new protocol and overcome established behaviors.

In Summary: The method is to limit exposure, by thoughtfully controlling and changing habits, relationships and behaviors associated with the previous undesirable lifestyle. You control the Addiction, not vice versa.

And by extension this same approach can be applied to other Addictions, as listed above.

For Example: Sometimes our Roles (socially, at work or in the home) are nothing but Addictions. Meaning we are often subject to repeated treatment and expectation that is a part of some imposed group dynamic which inflicts a specific role upon us. It can occur in all the aforementioned settings.

In Families, people have Roles: The Protector, Dictator, Judge, Leader, Peacemaker, Troublemaker, Clown, Abuser, Victim and so on.

Within such settings we personally often assume one such Role, whether it is in our best interests or not. It is typically a group-sanctioned role that is imposed upon us, but we sometimes unwittingly adopt our own preferred choice. (NOTE:  It is only the materially unhealthy choice with which we are concerned here).

The same is true of Roles in the workplace and social gatherings. There we have our go-to experts, problem-solvers, fools, butts of jokes, unreliable contributors, procrastinators, the error-proneand so on.

Often these Roles are again imposed upon us and are unwanted. When group gatherings are a frequent occurrence (say, in the Workplace, Social Settings or Home), they can be constantly reinforced.

So, often we are forced to live with them. They may make us unhappy, perhaps even resentful. And they are sticky.

But isn’t this the same as an Addiction? It’s harmful to our interests and difficult to shake.

So, the methodology of limiting exposure, changing circumstance, environment and behaviors is again the way out of such situations.

We cannot always simply walk away or completely avoid gatherings and situations that cause us harm or make us unhappy.

But we can usually modify circumstance and our own reactions just enough to mitigate the damage(s).

In group (or family) settings we can often predict/ see where things are heading. We know what buttons will be pressed, by whom and when.

So, we can manage our own destinies and change things up.

We should minimize the situations that devolve this way. And when things take a wrong turn, know proactively (when possible) how to gracefully and painlessly extricate oneself.

You don’t have to run away; simply know when to modify your old behaviors and adopt an approach that works better for you without inflaming matters. With time and patience, it is possible to happily modify and perhaps even change your group-defined role.

Some groups may be receptive to discussing and working through such problems when they are diplomatically and constructively pointed out.

Others might even open for professional guidance.

Whatever your Affliction or Addiction, it can and should be addressed.

Remember, those things that wound us psychologically (or physically) can often proceed to more broadly affect our general well-being and health.

Further, understanding these principles (outlined above) empowers self-direction, enabling you to guide friends, colleagues and children to the right assistance that addressestheir related needs.

Take a close look at your own situation. Many Work, Social and Familial group dynamics can leave a lot to be desired. So, identify what hurts. Then consider your approach to mitigate the harm(s).

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

Always KNOW if the Work will get Done.

Life is a series of jobs, tasks, projects and programs. Normally much depends upon the successful completion of these undertakings.

Their success or failure can have immediate or indeed enduring, life-long ramifications.

When we look to others for execution of such assignments we frequently wonder, what will be the result? And often ask ourselves, what can we do to most likely ensure a successful outcome?

A Desirable Result is “The Goal being accomplished, as or better than required and on-time.”

Well, there is a universal approach we can employ to both Assess and Secure the likelihood of positive outcomes.

We can use this same simple methodology whether we’re considering massive undertakings or merely wondering if (say) a child will complete a routine homework assignment.

The approach is straightforward and fully described, below…

Basically, for successful outcomes the participant(s) must possess enough PASSION and impending OBSTACLES should be adequately removed.

PASSION means participant(s) has

  1. Desire (Wants the outcome)
  2. Energy (the Drive/ no laziness or indifference)
  3. Decisiveness (no Procrastination)

Overcoming OBSTACLES means participant(s) has

  1. Know-How (Essential Skills)
  2. Authority (to Proceed and Act)
  3. Resources (Infrastructure and Tools)
  4. Time (to Complete on Schedule)

These are The SEVEN (7) Necessary Pillars of Success.

