Saturday, March 21, 2015

For What It Is

I am rather cautious of forming or stating opinions. Chuckle if you like, given my daily musings but that is in part forced. I left my home for the first time as a proudly South African 18 year old. I think, or rather know, I was a little annoying. Go to a lowish budget cinema. In South Africa cinemas are actually smarter than in the 'first world'. Use an old ATM. In South Africa we are world leaders in financial services and are actually way more advanced. Go visit the pebble beaches in Brighton. In South Africa we have actual sand. The kind that goes between your toes.

The Pebble Beach of Brighton
Source Chris Ison

I know I was just a little marketer for my home and there is nothing wrong with that, but constant comparison can be annoying. The same thing happened when I moved jobs for the first time. I was older and so hopefully more able to control my tongue and read body language for signs that I am increasing the likelihood of being stabbed. We define ourselves partly by our jobs. Perhaps even mostly. When you spend so much time doing your work and with your colleagues it is not surprising that you start to think and act in a similar way. Companies are very aware of this and try to develop the kind of culture that suits what they are trying to achieve. It takes some time to wean the we. To become a new we.

The first 100 days of a new job is often a wonderful period for senior people to get a fresh view of what is going on from an outside perspective. Before the new employee has drunk the kool-aid. A change also brings a rush of energy. You think you can see all the solutions. You can't believe others haven't tried it this way before. Then time passes. Then reality sets in. Then you listen to the new new person full of energy who can see all the solutions.

The same thing happens when people start new relationships. They may never date an engineer  (doctor/hairdresser/dancer) again. As soon as something happens, comparisons set in to previous relationships. It is a real challenge to not lean into the very human approach of looking for patterns and projecting forward. All people who do this, do that. 

With excessive comparison it becomes difficult to accept anything for what it is. You end up trying to fit it into pre-packaged boxes in your head. Boxes with connections to other boxes. We may think like that, but it is not the way the world works. Boxes help us create stories and stories help us navigate a complicated world. But reality is more fun than that.

Observations are interesting, but ideally they are questions. You can't stumble through life wishy-washily not saying anything that matters because you think you might be wrong though. If I could go back in time, I probably wouldn't tell 18 year old Trev to change the strength of his views despite his naivety. It gives me material to laugh at myself with. He was a weird guy. So that is why my daily musings sound like I think I have answers when I actually have far more questions. I really enjoy Karl Popper's approach...

'These are men with bold ideas, but highly critical of their own ideas: they try to find whether their ideas are right by trying to find whether they are not perhaps wrong. They work with bold conjectures and severe attempts at refuting their own conjectures.' Karl Popper
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