gurustu's muse the daily thoughts of an every day guru
Daily Guru Thoughts
Friday, October 31, 2003 I'm baaaaack Hack, hack; not cough, cough
The whole week has been about the fires and the coughing; but this entry is about a different kind of hacking... the computer kind. Turns out that the host for gurustu.com had been hacked into. The site was down for a day as they had to rebuild their servers; and then it refused to recognize my log in. I was not able to update the site, blog or even get my email.
Someone finally found a way to shut up Guru Stu :-)
Well, the host is back, and so am I.
Can we tawk?
Yesterday I finally went back into work at the office. I had to act non-challant since for most people this was Day Four, but looking at the blackened hills right up to the parking lot was a shocking reminder of the power of Nature; and just how close we came to losing everything. It's what you'd call "bringing it all home."
And as usual, the communication (or lack thereof) became apparent. Despite my sitting by the TV typing every bit of news into our website, I got stuff like this:
(In response to someone's email about a road closure:)"This is great, we should have it on a website someplace."
(To my note asking 'are you guys going to the note about the website with all the info?') "Oh I clicked on it and my email crashed, so I didn't go after that."
(A reply to my boss who said to her boss, 'isn't the website wonderful?') "What website?"
Why doesn't this surprise me.
Today was also the big day for the office to show off its Halloween decorations. Apparently a memo went out to some (but not all) people about having a Pirate theme (thank you Pirates of the Caribbean for making pirates the number one overdone theme this year). I must say though that people really went all out and large rows of cubicles turned into giant ships, complete with sails and cannons; while the other rows became a castle prison, with cannon holes blasting off the "doors" of their cubes. And as for the costumes, they really went all out... from the "I-just-grabbed-it-from-my-closet" to the very elaborate "I-just-mortgaged-my-house-for-this" velvet and gold. It was quite a sight!
It also made the non-participating groups stand out. The drab gray of the cubicles stood to the side like abandoned islands.
What struck me the most though, was not the lack of participation, but rather the attitudes of the non-performers. Some scoffed at the pirates, calling them "silly" ... others all but stated "we're better than that so we don't have to do it." For me, that's like Shaq sitting on the bench saying how great he is.
You may very well be the best, but you have to be in the game to prove it.
Wednesday, October 29, 2003 Another day, another billion dollars The fires are raging on for another day, As soon as they have some good news, they follow it up with more disappointment. And with each piece of news on the TV, there's a story of people who say "I'm waiting until I see the flames, then I'll get out." This creates two bad situations: 1) They're proven wrong, and die or 2) are spared and thus proven to be invincible.
Now I'm all for being unstoppable, but when faced with a 30 foot wall of fire I prefer to stop and run the other way.
Damage from fires:$10 Billion
Cost of replacing your home: $300,000
Your Life: Priceless
Tuesday, October 28, 2003 O how mortal these fools be... It's amazing how many people decide to stay in their homes, despite the warnings... the smoke approaching... the glowing ridges...
People still believe in their invincibility; a great thing until they meet Nature face-to-face. A lot of the people who lost their lives to the California Fires thought they could beat it.
It's so important to set our priorities. It would be awful to lose our belongings, even those that we will never get back... but think of what your loved ones would rather have... you or a picture of you.
Two years ago, on Sept 12, I listened to the opinions of some others and DID NOT use our available web site to share important information. "We're not ready" was just one of the "reasons" we did not move ahead with it. I was determined not to do that again.
Today, faced with a web site that's only >this side< of "not ready" I chose not to let that stand in our way. I pumped in as much current information as I could... from the TV and web sites and phone calls... then announced the site to the entire department.
Who needs a grand announcement with news like this?
I don't know the impact of this web site, but I hope it helps; if only a little.
To coin a bad phrase... strike while the iron is hot.
Sunday, October 26, 2003 As the fires flow... I was quite busy all weekend, taking care of errands; going to a halloween party... it wasn't until this morning that I heard the news about my workplace being threatened by a new set of Southern Cal fires. I actually had to hear about it from my mom in New Jersey!
At first I thought she confused which presidential library was in trouble, but when I heard that ir was Reagan's Library, I knew that work, and all the friends and families from that area, were going through a very scary moment.
Since that time I have been on the phone, acting as a conduit of information. Seems that unless your house in on fire, the news doesn't seem to want to cover your neighborhood.
It reminded me a lot of Sept 11... being in the "middle of it" but only by phone.