They are really all it takes to support the likelihood of a positive outcome. 

We can simply look at the Participant(s) situation and quickly evaluate if they have what it takes to achieve a Desirable Result

Do they have the Personal Attributes and Skills? Are there real Obstacles to their success?

For example: the LIKELY results we might predict are:

  • All 7 Pillars being sound = STRONG Likelihood of success
  • < 7 pillars sound = varying outcome/results should be expected
  • Weak PASSION Pillars = mediocre or failed outcome
  • I severe OBSTACLE, likely prevents favorable results

When we are supporting or championing the participant(s) we need to assist in ensuring they have strength in all Seven (7) Pillars.

On those occasions we are simply (well-informed) observers we can at least diplomatically facilitate and highlight required fixes when we see liabilities/ weaknesses.

So here we have it, “The SEVEN PILLARS of Successful Outcomes.”

These quick observations (of the 7 Pillars) can help us rapidly and accurately assess the likely success of both the smallest Tasks and greatest Programs. They leverage universal factors that illuminate probable outcomes and provide essential insight.

Correspondingly we can be forewarned if projects are weakly supported with inadequate Pillars.

It is usually better to fail early when essential fixes to supporting Pillars cannot be made as required.

Do you have any major Programs that don’t pass muster, lacking sufficient strength in their Seven (7) Pillars? Need to quickly assess some Projects and reconsider?

When it’s important you can always proactively glimpse how things will likely proceed, using this method. Why don’t you give it a try and embrace this valuable approach?

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

Learn Anything Today?

Learning is a characteristic of being human.

Even when we seem to not invest in learning, it just happens. Our experiences cause us to learn; the richer, the better.

And we are not alone. Mammals and reptiles alike teach one another; how find food, shelter, protect themselves, etc.

Learning is continuous, like breathing.

Say I simply walk to my car. I’m checking for rain (assessing weather patterns), navigating traffic, avoiding impediments that might trip me, ducking under overhangs and more.

We constantly learn from our experiences, watch for patterns and register things to remember; continuously building and refining our reservoir of information and knowledge.

Learning is systemic within the fabric of our existence.

We learn for several reasons. Consider here…

  • Necessity

Required exposures from teachers, parents and leaders; establishing basic awareness and developing relevant skills culturally accepted as essential.

  • Desire

Learning and knowledge we search out; creating deeper awareness, extra skills and more advanced specialization.

  • Happenstance

That learning resulting from our experiences and exposure.

There is little universally held theory of HOW we learn and WHEN we do so most effectively. Although it is commonly accepted, we accomplish more readily when younger (< 10 years of age) and make inroads less quickly as we age.

And at some stage in our lives most of us need to assist others with their learning.

So eventually we all care about what motivates others to be receptive to our teachings.

It doesn’t matter if we are parents, teachers, managers, supervisors, executives, officers, colleagues, writers, friends, acquaintances or significant others. At some point we desire to pass on specific information or knowledge to others. And we WANT and/or NEED them to learn; the message must stick.

People like to hear great stories. That’s often a useful conduit to parse knowledge. But there is no set recipe or guaranteed approach.

My own experiences suggest people are far less motivated than I’d imagined in initiating and undertaking formal or self-planned learning.

For many individuals to be moved to action there must be Compulsion. SomeTHING or SomeONE is typically required to stimulate and/or compel activity.

It appears people learn more successfully when motivated by involvements that are….

  • Physical

Causing them to directly experience and practice what they are to learn.

  • Mental

Requiring them to think, consider and evaluate the relevant materials.

  • Communal

Exposing them to groups immersed in the material and subject to the learning.

So, when we are trying to TEACH something, we have many avenues and approaches available. The same is true when we are trying to LEARN.

