Comming Soon! “CorpScrew . . . The New Rules For the Corporate Maverick”

My next book, titled “CorpScrew,” is in the last stages of editing, and if I’m able to keep up the current pace, I should be finished by the end of April. (And yes, I do my own editing. Always have. More about the self-editing process later.)
I’m reviewing cover designs and hope to have something to put on the site in May.
What’s the new book about? In a nutshell, it’s an in-depth manual on how to find financial success and live the kind of life you want . . . while working for the man! Readers will learn how to take control of their career and find long-term satisfaction in their work, while keeping their personal objectives and priorities in harmony with a healthy and sensible life-work balance. I plan to post the first two chapters on the site around the first of May, so check back for updates.
The publication of “CorpScrew” will also bring some changes to Seaon of the Lion. Starting May 15, the business and career oriented articles currently on “Season” will move to a brand new website at www.CorpScrew.com. In addition, the information I wasn’t able to include in the book (to meet the 75,000 word limit imposed by the publisher) will be presented there in two formats.
The first will be the conventional blog/article format I’ve used on “Season.” The second will be in the form of a brand new podcast series! Each episode will include bonus material that expands on the book’s content and concepts, as well as introduce new ideas for those ready to take their career – and their lives – to the next level. The podcast (of course, it’s titled,  “CorpScrew”) will be available through your favorite distribution app.
Looking forward to the journey,
Roger

How Do You Know When It’s Time To Leave?

How Do You Know When It’s Time To Leave?

How Do You Know When It’s Time To Leave?

By Roger A. Reid
You’ve thought about it. Maybe the circumstances surrounding your work and career have been changing. Or maybe you’ve acquired a new manager whose ideas conflict with yours. Or there’s been a buyout or takeover by a much larger company, who is now imposing their management concepts and protocols, and even worse, you see several layers of duplicate job functions and you know it’s only a matter of time before the layoffs begin.
But for some reason, you stay.
Sure, you’ve talked to recruiters, and updated your resume, but for some reason, you can’t take that final step that puts you in front of a potential new boss, to have a serious discussion about making a transition from your current employer to a new one.
So what’s stopping you?

It’s usually one of two things—and sometimes a combination of both.
First, you’re not completely convinced that your situation won’t eventually return to “normal.” You’re still holding out hope that “things will work out for the best.” Maybe even in your favor. Because that’s what you’re being told. It’s HR’s current mantra as they unveil the latest version of the “transition plan.” It’s the hidden subliminal in the elevator Muzak.
Second reason? It’s easier to do nothing, to stay right where you are. In many ways—ways that we often take for granted—your current position is a place of refuge. It’s where you go to make your contribution, to receive recognition for what you do. And you take comfort in the presumption of financial security it provides.
And so you wait. To see how bad it gets, telling yourself you’re going to put off the decision until you get a better handle on exactly how things are going to shake out.
If you find yourself in either of these situations, you’re no doubt tired, frustrated, and a little scared. Because you’re letting others make a decision that could change your life. You’ve put the future of your career—your options and opportunity for personal success—into the hands of others. And in spite of what you’re being told, you know many of the decisions to retain you as an employee or let you go will not be based on individual merit or past contribution. It could be as simple as a coin toss, or a trade-off between division managers.
And you’re far more valuable than that.
But the pull of the past is strong. You’ve spent years making a place for yourself. You’re comfortable. You enjoy the relationship with your co-workers. Others respect you and value your contribution. And a move means giving all that up. It means facing the risks of a new boss, a new agenda, a new company bureaucracy.
So you wait.

Until reality no longer accommodates your expectations.
Until the day comes when you look into the future a month down the road and can no longer see yourself still connected, still associated with your current place and situation. There is only the image of yourself, a bit uncertain, a little anxious, and missing the familiar trappings of a desk, the company car, the paneled office walls, and the long, oak conference table where you presented dozens of proposals.
Slowly, you begin to realize those things were just tools, fixtures from your past, and no longer a part of who you are.
And it feels right.
And maybe, just maybe, it’s accompanied with a sense of relief.
*     *     *

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This Year, Forget Goal-Setting & Try Something That Works!

This Year, Forget Goal-Setting & Try Something That Works!

This Year, Forget Goal-Setting!
(and Try Something That Really Works!)

