Back in the 1950’s stealing in the workplace was pretty black and white. If you worked on a production-line creating widgets and you took a widget home – you knew very well that you had stolen this physical property.
Nowadays however, not everything falls neatly into the category of a product or a service.
In the information age – many of our jobs depend on us processing just that – information. And it’s not like companies can simply put up a metal detector the way they could to see if a widget is in our pocket. – Information resides in our minds – invisible to others and not very useful to the organization if we keep it there.
You probably didn’t mean to steal it! – In fact you probably never even thought about it this way. But as technology changes so does our work. Once we understand the true nature of the materials that our jobs involve – be it physical materials, or in this case information – we can then understand our responsibility to help move ALL those materials along.
Think about it this way, when you are paid to gather, assimilate and pass along data, it is the same as if you were paid to gather materials, create a widget and pass that widget to the next person. In an information age, information and data is now the property that companies are processing and profiting from.
So – with new types of work existing, there also needs to be new boundaries to define an employee’s responsibility. Any information that you are paid to earn, gather and process is your responsibility. It’s your job to comment on the data, to give an opinion, to help translate it so it will be valuable to your colleagues and clients…and if you do not help this data or information to progress down the line – it leaves the building in your mind the same way that widget would have left in a pocket
Do you have colleagues who hold onto valuable information without sharing?
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So your son or daughter is off to college. Now…what about you?
You will have more time now than you have likely had in about 18-25 years. Below are what my friends who have enjoyed the challenge have done with the time.
Dating – That’s right, why should the kids have all the fun? My single friends have gone on-line. My married friends have re-discovered why they got married to that person beside them. It can be fun to find that person again. If you think date night was important when the babies arrived, it’s even more important now.
Start a new health habit. – Train for a half marathon. Walk around the block each night. And of course, my favorite, begin or continue your yoga practice.
Start a new hobby – The more time-consuming the better. What will it be? Golf? Gardening? Gourmet cooking?
Volunteer – There are so many little league teams that need coaches; food pantries that need organization; elderly neighbors who need a friend.
Reinvest in your career – Go back to school. Take a certificate course. Consider a new avocation. If you are well and in your fifties or sixties, you could have a wonderful 10-20 year “run” in a new profession. Your kids don’t have to be the only ones that “take off”.
For many of us who are in good health, we can look forward to (almost) as many good and productive years ahead of us as we have already experienced.
Some good reads on this topic:
What Should I Do With the Rest of My Life?: True Stories of Finding Success, Passion, and New Meaning in the Second Half of Life Paperback – March 1, 2011, by Bruce Frankel (Author)
Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow UpPaperback – March 16, 2006, by James Hollis (Author)
What are your plans now that your child is off to college?
A few days ago, my friend posted a picture of the most beautifully decorated dorm room I have ever seen. It looked like a catalog ad. Knowing my friend, she placed as much effort and thought into preparing her daughter emotionally for college as she did in helping her decorate her room. She has always been a devoted and thoughtful parent.
Since I’m not busy this year buying comforters and setting up bank accounts, I decided I would compile advice for parents of college students. Having made the transition twice, I consider myself a quasi expert. Below are my musings…
Whether you are looking forward to your child being out of the house, or dreading it, or a combination of the two, there’s a lot of change going on in your world. Be gentle and accepting of yourself.
If you are old enough to be the parent of college student, you are old enough to remember life without cell phones. It was cumbersome to call home when we went to college. We may have used one central phone. We may have paid a fee for every minute we spoke; we may not have had privacy. Unless your child is studying in a remote and foreign land, it will be easy for him or her to call home.
Then again – just because it is easy to call, doesn’t mean it will happen. If you want to be called often, be a friend worthy of calling. That’s right, a friend. If you are supporting your son or daughter, you can choose the level of responsiveness that you expect with that compensation, but it’s a choice and it should be considered, not assumed.
If you are feeling an incredibly strong urge to give advice, call a different friend. Call someone who’s known you as a friend for say, 20-30 years and will feel comfortable ignoring you. Don’t give this new friend/your son/daughter advice. Remember that this is a new friendship and it is fragile.
If your daughter actually solicits your advice, even then consider stifling yourself. I remember asking my mother for advice once in college and she said, “You have always made wonderful decisions and I know you will continue to make good decisions. I believe in you and I will support whatever you decide.” While I admit that I was frustrated not to have an “easy” answer from Mom, I have remembered her answer for decades; 3 plus decades in fact.
What advice have you been given that has lasted 3 or more decades?