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This was my side discussion in the Whales are Here post yesterday. I rewrote the end several times yesterday and felt I was just going in circles without hitting the point. Peter and I were talking last night and he gave me the right end. Here is the whole post-rewritten.
I listen to podcasts as I run. Today I heard one about “extreme jobs”. That’s what I used to have and don’t want again! They were talking that companies are concerned because of burn out rates. They actually also referred to “brown out” where someone doesn’t quit but becomes less effective. A few of the characteristics of an extreme job include:
- Working 60+ hours a week
- Traveling often including global travel
- Having P&L responsibility
- Working with people globally (i.e. meetings with India at 9pm)
- Spend more time with co-workers than spouse and kids
I don’t remember the others but there were 7 or 8 of them. Most people I know in Silicon Valley fit several of these groups. People who haven’t experienced several of these things really don’t understand an extreme job.
I know I’ve slowed down here. My health shows it. I’ve now gotten to the point that I can finally actually analyze issues to resolve them. The last few nights I’ve had a hard time sleeping through the night. I couldn’t figure out why and it was starting to drive Peter crazy. He immediately thought it was that I was stressed because of my new career. I told him that there is a little anxiety but not stress. I would just wake up at 2:30 and be thinking about a million things.
You won’t believe what it turned out to be. Almost every night I play a game of Sudoku before going to sleep. It helps me relax; I often don’t finish before I drift off. I had finished all the easy, moderate and tough puzzles in my book and was into the diabolical! They strained my brain; actually I found I finished them faster if I would just guess than figure out the diabolic pattern. But somehow it was not having the effect I needed. I bought a new book and am back to doing easy/moderate puzzles… and I’m sleeping through the night again.
If something as simple as the toughness of Sudoku can change your sleep patterns, what does an extreme job do to you? Yes, many people thrive off them but they also don’t always recognize when/why they are having issues. I know I didn’t. I knew I would survive. Much like the frog in a pot of cool water. You stay and think you are surviving but slowly the water boils. In real life it brings frustration, inability to focus, depression, cancer and other physical issues. I used to tell my friends and employees “Don’t expect your boss to take care of you . You are the only one that knows what you need to do. Companies will drain you dry and ask for more. “
I’m very glad I took the opportunity and jumped. I also am glad that along the way I took opportunities to cool off the boiling water. Here are a few of my suggestions… send in your own!
- Always have a vacation planned. If I didn’t have one planned before I left this was my first priority on return. Having something to look forward to really keeps you grounded.
- Plan vacations such that you are 100% out of contact. No email, no phones. Think about leaving your computer at home. I learned this lesson early in career when I agreed to interview for a position while on vacation in Hawaii. It was another position in the same company and I knew most the interviewers so I wasn’t too worried. However, it totally ruined my whole week – just thinking about it and worrying about the outcome. I swore I’d never do that again. You earned a REAL VACATION.
- If you absolutely must have contact, allocate a specific time to it. Tell people “I will be checking my email/voicemail once a day at 8am. I will only be responding to things flagged urgent.”
- Establish mentoring relationships with people both inside/outside your company. It is great how a friend outside your “work group” who can understand “extreme jobs” can add a great perspective to your “crisis du jour”.
- Another fun vacation trick I did. This took a tiny bit of time but was SO telling of how we use our time. On returning from vacation, I would face 1000’s of email messages. I took only the messages addressed to me and I organized them into 2 groups 1) Response or input still required and 2) Issue resolved. According to my stats, less than 5% of my email didn’t resolve itself within 3 days.
- Take classes or attend seminars at least 1/quarter. It may not seem that you pick much up from the class or seminar itself but just adding a different perspective will cool the water.
Send your ideas and suggestions and I’ll add them to the post.
I just haven’t had much to say. I’ve been busy with finishing painting the master bedroom, taking my Hawaiian culture classes, doing additional study of Hawaiian online and taking real estate courses. And I’ve been working out daily and trying to watch what I eat resulting in 4 lbs lost!
The master bedroom had been a thorn in my side. I had a concept but I couldn’t develop it into a vision. For days, I was testing paint colors and techniques. The wall would look like a huge montage which I would paint over and start again! Finally, I just decided to do it. I mixed various paints I had in beige, blue, brown and off white to get what I call “Latte”. I painted 3 walls using a combing and swirl technique before I ran out of Latte color. I noticed that the technique used, looked different in the areas that I’d been experimenting so I had to do some fudging to make it look kind of the same. The last wall was the wall that the headboard is on. I decided to paint it in a teal color which worked out great and I love it. I still don’t think that the bedspread, curtains and wall match very well but Peter says they all look blue. I’d change one out except that the variations are different based on what time of the day you look at it. So I’ll keep it as is for now…but still need to hang pictures.