by Roger A. Reid
It’s a traditional part of the new year—setting goals to stop smoking, get a better job, find a spouse, lose weight, and hundreds of other wanted changes in our lives. And every January, the journals and notebooks come out of the drawer and we diligently list the most important things we want to accomplish.
For me, the process of goal-setting has been such an important part of setting priorities that for the past several years, I’ve started the new year by writing an article about the subject, offering suggestions on how to keep our resolutions from becoming lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday living.
This year, I’ve decided to take a different approach.
Why?
National statistics tell us after three months, ninety-five percent of us have completely forgotten about our goals.
Ninety-five percent!
That’s terrible.
And here’s what makes those numbers even worse: That same ninety-five percent repeats the process every year, continuing to set new goals to bring about wanted life-change even though there’s a ninety-five percent chance it’s not going to work.
Look at it this way. If you wanted to quit smoking, and a popular stop-smoking program revealed its success rate to be five percent, is that a program you’d want to try?
Or how about shedding that extra ten pounds by trying a new weight loss diet? For a lot of folks, it’s a number one priority on their list of new goals. But if you discovered that 95 percent of all those trying the ice cream and tree-bark diet never lost a single pound, how motivated would you be to blend a half cup of pine tree shavings into that half-gallon of vanilla?
See what I mean? Putting that five percent success rate into context makes it clear we need an alternative that will work for a greater number of people.
To make sure we don’t journey down the same path by a different name, it may be helpful to look at the three most important reasons the goal-setting process is such an ineffective agent for change:
1. We don’t count the cost of what we’ll have to give up. Our time is not unlimited, and since most of us claim we’re already busy, we usually have to give up an existing activity in preference to working on a new goal. The real question is, how high a price are you willing to pay? If you’re already beginning to feel a sense of regret just from reading this, you need to ask yourself the following: Do you really want that new career, or relationship, or healthier body badly enough to give up the time you sit in front of the television? Are you willing to trade the time you spend surfing the internet to go to the gym, or learn a new language, or take that night class at the community college? That daily hour spent on Facebook and watching Sunday afternoon football may have easily fit within your old life, but it’s doubtful they’ll survive the transition to a more disciplined use of your time to make the life-changes you want to accomplish.
By the way, the failure to pay the price—in terms of maintaining a disciplined use of time—is the number one reason most people completely abandon their goals by April, comfortably settling back into their normal, regular routine.
2. Very often, our wants and desires are not within our control. There are plenty of old adages that claim anything is possible if we want it bad enough. Motivational gurus tell us if we work hard enough, if we stay focused on the dream and never give up, our most ambitious desires are always within reach. The truth? Some goals are realistic—and some are not. The probability of reaching any goal is based upon the realities of personal genetics, talent, economic reality, competition, critical relationships, and the sheer effect of timing. Add to that the impact on existing protocols and the amount of cooperation required from others, and you begin to form an accurate picture of what is realistically possible.
But wait, you say. How can that be true? What about all those articles, blog posts, and podcasts featuring writers, entrepreneurs, and social icons who boot-strapped their way to success with nothing more than the will to succeed?
Unfortunately, the experiences of the few who manage to find their way to fame and fortune are often touted as everyday success stories. In reality, over-the-top success is rare. For example, after the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, the previously unknown author was touted as a less-than-average writer who found overwhelming success by relentlessly pursuing her passion. Supposedly establishing herself as one of the most financially successful authors of all time simply because she refused to give up, she became a poster-child for tenacity, determination, and tireless persistence. More than a few life coaches and motivational speakers presented her rise to success as a repeatable event, suggesting the rewards of perseverance were available to anyone who was willing to do the work.
But when long-time industry pros were asked to estimate the chances of another unknown author being able to garner the same level of achievement, the answer was a bubble-popping zero. In other words, the success of Fifty Shades was an anomaly—a unique happenstance of luck, timing, market receptivity, and social media marketing, plus a huge dose of FOMO (fear of missing out) on the part of those who hadn’t read it.
3. Our goals are based in fictional illusions and representations of media-generated fantasy. Wanting to become the next James Bond, Laura Croft, or Indiana Jones is an exercise in day-dreaming. And while not harmful when used as a brief escape, it should never become a substitute for the positive and rewarding activities available from being fully present in the current reality. Sadly, spending too much time fantasizing about a life we wish we could live can have very real consequences, the worst of which is wasting productive years while foolishly waiting for our real lives to begin.
If any of these circumstances or situations sound familiar, you’re not only in good company, you’re in the overwhelming majority—and yes, I count myself as a long-term and frustrated member of the group.
After reading to this point, you might assume I’m suggesting giving up completely on goal-setting—leaving you to wander aimlessly through the days, weeks, and years of your life without direction or purpose, becoming a living example of that well-worn metaphor of a ship without a rudder.
That’s not my intent. And if you’re one of those self-motivated individuals who find goals to be a useful and productive tool, you should continue the process. Establishing priorities with organization and discipline is extremely powerful, and provides valuable feedback as you work toward creating desirable changes in your life.
But if you’re one of those who fill their notebooks every January with well-intentioned objectives, only to find yourself in exactly the same situation and circumstances a year later, it may be time to consider the following alternative.
Instead of setting goals, how about being open to new possibilities? Recognizing and acting on new opportunities is one of the most important characteristics of those who live successful and satisfying lives. Whether a person is following a well-defined path toward their desire outcome or they find their destiny evolving from a series of fortuitous events, the act of recognizing and acting on new opportunities usually plays a major role.
For example, your co-worker mentions he’s going to start flying lessons next month–and you wonder . . . “I’ve always thought it might be fun to learn how to fly. Taking the course with a buddy would make the experience more fun. And if I had a pilot’s license, what might that lead to? Who might I meet that could have a positive impact on my life?”
Or let’s say your boss tells you about a new position opening up in San Diego. You know housing will be three times as expensive as your home in Phoenix. And the traffic? You’ve been there enough times to know how the rush hour turns the freeways into parking lots. Your boss assures you that you don’t have to take the promotion. It’s strictly up to you. You’re ready to reject the new position immediately. But what if you reconsidered the move from the standpoint of how it could change your life for the better? What might happen in San Diego? What new opportunities might be waiting there?
Keep in mind that many life-changing opportunities arrive in disguise. Seemingly unrelated to our goals, we dismiss them as distractions, diversions that appear to be a detour from what we believe to be the most direct route to success. The result? We ignore them in favor of continuing on a single path destined to failure.
The key is to always be open to a Plan B. We often chart a single course to our dreams—one way of getting there. And when that doesn’t work . . . we quit. In reality, the more ways you have of getting to your destination, the greater chances of your arrival. So this year, try something different. Forget the goal setting session and instead, commit to being more aware of new possibilities. And when they arrive, ask yourself if this new choice might be just the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

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What Did Your Father Do During the War?

What Did Your Father Do During the War?

