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Relating to Your Children

Snape’s Memory

I was rereading Harry Potter: the Order of the Phoenix recently when a scene made an impression on me in a way that it hadn’t before. It was the scene where Harry was able to see Snape’s memories of getting humiliated by Harry’s father and god-father when they were fifteen year olds in school. In the story the scene impacted Harry profoundly. It made him question his unwavering faith in the goodness of his idols and better understand Snape’s experience.

This reached me in a new way because I’ve become a father of my own little boy since the last time that I read the book. I thought about what Sebastian might see if he could view my life as a fifteen year old in school. What if the scene was of my worst moment from the viewpoint of someone who had reason to hate me? That’s an ugly little thought isn’t it? The problems surrounding me as a teenager were as numerous as the stars in the sky on a country night. I can scarcely remember a moment that I could point to and use an example of the life I want him to experience.

Frankly, it didn’t get much better over time. Littered throughout the first 25 years of my life are situations and examples that I don’t want my son to have to deal with. It’s interesting how far removed Sebastian will be from that. He was born when I was 36, 11 years after I started making significant strides towards maturity. The confident and capable person that he will experience as I raise him shares very little in common with the person I was before growing up.

That’s what got me thinking. I know I’m not the only one with a past that I’m not proud of that is working towards much better future. But how does that impact our kids? Most of us don’t want to talk much about our embarrassing pasts, least of all to the child that we want looking up to us as they grow older. But maybe that’s just what they need. I feel that quite a lot of the angst and anger that seems to come naturally from the teenage years has its roots in feeling misunderstood and frustrated. How much more meaningful would our advice be if our kids understood where we are really coming from. If they see that we have actually walked down these paths before and have meaningful advice for them based on experience. It’s very difficult for a teen to receive that advice from a boring old parent who doesn’t know what it’s like to go through the things that they are going through. I wager that it’s much easier for them to receive if its coming from a parent who can show that they empathize based on experience.

As I work on being the father that I want to be I hope that this lesson stays with me. There will come a point when he’s 15 and I’m 51 and he will be engaging in behavior that I dislike. I hope that I can still relate to my past and relay my experiences at that point into a meaningful tapestry of experience that he can relate to even if he doesn’t agree with what I’m saying.


Your Guide to Avoiding Displacement

Displacements are an ugly fact of life in the world of big business. Sometimes they occur because the company has become more efficient or automated a process and rendered some jobs unnecessary. Sometimes it happens because organizations are realigned and redundancy is identified and eliminated. Sometimes it happens simply because the company needs to spend less money to improve their bottom line.

These situations can be unfortunate. Sometimes very good people are caught up in the backdraft and don’t have a chance to save themselves. In many, if not most, cases the people being displaced would have held down their job for years performing at an average level. These are typically not people who would ever be fired; they aren’t bad enough for that.

As a result, this is a very touchy subject. When someone is displaced they do not want to believe that it’s anything they could have prevented. It feels better to believe that they just got caught up in a numbers game. We disagree with that way of thinking here at Bootstraps. Here we believe in growth, we believe in self-development. It’s a harder road, but it is the road to success and the road to fulfillment. The path down this road starts with a simple decision. It’s the decision to take personal responsibility, to be accountable. That means that we look at the good and the bad in life and try to see what we can learn from it. What could we have done differently? What could we have done better that would have led to a different outcome?

The truth is that you have a significant amount of control over whether or not you are displaced. Keep reading and you’ll find 3 things that you can do immediately to increase your chances to staying employed. Before we get there, you may wonder why I believe that we have more control than we think. Read the rest of this entry

Teamwork: Tearing Down the Walls

I had the awesome opportunity to give a presentation on teamwork to one of my customer groups this week. I was absolutely thrilled. It gave me the chance to share the type of material that I’ve been writing about with a live audience for the first time. The speech was 20 minutes long and I’ve cut it into 3 parts for easy viewing. I’m very proud of this one, hope you enjoy. Read the rest of this entry

Will You Be My Friend?

So, we all know that my last article got a little side-tracked. Based on your feedback I’d have to say that it was a good thing. Thanks for your notes and comments. I really enjoy hearing back from you. Today I hope to talk about the importance of friends in the workplace. Who knows where I’ll end up but I’ll give it my best shot :-).

This article is really the next logical step from my recent article on influencing others. In that article I talked about how to get people on board with your plans by analyzing it from their perspective and addressing their likely concerns before pitching the idea. I feel strongly about this way of doing things because of the success that I’ve had with it in my own career. Read the rest of this entry

How to Influence People

I’m going to admit something that might surprise you if you are a single person but probably won’t shock anyone who’s married. I get a lot of the ideas that I write about from conversations with my wife. These conversations stem from two roots. The first source of material is our daily conversation about work. We don’t always get a chance to do it, but it is rare that we don’t spend at least 30 minutes where we each talk about our day and reflect on things that we’ve done and seen. Oddly enough, that’s probably why I haven’t been writing very much over the holidays. We have not been at work and as a result there are many situations crying for attention.

The second source of ideas is more spontaneous and dramatic. These ideas come from conversations that boil over from frustrations with things that we experience in life that aren’t up to our expectations. This could be something simple, like slow service at a restaurant (almost always avoidable) or something complex like the reasons our government operates the way that it does. Each case gives us a chance to declare how we think things should be, and then challenge each other to find ways to drive situations closer to our desires.

Anyway, the point of telling you this is to give me a chance to point out publically how special my wife is and how much I owe her and love her. Without her I would be a completely different person. I tend to give a lot of before and after examples. The way I figure it, she’s one of the biggest reasons that there’s an “after”. She isn’t just a sounding board for my thoughts and ideas, she brings her own thoughts and ideas to the table and we all benefit from the results.

I have to laugh at myself sometimes. I sat down with the intention of pounding out a couple of paragraphs about my true topic… ah well, there’s still time I guess. Today’s topic revolves around leveraging relationships to accomplish your goals. The remainder of this article may give you the impression that I’m a bit cynical or that I use people to achieve my goals. I suppose that you could look at it that way, but I wouldn’t. In today’s world it is very difficult to be successful by yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO of a major company or the sole owner of a tiny company, you need the support of others to succeed. In some cases those helpers are your employees, sometimes they might be your bosses or peers, sometimes they may even be people like the UPS guy or the man who stocks the vending machine. You never know who you’re going to need or how they will be able to help you. Read the rest of this entry

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