We try so hard to feel confident and competent. But there are times in life when we need to act without knowing the consequences of our decision. We have to make a decision where we will either be brilliant or fail miserably and there is no way to tell which one will happen. This happened in my first consulting project. Now, I had never contracted or managed a consulting project on my own before. So, I did everything that seemed like the right things to do. All the books said so. I met with the client to discuss the project parameters and discussed the purpose of the project. We talked about both of our responsibilities. The meeting went very well, but the actual deliverables at the end were still a little fuzzy. I finished the meeting by asking the project sponsor to send me a brief outline of what she would like in the final report. Then, she asked me to calculate the number of hours the project would take so she could set up the purchase order for the work.
A few days later, the sample report arrived. It contained several passages like the following:
[In this project,] I would really like to solidify the list of outcomes along with artifacts and related vital behaviors. .. Normally, the identification of exemplary performance involves interviews, observations, and analysis of people performing at various levels…. Those techniques are structured around an “accomplishment-based” philosophy. We call them here outcomes and artifacts as instantiations of outcomes. That philosophy seeks to determine what accomplishments, or outputs of value, most contribute to star performance. This is important for us as we believe we know what [the] outcomes are. You have it in docs we sent you and in career model. I am not asking you to do a validation research study per se, but we need to validate the outcomes when we analyze behaviors.
Huh? As you might guess, this didn’t lead to the clarity that I was looking for. So, I thought I would just throw something together and send it to her for comment. I would just make it part of the continuing conversation. However,, every time I sat down to write, I found that I was paralyzed. I couldn’t seem to get anything down on paper. I kept putting it off, until two days later when my wife greeted me at the door that night and told me that the project manager had called and said she would try to call my cell phone. My cell phone was off. I turned it on. Before the cell even booted up, our home phone ring. It was the project manager. She starts, “Really sorry to bother you at home, but I’m writing up the budget request right now. All I need to know is how much the project going to cost so I can get that in. You don’t have to give me the complete breakdown, just give me some hours and that would be fine.” [At this point I’m thinking, “I can’t give her the hours. This sounds dangerous. Would a real consultant do this? No, I think they would push back…”]
I answered, “I’m hesitant to guess. I don’t know right now. I can tell you tomorrow when I have finalized the statement of work.” [What I didn’t say was, “I’m hesitant to guess because I’ve never done this before. I really, really, really don’t want to get it wrong.”].
“But I’m finalizing it tonight. Just think of this as the first of many projects with us.” she says. [At this point I’m thinking that I know it should be okay and she is contracting me on this project as a way to get started. The company likes me. The contract person likes me. Deep down I do trust her and it’s probably not that big of deal, but I don’t really know the hours. I should have done it over the last two days… stupid, stupid, stupid… but the choice was still there: Should I just roll up the numbers over the phone and manage the project expectations accordingly or should I insist on a formal proposal tomorrow? It’s not that big of a deal, I think to myself. I’ll just roll it up even though that’s not what a real consultant would do… stupid, stupid, stupid. I should have rolled up the numbers yesterday….]
So, I gave her my best estimate of the hours it would take to interview people to write up the results, and create a set of recommendations. When I was done, it came to about 50 hours. There was a long pause.
“Really?” she says. [“Oh no,” I thought. “Now I’ve gone WAY over budget and shocked her.”]
“Is that too much?” I say.
“That’s nothing,” she says. “Let me put you down for 100.”
And, I say fine. [And I’m thinking, “Well, that didn’t go very well. Now, she now knows what an amateur I am. Maybe I should have insisted that she wait until the next day!”]
I hung up the phone, and I sat down to my dinner, and stared at my plate. I didn’t eat anything. My wife asks, “You’re still thinking about the phone call, aren’t you?” and I say yes.
[The truth was that this client really did want to work with me and it should have been okay, but I was worried because I know how projects can grow. I don’t overwork myself but establish clear expectations of what I can and can’t do so, if it comes to it, I can ask for more money if the project increases in scope. I don’t know how to begin to do this…. And this is my first time, and this is big so I better get it right! I had to step into the unknown, not knowing the answers to some of the most important question. If I got it right, I would be fine. If I got it wrong, I will have to work twice as hard to make it happen.]
