October 2008

No, I’m not talking about our economy.  Due to all of the busyness over the next couple of months, I will only be posting once per week.  I hope everyone has a happy and safe halloween.



If you’re like me, you’ll probably be happy when Election Day has passed so we can finally be done with all the political ads.  So far, what I can surmise is this:

·         Every political candidate wants to lower your taxes

·         Every candidate’s opponent will raise your taxes

·         Every candidate will enable you to get top notch healthcare for free while their opponent will bring back leaching as a medical procedure when the plague comes back

·         All candidates know how to shore up our educational system, yet nobody says much or anything about the role of the parents in their own child’s education

·         Every candidate voted to raise you taxes 230 times last year… no they didn’t… yes they did… no they didn’t

·         Joe the Plumber is a media diva



Regardless of where you stand, this is a very important election (which one isn’t?).  It’s hard to find out what the facts are and where the candidates stand without some spin doctor feeding us a stream of misinformation.  It’s great that we have a system whereby the people have the opportunity to vote, but it is a shame when a big chunk of those people have no idea who they are really voting for.


As I stated before, the purpose of this blog is not to be political.  I have political beliefs, but I won’t put them on here.  Instead I encourage you to do some research as part of your civic responsibility.  I’ve searched around and found some pretty good websites that give the voting records of all candidates in your district.  This is the one I’ve used the most – http://www.votesmart.org.  This is a bipartisan site designed to inform voters and seems to be legit.  Put in your zip code and scroll down to the “Current Candidates” section to get each candidate’s voting records.  This should help you with those congressional and state legislature candidates that you only recognize from the mudslinging ads.

When I speak with people who are frustrated with their jobs but refuse to try anything else, one of the common excuses is “…but I have to provide for my family.”  It seems that a lot of people would love to quit their job and do something that interests them, but they feel that they have a responsibility to their family that requires them to keep doing what they are doing so they can keep earning the money that it takes to “provide for their families.”


Yes, we do have a responsibility to provide for our family’s needs, but let’s take a look at what those needs really are.  In one of the latter chapters of my book, I look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  I concentrate on the 2nd and 3rd layers.  Those are security needs and belonging needs.  Let’s assume that all of your family’s physiological needs are being met – they have food, water, oxygen, and can carry out bodily functions.  I have a 6 week old and it seems that we are stuck on this layer (especially the food and bodily functions).


The 2nd layer consists of security needs.  This includes the obvious needs – shelter and protection from predators – as well as security needs that may not be quite as obvious.  Two that come to mind are security in our morals and security in the family unit.  I know “security in our morals” sounds kind of strange, so I’ll describe the opposite.  I think the opposite of security in our morals is moral confusion.  Moral confusion occurs when we teach children one thing and live differently.  This occurs when we tell our kids to share their toys, but fail to give to charitable causes… when we tell them to be nice and play with the other kids, but in effect live a life of segregation associating only with those who are most similar to us… when we tell them not to throw a tantrum over the toy we didn’t let them buy, while we obsess over a car, house, or big-screen TV.


If we do not provide security in our morals, they will turn elsewhere for clarification.  The most likely source will be friends and the world of entertainment.  Likewise, if there is no security in the family unit (primarily mom and dad’s relationship), then the home is not an environment where your children can flourish.


The 3rd layer consists of belonging needs.  As humans, we all have a need to belong to a larger group.  This is evident at work, in social settings, on the playground, and in the family.  Children have a need to belong to their family unit.  If you are an absentee parent who puts your career first while neglecting you family, you are not giving them an adequate opportunity to belong to a family unit.  You may put your career first under the veil that you are “providing for your family” and some of you may legitimately have to work longs hour to provide basic needs, but you need to ask yourself if you are putting in all those hours for the betterment of your family or for selfish ambition. 


Just as we saw before, if children do not have their belonging needs met by their family, they will turn elsewhere.  This could be harmless (athletics, clubs, church groups) or it could be devastating (gangs, drugs, sexual predators).   The bottom line is that they need to belong to the family unit that you lead.  You cannot lead that family unit if you dedicate your time, energy, and effort to making more money.


