The Not-So-Great Train Jumping Incident

You’ve heard about the research pertaining to men taking more physical risks than women, right? Let’s face it, guys, we’ve all felt the crush of peer pressure from our fellow men at some point. That burden of in-group conformity can be intimidating. This is especially true when one is a young man, and particularly a young man with a low popularity score in the unforgiving and cruelly Darwinian social hierarchy of high school.

Yes, like most men, I have engaged in risky behavior to impress my friends, or just to fit in. There’s also, as suggested by the research, the siren call toward risky behavior generated by testosterone. I’m reminded of one clear episode from my youth that involved a freight train.

One of my acquaintances during my early teens was an eternally angry guy I’ll call Mark. He was so antisocial that when I introduced him to new people, I should have said “Hi, this is Mark. He doesn’t like you.”

Mark fancied himself a rule breaker and a thrill seeker. Therefore, it wasn’t surprising when, during one late-night gathering of friends, he looked around the group with a wicked grin and said, “Let’s go jump on the train.”

Mark was referring to one of the trains that would periodically rumble through our town in the middle of the night. You could hear the mournful wail of their whistles as they barreled through the dark, moaning, rumbling, and clanking like lonely and monstrous ghosts.

Marks’ ingenious plan involved what would normally be considered two routine human abilities: running and jumping. But I was no ordinary human. I was much, much worse. To say I was “a little out of shape” would be like saying Donald Trump’s hair is “a little strange.”

Let me put it this way: do you remember the TV show the Six Million Dollar Man, featuring the guy the government rebuilt to be better, stronger, faster? Well, I was the “six million donut kid,” built by junk food to be weaker, slower, and sweatier. Some people train for triathlons. I guess I was training for a “die-athlon.” As in getting closer to death one Happy Meal at a time.

To be kind to my young self in retrospect, I was doing a lot of “eating my feelings,” thanks to some insidious Adverse Childhood Experiences I’d accumulated. While my siblings were coping with drugs and other negative behaviors, I was coping with food.

Besides my lack of athletic ability and my weight, there was the small matter of being scared out of my mind. I imagined jumping toward a moving train and missing, falling under it and getting my legs chopped off. Then, there were local legends of the horrible train conductors who were basically ogres out of the most messed up of Grimm’s fairy tales. Rumor had it they were mean and hulking figures who would beat you to a pulp for jumping onto their trains.

No amount of protesting on my part would sway my compatriots. They mocked, and teased, and belittled me into submission, and we ventured out into the muggy summer night.

I soon found myself squatting in bug-infested bushes at 2 AM next to the train tracks that cut through the middle of town. I was sweating from the warmth of the air and the fat pushing against my internal organs. Finally, there came the distant clanging of a train, and the eerie “wooo wooo” of its whistle. As the train came closer and closer, I got sweatier and sweatier.

Then, the massive rumbling mass of pitch-black steel was passing us with a deafening roar. Crazy Mark gave the order to run. I lurched to a start, stumbling and puffing with effort as I ran almost as fast as I could. Almost is the important word there. To say that I was reluctant to catch the night train would be like saying guys are reluctant to go to the proctologist.

I felt like I was running in slow motion, like in that famous scene from Chariots of Fire. But then again, that’s the speed I ran at all the time. Alas, my girth and my fear conspired against me, and I found myself losing ground as the train lumbered out of my reach. The rest of my friends caught up to it and climbed aboard the caboose. I heard them whooping and hollering and calling my name as the great metal beast carried them into the darkness.

Relieved and ashamed, I wandered back to Mark’s house. I sat on the steps waiting for my victorious pals. Eventually, they appeared on the street, still celebrating their accomplishment. When they spotted me, they laughed and began to sing a taunting refrain:

“Simeooooone all aloooooone in the niiiiiiiight! Can’t catch the traaaaaaaain.”

Ultimately, the dumb decision wasn’t the attempt to jump on the train. The dumb decision was feeling like I had to go along with the idea in the first place. In the days that followed that night, I realized peer pressure is probably one of the stupidest of human behaviors.

My friends taunted me for years after we chased the night train. But it wasn’t long before their teasing didn’t bother me, because in the end I moved on to the conviction that I don’t have to threaten my life and limbs for the sake of fitting in. Being fat and slow just happened to help me stick to that conviction! But like they say, a win is a win!


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Dressing for Success: 3 Real Benefits of a Small Interchangeable Wardrobe

Dressing up for a job interview is something we have all done. It’s part of making a good first impression. But that doesn’t mean the impressions should stop coming. My first job was an entry-level job but I turned out every day in my best business attire. A few weeks later, a supervisor complimented me on looking snappy every day. Three or four months down the road I was told I was making a good impression on senior management. They were sorry to see me go when I quit a year later in the same position.

