Awakening the sleeping giant

Today was a beautiful day, the sun was bright, the sky was brilliant blue and the temperature was perfect.  I started out the morning with my standard Saturday morning workout, eight 50 meter sprints in the pool, eight 30 second sprints on the exercise bike, eight 30 second sprints on the treadmill followed by 40 pull-ups in intervals of eight.  My good friend Rich accompanied me in this ordeal.  After working out, I headed home to take my traditional post workout nap of 30 minutes but was interrupted by my other good friend Steve who wanted to go for a bike ride.  I never turn down a bike ride when the weather is so good, so I said yes.  I asked him if we could meet in an hour and he agreed.  This gave me time to take a short nap before loading up the bike and meeting him in Slanesville.  Of course, I over slept a little before waking to the tolling of the school house clock on the wall.  Realizing I was late, I quickly dressed for a bike ride, loaded the bike and made my way quickly to our meeting place.  I was only about 10 minutes late which was about perfect for Steve, who has never been on time in his life except when he was born!

We mounted our bikes and ventured down Springfield Grade road towards Capon Bridge.  After several miles we found the road that Steve wanted to explore.  It was called Saw Mill Road which should have given me a clue as to the fact we were heading into the bowels of West Virginia.  We were hoping to find our way back along the river but that never happened.  After riding three or four miles back this road, up and down several small mountains, we found ourselves at the top of a mountain with very steep sides.  The only real option for a logically thinking person would have been to turn around and head back the way we came but my mind has never and will never work that way.  I am one of those people who if they came to a wall in the woods, would have to, I repeat, have to, climb over it or find some way around, over or under it.  It is as if there is a caged person in side of me that feels that he must find a way out.  I have very little control over this other person who lives in me!  I quickly surveyed the surrounding steep hill side and then began to explore parts of the hill, trying to find a way down to the valley that lay ahead of us.  Steve stood near the bikes, never moving, shaking his head no as he watched me explore the area around us.  He knew that the other me was in full control and that other person was convinced we were heading down that hill side. After a short time I returned and pointed out the possible course we could follow to the bottom of the hill.  Steve quietly said NO, I am going back the way we came up.  I looked deep into his eyes past the fear of being killed or maimed traveling down that steep hill till I could see the resolve that was based on past experiences of biking with me.  So many times before we had taken the path of greatest resistance, the path that few follow only to find ourselves somewhat lost in the woods.  Because of this behavior Steve often referred to me as Deartrail, which I learned to live up to.  Seeing Steve’s resolve to not get lost brought me back to reality, and we, two old guys, beaten back by fear of Mother Nature, headed back down the road we came in on. Still, the crazy guy in my head had his moment, even though we did not travel down the road to nowhere, and it was great.  I hadn’t heard from him in a while.

Retirement syndrom

Recently, Sue and I traveled around the southern part of the country, enjoying life one day at a time.  When we are not traveling, I build furniture, landscape, train for summer triathlons, read, work on my Honda Prelude, write silly blogs, fix the many things that go wrong in a house , watch the Daily show religiously, home-bound teach for the county school system and relax whenever the opportunity arises.  It is  hard to imagine working a 40 hr/wk job in addition to what I do.  Yet, in the past, prior to my retirement, I did just that, as well as to raise three children.  I look back and wonder how I was able to keep up.

I believe there are few moments in history that have offered the kind of life I lead.  I feel very fortunate.  Very often I have said that this particular point in time, when a large number of people can retire comfortably at a relatively young age while they are still healthy, has not happened in the past and will not happen again for a long time.  In fact, life has taught me that if things are too good, get ready, it will probably not last that long.

What concerns me more is the attitude of the younger generation who are currently in the workforce and already dreaming of retirement.  During my 30 years of teaching I spent little time contemplating retirement.  Please understand, there were times during my career that caused me to consider all types of escape, including moving to a remote section of woods and living in a tent, but retirement generally was not one of them.  Something has changed in the younger generations.  Many of them seem fixated on the idea of retirement.  Although I am enjoying retirement immensely, I would not wish away any of the time I have spent on this crazy little planet.  My feeling is that the workplace has become so stressful and burdened with litigation that there is very little fun at work.  My father would have said that work is not a place for fun, but I believe a little, coupled with reasonable expectations, can lead to a rewarding work experience and increased productivity.

Maybe there is another factor we need to consider.  Many people today expresses discontent with their current job.  Of course, people have always complained about their employment but now, the discontent is more deep-seated.  There seems to exist a feeling of helplessness or lack of control over one’s well-being.  One of the worst feelings a person can have is a lack of control over his environment.  Although I have not spent any time incarcerated, I can imagine that losing one’s freedom is a very similar.  So maybe jobs are becoming more like lost-freedom than a career.  At the risk of being repetitive, the current workplace is becoming more like prison time!  It is important to know that there are companies that treat their employees with great respect.  One of these companies is Google.  Working for Google is very demanding but pays well.  More important is the fact that employees feel empowered and in control of their environment and lives!  Not being smart enough to work for Google, requires that I speculate on the job conditions at Google based on what I have read.

I would like to send a message to anyone who employs another individual.  I think this may help employees enjoy their jobs and in the end be better employees.

1. Treat that employee with the same respect that you would want.

2. Always be honest with the employee even when it is painful.

3. Express concerns with employee individually , not at a group meeting.

4. Communicate to the employee what you expect.

5. Expect a lot and get a lot.  Expect a little and get a little.

This is my small contribution to making America better in the workplace.

File this under, DOES ANYBODY CARE?

Have a good day!