What Did Your Father Do During the War?

by Roger A. Reid
For a young boy growing up in the sixties, it was a frequent topic of conversation. It usually came up during recess or after a game of weekend football, when the constantly competitive mind of a nine-year-old naturally gravitated to comparing stories of their dad’s heroic military service.
With each boy determined to outshine the last with tales of his dad’s heroism and bravery, we listened intently to stories of gallantry and valor, all performed under the flag of patriotism.
Until it was my turn.
“So what did your dad do during the war?”
Dozens of times they asked. The same question over and over again. And each time, I felt the anxiety rise in my chest, my throat turning dry as I’d manage to mumble something like, “I’m not sure, or “I don’t remember.”
My answer carried lethal social consequences, and it made me hate those discussions.
Because I had no “bragging rights.”
While the other boys could talk about their dads serving on a destroyer, or being part of a flight-crew based in Europe during WWII, the only thing I knew about my father’s wartime activities was that he worked at a company called Dow Chemical, located somewhere in Texas.
And that meant he had stayed home, where it was safe, away from the fighting, while the other fathers served their country, risking their lives, winning the war.
I was embarrassed. Because I had no story to tell.
I couldn’t brag about how many medals he’d won, the number of enemy soldiers he’d killed, or the number of refugee kids he’d fed with his field rations.
And in some ways—at least in the ways that matter to a nine-year-old—that made him less brave than the other dads.
Less of a man.
And as much as I hate to admit it, there were a few times when I wondered if that also made him less of a father.
The stigma of having a non-serving dad in wartime was something I carried with me for a long time—all the way through grammar and Jr. High school. Like an ugly scar, I did my best to keep it covered. But it was always there, just below the surface, and it never failed to set off a warning bell when the conversation began to head in the direction of the war, and toward the stories little boys like to tell.
To cope, I tried devising a defense mechanism. First, I’d try to change the subject. And if that didn’t work, I’d pretend someone wanted my attention, and use it as an excuse to walk away.
But even when my strategy worked, I’d spend the rest of the day wondering why my dad hadn’t stood up and done his duty—like the other dads. And it made me wonder if there was something wrong with him, if he’d been too afraid to fight.
Until I learned the truth.
It happened during a summer vacation, while making one of our annual two-week long trips to visit the relatives in Texas.
It was a long and grueling car ride from Yuma, Arizona to Gonzales, Texas, and after arriving, we usually spent the first four or five days visiting with my only surviving grandmother. The rest of the time was spent driving around the state, spending a night or two with aunts and uncles from both sides of the family.
We were nearing the end of the trip and were spending the last two nights with my Uncle Lelon in Freeport, Texas. Uncle Lelon was year younger than my father, and the two had always been close brothers.
I woke a little after midnight and started to make my way toward the kitchen in search of a glass of water. I was half-way down the hall before I hear them—voices echoing from the dining room. Surprised that anyone was still up, I stood there for a moment, not sure I should interrupt.
In the dead quiet of the house, I easily recognized my dad’s voice. The other half of the conversation came from Lelon. They were sitting at the dining table, chatting about their jobs, their kids, and how quickly Freeport was changing.
Lelon said something about Dow Chemical, and how many years had passed since they’d both worked there.
My father didn’t answer right away. Then he asked Lelon a strange question . . .
“You ever get over the nightmares?
Silence.
Finally, Lelon spoke, his voice strained, then falling off to a near whisper. “For the most part. Once in a while I still have a strange fragment of something I can’t place. But then I’ll see something familiar. It might be a locker, or one of the men’s faces, and then I realize I’m back in the cells.”
It took several minutes before the conversation became fluid again, each man giving the other permission to speak. I could tell that both were struggling with it, uncomfortable with the memories.
As each took his turn, remembering, talking about their experiences, the missing pieces of my father’s life began coming together in a way that was difficult for me to imagine. And what I learned, standing stone-still in that dark hallway, changed the way I thought about him—forever.
His life during those years—spending each day in an environment that was the most dangerous of any war-plant in America—not only erased the embarrassing shame I’d felt over my father’s lack of combat experiences, it replaced it with an overwhelming sense of sadness as I realized how he’d forced himself to endure the daily threat of injury and death.
My dad had worked in a special part of the plant called the magnesium cells, where the raw element was processed for use in munitions and aircraft construction.
In a molten state, magnesium is unstable and extremely flammable. And although batch processing in the 1400 degree ovens was an extremely dangerous job, the need for magnesium in WWII was overwhelming, and that meant the plant’s priority was on production, not safety protocols.
“Remember Samuel?” My uncle asked.
I couldn’t see my dad’s reaction. I assume he nodded.
“He always described coming to work each day as setting a noose around your neck, never knowing when God was going to yank it.”
More silence.
Finally Lelon said, “I remember some of those mornings, waiting outside the gate, and being so scared I wished I’d called in sick.”
“But you never did,” my dad said.
“Once we were inside, I couldn’t think about it,” Lelon said. “I just keep moving, watching, making sure the guys didn’t open the ovens too soon.”
As I listened to their conversation, I began to form a picture of my Dad’s war-time activities. He spent part of his time supervising the process from the elevated cat-walks, looking for tattle-tale leaks, knowing if he found one, there would only be a few seconds to evacuate the area, before the room became the nearest thing to hell on earth.
He often dropped to the floor to help open a cell when it was time to move the molten magnesium from the processing ovens to the cooling rooms, knowing how easily it could explode into a 5000 degree inferno of metallic plasma.
A leak, an overflow, or a mis-pour of the metal was called a scald. And sometimes a man lost a hand or an arm. An explosion and the resulting fire was a bad scald . . . and it usually meant somebody died.
