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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 •

taking small steps: light switch

Your job isn’t going quite the way you’d like. Perhaps it’s a recalcitrant employee, or if you’re on the other side of the door, an obstinate boss. Making even slight changes will go a long way toward showing your flexibility and understanding. Most people naturally and rightly respond to sincere effort. Stay an extra 10 or 15 minutes at the office a few days a week, or come in a bit earlier. Take all of five seconds to offer a good word or acknowledgement of a task well done. Read More 

storing and accessing mistakes: i cloud

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 

at a minimum: cardboard & character

Photo credit: Designmilk

How easy to take for granted…

…the hundreds of thousands of people—men and women with lives, loves and labors—who are responsible for that cardboard carton carrying everything from beer and books to papers and paraphernalia.

The factory workers, the salespeople, the layers of middle and upper management, the stockholders who provide capital for payroll and expansion, the drivers who long-haul these yet-to-be-filled and already-filled boxes, the cities and states that depend upon the accompanying toll revenues, the highway workers who in turn pave and upkeep those very well-traveled roads, the bricks-and-mortar and online workers who stock, pack and send the boxes, the lawyers and doctors who stack them rafter-high, the paper recyclers alert to these soon-to-be discarded cartons… All of them spend their earned income on themselves, and their families and friends, which in turn creates sustenance for so many more. Read More 

making the most of meaningful opportunity: flew shot

How many times are you confronted with meaningful opportunity—in a day, a week, a month? Are you receptive to the signs, willing to pursue them, eager to take your best shot? Doing so may take you out of your comfort zone, may involve some risk, may expose you to criticism and/or failure, may initially sting.

But weigh the consequences of inaction, and you may well be confronted by mediocre work, by unsatisfying relationships, by an unforgiving calendar, by less money, by… by… by. Read More 

dealing with daily pressures: fresh-squeezed juice

Your job promotion depends entirely on addressing daily pressures while completing extraordinary work by Friday for a project impacting the entire company.
 
Your spouse’s crucial work commitments cause all the week’s family responsibilities to fall on your shoulders alone.
 
You’ve lost your job and have accepted two or three jobs either within or outside your field rather than lose your house to foreclosure.
 
Your child’s or parent’s illness means that you’re burning candles on both ends of the day, as inattention or cutting corners is not within your repertoire.

These and countless other scenarios—faced by millions of people each calendar pass—point to the essential companions of positivity and selflessness that can make or break, that mean the difference between success and failure, that foster either normal breathing or a heart attack. Read More 

the persistence of ego: flash lite

Each of us is born with distinct gifts, to be developed and expanded through discipline or desire, or to be left to fade through apathy or anxiety. They encompass the kaleidoscopic range of human experiences, from construction worker to concert pianist, from doorman to doctor, from gardener to golfer, from proctor to president. Yet why must society make delineations, create class categories, foster exclusivity?

A concert pianist must go through decades of disciplined practice on top of requiring the inborn gifts, yet is a construction worker—who labors through years of apprenticeship and stultifying weather conditions while helping to create homes and offices—any less valuable? Read More 

shared experiences: risk verse reward

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Is your spiritual life all that it could be? Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion”

Have you or one of your friends been diagnosed with AIDS? Springsteen’s “Philadelphia”

Have you lost a parent? McCartney’s “Let It Be”

Are you the child of divorced parents? Papa Roach’s “Broken Home” Read More 

career choices: post-office

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What happens after you get laid off from that desk job, the one that was doable and steady but never all that exciting? Or perhaps you just had your fill of getting the morning coffee, going in to the office each day, fulfilling your responsibilities with efficiency if not much enthusiasm, and eagerly awaiting that lifeline and timeline du jour: 5 o’clock.

To be able to turn a static life into one of stimulation and achievement is not an easy leap, and often requires courage to live with the resulting uncertainty. But provided that health is not an issue (a circumstance never to be taken for granted, especially among the younger generation to whom death is a mere mask), why not use the layoff notice or cubicle boredom as a springboard? Why not make the jump into something that enhances, that enables a real contribution rather than the contrition that often accompanies the status quo? Read More 

the corporate ladder: climb and punishment

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For so many teenagers, it’s simply not an option. Their grades must be exemplary. Their SAT and ACT scores must be in one of those coveted eat-sleep-and-drink percentiles. Their college applications must be loaded with everything from athletics to community involvement. Their college grades must stand out, even when surrounded by standout students. Their graduate school years must reflect pinpoint focus. All of this more often than not leads to punishing 80-hour weeks at that longed-for corporate job, where creativity, freedom and empathy are shunted aside in favor of six-figure prestige and tireless climbing. Read More 

the calendar's relentless progression: autumn leaves

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The latter part of September perpetually hosts the first day of fall—a time of moderating weather, heavier work schedules and looking ahead. During one’s teens, 20s and even 30s, this annual period typically seems full of hours and days, its farewell comfortably in the distance. Yet into the 40s and 50s, those selfsame hours appear ever briefer, ever more precious. As much as the numbers themselves do not change, our perception of them moves ever faster. While not able to slow the calendar’s relentless progression, making the most of each 24-filled gift basket goes a long way in mitigating it. This applies to finding fulfillment in work and career projects, to spending dedicated time with family and friends, to enjoying vacations and travel, to lifelong learning. Read More