My Hawaiian culture class meets once a week and is lots of fun. It has really been expanding my view of my role in the world. Hawaiians feel a strong tie to land but stronger tie to ancestors. It is often said that Hawaiians look like they look through someone rather than at them. It is true to some extent because Hawaiians feel that they are representatives of their ancestors; they do recognize that many are bad representatives! During one story the instructor (Kahu) was telling, it suddenly occurred to me that I’d been carrying a grudge for many years. I was really upset when my dad decided to sell our family home in Cambridge to the hospital. The land for the hospital had been donated by my ancestors and this just seemed absurd for them to take it from our family. I thought about buying the house myself but that was impractical because I was living in California. I understand why my parents no longer wanted to live there but I could not understand why I was so emotional about it. During Kahu’s story, I realized that my tie wasn’t to the house but to my grandfather and the his love of the land that he had taught me. During the year that Dad was in Vietnam, we lived with Grandma and Grandpa in this house. Grandpa would tend to the garden and taught me how to plant and harvest vegetables, use fish heads as fertilizers and tell stories of the old farm. I didn’t know it then, but those were precious times and made me into the gardener I am today. We are stewards of the land and need to protect it and care for it the same way our ancesters did.
Ok – some Hawaiian culture trivia. Maui literally means “to bruise” or is associated with the pain that comes with change. (We’ve felt that!) But Maui is more often associated with a story of a demi-god. There was a sickly child of Hina who she named Maui. As was often done at that time, the child was pushed to his death before his 1st birthday. Legend was that he was taken by the jellyfish to live in the depths of ocean with his father Kanaola – the god of the ocean. But Maui refuses to stay and after several years tries to attains immortality for all by sneaking back into the womb of his mother. He is not successful but is considered a mischievous demi-god! Throughout the Polynesian cultures, similar stories of Maui exist.
So in addition to taking the class, I’ve decided to try to learn some Hawaiian. There is a good set of free internet based training available at http://ksdl.ksbe.edu/kulaiwi/index.html
Peter and I have both been listening; he picks it up much faster than I do!
So I’ve started my real estate training through an online self-paced course. I can not tell you how boring this course is. The instructor reads the charts and repeats everything 14 times. I’ve finished 3 of 27 chapters. Peter even complains about how dreadful he is! Oh well, everyone says that the point is to get through it. Yes, there are other methods of taking the class but this is the one that fit in with my schedule the best so I’ll have to deal with it. Good thing is that that you can skip some of his droning as long as total hours add up to 60.
We’re going diving tomorrow. It’s been a long time so I’m excited.
I continue to be amused by the differences between Maui and Silicon Valley. Here are a few funnies I’ve observed.
Every morning on the news, they end with “Only x days until Friday”.
On Friday’s, you can not turn the radio on without hearing the song “It’s Aloha Friday“. It’s one of those tunes that sticks in your head. It’s Aloha Friday, no work till Monday. Doo be doo, doo doo be, doo be doo be doo be doo! The song is one of those where people change the lyrics of the versus to meet their own circumstances.
I have not noticed that more people wear aloha shirts on Fridays which is how “Aloha Friday” first started back in the 1940’s. Maybe you’d see it in Honolulu but here on Maui, people wear Aloha shirts every day. One note on that though — there are vacation Aloha shirts and local Aloha shirts. Vacation Aloha shirts are characterized by those that would only be bought and worn by someone who had no intent to wear them except to drink Mai Tai’s on the beach in Hawaii (kind of like the bridesmaid’s dress that you would NEVER wear again). Think Fuschia pink with 15″ palm trees and pineapples.
There was a good one in the Police Scanner report this week. 11:45 Little Beach Stung by jellyfish, a nude 45-year-old male breaking out in hives and is going into shock. Medics climb over Makena hill to go get him. I advise anyone visiting Hawaii and going to a beach to check the jellyfish report. We only have jellyfish 1-2 days a month as determined by the lunar calendar – 8 days after full moon. Advice is especially true of those wanting to visit a nude beach!
Ok, this one isn’t Mauism, but still made me chuckle. I’ve been taking DBM’s classes on entrepenuership and retirement. The retirement class talks a lot about 2nd careers so it has been interesting. They categorize retirement success in 6 areas and one of them is Life Meaning. They had an exercise called “It may be time to move on.” Ok, what would you think? My reaction was that this was a Dr. Kevorkian test!
A new term in our vocabulary is MaiTai Sunset. It’s kind of like eskimos having twentysome different words for snow; in Hawaii we have different definitions of sunsets. We had a MaiTai sunset the other day. Peter was making dinner and I was hanging shower curtains when we both simultaneously saw the sunset. Our reaction was “Quick – make a Mai Tai!”. Peter’s reaction would usually be “quick grab my camera” but this sunset was different. It was the colors of a mai tai filling the sky with yellows, oranges and pinks. It was the glittery glimmer that looked like someone painted a line across the tops of the clouds with a light pen. The sun dropped and colors of the sky intensified. It was a magic moment.
Peter says I’ll be more chatty in my blog. I don’t think so… that’s why I named it The Maui Minute. If I don’t keep it short, I won’t keep it up! I’m a strong believer that the things that make us truly happy in life are the magic moments however small and insignificant. This is to capture those moments and occasionally attack the crazy things in life that make us unable to see magic moments.