Non linear life http://sett.com/southernbred How I got here so far en-us Wed, 08 Apr 2020 06:42:49 +0000 http://sett.com Sett RSS Generator Careers, life, and memorials http://sett.com/southernbred/careers-life-and-memorials For a while I have been pondering career and life. As I have mentioned before, I dwell a bit too much in the past and future, so finding the right balance in itself has been a journey for me.

The other day I attended a memorial service for a man I knew or at least I thought I knew. That is the case sometimes isn't it? You don't really find out all there is to know about someone until they are gone and others are speaking on their behalf.

Attending memorials causes me to reflect on my own life so far. I ask questions such as "is this it?", "is this all I have offered and will leave behind?". These thoughts fold into others about what exactly I am doing. That is where career comes in. I used to think of a career as a standalone activity. That really is a job, not a career. I now think of a career as a body of work. Total work, not just job or revenue generating activity, but what I do for others and my community.

At the memorial service I heard many stories about the man who had passed. Many were of self sacrifice for the benefit of others. Many were of how he approached others and life in general. Gratitude came to my mind.

There were many positive comments made about the man. I know that no one is perfect, and I am sure he was not. Still, the amount of goodwill he spread was inspiring to hear. He had put himself in positions of adding to his community. There were many gives and not many takes. Over time he had built up an impressive emotional bank account (a nod to Steven Covey) with those he came in contact with.

So I will leave this post with a few thoughts. As I continue my own journey through this Non Linear Life, I will continue to strive for these things;

  • Leave a positive imprint whereever I go
  • Remember the golden rule (look it up)
  • Stay true to myself and values
  • Continue to question the status quo
  • Never, ever, stop learning and asking questions
  • Stay curious as a child

Like many people, I want to have left behind a trace of my existence. Well only the better parts at least.

How about you? What do you want to be remembered for?

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Tue, 28 Mar 2017 16:14:01 +0000 http://sett.com/southernbred/careers-life-and-memorials
VUCA, the future, and me http://sett.com/southernbred/draft Lately I have been reading a new book by Thomas Friedman, "Thank You for Being Late". It is a book you have to pay attention to or you will miss something. Already I have picked up a few nuggets. I hope it will help me deal with this VUCA world that I operate in along with my family. It is not going to solve a lot of problems for me, but I hope it gives me hope and understanding of the possibilities that still exist. Especially for my kids.

It has been said that the past election and its surprising outcome to many (me included) had something to do with how working class folks worried, not about themselves, but their kids. That seems normal to me and I actually tried and am still trying to understand the other parts of that story. It is not so simple, although many pollsters try to make it out to be that way. American politics is not so cut and dry. Never has been.

So back to the book. Part of me is wanting the book to tell me what is shifting and how can I deal with it. I think of career and lifestyle. Career is still very much in play. I am not yet old enough to qualify for full retirement under the social security laws, but I don't think I would want to retire at that age (67) anyway. I feel when most boomers do that, they have too many other things to do before they leave the planet.

I have not reached the end of the book, but here is what has been affirmed so far:

  • Things will continue to change
  • There is no going back
  • It could get much worse for all of us in terms of the environment
  • We/I need to be and continue to be a lifelong learner
  • It will be alright (possibly)

None of this is new. The response though may need to quicken, be more urgent. Creating urgency before something is really needed can be tough for humans. Imaging what may happen takes concerted effort and a bit of faith. Reading the book has prompted these thoughts;

  • What do I truly enjoy?
  • What can I do?
  • What do I need to be able to do?
  • How does this affect my family?
  • How can I make a small difference that I don't do now?

I am also reading a book called "Designing Your Life". I mentioned this in my last post here. A bit odd for someone my age, but I try to emuate my mother who seems almost ageless in her attitude and outlook. I believe that I have time, but I cannot waste any. "Designing Your Life" will give me some ideas, but only I will have the answer ultimately. It is hard work,at times, trying to optimize my time here on earth.

