Writing that moves readers to action

Posts tagged ‘Culture’


real jobDo you ever sit in your office, cubicle or fishbowl space…and wonder “what the heck am I doing here – in this space, surrounded by these people, emblazoned with this title, performing these functions?  Is what I’m doing meaningful and is the setting (or culture) right for ME?”

Over the years, as I traversed the work world, I’ve often asked myself these questions – actually so many times that the number of pauses/blips might be embarrassing to reveal.  Often, I’d sit in quiet solitude and reflect on these questions – trying to constructively answermission-statement-cartoon or at least sort out where and why I’d landed where I had.  I’d spend this time alone to consider and ponder – people, events, happenings – and to unfold what might have caused these questions to flare up or resurface.  Answers rarely materialized.  In most cases, I believe – deep down – I knew I didn’t “fit in.”  But, settling in and occupying space in various places or situations just seemed to be “the right thing to do” (plus, doing so ensured the bills would be paid).   So, extinguishing these questions or other conflicting thoughts assisted me in aligning with “the right thing to do.”  Strolling down the “chosen” career path – one that appeared to allow entry into what appeared to be a new and different “adventure” every four years – seemed to make the most sense.

Working for someone else has consistently baffled me – creating confusion and challenges.  Taking up residence in those traditional-type settings – job descriptions, hierarchies, restrictions on vacation and sick time – did not allow my free-spirit – filled with unique or unusual ideas – to meander in the way it was designed.  Initially, selecting and remaining in a field of study (Marketing) that was highly intriguing and offered many opportunities to gather, grasp, and interpret the human thought process was extremely rewarding and insightful.  However, embedded in these cultures – even within smaller organizations – were way too many rules, regulations, titles, hierarchies and reporting structures which dampened and hampered any real creativity and squelched any momentum toward execution of those ideas.

Being raised in an extremely traditional family/lifestyle, my desire to “break away” – maybe even rebel130520.womma_ – began to surface shortly after my father’s passing when I was 16 years of age.  During that period of time, nothing made sense – so, trying anything (even failing at) offered an option or alternative.  Actually, truth be told, my inner spirit craved to be set free of the structured, unexplained and angst-ridden life I was subsisting within at that time.  The series of twists and turns this event evoked would propel me into a continual, never-ending life of questioning – a constant search for meaning.

Little did I realize at the time, that although I had been deposited into a structured, guided life, the fragileness of human existence (and my father’s passing) offered me the possibility of wiggling out and trying on new and different aspects of life which might not have been encased in my on-going existence.

Throughout my career, it seemed natural for me (despite the reluctancy and hesitation of others) to:

  • Apply for (and be invited to interview for – even land) jobs I was barely 40% qualified for;
  • Create numerous positions (3) for myself within a tight/traditional organizational structure;
  • Negotiate self-driven/directed work hours;
  • Elect to commute between two work locations in two states (every two weeks) just so I could work with a specific boss/manager/team;
  • Find unique methods for coaching, guiding and managing my manager; and
  • Select (or even create) specific projects I specifically desired to work on.

Despite all of my efforts at this “work style creativity,” I remained perplexed – by the environment, the spirit/nature/ attitude of others, and much more while working within these highly formalized and structured traditional (Industrial Age hang-over) settings.

Now, years later and with a much healthier outlook and focus – feeling like I “fit in” – I’ve found my way to a fascinating book that not only situates my questioning in a new and different light…but, puts rational, productive teeth into answers that offer concepts, terms, attitudes, and approaches to re-stitch my understanding.  While reading this book, I was thrilled (and even felt vindicated) to learn the sources of my feelings of alienation – in those Industrial Age settings.

In his new book,“Why Employees Are Always a Bad Idea”, Chuck Blakeman offers terms, phrases, and concepts that explained the reason for my feelings of not “fitting in” – I am more of a creative Capitalist who managed to wind up in workplace structures driven by Industrial Age mores.  On his web site, Blakeman offers the type of environment I’ve been seeking much of my work life…a place that offered support (and a culture) to allow ME to be ME…a place where I could find meaning for myself and contribute to a world within which I co-exist.  Blackman encourages us to…


  • With no titles, no departments, no corporate ladder, no office hours, unlimited vacation time, and profit sharing for everyone.
  • That invites the whole person to work, not just the part tied to the machine.
  • Where leaders hire people they will never have to manage. In fact, where there are no employees or managers at all, just Stake Holders.
  • With no written policies or HR department, because rules destroy creativity.
  • Where the driving force is Making Meaning, not just money, and as a result, everyone makes a lot more of both.

It goes without saying…we now live in a very different world.  That being said, regardless of our generation, age or stature in life, we each need to continually remember (and embrace the fact) that we own the ability to “grant ourselves permission” to identify and be who we are – even at work.d-man-who-you-illustration-person-holding-question-mark-standing-phrase-rendering-human-people-character-44176547

Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock

Graphic credits:  http://www.gocomics.com/theargylesweater/2015/05/30, www.internationalmuseum.com, www.tomfishburne.comwww.dreamstime.com

WHO OWNS THE RULES…bare feet, armpits and ties?

