Thursday, March 30, 2006

Return Of The Jedi

Although I didn’t have time to really get out and do as much as I normally do while in Las Vegas, it was still nonetheless a great trip. I really didn’t want to go because I had a lot of stuff to sort out in my life, but it turns out I found a lot of that time there. A brief change in venue helped so much more than I realized it would. Rather than answer all of the comments from the previous post as I usually do, I give you this new post that will give you a more accurate view on my current state of mind. (Btw: I really appreciate all of the support that many of you give!!!)

So I arrive in Vegas on Sunday afternoon. I wasn’t feeling great as I felt I was leaving too many unresolved issues behind at home and was thinking this trip was going to make matters worse. To make things more interesting, I knew that I would be spending most of my time with the few people in existence that I just don’t get along with well at all. Overall, the forecast of the trip looked extremely gloomy from the start!

That night we had a nice reception and dinner for several hours, giving me a chance to see people (old friends) I haven’t seen in ages!!! Among a few of them was Todd who’s a district manager in Dallas, TX now (ok, I just saw him a few weeks ago, but it was very limited in time, so we didn’t get a chance to catch up), Kevin who’s a store director in Irving, TX (one of the best store directors I’ve ever worked for), and Doug who is a region vice president now on the west coast (he was by far the very best district manager I’ve ever worked for.) The only person who could have topped these wonderful people who I respect above all others would be Charles (the best store director I’ve ever worked for and possibly one of the best people in the world!)

Anyway, spending time with these old friends (who always have a special place in my heart) really brought back some great memories. More than that though, they really helped me… more than they realize. I didn’t talk to them at all about how miserable I’ve been, but without knowing how depressed and lost I felt, they really helped me!

Some of them would refer to me or introduce me to others as “the guy who can do anything,” or “the guy who makes doing the impossible look easy,” etc… the ridiculous nicknames go on. This really just floored me!!! This person they were describing (me)… I didn’t recognize this person. That’s not who I am right now. I don’t know if I was really ever that person, but I’m clearly not that person now.

To continue this avalanche bewilderment, some of them even continue to tell others how I inspired them by many of the business and personal adversities that I had overcome and conquered. These people who are so very special to me, who I look up to, who I admire… they’re “inspired” by me??? They’re inspired by how I have and live (or really had and lived) the mindset that anything is possible??? Who is this person??? Again, I’m completely flabbergasted at who they think I am, or even was. I’d really like to meet this person who they were claiming I am (was.)

That first night I really didn’t sleep. I walked the entire Las Vegas strip. For those who have been to Vegas, you know that the strip is really long… yet I walked the entire thing that night into the morning. There’s a lot to look at all down the strip, but I honestly don’t remember seeing anything that night/morning. I was too focused on trying to figure out why I changed so much over about a year’s time.

In the end, I decided that the circumstances at work and in my personal life that lead me down this dark path over last year aren’t the issue. The issue is why I allowed myself to change in the way I did due to these circumstances. Why did I empower these few adverse situations to have such a negative impact on my life? I don’t know. I used to have a powerful mindset that allowed me to overcome most the most difficult and unpleasant situations. It was my frame of mind that anything is possible… the only impossibilities were the ones that I would allow my mind to create.

Seeing all of this in retrospect with the help of a few friends (who have absolutely no idea how much they helped me), I see the path I need to return to. I need to refocus my mind back to that old mindset I used to have. I know it’ll take some time… after all, it didn’t change overnight to what it is now. I journeyed down this dark path over the course of a year. So I’m completely aware that I have quite a ways to go before I can return to my old way of thinking that anything is possible.

“The undisturbed mind is like the calm body water reflecting the brilliance of the moon.
Empty the mind and you will realize the undisturbed mind.” – some Tibetan quote. (Don’t know who said it! Hehe!)

This trip truly gave me the opportunity to clear my mind in a way that would have been too difficult to do at home. It gave me the time I needed to truly and honestly self reflect on who I am, who I was, and who I want to me. I don’t want to be who I am now… this person depresses me. I don’t necessarily want to be who I used to be, as obviously that person, as open as their mind was, still fell down a dark path. I want to be a person with the mindset I used to have, but with the knowledge that I currently have… the knowledge learned from failure… the power learned from failure. I want to be this person who others believe I am.