And the vehicle for best results can vary based on the recipient, resources, circumstances, subject, time and much more.

Although the breadth of variables can appear disconcerting, usually ANY reasonable attempt is better than none.

It is likely you currently need to teach somebody about something. This may be at work, socially or in your home.

If you really must get your message across and need the information to be embraced you should consider the factors, above. Stickiness matters.

Similarly, if you need training yourself, contemplate what would provide the best exposure and ensure an optimum learning experience.

We all have an on-going need to learn and we often need to teach.

When it matters, make sure you identify ALL the critical issues and opportunities involved and follow-up with practical, winning approaches to both your own Learning and Teaching.

 

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.

Things That Hold You Back

Most of us want to progress at work and socially. Some are more driven than others.

Certainly, promotion and recognition bring benefits we all usually value and enjoy.

Being good at what we do is a critical component in becoming successful.

But advancement requires more. We must also avoid bringing negatives to the table which torpedo our opportunities and detract from our worthiness.

Being a strong candidate often demands a broad, multi-faceted and proven skill-set. Correspondingly, our personal accompanying detractors might be subtle or obvious, diverse and numerous.

And rightly or wrongly, extremes and perceived cultural aberrations we exhibit are often just not appreciated or wanted.

So, to be selected and succeed we must simultaneously avoid DESELECTION. Simple detractors can scupper the strongest candidate.

When we recognize our liabilities, we must repair or at least diminish their significance in the eyes of selectors.

If we don’t know what these issues are, we can seek insights from trusted friends and colleagues. So, ask.

And it is not always the obvious flaw(s) that might derail our cause, it’s the one(s) that in some way offend or dissuade the individual decision maker(s).

In addition, selections are often influenced by more persons, history and circumstances than meet the eye. Practically we can usually only recognize and address the more obvious and likely concerns.

So what behaviors and attributes might we exhibit or display that could cause us problems? Consider rectifying or improving negative characteristics you exhibit regarding:

Clothing

Personal Hygiene

Sloppiness… correctness, quality and timeliness

Tardiness

Untidiness… disorganization

Physical Appearance

Procrastination

Gossiping

Politicizing, Backstabbing and Spitefulness

Body Language… Dumb Insolence

Complaining

Active Obstinacy… Resistance

Prejudice… Fixed Opinion and Bias

Too Much / Little Enthusiasm

Lack of Empathy

Treating Others Unfairly

Exerting Undue Influence

Inappropriate Actions / Behavior

Unsavory Habits

Attitude of Superiority… Pretentiousness

Ingratiating Behavior

Unpopular Associations

Being Too Loud, or Seeming Invisible

Acting Too Clever, or Appearing Dull

Being Self Not Team-Centric

Quite a daunting, unprioritized list. It’s sufficiently extensive and complete for our purpose here.

I have personally seen individuals who have unwittingly held themselves back by exhibiting some and (often) many of these characteristics. Likely you have, too.

At one time or another everybody exhibits some or several of these tendencies; most noticeably when they are stressed.

So not surprisingly, when people are being considered for selection, reviewers and selectors must often turn a blind-eye (if they can) to less obtrusive shortcomings, or perhaps diplomatically review their concerns with candidates ahead of any planned promotion. Major concerns are not generally ignored.

When our liabilities are known to us (as future candidates), we should understand which are likely to present the most negative impact to our prospects. If it’s not obvious, ask those you trust.

Many of the problems listed above have simple intuitive remedies. Some require real fixes to the psyche.

If you care enough you will find the ways to at least diminish the outward impact and visibility of your most egregious weaknesses. So, determine the Corrective Action and follow up.

And don’t forget, these very same detractors you carry into the workplace often similarly affect all your relationships and interactions with others; in social settings and the home.

Are you aware of your negative behaviors? Do your personal foibles lessen your prospects and relationships?

We can often identify liabilities in ourselves. When we cannot, we should find someone trustworthy and ASK.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter@ianrmackintosh.