Archives for the month of: November, 2011

I called my Grandma to check on her as she was ill and in the Emergency Room last week. The first thing she said to me was, “Morgan, I know you are outspoken and like to get your point across, and I heard you have been having some group issues, but don’t worry about it. I know you like fairness, etc. but you have to learn that sometimes, in this world, fairness don’t always win. Sometimes it’s not worth it even when you’re right.”

I found that so funny because here I was calling to check on her and she went directly into giving me a lecture about working with others. I didn’t even tell her about my teamwork issues but clearly my mother did. Nevertheless, if she felt good enough to lecture me, then that must mean she definitely was feeling better. Her comments did make me think about my role in any group and how I function.

A few weeks ago I took the Belbin Self-Perception Inventory and without a shadow of a doubt, I unquestionably scored as a SHAPER (SH).

What is a SHAPER you might ask?

Below are the characteristics of a SHAPER: “Shapers are highly motivated people with a…great need for achievement. Usually they are aggressive extroverts and possess strong drive. SHs like to challenge others and their concern is to win. They like to lead and push others into action. If obstacles arise, they will find a way around. Headstrong and assertive, they tend to show strong emotional response to any form of disappointment or frustration.”

“SHs are single-minded and argumentative and may lack interpersonal understanding. Their’s is the most competitive team role.”

The function of a SHAPER is: “SHs generally make good managers because they generate action and thrive under pressure. They are excellent at sparking life into a team and are very useful in groups where political complications are apt to slow things down; SHs are inclined to rise above problems of this kind and forge ahead regardless. They are well suited for making necessary changes and do not mind taking unpopular decisions. As the name implies, they try to impose some shape or pattern on group discussion or activities. They are probably the most effective members of a team in guaranteeing positive action.”

I must admit, this description does sound a lot like how I function in groups. I do not really take excuses as to why things do not get done from other members of a group. I prefer for people just to get the work done and to forge ahead because the group depends on their effort. When that does not occur, I guess I could potentially tend to “lack interpersonal understanding.” That is something that I must work on as I realize that everyone is not as “aggressive,” “headstrong,” or “assertive” and because of that some people need more coddling that others.

Some people require me to be gentler with them because they cannot emotionally handle conflict or disagreement whereas I thrive in it. This is something that I have been learning as I work in various groups throughout this semester. It is definitely a learning experience as I hope to be the Manager of something one day. I have to learn to work with others and be sympathetic to their plight while encouraging and providing support for them to move on. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand that there are some situations out of our control such as death, accidents, sickness, etc which can have a toll on anyone, but excuses suck as being tired from partying, mismanaging time, etc. are not acceptable.

Needless to say, I’ll take my Grandmother’s advice. Even if I am right, sometimes, it’s best to not be so assertive. It can serve as a turn-off sometimes and actually can take away from getting the task done. Instead of wasting time discussing how right I am and how wrong others are, the best thing to do is get the work done because at the end of the day, I don’t want to waste anymore time debating. Even though, I’m sure we all know, I’m right. lol

I encourage you to take the Belbin Self-Perception Invertory yourself and see if the results ring true.

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The Importance of Teamwork

“No man is an island.” -unknown

“There is no ‘I’ in team.” -unknown

“Two heads are better than one.” –unknown

These are some of the clichés used to justify the importance and benefit of teamwork. Coming from an individualistic country that to a certain extent glorifies social Darwinism and the idea that only the strong will survive, it is no surprise that teamwork is not my favorite thing to do. I don’t trust people when it comes to my grades. I prefer to rely on myself, work by myself, and be judged on my merit alone; however, when forced to work with others, I prefer to work with those whose skills/intellect/work ethic equal or surpass mine—that way, there is seemingly no weak link in the group.

In fact, in my undergraduate days, I had a class where we were graded as a group for every assignment. We even took tests together. I did not like this idea as I prefer my fate in numerical grading rests upon my own shoulders. I did not want to take the chance that someone’s misinterpretation or lack of understanding of a topic (which could easily happen to me as well) would negatively impact my grade. Nor did I want to be the person who negatively affected someone else’s grade. Also, I did not want someone who did not do their share of the work to reap the benefits of my hard work and dedication and reap the benefits just because he or she was riding my or other group members who took the project seriously coattails.