I know it’s going to be a rocky and difficult journey to get there, but I’m willing to go there. The first thing I need to change to get there is the fact that I am alone. I do everything alone. I succeed and I fall alone. I don’t want to go on this journey alone. I need to learn to ask for help. I need to allow myself to be at least somewhat more dependent on others. I need to be willing to accept help, not just give it. I need to allow the people who are close to me to truly be a driving influence in my life. This too is something I know won’t happen over night, but I’m willing to take the journey there as well.

Enough about that!!! I’m sure I’ve already bored you to tears with my greatly needed self reflection. Now for some frequently asked questions and answers about the trip…

1. Was this “business trip” really about business in Las Vegas, or was it just an excuse to party all the time?

Work started at 7am each day and continued thru 7 or 8pm each evening. It was really tedious work and grueling meetings… but they were productive. After work was done each night, then we could do whatever we wanted to.

I had the clear advantage of the group. I already was only getting like 2-3 hours of sleep a night, so I handled the lack of sleep MUCH better than everyone else. As exhausted as I still was, I was much more coherent all day each day. (Turns out the several weeks of virtually no sleep came in quite handy!)

2. Did you gamble?

I did, but very little. I only gambled about $40, of which all I lost! I’m not really a big fan of losing money for no good reason. I watched Todd loose $500+ dollars in a matter of 5 minutes. I sure as hell wasn’t going to do that!!!

Now that being said, I don’t have a problem wasting money. I bought a bathrobe and a nice new shirt (that were clearly over priced, but still looked great!) I also had the opportunity to get a few little trinkets for several of you guys!

3. Do you do anything scandalous in Las Vegas?

Here’s a very brief (and overused answer): What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!!!

4. Did you get along with some of those few people who you never get along with?

Surprisingly, yes. We actually all kind of bonded in a very odd and dysfunctional way. Though I didn’t spend a lot of my free time with these few people, I think we all came to a mutual understanding and respect for each other.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A New Game

I got this new game off of Edward's LiveJournal (partially because I accidentally neglected to read #8 before beginning the game!)

1. reply with your name and i'll respond with some random things about you.
2. i'll tell you what song/movie reminds me of you.
3. i'll pick a flavour of jelly to wrestle with you in.
4. i'll say something that only makes sense to you and me.
5. i'll tell you my first memory of you.
6. i'll tell you what animal you remind me of.
7. i'll ask you something that I've always wondered about you.
8. if i do this for you, you must post this on your journal. you must. it is written.
Note: Keep in mind that my punk ass job has really been limiting my free time lately, so I'll respond as soon as I can.

The Touch

This video absolutely cracks me up!!! I remember, very vividly, my mom taking me to see this movie back in 1986. I can’t even begin to describe how upset I was when they killed off Optimus Prime (and at the beginning of the movie at that!) Hell, I’ve had this movie on DVD for several years now, and anytime I watch it, I still get all teary-eyed! Anyway, I hope you have as good a laugh as I do with this whacked-out, hilarious music video!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

New He-Man DVD's

I’m currently lounging at home watching the new copy of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Season 1, Volume 2 box set I purchased earlier today. What’s so great about this classic cartoon is how amusing I still find it after 20 years!

For example, in the episode I just finished watching, The Dragon’s Gift, Prince Adam and Cringer run to an empty spot in the castle to transform out of everyone’s sight… however Cringer keeps running and hides around a corner where Adam can’t see him because he hates to be transformed into BattleCat. Just as Adam turns into He-Man, he points his sword toward the wall where Cringer ran to, the power emitted from the sword ricochets off the wall and turns the corner where Cringer is hiding, transforming him into BattleCat.

After I saw that, I just erupted into uncontrollable laughter… giggling like a small child for at least a solid 5 minutes straight. Hell, I’m still laughing about it!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Stupidity Alert Level

One of my customer service associates, Matt, developed this "Stupidity Alert Level" system for the customer service counter (posted daily for the protection of customer service associates in the general office next to the customer service counter.) It's kind of a modified Department of Homeland Security Alert Levels... but for customer service associates. The levels vary from 1 (lowest level) to 7 (most severe level) based upon the incompetence of customers who like to create absurd issues just for the hell of it.

Level 1 - Inability to understand rebates.
Level 2 - Overwhelming sense of entitlement.
Level 3 - Average I.Q. < 100.
Level 4 - Difficulty tying shoes.
Level 5 - Not able to feed themselves.
Level 6 - Forgets to breathe often.
Level 7 - Drooling, babbling, bed-wetting morons.

