A Line of Production

Every now and then, I find myself being productive.

It happens not out of preparation, nor is it borne of any guilt, intrigue, or opportunity. And there is plenty of guilt within to motivate me if that actually worked. No, rather it’s an urge, a sudden realisation that I am already within the productive mode and a feeling that, well I’m here now, so let’s just do as much as possible and ride the wave.

This is a magical time where rooms are cleaned, doors and drawers are fixed, overdue appointments are booked, and so on. These periods of being productive take a lot of weight off the to do list, which is great for everyone involved.

I guess this seems like an odd thing to be writing about this week, right? I’m not the kind of person that gets off on getting shit done, which is one of the characteristics which frustrates me about myself. I doubt myself, distract myself, confuse myself, and convince myself that everything will be sorted on another day, at another time, or in another place. So when I’m in the midst of manic productivity, I try and use it to the best of my ability.

One of the few things that I have noticed over the years which sends me into this mode is responsibility. An overwhelming sense of obligation. If my inaction (or action) is going to affect other adversely, I am triggered into it. and God help you if you get in my way once I’m there.

I feel like the reason I’m sharing this thought with you today, is that as much as I hate that I am programmed like this, and despite my efforts to change otherwise, I’ve learned to work with it. When I’m not feeling productive, I do my best to enjoy the downtime. Use it, harness it to recharge, to build myself up for the challenges ahead.

This isn’t a happy story, but maybe a helpful one.

Guise.

A Moment Defined (Vol.1)

This time last year, I had just rejected an extension to my employment contract after two long years at the same company. It was a decision I didn’t make lightly. Although the work was frustrating and change seemed impossible there, it was a comfortable job with great benefits (not so much the remuneration).

When I came into the job, it was off the back of feeling like a failure leaving the job before. Caveat to this, I must mention that when I look back now, three years on, I no longer believe myself to have failed, rather I achieved as much as I could despite the barriers outside of my control.

So feeling like a failure, for the second time in two jobs, I started in a role I was barely qualified for. Responsible for more than I’d ever been responsible for before, unsure of my knowledge and capability, I was at a point doubting that I was ever capable of succeeding in my field. But over the space of 2 years, I had the leader that I needed. One who was willing to be strong at the right times, and trusted me to make mistakes and learn from them. 24 months of being empowered proved to be everything I needed. And so I reached a point where I could learn no more from that leader. We had reached the max of what could be achieved in that dynamic.

With that in tow, I turned down the extension. I left that employer with nowhere to go, but not empty-handed. I entered a difficult labour market with 2 years more experience and all the confidence that I could hold. I was employable, at the very least. But I wasn’t just looking for employment. i wanted somewhere that I could make a difference, somewhere that I could feel the culture just through the recruitment process, which had the right pieces of the puzzle in the right places.

But two months without a job and multiple interviews each week without finding that place hits that confidence like a sack of sh…eets.

Thankfully I found the place I was looking for shortly after that two month mark, and almost a year on, I’m still very happy and optimistic. But this is a short story of defining moments, and whilst there have been a number of defining moments in my life, today is appreciates this one.

Back yourself. Sometimes in life we need to jump into the dark and trust our instincts (based on fact). At times, hindsight will help us to regret these decisions, but even with that, we know we made the decision for the right reason.

Guise.

The Death of Opinion

With Google’s DeepMind and IBM’s Watson only a couple of the major Artificial Intelligence systems currently growing and changing, we need to recognise that it is only a matter of time before these systems learn and absorb facts and data at such an exponential rate that humanity is launched into a renaissance of knowledge. 

While the reality of the machine uprising and termination of human life is a possible consequence of this development, I’m interested in another great loss. When these systems absorb all of the world’s truth, all that we will deal with is fact. Speculation and opinion will cease to be relevant. 

So then, what does a human existence without opinion look like? For starter, we can do away with politicians, because when interpretation of best interests is trumped by pure output of facts by AI, we will not need elected representatives spinning words for meaning. Each meaning will be but simple truth. 

