Monday, September 26, 2016

A Tail of Two Dogs

Five years ago, there was a change in the Zeiler household with the addition of a new family member – Lucy Lou.  We adopted Lucy Lou after three years of not having a dog.  She was perfect for our family.  She was estimated to be two years old, house broken and well mannered.  We all fell in love with her.  While she brought positive energy to our family, Bec (who took the loss of our previous dog very hard) really fell in love, and made sure each day included Lucy-time.  When the girls are away at school, Debbie and I send semi-daily photos.  Running daily errands, she happily went with Debbie for a ride.  She has even made it to TV!  The cool thing about her, her demeanor, her attitude, was that when you took her for a walk around the neighborhood, everyone knows her.  Walking at the park always garnered compliments.  She has even been to visit Gab at college, to the delight of Gab and her friends.  Everyone knows Lucy Lou (she has been a featured topic for me as well).

And then came Sadie…Sadie is my mother-in-law’s dog.  She was adopted as a puppy and came with  The girls quickly started referring to her as “Sadie, Sadie, Crazy Lady.”  For my mother-in-law, she fit the bill, as she became her constant companion.  As the perfect lapdog, Sadie would sit on her lap while watching TV and sleep in the bed with her.  Lucy Lou and Sadie got along great together and were inseparable.  They would play together and hang out together, always happy for that play date.  When it was time for Sadie to go home, like the little child that cries about not wanting to leave, she would not let my mother-in-law put her leash on.
all of the energy of a dog her age.

Last December, that all changed…When my Debbie’s mother got sick, Sadie stayed with us.  We hoped this would be a temporary situation.  As things have turned out, she is here to stay.  At first, it was like living with Ricochet Rabbit – always in motion, always looking for attention, always in your face.  Sadie does not have the same cuteness factor as Lucy Lou.  One of the girls told the story where they were out and someone saw Lucy and comment on how beautiful she is.  And then, Sadie’s head popped into the picture and the lady said, “and then there’s you.” 

Like humans, the dogs have distinct personalities.  Sadie is the hyperactive child that constantly needs attention.  Because of this, when you move, she comes running over thinking that it is time to play, or when you give attention to Lucy Lou, she inserts herself in front so that she gets petted.  Lucy Lou, on the other hand, is more laid back.  She will sit there looking at you, waiting for you to acknowledge her before she comes over for attention.  When she is done, she walks away.  They do have one common thread – they are both rescue dogs that have been “adopted.”  You never know what baggage they will bring into the relationship.  With Lucy Lou, her background seemed a bit sketchy, but she ended up being a perfect fit for our family.  We, in essence, are Sadie’s second family.  As I am writing this, I have noticed that she has begun to become a part of our family and starting to meld into our routines.  She is still quirky, but, heck, who isn’t.
Two Tired Best Dog Friends

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Milestone Passed By

Each week, I sit down shortly after I wake up and work on my Thoughts of the Week.  For whatever reason, this seems to be the time of the day when I find it easiest to write and my thoughts flow easily. During the weekend, Debbie edits my writing.  Sometimes it is either Gab or Bec that does the guest editing.  I found out early in the writing process that even though I reread / rewrite parts of my post, I am bound to overlook something, skip words, provide unclear context or write something unexpectedly out of line.  I am grateful for my family’s involvement and they are an important part of the process.  At the beginning of the week, I post my articles.

So, what is the big deal?  Last week, I posted the 150th blog article (the milestone).  In a month and a half, I will complete three years of sharing my thoughts with you (another milestone).  When I started writing, I had no expectations of how long I would be writing, but decided to take on the goal of being diligent about being open and honest, being open to the world around me and committed to looking for the lessons in life that we are constantly surrounded by, but sometimes miss. 

When I started this blog, I did not set out to achieve any big hairy audacious goals, but to have a chance to share my life journey.  Being open to new thoughts and ideas (internal and external), a desire to learn and the continuous process on working to improve myself, provides for plenty of material.  Being open to trying different thing and being involved in different activities, has, of course, been rewarding on many levels.  And, most important, having a family to share the experiences.

In honor of my humble milestone, I will keep this short.  Always remember to strive for the most that you can be: thank the people that help you along the way, and always look forward to what you can become as opposed to where you have been. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Halting Creativity

In the movie “The Wall,” during the song “another Brick in the Wall,” the accompanying visuals show a classroom filled with students, where the students all of a sudden have the same face.  During the same song, they are seen on a conveyor belt moving towards a meat grinder.  The underlying point, through the dystopian and horrifying representation, is that the students molded into the same image; following the same mold without deviation.

