MID 2020 In COVID-19 Land, USA

 In my last posting I wrote of being coughed upon by a shopper in a local store; I developed no subsequent symptoms that could not be attributed to a rough allergy season. Lucky me!  😊

Some Countries, States and Counties are re-opening to less restrictive pandemic-related conditions. All associated news is fueled by either strongly approving or condemning opinion. Emotion rules selectively presented facts; contradictory critical details and insights are typically discarded without presentation.

It seems that large City dwellers want much delayed re-openings and those more scantily infected (and usually less populated) regions plead for (or take) the most rapid route to normality that’s possible.

A few, high-profile Bay Area (and San Francisco) companies are making moves toward fully remote on-line operations deep into 2020. Results from early re-openings and their own empirical findings will likely influence these intentions.

News Agencies continue to push the agenda of their owners, investors and financial partners; nothing new here since politicized graffiti was first regularly scratched on stone walls.

The endless stream of News hyperbole has numbed those who continue to watch and read.

It’s reasonable to hope that a viable vaccine may be developed before mid-2021; given the history of success in this area it is not at all inevitable and still cannot be assumed by those needing to carefully consider their personal plans.

Regardless, its best we all make our own personal determination of how we will in future follow COVID-19 health and social guidelines. Each of us has our unique age, current health and prior illnesses to consider along with those with whom we desire (or, have) regular contact.

If you are not working, days quickly become repetitive. Even the easiest circumstances with idyllic surrounds become tedious and monotonous unless you actively insert new schemes, experiences and interests in your day. Artificial constraints can make a prison of the best situations.

Most people in Western Countries struck by the virus are far less comfortable than I suggest above. And underdeveloped continents fare far worse; peoples savings deplete, money evaporates and basics of sustaining housing, shelter, transport and food become troubling or impossible. With this comes stress, anxiety, depression, desperation and conflict.

Most pandemic victims do not have their burdens effectively eased or shared in any way.

Poorer countries offer people much less or nothing in practical support and often additionally demand a shelter-in-place compliance that burdens their populations unbearably.

There are few places on the planet that escaped the Coronavirus. Even if you fled early most desirable locations eventually suffered similar, burdensome restrictions.

Where many fled disease followed, perhaps often accompanying the traveler.

Where I live in Santa Cruz (CA, USA) the pandemic has had mild consequences; less than Southern (CA) or Bay Area Counties. Regardless, we are all umbrellaed with burdensome restrictions deployed for surrounding communities.

Visitors are not wanted here; parking lots are taped-off, beach access controlled and public bathrooms selectively closed. Sheriffs persistently check beachgoers residency.

It is amazing how quickly interlopers are driven off when toilet doors are locked. And it’s an odd new norm having residents complain about people visibly urinating alongside closed public restrooms.

Yet the surfers still come. Pleasure Point and Steamers are busy; world famous and still open, but basically only to locals (with Driver’s License checks often being made as surfers exit the beaches).

A few local restaurants and bars are still open in Capitola Village and provide take-out. The operators seem stressed and wary of visible policing and changing rules while customers appear increasingly frustrated and annoyed.

Last weekend I made a daytrip up North, just passed Placerville (3.5 hrs. drive away), for some fly fishing. This is also a particularly low-infection County. Essential merchants (gas stations, take-out food, grocery stores, etc.) remain open but they have little interest insisting customers sport mandatory masks as is monitored further South and required throughout the entire State.

Fishing was predictably poor with big early-season run-off disturbing flow on the American River. Bites were scarce, people very distanced, but the sense of freedom was enormous. I doubt the words Coronavirus, COVID-19 or Pandemic passed through my mind a single time; release was palpable.

A few days earlier, I ran my sailboat out of Alameda. Other than a distanced, masked conversation with the Dock Manager I never passed within 40’ of the only other person on the docks.

Spent several hours on the water, one of which was between the Bay and Golden Gate bridges, below Alcatraz Island; never saw a single vessel of any type in that arena. I will probably never repeat this first.

Following sailing, purchased food at a local bar offering take-out. They let me wait and have drinks while the meal was prepared. No masks were involved. Apparently, local police stay away accepting (I was told) that people must make a living.

Days at home in Santa Cruz feature bike rides or walks for most of the population. The latest beach restrictions outlaw stationary beach setups between 11.00am and 5.00pm. I do not currently go on the beach, but these rules seem unnecessarily punitive hereabouts as beachgoers seem to attend in small groups, typically spaced very much more than 15 yards apart.

