Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Testing, Testing, 1,2,3..."

Today's blog is not much important, except I'm testing links and link processes.

For the most part it's to see if I can place, say, a book title on my blog and have it appear as a link to Amazon.

For example: If I should mention Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain; by Betty Edwards, the code should automatically generate a link/widget/gadget to the book title on Amazon. Let's see if it works.

Apparently not, but perhaps Amazon needs to crawl over it first. Let's test another item: Me, Myself, and Bob; by Phil Vischer. I expect Amazon needs to crawl this one as well. This one worked. Looks like I need to put some reference code around the book title. Ah, well. I was hoping to save some work and have it happen automatically. Not a biggie really. I'll just have to run through my posts for the proper references and add the links myself.

Yes, I Can!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Expect Problems

In our class today we were detailing all of our fears of being able to do the job once we went out to the production floor. It wasn’t phrased like that, mostly. It was phrased in the ‘what if?’ mode. The biggest ‘what if’ being “What if I don’t know the answer?” Being new and just out of training, not having the answer at our fingertips will be a given. What our practice time will amount to is learning how to find the answers. Most of us have worked on the phones, so taking calls, per se, won’t be the main problem.

The problem is, we will have problems. Life is a series of bumps in our path. Sometimes they are very large obstacles, not just a ‘bump’. My main problem is not the lack of knowledge, the unfamiliarity with the systems or even not particularly liking to deal with people on the phone (hey, you do what you have to do). My biggest problem is when my brain seems to fog up. I personally get nervous and angry when I can’t seem to think straight. This gets me agitated, and when I’m agitated I can’t think straight (see earlier). This is not a positive feedback loop.

Having had this happen (more than) a few times, I have learned to anticipate and plan for the times I become agitated. I have my worry stone and by squeezy ball. I write encouraging sticky notes and post them on my monitor. I take my walk around the building at lunchtime to give my body some physical activity to release the pent up adrenaline. I focus on pine trees and mountain streams in the off moments. And I try to remember to breathe. Breathing is good. It gets rid of carbon dioxide and brings in the vital oxygen. The very act of breathing relaxes the body. And, in my case, helps get rid of the brain fog.

The ‘Question and Answer’ time was good. It got our fears out into the open. More to the point, it got the problems out into the open. When we knew about the problems we could help each other on finding solutions (and not just answering questions). The solution in this case was to ‘Rely on your resources’ to point us in the right direction. Particularly for me, it’s to drill myself on the systems until they are nearly automatic. The scripting comes naturally enough to me that it won’t be a problem (that word again) to pick up. And despite me not particularly liking to talk to people, I do that well enough to get me through.

It all comes down to the ‘how-to’s’. How to do this, how to do that. Once you know how-to, the job is easy. This is called ‘know-how’. Once we know how to do the job, the fear of not being able to goes away, and we’re better able to get the job done.

Our biggest problem, then, is fear. Fear cripples us by making us doubt our abilities. Fear also attacks us by causing us to focus on the consequences of the misstep. How many mountain climbers reached the summit by looking down? Yes, we need to be aware of the consequences of a misstep so we don’t trivialize the consequences. But we focus on the task at hand, looking toward the goal. When we focus on making each step the best step we can, the precipice tends to fade into the background. We never quite forget it’s there, it just doesn’t command our attention.

Again, it all comes down to our focus (see my earlier blog). If we focus on our problems that’s all we’ll see. If we focus on the solutions we will make better headway.

Much has been said about the Law of Attraction. I’m not sure I buy into the ‘create your own universe’ aspect. But I cannot deny the logic of focus: what you focus on, commands your attention, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else. What you focus on draws you to it, just like wanting to see more detail in that photograph or painting that catches your eye. Consequently, you tend to move away from other things.

What does this come down to?

Like the title says: expect problems, but don’t let them dominate your thinking.

Expect problems, expect to overcome them.

Yes, you can!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Anger - Forgiveness

Two sides of a coin.