As far as I was concerned, this group project thing was not going to work that well but I was willing to give it a try only because there was an escape clause:

In class, we would take a test as a group. Then, we would take a test on the same material individually. This was done so the professor could see who was pulling their share of the weight and who was not. For example, if the group received 90 out of 100 on the group test, and one person received an 80 on their individual test, they would get the group grade because it was clear that the person studied and contributed to the group.  However, if one person received a 50 out of 100 on their individual test, then there was a clear hint that the group member did not contribute much to the group. In that case, they would get a deduction from the group grade.

This grading method also helped to see whether group synergy worked with the notion that as a group, with the different information, the grade would be better. In many cases, the group grade would be better than any individual test grades and many were fine with the group grade and saw the benefit of teamwork.

However, every test that I took in that class as an individual was higher than the groups. To my professor, this meant one of two things. Either I was not trying as hard with the group test or group synergy was not working as they were not listening to my answers to questions hence why the grade was lower. Honestly, while we were taking tests, I would try to tell the group what the correct answer was but someone else would swear they were right (and others agreed) so rather than fuss about it I just let them mark the wrong answer. However, many times, I did step in when I noticed that too many wrong answers were being given.

My standpoint was if they don’t listen, it doesn’t matter because I’ll take the test myself. I’ll get my own grade.

And that is what I did.

I met with my professor and she told me how she noticed I was the only one whose individual tests were consistently higher than the groups. I responded, I guess there is no “I” in team, but there is a “Me.” LOL

***

Those days are over as I have been forced to work in group projects where the group grade is the final grade and all my fears have resurfaced. I still don’t prefer group work and I still feel like the pressure rests on my shoulders (along with others who are seriously committed to getting the best grade possible) and I still feel that others who do less work benefit from my hard work, but that is a part of life.

In theory, group work has many advantages. In an ideal world, there would be less work per person as each person does their share. There would be more creativity as each member brings their own experiences, thoughts, and opinions to the group. And although each group would go through its patches of conflict, at the end, the final product would be better than any individual product.

I hope that is the case this time.

Thankfully, I’m not as selfish as I once was and I am learning to trust others to do their share of the work. It’s not easy for me, but I’m trying. However, whenever I am let down, it just reaffirms my internal belief that individualism works best for me.

What are your thoughts on teamwork?

Item 31160, Ben Evans Recreation Program Colle...

The steroptypical family structure: Mom, Dad, 2 Kids..

Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe

“Every family has its issues. If someone tells you that, their family has no secrets or skeletons in their closet, he or she is either lying or he or she has been too sheltered from their own family history to know the truth”-Me

Cynical? Maybe

Harsh? Maybe

Accurate? Definitely

Even if your nuclear family (mom/dad/bro/sis) is intact and you are proof that the 2.5 kids, dog, and house with a white picket fence, is true. Trust, that for most of us, our family has issues: big and small and our family tree would take up more than the house on the street. In fact, some of us would need the whole block.

Today, I was talking to a friend who informed me that she had recently found out she has an older brother by her dad.  She was shocked by the secret brother that she has no relationship with along a host of relatives that were attached with him. She stated that the paternity had always been in question, and her dad died while she was young, so that is why others kept it from her. He was unable to tell her about it before he passed.

This leads me to think about my own relationship regarding paternity: As a product of a man who denied paternity (and probably, to some extent, him and his family still do) the whole child denial is a sensitive topic for me. I think a sorry excuse of a male denies a child that could potentially be theirs. Plain and simple, if you had sex with a women unprotected and there is a possibility of a child being yours, do yourself, the child, and society a favour and take proper action to determine the paternity. Honestly, I feel males use that excuse to evade responsibility, particularly when they lament how the child is not theirs, yet take no course of action to see if it is or not. Why? Because usually, the male knows in their heart that it is a possibility that they could be the father, which scares them and they would rather not know if the child is theirs and never provide for it, than know for sure that it is theirs and not provide.

