Legend has it that author Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. His response? “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” In 2007, SMITH online magazine re-ignited the idea and started a reader contest: Your life story in six words. The magazine was soon flooded with thousands of entries from readers submitting their own six word memoirs; some bittersweet and inspirational and others funny, thought provoking and hilarious.
My six word memoir was chosen to be a part of this collective effort. ‘My reach always exceeds my grasp‘ – is my contribution and can be found on page 51. Of course there is a huge story underlying my chosen six words and that will be the subject of a future article. The inspiration I’ve derived from this serendipitous opportunity is being used continually as motivation to pursue other goals as I reach beyond my grasp towards future possibilities.
The article informs us quite clearly that the most important characteristic that separates those that have succeeded despite huge obstacles is persistence, determination and intense focus on a positive outcome.
As a friend once told me, most people go “through” things while others go “to” things. The difference of course is in your focus. Get clear about what you want to accomplish and where you want to go. Surround yourself with those that are moving in the direction of success. Model those that have already achieved success and arm yourself with the right set of tools that will help you get the job done.
The Exquisite Corpse Video Project is a collaborative video project in which artists from various parts of the world, who met online, work together. There is no curator, no single author and no theme; each artist responds to the piece of the previous artist. The process is spontaneous and creative. Inspired by the Surrealist invention of the ‘Exquisite Corpse,’ a method of sequential, collaborative image production, several video shorts were composed over several months by 26 artists in 13 countries.
One of several screenings to the public occurred on August 18, 2008 at the Monkey Town venue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn NY.
I had the honor of having my voice open the first video of the project as part of artist Marty McCutcheon contribution.
The latest issue of Prospect magazine features a thought-provoking article by Richard Reeves on the old-fashioned concept of “good character” and its importance for a successful society.
Reeves says good character is made up of three parts: “a sense of personal agency or self-direction; an acceptance of personal responsibility; and effective regulation of one’s own emotions, in particular the ability to resist temptation or at least defer gratification.”
Reeves discusses whether good characters are harder to come by these days and if so why? The author also identifies the family and good parenting as one of the most important sources of good characters.
In today’s fast paced and competitive business environment, you must learn how to frequently change your view and attitudes to meet the challenges of an ever-changing market place. Tomorrow’s leaders are intellectually flexible, open to change, and willing to take action in the face of uncertainty.
Be aware of these four forces of change and use them to your advantage:
1. Increasing compression of time and space: Technology is allowing for faster and faster delivery, and people’s expectations are keeping pace. Globalization has raised expectations for both international and local businesses.
2. Increasing complexity: Disruptive technology, a market saturated in seemingly identical products and increasingly sophisticated systems is making the marketplace more complex and difficult to navigate.
3. Increasing transparency and accountability: Digital communication, legislation and grassroots movements are all forcing businesses to be more transparent and accountable about how they do business and how it will impact the customer as well as the environment.
4. Rising expectations: What used to be luxuries are now considered necessities. Likewise, things that are considered luxuries today won’t be considered luxuries tomorrow.
What, exactly, is a “Nice Guy”? I’m not sure. There’s no occupation or glaring trait that screams to the world, “I’m nice!” One thing I’m fairly sure of is that the term “Nice Guy” is subjective. It’s a title given to someone because of their pleasantness or meekness. The Nice Guy may be charming, yet not obtrusive; he’s there when you need him, says yes to everything (even when he wants to say no), makes good light conversation, but doesn’t obtusely butt in where he doesn’t belong. In short, he becomes the most pleasing friend that he can realistically be. The Nice Guy’s behavior is always near-constant and changes only slightly regardless of the situation.
The Nice Guy has no problem acquiring plenty of friends, sure, why not? Everyone likes a Nice Guy, but no one especially loves him; Nice Guys show their strongly supportive natures when needed, yet make little impression when the situation requires real leadership. Don’t get me wrong, Nice Guys are an integral part of the community and they mean well. The world likes Nice Guys because they make the world a somewhat better place; it’s just unfortunate that no one wants to give them any credit for their efforts.
In that sense of the phrase, many years ago, I had certain “Nice Guy” tendencies. I soon realize that I was able derive more benefits socially and professionally by becoming a “Smart Guy”. Smart guys understand the dynamics of a situation and proceed accordingly. They display behavior that best suits the situation while assuring that the experience is mutually beneficial.
Society values form over substance and the thrill of fulfillment over the stale calm of utopia. Therefore, in the natural selection that is society, “Nice Guy” tendencies may be perceived as a weakness over the long term especially when gratuitous, gregarious self-promotion is the norm. If Nice Guys finish last it is not because they deserve it, it’s because society chose them to finish there.
The Nice Guy’s only hope is time and experience when the day breaks and he finally sees the light that allows him to proceed accordingly.
I recently read an article at WSJ.com titled The Death of Diversity and it prompted me to think about the basic premise of diversity. I was one of the so called “diversity trainers” for a number of years while working for a fortune 500 company. During my tenure, it became increasingly clear that in an era of globalization, expanding international markets and rapidly changing demographics, this generation shouldn’t even have to make a case for diversity. But unfortunately, the conversation has to continue as there’s still work to be done.
The WSJ article points to research conducted by Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam. His researchers did 30,000 interviews in 41 U.S. communities and found that people in ethnically diverse settings don’t want to have much of anything to do with each other. “Social capital” erodes. Diversity has a downside.
I’ll agree that the study is thought provoking and suitable for a debate and further research but I disagree with its conclusion. Even Robert Putnam suggests that social identity is something that is constantly evolving and we’re always redefining ourselves and our communities. We’re not just ethnic groups; we’re suburbanites and downtown dwellers, white-collar professionals and blue-collar workers etc. We all have a fresh perspective to bring to the table. Let’s continue to engage each other in discourse that promotes and accepts our differences while seeking to improve our human condition.