Friday, September 30, 2022

18 Things I Wish I Had Known At 18 (Part II)

This is Part II in my series, "18 Things I Wish I Had Known At 18" You can click HERE to read Part I.  

So without further ado, here is Part II: 

6. People are not mind readers.  Tell them what you’re thinking. – People will never know how you feel unless you tell them.  Your boss?  Yeah, he doesn’t know you’re hoping for a promotion because you haven’t told him yet.  That cute girl you haven’t talked to because you’re too shy?  Yeah, you guessed it; she hasn’t given you the time of day simply because you haven’t given her the time of day either.  In life, you have to communicate with others. And often, you have to open your vocal cords and speak the first words.  You have to tell people what you’re thinking. It’s as simple as that.

7. Make swift decisions and take immediate action. – Either you’re going to take action and seize new opportunities, or someone else will first. You can’t change anything or make any sort of progress by sitting back and thinking about it. Remember, there’s a huge difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it. Knowledge is basically useless without action.

8. Accept and embrace change. – However good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That’s the one thing you can count on. So embrace change, and realize that change happens for a reason. It won’t always be easy or obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.

9. This is an area that for reason both good and bad I have never struggled with. The down side to this perspective is it can shut you off from good ideas that others might suggest. There is a real danger to making decisions in a vacuum so be aware of that bent when embracing this perspective. The good part of this advice almost goes without saying, you save yourself an tremendous amount of second guessing, vast amounts of time, and useless guilt worrying about others and their perception of who you are. If you don't care you don't worry. And for the most part this is a valuable ally - but I would caution you to couple this independence with at least one close friend, co-worker, partner who will tell you the truth and not be afraid of your reactions. 

10. Always be honest with yourself and others. – Living a life of honesty creates peace of mind, and peace of mind is priceless. Period.

11. Talk to lots of people in college and early on in your career. – Bosses. Colleagues. Professors.  Classmates.  Social club members. Other students outside of your major or social circle. Teaching assistants. Career advisors. College deans. Friends of friends. Everyone!  Why? Professional networking. When employers look to fill a position, the first thing they do is ask the people they know and trust if they know someone who would do well in the position. If you start building your professional network early, you’ll be set. Over time, you’ll continue talking to new people you meet through your current network and your network’s reach and the associated opportunities will continue to snowball for the duration of your career.

I hope you will plan on joining me next week for Part III in this series. Thanks for reading! 

Friday, September 23, 2022

18 Things I Wish I Had Known At 18 (Part I)

Once upon a time the retailer known as Books-A-Million used to have comfy chairs scattered around their store. These chairs provided a perfect way to relax with friends, take a short nap, or to sample a large number of books in a short amount of time. 

One day I was skimming through some technology magazines and a young man who had been reading in the chair next to me lowered his book and asked a question that was obviously weighing on his mind. 

"Pardon my interruption but I'm graduating from high school in a couple of weeks and I have no clue what I want to do with my life,” he said. “Can I ask you a few questions?”

And then, with eager, honest eyes, he began asking me one question after the next:

“What do you do for a living?”

“When and how did you decide what you wanted to do?”

“Why did you do this?  Why didn’t you do that?”

“Is there anything you wish you had done differently?”

Etc, etc, etc…

I answered his questions as best as I could, and tried to give decent advice with the time I had.  And after a half-hour conversation, he thanked me and we parted ways.

But on the drive home I realized the conversation I had with him was actually quite nostalgic for me.  He reminded me of me thirty years ago.  So I started thinking about his questions again, and I began to reflect on all of the things I wish someone had told me when I was 18. The eighteen pieces of advice listed below are not in any order of priority, so bear that in mind when reading this list. 

So without further ado, here are 18 things I wish someone told me when I was 18:

1. Commit yourself to making lots of mistakes. – Mistakes teach you important lessons.  The biggest mistake you can make is doing nothing because you’re too scared to make a mistake.  So don’t hesitate – don’t doubt yourself.  In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance.  You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.  Most of the time you just have to go for it!  And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be.  Either you succeed or you learn something.  Win-Win.  Remember, if you never act, you will never know for sure, and you will be left standing in the same spot forever.

2. Find hard work you love doing. – If I could offer my 18-year-old self some real career advice, I’d tell myself not to base my career choice on other people’s ideas, goals and recommendations.  I’d tell myself not to pick a major because it’s popular, or statistically creates graduates who make the most money.  I’d tell myself that the right career choice is based on one key point: Finding hard work you love doing.  As long as you remain true to yourself, and follow your own interests and values, you can find success through passion.  Perhaps more importantly, you won’t wake up several years later working in a career field you despise, wondering “How the heck am I going to do this for the next 30 years?”  So if you catch yourself working hard and loving every minute of it, don’t stop.  You’re on to something big.  Because hard work isn't so hard when you are able to concentrate on your passions.