As we get older, does this “you must follow the masses” mentality help or hinder creativity?

As the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos has gone on to create one of the most disruptive technologies.  Prior to that he worked on Wall Street.  He tells the story of informing his boss at the time about his intentions of leaving his company and starting his own business.  After taking a two-hour walk to discuss Jeff’s thoughts on his potential new venture, the boss agrees that it is a great idea, but someone else should do it (wanting him to stay and follow the mold).  Lucky for us, he left the job and started the company that has forever changed the way we shop.

I have sat in meetings where a great idea has come up – “That is not how we do it here,” is sometimes the response.  Or, in a group discussing change where a measure of creativity is utilized.  Everyone agrees, nods their heads, and then through some measure of subtlety, leave the room as if the conversations never occurred.  This can be stifling to ones endeavors, shut down creative thinking and, potentially, lead to others rolling their eyes and have the thought bubble appear over their heads stating, “Here he goes again.”

There is this thinking in the arts as well.  In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand displays a potential impact of a mass entitlement mindset, where creativity is put down, and if you are creative, the masses should receive the profits.  In George Orwell’s classic, Animal House, the pigs end up enforcing an attitude of “You will do as we say, not as we do,” to keep the farm animals to not show any creative thinking.  In music, there have been examples, most notable was a folk singer that had the label of being the voice of a generation.  He played the traditional folk instrument of the acoustic guitar, sometimes accompanied with his harmonica.  But, oh the outrage, the heckling and the booing when he came out for his now legendary second set at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, when Bob Dylan went “electric.”

As we have seen in the extremist world, having any independent thoughts can lead to ostracizing, or in the most extreme, beheading.  We need independent thinking.  We need individualism.  We need creativity.  Without them, we would still adhere to the often used quote (for which I could find no original source), “If men were supposed to fly, he would have been born with wings,” and not have air travel.  Without creativity, humans would never move forward, we would still be sitting in the dark, still be using columnar paper and travel by horse.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Who is in Control?

“Wayne, I don’t think so.  The way I see it you will be the help desk for your division.”

“What?” I thought to myself.  This guy just asked where I saw myself going, ignored what I said (my ambition at the time), and is telling me something completely different.  I saw two choices in front of me, either nod my head and do what he said, or, leave the company and pursue my own destiny.  In other words, take control of my career, or, become beholden to someone else’s objectives for me.

A month later, I had a new job as a consultant, which provided me with new opportunities, gave me a chance to develop professionally and led me on a favorable path.  Right before I left Medco, as I was making my rounds to say goodbye, a few people said that it took courage to do what I was doing, that they wished they could make a change, but the money was to good to walk away from.  For me, it was not about the status of the money being paid. 

Recently, I was reminded that the only thing that you have control over are the things that you control.  I might not have had control over the work that was being assigned to me, but I did have control over whether or not I wanted to remain employed where I was.

Many external influences attempt daily to take a piece of control away from us.  An example would be commercials.  I recently heard a radio ad for a food supplement product that the speaker claimed after three months of using, his golf game improved dramatically.  REALLY?!?  I play a little golf; food has never affected my game.  How about Reality TV?  How many of the so-called stars have gone into business, written books, gone on tour and fans are excited to spend their hard earned money on their products?  We all tend to cede control of some of our focus, or, let someone else make decisions for us that, at times, distract us from our personal goals.

The lesson can be taught to our girls away in college.  It is a time in their lives filled with wonderful new experiences, a time where they are encouraged to be curious and a chance to choose a direction for their lives.  As important as their education is, they cannot control all aspects of the environments they place themselves in.  They will need to learn to identify the areas of their lives where they  have the control, where they will never have control over (and therefore become beholden to other’s agenda), and hopefully not to fall into the trap of blaming others for their position in life or condition.  As much as Debbie and I can try to teach them, this is a valuable lesson, they will need to learn on their own.

There is an old adage; he who controls the agenda controls the outcome.  In business, if you have a meeting, the person that controls the meeting’s agenda controls the content.  During the presidential primaries, Donald Trump controlled the agenda by pulling the candidates to address his points and play “his game.”  As we go through life, we need to be able to remember who is controlling the agenda.  When I left my job, I decided that I would not let someone else control the agenda of my career.