Friday, October 13, 2006

Random Thoughts Again

  • This blog's content is very different than I anticipated. I thought it would be more of a travelog, but it's much more of a journal. Cool.

  • Great article on leadership and science and even faith a little bit this morning in the News and Observer. I'd like to meet this guy. He seems to have done really well at the things I struggle with.

  • The Hokie game sucked last night. The offensive line played terribly and the defensive line got no pressure on their QB. It is very rare that a VT football team gets out-efforted, but last night was one of them. We need some leadership from within the team to step up and straigten things out. (This is the kind of brillance I was expecting from this blog). However, I look forward to the game next weekend against Southern Miss. 7 pm kickoff leaves time for good tailgating, and Southern Miss is the type of team we need to play and beat. For the last 20 years, no one has played harder game in and game out than USM.

  • I'm really into the new Natasha Bedingfield song. It runs SO against my normal musical tastes to like this song, but the lyrics really strike a chord with me for some reason. Every once in a while, a pop song does this to me. The last one was Mmm..Bop by Hansen. Anyway, I first heard the song when a couple who sings at church every few months sang it. It's catchy and the lyrics really make me think and feel good. Which I need.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Little Things

Here is the "inspirational speech" I wrote for my leadership class a few weeks ago. I found this ridiculous cartoon on the web as an illustration for the blog. It cracks me up.

I'd like to talk to you about "the little things"

I struggle with little things. I like big ideas, the bigger the idea, the more I get excited. So as I wrestled with which of my big ideas to talk about with you today, I got a wake up call. On Monday morning, as I was rushing off to work, I stopped to give my wife a little kiss. She stopped me and said "No, I need a hug. What if something happens to you and you don't make it home today. This is important.

A hug - a small thing, but potentially hugely important.

We spend a lot of time chasing big things, ignoring the little things: stopping to say good morning to a coworker, promptly returning a call or e-mail from a customer or small vendor, helping a technician with a question...but maybe we should stop and think what we're doing.

In our last class together, I introduced a concept by Buckminster Fuller called the "trim tab". Fuller was a futurist famous for the geodesic dome, or "bucky-ball" amoung other things. He spend his time coming up with big ideas about how to insure the sustainability of the human race.

The trim-tab is a small rudder-like device placed on the corener of the main rudder of a plane or a ship. The main rudder is large and takes a lot of energy to turn. The trim tab is smaller, so it needs less energy to turn, but it leads the larger rudder around. It makes a hard task easier.

I like the idea of the trim tab. Fuller believed we should all be looking for "trim tabs" in the world around us: small actions that can bring about big change. So maybe, the little things are the ones that can make the most difference. Maybe saying good morning gives you and your coworker the perspective to carry through the day. Maybe you start a relationship with the small vendor that grows to be key for the company. Maybe the conversation with the coworker brings a key change to an important process.

Like I said, I'm into big ideas. I'll end with a story about grad school. Those who know me know I tell a lot of stories about grad school. I used to go see a friend in his lab to talk about our favorite things: baseball, beer, whatever. There were several sign in his lab that read "Lab Philosophy: Leav things a little better than you found them." This wasn't put their by a budding philospher, nor was it an official democratically approved lab mantra. THe person who put it up was a mentally unstable control freak. But maybe she had a point.

I believe we are here to make a positive impact on the earth and the people living on it. Maybe the best way we can do that is by paying attention to the little things.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Life's a Journey, not a Destination - Chris' version

As many of you know, I've been thinking a lot about what I want to be when I grow up. Today I had a couple of thoughts about it. I know what kind of things motivate me: working with people, hearing about their thoughts and dreams, teaching and mentoring, and seeing connections and the big picture. Science and engineering are my skills, but I only get satisfaction out of them when I can use them for these other things. You also may know about my affection for all things Rob Bell (Michigan preacher, see more below). Since I have a long commute, I listen to one of his sermons almost every morning. A couple things he said to me this morning (through my iPod and car stereo, paraphrased):

  • God made this earth and everything in it and empowered us to be creative and cultivate his creation. God, the creator, made us in his image, to create. He made this creation vast and wide and deep, loaded with possibility and potential, in order for us to all find our own we to create and thereby connect with him.

  • He quoted someone else saying to be bored ("to not stir oneself") is to say that God never created or redeemed anything of worth, including yourself. Wow.

Here is my big thought to bring it together: Life's a journey, not a destination. Familiar quote. But if you're stagnant (and/or bored?), how can you be on a journey? Hopefully, more to come.