Lelon drew a deep breath. “I remember how a lot of the guys would sit in their cars before the start of a shift, and when they thought no one was looking, take a swig from a pint of whiskey.”
“Yeah,” my dad said. “Some of them emptied the bottle. Probably trying to get through one more day.”
“When did you finally tell Opal? Lelon asked.
“Couple of years after the war had ended. She brought it up one night. Someone at church told her about a neighbor who’d also worked at Dow, and wondered if I knew him. I decided it was time to tell her . . . I didn’t want her hearing it from someone else.”
I thought about that for a long time. While he’d worked there, my dad had not told my mother the truth about his job. He knew she’d heard the stories of how men had been killed in the mag cells, the flash fire leaving no corpse, not even a skeleton to bury, because someone misread a temperature gage, or left too much air in the ovens, and unlocking the door had unleashed a solid stream of molten metal that was impossible to put out until the fuel was exhausted.
“I didn’t want her worrying,” my dad added. “She had enough to deal with.”
The rest of the trip came and went, and we arrived home to a stack of mail and front yard that was two weeks past cutting.
I let a week pass before I brought it up. Waiting until we were alone, I told my dad about that night, how I’d overhead him and Lelon talking, and about the mag cells and the men who sat in their cars drinking whiskey to dull the fear, and the workers who watched in horror as a scald left one of their co-workers badly scarred, or missing a hand—or worse.
And then I asked him to tell me what it was like—how many men had died, how long the fire would burn.
Because it’s what a fourteen-year-old asks.
He paused for a second, his face suddenly drawn and hard. But instead of answering me, he shook his head, dismissing my questions. He told me it was just his job, and how fortunate he was to be able to stay with his family during the war.
That’s all he ever said. It was the last time he talked to me about what he did during the war.
Eleven years later, a few days after my twenty-fifth birthday, he passed away. And after the funeral, when the house had finally emptied, and the last friend and mourner had left, I sat down and had a conversation with Lelon.
I told him about that night eleven years earlier, when I’d stood in the dark hallway, listening to their conversation. And how I’d asked my dad to tell me more, and how he’d brushed it off, not wanting to talk about it.
Lelon nodded, then fell quiet, as if he understood my father’s reaction. Or maybe he was thinking back to that night in Freeport, when they sat at the kitchen table, talking, or maybe his thoughts took him back even further, to the catwalks at Dow, and the furnaces below.
“There was a reason your dad didn’t like to talk about it,” he said finally.
“Because it was so dangerous?”
Lelon shook his head. “We all knew that. It wasn’t the job, the hard work, or the fear. It was the men that got hurt. He was the one who had to handle that.”
Then Lelon told me the final part of the story, the part my father had always kept to himself.
My dad was the shift supervisor. Every accident, every death, was his responsibility. Instead of supervising from a small office, he worked the cells personally, looking over the men’s shoulders, watching the metal cook, adjusting the valves, reading the gages, and taking over when a man was sick, or caught a bad case of the shakes and had to be sent home.
“We knew he didn’t have to be there, working on the floor,” Lelon said.
“So why was he there?” I asked.
“I asked him that. More than once, I asked him, ‘Why do keep coming to the cells every day? You got a promotion. You don’t have to be here.’ He always gave me the same answer – he’d worked in the cells longer than anyone and there might be something he could do, something that would make a difference when there was a bad scald. Because he thought he could do it faster.”
Later that day, I began going through my dad’s things, packing up some of them for donation, and carefully setting his watch and a single pair of cuff-links he wore to church into the pocket of my suitcase.
At the bottom of his document box, I found his military deferment card. I was familiar with the common designations of 1A, 4F and 2S, but this was different. Because his work was considered essential to the war effort, my father was not only exempted from military service, he was barred from it. Critical Civilian Service, the government called it, abbreviating it as CCS on his military ID. Translated, it meant he would fight the war from a catwalk instead of a trench, battling threats from a chemical enemy instead of a human one.
As a kid growing up in the sixties, I learned many things from my father. Most of the lessons were simple and straightforward . . . how to tie my shoes, to look both ways before crossing the street, to brush before bedtime, and to help others in need. But what I learned standing in that dark hallway on a warm summer night in Freeport, Texas, was far from simple. And at the time, I couldn’t fully understand the importance of what I was hearing. But as I look back from a lifetime of hindsight, the message is clear, and the lesson is the same whether we’re talking about a parent, a spouse, a boss, or a business partner.
1. Everyone has a history, but not everyone is comfortable sharing it. Unfortunately, the less we know about someone, the more likely we are to treat them with negative prejudice. We make judgements. We build walls. The downside? We’re often wrong. An un-shared history is not an invitation to eye it with suspicion. Before learning the truth, I had let what I didn’t know about my father’s past affect how I felt about him in the present, and I spent several years of my childhood thinking less of him than he deserved—a terrible waste of time that I can never retrieve. Until others prove you wrong, give them the benefit of the doubt.
2. Never assume you know all there is to know about someone. Buried deep within a lifetime of memories are days of sorrow and sacrifice, of joy and conquest. A welcoming smile often conceals dreams never realized and hopes that eventually faded into disappointment. Before making a pre-emptive strike to judge someone’s company undesirable, give them the opportunity to tell their story. Hidden truths are often concealed with the best of the intentions.
3. The relationships in life that really count cannot be based on 280 characters. Twitter is not the definitive source to determine someone’s character. Facebook is not a place on a map where someone was born. And Instagram is not a CliffsNotes summary of someone’s life. And yet, we’ve learned to quickly compartmentalize others based on what we find online—creating digitally-based relationships that thrive on neat and tidy little packages constructed from a collection of prom pictures, favorite movies, and how they spent their last Friday night. Real flesh and blood relationships are built on compassion, concern, and trust. All of which take time. And for good reason.

