Humming Bird Mentality

I wanted to be a clown when I grew up but that only lasted until I was ten years old. Since then I have decided what I wanted to do with my life about 100 times. Even when I chose a major in college, or moved to Los Angeles to pursue the Hollywood dream, I was still changing my mind at a rate of five and a half times a year.

I come from a large family of engineers. My grandfather, my father, and all of my uncles are engineers. While they have changed employers from time to time, they all got their degree and worked in their fields. This is the typical career trajectory:

1. Become an expert in one thing
2. Do that thing

I am more than ten years out of high school and I can't seem to make myself fit into that career trajectory. I find myself interested in new prospects all the time. Over the past five months I have decided to be a programmer, a writer, a radio producer and a web developer. I have written a program to solve sudoku puzzles, developed a full D&D Campaign, co-created a new podcast and re-designed this website.

This journey has been extremely discouraging, depressing, and disempowering. I find the vampires in my mind telling me things like "you are just lazy," "you are not good enough at anything to make a career out of it," "jack of all trades, master of nothing," and "just resign yourself to a paycheck career." I let the vampires tell me these things until I found a TED Talk that I had passed over about 50 times before. The TED Talk is by Emilie Wapnick, entitled "Why Some of Us Don't Have One True Calling." It is about her experience as a multipotentialite.

The short of it is that the career trajectory can be different:

1. Become good at a lot of things (or even at 'getting good at things')
2. Build a business or career on that.

What this means in practical terms is that my lack of expertise in any given field doesn't disqualify me from finding a career. In fact, my experience in so many fields gives me an advantage that not everyone has. I can take all my experience through my many side projects and jobs and leverage it to do something that interests me.

Don't get me wrong, if you are a multipotentialite, you will not have it easy (I'm telling myself this as much as you). The world still mostly runs in the "become an expert in one thing" mentality. In order to make it as a multipotentialite, you will have to keep the big picture in mind, you will have to learn how to market yourself, and you will need support. Until I came across this TED Talk, I thought something was wrong with me. After I saw it, I realized I was not defective, that there were others out there like me, and I had the beginnings of a language to talk about these things.

If you are not like me, if you have found your "one true calling," watch the video anyways. You can learn a lot about us multipotentialites and you can join the conversation.

If you are like me, welcome! Check out the TED Talk and peruse Wapnick's website and multipotentialite community: www.puttylike.com

 

Intentional Tension

There is a man who sits in a chair on the side of the driveway in our apartment complex. I think he spends 90% of his life just sitting in his chair next to the driveway. Most of his time is spent reading the Bible, and the rest is split up between sharing words of wisdom and words of encouragement. I usually really enjoy stopping and talking with the sitting man, but today when I passed by I had a schedule to keep. I had planned a nice and polite "Hi!" as I walked by, but this would not work today.

It wasn't the sitting man who held me up, but his neighbor who was standing out there talking with him. Or maybe talking at him. When she addressed me, I didn't want to be impolite, so I greeted them and engaged in conversation. 

Finding out that I was heavily involved in a church (from my mission trip t-shirt), the neighbor started talking about helping others. This conversation moved into how she helps care for a poor and desolate man, and that moved into how my church could probably help care for him and help him financially. Once I recommended a non-profit that could provide assistance in this situation, she started talking about her own financial struggles. I knew that this new line of conversation would go the same direction as the first one and end up with her asking our church to help.

I tried to leave a couple times, but regardless of how many times I said "It was good to see y'all, but I've got to go," she kept talking to me. She only ended the conversation after I made it a good fifteen or twenty feet away. 

I walked away from the conversation frustrated, twenty minutes behind schedule, and flustered about poverty and the church. As I was reflecting on the experience, I was reminded of an old Campus Crusade for Christ leader I had named Todd Stewman. He would explain that we are in a constant state of tension when dealing with God. 

You are in this world. You are not of this world. Somehow you are both.
Jesus is 100% man. Jesus is 100% God. Somehow he is both. 

I felt that tension today. I was frustrated that I was held up and had to rearrange my schedule. At the same time, I know that Jesus' ministry was mostly taking the time to stop and talk with people. I think I am called to both.

I am called to sticking to my schedule, keeping the commitments I have made to others. I am called to stop and talk to others and to show them Jesus' love. Somehow I am called to both.

I also felt that tension when the neighbor started talking about finances. I feel like half the time people find out I am associated with a church, they start asking for money. No church can give away all it's money and survive. At the same time Paul tells Timothy to care for the widows and orphans.

The Church is called to care for the widows and orphans. A church has to be shrewd with it's money to not go broke. Somehow a church needs to do both.
I am called to feed the hungry, to give to the needy, to go the extra mile. I am called to provide for my wife and my family. I am called to do both.

I think this is intentional. I think that this tension gives us sojourners a space to converse about these things. I recently attended a class on wisdom literature. The thing that stuck with me from the class is that wisdom is not a few words that are said and finished, but an ongoing conversation amongst a group of people. "How do we do this? What does it look like to struggle with this?" In this scenario, like many others, maybe asking the question is just as important as the answer.

