give or take: the conventional root

You’ve decided. It’s perfect for you. It represents a direct way to self-fulfillment, and you have so much to offer. You’ve studied hard, worked hard. The way to make a real contribution has presented itself. What lies at the root of conventional responses, of a course of action widely followed by your competition? So then how to distinguish yourself?

Demonstrate your uncompromising commitment by word and action. Volunteer time, if not money, for a related nonprofit. Here’s how a grassroots social enterprise in New Orleans, for one, serves those on both sides of the so-called divide. Write personal cards to all involved, not just email acknowledgements. Research people, places and events. Become deeply informed. Find out all you can about its mission, its past achievements, its future goals. Be direct, allow your integrity to guide the process, and conduct yourself without fear or hesitance. Write an op-ed piece on a relevant topic. Submit an article to a trade publication. Offer to speak to a community group with common objectives.

continue reading…

the result of inaction: heavy brainfall

HeavyBrainfallThe consequences of a lack of exercise are swift and severe, especially as the calendar continues its relentless passage. With an abundance of physical activity, though, the benefits are equally extreme and measurable. Low cholesterol. Strong heart. Vibrant bones and muscles. Little excess body fat. Increased creativity and stamina.

But society works against all that in the name of “ease of use.” The country as a whole no longer directly reaps the fields or catches animals and fish, instead sitting in offices day in and day out and ordering in. While passing through any thoroughfare in any town in any county in any state, one need not even get out of the car to load up on carbs and saturated fat, a circumstance ushered in by the glorious drive-thru window.

continue reading…

the easy way out: artificial sweetener

The human drive to become physically sated expresses itself in many ways. In the realm of food, to take just one of a hundred examples, the richer the better. Yet is all that saturated fat in beef, chicken and fish preparations really necessary? What purpose does our society’s overwhelming tendency toward sugar serve? Balance the passing ArtificialSweetenermoments of pleasure against diabetes, weight gain, inflammation, high cholesterol and blood pressure, and a whole host of etceteras. Yet these preparations overwhelmingly dominate the diets of those within the developed world (burger chains don’t sell billions in Bangladesh).

Would that those tendencies could be translated to become mentally sated! Such desires are nowhere near as pervasive within our culture, within our homes. The physical body has practical limits; it’s difficult to survive when toting 350 or 400 pounds. But can the brain ever get enough? Feed it every day. Push and stretch till it hurts. Work hard to become sated in this way and experience first-hand just how difficult it is to actually reach that point. When was the last time you pushed away from your desk, muttering, “I couldn’t learn another thing”?

continue reading…

tireless preparation: personal kneads

Twenty-three thousand overachieving students apply to gain admittance to Harvard’s freshman class of less than 2100. Three hundred highly qualified people apply for one job at IBM. The success rate for ambitious musicians to play at either Carnegie Hall or Madison Square Garden is far smaller. The list will always continue… Calendar

So many exceptionally qualified people find themselves in places not quite what their talents would otherwise suggest. Those less ambitious can simply chalk up such statistics to our highly competitive world and leave it at that, while others will plug away year after year in what will turn out to be a vain attempt to reach the loftier levels of human attainment.

continue reading…

working for a nonprofit: aluminum foil

key perspectives: picture frame

Do you have a clear plan about where you’re going? pictureframe

Picture your ideal job; what does it look like? What is its focus, and with whom would you be working and interacting? Is your productivity and efficiency all it could be? If not, what must be done to ensure those twin aspects of valued employment?

These questions hold true whether you’re an undergraduate or graduate student, new to the job market or otherwise ensconced in a less-than-ideal job. Plan ahead. Act systematically. Are you going into an interview or meeting? Then formulate an agenda even if one is not provided. Reticence has no place within the job market, so carefully consider all chosen paths, then act decisively.

continue reading…

using time wisely: autumn leaves

In just over a month, when December 21st comes to a close, autumn leaves and we brace for winter. How many of us remember the start of 2017 asusing time wisely though it took place a mere few months ago? Then multiply that feeling by 10 and a decade has passed. How easy it is to forego an extra hour for Law & Order, a further hour for Judge Judy, confident that the time could well be made up tomorrow, next month, next year…. Fill in the blanks for any activity that stretches a bit too far and the hours add up like credit-card interest, unable to be recouped and ultimately a waste.

To be sure, those few extra hours in bed or relaxing in front of the browser, cup of tea in hand while nursing a cold, or that two-week vacation in Paris or Prague after an intense and productive period of work, are both wise and rejuvenating. Yet day to day, this extra 10 minutes here or that 15 minutes there can add up to hours each day, dozens each week and hundreds beyond.

continue reading…

integrity by the numbers: clean sheets

Throughout the past decade, Julius Baer was among the Swiss banks to settle with United States justice and tax authorities over an investigation that revealed its active CleanSheetsparticipation in a scheme with wealthy American clients to avoid taxes. Were this an isolated incident, one could chalk it up to greedy bankers and self-centered multimillionaires—the former for the hefty fees, the latter for the hefty fortunes. Yet this is merely one in a series of ongoing investigations. Even if we were not in our current age of omnipresent—and, to be sure, omnipotent—electronic financial trails and travails, why do some people still consider integrity a human trait best left to our society’s do-gooders? Why can clean balance sheets still not be taken for granted, if only because they are so difficult to hide nowadays, let alone because tax fraud is hardly a victimless crime?

continue reading…

the beauty of cobblestone: uneven paths

When driving, who wouldn’t choose the paved roads, the smooth transitions, the shock absorbers’ gratitude? The initial response may well be likewise when confronted with CobblestonePathpersonal and career decisions, yet is the flat ride always the best?

Instinct may have us attempt to avoid struggling, yet perseverance and character are built upon that self-same struggle and arguably impossible to achieve without it. The twin peaks of satisfaction and contentment are borne from a belief in—and willingness to confront— what lies ahead rather than an escape-at-all-costs mindset that has less substance than a microbe.

continue reading…

putting it on the line: open doer policy

Why is it that some people are perpetually out and about, causing things to happen, initiating contacts and contracts, and for whom a day without learning or achievement is aopendoer6 wasted day?

On the other side of the door, why is it that some people go through life passively, causing few things to happen, showing little initiative, and for whom a day without television or lots of time at the kitchen table is a wasted day?

There’s a reason why a certain sneaker and apparel company’s catch phrase has become part of the national lexicon—so very simple and yet for some, ever elusive.

continue reading…