Labels and Tinkering

By some function of being a left-brain dominated person, I feel the need to associate labels to everything. We, as a society, do similar things. People are often categorized by where they live, their accent, their job, their hobbies, their diet choices, their friend group, their schooling choices, places that they’ve been, hometowns, and music choices. Perhaps this makes it easier for us to keep track of peoples’ likes and dislikes, but I propose that it hinders our development. If we feel like we can only subscribe to the predetermined limitations of a position or calling, there’s no room for experimentation – no room for growth. Just because you went to school to be a businessperson, does not mean that you are incapable of being a painter. Similarly, growing up in South, does not prohibit you from living in Sweden. There’s no reason that a Christian female, who happens to be a musician hailing from California cannot befriend a Buddhist, computer programmer male from New Zealand. This can also be applied to careers and cross-functional “jack-of-all-trade” type people, but for the sake of brevity, I will stop digressing…

My point is this: The journey through life should be one of self experience. Experience will, in turn, lend itself to self-exploration, and with that, self-efficacy. I seem to encounter far too many people (I’m often one of them) who think that they’ve made certain decisions that they are locked into those decisions indefinitely. Unless the first thing that comes to your mind when reading that is a marriage, mortgage, or children, chances are quite good that you can change your mind about whatever it is that you’re thinking about. (Even the aforementioned responsibilities may be skirted, though I don’t recommend doing it.) However, if there’s something that you want to do, then go do it! It will either be a catastrophic failure, a huge success, or somewhere in between. But no matter what, it will be an enriching and learning experience. To quote Henry Ford,

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

There’s an effect called the Pygmalion Effect, named after Pygmalion, of Greek mythology. In a nutshell, it states that the greater the expectations placed on someone, the better that they perform. There is some controversy on how to properly conduct this study, but on the whole, I agree with it. It is similar to the myth that a goldfish will only grow to the size of the bowl that it is placed in. There’s nothing that I know of that says that these expectations need to be placed on a person by other people. Why not an internal motivation? 

My final assertion is this: We all need to put greater expectations on ourselves. If we believe that we can, then we will. John Wooden or Alan Lakein (contention over original source) once said:

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

So does the corollary hold true for success? “Succeeding to plan is planning to succeed” has a nice ring to it. I think that I’m going to run with it. I encourage you to do the same. After all, Dr. Seuss once said:Image


– A.


Musings from a Commute

While sitting in traffic almost a month ago, I decided that rather than fight my commute like I’ve been doing, that I am going to use it for good. Or, as good as it can be.


Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the first time that I’ve tried to do something with my commute. There were a solid few months there where I listened to a Spanish-learning podcast, but I was bad about remembering to charge my iPod, etc. I almost always am on the phone during the commute home, whether with clients or friends. However, since most people don’t want to be on the phone around 5:30 – 6:30 in the morning (my normal commute time), what am I to do?

My phone, and indeed most phones, smart or otherwise, comes with a voice recording app. Though I feel like I’m speaking into my own Captain’s Log, I can actually speak some thoughts into my phone, and then give it a rest, knowing that I will get to it later. I wish that there was a way to do this more frequently. Alas, I have cube neighbors, and they may think it slightly disturbing if I talked to myself all day.


Nevertheless, here are my brief musings, coupled with the typical long-winded introduction.

It is 6:07am on October 2nd. There are two types of commutes that I do. There’s the regular commute, where I leave at 7am, to hopefully get to my work at 8 (typically 8:20, due to some jackwagon’s inability to drive without crashing into something on the way), and there’s the earlier commute, where I leave earlier and go to the gym before work. I get a good workout in, shower, and get dressed there. The major advantage of the earlier commute is quite obviously that I get to squeeze a workout in when there may not be time later in the day, and I get to beat a vast majority of traffic.

Even through the fog that currently encompasses my sleep-addled brain, there are a number of things that I can appreciate about both getting up early, and getting to the gym on a regular basis. Besides the aforementioned obvious benefit of there being less traffic, I also enjoy being up early. Lots of people aren’t up, it gives you a mental advantage to getting things done, and you get to see the city sort of “come alive” as you’re driving down Lake Shore. Depending on the time of year, the sun could be rising, which creates an absolutely beautiful view. The buildings are mostly dark, with lights here and there.

One of the things that stands out a bit currently is the difference in driving habits between the two sets of commuters. The “7am-ers,” we’ll call them, seem to drive begrudgingly to work, sort of soldiering on to work, with no real sense of urgency, save for the few who overslept and are now having to drive recklessly on the highway to make up for lost time. The “5:30am-ers” have a greater sense of urgency, which I think is driven by a sense of purpose. They seem to be more involved in what they’re doing. No one is really texting, and for the most part, most of them are focused on getting where they need to get, so that they can do what they need to do. I can really appreciate this, both from an efficiency standpoint, and from a maturity standpoint. I can appreciate that there’s a lot fewer people on the road.
The interesting thing is that it’s easy to appear dedicated when it’s the middle of the workday. You’ve had a chance to slug some coffee, send some emails, get fired up about something or another, and interact with other people. The people who are awake early are motivated by a greater sense of purpose. Just look at the difference in runners. The runners that you see out in the two circumstances are totally different. People that run during the day will sometimes run as part of a sort of “dog and pony show.” They like to be seen and see others. The people that run during the early mornings have busy days, but still enjoy being in shape. They’re no less friendly than their slightly more sleepy counterparts, but they’re not concerned as much with appearances. They’re concerned with results. Has my pace decreased? Has my distance increased? The people that run during the day are often in great shape. The people who run in the mornings come in all shapes and sizes, which I can really appreciate. They’re running to actually run, and they’re the real winners in my book.

Stay tuned for more commuting musings.