Friday, October 24, 2003 ...Another man's treasure... Finally a shimmer of hope for my co-worker and friend, "Dances With Code." After trying somewhat unsuccessfully to regain his reputation (from a malicious manager's successful attempts to destroy it)... DWC got the news that he'll be officially moving to another team. This is good for everyone because he's now free from the preconceptions that had chained him into mundane tasks. He can now focus on what he does best, and if they're smart about it, they'll let him.
That's the beauty of "starting over" -- whether it be in a new job or a new relationship -- you get to "throw away" all the bad parts of the past and are given another chance to prove yourself. I always tell people who face these new situations that they're "free to be anybody they want to be." If you goof up after that, then it's all your own doing...
And if you really succeed, it's all your own doing too.
I sat in another one of those meetings that had to be called because "we don't have time." Had the meeting been about solutions it would have been a very useful hour. Instead it was all about backpedalling, accusations and defensiveness... and that just spells b.a.d.
It's important to remember when you don't have a lot of time, every moment is more precious. Spending even one moment not focused on reaching the goal increases the chance of failure.
Add to that the anxiety that spreads to everyone else in the room, and it explodes exponential. In turn, everyone else starts to do worse and make their own fear-based decisions... and the spiral continues downward.
As for me, I'm selectively ignoring the problem and focusing on the end result. I don't respond to the accusations and just keep going back to the tasks at hand. That's not an easy thing to do, because there are some people that are very actively causing the anxiety. They'd rather be right than have it right.
And with enough right turns, you end up going in circles.
ECALPKROW Today was another shining example of how people do things backwards way too often. One group came to me, with their deadline only weeks away, anxiously asking my team to design their web site. After rushing head first into development, they're suddenly realizing that they don't have an interface that's easy to understand. We have two days to fix it.
That was just the morning. By the afternoon, I had been in a meeting for a project that is going ahead with a class and "marketing" before the plans have been finalized on how to do that ("There's no time")... followed by a string of emails about "what are the plans for (Project C, rolling out next week)" and "what's the status of Project D (another one that came without instructions)?"
All too often we rush into things because "we don't have time." It's not strictly where I work, though we practice that concept on a daily basis. There are courses on how to prepare, but we just don't have time to take them; and if we don, that leaves us less time to get our work done. The irony of the whole thing is, people will sit there and tell me about the virtues of preplanning, as they feverishly start on step 7.
Stephen Covey covers this point very well in First Things First. A book a highly recommend... if you have the time. Basically, it talks about doing what is most important first, then the second most important... and so on... you know, prioritization.
Monday, October 20, 2003 Changing the World... Brrrrr? Durrrr! I always admire someone who takes the direct approach...
The cafeteria staff had conveniently placed the hot lunch directly under the thermostat of the meeting room, thus letting the air conditioner know that it was 120 degrees in there and needed to blast the air at top speed (I believe we were thinking up names for the hurricane by the time most people got there).
People sat and shivered... became very verbal about how "stupid that was" and some went off to "solve" the problem by getting their coats. The uncoated joked with the coated about sharing; then shivered through the first part of the meeting.
Even after someone remarked that it was probably the hot food causing the problem; people just scoffed at the "stupidity" of doing it and said that "someone should call them downstairs."
Finally, one guy just got up... walked over to the hot plates... and moved them to the other side of the table. Within minutes the wind died down and the temperature was on its back to something resembling comfortable.
People cheered and applauded their "hero." I wondered to myself... "now why didn't I think of that?"
A Non-Corny Cobb Every once in a while you come across a blog of note. Not an "oh look how cool this is i hate homework" diatribe of teen angst, but an actual journalist journal that has the potential to change the world.
Well, my world anyway...
Known simply as "Cobb" he describes himself as
"Sorta Fair & Rather Balanced & Black & Republican & Civil Libertarian & Righteous & Uppity & Global Capitalist & Pro-Commons & Family Oriented & Provocative & Sometimes Worth Reading"
Being more "adult" in theme, I'm not going to link to him; though he should be easy enough to find in a search engine.
He has a strong viewpoint, which is something I admire, even if I don't always agree with them. It was his cartoons however that had the biggest impact on me. They were topical and opinionated. They got me thinking... solidifying in a flash what my next step for gurustu would be all about...
"Gurustu" is already a cartoon character... I'm already a cartoonist... and I want to create something that not only people will enjoy, but also learn from; and want to send to all their friends.
Keep your eye on this space... My world is changing ever so slightly.
Sunday, October 19, 2003 The lifecycle of a blog Blogging is cannibalistic. Sometimes bloggers gets so wrapped up in the act itself that the blog begins to eat itself up.
