Words & Banter

Are Coasting?!

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Everyone talks about having a plan, but why is it when you look back, you realize that almost nothing went according to plan? (We've been there – done that – and one day may sell the tee-shirts!) And whenever Black tells audiences that life never goes as planned, everyone nods in agreement, and she then proceeds to explain how planning ahead is backward thinking. (Another tee shirt?)

Our business venture is a good example. It started when Black turned Red's crisis into a book – a business – a brand (what are sisters for?!), and planned for the book to be the basis of a sitcom – not take on a life of its own. Black explained to Red, countless times, that successful sitcoms have always been relationship-based. And we had lots of "characters", starting with the cookie-baking, stay-at-home, warm and fuzzy, mom and her older sister, a very pragmatic (and sarcastic) retired business executive who raced Ferraris and likes to ask lots of questions.

But we ended up taking some eye-opening detours on our way to Hollywood. Starting with the education world and then when we thought we couldn't get any further from Hollywood, we found ourselves (well, really, our book) in the world of criminal justice. (Really, you can't make this stuff up … well, you can, but we didn't.)

And today? Well, besides having lots more stories to tell (including how we became "animated"), we're facing the dilemma many of us sometimes face in life … what now? In this month's column, "RED & BLACK … Are Coasting?!," we talk about the challenge of trying to balance the desire to "throttle on" (as Black would say) with having to be patient (not our strong suit) to see where the road (or possibly the next detour) will lead.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

When Red first heard Black talking about the importance of "soft skills," she didn't even know what she was referring to, let alone that they would be important to her life. So, Black explained that it was a term used to describe intangible but essential skills, such as critical thinking and problem-solving, communications, and conflict management.

Red, trying to be sarcastic, then asked if there was such a thing as “hard skills,” Black matter-of-factly told her those are tangible and technical skills such as computer skills.

Of course, Black couldn’t pass up an opportunity for sarcasm and explained that although there’s consensus about the importance of soft skills, there’s debate about what they should be called, with her favorite being the Texas Education Agency (TEA) calling them "21st Century Skills" – although she's old enough to remember they were important in the 20th Century, too.

But would anyone call them “Mom Skills”? Well, Red couldn’t help but remember the time Black told her, “Your job is every bit as demanding as a corporate position, and, in fact, you use many of the same skill sets.”Not something Red could ever have imagined, but it made sense once she better understood what soft skills are and how they are used. But then Black took it a step further,

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Red was your typical straight-A student, getting great grades starting in kindergarten straight through to graduating from college.(Black’s grades were less than stellar, plus she was a discipline problem – some things never change.) And then, excited and proud of herself, Red thought she was done. Black, on the other hand, thinks of education as something that never ends, and much to the chagrin of students, will tell them,

Homework never ends; it just is called “research” when you get older.

Over the last few years, Red has come around to Black’s way of thinking and realizes it’s a mindset. And that education is more than the classes you take in school.

September is when students of all ages are back in school, but it’s also National Literacy Month, which is about so much more than reading and writing. Literacy includes things like Digital Literacy, Financial Literacy, Health Literacy, and even News Literacy. (As the linked Conversation Starters indicate, Red was the “poster child” of a highly educated person who lacked many of these basic literacy skills.)

So, we challenge you to find a topic that interests you or one you could benefit from learning (personally or professionally) and start doing your homework.

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For many of us, Labor Day marks the end of summer (temperatures aside), and as we switch from a summer holiday mindset back to the “real world”, we can’t help but feel overwhelmed.

You don’t need us to tell you how falling back into a work or school routine can be challenging, especially if you’re facing a backlog of tasks and responsibilities. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, the “silly season” is just around the corner. (Red has been seeing Halloween decorations since mid-July, which means Thanksgiving and all the winter holidays aren’t far behind.)

But you don’t need us to tell you why you feel overwhelmed; you need help dealing with being overwhelmed.

When our new website goes live next year, one of the major sections will be THE DAILY HELP, where you’ll find easy-to-implement tools to get your day back on track and feel more in control.

But that doesn’t help you … NOW. So, here are a handful of our favorite posts to help you deal with daily challenges we all face. (Red admits that she picked the ones she felt she needed to reread.)

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