Every 5 or 6 days I am Mr. Shopping for our household. Local grocery stores are not too crowded and only occasionally depleted of essentials.

Checkouts have splatter guards since late April and everyone around Santa Cruz is now masking-up per latest CA requirements. For shopping I use a mask, disposable gloves and wipes. Purchases still get wiped off at home.

Continued (and sometimes increasing) restrictions are being received as burdensome. If you are NOT AT RISK, I can readily empathize with your growing frustrations.

And when formal restrictions finally ease even those least at risk must choose WHEN they can comfortably (say) allow a stranger close enough to cut their hair, stop using masks for shopping, reduce incessant hand-washing and discontinue wipe-downs of touched items.

Sadly, the AT RISK population will likely carry Pandemic Restrictions and associated baggage far greater than another year.

And, the current understanding of the imperfect, long-term protection afforded by antibodies in those recovered from COVID-19 is another disappointment in outlook.

Nevertheless, I wish you good fortune in mapping your personal route through the pandemic. I hope you find a convenient path that respects government-imposed social restrictions and more importantly supports your needs, health, financial and relationship responsibilities.

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

 

 

 

My Coronavirus Diary: When The Infection Hits Your Home

Since my last posting the Virus has moved through our house. Three residents, one case and now we return from OUR in-house quarantine to the regular shelter-In-Place restrictions.

We were lucky. Problems centered around high, rising fever, a dry cough, modest breathing discomfort below the sternum, general tiredness and weakening during the first six (6) days of symptoms.

The two-week sickness necessitated personal space and separate bathroom restrictions for the three of us with lots of changes in cooking, shopping, movement, laundry, monitoring and cleaning arrangements. There was constant hand-washing and endless wipe-downs of, well, everything. 

Our Doctor was working 17 hr. days and called us later the first evening… after we had basic temperature controls underway. I got inputs on how to achieve this earlier by standing in front of local Hospital ER and speaking to helpers outside the front door. Nobody wants less than critically ill people inside there, either spreading or getting infections.

Turns out a cocktail of Tylenol and Ibuprofen dropped the (102 deg.) fever to under 99.5 in about 4 hrs. Our Doctor confirmed the probable Coronavirus diagnosis by phone; there were zero tests then and being without real distress we pursued our self-help regimen.

The real concern was to first monitor that temperature remained down, stable and the there was no escalation of breathing problems; these can occur quickly, so 24/7 observation was essential.

After a week, things were clearly going in the right direction with appetite, strength and breathing returning to normal several days before the two weeks of restrictions were complete.

Only one in-house case so far and a good outcome. One infection and three people; we were lucky, THIS time.

I since related this story by phone to an insurance agent helping with an auto-renewal. She said she came from a third-world country, sadly noting similarities in her current experiences, my story and her past.

Now our life is returned to the new norm. Today our shopping excursion finally got us routinely inaccessible eggs, toilet paper and paper towels. Re-supplying hand sanitizer and sterilized wipes remains a dream.

The numbing news drags on endlessly and lockdown arrangements are extended until the end of April.

It seems there are numerous missteps that will define local and national contamination outcomes. Many States chose not to order pandemic supplies despite the virulent 2009 H1N1 Swine Flu’ (61 Million US infections and 12.5k deaths) and recent 1980’s (HIV), 2003 (SARS) and 2013 (MERS) experiences. Basic re-ordering was actively ignored at all government levels; tax revenues were often capriciously diverted to more interesting investments and projects.

It seems the New Orleans Mardi-Gras celebrations have backfired into infections and fleeing residents of plagued States (like NY) have quickly dispersed themselves across the nation, frustrating and I’m sure inevitably in some cases, contaminating others. Many Governors are trying to reject these incursions and inter-State infighting is underway; this will continue and worsen before it calms.

St. Patrick’s Day came a little later. Several regions were already locked down so many associated gatherings were cancelled, but by no means all.

A quick glance backwards tells me that annual flu seasons typically inflict about 35K deaths and 25 Million cases of infection annually. Hopefully the dramatic National and Regional restrictions and support underway will keep this virus to similar or hopefully much-improved levels. The current, very recently advertised (100K!) outlook for potential deaths is both troubling and surprising.

There are diverging opinions evolving about China’s role in this latest Coronavirus episode. Oddly, one side sees a responsible friend, very capable and well-intentioned; the other suspiciously eyes a regionally expanding Machiavellian villain.  Take your pick.