So in the end my hope and desire is to get some sense of where life is taking me and where I can try and end up. No amount of planning can forecast life or lay it out for you. I think I can eliminate those things that do not energize and refresh me. That is a worthy goal. The trick is identifying those things which take thoughtfulness and reflection without falling asleep. That does happen occasionally. And at the same time I cannot stare at my navel for eternity. It has to be action oriented.

So what’s next? Keep reading the Friedman book while finishing some lists of high and low energy tasks and design the rest of the life I want. Whether of not that works is anybody's guess.

How about you? How are you equipping yourself for a VUCA world?

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Sun, 22 Jan 2017 18:12:56 +0000 http://sett.com/southernbred/draft
Two weeks and no enlightenment, but on the whole okay http://sett.com/southernbred/two-weeks-and-no-enlightenment A few weeks back I was gifted on the anniversary of my birth, a book called "Designing your Life".The approach of the book is one of a designer - try things, fail, be curious, try something else, etc. Around the same time I was scheduled to take off some time from work. Uh oh. Now I had time and a guide to designing my life. Dangerous as people who know me would tell you.

So what happened? I dove into the book the first week. Reading it while I was waiting for car repairs and other time dependent appointments or errands. It is a good book. I had to pause at the section about identifying high v. Low energy activities at work since I wasn't there. But I did have ample time to visit with others and reflect. One of the exercises in the book had me create a "how are you" dashboard. It consists of four life areas.

Here it is. Mine came out as mostly full (indicated on the right), but I also have work to do in the play and health areas.

Some actions

I had three lunch dates to catch up with folks. One former work colleague and two dads from my sons' cub scout days that I have kept in contact with. Some things change over time, but not all. I could tell with one of the three that there were very real impacts from our last election cycle and the current economy. Both of us had been impacted by the melt down of 2008.

I started a project. It was cleaning and staining my deck. To be clear I hate that crap. Tedious, unrewarding work in my mind. Definitely a low energy activity. I also was in the middle of keeping newly sewn grass seed moist for germination. Another low energy crap job. I did cleanup my work bench (funny and ironic for me). I don't like a lot of clutter. Medium energy job.

I read articles on my iPad. I do this a lot and I post them to LinkedIn if I think my connections will enjoy them. This can be a moderately high energy activity. I like sharing knowledge. I also have a lot to learn. So much good stuff out there.

I took time to reflect. I realized and confirmed that there are definitely some tasks I despise and some I can tolerate and even enjoy. I do need to add to my more active connections. People I can share coffee or lunch with. This is important in so many ways. I need the stimulus, the shared experiences and different perspectives. Some of my aquaintances are liberal in political views, some conservative, some I have no clue. All have interesting and useful perspectives.

Finally I did get interested in a few things to work on, some I already mentioned. But the biggest realization is that I am on the whole "ok". Some areas could be better. At least that is what my personal dashboard indicates. I that is ok by me. Gives me something to do.

What energizes you and what drains you? I would love to know.

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Thu, 24 Nov 2016 13:53:20 +0000 http://sett.com/southernbred/two-weeks-and-no-enlightenment
Why is gratitude hard? http://sett.com/southernbred/why-is-gratitude-hard I have so many reasons to be grateful. Yet I can't express how many times I felt slighted by life in some way. Life seems unfair. This is totally rediculous. Let me count the ways: I have relatively good health for my age and genes Being employed is definitely a gift. Se]]>

I have so many reasons to be grateful. Yet I can't express how many times I felt slighted by life in some way. Life seems unfair.

This is totally rediculous. Let me count the ways:

  1. I have relatively good health for my age and genes
  2. Being employed is definitely a gift. See 2008
  3. My house is a haven, well built, and comfortable
  4. My children are relatively healthy and happy considering they are young adults
  5. My wife if a non stop Dynamo of domestic and professional activity that I cannot keep up with
  6. The dogs are doing well
  7. My parents are marvels
  8. My sister constantly amazes me with her moxy
  9. My in laws are as good as it gets. No really. Keep in mind I did not say perfect
  10. I live in a free country not torn by war, widespread famine or disease

So it took me all of two minutes to write those reasons and there are more I could add. So why don't I think of this each day? This is not the first time I have struggled with this. I wrote about it here.