Most Sundays usually run at a level 5, but we're currently holding strong at a level 4. Mondays are always the worst days though (as those who have ever worked at a customer service desk know.) Tuesdays, after a three day weekend, are always a level 7 for some odd reason. Never understood that one!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Now Discover Your Strengths

Now that things are finally stabilizing at work, I decided to read that book (Now Discover Your Strengths) a bit more in depth… and because I was bored. I found it absolutely amazing how accurate the test results really were upon reading more thorough descriptions of each theme.

The strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity. Mindful of these patterns, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, “What if this happened? Ok, well what if this happened?” This recurring question helps you see around the next corner. There you can evaluate accurately the potential obstacles. Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections. You discard paths that lead nowhere, straight into resistance, into a fog, or into confusion. You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path – your strategy. Armed with your strategy, you strike forward. This is your Strategic theme at work: “What if?” Select. Strike!

Your Achiever theme helps explain your drive. Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by “every day” you mean every single day – workdays, weekends, vacations. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied. You have an internal fire burning inside you. It pushes you to do more, to achieve more. After each accomplishment is reached, the fire dwindles for a moment, but very soon it rekindles itself, forcing you toward the next accomplishment. Your relentless need for achievement might not be logical. It might not even be focused. But it will always be with you. As an Achiever you must learn to live with this whisper of discontent. It does have its benefits. It brings you the energy you need to work long hours without burning out. It is the jolt you can always count on to get you started on new tasks, new challenges. It is the power supply that causes you to set the pace and define the levels of productivity for your work group. It is the theme that keeps you moving when you’re feeling down.

You love to solve problems. Whereas some are dismayed when they encounter yet another breakdown, you can be energized by it. You enjoy the challenge of analyzing the symptoms, identifying what is wrong, and find the solution. You may prefer practical problems or conceptual ones or personal ones. You may seek out specific kinds of problems that you have met many times before and that you are confident you can fix. Or you may feel the greatest push when faced with complex and unfamiliar problems. Your exact preferences are determined by your other themes and experiences. But what is certain is that you enjoy brining things back to life, and you are very good at doing it. It is a wonderful feeling to identify the undermining factors, eradicate them, and restore something to its true glory. Intuitively, you know that without your intervention, this thing – this machine, this technique, this person, this company – might have ceased to function. You fixed it, resuscitated it, rekindled its vitality. You saved it!

Relator describes your attitude toward your relationships. In simply terms, the Relator theme pulls you toward people you already know. You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people – in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends – but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from simply being around your close friends. You are comfortable with intimacy. Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship. You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and you want them to understand yours. You know that this kind of closeness implies a certain amount of risk – you are probably taken advantage of quite frequently – yet you accept that risk. For you a relationship has value only if it is genuine. And the only way to that it is genuine is to entrust yourself to the other person and take risks together. The more risks you take together, the more each of you proves your caring is genuine.

You see the potential in others. Very often, in fact, potential is all you see. In your view no individual is fully formed. On the contrary, each individual is a work in progress, alive with possibilities. And you are drawn toward people for this very reason. When you interact with others, your goal is to help them experience success. You look for way to challenge them. You devise interesting experiences that can stretch them and help them grow. And all the while you are on the lookout for signs of growth – a new behavior learned or modified, a slight improvement in a skill, a glimpse of excellence or a flow where previously there were only halting steps. For you these small increments – invisible to some – are clear signs of potential being realized. These signs of growth in others are your fuel. They bring you strength and satisfaction. Over time many will seek you ut for help and encouragement because on some level they know that your helpfulness is both genuine and fulfilling to you.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Going To Vegas

So my company is sending me to Las Vegas sometime later this month for several days to attend a rally for all store directors. I don’t know when though (perhaps I should find this out sometime soon as the month is nearly half over!) I hope they don’t truly think that I’m planning on working while there!

I was really trying to get out of work early today as I’ve been there for over a solid week without a single day off, working 12 – 15 hours a day… didn’t happen though (which consequently has extremely cut into my internet time at home… or actually all my home time for that matter!!!) I’ve really just been focused on developing the employees lately, which has been really fun. They’re all a really great bunch of people! I even got to promote two more managers today... that's always fun!

Back to the Vegas trip… apparently someone decided it would be a fantastic idea to list 5 strengths of each store director on their name badge for the rally in Las Vegas… so after I left work I had to go purchase this book (Now Discover Your Strengths) that all the store directors had to get and take a test online. I think it would have been cool to just use one of the countless of quizzes and such already on the net… but they felt the purchasing of this book would be better (they love spending money!) And to top it all off, there doesn't appear to be a Cliffs Notes or movie for this particular book!!! :-P

So after 30 minutes of taking this test (which was timed to extract a forced gut reaction to questions), here’s what this test says my top five strengths are (which will be engraved on my Vegas name badge nonetheless):

People strong in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

People strong in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.