Several weeks ago, after my last class, I walked to the bus stop as I customarily do a couple of times a week.  With the bus waiting post and the surrounding space in sight, something unusual caught my attention.  My vision caught what appeared to be another human being patiently awaiting the next bus.  This seemed a bit unusual…as most days I’m the only one waiting at that particular stop.  As I approached, my eyes focused in on an extremely relaxed looking individual – ash blonde hair tightly pulled back beyond the face and wrapped into a neat frizzy bouncing ball – who stood beneath the bus post sign.  Although still technically winter at the time, it appeared temperatures had sufficiently risen to offer a warm enough climate for this individual to don khaki shorts and a non-adorned sweatshirt/hoodie.  As I glanced down, I noticed the feet were bare – shoeless.  The image in front of me appeared a bit angelic – familiar in a way.  Suddenly, I remembered those mystical portraits representing Jesus that had caught my eye in the past.  We waited side-by-side.  As the bus approached, a look that could melt butter came over this individual’s face as he deeply gestured for me to board ahead of him.  Once seated mid-bus, my ears picked-up on a conversation that had ensued between the driver and this cherubic passenger.

DRIVER:  “You CAN’T board the bus without shoes.”
PASSENGER:  “I don’t have shoes; and I’ve ridden other buses today and in the past.”
DRIVER:  “The RULE is ALL passengers MUST wear shoes; you might stumble, cut your foot, etc.”
PASSENGER:  “That won’t happen; I watch where I’m going; and I’m very careful.”
DRIVER:  Aggressively grabs his radio; contacts the dispatcher (his supervisor) and explains the situation.
SUPERVISOR:  “It is at the discretion of the driver.”
DRIVER:  Slams the radio down and sternly orders this peace-filled passenger “Sit right there; do not move; do not go anywhere else until ready to depart.”

Wow; what just happened?  My thoughts began to shimmy…  Who makes the rules?  Who enforces them?  Where are they written down?  Where does one learn them?  How is one to know them…particularly within a culture as diverse as a college campus?

For me, this incident activated (actually rekindled) a month long series of “curiosities” I’d been pondering and mulling over…about rules – not the written down and enforceable kind that legally bind us, but the kind most (or at least many) of us follow each and every day – unquestioned, unchallenged…rotely…somewhat like those famous lemmings from the old fable…

Urban usage:    a person who unthinkingly joins a mass movement, especially a headlong rush to destruction.  Example:  “the flailings of the lemmings on Wall Street”

Insights posed during my Sociology class resurfaced…causing me to further journey down this intriguing path.  During class, the professor presented and spoke about sociological concepts.  One topic in particular was the arena of “social norms.”  As an example, she specifically pointed out the rote behavior of women (mostly US) when it came to shaving their arm pits (and their legs, for that matter).  Although I contained myself, inside I screamed YIKES, SHE’S RIGHT!!  Men don’t shave their underarms (or their legs…unless, of course, they’re professional cyclists).  So, why do women?  If it doesn’t make sense, then why do we do it, why do we continue, and why can’t we stop?  As one who faithfully (without questioning) adheres to this particular norm/protocol, I began to wonder.  Why do I do it?  Why don’t I stop?  How did this activity get started?  Plus, why do so many of us just keep doing it – even though it appears a bit senseless.  Here’s what I learned:

Who decided women should shave their legs and underarms?

What’s it like to be a woman who does not shave armpits who is living in a country where almost all
women do shave their armpits?

Naturally, I couldn’t just let the concept of “senseless” acts or behaviors rest or stop there.  I started to think about and reflect on many other “human” type activities – especially within the United States – engages in that seem silly or unnecessary and wondered how they got their start.  Take for example, have you ever wondered why men wear  ties – even in warm climates and in today’s more casual environments…

Of course, the many examples I unfolded within the United States intrigued me (especially since I adhere to many of the “norms” or “customs” I unfolded).  So, I decided to explore a few “norms” or “customs” within other countries… and wondered what it might feel like to if they entered into our world (US) from their’s.  Here are just a few:

  • 8 Cultural Differences between America And Other Countries
    • Norwegians eat burgers with (gasp!) a knife and fork. Norway’s famous open-faced sandwiches are tough to eat without silverware, so they probably just decided to apply the habit to American sandwiches as well.
    • In Japan, you might feel pressure to cover your abdomen during a rainstorm. Some people (mostly kids) say that in bad weather, the thunder god Raijin is on the hunt for belly buttons.
    • Indians might avoid giving you a gift or your change with their left hand. Some argue it’s fine, but others say the left hand is known as the one you use for… you know… the potty.
    • Colombian schoolchildren learn there are five continents, not seven. The specifics vary from nation to nation, but one popular interpretation lumps North and South America together as one continent called “America” and counts Europe and Asia together as “Eurasia.”
    • Chinese potty training takes place in the streets. In certain rural parts of the country, it’s apparently acceptable for kids to relieve themselves wherever they please. To make things easier, pants even come with cute little slits in the booty!
  • 30 Non-Americans On The American Norms They Find WeirdThere is no normal: Norm hated the new motivational poster and it hated him.

Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock

Graphic credits: http://www.cartoonstock.com, http://www.shsu.edu




DECEPTION…a way of life…??

As I sat in those expansive auditoriums soaking up details about brain processes – particularly learning and memory – along with social implication of our actions, I became mesmerized by certain key words and concepts.  In light of recent events (Robert McDonald, Brian Williams, Lance Armstrong, Bernie Madoff, and so many others), these processes put a strong-hold on me and held my attention and curiosity.  In simplistic form…these processes include:


As I stared at these basics and even dug deeper into the process details, I could not help but wonder how – given the true biological way in which our brains operate – is it possible for an individual to encounter, experience, and recall, replay, or retell events in a much different way from how that specific event actually occurred.

MY BOSS TOLD MELittle white lies aside, I paused to ponder if there had ever been a time in my life when the relaying of a personal experience or observation had not been fact-based – not told exactly as it had occurred (and was verifiable by others).  Had I ever been “motivated” to distort or fabricate facts (or the truth) of an event or situation?  If so, what might have inspired me to do so – an ideal job, fame, friends, cash?  Was that inspirational element worth the compromise of my principles, integrity or sense of self?  Despite my desire to understand through personal experience, I was unable to uproot any examples.

Although distortions, miscommunications, misrepresentations, dishonesty – call it what you may – lurk and lie in wait…attempting to influence and impact many aspects of our lives – from sports to investing to journalism and even to government – much weighs heavily on how we present and represent ourselves – especially in the details we each choose to include on items such as our resume or CV (curriculum vitae).

As someone who has assisted others in job search preparation including market strategizing, search techniques, and particularly the gathering, compiling and presenting of work experience and details, I’ve never encounter distortions, fabrication or even deception (verifiable through job specific contact checks) on the part of those I’ve chosen as clients.  Actually, my encounters have been just the opposite – my clients have consistently been reluctant or hesitant to even “boast” about or elaborate on their experiences and credentials.  Oftentimes, when I’ve proposed a change in verbiage or a sentence realignment in order to convey a more engaging, powerful execution statement of their acquired or innate skill…they tended to cringe or express hesitancy in making and embracing the suggested change.  When I’ve probed why, they’ve shared that it’s due to their commitment to be true to themselves and their understanding/perception of the positions they held rather than out of a fear of “being caught.”

Apparently, this type of response or behavior is not the “norm.”  In a piece published on LinkedIn by Rob Wyse, he states that ”…lying on resumes is common.”  In a study (2002) of 7,000 executive resumes conducted by a recruiter he worked with, “23% of executives misrepresented accomplishments” and “Of those that misrepresent them, 64% exaggerated accomplishments.”

'Push'n 50, but ya still got it!!'Given this – along with the many recent (and ongoing) missteps by influential individuals that continue to permeate our culture – I wonder if deception has become a way of life…the “new norm”?  If so, are we – as a society – willing to accept that type of behavior?  How would we feel if a heart surgeon lied about his credentials; or a pilot (see Catch Me If You Can) about his flight skills and cockpit hours?    Is that what we as a society are desirous of supporting, encouraging, and continuing?  If not, how do each of us find our way to not only sharing our viewpoint but inspiring others to articulate fact-based narratives of the lives we experience and witness?

Maybe, as shared by Dr. Deborah Khoshaba in her article “Self-Deception:  A Defense Against Vulnerability”…it’s okay for each of us to “relax”…and

“Enjoy being an everyday person.  “…give yourself permission to be normal.”

Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock

EATING…a learned art form

As a student of life (and seasoned marketing professional), I’m continually on the lookout (and constantly intrigued by) demonstrations of human beings in the act of living.  A favorite arena for human behavioral encounters is my weekly grocery shopping expedition.  I’m especially captivated by the latest “natural” or “organic” indoctrination.  Many stores – particularly major chains – in the hopes of not being “left behind” have now moved, expanded, and identified their “organic” produce so it prominently besieges (or encircles) you as you cross into the store’s oasis.  Oftentimes, the “organic-ness” of it all scares me a bit.  I wonder what might happen if the item’s “organic” nature (especially potatoes with their tentacles) becomes anatomically inclined and reaches out to grab or hug me as I attempt to enter and wander past…

I observe many folks in the throes of this “organic” movement, “blindly” grabbing items off shelves and placing them in their carts – no squeezing, no smelling, no label-reading, no identifying country of origin – nothing that would suggest they’ve imbibed in the aroma of fresh “organically-cured” (that’s still manure, right?) “straight from the farm” wafting through their air passages.

Mind you, I’m not anti-organic…but, (more…)

DOES CULTURE influence what we’re taught about courage and success??

As my exploration into and my intrigue with Cultural Anthropology continues…and I entertain the pursuit of an advanced degree in this discipline – I’ve observed that many academic programs “encourage” (often require) students to journey beyond their own borders for extended periods of time…to explore and research remote corners of the universe – places such as Africa, Malaysia, even Indonesia to name a few.

Traveling and spending months in various parts of the world – Costa Rica, Greece, Scotland, etc. – over the years definitely provided incredible opportunities to gain (more…)