Why Systems Savvy?
There’s a reason I named this blog Systems Savvy though, to be truthful, I haven’t really done what I intended when I decided on the title. Blogging for me has been somewhat aimless as I’ve attempted to find my voice and considered what I wanted to accomplish. For the last year and a half, starting with my decision to accept the early retirement package offered by my former employer, I’ve considered how to use it to both promote my new business and educate the people I wanted to reach.
The result has been a number of fairly well-directed posts on various issues involving small business and social media marketing. However, I am only beginning to become accomplished at marketing, in general, and frequently feel I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been said – and said better – by others.
Lately, especially during a period of time I have been working with an associate on a fairly ambitious proposal (which, last week, was declined), I haven’t had much to say at all. I have, however, been giving a lot of thought to the direction I would like this blog to go in, and I think I’ve come to a decision on what I want to do. Let me explain.
My original intent was to look at various world views, philosophies if you will, that attempt to provide a systemic approach to understanding nature, society, economy, etc. The thinkers I have come to respect and, I think, understand include people like W. Edwards Deming, Russell Ackoff, and Peter Drucker (among others) from the business world, and Karl Marx (an eyebrow raiser, I know, but more about that in later posts) and Friedrich Engels, especially with respect to the philosophy of Dialectical Materialism. This effort began on January 7, 2008 where, in my first post, I explained what I hoped to accomplish. Unfortunately, the distractions and obligations I referenced back then kept me from accomplishing what I then thought would be useful . . . and possible.
Now, after being somewhat forced to accept what for me was a way too early retirement package, and having embarked on my journey back into the world of small business, I’m finding I need to rethink the direction this blog should take. I want to bring it somewhat back to my original intent – with one small wrinkle. I need to write more about the lessons I’ve learned; not merely with respect to the things I experienced and accomplished in my over two decades at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, but also with respect to those things I learned in the preceding two decades in small business, as well as the many experiences I’ve had outside of the business world. One more thing. I’m not dead yet and I am far from inactive in my community.
To do this, it seems I will have to buck one of the “rules” of blogging, i.e. “it’s not about me“. This concept has made it exceedingly difficult to share some of the things I wish to write about for two main reasons. One I wrote about earlier, and that’s this feeling I’ve had all my life that everyone knows what I know. After all, it’s obvious! Right? The second is I’ve been repeatedly asked to write about many of my life experiences, which are not quite “mainstream” and from which I have gleaned some lessons that have been important . . . at least for me, but I’ve been constrained by that admonition against making it about oneself, as well as my inborn desire to please, not offend, others.
I’m constantly working on the first of these issues and here’s what I’ve come to think about the second. I am NOT in the middle of my career. After all, I’m now collecting Social Security and a pension from my previous employer. Less than a year from now I will be eligible for Medicare and, increasingly, I will need it to deal with the medical problems that come from aging. Most bloggers I know (not all) are between 20 and 30 years younger than I am. They have decades to go in their worklife. I may have a decade or two left, but the prospect is far less certain and, truth to tell, I really want to slow down a bit.
I think a change is in order. I think I need to write about all the things I care about. I have also previously written about the dilemma I faced when I realized the disparate “friends” I had on Facebook and how it momentarily took me aback and caused me to reconsider what I was willing to share – with everybody! As then, I have come to the conclusion I can, and should, write about the things that interest me, no matter how they might seem disconnected . . . because they aren’t! They’re taken from my life, my experiences, and the conclusions I’ve drawn or the questions I still have regarding them. If some are offended by this, oops! Too bad.
Me and You as Systems
I am interested in systems theory; systems thinking. Part of my understanding about it is we are all part of various systems. As living organisms we are ourselves systems. For over 60 years I’ve felt, as most of us do, forced at times to separate my life into its constituent parts: Personal; professional; political; religious; philosophical; etc. Yet they are all – for me – intimately related and inextricably intertwined. They are what has made up my life.
Perhaps I’m getting a bit melancholy as I realize my time is surely winding down. I hope to have at least a couple more decades left in me, but there are physical changes making it clear that it won’t be the same. I am showing signs of essential tremors, which my mother had and which sometimes make it hard for me to eat with a fork or grab a small bottle out of the medicine cabinet. Just this past Monday I had a suspicious mole removed from the scar on my back that is the result of surgery to remove a melanoma a couple of years ago. My hair is mostly gray. I have chicken skin, moderate hypertension, and type II diabetes! There are other signs. Perhaps I’ll write about them too.