Taking the time to reflect would be a start. Each day. Currently I do not do this. It is not baked into a routine. I really believe I seek a form of meditation. Meditation is something I would add to my list of things to be grateful for. Which is ironic - being thankful or grateful for doing something to ensure I am thankful or grateful.

I don't want to be thankful or grateful via Thanksgiving once a year. I want this to be continual. Daily. Without prompting.

I recently attended a family gathering. This branch of family originates from my fathers side. There were cousins, aunts and uncles, etc. It had been I believe ten years since I had seen some of them in this type of gathering. Unfortunately I had seen some at funerals. Not where I prefer to catch up.

Sadly I realized that this is an area that needs some care and feeding. Some folks there had changed and I really was just getting reacquainted. Family is a strong value with me. And I am grateful for them. They are part of my past if not as much of my present. This gathering is an annual event and will require my generation to help continue it. It is part of being grateful for a past. It has been added as an event for me to attend regularly and not once a decade.

Along with the gathering itself, we travelled to the location during some terrible wind and rain as part of hurricane Matthew. This hurricane left god awful destruction in its wake in the form of flooding in eastern and southeastern North Carolina. Houses and business completely under water. People completely homeless. With this event I have to remind myself of how fortunate I am as well as my family to have not been affected by this. Even at the gathering we were safe and dry in a large barn, eating and drinking in comfort.

Two people I worked with have died this year. One was close to my age, was diagnosed with cancer last fall and succumbed by summer. The other recently and unexpectedly passed away in their sleep. Not a whole lot older than me, still relatively young.

My point is that it takes events like these to realize where I am and how fragile and short life and life circumstances are. I want to have that perspective always. I believe it helps keep many mole hills from becoming mountains. It makes me realize the goodness of life and how lucky I am to have what I have. I keeps me humble.

Gratitude should be easy. Somehow it isn't. Wish me luck.

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Mon, 17 Oct 2016 00:00:02 +0000 http://sett.com/southernbred/why-is-gratitude-hard
My un-bucket list, sort of http://sett.com/southernbred/uid/1310275 Another summer has come and gone. During this brief time I witnessed my eldest graduate from college and enter a scarier world than I remember. I also saw my youngest son chase his dream by transferring to his school of choice. My daughter seemed to age years over the su]]>

Another summer has come and gone. During this brief time I witnessed my eldest graduate from college and enter a scarier world than I remember. I also saw my youngest son chase his dream by transferring to his school of choice. My daughter seemed to age years over the summer. She had her first paying job and also completed her driving class.

It amazes me how quickly time goes. I read recently why it seems that way, but I won't go into that here. Trust me, there was a reasonable explanation. Of course it has to do with age.

With the passage of time comes reflection of a life lived so far. What needs to be done? What is urgent? I have mentioned before that one of my biggest fears is that I reach the end of life and I have some regrets about not trying something. Now here is the catch...

I can't think of anything!

I don't have a bucket list!

When I sit down and contemplate this, I draw blanks. I guess that is good but I must be missing something.

Ok, it must be that I need to be more ambitious in my career. Crap, that does not get me going.

I need to quit work and ......blank.

What if I listed my anti bucket list?

  • Start a vineyard
  • Go to that hip place in Peru
  • Walk over the glass bridge in China
  • Climb a tall mountain. See above.
  • Travel to a far away place. Meh.
  • Zip line
  • Take up gardening
  • Spend more time on yard work. See above
  • Build a pool. See my wife
  • Adopt a highway
  • Bee keeping
  • Collecting stamps

Possible pursuits or interests;

  • I like aspects of coaching
  • Get a Ph.D., why not?
  • Spending time in social settings just talking
  • Just staying connected
  • Writing, regardless how bad
  • Volunteering
  • Trying yoga, maybe. Maybe. Big maybe

I read some years ago about George Kinder who has three questions to help people answer the question of what next.

Take a look and let me know what you come up with.

