What is this guy talking about?

The Heuman Condition is my view of the actions of the day, the people who initiate them and my insights into what I think is really going on in the human world. Right or wrong I always have an opinion and this is my way of making it heard. Even though you are wrong I value your opinions too.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Why put off happiness?

A friend once said to me "Why put off happiness?" I thought about those words a lot over the years and I realized I don't know why people put off happiness, but recently I was at a family event that was long long overdue and it got me thinking. Perhaps some of us put off happiness because we are scared to be happy. Don't get me wrong I cannot imagine someone disliking the feeling of happiness, however if we are happy then we can be made sad. If that is true and I think it is, perhaps moments of great joy are put off because from the highs of great joy can come the the depths of great sorrow. Its a theory anyway.

It is also possible that as people we feel we are not ready to be happy, we need more $ in the bank, we need a better job, car, house or apartment. Although it is true that we do need to be in decent place in our lives to be happy, I am not sure we can afford wait for everything to be perfect. In my experience it is the imperfect moment that comes along that allows us to be really happy. The moments without detailed planning and expectations far exceed those moments we plan that are so susceptible to disappointment and intrusion.

In my own life the first time I asked my wife to marry me was the real one, there was no ring, no well thought out moment just my heart overflowing scaring the crap out of both of us. It was real, spontaneous and filled with great joy and laughter. Yes there was a second more formal ring ceremony still momentous but it could never live up to the expectations I placed on it. So although both were beautiful moments the one with real joy was the first one.

In watching the events unfold at the family event, I saw real love and joy and without the celebration it still existed but the opportunity to express it was delayed a long time and I was left wondering if any of the happiness that came from that special day was lost due to the delay. I will never know the answer but in seeing their happiness with each moment they spent together and with family and friends I was reminded that the time to experience your happiness is now.

Do you delay happiness and why?

Lasting impressions

If you follow me you will know that humans are my favorite topic. The things we do, how we interact, the things we say both brilliant and not so brilliant fascinate me. I love crowds so I can people watch, when I watch TV it is the character interactions that keep me interested.

So today I want to talk about lasting impressions. I am not a person who under normal circumstances is taken aback by a single person. Don't get me wrong and unfollow me I appreciate every single person I have met in my life in varying degrees. Some have taught me what to do and be like, some have taught me what not to to do and be like but every single person I have met has had an affect on who I am. So thank you all. Knowing who might read this you should assume that you have had a positive impact.

There are people in my life that have a huge impact on me daily, my wife Sue, my step sons, and my family. I do not want to diminish any of them but today's writing is about a single individual. She is smart, completely engaging, she is a connector and shares herself completley with her friends, family and community. Her enthusiasm is infectious to all around her. She has only been in my life for a little over a year, but she made a lasting impression. So why do I write now you ask? because she has left town. This may seem trivial in this day and age of digital communication at break neck speed but for me, this is not trivial at all. I have been hugely affected since she left and although I would wish her nothing but a world full of success and happiness I cannot lessen this sense of loss.

I have asked myself, why her? why now? you will communicate, you will see her again so what is different with her. Its not like you spent years knowing each other, she wasn't your best friend. These thing puzzle me because I am not one to latch on to people. I enjoy them when I am around them then move on, enjoygin their company again when I can.

I have decided it is her lasting impression, I was comforted hearing her voice, following her exploits, know that she was around. I celebrated her success and without talking much about it felt terrible when she was stressed. It is because she is the person who can leave a lasting impression on anyone whether she has known them for years or minutes. Despite this feeling of loss I realized that having people like this in my life is actually a gift, one I should appreciate more at the time.

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart. ~Elisabeth Foley

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Leaders, Influencers and followers oh my

About nine months ago I first started to think about this topic, since then I have had many, many discussions about it and it has become a part of my life. Let me go back, a friend, mentor challenged the idea of future leadership here in Edmonton. Was there any future leaders out there? Who were they? and What would it look like in the future? In this context these seem somewhat reasonable questions but it didn't really come out quite this way. The response was fast and pretty furious, yes there are leaders, here is a list and pay attention.