Local outdoor activity here (in Santa Cruz, CA) remains high. Cyclists and walkers are increasing in numbers. The surfers are allowed across Pleasure Point and congregate in regularly strong numbers.

A couple of beaches are closed with make-shift notices that dangle and flutter in the breeze and occasional drive-byes of police with bullhorns. The beach closure off 26th Avenue was because of a shark-bite to a paddle-board which had strayed into known shark territory beyond the kelp that stretches 100’s of yards off-shore.

Shopping can be an alarming experience. Some larger stores are strictly controlling access by setting restrictions on numbers of shoppers admitted simultaneously and are allotting timeslots for older (and so, at-risk) residents.

There seems to be a universal lack of understanding about what constitutes a medically safe shopping environment. Shopping Cart handles are not cleaned, and self-applied cleaning wipes have often run out. Cashiers handle all the goods wearing plastic gloves they seemingly use all-day, or bare hands. Cash and Credit Cards often pass back and forwards between shoppers and cashiers at checkout. All goods are hand-placed on shelves by a large, diverse group of workers.

Distancing in stores is mixed. It’s not unusual for collisions to occur, yet often people turn away and shun each other as the space between them closes. The learning has begun for some.

The Phase 3, $2 Trillion (+$4 Trillion) funding is passed; there should be shame in how that proceeded, but I doubt there is. The squabbling about distribution and oversight has now begun.

I have spoken with several local businessmen (mostly restauranteurs) about this relief package. NONE believe they will see a penny to benefit them; a common explanation is that there will be too many hoops to jump through to receive any help. Their low expectations paint a troubling picture and their staffs are already long gone.

I live in a world where this viral tragedy is a political weapon. Regardless your politics it should not escape anyone that a safe, effective and minimized health and economic outcome favors one side and a rather more disastrous and tragic outcome benefits the other. And the pig-in-the-middle that can do naught yet but suffer likely consequences, are the citizens and companies that fund these warring factions.

News channels sickeningly align themselves with the sides. One side broadcasts more happily than the other; some seek, want and need gloom, conflict and derision. Viewers are simply battered and flung about by the results.

It’s sadly naïve to expect there be no sides. One can only Hope.

I recently had to drive up North (+60 miles) and check on a boat docked in Alameda. Travelling through the heart of Silicon Valley the traffic was light both ways. I passed near nobody outside of a vehicle; docks were devoid of human traffic and only one or two live-aboard couples were out for walks.

Upon my return there were unusual numbers of Highway Patrol cars parked off-road as light traffic passed by, typically moving 15 mph above an abandoned speed limit. One car was pulled over; he must have been driving very fast, indeed.

Gas prices have tanked across the nation as the Russians and Saudi’s war on. Strategic reserves are being loaded up. I heard of <$1.00/ gallon pricing somewhere in the Mid-West; my local California outlets mostly remain with even the best pricing in the $3.20 range… the tax burden here hangs on.

And what I miss is a Starbucks coffee. I want to get a beer at a local bar. I want to sit in my favorite restaurant. Turns out the (now) take-out food from my local isn’t what I miss, it’s the people, ambiance and belonging.

A couple of days ago I got coughed into by a shopper at a local market; fortunately, I blocked all her splatter from others in the store. There were no apologies, the person then moved up close behind and started poking me in the back, talking into my neck. She wanted to regain her abandoned place in line. I let her pass and kept my distance, as did others.

She then stood bended over the large counter festooned with goods as she inspected them at close-range, while coughing repeatedly. Never once did her arm or hand manage to reach or cover her mouth. She had a dry cough. The server seemed unperturbed. I saw her emerge from the store a few minutes later; her brow appeared fevered, perhaps she was just stressed? I hope so.

These events make all my precautions and care seem meaningless. Nevertheless, I will continue my practices and hope. It will take me three more days to see if any classic fever and breathing symptoms develop from THIS event.

I related this story an hour after it occurred to someone met while I was resting on my bike ride. The person backed away an extra step early in the tale and yet another before I’d finished. Not sure if she even knew she’d drifted some 15’ away by the time the story ended.

So much for the observations and experiences. On the happiest note of all there’s still three of us in this house and we’re all currently safe and healthy!

So far, so good. It’s again time for a daily bike ride. Need to take care that if the coughing lady doesn’t get me, I continue to dodge other bullets that will inevitably come my way.

Good luck to you in your endeavors and outdoor excursions. Stay safe and Socially Distanced, using whichever recommended distancing you choose.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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.