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Sat, 03 Sep 2016 01:36:14 +0000 http://sett.com/southernbred/uid/1310275
Collage of a life well lived http://sett.com/southernbred/collage-of-memories Lately I have been more reflective than usual. It started a few months ago and has grown with time. I have been reflecting on my job/career, relationships, etc. Last week pushed me to a new level. I attended a prayer service for a former work colleague. He was my age rou]]>

Lately I have been more reflective than usual. It started a few months ago and has grown with time. I have been reflecting on my job/career, relationships, etc. Last week pushed me to a new level. I attended a prayer service for a former work colleague. He was my age roughly with family still in their growing years. He had bravely endured an insidious condition for a few months before succumbing. His prayer service was attended by many. This caused me to dig even deeper into questions about my life so far.

  • Am I focused on the right things in my life?
  • Can I consider my life well lived so far?
  • What is a well lived life?
  • What are the right things to focus on?

There are pretty straight forward answers to most of these without getting too deep into the "meaning of life". But I can sympathize with those that search for the deeper answers. No one wants to squander their one shot on this planet. We want to leave some sort of legacy. Some kind of mark that we were here. Think about it, the basic symbol most leave behind is a grave marker of some type. So and so was here. They mattered to someone, or somebody.

Then it happened. Today I was reading articles on my iPad and drinking coffee. After I had made my second cup, I was wandering around the beach house my father in law owns and we luckily get to benefit from. As I went over to a group of shelves a huge feeling of melancholy came over me. There on the shelves were pictures of family members at different points in time. My kids, wife, sisters and brother in law, mother and father in law, etc. many of these 10 to 15 years old and older. I stood and looked. And then cried. I cried like I had just lost them. In a sense they were lost, but only in time. Which is my point. Time just moves along. I can't stop it. No one can. There are no do overs. Scary, right?

Navigating the current world I live in can at times be a bit overwhelming. But I have gotten just a bit wiser. I have realized at least that I have to be more aware that moments will come and go. Even though I realize this, I still say inappropriate things, I still hurt the ones I love. But I can forgive myself and strive to do better. I think I have gotten better over time.

So am I focusing on the right things? I think so. One thing I do want is to make sure I don't have some burning desire to do something that I don't pay attention to. Over the next week, while I am away from work and a normal routine, I hope to discover some new things about myself. I am not sure where that road will take me, but I am looking forward to some self discovery, if even just a small bit. I just don't want to get to the end and not have tried something I always wanted to do. Not really a bucket list, but something deeper, scarier. That is my worst fear. Not having tried.

What about you? What have you discovered about yourself recently?

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Mon, 04 Jul 2016 12:37:25 +0000 http://sett.com/southernbred/collage-of-memories
Graduation expectation http://sett.com/southernbred/life-drift This time of year inevitably generates the question to new grads "what are you going to do after graduation?". Which is another way of saying "what are you going to do with the rest of your life?". Some grads seem to have it mapped out already in terms of career path. Th]]>

This time of year inevitably generates the question to new grads "what are you going to do after graduation?". Which is another way of saying "what are you going to do with the rest of your life?". Some grads seem to have it mapped out already in terms of career path. They are engineers, computer scientists, doctors, etc. They have vocational types of degrees. They are admired on some level for having their stuff together. That's great. Good for them.

That is also not how a lot a grads and people in general make their way through life, and that is ok also.

It was very common, back in the day, to hear people remark that despite your major, you probably would not get a job in your major. Most of those comments were toward the traditional liberal arts majors. And that made sense. They are not vocational majors. They are broad areas of learning and not focused on a particular area of study that leads to a specific line of work. In today's world they seem to be thought of as somehow inferior majors. Art History? How will that make any money? How will you pay off your student debt? Sad really.