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The Key to Aging Without Apology or Regret? Become the Exception!

The Key to Aging Without Apology or Regret? Become the Exception!

The Key to Aging Without Apology or Regret?
Be the Exception!

by Roger A. Reid
 
“If only I could go with you,” Wendy sighed.
“You can’t go,” Peter said. “You’re too old. You’ve forgotten how to fly.”
“I am old, Peter. I am ever so much more than twenty. I grew up long ago.”
“You promised not to!”
“I couldn’t help it.”
When J.M. Barrie wrote the book, “Peter Pan” back in 1904, I doubt he had any idea his soon-to-be popular children’s story would also become a powerful metaphor about aging.
For me, it’s the last line in the conversation between Wendy and Peter that’s the most significant.
“I couldn’t help it.”
We get older. We change. Our bodies show the signs of time, and the wear and tear of life.
Psychologists tell us to embrace it, to wear our wrinkles and gray hair with pride. It’s an inevitable part of life, they say, encouraging us to accept the winding down of our biological clock with grace and perspective.
Marketers and manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and vitamin supplements assure us “It’s Only a Number,” encouraging us to counter the obvious evidence of our ever-shortening telomeres with the inferred guarantee that using their products will help raise our spirits and lower our blood pressure.
And the cosmetics industry promises us that by using the right combination of wrinkle reducing creams, face bronzers, and hair color, we can convince others to look beyond our weathering exterior to see that the fire still rages, the creative spirit still conceives, and our need to be included still burns strong.
But it isn’t really like that, is it?
The message we receive from media, the business world, and even our own social circle—with rare exception—is much different.
In fact, if you listen to the constant drone of negativity—the innuendo, the implied judgments, the outright discrimination—surrounding those with six or more decades under their belt, you’d think turning sixty was the equivalent of having an expiration stamped on your forehead, with the “good until date” so close, younger folks are wondering if the contents are still good.
“It’s a curse,” a business associate told me. You hit a certain birthday and suddenly, people start treating you different. I think the worst part is when you’re no longer included in social events, dinner invitations, or even conversations.”
I’d known the guy for several years, and he was friendly, intelligent, a great host, and got along well with everyone. His wife was attractive and fun to be around. Had their friends suddenly ostracized them because of one additional candle on the last birthday cake?
“Was it something in particular?” I asked.
“Until last year,” he said, “we’d always hung out with the “kids,” a bunch of forty-something couples we’d known for years. We were part of the group—going to the beach together, hiking in the forest, and taking weekend ski trips. This year, no one talked about scheduling anything, so we assumed the trips had been called off. But that wasn’t the case at all. We later found out they went without us.”
His story isn’t unusual—younger friends losing interest in older friends. It often happens when the senior members of the group reach a landmark birthday, when the signs of aging become more obvious and the “oldsters” no longer physically blend as well with their younger counterparts.
For him, it was a watershed year.
The problem?
Collectively, seniors are too often represented as a stereotype of decline and ineffectiveness. Even worse, we’re expected to take our place and smile, allowing the culture to assimilate us, to cast us into the widely-accepted but unbefitting role of a wobbly oldster, besieged by senior moments, obsessed with early dinner discounts, and constantly stalked by the looming shadows of an assisted care facility.
So what’s the answer? Do we blame society? Do we find fault with our appearance-driven culture for instilling us with erroneous values about youth? Or should we point the finger at the media, for bombarding us with images of complacent seniors doddering around age-restricted communities looking for a hot game of checkers?
No. That would be the easy way out. And more importantly, it wouldn’t change anything.
First, let’s face an unpleasant fact: Like it or not, others are going to judge. And they will judge us on our appearance, behavior, and attitude.
But that’s terrible, you say.
Yes it is. And it’s the truth.
But make no mistake – we set the bar for how we want to be treated.
So how do we change the general perceptions of aging? How do we reverse generations of programming and prove the unflattering judgments and generalizations to be false?
The key is found in five simple words—Choose to be the Exception.
Exceptional people rise above the generalizations drawn from the lowest common denominator. And they demonstrate that their role in life has merit, regardless of their age.
It begins with a shift in mindset, and often, a change in personal behavior.
In taking a closer look at seniors who are at the top of their game and, more important, have refused to allow societal typecasting define their role in life, I found several commonalities the majority of these “outliers” demonstrate that helps define them as top performers—regardless of their age.
Their values, beliefs, and behaviors are not mysterious or esoteric. And yet, they represent the basis for a mindset and, quite literally, a life-plan that can improve and enrich the last half of our journey to make it truly exceptional. In fact, these suggestions are applicable to anyone—at any age—who wants to live a healthier, more satisfying life.
1. Separate your age from your identity. Attitude is everything. And the only way to change the attitude of our detractors is to first change our own personal expectations of decline that are inherently a part of society’s prescription for fitting in as a senior. How would you act if you hadn’t been programmed by society with “aging expectations?” You wouldn’t know when to retire or enter that span of life typically called (shudder) old age. Ideally, you want others to base your identity on your general health, activity level, and mental acuity, and not by the number of years you’ve lived.
2. Find motivation and inspiration from role models who have chosen to be the exception. There are plenty of “seniors” who refused to conform—those who ignored the generalizations of an age-divided culture. Here’s a few examples:

Earnestine Shepard started working out at age 56. At 82, she claimed the title of the world’s oldest competitive female bodybuilder.
James Parkinson made his breakthrough discovery, identifying Parkinson’s disease, at age 62
Peter Roget started work on his thesaurus at age 61.
The author of Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, wrote his famous novel at age 60.
Coco Chanel was still in charge of her fashion and beauty empire at age 85.
Ranulph Fiennes climbed Everest at age 65. At 71, he completed a 156-mile run across the Sahara desert.
Laura Wilder was 65 years old when her fictional story, “Little House in the Big Woods” was published. Continuing to write additional installments to the series, her last one was published when she was 76.
Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma Moses) started painting at age 67 and did not experience any real degree of success from her work until she was 78.

