Creativity, Inc. – Embracing Failure

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Picked up Creativity, Inc. again last night. Came across the quote below while reading. I love how this explains so many things I’ve encountered in the work force.

There’s a quick way to determine if your company has embraced the negative definition of failure. Ask yourself what happens when an error is discovered. Do people shut down and turn inward, instead of coming together to untangle the causes of problems that might be avoided going forward? Is the question being asked: Whose fault was this? If so, your culture is one that vilifies failure. Failure is difficult enough without it being compounded by the search for a scapegoat.

In a fear-based, failure-averse culture, people will consciously or unconsciously avoid risk. They will seek instead to repeat something safe that’s been good enough in the past. Their work will be derivative, not innovative. But if you can foster a positive understanding of failure, the opposite will happen.

It sucks to be real

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The problem with being real is that we open ourselves up to hurt. Wounds then form, mental playgrounds of the same scene played on repeat. A festering sore gnawing at the soul.

I lowered my defenses this past weekend. Decided to be real, vulnerable about where my wife and I are in life. I need a new job. For those of you who have read my blog for awhile, you’ll know that this is not a new crisis. What has changed is the depth of the situation. The situation has to change.

As a recent exercise, I sat down and wrote a list of responses to the question: What expectations do I have for my job?

  • A positive work environment.
  • The ability to grow/move up within the company.
  • To be able to make a salary where I can support my family. Annual raises of some sort. Anything but years of silence.
  • Open/clear communication on company direction.
  • The ability to learn. Even if on my own time.
  • Feedback on job performance and ways/direction on how to improve.
  • Common respect being a foundation for work relationships.

None of the above expectations are mind blowing. Yet, I had someone tell me in my moment of being open that I will never find a healthy work environment. That this somehow elusive thing does not exist. I know this not to be true based on past companies I have worked for. But the comment ate at me. I was also told that my current salary is normal. Not to expect much more. If only this person was open to a little market research.

What hurt the most about lowering my defenses, is that no one else in the group I was in have any clue of the response given. No idea that I’ve allowed discouragement to affect me before from this person. That I have veered off a track of studying due his words eating at me.

I know that I shouldn’t let words hurt me the way they do. Words have weight. Hard-wiring is hard to change.

The blank stare, the expression that casts, “he has no clue what he is doing with his life”. I’m tired of it. My college degree, my side pursuits, all beg to differ.

We might not all have the answers. I’d argue that this is part of the faith journey. This is part of my journey.

While it may suck to be real with others, authenticity is essential for both maturity and growth. So be real. Drop the shields.

Job Hunting: Professional Silence

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How do you keep job rejection from becoming personal?

You apply month after month. No response.

You have a professional look over your resume. Good to go. Still no response.

That cover letter you just wrote, the best thing you’ve ever written. No response.

Time and consistent rejection without official reply are wearing. You begin to wonder if it is something personal. Could it be that some future employer knows about that tuna fish sandwich accident in high school? Nah.

There are a lot of factors that go into the job hunt. Factors that have nothing to do with you, your work history, or that dumped tuna sandwich. Some jobs have to be publicly posted for legal purposes. Someone else, internally, already offered the job. I’m guessing this happens more often than not. It’s not you, sparky.

Factors of experience, location, and even race are further elements to consider. However awesome you are, you may not fit the company culture, hiring needs, and/or profile.

Hunting for a job is hard. The faceless modern job application process the internet promotes makes the process more difficult. There is no human feedback. The submit button looms with the ever present question of whether to attach a cover letter or not.

But you can do this. We can do this.

By reminding ourselves that we:

  • Are qualified for the positions we are applying for.
  • Are not just some number, standing in an infinite line. We are unique, talented, and experienced.
  • Will not always be dealing with silence.

Job hunting is a waiting game. May you wait well.

Control Is Hard To Give Up

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God is in control so we don’t have to be.

titanicI’m not too sure what is going on anymore. The company I work for has built it’s business on school bond elections. We design schools, gymnasiums, and administration buildings with bond issue funds. A workable and sustainable business model with one major hiccup, voters. Back in the beginning of May, voters shot down two of the three bond issues we were counting on for work. Thankfully, we have learned a bit from a similar failure last year. We have since diversified our client base and moved into areas not targeted by large Dallas architectural firms. What is odd is that one week we were talking about hiring, growth, and technology upgrades. In the weeks following the bond election, optimism has disappeared and silence rules. Just like last year. I have no idea whether my company will lay off anyone within the next few months. I do not think we have diversified enough/obtained enough clients to sustain our company long term. While business may seem normal for now, I keep waiting for the hammer to drop like it did last year when I lost a fellow co-worker due to layoff. Frustrating to be back in a situation where I have no control.

Health-wise, I’ve been seeing a couple doctors and having some tests run. Will be getting the test results next week. I am nervous. My body is tense and I feel sick. I have zero control over the situation.

nineveh02This past Sunday (5/17), my small group leader asked me to teach during our morning hour together. Knowing that the kids were having a lesson from the Book of Nahum, I decided to dive-in and see what the book is all about. Turns out Nahum is a sequel to the Book of Jonah. Nahum takes place a 100 years after Jonah visited the City of Nineveh. By this time, Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, had returned to idol worship. The Minor Prophet Nahum steps in and speaks aloud (an oracle) that the destruction of Nineveh is coming.

The people of Nineveh must have laughed at Nahum. Their city walls were a 100 feet high with a 150 foot moat extending out from the walls. The moat, for anyone who is wondering, was 60 feet deep. Who knows what lived in there. Situated on the Tigris River, Nineveh had a series of dams throughout the city. Now what is interesting is that Nahum prophesied that the city would be destroyed by water (2:6). The dams that held back water-giving life would end up unleashing water that would undermine a part of the city walls. Like a sandcastle, the walls would fall, allowing the Babylonians access into the city.

640px-Nineveh_map_city_walls_&_gatesOne of the key verses that stuck out to me was 1:3 –

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
    the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
    and clouds are the dust of his feet.

God gave the people of Nineveh a chance. He sent Jonah, a reluctant prophet, to tell them to turn from their evil ways. And they did! A hundred years later though, the people had forgotten all about Jonah. What stuck out to me in 1:3 is that God is slow to anger. He could have destroyed Nineveh a hundred years ago, but He didn’t. Another verse I noted was 1:7 –

The Lord is good,
    a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,

The head and heart disconnect, I call it. I know that God is good, no matter what the situation. I know that He is a refuge, ready to catch us/hold on to us when all seems to be falling apart. I know that. But sometimes my heart forgets. I want to be in control.

I am not sure where my job is going to be in six months. I have no idea what is going to happen next week at the doctors office. What I do know is that God is good. He will take care of me. I just need to tell my head and my heart that.

Quitter

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A few weeks ago I downloaded the audio book Quitter by Jon Acuff. Ever since then, I have been slowly making my way through the book. As each chapter unfolds, I have found God using it to attack lies I have accepted as truth. Quitter has made me re-realize that:

  • Our American culture celebrates those who quit their jobs to pursue their dreams. What about those that stay and persevere? What about the day-to-day realities of supporting oneself and family?
  • Blogging at work, doing anything besides what your paid to do, is stealing from your employer. Not sure I’ve ever thought of it like that, but Jon tells it like it is.
  • When pursuing a dream, coming up with a plan is not always the first step. Jon talks about  the importance of looking at what your passionate over, practicing on that, and then charting out/ planning where you’d like that passion to go. Makes sense to me.

I have really enjoyed what I have listened to so far. I have also enjoyed listening to the book being actually read by the author. Seems to add more authenticity to what is being said.