The Elbow Rest

Have you ever looked at the most ‘usual’ thing and realized how unusual it truly is? There are so many things that fly by us on a regular basis and yet we never stop and take them completely in. Yes, there isn’t time in the day to take in the paper clip, new vehicle, a child’s smile, or the snicker bar, but they are all extremely usual but when looked at deeply, these usual things can have a whole new meaning.

But the question remains, what type of meaning are you going to get out of an elbow rest on a metro? I have no idea but as I sat here pondering it I started to think back to the process in which it was designed, reviewed, designed again, manufactured, tested, re-manufactured, and then put here on metro car 5095.

There have been so many individuals that have gone before my simple ride on the metro to make an object that would bring more comfort and safety to the train and those riding it. The process wasn’t some ‘random’ act but one that had designers, tester, manufactures’, CFO’s, and others going through a process to bring us the “elbow rest” on the train.

Personally, I’ve never sat down and thought deeply about something so usual. Well, that is slightly a lie, but I haven’t thought of an elbow rest. The point is simple and/or maybe more complex if you truly think deeply. There are millions if not billions of things that we pass on a daily basis that became because of a process that wasn’t simple so that our lives could be simple. It is an idea and thought that is starting to permeate my every moment and fill my mind when I normally just daydreamed.

So, what about the train number 5095? Is it just numerical to the number of cars? Who created the first number in the English language? Why the number 5? Thinking can be a full time job!

Look Around

There are so many types of situations occurring all around you as life is lived out. For me, that is a strange comprehension to think about but one that came to me like an epiphany this morning.

Take for incense my simple train to work like so many individuals in the Washington DC area. We all get on the train like a bunch of sardines, look down the entire time or judge why an individual sat next to us, and then leave the train in the same way a child crumbles a cookie onto the floor.

The fast pace life that is lived and needs to be lived brings light to the fact that I don’t look around and take in those people who are the sardines I wish I hadn’t smelled. But the truth is I need to be around them for inspiration.

Now to the ‘epiphany’ that I went thought his morning…. Here is the thing, everyone on the train is in a rush and yet to notice them may make a world of difference. Think about the smile you received from the worker behind the counter. A simple smile can change the day in a heartbeat. In the same moment though, a harsh word, look, judgment, non-helpful spirit may be a discouragement for many.

Being an idea person, I don’t want to be discouraged but I do want to be inspired and looking around, seeing people going through different situations even on the train can bring to light a new inventions, creativity, thoughts, and give me an opportunity to think outside my little black box.

Every action has a reaction and each person has their own story that could be easier, harder, simpler, and/or more complex then your own. We will never know those stories unless we look around. Why not just look around? These people may I remind you, will be helping ‘layout’ our lives even though they are complete strangers!

Change of Plans

Everyone is forced into changed plans simply because of a mess-up here and there. What do I mean? Well it is 8:00 in the morning and I am sitting on the train… Normally at this time I would be making a mile hike to work from the King Street Metro. But today I took a different path, which in turn took me on the wrong train. A small change of plans but yet for me not an easy change to swallow.

The point? There are always going to be moments in life when you encounter a situation and/or create a situation that changes your plans and even others. Sure, this is a small little droplet in an ocean compared to some things that individuals go through but it all stems back to perspective.

If each individual knows and understands that they will indefinitely go through changes of plans and in certain moments can’t do a thing about it, then we all need to learn how to deal with it.

In this moment, I can’t make the train speed up, skip stops, or magically allow me to appear at King Street. All I am able to do is sit on the train, use the resources that are available, and move on.

And yet, what are the three simple steps that I plan on taking from this ‘wonderful’ learning experience and using for my own life? First, I had to look at the situation as a whole and figure out how to get back on track. Second, I saw that I had more time on the train and looked at the resources available and what I could do in that time period to use my time wisely. Third, I dealt with the bruit realization that I was going to be late and was going to waste time but new I could make the best of it.

No matter the circumstance, we need to make the best of it. I know that I will have unforeseen changes of plans on a continual bases and simply get on the wrong train a few more times. In those moments, all I can do is see the whole picture, use my time wisely, and deal with it. The perspective is what will take an unexpected change of plans and move it to be a profitable experience.

Simple Networking

Two weeks ago one of my friends, @RyanDGates, challenged me to get a hold of Ralph Winter (the Executive Producer for X-Men). To be honest, I didn’t make the challenge of talking with him in three days but I did get a hold of him a few days after. From that contact I’ve started to understand that I want to be a Producer and his insight has truly blessed me. Prior to this event I’ve always had a focus on getting to know people with the interpersonal skills I’ve learned.

