2.24.2007

hard work may be worth something after all

i heard about a study the other day that shouldn't have come as any surprise, but i found myself resonating highly with its findings. the study, outlined in this article, concluded that praising a child for ability may be harmful while praising a child for their effort is very beneficial.

jen and i have made some slight shifts to make sure that we're not encouraging ani to laziness or relying only on natural ability. as we have done so, i've been processing the whole things and realizing that i rely almost exclusively on natural ability. i have a natural ability to pick up new skills fairly quickly, aided by my curiosity and initial interest. however, once that initial burst is gone, i find myself "bored" with the new skill or task, but really more disappointed with the lack of quick and easy progress that i experienced in the beginning. thinking back on my young adulthood, i remember my high school cohorts and i boasting about our indifference toward school and our cynicism toward those who were striving for the top spots. i got pretty good grades. i tested well and knew how to structure an essay to say a lot without having to know a lot. i got praised for my marks and rarely had to work too hard for them. at the time it seemed like an ideal situation.

now, ten+ years later, i find myself amazed by stories of people just excel at something naturally. i've developed the idea that everyone who's really great at something was basically born with a natural aptitude and could only fail if they were really foolish or careless. i hate to admit it, but i'm impatient with people who are less apt than i in a certain area (especially when it comes to music) and i think that i believe that those who are currently not as good as me will never surpass me (which logic says is a ridiculous idea, but my emotions tell me differently).

i also find myself constantly frustrated with my performance in any number of areas because i'm not seeing quick easy progress. i play guitar and sing and have long desired to play shows and be in the performing community. however, the hard work necessary to prepare a set, book a gig and all the rehearsing and organization in between proves to be too much for me with my current attitude, so i chalk my lack of growth up to poor organizational skills and play the if-only game. (if only i had a manager, if only i had more time, if only i had a band who was really committed...)

i also flounder in my job. through the past 5 years in my current role, i find certain aspects of my job to be unconquerable. no matter what angle i approach these challenges from, the skills just don't come naturally to me. so i play the same if-only game (if-only i was working with paid staff instead of volunteers, if only schedules were easier to align...)

despite these feelings being so real to me, i've never been able to shake the idea that it's a fallacy. people succeed all the time in much more adverse situations than mine, so why can't i? do high level executives really have more time than me (ha!) does the fact that they pay their staff really make a difference? what about people who succeed in running vounteer programs? what about mother theresa who sold nothing, didn't pay her workers, didn't advertise and yet has become one of the icons of our time for social responsibility and justice? what did she have that i don't have? plenty of things, but none of them are on my if-only list. (if only i had no money, if only i lived among lepers in india...)

so today marks the public acknowledgment of this pattern and the attempt to shift it. believe me when i say i'm both excited and mortified by the process ahead of me. i'm excited because it opens up a whole world to me - anything that doesn't come quickly and easily to me is now attainable. it's also gonna force me to find a way to learn how to fail and move on. (in my current paradigm, failure is demoralizing and an indicator of a lack of crucial inherent abilities) in short, all the things i've "learned" through my adult life from friends, books, conferences, leaders and blogs like brazen careerist, are finally put into a context where they can mean something. no longer am i a prisoner to the things that come naturally to me. and no longer can i be the hero just because of how i was made. hmmm, interesting trade.

2.22.2007

marriage is a unique environment

i'm sitting here watching nbc's heroes (episode 13: the fix). matt parkman, the fella who can read minds, finally gets to the piont where he's ready to tell his wife about his power. like any "normal" person she reacts with disbelief until he proves it to her by relaying her thoughts to her.

a few scenes later, he turns on the water in the bathroom to troubled water flow and responds to his wife's thoughts with, "i know, i'll call a plumber today."

she asks, "are you always gonna be in my head?"

he replies desperately, feeling the stress of having a supernatural power and not really understanding it. "i can't control it!"

she answers back in a way that only someone who knows you intimately and never shies away from challenging you powerfully, can. "can't, or won't control it?"

i'm reminded of the many times in my married life when jen has challenged me in ways that i didn't expect. i have a strong "tendency" though some could call it a habit, of getting caught up in something more intensely than i should. for example, if i were in officer parkman's shoes, i'd be feeling pretty sorry for myself; being a victim of kidnapping and having these things happening to me that i don't understand. jen commonly responds as parkman's wife did. she holds me to a standard that i don't always feel like being held to, but ultimately appreciate. she loves me too much to let me wallow in myself. and even though her challenges are rarely what i want to hear, she respects me enough to treat me like a man, even when i want to be coddled like a baby.

2.14.2007

Let's all be delusional together!

This video is almost 10 minutes long, but definitely worth a watch. if you're a christian, don't get yourself all riled up. the perspective is good to be aware of in terms of how our ideas and beliefs are perceived by some. but is he telling the whole story? watch the video and then read the info below and make your own conclusion.

Below are a few more delusions that came to mind.

Let’s take a look at the football delusion. Football fans believe that it makes a difference in this world whether or not one group of people can move a ball across a line. They believe in the importance of this so strongly that they will pay thousands of dollars for season tickets to their favorite team. They will completely rearrange their schedules to ensure that they don’t miss a second of the action. They will wear clothing announcing to the world that they are very concerned with a specific group of people moving a ball across a line. Some of these football fans are willing to marginalize their families instead of missing any part of this action. They’ll wager money they don’t have on the fact that the group of people they like will move the ball across the line more times than the group they’re playing against.