Working life will change also, in that, there would likely be little purpose for human workers, as the AI will have the capacity to think,  solve complex problems and adapt to the most efficient and effective form of conduct possible. 

Where does that leave currency? Without a workforce, the purpose of currency will be rendered useless, effectively wiping the class systems in the majority of countries in the world. 

It will be the end of civil and religious wars. The end of true privacy. The end of human life as we know it, but maybe not altogether. 

A world where science fiction meets reality. 

I welcome it. At the end of the day, we just as likely to head towards our own destruction at the will of man anyway. If we’re going to do it, we might aswell do it right. 

Guise. 

Cynicism and Optimism

When did I become so cynical?

It’s something I’ve noticed recently, that amidst all the click bait, celebrity relationship drama, and “it’s just a prank bro” clips filling my Facebook feed, I have come to accept that I hate other people. It leaves me bewildered, searching for the answer to when I stopped seeing the best in people, basically, when I stopped giving as much of a shit as I used to.

As a teenager, I was wound more tightly than hospital sheets. I was anxious, nervous, and highly insecure… so pretty much like 80% of teenagers (I assume, anyway. Just go along with it for the sake of this piece).

And so, eventually I finished school, got a job, started studying, got a different job, got promoted, finished studying, got another job, and so on.  My job exposes me to the best and worst of people every day, but then again, whose job doesn’t? Somewhere along that way though, things changed. I was no longer who I used to be. I no longer had control over being the playful optimist I had once been, as life was now in the way.

But I guess that’s the beauty of optimism. It is inherently biased to highlight the points which you actually want to remember, beer helps with those other memories. Hidden in the opportunist concoction of hindsight and artistic licence is the reality of mediocrity and underwhelming chronicles. We too often remember fondly of our past, not always willing, or capable, of distinguishing the merit to our rosy re-creation.

This is where I am at now, trying to find the best of both of me, the real cynic, and the playful optimist. Seeking out how to balance the scales by recognising each side of me and adapting my style depending on the situation. Knowing when to be positive, and trust in optimistic power, but also when to bite the bullet and know that the cynic grounds my perceptions, and keeps me close to reality.

For the record, I don’t actually hate other people, it’s more a compelling frustration.

Guise

Do you have something to say about the roles of cynicism and optimism in your lives, contact @guiseside on Facebook or Twitter, or email at guiseside@gmail.com

Happiness

William Penn, the great philosopher once wrote, “The secret to happiness is to count your blessings, while others are busy counting their troubles”. Wise words from a man so historically significant that he has an entire region in North America named after him (Pennsylvania, for those that missed the boat on that one).

It seems like a pretty simple formula to understand whether or not we are happy in our lives. Appreciate the good, pay little attention to the bad, and always be grateful for the people and things that make your life what it is.

But I think the greatest difficulty, is the fact that a ‘blessing’ can be quite subjective. We are all programmed in different ways, so much so that we fuel debate simply as a result of various perceptions. Some people come to expect things, others learn to expect nothing. If you expect your neighbour to take out the bins for you, you will be disappointed and bitter towards them when they don’t do it for you. If you don’t expect such behaviour, your life remains unaltered by your neighbours inaction.

So it begs the question, have we as a society, come to expect too much?

Social media and mobile internet has taught us to expect answers and information at our fingertips at any given second of the day. We then get upset, anxious and frustrated when reception is weak or the internet runs slow.

So what blessings can you count in your life?

The love of your family or cherished other half? Service with a smile from the shop attendant who just helped you try on twelve pairs of shoes to find the right one? Good health? A home? … Life?

We’re all guilty of falling victim to our own expectations. We lose our touch on reality and forget to smell the roses.

Whether or not each of us want to break this habit is another story. Expectations bring hope and excitement. We FEEL when we are disappointed. We are brought back to our reality. Perhaps humanity needs to feel the highs and lows that expectations bring?

At the end of the day, we are but creatures of habit. I suppose that is what William Penn thought also,           “Experience is a safe guide”

Do you want to be safe, or do you want to live a life where you are challenged?

 

 

Guise