People strong in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at out what is wrong and resolving it.

People strong in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

People strong in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential in others. They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from these improvements.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

4 Non Blondes - What's Up?

Twenty-five years I'm alive here still
Trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination

I realized quickly when I knew I should
That the world was made up of this brotherhood of man
For whatever that means

And so I cry sometimes
When I'm lying in bed Just to get it all out
What's in my head
And I, I am feeling a little peculiar.

And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What's going on?

And I say: HEY! yeah yeaaah, HEY yeah yea
I said hey, what's going on?

And I say: HEY! yeah yeaaah, HEY yeah yea
I said hey, what's going on?

And I try, oh my god do I try
I try all the time, in this institution

And I pray, oh my god do I pray
I pray all sanctity
For a revolution.

And so I cry sometimes
When I'm lying bed
Just to get it all out
What's in my head
And I, I am feeling a little peculiar

And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What's going on?

And I say, hey hey hey hey
I said hey, what's going on?

And I say, hey hey hey hey
I said hey, what's going on?

And I say, hey hey hey hey
I said hey, what's going on?

And I say, hey hey hey hey
I said hey, what's going on?

Twenty-five years I'm alive here still
Trying to get up that great big hill of hope
for a destination
Wow… this song is almost completely accurate to how my last week has been. I am completely drained physically, mentally, and emotionally. I honestly don’t know what I’m running on at the moment. I knew I was stepping in to a big mess with this new store, but I had no idea on the full extent of this war torn store. I swear, just as I get one major issue corrected, like 8 more pop out… it’s like a freaking super hydra from hell!

Each day I come home, all of my energy is completely spent. Caffeine has definitely become a primary source of fuel for me after work… all I need is a chemical dependency to add to this stairway to hell!

I keep hoping that I’ll be approaching the light at the end of the tunnel each day, but it just feels like I’m getting further and further away from it. All I can say is that this is really taking a harsh toll on me… I can feel a few years of my life being shaved off each day. I can’t even cry about the situation, even though I’d love to… I know that would make me feel a bit better, but I just can’t. I just have to endure it until I get everything in order. So be it!

Ok, that’s enough of that… I can’t stand to think of that crap anymore! Good news… all my new employees are great! I really do look forward to seeing them each day.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Superman Returns: The Videogame

Here is a quick little trailer on the new Superman videogame scheduled to be released in June. This game is gonna be absolutely awewome!!! I'm gonna have to get an XBox 360 now!

Click Here To Play

A brief game synopsis:

Witness Superman using his super powers to save Metropolis from Metallo, one of many classic super villains in Superman Returns: The Videogame. Inspired by the upcoming Warner Bros. Pictures feature film and more than 60 years of DC Comics lore, the game creates the first multi-dimensional open-world super hero experience.

As the Man of Steel, you hone your unworldly super powers such as Flight, X-Ray Vision, Heat Vision, Super Hearing, Super Strength, Super Speed, and Super Breath to fight villains only Superman can defeat. Revolutionary new flight mechanics that give you full command of your aerial maneuvers. Explore and protect the truly living city of Metropolis, which is not only expansive (with 80 sq miles and more than 9,000 buildings), but also changes dynamically based on how you play the game: citizens run away in terror from newly erupting danger and exit their cars to cheer and snap photos as you fly overhead. Experience what it’s like to be Superman like never before with Superman Returns: The Videogame.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

All Good Things Must Come To An End

Today was my last day at the store, as I’ve been promoted to another. I feel that the day should have been bitter sweet… saying goodbye to so many people I care about and see everyday, but getting a new job where I reign supreme (not just de facto, but also de jure.) That’s just not how the day felt though… it was just bitter, not sweet at all... it was just plain sad… I really just wasn’t that excited at all.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the opportunity to do more on a much larger scale in another store… I’m just not certain that particular things and certain situations were where I wanted them to be for the people I’m leaving behind. There’s some unfinished business that I hope will be handled the right way, but I can’t be certain of that since I won’t be there… I’m no longer able to protect many of the people I really care about from a lot the of unfair circumstances that constantly arise. That’s probably what’s most unsettling about this whole situation.