The next day, I decided I might as well tell the truth and write a note to the client because I clearly wasn’t doing a very good job of hiding my naiveté. So I came clean with my worries and misgivings,
“I promise to have a draft Statement of Work and research design in advance of our next conversation. The struggle I’m having is that this could be a really big or really simple project and the deliverables could be too simple (with you thinking, “That’s what we already thought!”) or too detailed to be useful. With your permission, I’d like to send you a draft SOW and draft interview questions and a sample report as working documents with the expectation that you’ll tear them apart as appropriate and together we’ll get something good and useful. (The perfectionist in me is kicking in).”
And with that e-mail, it felt like I was throwing myself into free-fall. Either it would be seen as honest and humble or it would be seen as weak and pathetic. There was no way to know. A day later, the reply came,
“Tell that perfectionist of yours they have to take a hike… er, a vacation! Don’t agonize about deliverable. Think of depth versus scope, insight versus data, accuracy versus precision. Think of it as the first step in series of analytical steps, anywhere from research to business intelligence. This is going to be great! I told the general manager that you were onboard and he was thrilled. Now, start the business of your own!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
What a great ending! However, the reply could have been very different. It could have been very negative. What ultimately made the difference was that I was just too tired to keep pretending.
So the question remains, how do you throw yourself into the unknown?
In Romans 8:26-27 (NIV), the Apostle Paul writes:
“…the Sprit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Sprit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”
What a great promise! I can trust God (the Holy Spirit) to communicate and interpret for God on my behalf. I don’t have to be perfect. God is arguing with Himself on my behalf! Gosh, if God gives me that kind of a break in our relationship, how much more will He help me in daily life?
Better yet, the Holy Spirit takes what I ask and converts it into what I really need. I can begin to imagine what those prayers sounded like.
During the phone call,
|I was praying…||The Holy Spirit was saying…|
|Help me not to sound like an idiot…||Help Paul to see himself as a work in progress and help him to know that’s okay…|
|I pray that no one else will find out how much I’m winging it. Help no one else to find out…||Help give Paul the courage to share this with his class at school and with people in church on Sunday. Thank you for making him strong in his weakness and able to help those who struggle as well.|
|Help me to just shut up, quit criticizing myself and just get on with it.||Help him to feel okay with the process. Help him to see this isn’t really all that big of deal in the grand scheme of things.|
|Help me to do it right…||Help him to learn from it and take comfort and joy in it and share it along the way.|
|Help me to make sure I spend time with my family and not get too caught up in this.||Help him to spend time with his family and not get too caught up in this.|
And so we all are made strong in our weaknesses.
Take a few minutes to think about the things that you are struggling with today. Where do you feel incompetent and uncomfortable? Where are you beating yourself up? Divide a piece a paper into two columns. In the left-hand column, write down what you are praying to God. Be honest with yourself. Write the truth; not what you think you should write, but the truth. After all, you don’t have to tell anyone and you can shred the paper when you are done. Now, in the right-hand column, write what you think the Holy Spirit might be saying to God. Remember, this is someone who knows you really well and is on your side. The Holy Spirit is interpreting your longings and praying on your behalf to God. This is the Holy Spirit who is also called the Comforter. What does He say? Now, your task for the rest of the day is to remember these words and live into them. Then, listen to what God says back through His interpreter – the Comforter.
A few weeks back, my wife Jackie and I were watching the US Open golf tournament. I don’t play golf very well, but I love to watch golf sometimes…mostly because it makes me feel like I’m on vacation because of all the grass, beaches, palm trees, and ponds that look like swimming pools. Anyway, we had actually been watching for about an hour, and had begun to witness what we had seen so many times before…Tiger Woods coming after playing poorly earlier in the week. At one point, I looked at Jackie and said, “It’s amazing how many times he’s done this. I mean, he has this uncanny ability to hit the right shots when it counts……Amazing!” We watched him once again come back all the way to the last hole where he was shooting to force a playoff the next day. We were both on the edge of our seats watching. Then, he sinks a 30 foot putt to force the playoff, and the crowd got absolutely nuts. We were both floored, and again I said, “It’s UNCANNY honey, he does this every time. I feel like I’ve seen him do this over and over again!” And then one moment later the coverage broke away to a still camera on an empty golf course with rain falling in the background, and a voice said, “And we’re back live during the rain delay at the 2009 US Open. We hope you enjoyed our coverage of the Tiger Woods comeback at the 2008 Open.” Yes, we were watching last year’s tournament, and yes, we did watch it together last yearL
There are so many questions about identity that this raises for me. First, is my identity, the sum of my experiences, my accomplishments, or even one major success or failure? If so, what does my experience with the US Open tell me about me? To what extent do other people impact who I am? If I make a foolish mistake in front of other people, does that make me a fool? Is the label I place on myself or the labels placed on me by others the sum total of who I am? If I’m Michael Jackson, is who I am “the king of pop?” If I’m Farrah Fawcet, is who I am the woman in the red bathing suit or the Angel who left before the first season was over? Is that who I am? Even though much of what I’ve experienced may or may not be true?
