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ironiya • this career-oriented blog—published on biweekly Wednesdays—looks at the positive and sometimes ironic sides of a kaleidoscopic range of workplace and life issues, from education and employment to discipline and discord •

moving forward: reading & righting

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Arguments. Disagreements. Disputes.

Or perhaps with a bit of floor polish: contretemps.

They have happened every day among friends, lovers, relatives, spouses and business associates since the beginning of time. Must this state of affairs continue unabridged, accepted as the cost of getting up in the morning, as inevitable as stale bread? Or can people learn to read problems in light of the bigger picture by considering the brevity of life and how genuinely good it feels to be generous, to be forgiving, to be proactive in righting the mistakes that each of us inevitably make? Does the ego really need to hold sway as some sort of unchecked emotional dictatorship? Read More 

the meter of daily life: electric company

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The refrigerator and stove. ATM and auto-pay. Self-service checkout.

ElectricCompanyThe computer, smartphone and iEverything. Facebook and Twitter. Google and untold others.

Drive-up, drive-through, drop-off everything.

These and all the other accoutrements of daily living can be accomplished with little or no human interaction. But what do our hours mean without meaningful or even passing companionship? In the drive for technological supremacy and efficiency, many tasks can now be accomplished at any hour of day or night, with just a few keystrokes or drops of gas.

But put two or more motivated people in a room together on a compelling project and watch the reciprocity, the dynamics, the results. The meter of daily life rolls by so much more genuinely with #work and challenges, with love and laughter. Read More 

a lack of transparency: stained glass

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Why is transparency within the realm of all types of communication—friend-friend, parent-child, husband-wife, manager-employee—so consistently elusive? Why must the ego so quickly approach the greasy fast-fed drive-thru that values expediency and quick profit over healthy dialogue? Why do so many start with perfection as the baseline, from which there is no room to breathe?

Imagine almost any type of scenario. You’ve borrowed a friend’s or parent’s car and have had an accident that was your fault; does the car’s owner not far more appreciate an immediate admission and pledge to do whatever it takes to right the situation, rather than an elusive answer and possible insurance or courtroom fight? You’ve missed a Friday deadline at work to the detriment of a client relationship; does the client not far more appreciate an immediate call and pledge to work through the entire weekend to right the situation, rather than an elusive excuse and possible contractual fight?  Read More 

on the surface: stock exchanges

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It’s surely understandable that the small daily interactions most of us carry on each day—be they with bank tellers to retail clerks and everyone in between—don’t plumb the depths of how we truly feel. Who has the time or inclination? Who would go into a Starbucks and, in response to “How are you doing?” confess to feeling poignantly low in the wake of a friend’s or family member’s death? Or, for that matter, on the other side of the compass: “I just came from a six-mile run and feel incredibly grateful to be able to put one foot in front of the other.”

I’ve recently been more deliberate with these kinds of interactions, by responding with a very brief but sensitive comment about life, politics, health, family, education et al. It’s been gratifying to recognize how quickly we can form strong connections with those whom we don’t really know, with the resulting warmth carrying throughout the day. Read More 

lost in technology: manual transmission

Births, weddings and funerals tend to be when the home phone rings most often, when the mailbox swells with congratulatory or sympathy cards. Yet when was the last time you received a phone call or handwritten card in the wake of a new job or promotion, a positive doctor’s report, the start of summer? These and dozens of other of life’s joys to be celebrated and shared may be acknowledged with a quick text or email, but the personal touch beyond the screen and processor appears to have become as rare as rush-hour patience on I-95. Read More 

traditional gender roles: malebox

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Traditional gender roles are as outdated as last year’s calendar. Sure, men will always provide the seed, and women will always bear children, but beyond those natural facts, limitations simply don’t (or shouldn’t) exist.

Choose any profession, from prime minister and secretary of state to scientist and professor. From CEO and entrepreneur to concert pianist and composer. From… to…. From… to…. Women can be dominating and abrasive; men can be sensitive and nurturing. And mothers can be breadwinners while stay-at-home fathers can take care of home and hearth. Read about one country’s current struggles (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/27/opinion/turkeys-politics-of-fatigue.html) and how corrosive it can be to remain bogged down in suffocating norms. Read More 

the peace of instant access: storage clouds

Making mistakes can be a source of true peace.

What a ridiculous statement, no? How could it be so, and why does it never feel that way at the moment?

For those determined to move ahead tangibly—both personally and professionally—and not just to aspire, the follow-up question, “What can be gleaned from this?” is key. None of us can know at all times where to step and where to avoid, what to do and what to avoid, how to embrace and how to avoid; such a valuable avoidance instinct can only be built up over time, over problems solved, over situations lived through. Read More