Thursday, December 19, 2013

An obligatory statement on social media

"Nothing happens by accident; scenarios present themselves and we have the choice of which path to take; make wise decisions. When the pieces are properly aligned on the chessboard of life, it's checkmate."

If we're on Facebook at all, we likely have "friends" on the site whom we barely know. And if you're at all like me, the vast majority of these contacts post a neverending stream of cat pictures, selfies, and political propaganda. I can't bring myself to defriend them, though, because at some point I obviously considered their inclusion important - even if I don't currently remember them at all.

There's this guy named John who is a Facebook friend I barely know - I remember meeting him several years ago, and I remember a brief but surprisingly intellectual conversation, but I think that may have been the only time we actually met face-to-face. He does not post cat pictures, selfies, or political propaganda. He does not use social media to glorify himself, idolize celebrities, or spread partisan talking points. He is one of those rare people who uses social media - that all-consuming thread in which we can spotlight anything we want to thousands of other human beings - to try to inspire them.

"My drive and determination will not accept failure. The one's who are willing to work harder than the next will be successful; the one's who have an iron will to go above and beyond will last long."

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Difficult Meaning of Meaning

One of my students challenged me a couple of weeks ago to tell him what, in all the world, meant something.

This student, a rather intelligent one, ascribes rather heavily to the "speck of dust in the universe" philosophy that in the grand scheme of things, one tiny person in one tiny city on one tiny planet in one tiny galaxy can't possible be a part of anything meaningful. As the Animaniacs put it so eloquently in verse a couple of decades ago, "It's a great big universe, and we're all really puny." Such is the curse of intelligence, I think: if you're as bright as my student (or the Warner Brothers), these are the kinds of questions that plague you, because only with intelligence can you really comprehend just how tiny you are in the grand scheme of things. I imagine that this would be a source of great anxiety for me, as well, if I were that intelligent. Happily, I'm not.

After probing him a bit to learn the source of the question and attempting to get him to answer it for himself, I finally gave my own interpretations of why we matter. Unsurprisingly, he was not convinced. My meaning is not his, nor is it yours.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

This lady I met at the party

I was at a party tonight, and I met a woman.

Not the kind of party you probably go to - this was a "Hey, We All Just About Survived Another Semester" party with the other PhD students and candidates at GT who weren't removed from the program in some voluntary/involuntary fashion. It mostly consisted of bowling, enjoying free food and beverages, and using really big words (most of which I freely admit intimidate me).

After a couple of hours, I strayed away from the main group and noticed the drink table, behind which our bartender/drink server stood. It occurred to me that she looked very alone. It also occurred to me that we'd been there quite some time and she didn't have a chair. Then it occurred to me that I was thirsty.

So I went and asked for some water. She asked if I was sure, because nobody else was drinking water. I said I liked water. Then I asked her how she was.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I'm Just Not Geeky Enough

I am a geek. I've pretty much always been a geek, and I've never really been ashamed of that. I spend an inordinate amount of time with my Playstation. I own Optimus Prime and Blaster transformer toys. There is a barrel of monkeys on my desk at work, nestled amongst my four monitors. My kids have Star Trek, FFA, and Metallica onesies. I can name the pilots and colors of the five Voltron lions (I miss Sven). I have Jim Henson's autograph, and I'm staring at a statue of Kermit the Frog right now. I have a large collection of Alice in Wonderland and Sherlock Holmes memorabilia. I listen to gothic rock. I often say things like, "Why am I still talking while there's science to do."

Yes, I'm a geek... but this weekend, I learned that I'm just not geeky enough. What taught me this? Why... Dragon*Con, of course. (note the asterisk - some people seem to get a little snippy if you leave it out or replace it with a hypen. I'm not sure how you pronounce the asterisk, though...).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Some Things I Learned at the Academy of Management

Worth mentioning: the title above originally was missing the word, "Some," until I realized that would make for a blog post even more ridiculously long than usual.

The Academy of Management, admittedly grandiosely named, is the world's preeminent association for those interested in management and its study. Although the majority of the organization's membership is academics - professors, deans, students, and the like - a healthy chunk of the membership is made up of actual managers. You know, people who run businesses and have management positions in what we laughingly call "the real world." Go figure.

This weekend the Academy had its annual meeting, (or rather, Meeting, as they frame it) and I had the honor of both attending and presenting my paper on authentic leadership (for a bit of the logic behind the paper I presented, check this old post). Here are a few things I learned this weekend, in bullet-point format as you guys seem to like that format...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Feedback and Volunteering in Organizations (with the Muppets)

Maybe if I type up all of these research-oriented thoughts in my head, then I'll be able to assemble them a little more clearly. On the other hand, even if it doesn't help with my research, it might ease my guilt over not blogging lately. So let's kill two birds with one stone. Unless of course you like birds, gentle reader, in which case I will be doing no bird killing today. In that case, we will be... ummm... hitting two... targets?... with one... ummm... you know what? I'm no good with metaphors. Asking me to write a good metaphor is like asking Kenny Chesney to be a decent human being. Wait, that was a decent metaphor, wasn't it? Never mind.

In modern workplaces, whether they be offices, retail stores, schools, small businesses, large firms, or non-profits, the concept of "going above and beyond" is becoming increasingly important. There's research backing that statement up, and plenty of it. Organizations expect their team members and employees to not just do what is explicitly listed on their job descriptions, but also to do other things that benefit the organization, the people who work there, and the customers they serve. Many organizations even manage to work these "things-that-are-not-in-the-job-description" into the job description itself, oddly enough. They do this by including a line at the end of the official list of duties that says something like: "Employee shall also perform other duties beneficial to the company outside those listed here, as determined by management." When I was in the corporate world, I called that "The Auschwitz Clause," because under language like that, the company could direct you to do just about anything, from killing innocent people to selling yourself into slavery to buying Kenny Chesney albums.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Today is Father's Day

This is my first Father's Day as a father myself, although I don't yet really think of myself as a father despite the fact that I'm fairly certain I am one. There are these two wriggly, lovable little poop machines that are always around and who I'm expected to help care for, but I don't yet feel like a father. Heck, I don't yet feel like an adult. Most mornings when I wake up I'm still amazed I graduated from high school. Some other mornings I think I'm still in college... and then I remember that yes, I am still in college.

That said, if this is what Father's Day is like, I'm happy to report that I'm looking forward to the next one. Blueberry muffins, printed pictures I've been asking for since the kids were born, and a new copy of Portal 2? Yes, please. Daddyhood is good. The kids gave me some poop... which I didn't really want, but they made it themselves, and I guess it's the thought that counts.

When I think of Father's Day, I don't think about myself - I think, as we should, about my own father. He was the only real strong male presence I had for most of my young life, both of my grandfathers having died relatively early. I think I'd like to write a bit about my father today - Gerald James Lemoine, the Senior. He was a deeply flawed but nonetheless amazing person. That's kind of neat to me, because I'm at least smart enough to know that we're all deeply flawed. I'm deeply flawed, and maybe you are, too. However, there are very few of us who are nonetheless amazing. I'm not. You might be. Dad was.