Dress to Impress

The thing about successful people is, they follow a uniform when it comes to dressing. Obviously, this does not mean a Dr. Evil style costume like in Austin Powers. But even the most underdressed of successful people like Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs have a distinctive style. This is their uniform, from which they rarely deviate. When dressing for success, its best to keep it simple, control your message, and stay consistent. This is a far better option than spending thousands of dollars on bespoke suits, even if you can afford it.

Billionaires like Steve Jobs had all the money in the world to buy expensive outfits. but his wardrobe only had simple, interchangeable outfits. There’s a very good reason for this. The less effort you have to put into deciding what to wear, the more effort you can put into productive work. Successful people all have a very common driving factor.

They realize the only scarce commodity they have is time. There are only 24 hours in a day. No amount of money can buy an extra minute. This spurs on leaders and successful people to minimize the energy they spend on clothing decisions.

Some of the most prominent business leaders of our time all have this in common. Hence the distinct “uniform” they wear. It may be a good idea for you to create a uniform of your own on your way to success. Here are the top three benefits to doing just that:

  1. Presenting a message to others
  2. Saving valuable time
  3. Saving money

“A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them.” – Hardy Amies

Below are three real benefits of having a small interchangeable wardrobe:

1. Presenting a Message to Others

The first thing you want to do is figure out the message you want to present with your clothing. You need to know how to control this message. Steve Jobs attire tells us he was an average, everyday guy, which is exactly the message he wanted to present. Mark Zuckerberg wears a grey T-shirt with jeans, presenting that he’s still a computer genius at heart.

Figure out what message you want to portray and how simply you can get it through. Afterwards, make clothing decisions accordingly. A lot of what we perceive about people comes from the way they dress. So put in careful thought, even if you decide to go for a casual ensemble.

2. Saving Valuable Time

Trust me when I say this, too many choices are never good. This is especially true when deciding what to wear. The more choices you have, the more indecisive you get. If you have dozens of outfits in your wardrobe, you are likely to go into paralysis trying to choose one. Some people even panic and think none of their clothes go with each other.

If this happens to you, it is time to trim down your closet. Not only does this save space, but it also helps eliminate extra choices. This lessens the span of time you spend deciding what to wear. A simple and interchangeable wardrobe can help you accomplish that.

“Dressing well is a form of good manners.” – Tom Ford

3. Saving Money

What makes successful people successful? For one thing, they don’t believe in spending more than necessary. This is a worthwhile habit to cultivate on your road to success, especially when it comes to maintaining a wardrobe. An interchangeable wardrobe consisting of a few good outfits can really help you save money.

You can create more outfits with fewer articles of clothing. This means you need to shop less often for new clothes. Additionally, you will probably start carefully considering clothes before you purchase them. In both cases, you spend less money on clothes and save more.

In the business world, you need more than just appearances to succeed, but people who do succeed usually have a way of thinking along the same lines. This translates into their uniform, along with their professional and personal lives. One way to succeed is to emulate people who have already done it.

Following the dressing habits of these people is more than just mere imitation. These benefits can flow over into other aspects of your life as well. Ultimately, they will complement your vision of yourself as a successful person.

What’s your favorite outfit you like to wear? Share it with us below!

source https://addicted2success.com/success-advice/dressing-for-success-3-real-benefits-of-a-small-interchangeable-wardrobe/

The Link Between Misplaced Pride & Abundance | Sick Biz Buzz Podcast 065

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  • Abundance becomes possible when we get honest about our behaviors and beliefs and put pride in its rightful place.
  • Misplaced pride occurs when we unknowingly take pride in things we should not take pride in; things that ultimately keep us down and block abundance.
  • Being overly critical (of ourselves and others) is not a complimentary vibration to abundance and reiterates the needs to be “crystal freaking clear” when calling in abundance.
  • Entrepreneurs need to take a closer look at their day to day lives and the conversations they have with themselves and others. People are more alike than not regardless of how abundance manifests in their lives.

Hilary closes the podcast by asking listeners to, “examine the values you’ve brought into your life and see what it is getting you.”

Catch the sickest podcast around and learn how to turn your pain into purpose and profit every week on Sick Biz Buzz. Tune in wherever podcasts are available.

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The World I Take for Granted

As I was driving through my neighborhood on the way to work yesterday, I noticed an African American man in a black hoodie standing in the driveway, talking on a cell phone. As I passed by, we locked eyes for a couple of beats.

I didn’t really think much about it. I just figured he lived there. But as I was driving, a thought struck me, “I wonder if he thought I was sizing him up, thinking maybe I was suspicious of him. Maybe he was thinking he’s a black man in a hoodie, and a white guy drives by and looks at him, and maybe that white guy is about to call the police.”

