Need a break? A holiday … or a music skill?

When the term relaxing is put to you, what is the first thing that comes naturally to mind? For some it may involve a weekend away to somewhere different, away from the stresses of daily life. A change in surroundings is good. It allows you to recharge your batteries so that you return back to work ready to take on the tasks ahead. That’s the theory anyway. For other individuals relaxing is a longer term project, which may involve a week away in the more exotic climates of Europe, such as traditional cities such as Spanish ones like Barcelona or Madrid.

If you are on of these lucky people then good for you! Some people actually go so long away for a holiday that in the middle of it they may sit up and decide that they have had enough time away and are ready to go back to work. They may just declare that the time away, while beneficial, has been too long and bordering on disruptive, that they are starting to disassociate with the essence of themselves. In other words, they are starting to lose links with work and family, and the routine is so drastically different that if they carried on with the holiday they would have to think of setting up a new life!

Which is what some people actually do. Some decide to put life on hold, traveling to different cities in a caravan or motorhome, paying their way by teaching, or more recently, blogging. Blogging is a digital job that has sprung up in recent years, but don’t be deluded – the majority of us can’t blog our way travelling through expensive cities like New York or London, so don’t get caught up in the hype, thinking you can make a living in the big city, traveling and enjoying life, while money for a mortgage plonks itself into your bank account!

But relaxing does not involve going on away – it may just mean taking up another pursuit as a sort of mental deflection from daily activities. Taking up a new skill such as computer programming, web design, a sport like football or a musical instrument like the piano can provide equal mental distraction and make you feel refreshed when you go back to routine. It gives you a jolt from stability. And developing the patience to improve one’s craft can also lead to the development of learning skills. For example, piano skills are not hereditary, but if you take it up, you will learn about how you yourself learn new things, strategies and techniques which you can apply to other situations.

So the next time you feel you need a break, and can’t go away – try a new hobby instead!

The Education Game

Every job is perceived differently in different societies. If you were a banker, you might be saluted in Switzerland, or bashed in Britain, although the latter really depends on the state of the economy and how much people think it is down to you! If you were a teacher, it is really also the same. Where you choose to practice your career may be heavily influenced by the viewer’s perception of your job. In other words, you are probably going to work in a country where you are respected for the job you do.

Studies have shown that the Far East is the area where teachers are respected most. In places such as Malaysia and China, the teaching profession is held in high regard. Why is this so? It may be because in these countries, education is seen as a highly prized route out of traditional labour jobs such as agricultural farming, or retail. Education gives people a chance away from menial work which not only does not pay well, but demands long hours under harsh conditions. Those that teach are those who hold knowledge and can disseminate it to others who will pounce on every nugget of information, studiously copying it down and making voluminous notes.

The composer Irving Berlin was – according to his teachers – a bit of a day dreamer, singing in class. Perhaps Berlin did not see how all this education would help him in his musical pursuits, but there’s a lesson to be learnt for teachers: a key skill to impart to your students would be to show them the relevance of what they are learning to their future vocation. Even if it may be knowledge that does not directly have influence in one’s chosen vocation, teachers need to be able to show students how something might be useful or have some bearing in their future life, or simply even as common knowledge. You may not be able to change the perception of the job in your country, but you are able to shape the perception of yourself in the eyes of your students!

The Case of Chopin: To go or not to go?

For many years Katherine Hough, now a twenty-seven year old woman, suffered excruciating pains in her body that made daily life difficult. She seemed to suffer from strange symptoms that started out from a sense of unease and tiredness and progressed on to stomach pains. And when she was off at University her health declined even more. She began to faint frequently. Her hair fell out. She suffered from severe joint pains and was often simply just tired. Her mother thought it was down to what she termed a hectic student lifestyle. Then Katherine visited her GP.

For many of us a trip to the GP may come perhaps at too late a stage. We all suffer from niggles here and there which do not warrant a trip to the doctor’s – such as having a cold and a temperature. In fact, the better thing to do would be to have a rest at home instead of trekking out to the doctor’s office, possibly infecting other patients, or picking up something worse from the airborne atmosphere of ill patients. What do you do? You simply phone in work or school and then leave a message to say you are unwell.

This may be the most common occurrence in Great Britain, but strangely enough, in the Far East, in some countries you are expected to go to the doctor’s to be certified unwell, receive a medical certificate advising of home rest of a certain duration (usually two days’ leave for a temperature or a cold) then produce this certificate when you return to work or school. This medical certificate, or MC as it is commonly abbreviated to, is your proof that you were unwell and a legal work requirement in some countries.

