Thursday, September 29, 2011

Can pigeons understand us?

Enjoying the last reasonably warm days of the year, I decided to have my lunch outside today.  It didn’t take long before I got the company of three finches.  They landed behind me on the ledge of a raised garden and sat there chirping up a storm, all the while eying my sandwich and moving their heads from side to side.

Who can resist such charm?  I certainly couldn’t, so I broke off three pieces of bread and placed them on the ledge.  Two of the finches hopped a safe distance away, but one stayed put.  He hopped towards the bread and started nibbling.

When the other two saw that the coast was clear, they too came hopping back and pecked at the bread.  When they were finished they started chirping again and turning on the charm with their little heads.  So I gave them some more.

When the finches belly was full (I guess it doesn’t take much to have their hunger satisfied) a pigeon took their place.  He too sat eyeing me, cocking his head and clearly waiting for some crumbs.

From experience I knew that, if I gave this pigeon something to eat, his friend would join him en masse.  Still, who can resist those little black beady eyes?  I certainly couldn’t.  So I have him something.  While he pecked at the bread, ten or so other pigeons landed at my feet. 
I gave the pigeon behind me some more and also gave something to his friends. 

The pigeon behind me got braver and braver, coming closer and closer, until he had positioned himself an inch or so away from my shoulder.  Even though I continued to feed the pigeons on the ground, he did not join them, but waited patiently for his share.

When my sandwich was finished and I brushed off my hands, I turned to my grey feathered friend and told him “All done.  See, no more.”
The pigeon cocked his head, looked at me and flew away.   

Had he understood what I said?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to keep personal issues from affecting your career

(Cartoon inspired by Diane Q.) 

If life were a bed of roses, we could all show up at work without a care in the world. Unfortunately nobody enjoys carefree living.  Whether we had a fight with our partner, difficulties with the kids, fighting an illness, facing financial challenges, struggling with a divorce or the death of a loved one, we all have personal lives with ups and downs.  The question is, how do we keep those cumbersome issues from affecting our careers?

It is never a good idea to share personal issues with colleagues.  Unless you have known the colleague for years and trust the person completely, it is better to keep personal issues to yourself.  Whether intentionally or accidentally, the colleague might let something slip in which case your personal issues could become common knowledge.  If you feel the need to talk, talk to a professional such as a doctor, a lawyer, a bank manager or a career counsellor.  Not only might these professionals actually be able to help you, but they are bound by the code of privacy.

If you feel that your personal issues weigh you down to the point that they start affecting your career, consider taking some time off.  Going to work despite personal problems is commendable, but not always advisable.  Your mind may be on something other than work which, directly or indirectly, could affect your career.  One mistake could ruin an otherwise perfect reputation, and the last thing you need is to worry about your career while dealing with personal issues.

If you are gay or lesbian, carefully consider if you want to share your sexual preferences with your boss and colleagues.   Over the years the gay community has made tremendous progress in its acceptance, but there still are old fashioned people who might have trouble with your sexual orientation.  Before coming out, consider if this information might affect your career?  In some cases it’s better to be enigmatic than exposed.

If personal issues frequently cause you to get angry or even fly off the handle, consider doing something about that.  You may have good reason be angry, but your temper could be affecting your career.  To cool off go for a walk or if a change of environment is of no help consider an anger management course.  You could also try taking up yoga, martial arts or simply buying a punch bag.  If you can’t roll with the punches, throw some punches at the punch bag, you’ll be amazed at its calming effect.

If you are on the other hand a very shy person who wouldn’t say boo to a goose, this shyness could be affecting your career too.  To get more self-confidence, consider joining a self-help group who deals with this type of personal issue.  Shyness has a reason, something caused you to lose your confidence and it’s important to get to the root of that problem.  Once you found the reason for your low confidence you can work on it and overcome your shyness.

Regardless of your personal issues, you are not the only one with a particular problem.  If the problem starts to affect your career, get help, but be careful where to look for it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why today's society does not encourage hard work

Every now and then an article comes along that is so on the money it makes you go a little quiet.  Every now and then a writer comes along, it makes you want to cheer.
Such a writer is Alexandra Heep, a woman who can write about anything and everything and does so with a style all her own.  To sample Alex’s work, please visit

As a guest blogger at 9 – 5, I found this article of Alex rather appropriate.

Why today's society does not encourage hard work

 Today's employment society, when it comes to encouraging and rewarding hard work, can be summed up in one phrase: "The right to work (for less)".

I am not that old, but there used to be some simple concepts when I started out in the workforce. If you followed these concepts, monetary rewards were automatic:

* Work Ethic
* Seniority
* Promote from Within

Work ethics are pretty self-explanatory. If you worked hard, showed up on time, and made steady measurable progress, you got evaluations and, in turn, raises. A very simple concept really.

What changed all this? Good question. We all have had to call places or deal with organizations and received poor customer service. We get frustrated, because we wonder: If I acted like that at my job, I would not have a job!

While these people who give poor customer service are not necessarily bad people, they are simply bad employees. What makes them that way? Their employers think them of as expendable, and so it shows in their attitude. They know, even if they give good customer service, it won't matter one bit in the future as there is no such thing as job security.