All this is running through my mind, as I’m driving, trying to, otherwise, concentrate on a talk I had to give last night. But then I think, “Well, that’s ridiculous. I’d never do that. I assume he’s just a guy outside his house talking on a cell phone.”

But then I think, “Yeah, but he doesn’t know that. He has no idea what I’m thinking.”

So, my inner voice gets defensive and says, “If I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t read anything into that visual exchange other than that two guys happened to see each other for a few seconds. I certainly wouldn’t wonder if he was suspicious, about to call the police on me. I mean, if you treat these kinds of chance encounters as fraught with nefarious meaning, aren’t you being a little bit paranoid?”

Then another thought pops into my head: “Well, of course, I can afford to take for granted that these sorts of exchanges are innocent, freighted with no larger sociological meaning. Nobody’s ever called the police on me, after all. I can afford to assume that strangers don’t mean me harm, because in my experience they rarely ever have. But the way our world works, he can’t afford to take the situation so casually. Too many people of color have found themselves caught up in the ugly consequences of suspicion, the immediate assumption of guilt.”

It takes a great deal of privilege to walk through life assuming that because you’re innocent, the world will automatically treat you as such. It’s quite a bonanza of good fortune to believe that your experience of the world corresponds to everyone else’s experience.

That’s how people in power can say things like, “The disproportionate incarceration of black and brown bodies can probably be explained by the fact that maybe they just commit more crimes. There doesn’t have to be anything sinister going on.”

Or, we hear things like, “He was just trying to pay you a compliment. Why are you making such a big deal out of it?” Then there is, “So, the same security guy kept showing up wherever you went in the store. That doesn’t necessarily mean he was suspicious. Why are you being so paranoid?” And, finally, “There’s probably a very good reason that the boss showed up at your house in the middle of the night wearing bikini briefs, holding a half-empty bottle of scotch. Why do you always have to read something into every little thing? You’re so sensitive.”

People like me can afford to go through life taking for granted that because we’ve never been harassed or profiled that maybe other people are just making it up in their heads when they say they have been. Because for one thing, we almost never understand other people’s motivations—and so we often project our own motivations onto others, supposing them to be about the same.

And for another thing, if we’re wrong, and people actually are the target of racist, xenophobic, or sexist motivations, it doesn’t have much effect on us personally.

But see, that’s where I think people who claim to follow Jesus ought to start having some problems. Just because we fool ourselves into thinking we can come through this stuff unscathed doesn’t mean we can actually ignore other people’s oppression with impunity.

“That’s not my problem,” as a response to other people’s pain, not only fails to be a Christian response, it’s a completely uninteresting one—since it requires nothing more than a retreat into what Iris Murdoch called “our fat, relentless egos,” which are thoroughly tedious.

The Apostle Paul uses the metaphor of a body to suggest that we’re inextricably joined together in ways that don’t immediately seem apparent to us—preoccupied as we often are by whether or not the Kardashians are at war.

Paul rightly points out that if one part of the body is sick or injured, the whole rest of the body experiences that misery together. That we don’t experience the misery afflicting our neighbors, then, says more about our ability to ignore the pain that eats away at the core of our intersubjectivity than about whether or not injustices visited upon other people actually affects us. Paul says they do.

Somebody’s liable to say, “Well, Paul was using that metaphor to talk about the church. It’s not applicable to people outside the church.” Really? You’re going with that? Just because somebody’s not a Christian, empathy is irrelevant?

I seriously cannot imagine trying to persuade Jesus that that’s what he had in mind when he announced the great reversal of the reign of God. No, I imagine that reality requires that people who have so much to take for granted quit taking for granted that everybody else has the luxury of that same taken-for-grantedness.

To put a finer point on it, we need to exercise our moral imaginations and think about the world other people actually live in—and not just our fantasy of it. Jesus made a whole life of it.

 

A version of this post was previously published at DerekPenwell.net and is republished here with permission from the author.

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Desmond Biss: Unlock the Safe

The Bristlecone Project is an awareness campaign of 1in6.org. Photographs and text by David Lisak, Ph.D.

Sexually abused by an uncle for many years, Desmond later saw his uncle jailed for sexually abusing another child. But Desmond’s trauma remained a private burden, a secret he kept to himself, buried in a mental safe. A secret that walled himself from others, protected from a world in which someone you trust, someone you need, someone who cares for you could be the someone who betrays you.

He was a sophomore at the University of Saskatchewan when he began to dig up the safe with the secret. His first disclosure was to his sister.

