|I keep forgetting to ask you, since Sawyer is away at camp, what did you do for July 4th?|
Well, it was
a very different Fourth of July. No
kids. No barbeque. No fireworks.
|I know most of the fireworks were cancelled, but is your barbeque grill broken?|
|No, this year I decided to declare my "independence" from doing a big holiday grocery shop, major prep work, and cooking outdoors in Texas heat.|
|I wish there were more people willing to declare their independence.|
|Somehow I don't think you're talking about me making an easy pasta dish in the comfort of my air-conditioned house vs. standing over a hot barbeque on a hot day.|
|No, but the quote, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" does apply to a bunch of elected government "leaders" – and I use that terms loosely as they actually seem to be "followers." You cannot tell me they do not see how their actions – or inactions – are hurting their constituents.|
|Although I agree with you, I can see where some elected officials feel the need to maintain the party line. Like you've always told me, you have to pick your battles.|
|Yes, but we are talking about people's lives. You are the history buff, so you well know there was a time when people would give their lives to do what they felt was right – for their families, for their community, for their country. Even if that meant standing up to those in control.|
|Yes, but I think you're being a bit dramatic. Which is interesting as I was the theater major, not you. After all, equating sacrificing your life to taking a stand about your beliefs is different from leaders who aren't willing to "speak up" to "higher-ups".|
|Really? One is risking their life – the other, maybe, their career. True leadership is about doing what is right. And, if you feel that something that is wrong, take an independent stand. It is about having the strength, courage, and conviction to do what you believe is right.|
|Sounds like you watched "The Patriot" over the holiday weekend.|
|Never heard of it, but you are the movie-goer, not me. Although we both know your primary motivation is the popcorn.|
|True. Anyway, it starred Mel Gibson as an American colonist, and although an "action movie" showing our fight to win independence from Britain, it still explores those exact themes. America may not be a perfect country, but it has always stood up and been willing to fight for what it believes in.|
|Yes, but that is harder to do when leaders are not leading, but rather just following. Being a true leader requires independent thinking.|
|That reminds me of something someone told me decades ago about a colleague they worked with, "He would be a great leader, if only people would follow him." It definitely made me laugh.|
|Sometimes you do not realize the wisdom of a true leader until much later. Initially, they may be measured by doing what is popular or convenient.|
|I love history, and there are countless examples of just that, but I'm not sure how you begin to crack that nut. Today, thinking, yet alone independent thinking, isn't what a lot of people do well.|
|OK, Miss History. After we got our independence from England, how were we ruled? Who made all the decisions?|
|Is this a trick question?|
|No, I do not know the answer, and I am trying to understand what happened and why.|
|First, my disclaimer that I know more about Tudor history than American history, but to keep it short and simple, the 13 states had to find a way to work together, and the original structure (if you're ever on Jeopardy remember "The Articles of Confederation") gave the states a lot of power. However, that didn't work out so well, and after just a few years, there was the brilliant idea to create The Constitution, which establishes and defines the separation of powers.|
|So, it required a lot of creative thinking, with an end goal of what was best for "We the people". In other words, when our country was born – it was led by independent thinkers not people that merely followed along.|
|Yes, but that's history. Good luck turning back that clock! It would require those "up the ranks" to relinquish some of their power. And need I remind you that we had to fight the War of Independence to achieve that?|
|That history fact, I do know. However, I think we have recently witnessed the importance – and power – of independent thinking. And, combined with good leadership, it can result in great things.|
|Absolutely! And to say there's such an overwhelming need for that at this critical time would be a huge understatement. Maybe it's time for another revolution, although this time make it peaceful.|
|The War of Independent Thinking. Now that would warrant fireworks.|
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.)