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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 •

making a choice: hard rock

How many times have you found yourself in that crushing space, faced with the dilemma of making a choice between two much-less-than-ideal alternatives? Having to choose the lesser of two evils speaks for itself, yet difficult choices are often the most helpful in the long run. Why, then, are they generally looked upon as eagerly as invasive surgery?

But our days are filled with just such decisions. Here is one area of life for which acting dispassionately is inarguably the best course of action. Put the inescapable emotional component into perspective and move forward. Avoiding such decisions only makes them harder to make and accept. Read More 

the freedom of patience: losing wait

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Perspective is among the defining aspect of our days and nights, offering myriad ways to endure what cannot be changed. Why is it, then, that some people consistently face the clock with equanimity and acceptance, while others fight reality with the relentlessness of a watch’s hyperactive second hand?

Two people find themselves in stultifying rush-hour traffic, each needing to attend a key meeting, yet it looks like they’ll be late. (Sure, the easy answer is to simply leave earlier, yet so many no-fault things can interfere with that obvious goal.) One of them constantly cuts in and out of traffic, airbrushing cars right and left, and perpetually instigating the seeds of road rage, with all of that activity gaining a whopping quarter-mile “advantage” after half an hour. The other calls ahead to notify colleagues that he’ll be 30 minutes late, and asks whether the meeting can be delayed or promises to do whatever it takes to catch up with what is missed. He then uses the extra time to make hands-free calls that he’d otherwise have to get done while at the office, or listens to an engrossing audio book or language-learning CD. His blood pressure remains within safe levels and his day is that much richer, generally absent of stress-induced barking. Read More 

cutting screen time: embracing turnoffs

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Few of us wake up in the morning looking forward to a day of turnoffs.

Yet such days can be filled with the kind of productivity and focus simply not possible without them. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have demonstrated concrete findings that reveal how removing the nonstop distractions of email during the workday not only reduces stress but enables tangibly sharper focus. “We found that when you remove email from workers’ lives, they multitask less and experience less stress,” said informatics professor Gloria Mark, who coauthored the study, “A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons,” with a UCI project scientist and U.S. Army senior research scientist, funded by the Army and the National Science Foundation (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mr-personality/201304/is-your-e-mail-out-control). Read More 

being held up: mug shots

The 8:30 a.m. conference at your downtown office will emphatically not wait for being held up in rush-hour traffic, for getting the kids ready for school in time for the bus, for finishing your preparation for the pending presentation, for putting gas in the car, for stopping at the ATM, for… for… for. If only you could have something to hold you up amidst the stress and lack of sleep that seem to purposely invade each week. Add waiting in line at Starbucks for that shot of espresso that briefly jolts the brain and body.

Why do we put ourselves in such a position? Must we stay up so late answering that enveloping stream of emails, watching and/or reading the end-of-day news, overextending to spouse and children? Well sure, this is contemporary life, when wanting it all comes with an inflationary price that only the weak decline to pay. Let the morning mugs of Colombian coffee be drained, let them be damned, but let them work! Read More 

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 

the result of indecision: bad whether

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In Measure for Measure, Shakespeare makes clear that "our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt." Over four hundred years later, these measured words are as relevant as ever. Must indecision continue to rule the centuries like some perverse King Henry loop?

The current refugee crisis gripping Europe offers life-and-death lessons about decisive action. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said this week that “political indecision among European Union member states may lead to more refugees drowning in the Mediterranean” and called for agreement and “responsibility-sharing.” (http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2015/09/15/world/europe/15reuters-europe-migrants-casualties.html) 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 

the brain-body connection: flat tired

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The alarm clock rings or buzzes. It could scream for all that matter, as the last thing you want to do is heed its call. Is it because of a lack of sleep or the insurmountable day that promises to stare right back as soon as you confront it?

You’re in a meeting or have gone to give a presentation or are taking a test or have an upcoming interview... or an entire rowboat of possible ors. It’s just not happening. Your energy level is low. You feel ambivalent. You’re just plain flat. Is it because you’re tired, or does it betray a lack of excitement for the task at hand? Read More 

complacency as the rival of fulfillment: dashbored

No job is filled with creativity and stimulation 100% of the time. And yet we’re all born with passions that should be fully explored in the search for fulfilling careers. They’re out there; are you rushing to find them? Do you squeeze the most juice from each day? Maybe you love the outdoors; choose one of countless jobs that has you experiencing sunlight over fluorescent lights, breathing natural air rather than that from filtered air conditioning. Maybe you love food; choose one of equally countless jobs that has you preparing, cooking, creating, serving, owning. Do you get the idea? Choose! Read More