Sunday, November 30, 2008
A certain level of intelligence and education gets an individual to a certain degree of success. However, to get any further, it's actually diligence that carries them. Specifically 10,000 hours of diligence in our chosen field is absolutely necessary if we wish to make a significant impact there. Now, just putting in the hours toiling away in a cube is not a sure-fire plan. You still need that degree of intelligence, and 10,000 hours in the minimum investment necessary.
This particular stat caught my interest because I, like many in my generation, am a job hopper. I have been blessed to have discovered one good opportunity after another in very quick succession. I see a greener pasture and I go for it. That's not to say that every move was a marvelous idea. Most were, though there were some duds to. What is true is that they have all been critical component of a very interesting path that I built for myself.
Now I have a job in a field that utilizes all of the skills I amassed through a variety of different jobs. All the time I put in at my other positions provided the experience to get me to this place, but my accumulation of those 10,000 hours began only recently. Perhaps without knowing it, Malcolm Gladwell made a very profound statement directly to my generation. "Hop around to find your passion. That's fine. But once you find that passion it takes staying power to make it to the top of the heap." Wise counsel, intended or not, and I'm very grateful to him for it.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
We could say that people in general need to calm down when it comes to holiday shopping. Perhaps suggesting that they act like humans instead of wild animals on the hunt. Then I took a stroll through the Wednesday and Thanksgiving papers that were filled with circulars. I reconsidered all of the television and internet advertising I've seen in the past few weeks, compounded by the many newspaper articles that have trumpeted Black Friday sales as the only time of year when you can get a real deal. Is it any wonder that frenzy ensues?
I understand that retailers are hurting and need the business. I understand that our economy needs a boost from consumer spending this holiday season. The only thing that is going to prevent this kind of violence happening year after year on the day after Thanksgiving is pull-back by retailers. This Black Friday is a man-made holiday, and it needs a man-made solution. Drive more sales to on-line rather than in-store. Learn how to spread yours sales across a season rather than across the hours of 5am - 11am on one day. And for heaven's sake order enough inventory to fulfill at least a majority of the demand. Work with the suppliers beforehand, long beforehand, and do a proper forecasting model. This scarcity as strategy model is obscene, and it's literally killing people.
This season I'll be staying away from stores for the majority of the holiday season, as much as possible. I might pop in at some lull periods just to soak up some ambiance. I'll be doing my spending right here in front of my laptop. In my efforts to cultivate peace on Earth this holiday, it seems that our retailers are not the place to be.
Friday, November 28, 2008
My job - despite the normal frustrations that come with every job, I am especially grateful for my current position because the day-to-day tasks and the big picture view get me up out of bed every morning. I'm learning this is a rare blessing.
A place to call home - my friend, Monika among many other people close to me, are quite shocked that I have lived at one physical address for longer than a year. That hasn't happened since 1998. Ten years of moving at least once a year. Good grief. And now I am finally in a city that is comfortable and feels like home. I feel a sense of ownership and belonging that I haven't found before in my life. The stability of that sends waves of peace into my life that I have not had before.
Interesting times at a young age - the economy, politics, social activism. We are living in unprecedented conditions and if we can push aside the sense of uncertainty that invades our lives regularly, it is truly a spectacular opportunity for learning. To have this privilege so early on in my life and career is a tremendous gift that will inform many decisions I will make in the year to come.
The opportunity that lies ahead - we may look out into the world at the moment and see a very bleak picture. Though hidden within the folds of that bleak cover, there are wrinkles and pockets of opportunity. Going forward, there will be incentives for us to start businesses, to become a society of savers rather than spenders, to take up the call to protect the environment, and to build better transportation systems in our cities that will benefit generations to come. The good times will roll again, though in different, and dare I say better, forms that before.
In business school, Frank Warnock was one of my economics professors. Frank developed his expertise in international capital flows as a Senior Economist in the International Finance Division at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, DC. And whenever we reviewed cases or economic situations that were troubling, he would always say, "You have to be hopeful. What's the alternative?" Those words ring truer today than ever before. And for hope, and the people who remind me of its value, I am most thankful.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I was a cross-country runner in high school and always interested in running a marathon. Chicago was a perfect opportunity! I recruited my friend, Mark, the drummer on the show, to run with me. He wanted to get in better shape, too, and agreed to go the distance with me. I purchased a training book that laid out an ambitious but doable schedule for us and we were off.
Long runs, short runs, speed workouts, stretching, improved eating habits. Mark was with me every step of the way, everyday, with his cheery attitude and lovely British accent. There was no way I could have gotten through the experience without him. Training in Toronto was a magical time in my life because I felt like I was regaining my sense of self. It was easy to get lost in my work, and I needed to rediscover who I was and where my life was going. This training helped me do that.
Before Chicago, we had a brief hiatus and I returned to New York City for a few weeks. I did a few touristy things I had always wanted to do. On September 7th, I ventured to the World Trade Center and had a look around. I had never been to that neighborhood before. There wasn't anything particularly remarkable about that afternoon. I remember that it was a long, beautiful walk along the Battery. I do remember looking out over the water and feeling lucky to be there. I looked forward to coming back to New York when the tour was over.
