Tag connection

Abstract Comparison.

“The girls were equally wary with one another and often spoke roughly among themselves.  They frequently knew nothing about the people with whom they lived and worked [..].  Most girls seemed to have one or two true friends who lived far away, perhaps in another factory, preferring to confide in them rather than in many close by.  Maybe this was their defense against living in a colony of strangers: They took it for granted that someone who slept in an adjoining bunk one night would disappear the next.

“It took willpower for any migrant worker to change her situation.  But inside a factory as large as Yue Yuen, the pressure to conform felt especially intense.  The girls all claimed in front of one another that they didn’t approve of finding a boyfriend in the city, although many of them already had one; they disparaged further education as useless even as some quietly took classes in an effort to improve themselves.  Yue Yuen was a good place to work – everyone who worked there said that.  But if you wanted something different, it took all your strength to break free.”

Factory Girls, Leslie T. Chang

The Basics.

“I think the most you can hope for is that there’s someone else who even knows that you exist, who even cares about what happens to you.  Many people don’t have that.”

Ira Glass, This American Life

Sometimes, but not always …

This is so hard for me
To find the words to say
My thoughts are standing still

Captive inside of me
All emotions start to hide
And nothing’s getting through

Watch me
Fading
I’m losing
All my instincts
Falling into darkness

Tear down these walls for me
Stop me from going under
You are the only one who knows
I’m holding back

It’s not too late for me
To keep from sinking further
I’m trying to find my way out
Tear down these walls for me now

So much uncertainty
I don’t like this feeling
I’m sinking like a stone

Each time I try to speak
There’s a voice I’m hearing
And it changes everything

Watch me
Crawl from
The wreckage
Of my silence
Conversation
Failing

Tear down these walls for me
Stop me from going under
You are the only one who knows
I’m holding back

It’s not too late for me
To keep from sinking further
I’m trying to find my way out
Tear down these walls

Every time you choose to turn away
Is it worth the price you pay
Is there someone who will wait for you
One more time
One more time

Watch me
Fading
I’m losing
All my instincts
Falling into darkness

Tear down these walls for me
Stop me from going under
You are the only one who knows
I’m holding back

It’s not too late for me
To keep from sinking further
I’m trying to find my way out
Tear down these walls for me now

Tear down these walls for me
It’s not too late for me
Tear down these walls for me

– “These Walls,” Dream Theater

AcD: The Human Element

I spent the past few days doing more experimentation with Modo and quickly learned that the latest version includes sample meshes and textures.  While I typically don’t like use pre-built elements, they do allow one to focus on the core creative vs. being concerned with every discrete element within the piece.

Fortunately for me, one of the collections contains human figures and busts.  I decided to use and replicate a few of these meshes to start moving away from traditional hard-edged designs (buildings, spaces) and towards a design composition that is more personal and “real.”

Coincidentally, this is perhaps one of my first digital designs, if not the first, where people are explicitly included in the scene. Even though these are virtual humans, it is the human element that I think allows for a stronger “connection” to these pieces – at least, that’s how it feels to me.  The human element is definitely something you will start to see more of in designs to come.

Below are a few sample renders, but you can see the entire collection here.

Recalibration II.

Motivation: … the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior.” (Source unknown)

In my last post, I highlighted three main areas where I would like to improve – self-motivation, perseverance and connection.  In this post I’ll continue my exploration of motivation.

All too often, the word “motivation” has a positive connotation.  After all, how often do you hear public speakers or other leadership types exclaim “Be Motivated!”  Because of this, how can one not assume that being motivated is always the right thing to do?

In contrast to public opinion, I believe that being motivated to do something isn’t always the right decision.  Why?  Because you could be motivated to do the wrong thing – i.e. something that is misaligned with your core values and/or for the wrong reasons.  In the above definition, it’s easy to assume that the goal or “reason for the action” is clearly known, but in many cases it may not be.

In thinking about this concept, my belief is that truly understanding what motivates one to do something can ultimately help one achieve a particular goal faster than if that level of awareness is left unchecked. Along a similar path, gaining this understanding early on can also highlight whether the goal should be abandoned entirely – i.e. is being motivated truly the right path in a given situation?  In short, I think one needs to have a clear understanding of the goal (and the reasons why achievement of that goal is worth the pursuit) before being motivated to act.

Let me share a personal example to illustrate this concept in more depth.

I grew up in a family where education and success went together.  Over time, I started to believe that my success (the goal) was primarily dependent upon my education.  Not withstanding my desire to learn, even after my master’s degree I continued to take classes in the hope that I would eventually acquire enough knowledge to be “successful”.

My business coach challenged this long-standing belief late last year when I started formulating the basis for Big Generator.  Up until that time, I never thought that I was truly ready to move forward.  Did I know enough?  Did I have enough experience? The answer is that I’ll never know enough.  Thus, I consciously decided to accept this fact and the rest would need to come with more experience.

This example is relevant because being motivated to continue with my education vs. moving forward with my business could have been the wrong decision over the long-term.  Thus, being motivated to carry out the wrong goal for the wrong reasons doesn’t make the activity right.  Instead, being motivated to advance the business while continuing to gain knowledge is the right decision for me at this time in my life.

