Monday, January 30, 2012

Too XYZ Classic: Optimizing Optimism

In one of my first ever posts on this blog, published on February 22, 2010, I spoke of optimism.

I have had a love-hate relationship with the concept of optimism for all of my life. Perhaps it is better described as a like-hate. I have been through resentment of optimists, confusion of them. I have been briefly intrigued by them, and for an even briefer period of time, tried to become one. Currently, I have an uneasy alliance with the concept and its disciples. I accept it in just about the same proportions that I accept the fact I am no and cannot be an optimist myself. Not when defined by a life long, ubiquitous sense of seeing the silver lining.

I came to that conclusion not long before starting this blog. In fact, knowing I was not an optimist is one of the components that led me to conclude I was Too XYZ for most people.

The good news is, psychiatry is starting to catch up to the idea that I have espoused for so long; Unchecked, universal optimism is not much healthier than is incessant pessimism. Indeed, a recent edition of Psychology Today contains an article addressing this very subject. An article that encourages the tempering of optimistic expectations. It was quite a satisfying read for someone like myself. (Paul, Annie Murphy. "The Uses and Abuses of Optimism (And Pessimism)" Psychology Today Dec. 2011: 56-62)

Since writing this post, as I said, I have a more diplomatic approach to optimism. One that has it seeds in the classic post I am directing you to now. Optimism focused upon a specific project or moment in time, and not applied as a life philosophy has sometimes kept me from going crazy. Perhaps it will help you as well.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Too XYZ Classic: Screw Cartography

Just over a year ago, I published this post, decrying the rampant need for people, organizations and institutions to put themselves "on the map".

Success, and even fame are one thing. But they ought to be the result of working towards a mission. That mission, I said a year ago, and maintain today, cannot be fame and notoriety in its own right. If being  "put on the map" if the underlying impetus for everything you do, you aren't doing much.

Since I published this I have announced the start of my own theatre company, The Parapet Players. I am currently in the midst of building a new website. I am revising my first novel, and outlining a second. I seek my freelance writing work. And yet in each of these cases my goal is to create a quality product, not to "get on the map".

I'd like to be on the map someday in any and all of these endeavors, of course. But I simply won't rearrange what I have in order to go right for the map. I should get on the map because of what I have done, not because I have pursued a course of action designed to do so.

You wouldn't believe how many times I've seen something that is established go to pot because the decide they need to "expand" and get on this map. And don't even get me started on placed that aren't even established, who decide the answer is to shoot for the map right away.

And my old high school? Their plans to build a new facility which I mentioned in the original post? They have now been totally abandoned. They will instead take over the facility of middle school that has moved out of the area. That just about sums it up as far as they and their "map" are concerned.

How important is "getting on the map" to you?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Too XYZ Classic: Why Introverts Hate Small Talk

This post was only published back in June, so I don't know if it's truly old enough to be a "classic". But just this weekend I got two more fresh comments on small talk from two different people. (One of whom actually Googled "I hate small talk".) So given it's initial popularity and the continued interest people have on the topic, it has attained Too XYZ Classic status.

My thoughts on the nature of small talk have not changed much in a mere seven months, of course. It is still tedious, still pointless, and still grates my nerves. The world still expects it and in general I still refuse to yield to that expectation.

There are over 25 comments on the comment section of this post though, and each of them makes an excellent point in a way I didn't cover, or otherwise shares a personal anecdote that I feel enlightens the subject even further.

In other words, those commenting on the post are not engaging in mere small talk.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Too XYZ Classic: Sculpting Relationships

Back on March 16, 2011, I posted this somewhat lengthy but quite satisfying piece about how I think we can forge and strengthen our relationships with people. The advice within the post came about as I pondered the things I found most lacking in my own relationships that were also the things for which I most yearned. In a few cases these tips were, I admit, also the things I myself found most difficult.

I don't know how successful I have been in implementing all of these things. And I know that the state of my relationships since I wrote this is roughly the same, overall. Some of my relationships I have only recently concluded are actually never going to be any good for me. Others are just starting out, relationships that didn't even exist when I originally published this post. So perhaps it will be easier for me to follow my own advice with new relationships than it is in regards to old ones?

That isn't to say I have not followed any of my own advice already. And when I have it has been advantageous more often than not. I really have felt closer to certain people since putting a few of these things into practice here and there.

The one that tragically remains the least utilized among my friends is "always apologize." I literally have been hurt many times by certain people, and those people have never once thought to apologize. I have even been shut out, and told that the conversation is "over" when I attempt to equalize the bad feelings. The hurt over people who behave this way continues. But as I said, at least I am starting to see the true nature of some of my so called friends. Maybe, in part, due to my greater focus on the concepts mentioned in this piece.

Would you add any other actions or perceptions to my list?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Too XYZ Classic: Five Ways to Make Networking Events Introvert Friendly

Despite popular belief, we're allowed to enjoy and even love our own work. And for my part, I love this post I wrote back in October of 2010. I really feel I captured the most potent reasons that standard networking events, (such as business card exchanges) are such anathema to the average introvert.

Further, I am proud of how well I articulated just exactly what needs to be present at a network event if anyone ever wants to spearhead an introvert-oriented meet and greet. Not that anybody has jumped at the idea to do this.

