Affection or Asphyxiation

We often pride ourselves on being good thinkers – deep thinkers. Sometimes, however, the ability to think is problematic. If we happen to find ourselves in the embrace of a boa constrictor, it would be foolish to waste time thinking if the snake’s intention is affection or asphyxiation.

What Comes Next?

Back in school, I was not a fan of long-form standardized assessments of any form. My least favorite types of problems to encounter were “Recognizing Visual Patterns” where you were tasked with having to select what the next pattern would be in a series. I dreaded these! I recently took a similar assessment called Mindprint, which was something the school I work at was rolling out for its students, and administration took the assessment to get a sense of how it worked.

The purpose of Mindprint is to assess how people learn opposed to assessing what they know. The results offer insights on how to help educators differentiate for students in the classroom. Oddly enough, I did rather well (at least better than expected) on the Recognizing Visual Patterns portion of the assessment despite all the nostalgic test anxiety I experienced. The most important thing I learned from taking the assessment was that how I learned has definitely changed over time. It appears as though I’ve become more well-versed at learning over time. How I take in information has evolved.

This got me thinking about the why behind the reason. I feel that my perspective has changed a great deal over time. How I look at my experiences has changed therefore how I learn from my experiences has changed. Although it’s still very much a work in progress, and I still statistically fail far more than I succeed, in hindsight, when I’ve been able to remain objective in situations, even when emotions are high, that’s when my best decisions have been made. When I removed myself (my ego and my emotions) from the experience and became an objective participant.

The pattern recognition that now matters most to me is knowing that the success rate of knowing what comes next relies mostly on me knowing the past patterns that both have and haven’t worked. Experience can only be the best teacher only if we are open to learning from it.

Life is a Toll Road

Life is taxing. If we need more proof, here’s a list of synonyms: demanding, exacting, challenging, burdensome, arduous, onerous, difficult, hard, tough, heavy, laborious, back-breaking, strenuous, rigorous, uphill, stringent, tiring, exhausting, enervating, draining, sapping, stressful, wearing, trying, punishing and crushing.

Life is all of this, AND it’s also fleeting. This is important to remember: Life is fleeting, thus so beautiful. As Amie Kaufman said, “Live a life worth dying for.” There is a cost to life, and it’s a beautiful gift to be able to exist in the dichotomy of knowing that for all that taxes us, we are free to choose our perception of what can actually be taken from us.


Allodoxaphobia is the fear of opinions. In the workplace – we know this – it occurs up and down the chain of command. It’s not a problem of title – it’s the result of incompetent listening. We are all able to rise above our incompetence. The first step is to stop listening to the one voice that betrays us most; the voice of our egos. The voice that will always be loyal to rationalizing our weaknesses as the fault of external forces. When we silence our egos, we open ourselves up listening with intention. Listening for the purpose of actually hearing what others have to say, and thus allowing us the opportunity to respond with clarity to what was actually said – not what we took offense to or what made us defensive.

If we ever find ourselves in a position of leadership, the following quote from Andy Stanley is powerful: “Leaders who refuse to listen, will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing helpful to say.” No matter how long we’ve held a title or how long our tenure, listening respectfully and equally to everyone’s ideas is how we get better at what we do. The better we get at what we do, the better we serve those we lead.

Commentator Commentary

A true commentator narrates only what is happening; an objective reporter. If we feel judged by objective commentary, then we are perceiving ourselves as the subject of objective words.  Blaming a reality or allowing ourselves to be hurt by commentary is a problem of the ego. Our pockets are filled with stones and our egos are the glass houses we’re trapped in.