Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Good Fences Make for Good Blisters

Today I took the day off to build a wooden fence along portions of my yard still vulnerable to outsiders.

First, my father-in-law and I located my plat survey and gained a sense of the boundaries. Then we uncovered the iron rods strategically inserted between the property lines, running a long string between them that hindered any chance of neighbor encroachment. Once we had the whole place staked out, we were ready to dig and assemble the massive pile of fence sections and posts lying across my suffering driveway.

The posthole digger took some getting used to. I lifted it as high as possible, then pummeled the stubborn St. Augustine grass. It took a few lifts and crashes before the surface began to yield. I wondered how sore I would become by the next day. The journey downward seemed endless, with at least two-and-a-half-feet of depth required to give the posts a fighting chance of holding their own.

After each post was sufficiently planted we added some dirt, water and dry concrete. Then came the fun task of dragging the six-by-eight-foot sections of fence to the posts, and using a power screwdriver to attach them. Along the way adjustments had to be made with hands; hammers; heavy shoes; and, above all, heart.

By sunset we had a fence. Something of tangible accomplishment—meant to keep children and clutter within more than keeping others out, but more or less sufficing in both regards.

Despite the arduous physical labor, the fence construction provided for some peaceful thinking. There is a raw, fresh feeling about digging into the earth; drilling screws; carrying wood; wiping away sweat; and feeling little bugs dancing along my shins. I am not a handyman by nature, but I held my own. I helped to build something you can see, touch and—while the wood remains new—even smell.

I spend most of my professional time building ideas. I help people survey their passions, interests and talents to get a feel for which boundaries to push and which ones to let stand. I help them strategize the best linear path toward assembling a vocation, something sustainable and grounded in reality, opportunity and compensation.

Often, to help them discern the path, I facilitate some significant digging. This can be laborious, for one does not easily puncture the hardened soil of uncertainty. It takes pushing yourself to keep digging down, until you have enough introspection to secure a new direction.

I help others sprinkle and mix a few items across this new sense of understanding, in order that they might activate its potential. These include new relationships and networking opportunities, further training and education, growth experiences gleaned through trial and error. Each helps them continue to design and expand this dynamic called vocation, from which flow tangible accomplishments that can change communities, organization and lives.

A fence is seen, touched and smelled. The products of vocation are not always as readily tangible, but just as real as an assembly of trees snatched from a forest.

Each day opportunities abound to glimpse the fruit of your passionate contributions to humankind. Take a second, catch your breath and muster the energy to dig even deeper—and there you are, building something that will last longer than a zero lot line fence destined for hurricane wrath.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Vicious Circle of Marketing

With all due respect to my friends at Walt Disney World, I do not want to encroach upon the property for the remainder of 2007. After two weekends in a row of trying to escape from the "vicious circle of marketing" otherwise known as the main roads that connect all of the Disney attractions, I'm done for the foreseeable future!

We went there the last Saturday of 2006 when someone we know got us into EPCOT for free. That was the easy part.

We paid the price that night when, exhausted from our frolic in the park, we attempted to exit the property the same manner in which we'd entered 10 hours earlier. That's when I realized there was a sign for every other road within miles--as well as every possible Disney attraction and even, I believe, the water treatment plant--but not a single guidepost for our humble toll road. I finally, after soothing words of encouragement from my spouse, selected an alternative route that took longer and cost time...but we were free at last from the force field that seems to entrap unsuspecting passenger cars in the Land of the Mouse.

Then, after my wife ran the Disney Marathon this past Sunday, we attempted to leave the property and get something to eat elsewhere. We were tired--well, she was especially tired after running 26.2 miles--and quite hungry. The kids had been out in the sun and the crowds for several hours. I wanted food, it was two hours past my usual lunchtime, and I was not a pleasant fellow which which to reckon.

This time, remembering our adventure of a week earlier, I opted to pursue the alternative, longer route from the beginning.

I thought I had the Mouse out-witted, but he was plotting my demise long before I arrived. A massive collection of orange cones dotted several key intersections across Mouseland--including the very places I needed to turn so we could make our escape in pursuit of less-expensive culinary delights. I kept seeking further alternative routes, pressing down the accelerator with a little more aggression each time I had to make another turn toward a mystery destination.

And that's when it hit me...the vicious circle.

The Mouse makes the signage along the circle lucid enough if you are going TO one of the attractions, resorts, etc. on Disney property, where there is a strong chance you might spend some money (plus, the All-Seeing Mick-Eye secretly embedded in the MGM Studios water tower tracks your vehicle's every move, while deducting a quarter from your bank account every time you miss your turn and say, "@#$@!@$$@#").

However, if you dare embrace the ambition to LEAVE Disney property, the signs are just vague enough to create those seeds of doubt...to leave you making wrong turns, circling back again and again...having family team-building sessions--until, tired, demoralized, hungry, naked and powerless, you run out of gas in one of the giant attraction or resort lots and agree to stay the night and purchase a vacation package.

I won't be fooled again. I'll just stay home.

Until someone has free passes; and my mind, like Charlie Brown's when he yet again agrees to kick the football as Lucy holds it, becomes zippidy-do-doo.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Marathon Musings

I feel like such a slacker today...my wife is off at Disney, preparing to run the Disney Marathon tomorrow. I'm going to meet her with the kids at the finish line. I'm excited to see her finish, but we were just at Epcot last weekend and I can tolerate Disney, like, once per year at the most.

Well, I have nothing else of depth to offer today...not that I've offered anything deep in the above paragraph whatsoever!