Friday, December 19, 2014

Winter's Roar

Hail and lightning pound
the roof, as a cold front stalks
around my warm bed.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Request

Not a deep post today.  I'd ask that you do me a favor.

My friend G of GPS Music (he has posted here from time to time) had an actual tragedy in his life this week:  his wife of 4 years M, his high school sweetheart, passed away in her sleep last night.  She had been suffering from fibomyalgia and a number of other health conditions but this still was apparently a surprise as she was my age - far too young to pass.  She leaves behind her own three sons as well as her five step children and her husband, himself suffering from a rare disease that impacts his mobility.  Her position in heaven is assured; her family will still grieve.

I never know what to say in these situations.  "I'm sorry" or "I'll pray" sometimes seem as contrite as they do the thing you need to say.  Often there is little you can actually do for the people involved.  So I would ask that you do something in the name of the people involved.

My favor?  Today just go do one unmerited, unasked for, generous deed.  Could be something you always do but just were not going to today.  Could be something you might never do.  Could be something you have never thought of doing before.  That is okay - it does not matter what, it just matters that it gets done.

Thank you in advance for honoring M and G.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Review Time

Time for the annual reviews.

Never a pleasant process and one that I always dread to some extent.  Our form is certainly more user friendly this year and far less difficult to complete, but there is still is the inevitable sense of slight dread that comes over one when completing the review of an entire year in a relatively small amount of pages.

As part of the process I referred back to my 2013 review to see my objectives for last year.  And found that I could not look at it.

Seeing that review - seeing those words - sent me back to last year, really the last five years.  All the old feelings came up again:  the lack of empowerment, the constant sense of being unsupported,   The words echo back from the paper:  "TB is not this.  TB did not do this.  TB did everything but  it was simply not enough to move ahead.  Ultimately, TB failed to show the proper deference to me"

TB, shut up and accept your lot.

I could not look at it again.  I started to, got about two sentences in, and then put it aside.  That represents such a blot on my life, such an aberration of what I have come to experience from all my other managers, that I chose to put it down and away.

In a nutshell, the review represents everything that I feel like I fight against sometimes.  Expectations without directions.  Targets without definition.  Vague promises about will happen with belief that they will be backed up or acted upon. The proclamation that we are a merit based system but the reality that we are system too often based on how you make me feel as a superior.  And the reality that all the effort in the world will not move the needle for many people.

In other words, it represents an unhealthy work situation.

Perhaps, just perhaps, it is time to seriously reconsider my options.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Going to Katsuura

So I have set at least one goal for 2016:  going to Katsuura.

Katsuura is a both a place (I think) in Japan as well as the annual training lead by the headmaster of my order. It is held for two to three weeks in Japan.  And I want to go.

Perhaps need to go is a little more accurate.  The reality is this:  no matter how hard I train, the chances I will ever travel to throw worldwide are, well, minimal.  Katsuura is something that is within my power to do.

Training all day.  For two weeks.  Who is not going to get better and more focused doing that?

But it requires a fair amount of planning.  These things just do not happen overnight, of course.  Plane fare alone will be close to $1000.  And then there is the actual training (from what I understand it is very reasonable, but it still has to be paid for).  And the time off from work, of course - 3 weeks at one time is a bit more than most people do.  

It can all be done, of course - but it starts with a commitment, a commitment that I am going to Katsuura in 2016. Once I say it - once I say it to others and believe it - then there is not reason that it cannot be so.  It merely becomes a game of numbers.

Ikimashoo!  Let's Go!

Monday, December 15, 2014

On Finishing

So I finished the manuscript of my latest book tonight.

It has been languishing since September, when I stopped work on it because it did not feel "right".  But it did not feel as not right as what I tried to type in November - it was not so much a painful experience as writing as it was I seemed to have reached a block.

But on Saturday I decided that it needed to be done.  So I sat down and did it.

It took surprisingly little time - a little over two hours.  The words that would not come for months suddenly flowed through my fingers like electricity.

