Calls for change are a regular refrain these days. Maybe it’s because we all have a voice via social media and the internet. Maybe it’s because it’s an election year. Maybe it’s the effects of being quarantined for the last 6 weeks.
Whatever the case may be, there’s no shortage of calls to change our current attitudes, behaviors, and/or laws to stem the effects of climate change, improve the safety of public places, provide access to health care, reduce the number of homeless, and the list goes on.
When calling for change, we (which includes me) ask questions like why aren’t people doing more? Why aren’t our community leaders and government officials responding to calls for action? Why aren’t businesses, both big and small, stepping up to support and improve the communities they do business in?
While these and others are all great questions, perhaps the questions we should be asking is how can I effect change? How can I influence things? How can I become part of the solution?
I became interested in personal development a few years ago. My goal was to learn how to manage myself better by understanding how the mind works and building good habits.
Since then, I’ve read quite a few books on the topic. Here are the 10 books that I found most useful in my personal development journey. They are the ones the had the biggest influence on changing the way I approach life, and hopefully, in reading these, they will have the same positive effect on your life too.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a real estate training seminar put on by Ninja Selling. To be fair, I shouldn’t call it a seminar. As they say, it’s an installation.
I learned a lot that week. Most of it had very little to do with real estate. Instead, I learned a lot about managing one’s self, setting and achieving goals, and becoming an overall better person.
The most important lesson I learned that week was a statement the instructor kept coming back to over and over again – “What you focus on expands.” It resonated, it stuck with me, and I keep seeing examples of it everywhere around me.
A valuable life lesson I’ve learned is the difference between experiences and things. I define experiences as the time we spend with family, friends, and those closest to us. Things are the possessions, the stuff, that we accumulate. I’ve discovered that I get a much better return spending money on experiences over things.
The time has come. It’s time for the ‘gig economy’ companies and others exploiting employment regulations and independent contractors to step up to the plate. They need to face the facts, admit the truth, and reclassify these workers as employees. It’s time to do the right thing.
I wrote a similar article, What’s Bad for the Hive, a couple of months back. Little did I know back then that the world would change so dramatically since then. I’m going to do my best to keep this rant short, so you may want to refer back to that post first for a little background before wading into this one.
Spending the last two weeks sheltered-in-place affords one a lot of time to think. Outside of walking the dog and the rare trip to the grocery store or Costco, I haven’t left the house. So as we enter the third week with no official end in sight, here are a few thoughts that are helping me through this period. Hopefully these can help you navigate and spend the time wisely, too.
A recurring theme in meditation is living in the moment. I’ve been practicing meditation for over a year, and living in the moment is a skill I’m still working on. So what does it mean to be present, to live in the moment?
Being present is about learning to let go. It’s developing the ability to let go of worries about the future and regrets about the past. It’s about letting go of the painful thoughts that cause emotional suffering. It’s about letting go of the attachments to people, things, and events that distract and agitate us. It’s not about controlling the here and now, it’s letting it flow naturally, moment by moment.
Letting go is not easy, at least it hasn’t been for me. It’s perhaps the most difficult part of learning to be consistently present in the moment. It requires adopting a different mindset. It’s taken me the better part of a year and a lot of meditation sessions, but I feel like I’m finally starting to get it. Here’s what I’ve discovered through the process.
Computer Science For All. Were you aware this was a federal government program?
It was announced by the White House January 30, 2016, over four years ago (see the full announcement here). The initiative appropriated $4B for states and $100M directly to school districts to expand computer science in grades K-12 for, among other things, “training teachers, expanding access to high-quality instructional materials, and building effective regional partnerships. It would seem that such a program would have an impact on the types of courses offered at the high school level and below.
Well, my daughter recently chose the classes she wanted to take for her senior year of high school here in Southern California. I looked over the classes offered. Do you know how many computer science, technology, robotics, or other classes that may require programming?
That’s right, zero.
Over the last four years, I haven’t seen any changes in the computer offerings at the high school my kids have attended. If anything, it’s gotten worse over the last 10 years. My oldest daughter may have had more choices when she selected classes back in 2010. There may, and I emphasize may, have been one class offered back then.
I give credit to the White House for making an effort. Saying you are going to do something is a start. Mandating it means more, but it’s still not enough. To effect change, you need to measure results and enforce accountability. As we all know, you get what you measure.
So how do we improve the quality of STEM education in our K-12 system?
As with just about everyone, I’ve been unsettled, stressed, and concerned about the news of the Coronavirus over recent weeks, days, and hours. While I have my opinions on the virus and how events are being handled, they are just that – opinions, which I’m not going to share here. I will keep those to myself since I am neither an epidemiologist, scientist, or statistician, and I definitely did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
What I’ve found interesting is how the crisis has been handled by our government leaders, at all levels. Leaders aren’t made during good times, they are forged during times of crisis. These are my observations and lessons learned.
Imagine you could take your smartphone and go back in time fifty years. The year is 1970. You pass someone on the street and show them the piece of aluminum, plastic and glass in your hand. You proceed to explain to them that this device allows you to call or instantly message anyone in the world. It is connected to vast libraries of information, can provide directions, and provide answers to any questions you or they might have. It has a voice interface that allows you to talk to it and receive spoken answers.
Given the popularity of 2001: A Space Odyssey (the book and the film), which was released 2 years earlier, the person might assume you were showing them a movie prop. They would hardly believe that such a device would ever be possible, even though Stanley Kubrik and Arthur C. Clarke foreshadowed these and many other technical innovations in their breakthrough movie.
And therein lies the main reason science fiction has become one of my primary reading genres.