Keep in mind that exception role models don’t have to be recognized celebrities or social icons. You probably already personally know several, but because you don’t know their age, or it isn’t obvious, you’ve never realized their senior status. Here are a few examples from my own personal circle of friends:

Kevin                                           Cathy                               Bonnie                       Jill and Cathy
At sixty-three, Kevin Claramunt helps others—often a decade or more his junior—accomplish their health and fitness goals.
At sixty-five, Cathy Winters improves her student’s lives by teaching them Yoga, nutrition, and fitness.
Sixty-eight year old Bonnie Kebbe is a print model for a luxury clothing boutique.
Moving a bit closer to home, my 62-year-old wife, Jill, is a successful fiction writer (aka Jaye Frances) and offers tips on healthy eating and fitness on her blog, www.KitchenSpirit.com

3. Change what you read and listen to. Find blogs, books, magazines, and programs that interest you. Learn something new. Stay current in at least one field of study.

4. Associate with people of all ages. Maintaining the company of those only of your generation separates you from the rest of the world, and more important, from learning and participating in activities and opportunities typically reserved for younger folks. In our Americanized society, longevity and the rewards of youth have become mutually exclusive. As long as young people view seniors as inadequate, slow, and inflexible—and seniors allow that image to persist—the two generations reciprocally support a culture of age-based separation. Removing preconceptions and generalizations about aging is the first step in reducing age discrimination.

5. Realize where you live makes a huge difference. In my twenties, I had a business partner who claimed, “People are the same all over, regardless of where they live.” Since I’d seldom ventured out of the state, I assumed he knew something I didn’t. But over the next twenty years, I had the opportunity to travel and live in difference parts of the country. I found he couldn’t have been more wrong. As social animals, we are influenced by environment, attitude, education, financial resources, and other distinctive demographics of the area. We tend to become like those we’re around. We’re influenced by their energy and attitude, and we reflect it back to others. Where you choose to live can make you lazy or productive, healthy or ill, depressed or happy. Choose wisely. It makes a huge difference.

6. Adopt a health consciousness. Be an advocate for your mind and body. So many of us take our bodies for granted, forgetting they are a vulnerable dividing line between life and death. The ancient metaphor of treating them like virtual temples—cultivating and maintaining our physical health to extend our longevity—is still as true today as it was 2000 years ago. But the data on obesity, heart disease, and cancer tells us a huge percentage of us treat our bodies like a walking landfill, a back alley where we throw our daily garbage. Instead of taking action to slow and in some cases, reverse the physical and mental decline that accompanies the unmaintained body, we allow our muscles and mind to deteriorate. But it’s never too late to change our priorities. Start by exchanging the temporary comfort dispensed from the drive-thru window of a fast-food restaurant for the long-term benefits of a natural, whole food diet, free of preservatives and chemicals. Find something physical you enjoy doing. Whether it’s gardening, walking, swimming, dancing, playing tennis, ping-pong, or participating in a basic exercise program, choose an activity that will get you moving.

7. Ignore those who advocate age-appropriate behavior, dress, or appearance. If you want to color your hair blue, do it! If you’ve worked hard on your body and want to show it off, don’t let turning 60 stop you from wearing a bikini at the beach. The number of birthdays you’ve collected does not require you to meet the collective expectations of a polite and civil society—which by the way, is seldom polite or civil. Those who are quick to judge the dress or appearance of others as age-inappropriate are revealing themselves to be arrogant, petty, and shallow. If you’re on the receiving end of such nonsense, consider it a compliment.

8. Never meet the negative expectations of others by giving in . . . and giving up. Avoid writing yourself off because the number of years remaining in front of you is less than those behind. Your age is not an excuse to do less or to stop making a contribution. Ignore the comments and “advice” of those who warn you to slow down or take it easy, because someone “your age,” isn’t as fit, limber, or has the endurance of someone younger. Just because you’re sixty-five, doesn’t mean you can’t run a marathon, or learn to play guitar, or get your body back into the best shape of your life. And never believe “pseudo-scientific” rhetoric that advocates the brain is less effective as you age. Turning seventy doesn’t mean your mind is suddenly less sharp or less productive than it was yesterday, or last week, or last year.

9. Seek out medical professionals who advocate “power-aging” through proactive physical and mental health. As we age, we’re presented with two options: Wait for time to weaken our bodies and then try to mitigate the damage with drugs, or reduce our risk of disease and physical degeneration with intelligent food choices and exercise. That’s it. Just two choices. And when you compare them, there’s really only one that makes any sense. And yet, our medical community isn’t always on our side when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. Most practice a “pharmaceutical” mindset, giving only token appreciation to a healthy diet and exercise. For example, about four years ago, I tore my rotator cuff during a gym workout. After the doctor gave me the pros and cons of surgery versus physical therapy, he added, “You’ve know, you’ve got to slow down, stop pushing yourself, and learn how to grow old gracefully.” I took his advice to heart and immediately changed doctors.

10. Avoid age-segregated living. Retirement publications tell us we should downsize and move into a seniors-only or age-restricted community—a thinly disguised suggestion of voluntary exile. But reducing our contact with the general population is exactly the opposite approach we should take if we want to remain an active and vibrant part of society. Segregating the old negatively influences the perspective of the young. The value of living six, seven, or eight decades—and the collection of experience it brings—should be shared, not sequestered away behind the gated facade of an age-mandated, half-way house between this life and the next.
Aging well is about attitude. It’s based on the way we feel about ourselves and how we expect others to treat us. Instead of accepting the prescription written by a youth-prioritized culture that relegates the old to a easily ignored, used-up segment of society—a forgotten demographic that must be tolerated out of necessity—we can demonstrate our ability to be vital, contributing members of the tribe. Rather than an aging senior, we can choose to become an exceptional elder – someone who isn’t judged by the number of lines on their face, but by the example they set in living an extraordinary life.

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What Will They Say at Your Funeral?

What Will They Say at Your Funeral?

