|Well, it's a new year but it really doesn't feel much different from last year. Even though there's a vaccine, the coronavirus is still a gray cloud hanging over us. Combine that with resolutions that typically don't last more than a month or so, and it's not a good start to the new year.|
|The new year is a date on the calendar. It would be like saying Wednesday really does not feel any different from Tuesday. It is a mindset and an attitude. And, obviously, yours is focused on the negative – not the positive.|
|I know I should treat the new year as a new beginning. You know, the concept that's the basis of countless articles and news features. But it just seems like an almost impossible task.|
|Speaking of difficult tasks ... how is the new computer? I know that you were dreading having to deal with it. In fact, you fought it until you finally had no choice.|
|I know. But now I love it! It's so fast and much of what I thought was going to be difficult to learn was actually pretty intuitive, even for me. And I know this might sound crazy, but the best part was that since all of my old emails (all 25,000+ of them!) are now archived, opening Outlook every morning's no longer stressful.|
|Makes sense. I am almost afraid to ask, but I know you were freaking out that the discontinued version of Franklin Planner software you use for all your "to do" tasks might not transfer. Any luck?|
|Initially, I was freaking out because I had a ton of stuff on it. But then I started preparing for the worst – that everything would be lost – and that's when I realized that I didn't use or need most of it. Although all the old data did end up being lost, the software transferred. Now, I'm only using Franklin Planner for important things or where I need reminders. And I love seeing only a few tasks vs. long lists of things that would make me feel like a failure for not getting through them!|
|So, let me understand. The new computer is like a clean slate. Where you can focus on important things versus agonizing over things that are merely carried over. Is that correct?|
|Exactly! You call it a "clean slate" but I see it as a new start. It's just a coincidence that it happened at the end of the year. Anyway, it's great!|
|OK, so how about taking that same approach to the new year?|
|That's why you changed the subject to my new computer! You tricked me. But I'll forgive you because that's a really interesting way of looking at 2021. But life's not that easy. You can't ignore the past. With my computer I really had no other choice.|
|You are not ignoring the past; you are merely putting it in perspective and hitting "reset" before moving forward.|
|A reset … I like that! I know it may just be words, but that just seems so much better than a resolution.|
|That may be because a reset allows you to truly start fresh, to focus on what things you want to do or do better. Since you are not overwhelmed with lists and "good intentions" from the past, it is easier to identify what is truly important. Including things that may have gotten "lost" along the way. And, that is before taking into consideration that the pandemic has changed everything.|
|There's an understatement. When I was looking at my old lists it became obvious they were filled with many unimportant tasks. But what was really a wake-up call was realizing how many things that I took for granted – that I just didn't appreciate enough at the time and now miss.|
|I think many of us do. It sounds like a cliché but a crisis forces us to think about what is truly important as well as what we take for granted. Often times it is a personal crisis, as you well know, but this happens to be a crisis that is impacting everyone.|
|And almost everyone I've talked to, talks about how it's not only impacted their lives but made them relook at their priorities.|
|That is to be expected. But, unfortunately, when a crisis passes, it is easy to fall back into our old ways. Except this crisis has been going on long enough that it is hard to remember what we used to consider "normal" …|
|I know, and that makes me sad.|
|I think that is where we started this conversation, with you choosing to look at the negative versus the positive.|
|I'm sorry, but it's not easy to look at what we're all going through as something positive.|
|Well, it is not something we would intentionally want to go through, but we are here now. And, 2021 is the start of a new normal.|
|Well, in that case I think we should wish everyone a Happy – and Healthy – New Normal!|
|You just did.|
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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.)