After that disclosure, Desmond launched himself on the long and difficult journey toward healing. The first counselor he braved was a disaster. Nine months later, he let himself try again. And so he persevered, gradually unlocking the safe and bringing light into the dark places.

He had to methodically teach himself to recognize and tolerate his emotions. Emotions had been uncharted territory, a part of experience he was forced to sacrifice in the service of survival. He has found great help in yoga and meditation. Meditation helps him to focus his attention where he needs it, helps him to remain grounded, and to notice when his mind is veering away from the present.

Today, Desmond is married and able to share himself emotionally. That long-buried safe is now an artifact. And he is finding ways to help other survivors, working with his local sexual assault coalition to help others who may be ready to embark on their own path toward healing.

“I actually started to learn to safely experience my emotions.”

Originally posted on 1in6.org

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Surviving a Layoff or Job Loss

I worked in HR for over 10 years. My job used to send me to locations to deliver the bad news of layoffs or to present an information session to people who had just learned their jobs were eliminated. I always felt guilty as I looked at the uncertainty in their eyes and saw the feelings of rejection on their faces.

For all I knew, they were incredible employees, but the company had made a financial decision that impacted not real people, but names on a sheet. I sympathized but I was also there to do a job, and I did it to the best of my ability.

I was receiving bonuses, the highest raises they could give and top ratings for my yearly evaluations. On paper, I was killing it. But, as the company was changing, my reputation was keeping me afloat because it preceded me as I changed managers. These people weren’t as familiar and were far less impressed or giving in their expectations of me.

I strayed further from my fans to people who had little interest in my survival at the company. I still worked my hardest, but there was a shift in culture at the company. Plus I was dealing with personal issues at the same time. The majority of my team was also moved to a new location, and I was the last man standing. I felt like an outcast.

Even with all these changes I was still shocked when my Manager’s manager, a man I had never talked to, wanted to speak with me. An HR person also joined our meeting. During the meeting, they offered me a package to get me to leave quietly and walk away from a job where I was still earning high ratings. The hardest part was seeing the surprise of my co-workers who told me they “never thought I would be let go”.

The phase-out process.

Once I accepted the layoff, I still had to deal with the phase-out process. At the beginning of that process, I had to attend a bunch of meetings to speak in detail about my work. I was to transition my workload to four (yes, four) people.

I had to share what I did to accomplish my job, knowing I could still do my job. They were also choosing to give my workload to these other people who already had full responsibilities of their own.

As the phase-out process progressed, I had fewer meetings. The emails dwindled, and the phone calls died down. I had more time to surf the internet. I felt useless. Each night I took things from my office that had taken 7 years to accumulate.

Eventually, my supervisor said I didn’t have to come into the office. They would pay me to stay home for the last few weeks and call me on an as-needed basis. I turned in my corporate card and my laptop. Now I was no longer an employee.

The last day came and, I still had two boxes full of stuff to collect from my office. The building security told me that I couldn’t leave without someone confirming that I was only taking what I was allowed to take from the building.

Typically, I can be unemotional, but in that instance, I burst into tears. This added to the frustration of an already impossible situation. I felt humiliated taking my things out, but now this person wanted me to ask someone else’s permission. The head of Security vouched for me because he knew me and they all stood watching while I rolled my things out of the building. I felt defeated.

I lost my identity.

I woke up every day seeking a sense of purpose. Up until then, I had been this powerhouse who received validation from being amazing in my job. Now I woke up to watch Maury all day and tried to find ways to fill my nights. All the while trying to forget that no one needed me.

I slipped into depression. I spent some of my severance pay trying to find ways to be happy again. I met with a Life Coach and took vacations. But nothing shook me from my malaise.

Thankfully, life didn’t give up on me. Eventually, writing became the anchor in the storm for me. I started writing blog posts, stories, anything that came to my foggy brain. I now had the time to explore my talent. Eventually, this brought me back to life and having my written work accepted gave me a new identity. I regained my confidence.

What I didn’t understand when I was laid off is that you go through a grieving process. The grief is for the death of an identity that you believed in and I wasn’t allowing myself the time, self-compassion or time I needed to rebuild myself.

Taking things personally.

It’s hard to not take being laid off personally because it feels very personal. It also feels like you should rush and find another job. If that feels right for you, then that’s a blessing. But, allowing yourself the time to crumble and feel the emotional rollercoaster of having the ground fall beneath your feet, is also a valid response. It’s an opportunity for self-love and everything you feel about it is valid.

Now, looking back, I see that my employer made the decision I wasn’t willing to make for myself. We were right to part ways. It caused me to find my way back to my first love. Sometimes, a job isn’t appreciative of what you have to offer, and it’s time to move on to better things.

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