September 20, 2006


What keeps you going? It's a strange question I realize since many would respond with something about their work or a loved one or some aspect of their spirituality. This question is more focused on what maxims work for you or have worked for you in your life? I had a great chat with a colleague, Mike, the other day and we're sharing stories about growing up. I was recalling a very funny story about my parents giving me my first "sex ed" lecture for the first time and how something my father said stuck with me.

Throughout life, many small quotes, thoughts, etc. have left an impression on me. What I find is that I typically come back to a few of them no matter what experience it is. This list is by no means a top 5 or even the perfect advice for anyone else. They're just reminders to me of how sometimes just a simple small thought can vault us through a tough time or get us to remember what really matters in this world.

"All I've had I gave; all I saved I lost forever."
This quote was in our workout room in high school. I still don't know who said it. I remember for the longest time this quote stumped me. The day I figured it out, I felt a strange sense of enlightenment that hasn't changed since. In football I remember constantly our coaches rallying us to put our best effort into our practices. They wanted us to try as hard as possible because they knew the more we tried the more we'd be used to giving our all in the actual game. After football I realized that this mantra worked well with life overall. Think of missed oppurtunities you wish you could have taken advantage of but were paralyzed by some modicom of fear or neurosis.

"180 degrees from sick is still sick."
This quote is one of my favorite from my high school Pscyhology teacher. At times when we experience something bad or painful in our lives we tend to see the behavior that caused whatever consequence and change it. Sometimes we change it to such a degree that we're not giving ourselves a chance to heal. It's kind of like not riding a bike anymore after getting into a bad accident. One of the deeper lessons I take away from this is that it takes time for us to get back to a comfortable 'neutral' point when we experience tragedy. Instead of being to one extreme or the other we're find a moderate place where we've grown wiser and have learned from our actions but aren't afraid to continue living life.

"1/3 Tolkien, 1/3 Zepplin, 1/3 Bullshit."
This is a quote uttered by Scud: The Disposeable Assassin which was a comic book character written and illustrated by Rob Schrab. This quote always makes me laugh. Contextually, Scud uses this quote to justify how he talked his way out of a situation. As a storyteller and write I always appreciate this quote because this is a lot how stories are generated. Every story comes from some ounce of reality, and some ounce of inspiration, and some ounce of...well...bullshit. Tall Tales and Fish Stories (the one that got away) are important concepts to the storytelling experience. It doesn't ever take away from what truly happened (if recanting a real story) but adds to the staying power of a story. Additionally, in fiction, you'd never know what a writer is making up and what a writer is drawing from personal experience. Yet the mixture of the two creates for great reading.

"Who benefits?"
This is a newer one for me that I've drawn from another comic book reference. In the critically acclaimed Brad Meltzer series Identity Crisis, Batman is trying to solve the crime of a fellow superhero's wife's murder. At one point he has all the evidence but no suspect because he's trying to figure out who benefits. For me this thought often gives me pause there's some answer somewhere. Not that an answer is always needed but at times it's necessary to take some ample reflection to think about what was the cause behind certain things. It's also a question I think is best asked often in student affairs (see Big Mac Theory for more info).

"Sometimes you gotta throw me in the deep end of the pool...kersploosh!"
The final quote is another comic book reference. This one uttered by Impulse (now the current Flash) to his mentor Max after Impulse shows signs of learning and retaining. There are some momemnts where we challenge ourselves to try different things. The first time is always the worst for any experience. But we gotta rememeber that there's always more oppurtunities down the road and we can learn from them. Have a light atitude about some of the taxing moments in our lives "kersploosh" and realize that you'll be more confident in future endeavors.

Last point about mantras...their good reminders and small moments of zen to keep you going but I don't think any mantra has to be so solid that you can vary your thoughts based upon specific situation. As the classic early 90's phrase comes to mind, shit happens. Roll with it. Your mantra may not be applicable in all situations. It's ok. Find what works for you and push forward.


September 10, 2006

Vicki the Nurse

I recently had friends have described it as kind of a "face floss" since I'm trying to rid myself of sleep apnea. Throughout the course of my surgical day I came in contact with many nurses. Young, old, male, female, white, black, hispanic...the list of varying characteristics goes on. One particular nurse I'd like to recognize though was Vicki. Although I thankfully recovered a lot earlier than expected it was Vicki's enthusiasm for her profession that made things a lot smoother for me. She had LeBron James like anticipation when I needed something whether it was kleenex, or a popsicle, or some tea.

The entire time she was working she was pleasant, smiled often. Balanced warm conversation with respect for introverted time. She was even working back to back shifts. When I was feeling good enough to want to walk around (which walking around an ICU not a fun thing) she was more than willing to accomodate.

We marvel at those who are not only good at their jobs but seem to love what they do with all of their heart. How do they get to those positions? What keeps them motiviated? Why am I stuck in a job that I'm not passionate about?

Part of the priority wheel is to answer just those questions. The third part of the priority wheel is Career. Now I started with this story because although fundamentally job and career can be the same thing, there is a difference. The difference comes with something I learned from my classes with Dr. Charles Schroeder, big whig in Student Affairs. Your job is what you are currently doing to sustain your stability. Your career is the extra Time, Feeling, and Focus you put in, to one day reach a more specific job that fits you better.

Some "rules" about your career:
1. It doesn't have to necessarily be a can be dedicated work to a non-profit, or even being a stay at home mom/dad.

2. There are always bad days, but on the whole you career is the thing that makes you smile even on the bad days.

3. It doesn't have to be big...I was once humbled by my friend Adam who wanted to manage a gas station.

4. The road to get there doesn't have to be too difficult or too easy, it should be just the right amount of work, but extra work, and hard work.

In Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" generally, there are two major reasons for us to pursure life. One is for a person. A loved one, a friend, a family member, etc. The other is to do something which no one else can do on the planet.

There will always be painters...but there's only one Da Vinci. There will always be star atheletes but only one LeBron James. There will always be nurses but only one Vicki. You see you don't have to achieve such a high level of status for your career in order for it to be just need to do your career in your own way, while feeling passionate about it.

Again, your career is all about putting in extra time, feeling, and focus. You don't have to work on your career. No one is lauding over you and checking up on you. It's your passion. It's your cause. And yes, hopefully, for all of us, our career becomes our job one day (you'll see in future articles why it is important to delineate the two of them).

If you don't have a career focus then my suggestion to you is to start young. Start when you didn't know any obstacles or atrocities on this planet. Start when you were a kid. With that child like imagination dream of what you could be if you could be anything. Second, map it out. Make a one year plan, a five year plan, etc. And find ways to connect those dots on your life map. Lastly, take small steps. I've gushed about Chris West so many times for being the epitome of small steps.

Learn to be like Vicki, and one day you'll aid in other's recovery and inspire them as well.


PS: I wanted to give a shout out to Dan Harmon who was in the introduction sequence with Jack Black on the VMAs.