When I reflect back on my own post college path, there have been many twists. Not all of them that well planned:

  • Graduated in May
  • Took position at a middle school finishing out year. 5th or 6th teacher that year. Yikes!
  • Did not accept position for next year
  • Took job working on nine hole golf course. Learned to build tees.
  • After that, worked as a framing carpenter. Weather can suck.
  • Landed a job as a high school teacher, coach. Loved it, poor as a church mouse.
  • Left for graduate school. High expectations.
  • Moved to northern Virginia after graduate school. Expectations brought to earth.
  • Began work at a commercial printer
  • Left for work at a yellow page publisher
  • Laid off after 16 years
  • Landed at a financial institution

There were many events that drove these decisions. Some financial, some driven by a different vision for myself, some just trying to figure out what I liked and did not like. None made in a vacuum. There were others involved.

My point is that there was no clear path. My father worked at the same company for 39 years, so that was my model. My father in law is a physician, so his path was to practice medicine as a vocation. Is it any wonder I would feel lost and adrift? I did not have a clear path.

Through all this, there were people who assisted, encouraged, challenged, advised. There still are.

For new graduates there are many unanswered questions. There is also a feeling of being ungrounded. After all, a college experience offers structure and purpose. Outside of that, the purpose may be lost initially. But people generally know what they like and what they don't like, so that helps get them going in some direction.

Nothing is scripted or that well planned. One thing to keep in mind is that as life moves along, you can course correct and adjust to changes. The key is to not be self limiting.

What has your path been like? Was it laid out for you or more seemingly random?

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Mon, 23 May 2016 23:47:47 +0000 http://sett.com/southernbred/life-drift
Waxed the tub. Now what? http://sett.com/southernbred/waxed-the-tub-now-what Recently I asked about someone who had retired. Did anyone ever talk to them? "Well some of the folks here have. He said he waxed his tub the other day" Let that sink in. Pun intended. He waxed his tub. I don't know about you but: I had never heard of this and; I could n]]>

Recently I asked about someone who had retired. Did anyone ever talk to them? "Well some of the folks here have. He said he waxed his tub the other day"

Let that sink in. Pun intended. He waxed his tub. I don't know about you but:

  1. I had never heard of this and;
  2. I could not imagine that being something I do after retirement

Here is the kicker: I can't imagine what I would do after quitting work. Retirement.

Retirement is not something I think about a lot. As I told my daughter, I have to be careful about spending too much time in the future, so I purposely don't think about retirement that often. But if you have read any of my ramblings here or spoken to me is person, I do drift into the future periodically.

Years ago I was working at a company and there was an older gentlemen I crossed paths with each day. He was probably in his mid to late sixties. He mentioned to me one day that when he retired he wanted to go to Branson, Missouri. This is where they had a Midwest type of Nashville. He never made it. He died on thanksgiving day later that year.

That had a lasting effect on me. Don't wait for retirement to do things.

Sitting back and planning what to do in retirement is crazy.

First you assume you will make it. Then you imagine all these activities that will occupy your time. That is where it gets weird. What activities?

My daughter suggested gardening. Puke. I even hate yard work. Golf? Uh, no. Fishing? I get sea sick.

So there is the rub. There is not a bucket list in my future or even present. There is not a tremendous driving force in me to do something special in retirement. I think my wife has it right. When we spoke to our financial planner, he asked her what she thought he retirement age would be. It was some number in her 70s! If you think about it, that is the best approach:

  1. Continue doing what you like
  2. Experience life as it comes
  3. Don't expect a grand plan
  4. Be ready to adjust your trajectory

As time goes on I realize there are only a few things to consider. Are you healthy, do you have solid relationships, are you relatively safe?

Maybe waxing a tub is not such a bad idea.

What about you? What would you do in retirement?

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Sat, 16 Apr 2016 15:36:47 +0000 http://sett.com/southernbred/waxed-the-tub-now-what
The road trip to humility http://sett.com/southernbred/the-road-trip2 "You think you are better than me" We were returning from a long trip down to Georgia to see my son in a concert. We were traveling a total of 800+ miles in two days for a 40 minute concert. You cannot calculate the ROI on this, so don't try. When you spend seven plus ho]]>

"You think you are better than me"

We were returning from a long trip down to Georgia to see my son in a concert. We were traveling a total of 800+ miles in two days for a 40 minute concert. You cannot calculate the ROI on this, so don't try.