Yet they should. They should indeed. Introvert creativity is some of the most forward thinking and inspiring you can come across. No offense to extroverts out there of course, but the predominance of your kind in the design of office space, loathsome "team projects", brainstorming sessions, and the previously mention networking events all do a disservice not just to introverts, but to organizations that execute such strategies. Yet the sad truth is, business is becoming more and more an extroverted affair. That is as unfair as it is unwise.

Yet, as I said there is some hope. I have yet to encounter a networking event that incorporated some or all of these five elements I mentioned. But if I did, I'd be happy to attend. Introverts need help too after all.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Too XYZ Classic: 8 Reasons Volunteering Sucks

On April 20, 2010 I wrote this piece on volunteerism. It has been either first or second on Google searches for the phrase "Volunteering Sucks" for most of the time since. Which means more than a few people must punch in that phrase. And if the many comments on this post are any indication, quite a few of those Googling the phrase have recently been burned by volunteering their time to some cause or another.

Let's face it, volunteering isn't really all it is cracked up to be as a concept. Sure, we want to help people who need it, and there are for many people lots of opportunity to make use of our talents to assist others for free. Yet if we are not lucky enough to land the perfect volunteer position? Let's just say that the pre-packaged notion that volunteering is it's own reward was never vetted by offended and unappreciated former volunteers such as myself and those who read this post originally.

Since publishing this piece, I have yet to look for, and hence have yet to find, any rewarding volunteer services to provide my community. So my thoughts remain in large part the same as they did when I wrote this.

Do you volunteer anywhere? Have you noticed any of these things?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Too XYZ Classic: I Hate Dating

In some ways, this post from June 10, 2010 is one of the most "Ty" posts in this entire blog. Few things in life have been as consistent for me as a hatred of the whole dating scene. In the 18 months or so since I originally published this, my views have not been tempered much. That is to say I may find myself able to enjoy one or two standard "getting to know you dates" in the course of an entire year. And that is only a maybe. Yet the lion's share of this post's sentiments remain in tact. I still despise conventional dating. The games. The unfair judgement. The standards for a partner so lofty they border on indecent. The hoops of fire through which I am to jump in order to make the "correct" impression on the drill sergeant that is my date. (Assuming I haven't scorched my manhood during said leap and lost all interest in such things by that point.)

Until dating changes, or until women who run the dating circuit like it's an Olympic event become less dismissive of guys like myself, (not rich, not tall, average looks) I will stick to actually relating to people, and making sure people relate to the real me. Not the "dating me".

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Too XYZ Classic: Look Before You Melee

In this post, originally published here on the blog on March 18, 2010, I used video game playing as a metaphor. I did so to show how effective it can be at times to go slow and finesse one's way to success. I have to say that in the intervening time since I wrote the post I have become more adept at strategic approaches to certain things. The temptation and inclination to melee, however, is still present. It's something of which I have to remain aware as I go forward with my plans. (Though I still have gone to melee, not without some success, in the nearly two years since I wrote this piece.

What I didn't specifically mention in the post, but which I nonetheless find applicable to same is the notion some people have to be always moving. Always changing. Always rushing into the next big thing. Brand changing, loyalty changing, spend two years creating something only to drop it 4 days after it's official, and move on to something else to build. For something that is "keeping it fresh". To me that is but another form of ill advised melee attack. Blasting your way through life for the sake of blasting and getting to the top of...whatever.

I didn't have a huge readership the first time, and as you can see, little commentary. But I count it as one of my favorite posts because it illuminates one of my favorite lessons over the last few years. A lesson I try to apply each day in some way.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Online Plans for 2012

Whew. After a month of posting daily as part of the fabulous and enlightening Reverb11, I have taken a few days off of blogging before starting up again.

And even now, it is just a brief stay so I can lay out a few things for those of you who follow me.

To begin with, as I said, Reverb11 brought out a rather copious amount of new material to the blog in a short amount of time. I am proud of myself, and I don't regret the decision. Please go back and read everything I wrote in December to get a great idea of what I am about, and plan to be about in the near future.

However despite the fact that I could create some more original content, I am going to give that portion of my brain a rest for at least January. But I don't want to go dark for that time, so I will be posting "Too XYZ Classics". Throughout this month I will be re-posting what I think have been some of my favorite, most successful, most controversial and most commented upon posts of the last two years. If you haven't had a chance to read them, and haven't explored my archive yet, here will be your chance.

Perhaps they will kick up some conversations all over again. I'll still be responding to any comments, so feel free to offer up your thoughts on what you read. I will also up a brief overview of the post, and some thoughts on what if any conversation came about the first time it was posted.

Also now is as good a time as any to remind you all that this year my online presence will change. Too XYZ as you know it today will cease to exist, as I design and build a more all purpose website. It will be a place to learn about me, read samples of my writing, get information on hiring me, and, naturally, blogging. (On more than one topic.) It's all part of rebuilding and strengthening my freelance business.

All of the posts for Too XYZ will be, ideally, folded into this new site, so all of these old posts will remain accessible for you to read and comment upon. I will keep you posted on the progress of that project periodically by posting about it here. I may even need your advice as time goes on.

The goal is to have the new site up and running no later than Easter Sunday. So stay tuned for that.

In the mean time, I hope you will continue to check back here to the blog for the Too XYZ Classics, starting later this week.