Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ocean or desert?

Have you ever been involved in one of those group personality events? The kind where the facilitator asks an either/or question, and you are directed to the corner of the room designated for people who have chosen the particular answer. The ones I've been involved in were meant to help you get to know yourself, but they haven't been very effective for me. They seem rather pointless as in Real Life, we often have the option of a "both" scenario, and possibly even a "neither".

The one I clearly remember is "Would you choose the ocean or desert?" - I was unable to make a decision 30 years ago, and I am unable to choose now. Maybe it shows an unclear mind, but I prefer to think that I would, at times, be perfectly happy with either. But it's more likely that I need both - depending on the circucmstances.

The times I crave being near the desert are when I am completely disillusioned with politics (the at work kind as well as the governmental kind). When the world seems to have gone completely haywire and mad and be totally senseless and unreliable. That's when I say, only half joking: "It's time to go live in the desert". The wide open space, the huge sky, the extremes in temperature night to day, the cleanness and scarcity of evident life, the relative silence - bliss. I never need the ocean at times like this.

But walking beside the crashing ocean, being whipped by the salt laden wind, overdosing on ozone (is that possible?) ahh, that is so energising and satisfying. It never ceases to delight me that in the instant of dunking beneath the waves, most harrowing experiences are washed away, even if only temporarily, leaving you feeling cleansed and revived. It's pretty neat that such a simple and inexpensive pass-time can be so therapeutic. (I wonder if research has been done into sea swimming as being beneficial for mild cases of depression?)

So, ocean or desert? I choose both.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Winter doldrums

Oh my goodness, hasn't it been cold. I think that over the last few years, we've forgotten what Winter "should" feel like.

The summer dust is long gone, and the trees have had their fill of water. Leaves that were crisp and dead have blown away and been replaced with fresh growth. Now, it's drizzly and miserable. I've wimped out of scooping the dead bird into the compost heap. It must have been blown off a branch the other night during the storm. That's the second one this month. I wonder if it means the storms are particularly vicious, or if the birds have forgotten what storms are like? I suppose 12 years of drought could be enough for the group memory to fade?

The last few winters have been uneventful affairs. Ho hum weather, dry and not even particularly cold, but this year we've been getting the extremes. It's as if the sky gods are making up for lulling us into a state of complacency. And so we've had rain. All sorts of rain. Vast sheets of bucketing rain, miserable squalls interspersed with pallid blue sky and grubby clouds, drizzly rain that appears ineffectual until you go out and it seeps through the layers, down the sleeves and up your arms to your elbows. How on earth does it do that? And the hail. We've never seen anything like it down here before. The size of golf balls, damaging cars and roofs, and injuring animals and people. Not fun at all.

But speaking of fun, one of the joys of my childhood and that of my children was splashing in puddles, making leaf boats and floating them down the little rivulets in the gutters. This last generation of children missed out on that pass-time. No puddles, no gumboots, no running under the hoses in Summer and squealing with pleasure. No rain.

I wonder how the gumboot manufacturers fared? I don't think you could have bought them for love nor money for many years. But this year! Joy! They are out and proud! During their hibernation they really have evolved into footwear of beauty. Boring black or basic block colours? Forget it. These are paisley, floral, with animal prints, with little ears and dangles and doodads. They're really making up for lost time and bringing smiles in spite of the dreary weather.

Life is good.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

TWiaAP - Norwegians in Australia

Pronunciation: tee wap

aka: The World is an Amazing Place

What word do you have for those random events that sometimes take your breath away? Not quite the Black Swan variety (that term is deservedly reserved for the more catastrophic event), but the "golly gosh, how did that happen?" garden variety, double take.

Here I am in my somewhat chilly kitchen, (the warmth from the wood heater hasn't spread this far yet) idly preparing dinner for my house guests who will descend ravenous, cold and soggy later in the evening.

What harm can there be to have a peek (a nano peek really - I promise!) to see what is happening out there in the electronic world, the blogosphere and cyberspace?!

The bald facts are as follows: Earlier this year, hubby and I went to see a fantastic amazingly uplifting "feel good" local comedian - Adam Hills. It was an unusual interactive performance, with mobile phones, tweeting, phone photos/videoing and the audience all getting a guernsey. After each show, Adam would blog about the event.

Now, as you know, I'm new to all this electronic media stuff, but I rashly decided to have a look at his blog, and possibly even more foolishly found the courage to comment. (more on this in a couple of days). Lo and behold, there I found a link to a Norwegian blog, the writer being an enthusiastic fan of Adam.

Next little factoid: My daughter has spent time in Northern Norway, (Andoya) and is rather partial to things Norwegian. So, being a "good mum" I had a look at this blog "The Giraffability of Digression" with the view of showing daughter that I'm not a total dinosaur when it comes to these things.