In addition, for the males those who discover the child is theirs and give the excuse “She tried to trap me. She know I don’t want no kids “as a reason to not provide for their offspring. SHAME ON YOU!! Even if the mother trapped you, is crazy, only wants a check, etc. what does that have to do with the product that resulted?  You were there. You didn’t take the proper precaution. You should man up and take care of your responsibility.  

Of course, talking about familial relations led to the question “Morgan, do you have any brothers or sisters?”

Inside, I cringe as I debate whether I should give a clear-cut ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. I decide to, as complicated as it may seem, give the truth, my truth.

I am the only child—from my mom. My biological father (who I have no relationship with) has 2 children (who I have met but to this day, they do not know my relationship to them). I assume they would be titled (half-sisters); I have no relationship with my biological father and consequently, I have no relationship with his other children. My mom is married and as a result, I was blessed with 2 step-brothers and 1 step-sister. However, it gets even more complicated as through crucial times in my life, prior to my mom’s marriage I acquired a father figure who has two daughters, who I refer to as sisters as well. So when I am asked the seemingly harmless question that many ask in getting to know one another, depending on my mood, my response ranges from an only child to 3 sisters and 2 brothers.

After hearing about my family structure, I am sure she felt normal in comparison. Lol

I told her my familial situation to inform her that families are complex. Family structures are difficult to explain. Many people who have no blood relation to us become closer than those who share biological traits. Marriages change structures. Divorces change structure. Many things outside of our control change the family structure. Moreover, sadly, for many of us, we know too well the saying “Momma’s baby and Daddy’s maybe.”

Complicated? Yes

Difficult to explain? Yes

Would I have it any other way? No

I love my family and the relationships that we have. I have many dad’s that I call on in times of crisis or just for everyday inspiration/advice.etc.  As far as I’m concerned, my biological father and everything attached to him (his sis/bros/others kids) are the ones who missed and are missing out.

One day, I will contact my biological sisters because it’s not their fault that our father, who may have been a great dad to them, was and is nothing more than a sperm donor to me.

I would be doing all of us a disservice if I, being the eldest, didn’t take action to form a relationship with them.

For that reason, I encouraged her to contact her brother–sooner, than later–to try to establish a relationship.

But, I do realize, that for many, their story does not end as happily as mine. Many do not have other people to go to in order to have that male father figure in their life. For those girls and women with no male representative, I am sorry. For those boys and men, whose father missed out on those special moments in life, I am sorry. I am sorry that you were not loved in the way you should have been. I am sorry that you were the victim in a situation outside of your control.  It is not your fault. I encourage you to seek those relationships with your uncles, mentors, etc. But above all know, that God is a father to us all.

Does this story ring true for you? I would love to hear about your family dynamics and how you overcame having a less than normal family structure.

If you like this story, retweet and share on fb/twitter/etc with friends.

Cher Lloyd — With Ur Love (feat. Mike Posner) is the new song on my playlist. I like the beat and it reminds me of something I would sing along to while riding in the car.

Here is a brief bio from the BBC website:

“Cher Lloyd (born 28 July 1993) is a British singer and rapper from Malvern, Worcestershire. Lloyd rose to fame in 2010 when she participated in reality TV series The X Factor, to which she finished in fourth place. Shortly afterwards, Lloyd was signed by Simon Cowell to Sony Records subsidary SyCo Music, releasing her debut single “Swagger Jagger” in June 2011. Despite receiving negative reviews, the single entered at number-one in the UK chart and number-two in the Irish chart. Her second single “With Ur Love” released on 31 October and features Mike Posner. The single, which preceeds the album Sticks + Stones, has already garnered 30 million views on Youtube collectively with “Swagger Jagger”.

 David Guetta–Without You (Featuring Usher) has also joined my list of favorites.

Here is a brief bio from the BBC website via Wikipedia.

