Monday, May 28, 2012


I've been thinking recently about who I am.

At work, I've told no less than two supervisors that I don't have any interest in a particular role, I don't think I am skilled at it, I don't want it for a career and I was recently tapped to fill just that role. I'd like to think I'm a good sport and I've already committed to do whatever's asked of me, to the best of my ability because I really like working there and don't want to fall into the trap of being selfish or ambitious or political. So I've dived in. It's felt like it's taken me awhile to get up to speed and it was obvious that they weren't happy with my progress either, but I think I'm actually now doing better than average and I get the sense that they're a little impressed and a little appreciative of what I've been able to do. I would hate to think I'm misreading the room or a little full of myself, but since it wasn't something I felt like I would have any proficiency for, I think things are going better than I expected.

Online, I recently took a week off from Facebook. I got over my addiction rather quickly. I once heard Facebook described as "a movie theater full of people shouting out selfish things" and sometimes it feels like that. A bunch of people posting stuff about themselves, often not bothering to stick around to find out about anyone else. During my week off from Facebook, I regularly visited Google+. Because there's so many fewer people there, the rate of new posts comes far more infrequently, are typically weightier - a few photos, a thought-provoking link, video or post and from a wider variety of people. Posts from Robert Llewellyn (of Red Dwarf) seem to appear very regularly in my stream. I even participated in a hangout one night. A tattooed girl living who knows where was doing a DJ set while people from mostly North and South America dropped in to hear her spin. We all had our mics silenced, but video was still up as was chat typing. People were amused at my bobbing since I was, like now, in front of my computer while doing freestep.

Robert Cringely, recently talking about Facebook versus Google+, suggested it was the apps that produced the chasm between the two. I think it's the people. Facebook is the open forum while Google+ ends up being more like a quiet side room. And you know what? I think most people (except the Google corporation) would prefer it stay that way. It is a uniquely interesting dynamic.

But it fit into what I was thinking about. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Klout, Gmail, Blogger, Google Reader -- who can keep up with it all? And to what end? What purpose does it all serve in the grand scheme of things? I am not pursuing a mate or a career, I have a large number of friends more than I can fairly keep up with who are just as busy as me. So who am I producing all of this content for? No one, really, right? Maybe the advertisers, maybe the government. Maybe Mr. Finch's machine or the intersect or Skynet. I could call it Brand Management of my Online Identity, but is it really? I think people looking for me can readily find me at this point, but for what reason would they be looking for me, except perhaps to contact me? Bam.

But if I just jump on Facebook to say something I think is interesting or witty or venting within my context, it's all lost to everyone else unless they're in the room with me at the time, but then I'm not paying attention to them in person. And at what cost? My life is already so busy and are these distractions from something else, such as reading?

If I'm truly being honest, this is an area I haven't simplified enough.

Which takes me back to the WHY vs HOW debate. Why do I do what I do (whatever it may be)? Or how do I do what I do? Makes me think of a recent TED Talk I saw as well as a recent post by my friend and colleage Amy: Our Family's Purpose.

I started researching Mission Statements versus Vision Statements tonight. I was never clear on what did what, but it seemed like they did different things.

On the whole of it, the Mission Statement seems to be the WHAT/HOW while the Vision Statement is the WHY. The Vision Statement should remain constant. It doesn't tell you what to do, but it becomes a guiding principle that you can use to determine what to do when then what isn't spelled out. The Mission Statement changes from time-to-time to reflect current realities or goals. It's formed by the Vision Statement.

I've looked at a number of websites for both corporate and personal missions, visions, values, purposes, you name it. The recommended order seems to change from recommendation to recommendation, but I'm convinced you start with the why. I'm not going to get this tonight, but I'm going to start. Two areas that seem to make sense are my roles, values, passions and aspirations.

- husband and father
- employee
- Christian
NOT: politician

- richness
- beauty
- simplicity
NOT: dishonesty, opaque, chaotic, ugly, cheap

- family
- knowledge
- technology, architecture
- entertainment
NOT: risk, danger, insecurity

- loved and respected by family
- long-term career (respected, trusted, useful) doing something worthwhile
- well-read
- healthy
NOT: regretful, busy, stressed, unfulfilled

What I would do if I didn't have to work: Basically what I did last Saturday - got up at a reasonable hour, had some quiet time to myself, listened to music, drank coffee and read, got things ready, got the kids up, let Lori sleep a little longer, then spent the day with the family, including doing projects (with power tools and improvisation) around the house, working on some therapy stuff with Ben, talking a long walk together, going out to eat, had a nice meal at home in the evening, helped get the kids ready for bed, watched some TV.

What would make that better: a view of the ocean, gentle breezes through light colored curtains, not having to scrounge for bits of lumber in the garage, having time to stain the work I did, less stress about calorie counts, having had (made) time to do a Bible study that morning.

This feels like a good stopping point, it was a long post. This felt good. I'll try to revisit before too long but not let it consume me. (I left a thing or two out that are no one else's business.)

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