What does your family really need for you to provide?  Is that what you are working towards or are you putting yourself first and using your family as a noble excuse?

Everything has been submitted to my publisher and my book should be available soon.  Here is a sneak peak of the cover.

There is a cool new feature on this site that allows me to do polls.  I thought I would give it a whirl with the question below.  I’d like to know what frustrates you the most about your job.  If you are retired or no longer working, just answer with what frustrated you the most while you were working (if you can remember that far back…).


I began my career in a fast-paced, always advancing corporate culture.  I was taught that you always had to have a short term and long range vision of your career and of your advancement in the company.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  However, the implicit implication was always that your long range vision must include relocations, greater responsibility, and a never ending assent up the organizational charts.  Remember the Atari video game Q*bert?  That’s what my career looked like.  I just kept jumping around on the squares trying to hit the right ones so I could go to the next level.




Our culture seems to believe that if you’re not advancing, then you are faltering.  If someone holds the same position for 10 years, we tend to label that person as complacent.  For years I held to this misguided belief, but while I was writing my book, I discovered that there is a difference between complacency and contentment. 


I can sum it up by saying that complacency occurs when you ignore those aspects of your life related to your mission, while contentment is the conscious realization that you could have more of something, but chose not dedicate your resources toward acquiring it.  I realize that is a cumbersome summary, so let’s look at what happens at work.


With my previous company, we did succession planning.  We would look at all of our direct reports and score them based on their ability to move into roles of greater responsibility.  We grouped people into two general categories, high-potential employees (hi-po) and core employees.  Hi-po employees had to meet educational requirements, be willing to relocate, and have good job performance.  The lack of any of these characteristics automatically labeled an employee as a core employee.  When you consider all of the variables and nuances of each employee, I know it sounds ridiculous to have only two categories but that’s how it was.  That was one of the problems I had with Corporate America – in order to treat people “fairly” we had to make hard and fast rules so that everyone could be neatly packaged into their respective category.  This legalistic approach completely ignored the human element.  To paraphrase a speaker I heard last week, sometimes we have to treat people differently in order to treat them the same. 


Here is the danger with this hi-po/core employee strategy.  Those who meet the criteria of core employees are often thought of as complacent – they aren’t advancing and they aren’t willing to do the things required for advancement.  However, it has been my experience that many of those core employees were anything but complacent.  They had a passion for their work that their hi-potential counterparts lacked because the hi-potential employees were always focused on what was next.  Why were the hi-potential employees always focused on what was next?  They lacked contentment.


In fact, it could be argued that many hi-potential employees are complacent despite the fact that they charge up the corporate ladder.  How could this be?  Look at what I said at the beginning of this discussion – complacency occurs when you are not pursuing those aspects of your life related to your mission.  Many of you have a mission that you are not pursuing.  Instead of being content with what you have in terms of wealth, status, or ego; you consciously choose to ignore your mission and focus on a career that you already know does not offer fulfillment.  That, my friends, is complacency. 



You have no doubt heard about the latest poster child for corporate greed, AIG.  After receiving $85 BILLION dollars from the Federal Reserve, some of the top salespeople for the company went to a luxury resort that the company paid for (with taxpayer money) to the tune of $440,000!  As if this were not enough, shortly after news of this incomprehensible action, it was recently announced that the Fed will be loaning AIG another $37.8 BILLION!  Why do they need more money?  Because the $85 billion they just got is already gone.  Oh yeah, and they will be taking another little trip to the Ritz-Carlton in northern California.


Are you kidding me?


This is precisely why I was against the massive government bailout.  If this does not exemplify greed gone wild, I don’t know what does.  Throwing money to companies that have shown a complete lack of fiscal responsibility with the expectation of them using it wisely and generating a return for the taxpayers is like throwing sides of beef into a pit of ravenous wolves with the expectation that they will grill us some T-bones.


That’s all I’m going to say about this (for now).  I don’t want to become one of those angry bloggers.  This is my last post for this week.  I’ll be at the Catalyst conference for the rest of the week and will be avoiding news as much as possible.

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