I enjoy reading other people's blogs, but I have to admit that 95% of them go something like this...
Day One: This is my first blog. Does this work?
Day One: (2nd entry) It does! Blogging is cool!
Day Two: Told all my friends about blogging. Now they have blogs too.
Day Three: Um, now what? Here are pictures of my cat.
Day Four: I've discovered linking. Now me and my friends all link together in an endless circle of nothingness. Blogging is kewl.
Day Five: ive found my voice an haf decided that spelink an grammer r stoopid an i will nevr use punkuation agin
Day Six: Actually, Day 26. Sorry for not blogging in a month. I got busy. I love (insert boyfriend/girlfriend's name here) and chocolate. Homework sux.
Day Seven: (boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend) is mad at me i hate them id call them and talk about it but im shy instead ill just blog about it to the whole world
Day Eight: I'm sorry. I didn't realize that everyone in the WORLD can read my blog. I'm so stoopid.
Day Nine: im bored. haf nothin to blog about. ill blog about bloggin.
Day Ten: sorry for not writin in a month. promise ill be better...
And that's the end of it. The last line stands as a monument to blog cemetery, until finally a 404 page finally shows up confirming the end of that idea.
Blogging is definitely a phenomenon, and a great tool for the masses. It teaches us that everyone wants to be heard... even if they have nothing to say.
bloggin IS kewl an i promise to stick around a wile longr...
Saturday, October 18, 2003 One thing about me... I can really get caught up in what I'm doing...
I really did have a lot of other stuff to do today, not just get another article up online and finally put away the last of last weekend's laundry; but I just got on this kick to finish up my "100 Things About Me" page. This simple little exercise started with The Yankee Blogger (he's gone from the web right now) and turned into this phenomenon on the internet. It's really a fun way to learn about yourself and others; and if you look at the flow of consciousness that comes out, that says even more.
I have to admit I "cheated" a little... no intentionally, but I typed in "100 Things About Me" in Google and just got caught up in reading so many others. I'd keep going "oh yeah, me too" and end up cranking out another ten or so in my list.
It was also interesting what I DIDN'T put. I'd probably need another three lists to cover those.
Friday, October 17, 2003 Dream a little dream of Me... You ever have those mornings when you wake up and the dream you just had so vividly suddenly fades away? Well, what happens when the opposite occurs?
Last night, as I drifted off to sleep, everything I knew about me... my home, my job, my family and friends; even my own name... kept slipping away. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried, I was unable to bring "me" into the Dream World. Only my "Original Self" was allowed in.
After three tries, I finally just let "myself" go and entered the Celestral Realm.
After a full day of being "awake" although I can't recall everything that happened last night, I can still remember the feeling of being "Just Me."
I'd go into more details here, but it has inspired me to write an article for my newsletter. If you haven't signed up to get it this weekend, you'll just have to wait about a month for me to post it here.
Or you can just let it go for now... and sleep on it.
Thursday, October 16, 2003 Knows, Expose, Grows... This just came up during one of those philosophical cubicle chats today. While talking about people not knowing any better way than what they're used we; we got on the topic of how to help them grow.
You can't really teach people if they don't want to learn. Heck, you can't really teach people anything. All you really can do is expose them to new things and hope they learn. That's pretty much the way it's been for all of us, since the beginning of time.
If you think about it, isn't school just a place to expose young kids to new experiences? Isn't that why some people choose to travel; to be exposed to new experiences?
Driving home, I got to think about the sun (it helped to have the sunset in my rear view mirror at the time). The sun just does its thing; it exposes everything around it with its light. Plants grow, not because the sun makes them grow, but rather because that's what they do when exposed to sunlight.
So if we want to help those people at work (or anyone else for that matter) the best thing for us to do is just expose others to our experiences and knowledge; and just let them react to their new experiences.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003 Can we talk? Today was evident that people are just not communicating with one another. While discussing one new project, it sounded an awful lot like one of my old projects. As I dug digger, it seemed that the old and the new projects weren't the only things tied together, but a few other projects as well.
It's still unclear if the projects are doing the same thing, going to use the same programs; going to crisscross or collide. We still have a lot of talking to do to straighten it out, but it just makes me wonder what would happen if I hadn't recognized the overlap... would they have eventually talked to one another? or pretend that neither one is working here too?
Of course when I was relating this to someone else, they showed me what they were working on... which just happened to be the same thing that two other people are working on... separately... without letting the other one know.
I've seen this before, but I just wanted to talk to someone about it... so I'm telling you.