Imagine have to trek to the doctor’s for him or her to write you a note, telling you that you are unwell when you already know that in the first place!

Footballers have to continually find a balance between playing, or knowing they cannot perform at their best. Arsenal captain Mesut Ozil has often been slated for missing big games with colds, but perhaps it is good to give up your place to a team mate who can do better if you cannot perform to your best.

The classical piano composer Frederic Chopin died young – on a trip to Majorca in the winter, he and his partner George Sand failed to find accommodation and had to seek refuge in an abandoned monastery. Chopin was quite frail anyway, but no doubt spending a whole winter in the wet and without heating didn’t do much good for him! Perhaps he should have sought medical help instead of toughing it out. Always two sides to a tale!

Food for thought

What would your first thoughts be if someone ran this idea past you – that before entering a store, you would have a small amount of money debited from your bank account, and then after you had done your shopping and paid for that, you would be refunded the amount taken from you initially in the first place?

If you were open-minded, you might investigate the idea further. What would the store do? Would it cost customers to simply have a browse? No. What would the store do with the money? Invest it and then return it after three days, like banks do? No, it would simply give it back to you. Would it affect the cost of shopping in any way? No, the cost of your shopping is a separate matter altogether. So why would a store charge you simply for the duration of your time in the store?

It seems like a crazy idea but this is of a refundable entry charge is to discourage shoplifting. If someone enters a store with the intention of leaving with a few items without paying, the entry tax is twofold. One, it would make it financially unfeasible to steal a few small items, and secondly, if someone were emboldened by the idea, there would be an electronic trace by examining the time on the CCTV that the perpetrator entered the store and matching it to the corresponding entry charge.

The purpose of an entry charge is to discourage theft, although it may nor be immediately apparent.

It has been such a successful idea that some are considering extending it to combat theft in another area. Fuel theft costs the economy and also takes up police time when incidents have to be investigated.

It may be a silly idea, but in the future if it is proven to reduce crimes such as fuel theft and other forms of petty theft, maybe this will catch on. Already this has potential in other areas. New ideas always start out on the periphery and get established with time. For example, when Arnold Schoenberg pioneered his twelve-tone music, it was not widely popular at the time, but it has at least claimed a place in music history, and been accepted (not necessarily liked) over the generations. The same oould go for what amounts to security payments for entry to supermarkets and service stations.

Population growth and the need for new skills

The current rate of world population growth has reason to give us cause for alarm. Every fifteen to twenty years, the world population increases by a billion people. That is the staggering reality of the world population growth. In fact, in the year 1999, it was estimated that the world population surpassed six billion then. It is difficult to forecast populations exactly of course, and as population growth is a derivative rate from the population itself, growth is also difficult to estimate.

Population growth is difficult to estimate because factors such as natural disasters may skew the number of deaths each year through earthquakes, typhoons and famine. Other factors such as migration, and when census in different countries are taken may also affect data. (If for example, a million people in the United Kingdom migrate due to Brexit into Europe, and the census dates between the United Kingdom and Europe are different, a million people could lapse in between somewhere.)

At this current rate of growth the world population is expected to reach eleven billion by the turn of the century. By 2200 we would double the existing world population. The world population growth at its current rate is hence unsustainable. We must take measures to curb it, it appears. And why? If you think about it, at its current level there are already people who suffer from poverty and hunger and do not have enough to eat. The world’s resources cannot feed so many people at its current level; how is it going to feed an additional billion or two?

It is unsurprising then that there have been greater publicity towards a move towards less meat, more vegetarian and even vegan diet. Meat such as beef from cows accounts for nearly a quarter of greenhouse emissions. If we were to reconsider our diet, some reason that it just might allow us to produce enough to feed a growing world population.

Population growth also means a drive towards accumulating more skills for employment. When there are people than there are jobs, it means greater competition, and a need to be more skilled and creative in promoting one’s skills and knowledge. If you were a footballer, for example, you need to have more football skills on the pitch, but also to know how to market yourself. It is no point being the best footballer if you do not take advantage of the opportunities to make income through sales of jerseys, advertising, promoting products and off the pitch.

So that is the case for footballers, but what about the rest of us? We could look at developing more general skills. For example, just because you are an accountant does not mean you can’t have musical interests. You may be an actor, but have good computing skills, Or if you are an artist, there is nothing stopping you from doing other non-artistic courses in your free time. These skills may come in handy and give you the edge over someone else with the same qualifications. The hardest part is finding time to practice what seems like irrelevant skills to the job, but developing these may be a good way to stand out in an ever-populated world!

