Why Worry?

So I had an interesting conversation with a colleague, and they tell me their philosophy about worry, as follows:

Worrying is suffering twice!


I thought this was pretty smart. 


With worry, we suffer when we worry and then we suffer again if the thing we are worrying about actually comes to fruition. 


So in essence, we are doubling up on the suffering.


Yet, worry can be constructive if we use it to spur us to positive action such as in confronting and dealing with challenging situations. 


But when we worry just for the sake of worry because we can’t control our anxiety and moreover, it actually may paralyze us with fear, then this is obviously a bad thing. 


Do I worry?


Sure do, but like my dad, I use worry to try and think out-of-the-box, to plan, to problem-solve, to figure out coping mechanisms etc. 


Worry is suffering for sure. 


However, if we can channel the worry to positive impact, then the worry can be worth the pain it inflicts on us. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Broken Mirror Reflections D.C.

Smashed Mirror.jpeg.jpg

So I took this photo of a smashed mirror hanging out of a corner trash can in downtown D.C.

Half is reflecting the garbage in the can and half is reflecting the buildings and trees outside. 

Such a metaphor for the society we live in these days. 

Where we are broken, and society is broken, and certainly lots of government is broken. 

And the shards of glass reflect on the both the garbage of what has piled up inside us and the system, but also the possibilities on the outside for development, growth, and change. 

The broken mirror with the sharp glass shards is dangerous, but perhaps by seeing the mess we are in, we can finally step up and do something to fix it. 

No more circling the wagons, infighting or deflecting from the issues; no more blaming the past or demonizing the opposition; no more excuses for stagnation, incompetence, or impotence; no more whitewashing and red tape; no more firefighting, shoddy quick fixes or waiting for another break/fix; no more whirlwind spin around the dazed and confused; no more sugar-coating, backpedaling, or dressing up or down the facts; no more playing politics or deceiving ourselves and others–is that even possible any longer?

Instead, we change to a model of acknowledging that which is broken and teaming together to fix it–doing something positive, and constructive for ourselves and the world–oh, fix it Dear Henry, please fix it.  😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Guillotine, Other Options Plz

Revolution

I took this photo of a bumper sticker on a pickup truck in Washington, D.C.


“Stop Bitching. Start A Revolution.”


So I’m thinking this is not the type of message you like to see in the capital of the country. 


But looking beyond the call by whomever for a forcible overthrow of the government (yeah, hopefully they don’t mean it)…


Perhaps what they do mean for people to do something more than just complain about the things they see that are wrong or broken, and instead to do something positive. 


Not a real revolution, but an evolution of change–incremental change, even baby steps, but leading to positive and constructive betterment! 


Stop just huffing and puffing about this and that.


Consider speaking up, coming up with new and better ideas, advocating for something more, and actually helping to build it. 


The guillotine is normally not the solution (French Revolution aside)–but that doesn’t mean you can’t do squat. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Backlash Against Performance Reviews

The Backlash Against Performance Reviews

So there is big backlash against employee performance reviews.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek declares the annual performance review to be “worthless.”

The performance review ritual is traced back to the 1930’s with Harvard Business School Professor, Elton Mayo, who found that productivity and satisfaction of workers improved when they were measured and paid attention to. This was referred to as the Hawthorne Effect because the study was conducted at the Hawthorne Works of Western Electric outside Chicago.

Later in the 1950’s, the Performance Rating Act institutionalized mandated performance reviews for federal workers,

But studies in the last 2 decades have found employees (42%) dissatisfied with the process and even HR managers (58%) disliking the system.

Clinical Psychologist, Aubrey Daniels, call the process “sadistic!”

The annual reviews are disliked for many reasons including the process being:

1) Arbitrary, subjective, and personality-driven rather than objective, meaningful, and performance-based.

2) Feedback that is too little and too late, instead of real-time when good or bad performance behavior occurs.

3) A power tool that managers use in a “culture of domination” as opposed to something that really helps employees improve.

4) Something used to punish people and build a case against employees to “get rid of you” rather than to reward and recognize them.

At the same time, this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft and other companies are getting rid of forced employee rankings.

The ranking system was developed by General Electric in the 1980’s under Jack Welch and has been referred to as “”Stack Rankings,” “Forced Rankings” and “Rank and Yank.”

