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October 13, 2008
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All Choked Up

The HR Doctor’s latest toy is a snorkel for his prized yellow jeep.  This device was acquired only through the infinite patience and understanding of Saint Charlotte, the HR Spouse. 

A vehicle snorkel raises the point of intake of air to near the roof of the vehicle. The result is that colder air is pushed directly into the engine with the hope of improving performance and fuel mileage.

Attaching a snorkel also came as a result of realizing that the jeep’s performance was sluggish and somehow under par.  Being a non-mechanic, the brave HR Doctor actually opened the hood of the jeep and found that the air intake into the engine was basically only about an inch away from the hood when it was closed.  No wonder the performance was sluggish. The engine was choking for a lack of sufficient air.

Isn’t this exactly what happens to each of us and to our colleagues all too frequently?  Our performance is sluggish or our attitudes are not producing the best combination of economy of motion and output?

ImageIn fact, it’s true.  The more we live in a society where we are frustrated by everything from commuting to bad behavior at work, family worries, health worries — financial worries, the more we feel retarded in our ability to achieve our goals.  The more we worry that our dreams won’t come true, the more depressed we might get.  When we get depressed, we tend to default to complacency.  The more frustrated we get, the easier it is to get angry and to suffer from a lapse of emotional intelligence at a critical moment. 

This “all choked up” feeling will lead us to a greater dependency on other people instead of on ourselves, and perhaps on the substances of drugs and alcohol rather than the substance of our own positive thinking and acting. 

Just as the snorkel on my jeep helped change that situation by opening up the engine to cooler, fresher air intake, so too a snorkel in our lives will make it possible for each of us to perform, adapt and respond better than perhaps we ever did before. 

We can begin opening up our air passages by looking in the mirror and having a conversation with ourselves.  What can I do now to make it more likely that I will retire to a life of great challenge, fun and opportunity?  What can I do now to install long-term improvements in my health and in my financial health?  What can I do now to bring my relationships closer with my coworkers, my spouse or significant other and my children?  What am I contributing to improve my neighborhood, community and my country, not to mention my planet?  

Do I wake up every day to a life of engagement and involvement?  Or, do I move from the bed to a day full of reruns of Jerry Springer, American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, interrupted by a constant flow of drug commercials and get-out-of-debt schemes?  These are answered best out of serious, thoughtful and quiet conversation with yourself.  Better yet, have this chat with a very good friend such as the HR Dog Kamala, someone who will listen, will not be judgmental, and will offer you a supportive nuzzle, tail wag or a lick on the hand. 

After that first serious step, it is time to “dream a little dream.”  Create a vision for yourself of how your life could be better.  It’s okay to be doing this initially from a short-term standpoint such as, “I’ve always wanted to see Yosemite National Park and I’m going to do that within the next year.”  Later, as you get more practice at dreaming and find that it is actually great fun, you will come to see that the more you do it, the better at it you become. 

In effect, you are making a list, not a “bucket list,” (the kind you make prior to your death), but a “life list,” things to accomplish, people to meet, ideas to develop that enrich your life and turn you into an official member of a Society of Explorers. It is a club in which we take our dreams seriously and explore how we can get those dreams realized. 

In the course of getting fresh air pumped into you, you will realize the importance of acting now, with compelling urgency, to prevent or put off the day when bad things happen to you.  You might come to see value of not smoking to prevent future pain and loss of opportunity.  You certainly will realize that you never, ever get into a vehicle without putting on a seatbelt, and that you never ever get on a motorcycle or bike without wearing a helmet, no matter what silliness emerges from state legislatures making helmet use optional.  None of these snorkel devices has to cost any money, other than perhaps the adoption fees at the Humane Society to make a new canine friend. 

This article is about choking off of the air supply that enhances your performance and enhances your personal joy and passion at work and in life.  Deliberate attention and focus on how to turn getting “all choked up” into getting excited again is the approach to use in this case.  

Go out right after finishing this article and figure out the right kind of snorkel to attach to your life.  It will allow you the gift of overcoming the choking constrictions which limit your own success.


Phil Rosenberg

The HR Doctor •


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