Anger does little good for most folks.

Certainly there are times to get angry and stay angry until the reason for the anger is resolved, wrongs are righted, injustices satisfied. Most wars are finished (and sometimes started) on the idea of a wrong to be righted. Sometimes it's even true.

But that's not the kind of anger I'm talking about.

I'm talking about the little rages we have when someone cuts us off in traffic, insults our dignity, or otherwise offends us. Such small things can have tragically large consequences. For instance:

= Someone makes a lane change to get to an exit. The person cut off races down the same off-ramp hard on the tail of the first, striking the vehicle, and both cars are totaled when the both go off the embankment. Result: Property damage and injury to both people.

= A man fires a gun on New Years Eve. He misses his intended victim and the .44-cal slug pierces the wall of a home. Result: an innocent young girl dies in her sleep.

= A twelve-year-old shoots a six-year-old in the school yard for 'dissin'" him by stepping on his shadow. I doubt she knew what she had done wrong. Result: one child dead and the other - still a child - incarcerated.

Yet, such things could be avoided if we taught forgiveness on the part of the wronged party instead of conflict resolution by gunfire. Most things are accidental or unintentional, and most people would make a small change to not offend if informed. The grace of giving way covers a lot of pains. So does forgiving, and not remembering the slight, or the hurt, or the debt.

"I’ll get even!"

How? Is it worth the hurt returned?

"Yeah, but he owes me!"

Yes, but will he ever care?

"I'll never forgive him until he begs for it!"

You may have a long time to wait. Ultimately, who is being hurt by your action?

"He is!"

Only if he knows, and cares. The Roman soldiers were only doing a job when they nailed people to crosses. Whether they were forgiven or not was beside the point to them. But forgiving his executioners I'm sure enabled Jesus to die a more peaceful death.

"Cold comfort!"

But comfort nonetheless.

The truth is the only person being hurt by our un-acted upon anger is ourselves. And if we do act on it, often times we hurt more than what we intend. The proverb of "A man who seeks revenge must first dig two graves," is truer than most of us want to admit.

So, forgive.

Of course the truly contrite person will appreciate the forgiveness and mutual healing is apt to occur when the one injured forgives the one doing the injury. Relationships are restored that way. Sometimes that healing starts when we forgive the other without waiting to be asked. The person in the wrong may doubt that forgiveness is even possible.

I've managed to offend someone in particular, who told me, when I tried to apologize, that she neither gave nor accepted apologies. Our acquaintanceship ended at that point, as she continued to be raging mad against me. I tried to apologize a few more times after that, and gave up when I saw that it was pointless. It did explain a lot about her, however. You see, I'd been waiting for her to say "I'm sorry," concerning some slight she had given me, and she was never going to do it. I moved on.

I wonder if she still pulls up her anger and stokes its furnace regarding that personal bad day I had that spilled out on the rest of the people around me. I needed a lot of grace that day. And in that light, I could understand how she felt justified in "Never forgiving me." I knew I was contrite. I also forgave her for not forgiving me. I hope she has found the wisdom of forgiveness since then.

And yet I do the same thing she did: I trip over some memory and I'm flashing white-hot anger again. I try. I try to forgive, grant grace, ignore, whatever. What doesn't work is hashing it out in my mind again. When I fight these ephemeral battles over again I'm usually in no shape to be kind to anyone, including myself.

When I practice forgiveness, including forgiving myself for my own shortcomings, I do much better. In a weird way, though, the other is more "fun." It's hard to explain, except maybe to an adrenaline junkie, but part of me enjoys the rush, even as it threatens to destroy me.

Forgiveness is more for the forgiver than it is for the forgiven. The rush to destruction is sidetracked. Peace has an opportunity to calm, to mend, to heal.

In short, forgiveness brings us closer to that place where God dwells.

Let go of your anger. Forgive the offender. Let peace flow in.

Yes, you CAN!