Under this system, employees are ranked on a scale–with a certain percentage of employees (at GE 10% and Microsoft 5%, for example) ranked in the lowest level.

The lowest ranked employees then are either let go or marginalized as underperformers getting no bonuses, equity awards, or promotions.

“At least 30% of Fortune 500 companies continue to rank employees along a curve.”

Microsoft is dumping the annual quantitative ranking and replacing it with more frequent qualitative evaluations.

UCLA Professor, Samuel Colbert, says this is long overdue for a yanking at companies and managers’ jobs is “not to evaluate,” but rather “to make everyone a five.”

While this certainly sounds very nice and kumbaya-ish, it also seems to reflect the poor job that managers have done in appraising employees fairly and working with them to give them a genuine chance to learn and improve, before pulling the rating/ranking trigger that can kill employees career prospects.

A bad evaluation not only marginalizes an employee at their current position, but it limits their ability to find something else.

Perhaps, this is where the qualitative aspect really comes into play in terms of having frank, but honest discussions with employees on what they are doing well and where they can do better, and how they can get the training and experience they need.

It’s really when an employee just doesn’t want to improve, pull their weight, and is undermining the mission and the team that performance action needs to be taken.

I don’t think we can ever do without performance reviews, but we can certainly do them better in terms of providing constructive feedback rather than destructive criticism and using this to drive bona-fide continuous improvement as opposed to employee derision.

This is possible where there are participants willing to listen to a fair critique and work together on getting to the next level professionally and for the good of the organization. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Mediocre2010)

Poisons Anonymous

Tikun_olam

One of the Buddhist teachings is that there are 3 poisons in this world: greed, anger, and ignorance.

But that by turning these poisons around into generosity, compassion, and wisdom,we can create life-healing.

While this is sort of simplistic, it does point to a number of important things:

1) We can have an impact on our destiny. We can choose our direction and work towards something that is good or we can fall harmfully into some bad and destructive ways.

2) Everything has an antidote. While we may not know the antidote at the time, generally everything has its corollary or opposite and we can find healing by moving towards that.

3) The answers in life are not so far away. How much of a stretch is it to turned a clenched fist into an open hand or to quench ignorance with learning–these things are doable.

If we look at people and events at face value, it is easy as times to get angry and feel hatred at the corruption and injustices out there–but I believe, the key is to channel those feeling into something positive–into change and Tikkun Olam–“fixing the world”.

By channeling our feelings into constructive actions, then we are changing not just ourselves, but can have a broader influence–one deed at a time.

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Words Matter A Lot

This is a great video on the power of words, but also on the caring of one for another.

We can make a difference with our words!

Words can help and can hurt, they can pursuade and they can punish, but the most important thing is that we are responsible for how we use them.

While we can say we’re sorry for hurtful words, they can never really be taken back (i.e. unspoken).

And just the opposite holds true as well–when we use words constructively, the impact for good reverberates.

I still hear the words of the most important people in my life guiding me, always.

Use your words with care, deference, ingenuity, and most important with kindness for others.

>Surround Yourself With Positive People

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This blog contains a powerful poem called Whispers.

It’s about the destructive effects that negative people can have in our lives.

Each of us has lots of challenges, but with great inner strength and surrounded by good people and positive energy we can overcome and thrive.


Whispers

By Rebecca

I turn my back I hear the sound of a pin dropping but then something disrupts it

The sounds of whispers spin my head like a marry-go-round

I turn around to see lips pressed against her ear

Suddenly a feeling of paranoia goes upon me

A bunch of thoughts go through my head all at once

“Are they talking about me?”

“If they are talking about me what are they saying?”

“Is about my hair, my face, my outfit?”

“What could they possibly be saying that I’m not allowed to hear?”


Then time freezes and I start to hear laughter

Now I’m not even sad or angry I’m curious

Not only can I hear the whispers I can almost smell them

They smell of perfume and toxic air

It’s so strong I can almost faint


They stop talking and walk away

Even then they are still whispering and laughing

Like they don’t realize talking about someone behind their back is mean

So mean that an aura of evilness surrounds them with their perfect clothes, ornate makeup, and flawless faces.


Then I ask myself “why is it me they always pick on?”

But actually I know the answer or at least I think

It’s because I’m smart, fearless, and beautiful


Even though I don’t think so myself