|I can't believe that Halloween's almost here, and the house isn't already decorated. Can I use the fact this is the first year I'm an empty nester as an excuse?|
|Does that mean that you are not going to decorate?|
|No! But without Sawyer home asking about it or prodding me by pulling the decorations out of the garage, it's still just sitting on my "to do" list. But fall is my favorite time of year, and I love seeing the house with all the Halloween decorations, so it will happen.|
|I would think you could just put out the inflatables and be done with it.|
|They're probably my favorite decorations, regardless of the holiday. And not just because I like seeing them out the window of my workroom but because I get to watch all the little kids in the neighborhood walk by and enjoy them.|
|Well, I hope this year Halloween will be a little more "normal" in terms of trick-or-treating, especially as the CDC has issued guidelines to make it less scary.|
|I think that the coronavirus has genuinely been the scariest thing to appear in our lives. Full stop. And while I'm not making light of the tragic loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, I can't help but wonder if we're going to see Halloween "COVID" costumes since there seem to be costumes of almost everything else that's considered scary.|
|FYI, there is a shortage of store-bought costumes (and decorations) due to pandemic-related shipping delays, so there is no telling what you will see. Hopefully, this year's trick-or-treaters will include lots of kids dressed up as front-line workers as they are the true superheroes. Not to mention, the costumes would then include masks that are functional as well as decorative.|
|Do you have to look at Halloween pragmatically? And does that mean I'm about to get a lecture on how Halloween's big business?|
|No, my "treat" to you is I will not tell you how it is a $10 billion industry that did not take as big a hit in 2020 as you would have expected.|
|Yeah, except you just managed to tell it to me anyway. So, I guess that falls under the "trick" category.|
|That is merely semantics. Sometimes we "package" things to make them more palatable for the recipient. But, some people take it to an extreme and disguise who they really are … but, I do not want to make this a conversation about politicians and the "costumes" they often wear.|
|Please don't! Although I know you've occasionally "pretended" to be me.|
|Except, whenever I try to do "warm and fuzzy", I have a hard time keeping a straight face. And, being "nice" can be a challenge, not to mention time-consuming. I remember when we taught at KIPP and its motto at the time was, "Work Hard. Be Nice." and I asked if I could just "Work Hard. Be Fair."|
|Of course, you did. But I can think of a few times when you've been in situations where I thought you were going to take a stand, yet you used my "default" setting of conflict avoidance. It was very out of character. And more than a little scary.|
|You pick your battles. Keeping in mind that some things are not worth the time and effort. Or, need to be saved for another day.|
|Are you saying that you give them the "treat" of letting it go when in reality you are "tricking" them into a feeling of complacency?|
|I guess that is one way of looking at it, but only if you are trying to give it a Halloween spin. At the risk of "tricking you" into talking about marketing, do you remember years ago when we worked with Rob (an advertising creative executive director), and he told us how he could envision little kids one day dressing up as the characters Red and Black?|
|I had forgotten about that! At first, I thought he was kidding around or being sarcastic until he clarified that he was serious. Explaining how he could see kids pairing up with each other, pretending to be us. Obviously, the one pretending to be me would be sweet and nice, and the other would be … well, you!|
|Actually, I think he was focused on the differences in our appearances. Regardless, I think it was crazy. Although the costumes would be easy – mine could be high heels, tattered jeans, white top, black jacket, and a wig with short, black, spiked hair.|
|I guess that means my "costume" would be something boring and "mom-like". But even with a wig of long red hair and comfy shoes, I'm not sure any kid would choose to "be Red".|
|Yes, but what is that old axiom about you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar? Maybe the trick-or-treating "Reds" would be rewarded with more candy …|
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.)