So here’s the deal. Although I will continue to build my business, which includes a large dose of pro bono and civic-minded activities as well as remunerative ones, I intend to increasingly share my thoughts about the rest of my life as well. I know I have written some posts that were personal, political, and even relating to religion (thought certainly not promoting it), but I have lately been going in the direction of making this a business blog. I will no longer do that. I’m not sure this is the right thing to do. Were I younger, perhaps it would definitely not be the right thing to do. However, I’m not really worried about looking for a job or offending my parents. They both shed their mortal coils years ago.
Frankly, I don’t know if anything I have to say is all that important, but I have the opportunity to write about it and, if nothing else, it will be available for my children, who are now only 7 and 10 years old. I want to leave something so they will be able to better understand who I was and, especially, just how much I love them and want the very best for them. That’s important to me!
Photo Credit: Directions by mistermoss – via Flickr
October 7th, 2011 at 1:47 pm
Rick–Awesome! Now I can pretend we’re waiting to start our KM meeting (or 20 minutes into it ;-)). Looking forward to reading.
October 9th, 2011 at 11:15 am
Crap! I wrote a response to this and it disappeared when I clicked on “Reply”, so here’s a reasonable facsimile of what I wrote:
Hi Meesh – I heard about the latest round at PWR and have been thinking about you. Glad to hear you’re bouncing back. Please message me on FB and tell me what you’re doing. Would love to know. I sometimes look back on those meetings and the work we did and wonder if we actually accomplished anything of value. Frankly, I’m not sure. I know there were times when I felt like we were just beating our heads against the wall, yet I also believed it was important work. Very frustrating. However, the time we spent at the beginning was something I cherished, truth to tell. I’m glad we had that luxury. Thanks for reading . . . and taking the time to comment. Much appreciated. My best to you and your family.
October 5th, 2011 at 8:26 pm
HI Rick, reading this for the second time. You are a deep thinker and share your thoughts very well. Life does take twists and turns, some we have control over, but so many we that we don’t.
What is wrong with expressing your opinions and sharing your own experiences? Isn’t that really what all writers do. You are at a great time of life…please believe that.
Some day I should share my husband’s journey. He retired from 3 different jobs, then started volunteering. He will be 76 next week.
October 6th, 2011 at 9:12 am
Thanks for the reads and the comment, MissDazey (based on the email info that comes with commenting here, I’m guessing your name is Linda. Hope that’s correct. It’s my wife’s name as well). Thanks also for the kind words. The crux of the issue I’ve been dealing with is one that has followed me for a great deal of my life, especially in the past 25 years. Now that I’ve made the decision to “come out”, as it were, I will be writing about it somewhat.
One story I will no doubt tell is that of my coming to work on the Space Shuttle Main Engine program during the Reagan years (or shortly thereafter; need to do some research on dates) and the things I felt obliged to leave out of my resume. They were a big part of my life, but I’m quite certain HR didn’t need to know about it and, as far as I’m still concerned, it was really none of their business. I have not doubt, though, it would have made a big difference in their decision whether or not to hire me. Now that I’m older and essentially retired, I no longer have to be careful of being judged unfairly or harshly by people who have more power over my life than I care for.
Thanks, again and please do share your husband’s journey. I’m sure he has many lessons learned that would be both enlightening and entertaining.
October 5th, 2011 at 6:30 pm
Little did I realize, as I finished this post today, that Steve Jobs was no longer with us. I really didn’t know that much about him other than the obvious results of his work with Apple. However, his death has surfaced a lot of information, comments, and quotes of his I was unfamiliar with. This one resonates particularly well, as it mirrors what I was thinking about while deciding to change my direction and post about it.
“Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs, Rest In Peace
October 5th, 2011 at 1:24 pm
I have never been shy to share my experiences which I believe can benefit somebody else. Sharing valuable lessons and experiences is a generous and respectable purpose for a blog. I have been fortunate that others have shared in the same way, and I appreciate that.
Although my primary-use blog is focused on business aspects of my experience, I often share what I have learned in an effort to be useful to others. That is what authenticates the value of any information. When you can say “it happened like this” is a lot more interesting and useful than speculation and untested theory, alone.
As for the Marx mention, I think you must have meant Ronald Reagan, so I’ll forgive that as an innocent typo.
October 5th, 2011 at 1:29 pm
Yes, of course, Mark. Actually, I meant Richard Nixon. We all know what a cracker jack philosopher he was. Actually, I had originally put in a PS with kudos to you for teaching me an awful lot about what to, and not to, do. However, I figured you wouldn’t want to be associated with anything that came within spitting distance (from a person with emphysema) of Karl Marx, so I took it out. Now you’ve gone and associated yourself . . . by yourself. That’s probably gonna put you on somebody’s list.
October 11th, 2011 at 7:57 pm
That’s ok. I’m on a lot of lists already. Some are good … excellent, even. Surely some are not so flowery. It is a price we pay to be thinkers. List me up. Put me on the Reagan side of the table though! 😀