When you spend seven plus hours in a car with your parents, the possibilities of conversation can be wide and at some points deep.

One of the more difficult subjects anyone can have is about religious practices and beliefs. Another one where I grew up is what basketball team you pull for. Yes they are on equal footing when it comes to discomfort.

In separate company my parents have different approaches to conversation, but there are some similarities. Typically my mom is very direct, but at times may have a alternative agenda. My dad not as direct, but can send signals that you can pick up on, right or wrong.

We had ventured together to Georgia separately. I drove a car down to loan to my son so he could have some transportation during his last semester at school. That is a whole other story.

My parents and I stayed in the same hotel the night we arrived and then the next morning we went to the concert in Atlanta and headed home soon thereafter. Later on, a direct question to me would follow.

We had just arrived at the outskirts of Charlotte. I was driving. As I was focusing on the traffic, a question came seemingly out of the blue from my dad. To paraphrase it was about church attendance. As I wrote earlier, this was not a typical question I would expect from him in a direct way. The dynamic was different since my mom was in the car, so maybe he was influenced by that.

After some stumbling on my part, he said something that has stuck with me. Remember, I like to think that I seek self improvement. What he said made me think about how well I do that. Do I really use all the tools available to me to improve myself? He related how years ago an aquaintance uttered the words at the beginning of this article while discussing dad's regular church attendance. I too had similar thoughts: I you go to church regularly then you place yourself above others. I am sure there are those who do think that way, that they are above others since they go regularly to church.

My dad, however, shared his response to his aquaintance and that has stuck: "I go to church because I want to be a better person." Not better just by going, but better through learning. That made me realize that I had that wrong about him. He did not and does not think himself above others. Quite the contrary. Sobering.

Will this change how I approach my own journey to self improvement? I am still trying to figure that out.

You have many opinions about your parents, but mine shifted a bit that day. My dad is far more humble than I realized. It is another nugget of wisdom I can hold onto. God bless both of them.

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Sun, 28 Feb 2016 15:47:42 +0000 http://sett.com/southernbred/the-road-trip2
Peeling eggs http://sett.com/southernbred/peeling-eggs Recently I have started eating boiled eggs for breakfast. To be precise, boiled chicken eggs (according to Fitbit). They are filling and lean. A good match for me as I look for better ways to eat. An interesting side benefit is they are teaching me. Yes I am being school]]>

Recently I have started eating boiled eggs for breakfast. To be precise, boiled chicken eggs (according to Fitbit). They are filling and lean. A good match for me as I look for better ways to eat. An interesting side benefit is they are teaching me. Yes I am being schooled by boiled eggs. As you are aware, peeling a boiled egg can be a challenge. Each is unique in the way that they are either easy to peel or they present a workout for your patience. I typically fall into the impatient camp.

When peeling eggs you have to make a deliberate decision. How patient will I be with getting all the shell to come off? You see each peels differently. Some almost peel off as one shell. Others you end up sitting for what seems like an eternity peeling off small pieces. Similar to eating crabs from the Chesapeake, but that is a different story.

Patience is not an inherent strength of mine. I want action, precision, and flawless execution. A formula for disaster when peeling eggs. I have been know to mush an egg in my hand after being so frustrated with the peeling process. They all should peel quickly and flawlessly right? Oiy!

I have noticed progress in this area. I get in the right mind set. I give myself plenty of time so I don't feel rushed. I set the expectation that I might be in this for the long haul. I expect problems. I focus on the end and not the process itself. The goal: a fully peeled egg with no shells to crunch on (although calcium is a positive benefit).

As I sit and peel, I see how this translates into my life. I have learned the following:

  • Be realistic
  • Get into the right mindset
  • Understand how time creates or eliminates stress
  • Be persistent
  • Be focused
  • Apply what you learn to new experiences
  • Celebrate the small victories

There are gazillions of smart people out there. But I have observed that the focused and persistent ones achieve far more of their goals.

What about you, what have you learned recently that improves how you approach tasks and life in general?

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Sun, 03 Jan 2016 23:58:49 +0000 http://sett.com/southernbred/peeling-eggs