Tuesday, October 14, 2003 Step back... I got a very nice entry in my forum today, complimenting me on my recent article (Take the Extra Step). On that note, it's always nice to step back every once in a while and enjoy the fruits of one's labor. After all, my site is about sharing... and when someone let's me know that I got through, it's worth the extra step.
Monday, October 13, 2003 Welcome to Dilbertville... The meeting was right after lunch, so maybe I dozed off and dreamed it all... it felt pretty real, just didn't sound right... tap, tap, tap... no I was awake... just living the life of Dilbert...
It was a very large meeting, one of those where everyone but the important people were at, so we went down the agenda...
Moderator: Anything for item one?.
Person surprised to find his name on the agenda: Um, no...
My head: Well, that takes care of 15 minutes.
Moderator: Well, "So-and-So" got called into another meeting, even though she was the one with the next five agenda items... so "Someone Else" will take over.
Surprised "Someone Else" just walking in the door: Huh?
So the next 20 minutes was filled with "Someone Else" covering material as best as she could on such short notice; leaning into the mike that echoed and waiting for the video conference equipment to come back online.
Then the true Dilbert moment came...
Someone Else: And the action item from the meeting was to create a folder in our Document Repository. Was that done yet?
Surprised person who didn't expect to be called on: Um, not yet.
My head: I hope a committee was formed to discuss it first.
Jaded employee to my right: Is this going to take more than five minutes?
My head: I'm not sure he's talking about the action item or the rest of this meeting.
And then there were the usual questions with the usual unwanted answers ("Hey it doesn't hurt to ask again") and the senior managers who were busy playing "pager wars" across the video screen; nodding their heads and laughing at each other like school kids.
It really is the kind of stuff that makes Scott Adams so rich. Dilbert is funny for about three comics, then you realize, "hey, that's my life!" That's when you stop laughing and go to your next meeting.
Sunday, October 12, 2003 Hitting the Target... For quite some time I have been optimizing my site to be reachable when you type in "Words of Wisdom." I was on page four for the longest time. On Thursday, I made it to the top ten on an awful lot of search engines -- Google, Yahoo, Netscape, AOL, All the Web...
My hits have increased 10-fold.
So now what? It kind of caught me by surprise... in a good way, of course. I guess it's time for Guru Two...
Friday, October 10, 2003 Lessons stemming from cells... It was just an off handed comment, but it's more profound the more I think about it. We affectionately call him "Dances With Code" since everything he programs has surprises in it.
"Can you build this in?"
"Already got it in there, I was just waiting for you to ask what you wanted it to do"
Then I said it...
"You're like a stem cell... neutral, just waiting to become something."
So often I talk to people who believe that have to GET something in order to BECOME somebody. The amazing thing about stem cells is that they are EVERYTHING so that they become ANYTHING.
I often tell people "get to neutral" so that you can go in any direction you want to go. This is the best way to create that for yourself. Believe that you have everything. All you need to do is focus on what you want to want to become, and let go of everything else.
Thursday, October 09, 2003 Reflections in mud... Had another one of those "catch up" lunches with my friend who left the company. Previous times have always been about the exciting things that were coming up, but now that there's been some actual time to measure it all up, it went something like this...
We finished projects A, B and C
We're still talking about starting those..
We've going to use the latest and greatest...
We're discussing that.
I asked for two people, they gave me three.
I asked for one person, they told me I had to trade somebody.
They just gave me an even bigger project.
I have more time for my family and personal life.
Good for you.
Sounds like nothing's changed, huh?
I always say that it's better to measure your own progress by how close you are to tomorrow. It's important not to measure yourself against another... but today was an interesting reflection on environment and the differences between being in one of Action vs being in one of Talk.
There's so much I want to do. There's just no point in talking about them.
Tuesday, October 07, 2003 A vote of confidence... Today was all about support... Gray Davis and support for him to stay (there wasn't enough)... Arnold Schwarzenegger's support to change his career (there's plenty to go around)...
Today was a reflection on the type of support that I have, and the direction that Life wants me to go...
This morning I received a really nice letter in support of the newsletter I sent out yesterday and this evening a read an email from someone just thanking me for creating my web site. It's the kind of support I would have loved to have in the middle of my day...
A simple, small meeting... but even the little words that passed sounded discouraging. I know the intention was to say "we're going to make adjustments to help you succeed" but all I really heard was how I would have to give up something in order to get something else. That wouldn't be so bad if it weren't followed up with "you're not going to get what you asked for."
