My mother used to say, when talking about a challenge of any kind, “one step forward and 15 back.” That’s what I mean about finding your way. Progress is hard to perceive at times. It can feel like you’re sinking or going backwards. Your former job (or the one you may still have but are about to lose) pulls on you like gravity—or quicksand. This force makes it difficult to realize that there is anything beyond it. But there is. It may not be visible or immediately knowable, but it’s out there waiting for you.
So now, perhaps, the shock of your job loss is lessening a bit. It sure doesn’t feel like fun, but hopefully you’re adjusting. You’re seeing that you can get through this. And although it still stings when you talk to someone from your former company, you realize that there are hours every day during which your focus is elsewhere. This is a great sign and true progress.
Here’s an interesting thing—actually this is one of the most common phrases I hear when I tell clients that they’re doing a good job: “But I don’t have a job yet.” If we fast-forward to the time when they’re gainfully employed again, and I check to see how this new job is going, many clients say something like, “It’s okay. I’m glad for the income and benefits but....” And what they say next tells me that it’s not perfect and it doesn’t make their other problems go away. In other words, it’s only a job. So try to remember not to idealize being employed. It’s important, but don’t turn it into something it never was or will be.
Found something good? Email a link, bookmark it, or post it on your web site.
Are you having a party and needing to let people know where it will be held?
Did you find a cool spot that you want to show your friends? Google Maps can create an email with a link that will show your friends (mostly) the same view you see—or generate a link to post on your own web site.
Without maps, many of us are reduced to near-incomprehensible grunts if forced to provide directions to our homes. Even if we’ve lived in the same place for years, our direction-giving process too often includes putting a hand over the phone handset and asking whoever is around, “What is the name of that street?”
The problem doesn’t end there. Even if we are good at providing directions, our would-be visitor must keep track of fragments of data such as “the red mailbox” and “right after the hill—and if you hit the corner, you’ve gone too far.” With online map services, though, most of the time it is enough just to have a street address, and with most, emailing or posting a link to a map helps a visitor find the location quickly.
They enjoy taking on projects that can help others.
When I started teaching in Minnesota, I heard a common refrain among older engineering professors: “The farm kids are gone. Get over it.” Eventually, I learned enough about Midwest engineering culture to understand what they were trying to convey. Traditionally, many of our strong engineering students came from farming backgrounds. They would arrive at the university with hands-on experience maintaining and building equipment. A senior executive at a Fortune 500 company in Minnesota once told me that his “dream hire” for technical positions is an individual with a Ph.D. in a STEM discipline who also spent his or her childhood on a farm. The number of job applicants fitting those criteria is small and dwindling. I would propose to this company (and others) that they start looking instead for new hires who are lifelong makers.
While the mechanical savvy that many “farm kids” possess is often discussed, I see that as just one attribute shared among this group. Farm families depend on all members to do their part in getting the work done, and thus most farm kids grow up with a strong sense of responsibility. Steve Hoefer (Figure 5-1), who grew up on his family’s farm, is now a designer who is often hired to help solve technical problems for companies while also creating a series of how-to and DIY videos. His farming background is invaluable not only because he had freedom and access to real tools, but because all family members, regardless of age, were expected to pull their weight and participate in farm life. Even the smallest kid can help on a farm, and often has to. On a farm, Steve explained, if you see a loose bolt, you start turning it. It’s just expected. The family depends on the farm for their livelihood, and thus it is of crucial importance that everyone around pitches in and gets things done. Steve said that farming also instilled in him respect for the talents, especially the unexpected talents, of the people he works with (Figure 5-2).