3. Invest time, energy and money in yourself every day. – When you invest in yourself, you can never lose, and over time you will change the trajectory of your life.  You are, to a great extent, the product of what you know.  So the more time, energy and money you spend acquiring pertinent knowledge, the more control you have over your life.

4. Explore new ideas and opportunities often. – Your natural human fears of failure and embarrassment will sometimes stop you from trying new things.  But you must rise above these fears, for your life’s story is simply the culmination many small, unique experiences.  And the more unique experiences you have, the more interesting your story gets.  So seek as many new life experiences as possible and be sure to share them with the people you care about.  Not doing so is not living.

5. When sharpening your career skills, focus more on less. – Think in terms of Karate: A black belt seems far more impressive than a brown belt.  But does a brown belt really seem any more impressive than a red belt?  Probably not to most people.  Remember that society elevates experts high onto a pedestal.  Hard work matters, but not if it’s scattered in diverse directions.  So narrow your focus on learning fewer career related skills and master the ones you truly are interested in.

Friday, September 16, 2022

An Idea

It is a place that had definitely earned its way into our imagination. The kind of place that draws you away from yourself, which in itself sounds like a gift but rarely lives up to that billing. It calls out equally to the rich and famous, the poor clamoring for attention, and most emphatically to everyone who desires "different". Different realities, different circumstances, different partners, different children, different friends, different jobs, our desire to exchange our reality for our illusions is endless. 

And unrelenting.

It testifies daily to our desire for what we do not possess, yet does not consider the pitfalls that come with such a transaction. It is a place where we feel comfortable in either the spheres of  history or fable because we cannot truly discern the difference. It is a place of immense danger, yet gives off none of those vibes in its ongoing mission to draw people away from themselves. Truth is not a currency in this type of mindset, and reality is further despised. Self is the end-game, and envy is the pathway. 

And yet none of this is what has drawn you and I, my fellow reader, to this spot. We are here to right a wrong, that many have experienced but few can comprehend. Because even though some of us can recall our nightmares, it is a rare person who has the courage to confront them. 

Are you ready for this adventure? 

(To be continued . . . )

Friday, September 09, 2022

Braves Take The Lead!

Back on April 11, the Mets lost to the Phillies, 5-4. It was their second-straight loss after starting 3-0. They would win their next three games to push their record in the early going to 6-2. We wouldn't be talking about that little stretch in the first week of the season here in September if it weren't important to the story at hand, clearly, so let's just get to it. 

That span between the Mets loss on April 11 and their win on April 12 was the only time this entire season that they hadn't been in first place ... until now. 

With the Mets loss to the Marlins (MIA 6, NYM 3) and the Braves win at Seattle on Friday night (ATL 6, SEA 4), the Braves have taken a half-game lead in the NL East. 

The Mets led by as many as 10 1/2 games. The Braves worked the lead down to a half game in late July, but the Mets were able to hold them off and push it back up to seven games by Aug. 8. The Braves just refused to go away and battled their way to a tie this past Tuesday evening. The Mets swept a doubleheader on Wednesday to kick the proverbial can down the street a bit, but Friday night's action finally got the Braves over the hump. 

Friday, September 02, 2022

What Now?

By Emily St. James for Vox Magazine

The SBC is a collection of loosely affiliated member churches, boasting just under 15 million members. It has no firm, established hierarchy; it doesn’t even have a central headquarters. In theory, individual churches can preach or believe whatever they want, but the larger “convention” can remove member churches that don’t toe certain lines. Representatives of these churches meet each year at an annual event — also called a convention. At the 2021 convention, member churches voted to conduct an internal investigation of sexual abuse within the church.

Complaints about sexual abuse and sexual assault on the part of pastors were sent to higher-ups who then kept those accusations quiet. Though the report, by Guidepost Solutions, was only commissioned to study the cover-up from the years 2000 on, it found incidents of sexual abuse and warnings of the same going back to the 1960s. In all, Guidepost found accusations leveled against people at all levels: church volunteers, staff, and leadership, including those at the top of the church’s ladder. Those accusations were made by people of different ages and genders, and they include allegations of child sexual abuse, the grooming of adolescents, and the sexual assault of adults.

These findings were not unprecedented. A major investigation by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News, published in 2019, first brought many of the accusations against church leadership to light. The publication of that report galvanized a grassroots drive by individual Southern Baptist churches to hire a firm to conduct an investigation.