Category Archives: Laura Buckley

Getting out of the box

For a long time I’ve had the terrible habit of putting myself, and others, into boxes.  Not physical boxes, but mental boxes, boxes that carry labels.  Oh I’m just a techie.  Or, he’s just a teller at the checkout counter.  Perhaps you have done the same at some point or another in life and can relate.  Recently I became acutely aware of this rather disappointing habit.

What happens when we put ourselves, or others, into boxes?  I have come to understand that by labelling, by putting into boxes, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to get to know and understand each person, including ourselves, as individuals.  Each of us has hopes and dreams.  I believe we all have hidden and uncovered talents.  I believe that labelling ourselves, and others, puts us at a distinct disadvantage in our interpersonal relationships.  It doesn’t matter if we are applying this to the relationship we have with ourselves, or the casual encounter we have with the person at the checkout counter.

We can take this one step further.  Have you ever had somebody introduce themselves using this as the opening part of their introduction:  “I’m just a…..”  Now how’s that for a label?  “I’m just a….” do we even hear what comes next or do we subconsciously place that person into the insignificant or unimportant box?  Can we honestly say that we take the rest of the conversation with that person seriously, or do they remain in our mental box?

Perhaps it’s time we start dismantling the boxes, removing the labels along with their negative connotations, and get to know each other as people, as individuals, and see the incredible wealth of talent in each other.  We all bring something unique to the table.  I firmly believe that the only way to do this is by removing our own labels first.  To label is to hold onto pre-conceived ideas.

I recently victimised myself and sabotaged my own performance by placing myself in a box and assuming a label – I am a technical support engineer.  I fix technical issues, that’s what I do.  The challenge facing me was a training workshop for sales people.  I wore my label and lived in my box, subconsciously telling myself that I would not pass the final grading let alone excel at it.  I wore my label so stubbornly that other delegates put me into the same box with the same label.   To my surprise I got more than just a passing grade.  It surprised the course facilitators too as I had let them subconsciously accept the box I’d placed myself so firmly in.  What if I had kept a more open mind going into the workshop?  What if I had more readily embraced the opportunity to learn and grow in uncharted territory?  Instead I trapped myself and hampered my own growth.  All my own doing.

So this brings me full-circle in this article.  I start with myself.  I need to consciously step outside of any box I may want place myself in.  I need to break down those mental labels I apply to myself.  If I don’t do this I will forever hold myself back and hamper my own growth.  If I don’t stop labelling myself how can I expect others to stop?

Getting out of the box

Yours in lifelong learning,

Laura

The End of an Era

Today I write about something not so philosophical or perhaps profound as I have done in the past.  I write about the end of an era, the closing of a chapter in my life and, indeed, the beginning of a new one.  After twelve years I have resigned from my current place of employment.   The past twelve years have been a tremendous journey of opportunity and growth.

So why would I make this change now after such a long period of time, time that has been happy and joyful?  Sometimes in life opportunity comes knocking at your door totally unexpectedly.  Out the blue a potential new chapter in life presents itself.

Let’s take a step back here for a moment and look at some of the history behind this.  I’ve been working with email and email systems since 1994.  Essentially from the birth of email as a communication and collaboration tool in businesses.  I’m passionate about email systems, fascinated by how they work.  This passion of mine led to extensive participation in community forums – answering questions, assisting with resolving issues experienced by folk all over the globe.  I’ve written technical articles, published [amateur] training videos all in my quest to share knowledge.  Some call this my hobby, I call it my passion.

My contributions in this area appear to have been noticed.  Suddenly I get a phone call from a global company asking me to come work for them doing just this, supporting and assisting email administrators globally.  My hobby, my passion, has now turned into a new job!  I will be in a position to continue sharing knowledge whilst remaining a lifelong learner.

I’ve spent some time reading my own previous posts and realise, yet again, just how much they apply to my life – how I have prepared for this day, how I’ve prepared for new opportunities, how I can approach this massive change by starting with that first single step.

So where to from here?  We are relocating to Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in a few short weeks.  A new country, a new job, new opportunities to learn and grow.  I am excited and nervous simultaneously.  This is a huge step, a massive change.  But I remind myself of taking that first step and how I plan my journey in small stages.  So here I am walking along an untrodden path and climbing a new mountain one step at a time.

 

The end of an era

Yours in lifelong learning,

Laura

 

A Journey of a Thousand Miles…

An ancient Chinese philosopher and writer, Lao-Tzu, known as the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching, and founder of philosophical Taoism, wrote these wise words:  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

What exactly does this mean to me as a New Year has dawned?  As I look at what lies ahead in the New Year, as I set my goals and ambitions, I feel overwhelmed with the mountains I anticipate climbing.

I sit down and ponder on all I wish to achieve, all the projects and milestones set for me at my place of work.  I think about my personal goals.  All of which appear, at the start, to be insurmountable.  Then I remind myself of what Lao-Tzu said.  Everything we wish to achieve in life begins with the first step.

That first step is the beginning of action.  Without action we will never start moving towards our goals.  It doesn’t matter how small the task or goal is, we have to take action.  If we wish to drink a glass of water we must take action – walking to the tap is the start, is taking the first step.

Often I fall into the trap of analysis-paralysis.  I become so overwhelmed with what lies ahead that I hesitate to take that first step.  I’m afraid of the journey and what it may hold.  But without taking that first step I will not start to move forward.  Without taking that first step I will miss the opportunity to grow, to accomplish goals, to turn my dreams into tangible reality.

So what do I do?

I’ve come to the conclusion that by procrastinating that first step I immediately stop my growth, halt my action and doom myself to failure.  What do I fear more – failure or the journey?  I am terrified of failure thus my only alternative is to overcome my fear of the journey.

How do I overcome this fear?

Before I take the first step I need to know where my destination is.  I write this down in a detailed and descriptive manner.  It is not enough to say to myself I want to be successful this year.  I need to describe how exactly I’m going measure what I consider “successful” to be.  Once I have clearly defined my destination I need to plot the route I’m going to take in order to arrive at my destination.  Unfortunately Google maps isn’t much help, nor is my standard GPS.  I need to discover my own internal GPS.  As I look at my destination I need to identify my waypoints, my landmarks, to help me navigate to my destination.  These are the smaller goals and tasks I need to accomplish in order to arrive at my final destination.  These landmarks make my journey less frightening and more manageable.  As I identify my waypoints I am able to plot a more specific route to take in order to get to each marker on my journey.  By breaking down my final goal into smaller chunks the final destination appears to be more attainable.

The end result is a clear map to follow on my journey.  This aids me in not losing my way and getting lost on the journey.  Should I stray from the path I have a map to refer back to so I can get back on track, gain perspective, and take the next step forward in the right direction.

Having said all of the above, my journey must still begin with that first, single step.  I muster up the courage and take that step but firmly have my destination set before me.

Journey of a Thousand Miles

Yours in lifelong learning,

Laura