I left for Chicago on September 9th. Mark and I were getting into top physical shape, and were glad to be reunited to finish our training in Chicago. And then September 11th happened. My brother left me a message that morning, panicked that I was in New York. I figured he heard about some kind of crime in the city on the news. I dismissed his concern as nothing more than his overprotective nature and sense of exaggeration. I tried to call him back and his cell number was busy. Odd. I tried to call my mom. Busy. Was the entire AT&T network down?
I walked to work that morning, winding my way through the theatre district in Chicago. A beautiful day. I had never been to Chicago before and was entranced by it. This was going to be a great run for us. I stopped in at the Corner Bakery to get a coffee and a danish. Could life be any better? Then I got to work.
My boss was frantically searching on the internet, listening to NPR. The office phone was ringing off the hook.
"What's going on?" I asked.
"Two planes flew into the World Trade Center."
"By accident?" I asked.
"I don't think so," he replied.
And then everything was different.
My beautiful city, the very area I had been only days before, was in chaos. We worked all day, talking with our producers, easing the fears of our company members, and trying to calm our own fears. Finally, they closed the Loop in Chicago, and we were forced to leave the theatre.
I went to visit my friends and finally saw so many of the pictures that people had been watching all day. It was even more devastating than I had imagined. I went to bed that night thinking that our nation would never be the same, that all these years I had taken our safety for granted. I was right on both counts.
Within a month, our show announced its closing and we lost our jobs. The bottom fell out of the theatre industry. But before closing down, Mark and I ran the marathon. On Saturday, October 14th, we arrived at the starting line at 6am. We dropped off our valuables at check-in and got our numbers. We had trained hard in the final weeks – running was the only time of day I felt useful. Still, I was worried that we weren’t ready. Maybe we wouldn’t be able to finish. Maybe there was just no point to anything anymore.
We lined up, the gun went off, and slowly we wound our way through the neighborhoods of Chicago. The morning was sunny, the temperature perfect. A few miles in, I found that for the first time in a month, I noticed the sunshine, and felt warm. Mark and I stopped at every water and food station to keep our energy up.
What struck me the most about that race was the generosity of the crowd lining the entire route. I hadn’t expected that. They had orange slices and popcorn, cowbells and signs to cheer us on. That crowd made me believe in the goodness of the world, in our ability to reaffirm life.
17 miles in, my knees began to ache terribly. “Come on, Love. We can do this,” Mark said. With that vote of confidence, he gave me a Tylenol. My knee pain was gone in minutes since my blood had been pumping strong for over two hours. Mentally, I was still feeling rattled. And then Mark did something that will make me love him forever. Mark asked me, “How did you start running?”
No one had ever asked me that before. Truth was, I started running to run away from my life. My dad was sick for most of my childhood and during my teen years, the situation in my home grew dire. I suffered from insomnia, and found that long-distance running would tire me out enough to sleep peacefully for a few hours. When I was racing, I knew my family was proud of me. I also thought if I could get good enough, I might be able to go to college on a partial scholarship. There was no money in my family to send me to college.
In my junior year of high school, I sustained a terrible injury that knocked me out for the season. I was devastated. I felt broken. I had a hard time walking for a number of months and began to run on my injured foot too soon, re-injuring it. A few months later, my father passed away after a long illness. While there was more peace in the house after his passing, it was an uncomfortable silence. That spring, I ran to forget, to hide. I didn’t care if I won any event. I just wanted to exhaust myself.
After that injury, I had the goal of someday running a marathon to pay tribute to my family for having lived through a difficult time. So this was it. This marathon was for my family. And if I could make it 26.2 miles, I’d believe that finally my body and my spirit were no longer broken.
Mark was quiet the whole time. I thought he might be bored with my droning. Turns out he was just a very good listener. “I’m sure that today your dad’s proud of you,” Mark said. And I believed him.
At the 26-mile mark, the finish line was in sight. There were banners flying high, and masses of people cheering. I felt like I was flying. At that point, Mark and I had to split because they timed men and women separately. We’d reunite at the end of the race. I smiled so wide crossing that finish line that I thought my face might crack. I lost all sense of exhaustion and burden. Mark and I made it – 26.2 miles in less than four and a half hours, step by step, together.
That day, I learned more about the world than any other day before or since. I developed a special fondness for Chicago – I felt that the crowd who came out that day breathed new life into me at a time when I felt very hollow and alone. That crowd helped me to refocus on the generosity and commitment of people to a community. Despite a dark set of circumstances facing all of us, we could rediscover happiness and enlightenment and move forward. I learned that true friendship carries us in the most trying times. I’m forever indebted to Mark for his positive attitude and belief in me. Almost 10 years after my dad’s passing, I lived up to the promise to honor my family. I raced toward sunshine, and found it. And I have been alight ever since. "
The photo above can be found at: http://riseupomenofgod.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/running-man.jpg