In a way, I have to finish.  I have other ideas that I want to move on to, but I find that I cannot move on to the next.  It is as if the idea gets lodged in my head and it will not allow me to go forward unless I complete what I am working on.  Not a bad habit, really - it just sometimes seems annoying at the time, when you are ready to move on and cannot (which, actually, is one of my biggest issues:  not sticking with things long enough to truly succeed).

Just because I am finished does not mean that I am done, of course:  there is still a lot of editing to be done (a great deal probably, since this essentially written in two different time frames) with the catching of spelling errors and rough words - and then the fun part of course:  cover design.

But today I will be glad in the fact that finished is finished.  I can still hold to - and finish - things I start.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Moment of Commitment

The moment of confusion when you throw yourself into something fully, not knowing precisely where it will lead.

It is an odd thing, commitment:  that moment before which the thing was not as and important and the moment after when the the thing is the most important thing in the world.  It can be a conscious deciding, a deliberative move of the mind which comes about after hours of agonizing thought.  It can also be a seemingly innocuous move, something which seems to almost be done on the spur of the moment.

Either way, the world looks completely different after the fact.  Events, people, even time - the stuff of life itself - takes on a new meaning.  No longer are there seemingly random events or things that just happen:  everything needs to be put into the matrix of the thing which has been committed to.  The world focuses down to doing anything which moves you one step closer.

The odd thing is that for most of us, I suspect the moment of commitment is kept as a vague event for something which we cannot fully imagine - because if we truly comprehended all that we would have to do, all that would be required of us, everything that would happen in the pursuit the thing, we would turn away in fright and terror.  Because the realization at that time - the commitment, the choices, the pain, the agony - become far too real while the end of the commitment - the achievement - becomes far too ethereal.

But make no mistake: the choice once made, whether planned or not fully thought out, will result in the same thing if stuck to and carried out:  achievement.  Achievement because the choice, the commitment, was made.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Pull System

At work we are trying to convert to a pull system.

A pull system, for those who do not know, is a principle of organizational management where a product or service is pulled through the system by the next step in the process until it reaches the final destination.  The push system, its opposite, is a principle whereby the current step pushes the product or service through its system to the next step.  The product or service keeps moving; it is just who does the movement that is the difference.

A push system - what I am typically used to - to me has the advantage of making sure the current step completes their actions before moving on.  This disadvantage, I suppose, is that one is kept waiting until the step is complete before moving on.

The pull system - which we are trying to convert to - seems to have some advantages:  the process can move more successfully as the next step needs the previous step to continue processing and rate limiting factors may be more easily identified.  However there is one issue that seems to be of concern to me, something I hate:  the loss of responsibility.

In the push system, the current process holder is 100% responsible for ensuring that everything is complete before moving it to the next step.  If something is not ready to go, it is the responsibility of the current holder to complete it. In the pull system, the next or even ultimate step is theoretically responsible for moving things to the next step. The current process holder will complete their task and simply wait for the next process holder to come and take it off of their plate.  Maybe they transfer it.  Maybe not.  And any failure to move things along becomes the fault of the "puller", who failed to ask the question.

It bothers me (and I find it to be inefficient in its current incarnation) because the view of everyone except the ultimate stopping point (my group, in this case) is that "I did my part.  I do not have to do anything more.  In fact, I may not even have to make the effort to bring it to you or correct errors.  It is your job to ask the questions and fix the gaps."

It seems, well, counter intuitive to the maintenance of a functional system.  People get separated even farther in silos of what I do and what somebody else does.  There is no longer any sense of process overall; instead, my world has organized itself into the slot I have to do.  In fact, I may not care if the whole thing gets done - after all, that's not my part or even my responsibility.

Which is okay, I suppose.  Just understand that instead of training individuals who work things to completion you are training individuals to work through there part and be done.  Good training for drones, not so good training for building independent and completion oriented leaders.