When you feel that tension, lean into it. Have a conversation about it, not an argument that often goes nowhere. Have an open and respectful conversation with people you know and respect, or even with those who have new, strange and differing opinions from you. Find the wisdom that comes from this conversation and from this tension.

How I Overcame Shame in the Workplace

A few days ago, I was shamed at work for giving a co-worker a compliment.

My work culture is an odd one, but I am sure not completely foreign to anyone who works with mostly guys or in a blue collar environment. Most of the conversations revolve around football and women - either who you wish you were with or lamenting about who you ARE with. In this HR director's nightmare come to life, any conversation that makes one seem slightly effeminate is cut off or even mocked until it ends. Regardless of this verbally enforced yet unspoken rule, I try my hardest not to let the culture there affect my behavior or attitude and I try to change the culture just a little bit each day. 

A few days ago, a coworker passed me in the warehouse and caught my eye (unfortunately, I have to clarify that I used the idiom "caught my eye" only to mean that as he walked by he distracted me from my work). In order to make small talk and attempt to lighten up his day, I said "Hey Larry, you are looking sharp today." The unspoken rule was verbally enforced upon me when his response was "Okay Cale, that's kind of weird for you to say," trying his hardest to imply that I was coming on to him. As is customary in a situation like this, I became a little frustrated that my compliment was twisted around upon me and mocked.

On some level I gave Larry the compliment because I would like him to feel a little better, to boost his confidence. At its core though, the compliment was not for him, but for me. I gave the compliment because I want to work in a culture where compliments are given to coworkers walking down the hall. I want to work in a culture where it is the norm to be an encouragement to one another instead of an insult.

Yes, I have been on the other end before, making fun of someone for what they said or making someone feel dumb. For that, I repent and hope to do better next time. Actually, if you hear me take that approach anywhere (not just at work), call me out on it. There is enough negativity and separation in the world without me adding to it.

The shame Larry placed upon me was short lived and an encouragement for me to continue being the change I want to see in the world. I know the world won't change today, but I am one step closer if Larry can come to expect this attitude from me.

Ms. Swift Plays The Music Industry

Taylor Swift started singing and playing the guitar at an age when most of us were discovering our first musical love. So Swift has a big advantage to most of the music artists out there: time and experience. She also has one other advantage: her father.

From what I have read (no, I won't cite my sources- this isn't the NYTimes) Swift's father was central to her not only getting on the shiny new record label but retaining so much control over her music.

For any young and naive band, getting signed is a mile marker for being successful in the music industry, but ask any veted band or artist (especially one with 5 or 6 albums on the same label) and they won't hesitate to tell you it's not all the hype they thought it was. Debts owed to record labels, managers and producers forcing a specific sound or content out of your work can be very stifling for artists- no wonder so many young artists go off the deep end.

With all this bad rap about record labels, it is an anomaly that after ten years in the music industry Swift is still successful and continuing to write music, and not only that- she is still writing and producing good music. Sure you can argue that she “went pop” or that you don’t really like pop music in the first place, but you have to admit that being this far down the rabbit hole and being able to stand up to Apple is not a position a lot of “successful” music artists are in.

I for one, love pop music- but not at the detriment of other kinds of music. Unfortunately to get into that topic would require much more paper than I have access to at this time. 

Here is the water you ordered, please inspect it before it reaches your hands.

If there was one of those word clouds of everything that I talk about the biggest phrase by far would be "Form vs Function." Here the two concepts go hand in hand.

water_faucet

I was at a celebration of a friend at Chuy's Tex-Mex Restaurant and having to stop in the men's room (as I have a habit of doing) I noticed this water faucet.

Sure, I've seen hundreds- maybe thousands of these kind of faucets; a pipe with the top half cut off as if to say "Oh look! you found a random pipe and it is producing potable water that you get to wash your hands with." I have seen these at restaurants and hotels and anywhere that is trying to give off the "retro" and "throwback" vibe.

For whatever reason, looking at this one in particular made me realize something: This faucet was very strategically designed, down to the way the pipe is cut. The top part of the pipe being removed gives people security. Lets face it, if the water pipe was cut straight, leaving an O at the end with water coming out, very few people would trust that water coming out of it to be clean. The fact that the user can see the water before it leaves the pipe assures them that it is clean and clear, as if to say "Here is the water you ordered, please inspect it before it reaches your hands"

If I came across a pipe sticking out of the wall and water coming out of it, I surely would not stick my hands in the water.

The form of the faucet is the smooth lines, and the sleek design, to convince the user that this water is clean and supposed to be here. The function is to provide water to wash your hands with. 

Be on the lookout for design choices that others may have overlooked (in or out of Houston) and mention them in the comments or tweet them at me using @platypushouston and #pphtx

One week till Launch

So I am kind of freaking out right now, seven days until Launch day 7/15/15 and I have so many things to do to get this podcast up and going. The fact that this is my first podcast, and this is almost my first website- it is my first published-paid for website.