Saturday, October 29, 2016

Turtle Rabbits

What’s ugly, has a hard shell, operates in the dark and digs holes for itself? No I’m not talking about our Presidential candidates. I’m talking about that great symbol of Texas, Dasypus Novemcinctus….the Armadillo. Or as the old Spaniards called it, the “turtle rabbit”.

I live just outside the city limits in what some folks would call “the country”. I’ve been out in “the country” before and I don’t consider where I live to be “the country”. Our road is paved, we’ve got high-speed internet, coop-water, I can get to town in ten minutes and to the DFW Airport in an hour and ten minutes. But we do live on 35 acres and there is a good bit of open land around us. There are cows and horses and chickens. And critters like coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, possums, skunks, etc. Feral hogs are close by and once in awhile you’ll see a deer.

We’ve got a heavily wooded creek running through the property and it is critter heaven. And somewhere in all of the tangled woods and briars and creek bed an armadillo makes its home. One would think that a nocturnal “turtle rabbit” would have better things to do than waddle up every night and destroy my lawn. I keep the yard around the house mowed, watered and fertilized. We like our yard. So do the little things that turtle rabbits like to eat. Therefore, turtle rabbits like our yard. But these tasty little morsels are not easily obtained. Turtle rabbits must work for their supper which means digging for it. So every morning, when the sun comes up, I find a new area with fresh diggings. In the long run it may be good for the soil and perhaps the armadillo is doing me a favor. But in the short run he's making the yard look like hell.

Armadillos are hard to trap and you really can’t poison them. If I wanted to stay up all night I could probably catch him in the act and put an end to it. But, in some weird way I kind of don’t mind their digging around. Trying to maintain a well-manicured lawn out in the country actually seems sort of foolish. We waste water, we spend money on fertilizer, we mow and edge and tend the flower beds and want to make it look picture book perfect to satisfy our own egos. And a hungry armadillo comes along and says thank you by digging it all up. Sometimes God has a way of using the foolish things of this world, like “turtle rabbits”, to put you in your place. And that’s not a bad thing.

“It turned out to be a young Dasypus novemcinctus, a nine-banded armadillo, about the size of a small loaf of bread. Although they were becoming more common in Texas, I'd never seen one up close before. Anatomically speaking, it resembled the unhappy melding of an anteater (the face), a mule (the ears), and a tortoise (the carapace). I thought it overall an unlucky creature in the looks department, but Granddaddy once said that to apply a human definition of beauty to an animal that had managed to thrive for millions of years was both unscientific and foolish.”
― Jacqueline Kelly, The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Selling Out

Our culture has replaced self-discovery with self-construction. Everybody is expected to create and manage his or her own identity. Personal achievement thus becomes the main means of justifying one’s existence. The pressure that this mindset creates is devastating. – Cameron McAllister

Candidates often ask me how they should be using LinkedIn. What sort of information should they include on their resume? Does it make sense to use other social media platforms to promote their professional brand? What sort of “personal profile” should they build that enhances their professional status. In other words if I can create my own brand, how should I do that?

These are good questions. So I answer them. And for the most part, they already know the answers. They just want validation from another source. “The Game” has become one of presentation and promotion over performance. Being noticed is more important than being worth noticing. Ultimately, you must bring value. But value without a brand ends up in a cover band playing at county fairs in the fly-over states. So I get it. You need to put yourself out there and in the right way.

But, at what point does self-promotion become selling out? We bristle at the term “selling out”. No one wants to be a “sell out”. But most of us do it to some degree. And we do it, because IT WORKS. We don’t call it selling out. We call it “getting my foot in the door”. Or “just doing what I have to do”. The world is grading on the curve and we have to keep up. Of course, recruiters know that resumes and linked in profiles tend to be “inflated” and everything is presented in the best possible light. The truth gets stretched and the turds get polished. That’s how “The Game” is played. You’re told not to oversell yourself, but if you don’t oversell yourself you end up being left on the shelf. So everyone does it and everyone expects it to be done.

I can’t tell you where to draw the line between personal branding and overselling. And each person has to determine at what point they go from competing to selling out. But I leave you with this warning...there will come a day when you find out.