Identity is so important to us that we have an entire racket called “identity theft.” And just think of the last time you heard someone say, “who do you think you are anyway?” The fact is that your identity matters. It matters because it ultimately impacts what you do. So, I’d like you to consider three questions.
We had our alumni get together a couple of weeks ago. The topic we discussed was, “How are you a different person than you were two years ago?” It was a great time to catch up with each other and hear what everybody was doing. Halfway through the conversation turned to the economy and the tough situation that so many businesses and people are facing these days. The conversation centered on the topic, “What do you do when life feels like two steps forward and three steps back?” How do you hold onto yourself? Below are some of the insights that emerged during our night together. The wording isn’t exact, but I tried to catch the spirit. I have followed this with my own blog and expanded thoughts on this topic.
· I have faith that I am loved by God no matter what I’m doing. My value ultimately isn’t based on a job, but that I’m loved by God.
· I admit my emotions and what I am feeling, no matter what they are, and I give myself permission to feel whatever it is.
· It helps to have a hobby or distraction where I can totally lose myself. It might be singing or training for my dog. Those are the moments that provide a break, a respite, balance.
· Being vulnerable and raw allows me to share more with others. I ask myself, “What can I do at this time in my life? Can I do pro bono work? Can I volunteer at a shelter?” I think about the opportunities I have and can seize right now.
· When you’re in-between jobs, you don’t have an agenda for my day unless you set one for yourself. So, I make sure I have created structure in my day. What are the goals that I want to set for myself today? I want to create my own sense of accomplishment. I reward myself for putting myself out there. I give myself credit – I am calling and meeting with people! I am thankful that I only have myself to take care of. I don’t have a family depending on me like other people do.
· It is not giving up control to others. Some people will be laid off at my workplace, but I won’t spend my time worrying about it. That gives the power to the situation, to the organization. I focus on what I can control. My What can I do to make a difference with the reduced resources that I have in my job? What can I do to develop myself?
· Misery loves company. Sometimes people who are down feel threatened by your courage to take risks. One comments, “Wow, this is a bad time for you to start a business.” People don’t always want to see you take risks. I focus on community not competition – I remind myself that everyone has their own path. I’m not in competition with the people around me. I trust God that we all will end up in the right place. My path is different than other people’s path. I’m not in competition with them.
· Ultimately, for me, it comes down to trust in God, trusting that He is watching out for me and in control.
Heaven knows we all have times when life feels like two steps forward, three steps back. Hopefully, they don’tcome very often.
You push, fight, struggle, persist. You try to do all the right things and, at the end of the day or week or year, realize that you are further from your goal than when you started. You are ready to launch a new program in the company and your VP “informs you” that three more committees need to review it before it can be launched. You read over the paper you are ready to turn in or the journal article you are ready to submit one final time just to make sure you caught everything. Halfway through, and ten changes later, you realize, if you are honest with yourself, that it needs to be completely reorganized and rewritten. Two steps forward, three steps back.
Lewis and Clark took over two years to complete their expedition. This was a trip filled with obstacles. One of the phrases that regularly recurs in Meriwether Lewis’ journal was, “and we proceeded on” usually after a time of great frustration when the rest of us would have written, “we realized how really crazy this whole trip was so we turned around and headed for home. God bless us one and all.” One of these moments occurred when the expedition reached the headwaters of the Missouri. Lewis climbed to the top of the mountain, expecting to see the Columbia start on the other side. Instead, they saw the Rocky Mountains stretching endlessly into the distance. There was no easy path. The historians John Logan Allen and Stephen Ambrose note what an incredible disappointment this must have been.[i] We can only guess what Lewis was thinking, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was, “Two steps forward, three steps back.”
But what if one of the things that ultimately separates the people who reach their goals from the ones who don’t is the tenacity to keep pushing forward, to persist through the times when it feels like no progress is being made. Maybe the refusal to give up is what makes the difference. Of course, that begs the next question: What allows people to persist when it feels like they are wasting their time and losing ground?