What Will They Say at Your Funeral?
(And Why Should You Care?)

by Roger A. Reid
I see this question asked over and over again in blog posts and magazine articles. It’s become a popular exercise in perspective. Here’s the premise: We know the end of our lives is inescapable, so let’s take a critical look at the way we’re living, and if our current actions aren’t going to encourage others to say positive things about us at our funeral, then hopefully, there’s still time to change our ways.
In larger terms, they’re talking about our legacy.  What we leave behind.
Ironically, what I will leave behind will be important to everyone but me. Because at the time, I’ll be lying in a velvet-lined box, my senses off-line, my brain and body stilled by a Creator who took final possession of what was rightly his from the beginning.
Certainly the message is well-intended: Life is short, so make it count by making a difference in other people’s lives.
But it makes the assumption that others will understand our motives, that our actions will always be correctly interpreted, our intentions publicly evident. And more important, it doesn’t allow recognition for all the anonymous acts that so many of us do throughout the day that often makes a difference for others, but are seldom significant enough to make the six-o’clock news.
So while the idea of changing your life to insure a glowing eulogy may be appropriate for some, the majority of high-achieving, goal-oriented individuals view the metaphor as a distraction, a detour that takes their eyes off the ultimate target—because even the most positive, well-meaning advice can be based on meeting the expectations of others.
Changing your life to measure up to the values imposed by others —especially those left behind after you’re dead—is just another way to live life on someone’s else’s terms, to toe the mark they’ve established, to meet their ideals and priorities.
The truth? If you’re living life at your peak potential, not everyone is going to agree with your priorities. In many cases, they won’t understand your actions—or lack of them—with the same perspective, the same long term view that make them important to you. And unfortunately, those quickest to offer criticism can often include your family and friends—those whose love isn’t supposedly conditionalized on mutual beliefs, values, and behavior.
And before I continue, I want to be clear that I’m not suggesting altruistic attitudes and actions are unimportant. I’m saying those things are more likely to happen when our personal goals and ambitions are given first priority. We usually end up far more successful, more accomplished—and more capable of helping others—when we follow the interests that motivate us, that inspire us, that bring satisfaction and meaning to our lives.
In short, find out what makes you happy and do that. Concentrate on the things that move you, influence you, and inspire you to make the extra effort, to work the longer hours, to be more successful—then take care of those who need your help.
You first, then others.
It’s a universal premise that’s centuries old. It’s why airlines tell you to put your oxygen mask first before helping your seat-mates. It’s why many of those with a single-minded-focus on building a financial fortune later practice philanthropy as an on-going part of their life and end up helping others on a grand scale.
Yes, being there for others is an important priority in life. And when your contribution is the result of accomplishing your personal aspirations and ambitions, you’ll likely benefit as much as the recipient—which is far more likely to make the process self-perpetuating.
What about your eulogy? Don’t worry about it. Someone will say something nice. Someone will send a card. Someone will remember something you did or said that touched them.
And then, in time—in a surprisingly short time—you’ll be forgotten.
It’s your life. Don’t let others make you feel guilty for living it your way.
“And then, she started living the life she’d always imagined.”  Kobi Yamada.

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Is it Time to Sue Your Employer?

Is it Time to Sue Your Employer?

Is it Time to Sue Your Employer?

Roger A. Reid
Right up front, I want to make it clear I am not an attorney, and nothing that follows is intended to be or construed as legal advice. The matters discussed in this article can be complex and you should seek the advice of a competent professional before taking any kind of action.
With that being said, let’s begin . . .
Bringing formal legal action against your employer should always be considered a last resort to correcting an difficult situation or problem at work. And keep in mind that, from the standpoint of keeping your job, making a legal claim of any kind against the company usually brings the kiss of death to your career—and that’s true, regardless of your rights as defined by law.
So how do you know when it’s time to call an attorney?
First, look at the situation as objectively as possible. Pursuing damages over a misunderstanding or unintentional blunder by management—especially if it’s a one-time event and an apology follows—is seldom a good move in the long-term.
Clarify—if only to yourself—what your real motivations are. Is this an emotional vendetta to settle a grudge? Or are you facing an ongoing problem that continues to persist in spite of your best efforts to bring it to the attention of a supervisor?
Always keep in mind that issues based on management’s decisions about promotions, raises, assignments, transfers, and relocations are seldom actionable. Don’t confuse the ongoing business decisions of the company for discrimination or as grounds for wrongful termination. In many cases, it’s not personal—it’s business.
Deciding what to do and when to do it is usually based on the severity and repeating frequency of the infraction. If the event(s) have robbed you of any desire or incentive to stay with your employer, then your options are much clearer. But if you want to preserve the professional relationship, consider handling—and resolving—the issue “off the books.”
Begin by approaching the source of the problem privately. Start by saying how much you like your job, and you want to clear up a situation that’s bothering you. Explain your position, how the problem makes you feel, and ask if the behavior or situation can be changed or eliminated. End the conversation with your appreciation for the person(s) consideration and your promise that your conversation will remain private.
Here’s a suggested order of actions to handle a personal grievance:
1. Document the event each time it happens. Write down the date, the time, the names of the individuals involved including any witnesses, and include a description of exactly what took place. Keep this in a notebook AT HOME. Never leave any derogatory or damaging evidence at the office, and never reveal to anyone that you have it.
2. Document any actions, communications, or face-to-face meetings you have to resolve the issue, regardless of whether it’s with a co-worker or supervisor. Include the date and time, details of how long the meeting/conversation lasted, what was discussed, and what was decided or resolved.
3. Run your situation by an attorney, if for no other reason than to create third-party confirmation of the problem at the time it takes place. You’re creating a verifiable contemporaneous record of the situation and how it’s impacting you. This will become an effective tool if you need to take legal action, or find yourself terminated with a fabricated cause as a “pre-emptive” measure to counter the validity of your complaint.
I want to stress these situations can be complicated, and may originate from a company agenda or the personal intentions of a superior you are simply unaware of. I’m not an attorney, and can’t give legal advice. Just keep in mind there’s a time to try to negotiate and a time to lower the boom on prejudice, harassment, and mental and physical extortion. Discuss your options with someone you trust—your spouse, a close friend who can keep their mouth shut, or a family member. Ideally, they should have a comparable professional background to yours. Factor in the advice from an attorney and then decide the best way of dealing with the problem.
I’ll leave this rather ugly topic with this: Being able to settle, manage, or otherwise negotiate problems is what management expects of their best and brightest. From the company’s mindset, airing their dirty laundry in public is de-facto proof you’re not management material. Conversely, there’s going to be a few bad apples in the majority of work places, and if push comes to shove, the responsible action may be to confront them and, if necessary, take legal action against the organization that allows it to continue. The key to deciding which road to take is how you’re going to feel about yourself afterward.
Bottom line, protect your self-respect as you would any valuable asset.

