“Maybe all meaningful journeys begin with a mistake. Some kind of transgression or false turn or flawed idea that sets a certain irresistible odyssey in motion.”
Kate Harris, Lands of Lost Borders
Robert Frost took the path not taken. Hannibal tried mountaineering with elephants (which was a mistake). Christopher Columbus set sail looking for India and ended up in the Americas. Leif Erikson explored the American continent 500 years before Columbus. Marco Polo traveled to China and back, opening trade routes between the two countries.
And sometimes, we ignore the GPS just to try an unfamiliar road to our favorite restaurant. Exploration can be a thrilling adventure, full of surprises and discoveries. It is a way to expand our horizons and learn more about the world.
As I’ve written before, we are an exploratory people – driven by curiosity and wonder. I can think of my first trip to Alaska, where I was mesmerized by the beauty and grandeur of the landscape. Just as Roosevelt had been, and Bering, and Cook, and numerous others. The same spirit of exploration that drove those pioneers still lives on today in all of us. We must continue to explore and learn, because each journey brings us closer to understanding ourselves, our world, and our place in it.
Since I’ve worked through a number of jobs over the course of my career, I’ve had the benefit of observing different management styles at work within different corporate structures throughout my career. Film and television; nonprofits; entertainment companies and performing arts venues; and professional sports. Not to mention the various side gigs I’ve been involved with.
What I’ve seen, and learned, from management, I can boil down to a few prime nuggets. For starters, how you treat your employees matters. It’s not always pay, and everyone has a different reason for working where they do. But if you can make that experience – the coming-to-work experience – more pleasant than other potential employers, you’ll come a long way to keep your workforce.
Listen. Listen to every opinion, even if you disagree. Maybe especially then. If you’re only relying on your ideas, eventually you’re going to miss out on potential opportunities. Opportunities that someone else may seize on.
And lastly, don’t think your job is the only one. Especially now. This is a generation willing to challenge the status quo and innovate in ways that previous generations were not. A generation that has no problem quitting a job, even if there isn’t anything else lined up. I’ve heard that approximately 30% of the workforce changes jobs every 12 months.
So, it is imperative to be open to new ideas and opinions, and to be willing to listen and learn from them.
Email is no longer a tool for communication. What started out as a simple messaging system has evolved into a ubiquitous mass of daily data overload cascading into our inboxes. This data overload can be detrimental to productivity, as it is easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of emails. To combat this issue, many organizations should adopt tools and techniques to help manage the flow of email and streamline communication.
According to a McKinsey analysis, the average professional spends 28% of the workday reading and answering emails, which amounts to 2.6 hours daily. This time could be used for more productive tasks, such as strategic planning and problem solving. Furthermore, the constant influx of emails can be distracting and cause stress.
On a personal level, individuals should practice self-discipline and set aside specific times for responding to emails. In this way, unnecessary emails can be avoided and communication can be organized and efficient.
I’m still on my way to Inbox Zero, and failing spectacularly. But I think it’s a goal worth holding onto.
Timely information is something I’ve yet to fully understand. By that, I mean the way something can be at the forefront of the mind, or just teetering on the edge of the periphery. Then, something comes along that makes the information pertinent. How often have you said, “I was just telling someone that!”, or, “That’s been on my mind all day…”?
The mind is an incomprehensible organ, with more potential for making connections than we’ll likely ever know. Pattern-finding is in itself a uniquely human attribute. For instance, the ability to find patterns in music, art and literature is something that is essential to the creative process, and something that machines are not yet able to replicate.
One example that stands out is that the mind will hear patterns in repetitive noise, even if there is no changing tone or tempo: auditory apophenia. Apophenia is the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. The term is often used to refer to the experience of seeing faces in inanimate objects, but it can also refer to seeing any pattern in random data. (I will assume that this is the common tendency, though there will be those who recognize consistent rhythms.)
So the unconscious mind is forever absorbing and distilling more information than we can think of! This can lead to creative problem-solving, as well as more effective decision-making. It can also be a source of insight, allowing us to make connections that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to make.