This is a delusion. It doesn’t make any difference whether the ball moves across the line or not. Everyone outside the bubble can clearly see that this is a delusion. And yet, billions of dollars are spent to ensure that the best of the best are working their hardest to move a ball across a line.

Let’s take a look at the atheist delusion. Atheists claim to believe that if it can’t be proven, it can’t be trusted. Atheists claim to be the only group that thinks as well as the only group who is willing to submit to rational thought. So how do you know someone is your friend? can you prove it? How can you love somebody? How can you trust somebody? You can’t because you can’t prove that they’re trustworthy. Just because they didn’t screw you today doesn’t mean they won’t screw you tomorrow. You trust in rational thought, but apparently this is only recently trustworthy. Up until about 500 years ago (which is a drop in the bucket of human history and human thought) rational thought told us that the earth was flat. Rational thought has delivered us several gems including leeches for medical purposes. This rational thought, while wonderful and powerful, must be recognized as the shifting sand that it is. In the same way that soy has gone from the darling of the health food industry to a food that may cause significant hormonal changes if used in excess, rational thought will deliver “truths” 20 years from now that will make today’s beliefs look as foolish as the flying spaghetti monster that atheists are so proud to not believe in. the assumption that everything that needs to be known can be known by me, here and now, if I will simply think, is a delusion. The idea that we humans, as brilliant as we may be, can even scratch the surface on the mysteries of a universe whose simple size we cannot even comprehend, is a delusion. Atheists belief they can prove everything that is true and that anything that’s unproven is false is a delusion. They live in an atheist bubble. Everyone outside the bubble can see that it’s a delusion, but atheists claim it’s the only true and healthy way to live. Atheism is a delusion.

Everyone is delusional. Everyone holds at least one “fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact.” The claim that I am not delusional is tantamount to claiming objectivity, which, to any rational person, is completely laughable. There are experiences, relationships, comments, image and countless other forces that have shaped each individual in ways that will never be calculated, measured or quantified, which makes each individual unique in their perspectives and biases. Thanks for the thought-provoking video. Please don’t insult me and the rest of us rational thinkers by claiming that you have no bias and are completely objective in your ideas. You’re not. I’m not. Fred’s not. Amy’s not. I don’t even know Fred and Amy but I can guarantee that they are not objective because they see the world through their eyes just as I see the world through my eyes and you see the world through yours. You’re more than welcome to consider me delusional. I am. But my experience – the people I’ve seen with my eyes and touched with my hands; the words I’ve heard; the pain I’ve felt in my heart and the redemption I’ve experienced in my soul (which may or may not be empirical) – is a sufficient foundation for my perception reality, just as your experiences in all the same ways are apparently a sufficient foundation for your perception of reality. Is there an objective reality? I think so, but I can’t prove it. And I doubt you can either.

2.05.2007

hooray for national fear day!!

i'm thinking of launching the first ever national fear day. after the recent bomb scare because of cartoon ads, it seems like the ideal time to get some momentum behind fear. initially, while the idea seemed really good, i wasn't sure it'd really catch on. i mean, boston was the only city that reacted with such a high level of fear. there are many other metro areas that didn't get scared so easily, which let me know that i'd have my work cut out for me.

the response, however, was encouraging. we saw that even though the fear wasn't as widespread as i'm sure we all would've liked, the blame afterwards was aquarely on the advertisers. this surprising assignment of blame reminds us all that the root of the issue is to be ignored in favor of any and all scapegoats.

instead of seeing the reaction to these signs as a lesson to all of us that we may be approaching a level of national paranoia that can and should be addressed, we chose to punish the network for not considering that lighted signs in the shape of a cartoon character could be considerd a terrorist threat. shame on them!

anyway, i still like national fear day, but i'm thinking if there's a way to combine a national fear day with a national blame day, i may be sitting on the next billion dollar idea complete with closed post offices and a line of hallmark cards.

if you wanna be rich when this blows up, be sure to buddy up with me now, 'cause i'm sure that as the spokesperson/champion for national blame and fear day (n.b.f.d.), i won't have time for my friends anymore.

if you love the outdoors so much, why don't you marry them?


i heard an ad on the radio today for the outdoor network's new HD channel. they were encouraging me to call my cable provider because "it looks lo good it's like being there." does this strike anyone else as a bit strange? if i love the outdoors so much, why am i watching it on tv instead of walking out my door? i could see making such a channel available in prison, hospitals and elder care homes, but otherwise, shouldn't it be called the poser-wannabe network? i mean, just get off the couch, open the front door and voila, you're outside. it's in full-color, stereo-vision. you even get the added level of sensory involvement with the olfactory and tactile aspects of the real outdoors versus the high-def glory of OLN HD.

just a thought. and by the way, i'm not particularly an outdoors person so you'd just as likely catch me watching OLN HD as actually outside sucking in the fresh air.

2.02.2007

fixing up a house is like riding a stationary bike...

you're pretty sure your doing some good, but you don't really see much for results until you're looking back.

i spent all day today putting some of the finishing touches on a house remodel that was started in December, 2004. there were a bunch of areas that needed trim and baseboards. we (3 of my friends and i) also began building a closet, and put up some tongue & groove (t&g) pine in the bathroom adjacent the shower in order to screw towel hooks to the wood (good idea) instead of screwing them to the drywall (bad idea).

i expected the project list i had would probably take the four of us about 4 hours. instead, i beagan at 7 and worked until 8. the fellas came and went during that time, but altogether, we put in over 30 man hours today at my house and there's still work to be done. hopefully tomorrow will be the final day, but who knows.