I tell you this because it got me thinking, was this really as big a conflict as it appeared? It came to me that the language being used and the definition of leader was a significant part of the conflict. You see there is an old school style of community leader, you volunteered for an organization you worked your way up and when you were established with a good sized rolodex you got asked to join the board or campaign cabinet. It was pretty straight forward and although there were no formal rules it was the way it was done. The names of Poole, Shaw, Stollery, Winspear, Westbury and Forbes were all names that were heard in those circles as well as many other community leaders and philanthropists.

None of those names were on the new list but it was equally impressive because these were people who have desire and influence to make a difference in Edmonton going forward. The thing is the path is very different now, first of course none of them have a rolodex and the influence they have is far greater than their connections to big wallets. They can and do get people out to volunteer, to support causes, to voice their approval or disapproval and all without ever sitting at the board table. You will notice that the words I used to describe this group is different, powerful and important but quite different.

So what is to become of these board tables and cabinets? Well boards are required by law so there is only two choices, we have to fill the boards and do what needs to be done perhaps in new ways, or the laws have to change to support new ways to run these community organizations and stewarts of the community. We may find new ways to raise money and support for those in need and to build our community other than board and cabinet meetings. If we are to have the quality of life we have come to appreciate here in Edmonton we must bridge this gap.
From my recent experience with both groups I am happy to report there is happy ending to the story.

Friday, 25 March 2011

A brave new world

The world of media and communications is changing, not slow deliberate change, it is moving at break neck speed. Strangely that is not the part that keeps me up at night, it is the direction that scares the crap out of me. The direction seems to be like a dart without feathers, hard to aim, even harder to follow and the target is elusive. Earlier in my career this would have been heart stopping but I have taken a new approach to this uncertainty.

You see when you are a middle aged communicator you realize that even though things are not what they were and the destination is unclear the fundamentals still apply. So what is the difference? It is the delivery methods that have changed and the exciting part is they have changed for the better.

It is better because previously as a communicators we always had to try to get my messages out through others. We pitch, will they catch? was it to the right person? by the right method? with the right message? at the right time? So many variables and although we had some control there was so much left to chance. Was there another story that was similar? Something BIG that took everyone's attention?

Today we still pitch but with less desperation, we have options, not for every client, not for every story but along with our pitch we can publish the story on our own. We post a youtube video, a blog, a picture gallery, the release is on our site or the client's site and we tweet it and link it to Facebook. These are not all perfect solutions and we still very much appreciate the support of the media but some of the control is in our hands.

It feels good and I strive to consider how we can take this to the next level, not to elimate the media but to work in cooperation so that news is news and soft news that still has an important place for a specific audience can be shared. The key to this is we may not send it out to a cast of thousands but the people who do see it likely care and pay attention. What a novel concept.

This takes me back many years where I started, the right message to the right people at the right time delivered in wonderfully rich new ways that develop new insights into the heuman condition.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Please make it stop

This could be the title for many things I feel I cannot stand much more of but for now I need "reality TV" to stop. I think for the purposes of this piece I will consider it unscripted instead of reality TV even though that is is questionable too.

I am not sure how much more I can take of this, being the one calling my work the Heuman condition it could be a perfect study of how people respond under stress or when they are falling in love but it is such a bunch of bull and presented so poorly that I struggle to find any value at all. The characters are chosen to show he extremes of society so right off the bat we are not working with a full deck of human emotions and thoughts. I do not watch much but from what I have seen virtually none of my friends or acquaintances would react the way the people do on TV. One also has to consider the mental state of people who wish to have their raw emotions strewn across the screen for the entertainment of others. After all in 30 seconds most people know who will and who won't be in the running for the money or the ring or whatever so many of them have to know they are fodder.

It started with just 1 show and now there nights of shows, love, fear, anger, jealousy, instincts, physical endurance, smarts, pain we see it all but in a format that makes human emotions a big joke. I think more of people than that, I am empathetic to raw emotions from real people, I want to help if friends or strangers need it, I want to celebrate when I see real joy in people from finding success, love, friendship. All I want to do when I see what TV makes of these real things is turn away.

I have an alternate reality, one which many people do not understand and make fun of. Interestingly I feel more real emotion from people I cannot see but who's words ring out through social media. The joy people have from meeting friends who have had many conversations but are seeing each other for the first time in real life. The moments of romance and love that remind us that is a part of our lives we may be neglecting at the the moment. The moments of celebration of a new family member, illness beaten, a new job, success at school or at work, something you want to share. Conversely the frustration vented in 140 characters, the loss, the disappointment, the fear expressed. These are real emotions not provoked by a producer or cut for my entertainment purposes, this is life unscripted.

