storing and accessing mistakes: I cloud

Making mistakes can be a source of true peace.

What a ridiculous statement, no? How could it be so, and why does it never feel that way at the moment?Erasing

For those determined to move ahead tangibly—both personally and professionally—and not just to aspire, the follow-up question, “What can be gleaned from this?” is key. None of us can know at all times where to step and where to avoid, what to do and what to avoid, how to embrace and how to avoid; such a valuable avoidance instinct can only be built up over time, over problems solved, over situations lived through.

As long as we recognize that being perfect is not only unrealistic but impossible, and that freely admitting inevitable mistakes is a sign of strength and self-awareness rather than weakness, we open ourselves to lasting progress and development. The instinct to cover up mistakes or to spin them in a more favorable light is surely natural; who, after all, wants to walk around with errors hanging from the emotional rafters, with slips stuck to public message boards?

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making the most of meaningful opportunity: flew shot

How many times are you confronted with meaningful opportunity — in a day, a week, a month? Are you receptive to the signs, willing to pursue them, needleeager to take your best shot? Doing so may take you out of your comfort zone, may involve some risk, may expose you to criticism and/or failure, may initially sting.

But weigh the consequences of inaction, and you may well be confronted by mediocre work, by unsatisfying relationships, by an unforgiving calendar, by less money, by… by… by.

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looking ahead: inauguration blues

Inauguration BluesJanuary 2017 has nearly run its course; a twelfth of the new year is already history. What of the resolutions to inaugurate new habits and new pursuits, to look ahead as a high-school student looks toward college, as a college student looks toward a job or graduate school? Those in their teens and 20s are more often than not filled with the idealistic perspective of the need for education, of making a lasting impact, of personal growth.

With the calendar’s relentless progression when the 30s and 40s can seem to pass so quickly, with increasing job and family responsibilities, with the constant need to try finding time for exercise and sleep, who has time to inaugurate a skill like learning a new language? (The phrase ‘foreign language’ is increasingly fading as the world’s borders become ever closer, despite current walls and divisions.) Who has time to inaugurate an exercise routine when just getting out of the house in the morning and back in at night can seem to elevate the heart rate too much?

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dealing with daily pressures: fresh-squeezed juice

Your job promotion depends entirely on addressing daily pressures while completing extraordinary work by Friday for a project impacting the entire company.

Your spouse’s crucial work commitments cause all the week’s family responsibilities to fall on your shoulders alone.

You’ve lost your job and have accepted two or three jobs either within or outside your field rather than lose your house to foreclosure.

Your child’s or parent’s illness means that you’re burning candles on both ends of the day, as inattention or cutting corners is not within your repertoire.

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the persistence of ego: flash lite

flash-lightEach of us is born with distinct gifts, to be developed and expanded through discipline and desire, or to be left to fade through apathy and anxiety. They
encompass the kaleidoscopic range of human experiences, from construction worker to concert violinist, from doorman to doctor, from gardener to golfer, from proctor to president. Yet why must society make delineations, create class categories, foster exclusivity?

A concert violinist must go through decades of disciplined practice on top of requiring the inborn gifts, yet is the construction worker—who labors through years of apprenticeship and stultifying weather conditions while helping to create the concert hall—a less valuable person?

A doctor must go through endless years of highly specific training and staves off disease, yet is the doorman—who helps to guard the doctor’s co-op against crime and murder, and keeps order—a less valuable person?

A professional golfer must devote immeasurable time to drives and putts while offering entertainment and ready aspiration, yet is the gardener—who maintains the course and cultivates beauty and oxygen with perpetual toil—a less valuable person?

A president, whether of company or country, must cultivate expansive education, political skills and charisma to guide and inspire groups of people with much at stake, yet is the proctor—who oversaw the president’s bar exam and ensures integrity and discipline within life-changing circumstances—a less valuable person?

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being held up: mug shots

The 8:30 a.m. conference at your downtown office will emphatically not wait for being held up in rush-hour traffic, for getting the kids ready for school in time for the bus, for finishing your preparation for the pending presentation, for putting gas in the car, for stopping at the ATM, for… for… for. If only youcoffe-mug could have something to hold you up amidst the stress and lack of sleep that seem to purposely invade each week. Add waiting in line at Starbucks for that shot of espresso that briefly jolts the brain and body.

Why do we put ourselves in such a position? Must we stay up so late answering that enveloping stream of emails, watching and/or reading the end-of-day news, overextending to spouse and children? Well sure, this is contemporary life, when wanting it all comes with an inflationary price that only the weak decline to pay. Let the morning mugs of Colombian coffee be drained, let them be damned, but let them work!

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shared experiences: risk verse reward

career choices: post-office

the corporate ladder: climb and punishment

For so many teenagers, it’s simply not an option. Their grades must be exemplary. Their SAT and ACT scores must be in one of those coveted eat-sleep-and-drink percentiles. corporate ladderTheir college applications must be loaded with everything from athletics to community involvement. Their college grades must stand out, even when surrounded by standout students. Their graduate school years must reflect pinpoint focus. All of this more often than not leads to punishing 80-hour weeks at that longed-for corporate job, where creativity, freedom and empathy are shunted aside in favor of six-figure prestige and tireless climbing.

Companies like Google, with cash streaming in faster than it can be printed, can and do take advantage of that circumstance to encourage their employees to eat well, to exercise, to be creative, to give back—and set up their corporate campuses accordingly. Many more, though, under the constant pressure of relentlessly judged quarterly reports or simply meeting monthly expenses, demand more than the body can realistically sustain. Over time, sleep becomes a secondary concern and exercise a tertiary matter, with family activities fit in whenever possible.

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avoiding the instinct: gesticular cancer

That one gesture, that universal conveyance of anger and defiance, that singular finger. Yet beyond what can causally be attributed to this or that surface09a4fd_39633f424aee474b8d708d4d9a20eabb offense or vernacular veneer, why is it so pervasive? What lies under the skin that ignores patience and forgiveness?

Looking outward: Someone aggressively weaves in and out of congested traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway with the no-holds-barred determination of getting to that McDonald’s or bank drive-thru window 90 seconds earlier. Rather than react with that all-too-common shot of disgust, rather than increase hormones and heartbeats, why not just let it pass? As difficult as it can sometimes be, love thy neighbor as thyself isn’t just some Biblical catchphrase to be tossed like so much salad dressing. Why buy into the kind of pharmaceutical-grade drama that can suck the life out of an otherwise peaceful moment? Why not consider stepping back and feeling empathy for that person, grateful that your own stomach is full, that you’ve got use of both legs, that your breathing is regular, that you’re not lying in a hospital bed?

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