Being passionate about your work helps. Doing something that you love to do always makes it easier to get through the tougher times. But this can’t be the full story. There are areas in my life that are really important where passion alone doesn’t even begin to get me through. I submit a journal article. and it is rejected. All my passion deserts me as I read the rejection letter. Likewise, passion seldom helps me out when I’m in the middle of the journey. Writing my dissertation certainly felt that way. I had lost all passion several months earlier. And there I was sitting at my computer determined to finish it and having very little motivation to keep going. I spent at least one day sitting in front of the computer screen with a grand two paragraphs to show when the sun had finally set.
Salvatore Maddi and his colleagues have devoted several years studying the attitudes and behaviors that make people hardy and resilient. Three attitudes appear to be particularly important:[ii]
· Commitment – to be involved with people, things, and contexts rather than be detached, isolated, or alienated
· Control – struggling to have an influence on the outcomes going on around you rather than sinking into passivity and powerlessness
· Challenge – the desire to learn continually from your experience, whether positive or negative, rather than playing it safe by avoiding uncertainties and potential threats
Maddi’s research team has also identified five skills that are important in building hardiness. These include relaxation, nutrition, physical activity, social support, and coping (looking at your whole life from a broader perspective and understanding and not getting stuck in the moment, then using this to take action).
Another researcher, Carol Ryff, has identified six dimensions that are related to psychological well-being, providing strength and resilience in people’s lives. They are a sense of autonomy and control, a focus on personal growth, self-acceptance, a sense of purpose, mastery of some skills, and positive relatedness to others (being connected with other people).[iii]
So, based on this advice, if your life feels like two steps forward and three steps, consider the following.
Consider yourself a work in progress. We will all go through difficult times in our lives and this is one of those times for you. It’s probably not the first, and it certainly won’t be the last. Take a minute to reflect back on a tough earlier time in your life when it felt like two steps forward three steps back. Junior High might a good place to start or maybe when you were looking for your first job. Remember that person you used to be? You were probably a little naïve or foolish or overconfident, but well-intentioned. Chances are that you did the best with what you had. What got you through this time and other tough in your past? What helped you continue to move forward when it didn’t feel like you were making any progress? What made the difference? How were you a different person on the other side? Now, move forward in time. Chances are that you are currently just learning as you go. So, give yourself a break. Give yourself the same compassion that you are willing to give that awkward 12-year-old that you used to be. And remember that you will be a better person (and a wiser and hopefully more compassionate one) on the other side.
Let the refining fire do its work. The words of Thomas Paine 200 years ago might be a great summary of your life right now, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” People sometimes emerge from these kinds of experiences better off. Other people emerge unchanged or even worse off. There are no guarantees. So, who are you becoming in the midst of this experience? How do you see the world differently? How do you see other people differently?
Look for the possibilities that are present right now. Don’t let yourself get caught only focusing on the other side of this time (e.g., “how you will be a better person, blah, blah, blah). We can get so caught up in simply trying to wait out and endure the current situation that we miss how powerful these moments can be in our lives in and of themselves. What are the opportunities that are presenting themselves to you—right now?! For example, what are the volunteer activities you can do that are available to you today? Who are the people you can reach out to right now? You are much more likely to see frustration, hurt, and disappointment in others right now. Think about the opportunities you have to impact the people around you because you are in the middle of the struggle. People might be a little more likely to find comfort in your words because you are struggling too. Consider how much less impact the same words might have if you spoke them when everything was going well in your life.
Focus on what you can control. There’s so much in our lives that is outside of our control – the economy, what is happening in the organization where we work, and the people around us to name only a few. Focusing on what you can control doesn’t deny these realities. It is instead focusing your energy on the things where you effort might actually matter. It is asking yourself: in this situation, what battles are worth fighting? Which ones do I need to let go? How can U build small wins into my life so I feel a sense of accomplishment? Getting through the tough times means focusing on the next bend in the trail, getting through this next leg in the journey. Taking control means refusing to focus all of your attention on what other people are doing to you. That gives the power to the them and to the situation. Instead, focus on who you want to be in this situation. It is asking, “What can I do?” knowing it might not be much, but it sure beats feeling like a complete victim. The difference is subtle, but oh so important!
Find your support network. Who feeds you? Find the people in your life who can walk along side you. Maybe the reason that the Lewis and Clark expedition made it to the Pacific and back was because there were two of them (a whole team for that matter). Support doesn’t have to be one way. Chances are that you will support and strengthen each other!