What a delight! This is not the navel gazing or self flagellation that I'd been warned to expect. But witty, charming and enticing, and with equally delightful links elsewhere.

Worlds within Worlds.

A further factoid. (it's ok, dinner is cooking merrily, so I feel justified in typing) Our current houseguest is (and this is where the expression TWiaAP comes in) ... Norwegian. I couldn't resist sharing Cruella's post about the little house with the giraffe. What I hadn't expected was for our guest to begin softly singing a jaunty little song from the TV show. How cool is that! How connected.

Adam would be proud.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ostriches and Key Selection Criteria

Completing Key Selection Criteria (KSC) seems to strike fear into many hearts.

Are you one of these people?

A recent survey found that 8 out of 10 applicants for a professional position hadn't bothered to attempt this segment of the application process. Why is this, when the applicants presumably hoped to be invited in for an interview?

What are Key Selection Criteria, and why should you complete them?

KSC's are a series of qualities that the employer has defined as being essential or desirable for fulfilling the requirements of the job. They outline the qualities, knowledge and skills that you need to demonstrate in order to get an interview. The aim is to provide a fair and transparent selection process and your answers will be compared to those of the other applicants.

They are used for assessing and comparing written applications and also provide a framework for the interview.

How well you fulfill the criteria will determine whether or not you're asked to attend an interview. In fact, your statement addressing the selection criteria is sometimes seen as more important than your resume. Your resume becomes a supporting document.

You can begin to see why they are so crucial can't you.

How to tackle Key Selection Criteria.

To tackle them properly, you'll need to prepare another document as well as your resume and covering letter. If you take them one by one, they aren't quite so daunting.

Remember to write for the real person who will read your documents. If you find this tough, stick a photo near your computer of someone you admire or would like to impress, and write with them in mind. How would they respond to your answers?

If you're stuck, try using the STAR approach.

Describe the Situation
Identify the Task/problem that needed to be performed/solved
Explain the Approach and/or Action you took and what skills you used
Specify the Results

Any relevant aspect of your life can be used to show that you fulfill the criteria, but remember to write a direct statement with examples to show and clearly demonstrate how your knowledge, skills and experience make you the best applicant for the vacancy.

What happens to your application once it's been submitted?

The temptation is to think that once you've posted your hard copy, or clicked "submit" for your online application that it's all done and dusted.

In fact, this is just the beginning.

A real person will compare your responses to the other applicants. In fact, someone just like me :)

You want yours to shine don't you? You want to show that you've taken the process seriously? That you are just champing at the bit to get started? That you know your stuff, and are keen to present at interview?

Don't be an ostrich and hide your head in the sand when it comes to KSC. Remember to answer all questions, and give it your best shot - and do seek professional help if you still feel overwhelmed.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Strong women

I've been thinking today of my strong women friends, clients and colleagues who have been the victims of workplace bullying and sexual predators. In truth they haven't been "victims". That word seems to conjure up visions of people who have given in, and these women certainly haven't done that. They have, by their tenacity and courage, bucked the system and stood firm, in effect saying "ENOUGH!"

How strong they've been to stick by their values and go against the stream of "Let it be dear." "Ignore it and it'll go away" kind of advice. Or the sad, and untrue "He didn't mean it, you must have misunderstood".

How alone they've felt at times, they've all questioned their motives and wisdom. One, I know, stood firm in the clear knowledge that if she didn't, then the problems would persist with others, until the perpetrator eventually retired. After all, this had been going on for far too many years, known, but ignored by those who could have 'nipped it in the bud', the person moved on from job to job, smilingly giving plausible reasons for being made redundant.

Our whistle blowers are possibly never emotionally prepared for the toll their actions will take on their mental and physical health. How could they be? They're generally alone in speaking out at the organization, and it can take months to find the courage to approach the union or human resources management:  The very nature of the offenses can be sneaky and hidden so there are no witnesses,  or else so blatant that you are unsure if it could have been accidental after all.

The 'victim' has been deliberately chosen; they might be alone, vulnerable, insecure or new to the position. The perpetrator in all the cases I've been privy to, is an established member of that workplace, seemingly respected, and with a strong connection to management.

This is a celebration of ethical behaviour and strong values! Well done my friends! I believe each of you began - almost innocently - alerting the management to untoward events. Each of you started a journey that took well over a year exposing the perpetrator. Justice, no matter how insignificant, was such a long time coming.

Would you do it again? Knowing what you know now?

The actions of those who have suffered bullying or intimidation and who have found the strength to stand firm, has come at huge personal cost. You deserve to be showered in rose petals and have beautiful marble monuments erected, so that others can learn from you, and be inspired. Instead, far too many of you are still shunned as trouble makers.

And what of the others who were there before you, who left without "creating trouble". What damage has been done and what silent cries are buried by those who weren't believed and supported?