Formal education, while deemed worthy in nearly all contexts, is actually the direct opposite in this example.  In essence, formal education was employed as a “motivator” to help me meet a goal that I call “success”.  However, “success” takes more than being well-educated.  Thus, taking inventory of what I wanted to do and identifying the right motivators allowed me to break out of this cycle and make alternative decisions.

This isn’t to say that there will not be times when the mantra of “get motivated” doesn’t have value – particularly in situations where you aren’t excited about the path you’re on, but there really isn’t any choice but to use an alternative (positive) perspective and go ahead with the task at hand.  However, in the grand scheme of things, it’s important to understand what it is that you want and build a motivation framework to help you achieve that which you are seeking.

In my next post in this series, I’ll go into more depth about this framework and show some guidelines to make sure that you are motivated for the right reasons.

Recalibration I.

I read an article in a recent issue of The Atlantic which focused on the worsening employment outlook for today’s economy. The article painted a fairly dismal picture connecting unemployment with a vast number of downstream impacts, including socio, interpersonal and self that had negative consequences many years after the economic downturn.

The article sheds light on several impacted demographics – including recent graduates looking for work. This particular demographic – known as the “Millennials” or “New Boomers” – is referenced in a book called “Generation Me” by Jean Twenge, an associate professor of psychology at San Diego State University.

In her book, Twenge ties the manner by which this generation was raised, their resulting high self-esteem, and their potential long-term success, particularly when faced with a jobless economy.

She notes that “… self-esteem in children began rising sharply around 1980, and hasn’t stopped since.  By 1999, according to one survey, 91 percent of teens described themselves as responsible, 74 percent as physically attractive, and 79 percent as very intelligent. (More than 40 percent of teens also expected that they would be earning $75,000 a year or more by age 30; the median salary made by a 30-year-old was $27,000 that year.) Twenge attributes the shift to broad changes in parenting styles and teaching methods, in response to the growing belief that children should always feel good about themselves, no matter what. As the years have passed, efforts to boost self-esteem—and to decouple it from performance—have become widespread.

“These efforts have succeeded in making today’s youth more confident and individualistic. But that may not benefit them in adulthood, particularly in this economic environment. Twenge writes that “self-esteem without basis encourages laziness rather than hard work,” and that “the ability to persevere and keep going” is “a much better predictor of life outcomes than self-esteem.

This really struck a chord with me as I have always believed that the key to success is self-confidence.  The fact that “… the ability to persevere is a better predictor of life outcomes” is a refreshing perspective.  In fact, I wonder if my challenge isn’t more about perseverance than it is about confidence.  This is an opportunity.

In thinking more about my development in 2010, I would like to improve my skills in three main areas – self-motivation, persistence and connection.  While I am not necessarily lacking in these three areas, it can be difficult to measure progress without a clear understanding of the underlying maturity model associated with each.  This exploration is also key to further push the “advancement envelope”.

The concept of motivation is something that ultimately drives one to achieve something. If you aren’t motivated to do anything, then it’s unlikely that positive things will happen to you (or anything for that matter).  However, motivation can be measured on a scale all of its own.

Of course, the two extremes are obvious – you are motivated to act, or you aren’t.  But what’s in the middle? How do you measure motivation?  And is there just one dimension to this motivation scale?

Let’s explore this concept in more depth.

A wish to learn new things has been a primary motivator in my life.  To go a step further, formal education can be an excellent motivator all on its own – you pay someone to teach you and indirectly hold you accountable through deadlines, quizzes and exams.  Through the process, you naturally become motivated to get a good grade.  In essence, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of its own – i.e. I want to learn so I take a class, which pushes me to learn more through the identification of a “grade” which allows me to achieve the goal I originally set out to do.

Another commonly heard motivator is money or material wealth.  While money does not bring happiness, studies have shown that people who have a reasonable amount of wealth are generally happier than those who do not.  Thus, attaining money is a powerful motivator.  But is money the motivator, or is the happiness that seems to come with it?

A third motivator is the simple act of pleasing others.  Your relationships with your family and friends may be important enough to drive you to act independent of goal.  Doing something to please others can be its own self-fulfilling prophecy  – i.e. your contributions give a sense of happiness to the other party which can improve the relationship (you are both happy).  The complexity in this case arises when the motivator begins to take on a life of its own.  Using the example just described, this motivator can start to work against the actor if the entire reason for acting is the underlying happiness of the other.

As you can begin to see, the concept of motivation is fairly complex.  What may be labeled as the motivation “source” may in fact be a mask for the true motivator (i.e. is it money or happiness?)  Motivators can also be deceiving – a genuine motivation source may begin to erode over time if the aim isn’t becoming increasingly visible.  Motivators can also be visualized to gain a greater understanding of what is driving (and perhaps what should be driving) the activity.

In a later post under the same title, I’ll explore this concept in more depth.  I’ll also start to introduce the concept of perseverance as I believe the two are closely related.