Eat healthy and exercise. Take care of yourself so you have the strength to push through the tough times. You only feel as good as the food that you eat; and, heaven knows, you need to burn off all that extra stress! Better yet, find a friend who will come along so you can double your resiliency strategies!
Appreciate the small things in your life. Find something that reminds you how good life can be. Learn to play the harmonica. Go hiking. Play catch with your kids. Read a book that takes you away. Use the activities as a reward for yourself at the end of the day. After all that work, you deserve a little time to yourself. It helps totally lose yourself in an activity.
Remember that we see through a glass darkly. There is a good chance that you will have the opportunity to share these stories in the future. They might start out, “You think you have it bad?! When I was…” I have a prediction. I’m willing to bet that at some point in the future, God is going to use the things you experienced during this time in your life to somehow help other people.
After I finished my Masters degree in graduate school, I decided to get an internship. No openings or even leads were immediately available. So I found a listing of the top 100 employers in the area and started sending out letters and resumes then followed them up with phone calls two weeks later. Every day, I sat by the phone and psyched myself up. “All I have to do is make 20 calls today. Then I can do something to reward myself.” Those were some of the most painful days of graduate school (maybe even worse than those dissertation writing days). Looking for a job is probably the hardest work that we ever do and we don’t even get paid for it. Fortunately, the story ends well. Six weeks later, I had seven informational interviews and two job offers. Did I like going through all of that instead of walking into a job? Absolutely not! However, I find myself teaching students these days who have to make the same kinds of phone call after they graduate. I could, of course, give a lot of advice and lecture on how to find a job.[iv] Telling about those hideous, difficult days however seems to be a lot more important. It’s probably that hungry, desperate look I get in my eye when I relate the story. So, was it worth going through that dreadful job search experience? Absolutely! And it only took fifteen years for me to learn why.
[i] Allen, J. L. Summer of decision: Lewis and Clark in Montana, 1805. We Proceeded On, 8(4), 10. Ambrose, S. E. (1996). Undaunted courage. New York: Simon & Schuster.
[ii] Maddi, S. (2002).The story of hardiness: Twenty years of theorizing, research and practice. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 54(3), 175-185.
[iii] Ryff CD, Keyes CLM. 1995. The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 719–727.
[iv] I/O psychologists have done some great research on what actually predicts job search success, See (1) Saks, A. M. (2005). Job search success: A review and integration of the predictors, behaviors, and outcomes. In Career Development and Counseling: Putting Theory and Research to Work (Steven D. Brown & Robert W. Lent, Eds.) , pp. 155-179. Hoboken, NJ, US: John Wiley & Sons Inc. (2) Saks, A. M. (2005). Multiple predictors and criteria of job search success. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 68, 400-415. And (3) Wanberg, C. R., Glomb, T. M., Song, Z, & Sorenson, S. (2005). Job search persistence during unemployment: A 10-wave longitudinal study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 411-430.
Humans and organizations alike are consumers of information. We look for knowledge and data points and collect a vast amount of facts. We want to know and discover meaning behind everything that we count and quantify as much as possible. We measure performance, employee opinions, outcomes, services, time and expended resources. We obtain numbers for every possible activity in every aspect of our lives. But to what end?
In today’s activities alone, I can quantify a number of things. I know the total hours spent on projects for work and how much money that translates into. I’ve calculated the miles per gallon for my car. I know how much I spent on clothes, gas and bills for the month. I gathered statistics on crisis intervention. I even retrieved the weather forecast for the weekend. As read through this short list I see clear uses for information I collected. However, in some cases I’m not sure how I will use the knowledge I’ve gained.
This can happen in organizations as well. That is, an organization may gather and compile facts and data to not use it. Now this isn’t the case in all organizations, however I think it is particularly true for smaller businesses and non-profits. It’s cool to know that there is seemingly no end to the amount of things you can quantify. But when do you stop gathering data for sake of having it and actually use it?
I have carried this question with me for the last two years and it recently became more conscious. The event that triggered this query was a class project. For several weeks, I have been working on a team to complete a project in program evaluation. We have focused on examining data on an existing organizational program to evaluate their program outcomes and data collection methodology. The data we examined reported client population, outcomes achieved and services provided, which are all important to a program’s evaluation and development. After several meetings with the program managers, it was unclear as to why this program was collecting data. Now, one can deduce the various reasons why it is important for these individuals to collect various data points however, the reasons they provided were vague. As consultants for this project, we couldn’t wrap our heads around why the program officers spent so much time collecting information when there wasn’t a clear avenue for its uses. Furthermore, collecting the right data was another issue. It appeared to be a true case of gathering data for the sake of having but not understanding its uses and potential power.