Trivia

People often make interesting remarks as if to demonstrate the breadth of their knowledge (if you can call it that) or awareness of daily trivia. You may know of someone who knows so much trivia, is a font of the weird and wonderful, that people simply call him “weird”, or perhaps say about him that “he’ll know about this” whenever there is a juicy bit of information flying about.

Is this sort of behaviour perhaps a sign of insecurity? Is it because people are really uncomfortable with the silence because they feel the whole world is looking at them, and judging them, that they feel they have the need to break the silence with some sort of a strange anecdote, either to take the heat of self-judgement, or to turn attention on to themselves?

If you know someone like this, who is always piping up with comments, here’s an anecdote you can tell them: What did the flight attendant say to the pony? Quit horsing around. Now, the Mr Trivia in your midst is likely not to find it funny, and pipe up with some comment about how you will never find a pony on a plane. How it is so much of an impossibility. You should let this person go on a semi-rant and talk, because the build-up before the fall will then be great and greatly self-inflicted.

So when Mr Know-it-all gives what he’s worth and then looks at you, this is when you whip out the picture below and show it to him.

Yes, it’s not been edited or photoshopped. It is a picture of an actual pony on a plane.

Now, having a pony on a plane might seem odd, but there are many facets of life which may seem different. We have just to accept it.

But it would be interesting to see how your Mr Know-it-all responds to all that! It might just keep them silent for a while!

Being Human

On the face of things, there are many reasons we have to stop ourselves reacting to people in need we see on the street. They do not necessarily have to be homeless. They may just be someone who has fallen over. They may be an adult with many children that need help – perhaps one has got sick, and the adult has a baby in the stroller or arm. But stepping in to help is more of a thing people increasingly do less, because they don’t want to overextend themselves.

So imagine perhaps if you have overextended yourself to help someone in need. They may have fallen over in the street, or become unconscious, or in some way been unable to look after themselves and be trusted to be safe. You stay with them until you are convinced that they are safe, help has been delivered and you are safe to carry on. Now because you have been with them for a long time, you are perhaps suddenly aware that you have your own needs to attend to. Perhaps you need to use the public facilities. You head inside a pub or cafe outside which help has just been rendered and just before you are about to step in, the staff politely inform you that toilets are for patrons only. Never mind that this is just outside the place where you had given help, rules are rules, and not meant to be broken. Never mind that the staff had seen that you had given help. Would you think this unreasonable?

If you had spent three hours talking someone off jumping off a bridge, and then needed some physical respite, would it be unreasonable?

If you stopped to help a stranger who was injured and had your clothes covered in blood, would it be unreasonable to expect to use the toilet to clean up?
Or if you stayed with a stranger on the street in the cold because there was someone else threatening them and they feared being alone, would having a cup of tea for your efforts be reasonable – without having to put a price on every action?

The composer Vaughan Williams was famous for his generosity and willingness to embrace his fellow human beings. Apparently he once donated the earnings from a published book to help someone on the streets. (You can read more about Vaughan Williams from the pp@funcraft.infoPosted on Categories player motivationTags

Dressing for the job

Can your style of dress affect your chances of promotion at work? Some people claim that this could be true. If you dress to impress, and dress for the job you aim to get, you might find you have put yourself in the frame when the time comes when a position is being vacated. In fact, some suggest that you even dress like the person who you could be potentially replacing!

Of course this may be something for which the converse may be true. If there is a job opening within your organisation, and the person vacating the position is not well-liked, wear a style that is different and offers a new perspective. Or else you will never get the position because the person in mind is someone who is different, and you will remind the interview board too much of the status quo!

Will the trend for outfit rental extend beyond special occasions and into the commonplace? This is the question to which many are trying to answer, and where opportunists may sense there is a business area ripe for commercial exploitation. And just who exactly will form the majority of the target market? It is believed that the aspirational and ambitious thirty-somethings will make up the largest share of the market, while those in the previous and later decades will form a smaller but equally significant minority. But why is that age group more susceptible to be tapped?

Sociologists believe that those that make up that age bracket in the workforce will be looking to move up before it is too late. Most people in their twenties will spend time choosing the job that gives them the career they are after, and hence they will be job hopping. As their choice of career stabilises, towards the end of their late twenties and early twenties, they will be thinking less horizontally -in other words, thinking less about different careers – and thinking more vertically; about ascending within their career. They will be coveting the higher managerial positions, the ones with the greater responsibilities and salaries, so that they are well positioned within the organisation before they reach the crucial forties.

