February 22, 2011

The Benefits of Selfishness - Part 2

The term "selfish" seems to be the running theme this week. I have had multiple encounters with it this week and in extremely different, but no less meaningful and important ways. Whenever I have instances like I have had this week, I have to take a step back and analyze the situation and what the world, in its infinite, albeit convoluted, wisdom, is trying to tell me. I spoke to you yesterday about a situation that I dealt with this weekend that hinged on the declaration of selfishness. Well, yesterday another conversation roared to life that made me revisit the expression and its contextual meaning. The word "selfish" tends to have a negative connotation, but my goal is to demonstrate that the singular idiom does not have to be looked upon with such loathing and contempt.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with my grown son; grown in the respect that he is 19, not in terms of maturity. We talked about his experience with college, his subsequent dropping out (partially reasons beyond his doing, but also due to his frustrating lack to communicate and seek assistance), and his new quest for acceptance and vision in his life. He informed me that he was trying to figure out what to do with his life and that he was thinking of going to school locally or taking up a trade and going to a trade school...you guessed it...locally. I asked him why he was so hell-bent on staying local and why not get out and explore life and enjoy college and the experiences it has to offer him? I explained that college is about building relationships/connections/brotherhoods/networks, that you may not have the opportunity to create further down the road in life. At least, not as easily. I informed him to think about how hard I had it going back to school in my 30s - a wife and mother 3 times over at this point - and how much I struggled to get through. How I couldn't enjoy all of the benefits that going to school in my teens and early 20s presented. How I had certain regrets that I never wanted any of my children to feel. But, I've gotten off track...the main (or maybe, only) question I really wanted answered was...why?

So, my beautiful, loving, gifted, intelligent, amazing man-child gave me the dumbest answer one could probably give to that question. His Friends. Really? His friends? He chooses to stay behind in a town that offers him no true opportunities, working one dead-end temp job after another, simply because he doesn't want to leave his friends?!?! I have to admit, I was more that a little peeved at this point, but I quickly gathered my composure and simply told him the following:

"You need to be selfish. Now, I am not one to tell my children to be selfish, but in this situation, I am giving you full rein to think only of yourself. You are young, single, you have no children. If there was ever any time when being selfish is not only accepted but down right expected, it is now. You need to go out and figure what you want, where you want to go in life. You need to have experiences, meet people, build connections, learn new things, mess up, learn from your mistakes, have fun, be miserable, join a fraternity, not join a fraternity, live on your own and take care of yourself...or not. Bottom line, you need to not have regrets. You don't want to look back on life when you are in your 30s and 40s and wish you had listened to me. You need to stop thinking about your friends; what they want, what they're doing, what they think, and if they are still going to be around when you get back. If they are truly your friends, then trust me, they will be. For once, think about what you want."

Now, I am not sure if I got through to him or not. Only time will tell. But, the moral of this story is that there are times when it is perfectly okay, and even warranted to be utterly and completely selfish. When it comes to your career and your livelihood, only you know what is best for you. Only you can make the deicision as to whether an opportunity is the right one. Only you can decide the path you should take. You are the director of your career and your future. Navigate your path well, but know that sometimes, your journey through life will cause you to make entirely selfish decisions.

And that is okay.


February 21, 2011

Sometimes Being Selfish is an Option

I had a friend call me selfish this weekend. I have to tell you that, it hurt, more than just a little. Not because of the power behind the sentiment, but because it rang more than a little true. I can be a little selfish and I am not afraid to say that I am proud of it...when I use it for good and not for evil.

Now, I digress a little bit, because I think that, in order for you to truly understand my point, you have to understand the context in which this "friend" (and yes, I am using air quotes as I type this because now I question whether the title of our relationship truly had any validity to begin with) called me selfish.

Let's call her Sara (names being changed to protect the guilty and all). Sara posts on Facebook, on Friday afternoon, that she's coming to Tampa. She didn't call me and tell me. I read about it on Facebook. I am bothered, but none the less, excited that she is coming down. I call her, and half-jokingly (but not really) chide her about making a trip to my area without letting me know. She claims that it was a spontaneous, spur of the moment thing and that she was going to let me know when she got here. Ok...I let it go. I tell her that I have plans that weekend (Friday date night with the hubby, saturday at the
Florida State Fair with the kiddies, followed by girl's night out, and then relaxing with the fam on Sunday), but that she is more than welcome to hang out with me and mine (since we all viewed each other as family anyway) at the fair and then come out with the girls and even (gasp) bring her husband to tag along since she refused to leave his side and vice versa. She seems cool with this and even came out and met us at the fair the next day.

