|Where did January go? Every day feels like Groundhog Day, but yet the months are flying by! Our January column was about "resets" instead of resolutions, so maybe we could expand on that and talk about self-improvement.|
|Instead of love, hearts, and Valentine's Day? Works for me.|
|Maybe we can tie the two concepts together – become a better person as a Valentine's Day gift to yourself?|
|Instead of looking at what needs improvement, what about learning to love – and accept – yourself?|
|That sounds rather arrogant, as I think it's safe to say that most of us could use some improvement.|
|Agree, but that puts the focus on what is wrong with us versus what is right.|
|Interesting thought, especially as I suspect that most of us underestimate, and undervalue, all the positive things we do. It's just so easy to get caught up in the "how to be better" mindset. Which can be overwhelming, as it becomes just one more thing you feel you need to do.|
|And, can set you up for failure versus success. Plus, everyone's personal circumstances are different, which is why I am suggesting self-acceptance versus comparing yourself to some other "ideal". Focus on positive traits. Then, build on those.|
|I like that! Especially since building on something you already do will probably take less time than trying to change and, let's face it, lately it seems that time's flying by even more quickly than usual.|
|Someone once told me, "The older you get, the quicker time flies." Which means we must use it wisely. Especially since none of us knows how much time we have left.|
|I know you're pragmatic, but that was painfully blunt. Especially given what's going on with the pandemic. In the past, most people preferred not to think about death, but now, at the risk of sounding dramatic, it's all around us and has touched so many people. It's so incredibly tragic.|
|Having loved ones die, especially untimely deaths, can have a powerful impact. Which is what happened to me growing up. It made me realize that the future is not a guarantee, but merely an incentive. And that, in turn, had a direct impact on my priorities. And, how I approach life.|
|I remember you telling me that. It certainly explained a lot of things, like what appeared to be your "devil-may-care" attitude. It helped me realize that a lot of your decisions, and actions, were based on your unusual perspective. I guess you can say that you live life based on your experience with death.|
|To some extent, but I see the bigger influence being how I want to be remembered at my funeral.|
|I'm not sure I even want to have this conversation, but I'll admit I'm curious. So, do you care to explain that remark?!|
|I believe you should live your life not concerned about what people think and say about you when you are alive. But instead, what they will say about you once you are gone.|
|Why would you care if you're no longer around?|
|By then, what you say you are going to do is a moot point. All that is left are your actions. And, they will speak louder than words. What did you do? Who did you help? Did you try to make a difference?|
|That's a very interesting attitude for someone who doesn't seem to care what people say about you when you're alive!|
|Is it? When people talk about the living, many focus on gossip and/or perceptions. People look at isolated incidents. Recent events or actions. However, when you remember those who are no longer here, you may have specific memories that stand out, but you remember the person. And, what they stood for. You remember them in terms of the life they lived.|
|You're right. Almost every night, Wolf Blitzer on CNN takes the last few minutes to memorialize victims of COVID-19 and he talks about the life they lived. I don't even know them, but it makes me realize how everyone can be special. And the ripple effect everyone has on the lives they've touched.|
|Do you remember the conversation we had years ago when we were returning from Cousin Frankie's funeral? We talked about all the incredible things that everyone was saying about him.|
|Absolutely! We weren't close to Frankie, but we learned so much about him by what other people said. He touched so many lives. I remember thinking that, in a strange way, knowing that helped comfort Aunt Maxine and Uncle Connie.|
|I remember the recurring sentiment was that he always let his family and friends know that he loved them.|
|Yes, I remember that, too. Since his death was so untimely and unexpected, that was such an amazing gift that he left the people he loved.|
|One of the greatest gifts you can give the people you love is to let them know that you love them. Especially because you never know if that will be the last chance you have to let them know how you feel.|
|So true. Which is one of the reasons that Valentine's Day drives me crazy. Although I love getting cards and flowers, I don't think that you should need a holiday or special occasion to prompt these things. Do you really need Hallmark and your local florist to tell you that you should be saying, "I Love You"?|
|Somehow, I do not think you want to discuss the business aspects of holidays. But you, of all people, understand how easy it is to get wrapped up in day-to-day living. Sometimes we need a reminder to make us stop and focus on what is truly important. Why not use Valentine's Day as an opportunity to stock up on "I love you" cards and then use them all year long? Obviously, Post-it notes, phone messages, or text messages work just as well. There is much truth to the cliché, "It is the thought that counts."|
|So, does that mean you do or don't want me and the girls to send you a card on Valentine's Day?|
|Whatever makes you happy. Just promise if you get me a card, it will not be one of those drippy sweet ones. If you really love me, make sure it is sarcastic. And, the more sarcastic – the better.|
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,
Soft skills are transferable – between your personal life and the workplace (and from industry to industry). If you recognize that interpersonal relations have existed since Adam and Eve (or “caveman” days), and technical skills are constantly changing and there is no way to predict the careers of the future … it is easy to see why soft skills will always be needed.
It's funny, but now that Red’s familiar with soft skills, she not only recognizes them in day-to-day living but sees the impact they have (and the problems caused when they’re lacking). Our new website may not have SOFT SKILLS as a major section, but since it’s one of Black's passion projects, it will have a special place.
Until then, here are some of our favorite posts showing how soft skills affect us on a daily basis (OK, the Ferrari one about negotiating skills may not affect many people, but the message will):
- COLLEGE & SOFT SKILLS: My son’s going off to college but doesn’t know what he wants to study …
- COMMUNICATION: How Do You Communicate? Blah-Blah-Blah Or Bullet Points?
- CUSTOMER SERVICE: RED & BLACK … May I Help You?
- LEADERSHIP: RED & BLACK … Leaders All Around Us
- MOM SKILLS: Translating Mom Responsibilities
- PERSUASION SKILLS: The Fact Is … Don’t Use Facts
- NEGOTIATING SKILLS: A Perfect Day For A Convertible. And For Chutzpah.
- PROBLEM-SOLVING: One Person’s Problem … Is Another’s Challenge?!
- SPOT THE SOFT SKILLS: Selfish, Shallow … And Svelte?
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.
And while not a homework assignment, we figure if you’re still reading, you might be interested in some of our favorite “lifelong learning” posts (many of which helped Red learn about learning in a whole new way).
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.)
- Black’s Time Management “Secret” ... Is Worth Repeating (Time Management)
- It's happened again ... I can’t see my desk there’s so much paper on it. Help! (Piles of Paper)
- How Do You Communicate? Blah-Blah-Blah Or Bullet Points? (Communication)
- Expect Reality, Not Perfection (Relationships)
- Don’t Confuse Time Alone With Time Away! (Stress)
P.S. – Wondering why we haven’t mentioned money? Well, stay tuned, as we’ll have a post dedicated to DOLLARS & SENSE in early November as we get closer to the holidays. (FYI, our subscribers get sneak peeks before we post online.)