Let's say for some reason they give excellent service for a year. Does that automatically guarantee them anything? No, it does not. Matter of fact, they become too good at what they do and too expensive for the company to maintain. Instead of eventually getting paid what they are worth, they simply get replaced by someone younger, with less experience, who will accept lower pay.

The notion of seniority in the workplace has simply become archaic. We can all relate to this one. Have you ever had a job where someone 20 years younger trained you? Have you ever had a manager that you thought did not even look old enough to buy alcohol in most places?

The concept of how to achieve a supervisor or manager position used to be simple: You worked your way up from the mailroom (or the equivalent of). This no longer applies. Achieving a position with more responsibility and the appropriate job title and compensation nowadays has become a game with rules known only to the employer.

Oh, there is still enough responsibility to go around. Do a good job at what you are doing and you will find yourself up to your eyeballs in more work. Will that lead to obtaining the job title and increased salary you deserve? If you ask your crystal ball this question you are just as likely to receive the correct answer to that question.

Promoting from within no longer applies either. You would figure that it would make sense to promote people who know the company best by having worked there for a while. However, "fresh blood" and "new ideas" are usually brought in to fix when a company fails to make enough profits to satisfy investors. Looking for those profits in the executives' paychecks would be far too simple an answer.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Not just another day at the office

In case you didn’t know, I’m an organizer.  If I see a mess, my hands itch to straighten it out.  

When I first saw Catherine’s office, I wondered how anyone could work in a place like that.  Papers here, files there, books all over the place ... how did she find anything?  A second later I thought ... if only I could get my hands on it.

When I checked with Catherine if she would let me have a go at her office, she was most agreeable.  If that was something I was willing to do, then by all means.

With Catherine out of town today, I got my chance.  I surveyed the situation, rolled up my sleeves and set to work.  Fifteen minutes into the job I wondered if I had perhaps bitten off a bit more than I could chew.  No point in turning back though, I had started something and I was going to finish it.

It took me the whole morning, well, sort of, in between I did other stuff, but by 12:00 I was finished.  The bookcase was organized, the desk was clutter free, you could see the cherry wood of the credenza again, and everything shone.  Catherine’s office positively sparkled.

During lunchtime I witnessed a protest march of college support workers.  This in itself was nothing new, I’ve seen protest marches before, but what I heard at the end of their protest was definitely something I’ve never heard before.   

A woman started singing her own rendition of the national anthem and her voice was so captivating several people stopped what they were doing to listen. 
If this was a college support worker, she was in the wrong line of business.  Think Tina Turner meets Aretha Franklin and you’re getting an idea of this woman’s voice.   
Thanks to a state of the art sound system, office workers far and wide were treated to an impromptu concert.

Makes you wonder what kind of people are out there, doing ordinary jobs, but possess an extraordinary talent. 

Bon Jovi was a Christmas decoration maker;
Gwen Stefani scrubbed floors at Dairy Queen;
Tom Cruise joined a seminary to become a priest;
Brad Pitt drove limos; and
Jerry Seinfeld sold light bulbs.

Have you ever wondered if you’re in the wrong line of work?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bible thumping on Facebook

Yesterday I concluded my blog post with “Who knows, I could be sitting here a millionaire”.  To Alex, who wondered how the Lotto went I can say .... lightly stick tongue between lips and say prrrrrrr.  Translation ... I’m as poor today as I was yesterday.  So I guess it’s back to work for me on Monday.

How long have I been playing Lotto?  Years.  I always play with the same numbers, birthdays in combination with car number of NASCAR drivers.  The positive side of always playing with the same number is that I don’t have to think about them, I know them by heart.  The negative side is, should I ever skip a week of playing and my numbers come up, I’m going to kick myself from here to kingdom come.

Speaking of kingdom come ... had some aggravation on Facebook today.  Dawn K posted the following message ...

To all the girls who are in a hurry to have a boyfriend or get married, a piece of Biblical advice: "Ruth patiently waited for her mate Boaz." While you are waiting on YOUR Boaz, don't settle for any of his relatives; Broke-az, Po-az, Lyin-az, Cheating-az, Dumb-az, Drunk-az, Cheap-az, Lockedup-az, , Goodfornothingaz, Lazyaz, and especially his third cousin Beatinyouaz. Wait on your Boaz and make sure he respects Yoaz.

If you ask me, Dawn is not exactly in touch with current affairs.  If she was she would know that girls are not nearly as much in a hurry to get married as they used to be.  These days girls use their head and live with the guy first to see how things work.  You could say they’re taking their boyfriends for a test drive.
All things considered a smart move.  Would you buy a car without taking it for a drive first? 

Dawn didn’t like my comment.  I didn’t see anything wrong with it, especially since she listed all the mistakes a girl can make. 

All in all I don’t like people, and it’s usually women, who make religious postings.  There’s a time and a place for everything and Facebook is not the place to preach.  I used to have a friend who was a reverend and never in all the years that I knew him did we talk about religion.  He researched and wrote his sermons in his study; he preached in his church; he gave guidance to those who sought it; but he never pushed his religion on anyone.

Dawn K along with her Bible thumping, pillar biting women could learn a thing or two from him.