At some point during the day she texts me (we did not stay together the whole time. It was just her and her husband and me and my family so they went off to do adult things while I rode tilt-a-whirls with the kids until I darn near puked) and tells me that she is hanging out watching a show and to text me when I am ready to go. I text her back that my kids are riding the rides and that I don't think I am leaving anytime soon. After all, I am here for them and the whole point of taking them was so that they could do everythnig and anything that they wanted to do and have fun; eat too much cotton candy and fair food, puke, ride more tilt-a-whirls and scrambled egg rides until they puked some more, eat funnel cake and ice cream, puke some more, and well...you get the idea. I was not going to rush their merriment for the sake of a friend who didn't even tell me she was coming in the first place.

A couple of hours pass by and Sara calls to see where I am. We meet up and she tells me that her and her husband are going to head back to the hotel and that we are more than welcome to come by when we leave. We say okay and that I will call her later. We part ways and me and my kids and husband enjoy the rest of our evening at the fair. Now, mind you, I have made plans with the girls for later that evening, so around 8:30pm (a couple of hours after me and Sara part ways) I round up the family and decide that we should probably make our way home. I mean, 8 hours at the fair was more than enough, right? Besides, my daughter looks like she is, literally, running on cotton candy fumes at this point, and if I don't get her home and bathe her, she is going to burst into a pink, yellow, and blue cotton candy firework. So, we leave the fair. I text Sara and tell her we are just leaving, that it's late, and that I will text her later.

Later turns out to be roughly 11pm. I text her to say that the day has gotten away from me, that it's late, I am running late to meet the girls for some late night foolishness and ask if I could stop by the next morning to see her before she left. She texts me back that she is leaving early in the morning. I ask how early? She calls me.

This is where the story gets interesting because she tells that she is pissed at me, that I am selfish and that I am not really her friend and we are done. Now, I am sure you can understand that I am truly taken aback. I mean...really? Selfish? Not really friends? I don't get it. I ask her to explain. She tells me that her and her husband waited in their hotel for us to come by after the fair. That they could have made other plans, but didn't because they thought we were coming by, and that now, it's 11 o'clock at night and I am just now telling her I am not coming by. After she finishes ranting, I explain to her that I did not know she was coming, we did not make plans, that while I didn't alter my plans for that weekend, that I did offer to include her. I also remind her that I did not promise to stop by after the fair, that I was merely acknowledging the invitation and told her that I would call her later. I further elaborated that if being selfish was keeping a promise to my kids to make their days as phantasmagorically amazing as possible, and honoring a date with my friends that we had planned for weeks, well then, I guess I am just selfish.

And in the end, I am okay with that. Sometimes, selfish is an option. Which brings me to my next point...

Stay tuned!

February 18, 2011

My Experience with Drive Thru HR

Today I had the fascinating experience of being interviewed for Drive Thru HR with William Tincup and Bryan Wempen. When I was first approached to be a part of this show, I was instantly honored, and then just as instantly terrified...lol! For most of you that know me, I have an opinion on EVERYTHING!! Sometimes, extremely strong opinions. Not wanting to come across as controversial, I wanted to talk about something that was interesting and interactive. Lots of thoughts came to mind...do I speak on competencies and their importance, discuss my current experience and issues going through developing an affirmative action plan, or do I speak about the lack of engagement and support of executives for HR initiatives? All of those are great subjects but would they truly be engaging?

As the days ticked down, I started thinking more and more on what my platform would be and I started to worry about whether or not I would find a subject that would give me enough subject matter to take up 30 minutes of air time. I shouldn't have worried though. Bryan and William are engaging enough and they have a talent for asking thought provoking, probing questions that keep the narrative flowing.

So, what topic did I decide to base my foray into radio on, you ask? I didn't. I went in cold. I decided (or rather, my LACK of decision decided) to just wing it and talk about whatever came up. I guess I'm just spontaneous that way. Besides, it's a beautiful Friday here, I'm in a good mood, I was feeling powerful and motivated, and lively, so I figured, what the heck? The worse that could have happeneded was that I could have fallen flat on my face and failed, but then that just would have given me something else to write about here, right? So...all good either way.

If you listened, then you already know how it went. I talked about me, my passion for HR, my committment to the profession, of engaging others in the profession, of giving back to the community and making HR a sustainable career choice, my hatred (ok...maybe that's a strong word) of affirmative action, the lack of networking in the minority circles...blah, blah, blah. If you didn't listen, shame on you! You missed out!

Ah...but you don't have to fret, mon cherie! Just click on this link and get an earful. You'll be glad you did...