Every day I try to meet someone new and build a true relationship out of it. This idea of expanding my network takes a lot of work yet many people think that it just comes naturally. Here is the thing; it is possible for anyone to truly network with ease. The social networking world has given us a key to starting our networking in a simple way. Through the internet we are able to have an icebreaker type of conversation that leads to a simple coffee shop, Skype call, and/or e-mail. The thing is, as you put time into networking you will find that it can shape where you will go.

Personally, I want to be an Executive Producer and have tried to get a hold of people that can help guide my knowledge, teach, and even mentor me as I try to move forward in this. That is one reason I took up the challenge from Ryan. I am always searching for people to network with so I can get better at what I love.

Here is a simple thought, if you love something and want to learn more about it, count to three and get off your butt and just ask. Here are the three things that I am trying to implement and will continue to try and implement.

  1. Observe the scenario
  2. Simply ask to talk
  3. Always follow through

There are always a million things that I could list of things to do but simplicity is the best. So, as you go into a situation, observe the scenario and see the mood and body language of the person you are going to network with. If you are on the internet, a lot of the time you can ignore this first step but respect that the internet needs to be filtered.

You can use social networks to break the ice if you don’t feel bold enough. There really is no excuse not to use what you have and contact people to find a moment where they have 30 minutes, respect it, and follow through. People are usually open to talk, simply ask to talk and you will see the results. When I contacted Ralph Winter, that’s all I did, I asked to simply talk.

I continually forget, always follow through. Recently I e-mailed Mateo Massina (Juno composer) to speak with him about his story of success as a composer, got a hold of him and we had coffee. The thing is, he asked me to send him a website about the watch I was wearing. That opened up a new conversation and continual communication after we had met.

A network of individuals you can talk with can help you in any and every way. Think about it, if you have a hundred individuals out there who know you the probability of them remembering you and your talent in the future is extravagantly bigger.

The only way to make sure they remember you is to speak when spoken to and listen the majority of the time. When I say listen, I truly mean listen. The greatest thing that I’ve learned while trying to network is the ability to listen. As you ask questions, people become more inclined to talk especially if you are interested. They will talk about themselves and that is the goal then follow through to ask you.

In some ways, we are born to network yet we often forget to and don’t observe the scenario, ask, and/or follow through. But if we do all three, we can build a network of individuals who can help us take a step forward in our lives. Take it as a challenge, try to meet three people in the next week and see how much you may have in common and/or can learn. It is a challenge I take up every week.

The Etiquette Dinner

Yes, everyone knows that people need to learn some manners at the dinner table but why head to an “Etiquette Dinner” when you can use common sense? At least that was my question. You see, I had to go to an etiquette dinner and surprisingly learned a lot more then I had expected.

Having etiquette at a dinner table isn’t dead and neither is chivalry but it seems that these simple manners are being thrown to the wayside. After I got to dinner, I started to hear the step-by-step instructions on how to eat properly. I realized how much more professional you can look by being smart with how you eat. Plus, the food tasted ten times better since we were told to eat slower and with the pace of everyone else.

Eating properly could land you the next job if it comes down to how you represented yourself. That seemed like a dream to me but after I left I really understood why having manners and eating right looked a step up from the norm. So, here are three things that I will be putting towards my manners, and/or, trying to put towards it to make my appearance more professional.

  • Be patient and wait for others before taking part in the food. As you eat, keep up the patience and stay at the same pace as the others sitting with you.
  • Use your right hand to grab the water, it is always on the right, don’t grab another person’s water, use your own.
  • When you cut your food, cut only a piece at a time to eat. Don’t cut up the ‘chicken’ to be like chicken nuggets, eat it one bite then cut another bite. It helps you take time in eating.

Three things that are common sense but I never would have remembered them in the moment. Hopefully I will remember these things in the next moment of dinner with individuals interested in what I can offer them.

Here’s to the next meeting and hopefully getting a job opportunity. The little things do add up and can influence in large ways. So, go out and network and get an opportunity for yourself to have dinner with a new person and practice the skills. Enjoy the ambiance that a good meal can give in a professional light. Etiquette does matter and it can influence the way people see you.

If you are looking for more basic etiquette – http://www.gourmet-food-revolution.com/dinner-table-etiquette.html

If you are looking for someone to teach you check out Mary L. Starvaggi at – http://theetiquetteadvantage.net/default.htm

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