If we turn to back to the first question I posed, of gathering data to what end, the answer is fairly clear: to evaluate. We want to know that we won’t be broke by the end of the month, so we gather information on our expenses. We want to understand the climate of an organization, so we gather employee opinions via survey. We want to know if our programs are achieving the goals and outcomes for which it was established, so we measure performance. Yet, as I previously mentioned there are some cases where knowledge is left unused. Sometimes people and organizations just don’t know what to do with the information they gather. It just isn’t enough for someone to say they possess knowledge and hard facts and therefore understand. Understanding, doesn’t improve program longevity. Understanding doesn’t create improved processes to help employees and organizations succeed. However, understanding how to use that knowledge can improve organizational and individual effectiveness and efficiency.
This is where I believe we have a strong value-add in the world of work. We are trained and understand how to interpret and utilize data to help organizations and/or programs evolve and develop to be sustainable and successful. When an organization or program has difficulty translating and utilizing their information, we can help. We ensure that they are making the correct assumptions, conclusions and recommendations for goal achievement. In addition, we can provide expert guidance to these organizations and programs that will aid in process improvement, superior service delivery or whatever it is they are trying to attain.
It is my hope and goal that our team will be able to leverage this value we have to help improve the program for which we are consulting. After all, accumulating information doesn’t create knowledge and wisdom for institutional development and growth. However, imagine the vast amount possibilities and changes you can perpetuate with your knowledge and ability to not only decipher data but you ability to turn that information into meaningful action.
We have more information now than we can use, and less knowledge and understanding than we need. Indeed, we seem to collect information because we have the ability to do so, but we are so busy collecting it that we haven’t devised a means of using it. The true measure of any society is not what it knows but what it does with what it knows. -Warren Bennis
Social Networking and a day of firsts
Many workplaces are wrestling with the use of social networks like Facebook, particularly those who employ millennials and their penchant for e-collaboration. It is speculated that millions of productive hours and dollars are lost monthly as employees spend time poking, friending and superpoking others. Until recently I had been a sitting on the Facebook bench, but with the adoption of my son I got into the game of status postings and compulsive monitoring.
At 6:30 am I made my first Facebook status entry while at an airport. It also happened to be the day my wife and I would eventually meet our first newborn adopted son, an event worthy of status posts. Up until that morning I had little interest in chronicling my moment-to-moment happenings let alone making them known to friends, friends of friends and others who I lacked the courage to ignore; a feature one can employ when invited to connect with someone on Facebook. By the way, I have since taken a page out of President Elect Obama’s playbook and begun my 09-resolution administration early by ignoring requests from those who only connection to me is we frequent the internet and breathe air.
So I pushed out “Joey is on his way to meet his newborn son,” on my phone and declared my status. In less than 30 minutes, while paying little attention to the SOPs of seatbelt use and the how-tos of exiting during a water-landing, I keyed “I am on the tarmack waiting to take off.” Seconds later, I wondered if I spelled tarmac correctly — turns out I didn’t. I also paused to think how unlikely it would be to make a water landing since I was flying south and west of Seattle. Nevertheless, I was prepared for my meeting with providence.
During the flight I reflected on how my drama was playing out on the information grid and wondered how life will be different for my son in this Über connected world. I did not have to wait long, wheels-down and I made another post and discovered several friends had already commented with well wishes. Indulged, I made another noting that we were now rolling in our rental car. During the drive I made several posts as others in my network joined in. It now felt like there was more occurring than just sharing my status with friends.
As my wife and I sped down the road we reviewed the top 1000 names of 2007 posted by the Social Security Department. I considered using Facebook as a sounding board for our top candidates, but decided the act would have reduced the day to “performance art.” I opted for privacy and convention over assurance and waited for his name to materialize after looking into his eyes. Finally we met for the first time; it was sublime. I ceased posting until the next day. Following a brief vetting process I posted, “Welcome Cole Christopher Collins.”
As an active participant of Facebook now, I am still not sure if it is a fad, fashion or folderal; I do know it is fun and made my world smaller. As for employers, Facebook it here to stay, for now at least, and issues of privacy as well as access at work will need to be addressed formally and informally by HR departments.
Dr. Joey Collins