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Planning To Attend the Hooker’s Ball in San Francisco? Keep it to Yourself!

Planning To Attend the Hooker’s Ball in San Francisco? Keep it to Yourself!

Planning on Attending the Hooker’s Ball in San Francisco?
Or Fantasy Fest in Key West?
by Roger A. Reid
Do Yourself a Favor and Don’t Mention it at Work!
You may think using your private backyard pool au natural is a harmless, benign activity. Your boss may find it offensive and deviant. How do you know where to draw the line? In general, if it’s not something that you can read about in the Ladies Home Journal, it’s not an acceptable subject for workplace conversations.
Regardless of the newly “enlightened” attitudes that supposedly inhabit the upper floors of corporate America, we are still a country of conservative traditionalists. If you broadcast or otherwise advertise your unconventional behavior, you may find yourself banging into an unforgiving glass ceiling carefully installed by the HR department to limit your employer’s socio-sexual liability.
Still don’t know what I’m talking about? In plain English, if you want to avoid being judged as corrupt, warped, perverted, or depraved, don’t share the fact that you attended the Hookers Ball in San Francisco, the adult entertainment award show in Las Vegas, or any other event that suggests you participate in “alternative” social or sexual behavior. Trying to rationalize your presence with the claim that you only observe and never participate will not excuse your intentional introduction of gray-area or off-limit subjects into the workplace.
While activities tainted with a sexual connotation are obvious subjects to eliminate from workplace conversations, there are several other topics that should also be avoided. Regardless of how close your relationship with co-workers and supervisors, there are some things you should not reveal. Here are four seemingly innocent subjects that can come back to haunt you:
1. Your investments and alternative income sources. Maybe you do a little consulting work on the side, or edit manuscripts on the weekends, or manage social media for an on-line company. Although these activities are non-competitive and you work on them after work hours, they must remain a secret. Your employer will consider other income producing activities as threatening competition affecting your focus, interest, and time. In the myopic vision of management, an employee’s dedication to their job is always compromised when they engage in part-time, money-making activities. Corporations are jealous masters and they will not knowingly share their employees’ commitment with other financially-oriented “distractions.”
In management’s opinion, your off-hours should be spent re-charging your batteries so you return to work ready to perform at peak efficiency. If your supervisor learns of your involvement in a sideline or part-time venture, she’ll blame any indication of stress, overwork, or distraction on your outside activities, even though your symptoms may be the direct result of your day job.
2. Expressing dissatisfaction about your job, compensation, or a company policy or program. Occasional disappointment and frustration is part of every employee’s lot. It goes with the territory. In short, you’re paid to support and carry out the instructions of your superiors, whether you agree with them or not. That’s why it’s called a job – you trade your time, energy and effort in exchange for compensation that you can use to invest in your personal success. Occasionally, it’s not pretty or pleasant. But it’s a fact of corporate life. And once in a while, it’s going to suck.
For example, you may think you’re occasionally entitled to curse, vent, or blow off steam, but the result will hurt you. It’s the fastest way to lose your reputation as a professional. Make it a point to have others to see you as cool and collected under fire. Just because the conversation turns heated or you’re put under pressure, that’s no excuse for revealing your weak underbelly. Making verbal attacks and derogatory statements about others – even when they’re true – makes you appear fearful and emotionally immature. You’re demonstrating the other guy got to you, and you couldn’t handle it. Make a habit of dismissing the stupid behavior and comments of others. It demonstrates you’re operating on a much higher level, and in fact, have the capacity to handle much more intensive and serious situations.
3. Negative comments or innuendo about another employee. Never do it, not even to a trusted confidant. The moment it leaves your lips, it’s out there—a loose missile no longer under your control, and you never know when it could circle back and blow up in your face. Negative comments are a huge liability. They can not only keep you from being promoted, they can guarantee you a place at the top of the list for termination when the next wave of layoff or downsizing hits.
4. Serious personal health problems. With the exception of a rare case of the sniffles, you should project the image of perfect health, and yes, that includes maintaining a healthy weight. Although your health issues may be under control, talking about them at work can project the possibility of future absence in the event of a relapse. Smoking, overeating, and excessive drinking are liabilities, and we all know how employers feel about liabilities.
The bottom line? With the current trend of work-life integration quickly replacing the more traditional concept of separating our work from our private lives, employees are feeling a greater degree of freedom to share personal and even intimate details with their co-workers. But this can easily backfire when the conversation touches on controversial subjects or a topic with subjective ethical or moral implications.
Don’t jeopardize your career by falling below the standard of professional conduct expected by your employer. Even if such a standard isn’t formally stated or defined, it definitely exists, and your efforts to set an example will be appreciated and rewarded.

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