Many of these people I do not"see", some I may never see but much of what I feel is real. People respond to support those who are reaching out, many are friends, some are people with similar experiences, some are just people who care. Who want to be supportive in moments when people feel most alone. In happier times it is a real pick up to see raw excitement of plans to meet friends, celebrations that take place, moments of true joy.

For me this is a place to witness the human condition, the humour, the drunk posts, the happy, the sad, the conflicts, the beliefs, the personalities this is part of my reality. The real beauty of this world is that it has lead to meet many of the people I converse with on a regular basis and increased dramatically my real world.

For those of you who enjoy "reality TV" good for you. I will take the reality of the people who friend or follow me, who chose to read my mindful and mindless postings, who engage with me from near or far and those I can communicate with. These people are far more real to me than characters chosen to shock and amuse me, my reality is my window into the Heuman condition.

Opening Shot!

I hope that my blogs provoke thought, sometimes a smile or chuckle and yes I hope sometimes they provoke complete and total disagreement. I have to say that the written word is not my strong suit. I am a listener and talker because there is so much more to be learned about people and issues that way however in this era I feel this is another way to communicate and I hope those of you who read this take the opportunity to communicate with me.

Issue #1 The budget came down today and the media response and much of the response I have read amuses me. "Alberta plunges into the red" is the headline in the Edmonton Journal. Really? This is not news, Alberta has been running an OPERATING DEFICIT now for a few years. I capitalized those words because I think they warrant the emphasis. Alberta is not borrowing the money to run the province (some say we are borrowing from our children and grand children but I will address that later). We are taking it from the sustainability fund which I like to think of as Albertan's savings account and using it to pay bills that will come due that exceed the money in our chequing account. This is not an endorsement of our current political situation but more of an on going frustration with a lack of clear understanding of the situation.

Fact 1 The money in the sustainability fund belongs to Albertans as does ALL money the government holds and allocates. It came from excess revenues over expenses, some in oil and gas revenue, some in land sales, some in excess income tax and fees to be used to SUSTAIN Alberta should the economy falter.
Surprise it did, like the rest of the world only not as bad. Good thing for us we live in Alberta. Why? because we had a fund for just such an occurrence. That we are using it to build infrastructure and keep the economy going should be a comfort to Albertans, no job cuts, no cuts in health care, education or social programs when we need these things most.

Albertans respond with "What a bunch of irresponsible people! Why are they not cutting? Why are they not slashing? Why do they spend money? Why are they not saving?"
Well my thoughts are if governments, business and consumers all stop spending, we cut people from the payrolls who pay taxes and we don't build now when labour is at a 50% discount we just might cause the economy to fall significantly further than it already has. Secondly when inflation was rising and we did not get any relief from taxes in the last boom we paid forward the opportunity to have this fund so may well as use it, damn it we earned it.

Albertan's also respond with "What about the children?" Well new schools and health care help children, after all if we don't have those things opportunities would be decreased. We are not spending all the savings there is still a fund of over $15 billion earning some interest. But maybe most importantly the generations before us never said lets ensure future generations don't have to find their own way, work hard and build their own future lets do it for them. Why do we feel the need to do that for generations to come in this fiscal way. Land use, water, air quality I get all those things but I don't understand the need to take being helicopter parents, hovering over the young at every turn, to a provincial level. Do we think they are not smart enough to find ways to succeed? Do they not have enough work ethic? Do they not care enough to find ways to take Alberta forward? If anyone thinks that they have not listened to or watched many of the young people today. I am not saying leave them with nothing but I think we short change them if we stop moving forward today so they can have the money so they don't have to innovate and work hard tomorrow. It is a hallow victory for the future if we sacrifice jobs, social programs, health care and education today.

A note: I always want people looking for wasteful spending and finding better uses for tax money. I do not think any government in the world is doing all they can to be efficient and effective. I endorse looking for new ways to do things and eliminating things that no longer make sense. I hate the term "because we have always done it that way" as much or more than the next person, I just think before people go off half cocked about job cuts, service cuts and saving money they realize that SOMEONE is on the other end of the result of those cuts.

One more note, not all or even most of my posts will be political in nature although the world of politics is certainly an area for huge study of the heuman condition. ;-)