The forties are crucial for a couple of reasons. One is that it is normally expected that people in managerial positions will be at that age, when they have accumulated some work experience and life experience. Those in their forties are the ones bossing about and lording it over the newly graduated and those starting out.

An organisation is not going to put a young member into a managing role because they are career trialling and it would not work to invest all that time in someone and train them and have them leave. And if they don’t leave, training and promoting them too soon will mean that as they progress within the organisation they are going to command higher salaries. So the first importance of the forties is that it is the age where managing positions become more open and available. And those in their thirties are going to be jostling for these opportunities, doing what it takes to get them; these includes dressing for the intended job to get noticed.

So some career advice as you approach the forties is to dress for the job you want. Look to attain a managing position. You might want to consider renting outfits if the job requires you look smart. Look at football manager Antonio Conte when he was in charge of slick Chelsea – always with his suits on. If you are football manager of a blue-collar club, then maybe a tracksuit isn’t that out of place either. The classical music composer Joseph Haydn was often derided for his clothes as a young boy, yet when he worked in the courts of Esterhazy, from his mid-thirties, his style of dress would remain impressive for the decades he spent in the managing position of music maestro. (You can learn more about Haydn from the Piano Teacher N10 website. Find out why his tomb has two skulls!)

Public relations lesson

All in all, it can be summarised as a poor week for Spurs and France football captain Hugo Lloris.

The goalkeeper was found guilty this week of a drink driving offence and fined. In addition, he will also be sanctioned by the club.

It is coincidental therefore to hear that he has sustained an injury and will be out five weeks.

One suspects that the announcement of the injury has been timed to manage the fallout of his drink driving actions.

The Tottenham public relations team have thought about it and certainly considered how to protect their club captain and key player.

By announcing that the goalkeeper has an injury, it gives him a reason for an enforced absence. The club can sanction him internally with a ban for the same period, so he serves the ban without any public loss of face. Lloris gets punished by the club, but faces no speculation caused by the absence on the pitch during the time of his punishment.

And if the press continue to write about him, the Tottenham team will focus on his injury.

And when he returns to the football team, the media team will focus on how he will have returned after his injury, not after his drink driving ban.

Fans will realise he has been disciplined, but it will have been hush hush and a low key affair.

Lloris himself will appreciate that his internal disciplinary action will have been minimised in exposure.

Michel Vorm will man the sticks in the absence of Lloris. Vorm knows he gets the next five weeks to play with the first team.

By suspending the player internally, the club save on a few weeks wages.

Lloris gets a rest after his World Cup exploits.

The third choice keeper gets to be on the sub bench.

It is a win win situation for all involved.

This was supposed to be a bad time for the Tottenham stopper, but if you look carefully at how it has been managed, the fallout has been contained.

What a lesson in public relations!

Balancing work with passion

If someone were to bring up at a social occasion the topic of work – which does occur quite often, we must admit – and talk about doing things they are passionate about, you may find that for every one of such a person, there is another who would be adamant that sometimes you simply just have to knuckle down and do what’s available. It may be an age thing – after all, those who insist that you need to follow your passions may be younger individuals who still have decades of working life ahead of them. And what is wrong to want to do something that you would like, something that would sustain you for four or more decades of work?

But I am reminded of an older family member who once remarked rather cynically that one should forget about doing things that you like, simply because it is called work, and “work isn’t meant to be enjoyable.” No one likes work. The word work implies effort, movement, will and strength to drag yourself out of inertia into impetus. And translating that into action is effortful in itself. Why waste time on a movement or activity you do not believe in?

That lust to do something you are passionate about is a good thing, but it must be balanced against the need to earn a stable living and approached with caution. If what you are passionate about is a job that does not require much entry experience (such as singing, arguably), then you will have many people competing with you for your job. Singers are forever competing with others for the buying money of Joe Public. So being passionate about something may be a good idea, but balance that with a slight resignation to do may not necessarily be thoroughly enjoyable, but which would give you something to live on!

The music composer Carl Czerny was a link between the older Classical style of Beethoven and the expressionist Franz Liszt. Just as his music blends what seems like two opposing forces of expression and form, perhaps the ideal blend, in this situation, is one that you can derive some sense of satisfaction from, while still earning a wage. You can read more about Czerny in the N8 Piano Teacher blog.

But in this football context, what would be the ideal job? It may belong to Liverpool throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark, who admits he has possibly weirdest job in football.