So like Davis, today is a day to concede... that I don't necessarily want to recall.
Monday, October 06, 2003 Last Chance... Today was the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which stands for the Day of atonement. Basically, whereas Christianity has its Hail Mary, this is the Jews' last chance to say "I'm sorry."
This is the biggest day in the Jewish Calendar, and comes with the biggest mixed reviews. Mixed in with the Daily Devoted are your One-Timers, who only show up to temple today, like their brethren do at Church on Christmas and Easter. There are the people who fast "just in case;" and then there are those who simply go about their business, like every other day, saying "I'll eat fast instead."
Now I'm all for forgiveness... I think it's a great thing to share between people. I'm also all for looking skyward and saying "whoops, didn't mean to do that!" but I'm kind of at the mindset that it's cheating if you wait for the last minute.
Sure, "better late than never" but if there's 364 days of forgetfulness... or if you're planning on going to go back to the same old thing again tomorrow, then this day means very little.
Every day should be a day of forgiveness... of reconciliation... and of learning your lessons. If today acts as a "reminder" of that, I'm happy...
But tell me again tomorrow what's important... and if your answer doesn't change, then the whole world will.
Saturday, October 04, 2003 Tour de Land... Have you ever noticed that you never see the touristy parts of town until you have visitors... then you see it over and over again? Fortunately, although I've been to Disneyland more times than I can remember, I hadn't been to California Adventure. It was good to see it with friends, who also hadn't seen it before. This way, the next time and the next time and the next, I'll at least have today to look back and remember when it was all fresh.
What was also nice about today was that it wasn't your typical "mad rush" after a trip away. Sure, there's laundry that didn't get done today, and errands will have to wait, but sometimes Life is more than dirty clothes and grocery bags. Today it was just an Adventure.
Friday, October 03, 2003 To speak with a live person, please hang up and go home... Trying to sign up for the American Airlines Frequent Flyer Program, the attendant behind the counter directed me to the white "courtesy" phone on the wall. I tried every numerical combination I could in a futile attempt to reach help. If the call really was recorded for quality assurance, like it said, then it sounded like...
I wonder who is all this automation convenient for?
So I figured I would try to sign up on their web site... and just finished spending several attempts going through "page cannot be found" and forms reloading with all my info erased. I don't think the third time was a charm at all.
If they don't want to make it easy for me to become a Frequent Flyer today, I don't think I'll make it easy for me to become a frequent flyer with them tomorrow.
Thursday, October 02, 2003 Keeping on track... The conference was a bit better today. There wasn't as much to goof up as in the past few days. Maybe it was the tighter deadlines, or I was just luckier to get some of the real pros this time. Felix Nelson just rocks! He's a true artist, and worth seeing all by himself.
I think it was thanks to the Miami Beach Convention Center that the show ended on time. By the time we got out, all the signs were down as well. they wasted no time for sure. It left us plenty of time to enjoy our last evening in Miami.
We were also kept on track thanks to the little talking GPS thing in the car. The woman's voice is so polite, you find yourself saying "thank you" a lot. There are times though that she can get downright annoying, even snippy. You miss one turn and she just sits there quietly, not saying anything... she just waits until you get completely off track before she "recalculates" and tells you just what you did wrong. Yelling at her does not good, by the way, she just keeps on telling you to turn right in 1.4 miles.
After the turn caomes, you forgive her again... and really appreciate her company as she chimes that you've reached your destination and can now go eat.
Wednesday, October 01, 2003 Today's special will be flounder I know what it’s like to flub in front of people. Two weeks ago when I taught the web class, I got lost at the beginning. It’s an awful feeling. So I knew what the presenter was going through, as he hemmed and hawed and excused himself and blamed PCs and the beta version of the software… and the long day. Still, however painful it was for him, it was painful for hundreds of people as well. Of all the classes being taught today, this was one I was really looking forward to. It was information I should have gotten months ago (for a project that ended up being cancelled because I didn’t have all I needed). Unfortunately, I wasn’t going to get that training today either.
The odd thing was the same guy taught a similar class in the morning and was excellent. He was well-prepared and funny; and filled with tips. This just didn’t seem to be the same guy.
I left him to go find someone or something else to help me. The next room seemed to be filled with the same buzzing sound of “ums” and “ahs” followed by “that’s not it.” I agreed and repeated, “‘that’s not it’ is right.”
So the day ended on a down note, even though much of it was decent. It goes to show you that no matter how big the event, or how “important” the people are, humans make mistakes.
I didn’t miss the flounder. I went out for steaks.