Had a little trouble thinking about self-help. If the thought is, ‘we’re perfect the way we are’, why spend so much energy, time, money, and/or effort on changing? Then I remembered something I heard in an art history course a number of years ago.
Apparently, the artist Michelangelo once said, “The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.”
And I guess that’s something similar to what self-help is really trying to do. Chisel away the superfluous material. Regardless, the sculpture itself, complete or no, is perfect.
There was a mistake made back in January, and a quick post (quickly deleted) titled St. Patrick’s Day made its way out into the internets. Oops.
Anyway, now it is that day. Hopefully, if you observe it at all, you have a wonderful time of it. Cheers to all my Irish brethren.
The Academy Awards really wrap up the awards season. It’s not as important to viewers. I’m not even sure it’s all that important to Hollywood anymore. But after 95 years, it’s kind of hard to get away from.
And, if you didn’t know, being recognized with an award is pretty fun. So, a good excuse to party and pat yourself on the back. Maybe not as vital for the recognition of amazing work in cinema.
Still, with Everything, Everywhere All At Once winning Best Picture, and the studio A24 having Yeoh and Fraser in the Best Actress and Actor category, most of the Hollywood folk feel pretty good about the awards show. Popular selections and critical acclaim.
But where can it go from here? The nature of entertainment is changing, with the ultra-short form’s popularity on the rise (which is interesting, considering how badly Quibi did). So will the award shows change with it?
Only time will tell.
“Once I was a schleppa
Now I’m Miss Mazeppa
With my revolution in dance
You gotta have a gimmick
If you wanna have a chance”
It seems like everyone is hustling. Now, maybe that’s just because the ones who are hustling are the front-facing ones – those who post on socials daily, get interviewed, or just seem to be altogether omnipresent. In the background the non-hustlers toil away, completely content to be where they are, happy in the burrows of their lives. Not needing the attention of, well, whoever.
And for every hustler who’s made it, there’s probably a thousand who hasn’t. Or ten-thousand. Maybe more. But they all keep going and they all keep hustling. Because the odds don’t matter, only the result.
The thing is, it just takes one. One viral post. One incredible story. One unique experience. And then that struggling hustler becomes a well-known one, and maybe, just maybe, that would satisfy them.
Thinking more about what I wrote yesterday, it’s difficult to know where to fall on the spectrum of free speech vs. censorship. There is a slight problem with landing squarely on the side of uninhibited free speech, since it is somewhat likely to lead to mayhem. Conversely, I’m hardly a proponent of censoring, though certainly there are times when doing so benefits the public good. Not a blanket censorship, though also not a complete allowance of all thoughts, ideas, or ideologies.
How should we decide which of the two is better? Who should make the decision? How should we ensure that we have good systems and reviews in place? We are likely to encounter an even greater number of questions and even more problematic discussions if we were to answer these questions. However, we don’t have those discussions right now. Whether it’s standing on pulpits or milk crates, we proclaim that the world has gone mad and the other side is to blame for this.
To get to the heart of it, we need to communicate. And I think that is what we’re missing.
What makes us feel the need to shut off access to different opinions in order to protect our own viewpoints? Recently there have been book bans, or attempts to ban books, with the intent to protect, encapsulate, or, in a more insidious manner, perhaps to indoctrinate. In this New Yorker piece, critic Katy Waldman examines book bans, starting in my home state of Florida.
Some bans take parts of Florida’s controversial Stop WOKE Act, citing that “media specialists should avoid material that provokes feelings of ‘guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress’ related to race or gender.”
There’s an element of hypocrisy to the whole thing. On one side, we have those who want to ban books they deem “questionable in nature”. They will criticize their opponents for canceling, or attempting to cancel, those who have spoken or acted in ways that offend and demean.
However, on the flip side, detractors of book bans often claim that certain types of free speech aren’t protected under the free speech principle. Which is, fundamentally, what those advocating for book bans are claiming.
In the end, it’s not the principles that differ between them – it’s rather how they interpret them that is different.