“Pierre David Guetta (born 7 November 1967), known professionally as David Guetta, is a French house music producer and DJ. Originally a DJ at nightclubs during the 1980s and 1990s, he co-founded Gum Productions and released his first album, Just a Little More Love, in 2002. Later, he released Guetta Blaster (2004) and Pop Life (2007). His 2009 album One Love included the hit singles “When Love Takes Over” (featuring Kelly Rowland), “Gettin’ Over You” (featuring Chris Willis, Fergie & LMFAO) and “Sexy Bitch” (featuring Akon), the last becoming a top five hit in the US and all three reaching #1 in the UK, as well as another internationally known single called “Memories” featuring Kid Cudi which became a top five hit in many countries. Guetta has sold over three million albums and 15 million singles worldwide. He is currently one of the most sought-after music producers.”

Chase & Status–Blind Faith is another song that will be on replay. I love the reggae tone of their voices combined with the rock feel of the song. Makes you want to slow wind yet rock out! A different combination.

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

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All week, I have been searching for some type of inspiration, motivation, encouragement. Something or someone to get me motivated to venture ahead and accomplish the various tasks that need to get done.

I have watched Oprah’s LifeClass Sessions, listened to Joel Olsteen’s sermons and even watched T.D. Jakes archives of sermons. Although these things have helped to cheer my spirits and boost my morale, I still feel a bit lackluster.

I know what my issue is: It took a while longer than most, but after being here for a month and a half, homesickness has come. It’s nothing that is huge or hard to handle, nor am I homesick 24/7. Just in those small, unexpected moments, I miss little things from home.

Of course, I miss my family and friends. Particularly when they are all hanging out and having fun and I am absent.

For example, my family went to the fair. It is something we do as a group every year. I happened to call my Aunt while she was at the fair and talked to a few of my family members. When I got off the phone, I realized I miss then more than I thought.

That is expected.

However, a trigger has been found in other venues.

For example, I feel that social media makes my homesickness worse. Reading my friends tweets and status updates about what events they are attending and how much fun they are having does make me miss home even more.

For that reason, I am taking a hiatus from social media (fb/twitter) to: #1- focus on getting work done and #2-not get caught up in what others are doing without me.

But these are brief and fleeting moments of homesickness. We all get them from time to time when in a new situation/environment.

I overcome this feeling when I remind myself that I am having a wonderful time meeting great people and learning lots. I am living out many people’s dream, so I should enjoy it while I can. I’ll be home soon enough, probably wishing I was back in Manchester.

So although I miss having a home-cooked meal, and would rather not eat anymore take-aways (British term for fast-food) while I am here, I realize that this is only temporary. Sooner, rather than later, I will reunite with my family.

But, I find comfort in doing what David did in the Bible: I have to encourage myself. We all get in our funk of apathy and I must admit, I have been in that zone for about a week, but this too shall pass.

I can’t wait on anyone else to boost my morale or give me encouragement.  I have the aptitude and ability to do that for myself.

Like the song says, “Sometimes you have to encourage yourself.” 

This is my song of the week.

"Running with the seagulls", Galvest...

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The Grotesque Beauty of Change

The older I get, the more I realize that friends change, their priorities change, and I cannot get mad at that. It’s called maturation. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish things could stay the same sometimes…just for a little longer…

Currently, I’m struggling with losing a very good friend. My friend did not die. My friend did not move. My friend is growing up and experiencing life in a different way than I am. That has led to my innate sense of loss.

Marriage—Kids—Family : words that I have yet to fully embrace in my life since none of those things apply to me now.  I’m not married. I don’t have any kids. I have not embarked on the journey of beginning my own family as of yet.

With that being said, the dynamic between my friend and I has begun to change. My friends’ stressors are not my own. My friend’s focus is on the future regarding his or her family. My focus is just on me.  My friend’s long term goals involve the happiness and satisfaction of his or her children. My long-term goals involve the happiness and satisfaction of me.

I can feel the river growing into a stream between us.

O how things change!

Change is good, right?

I know it is.

Change is necessary.

A necessary evil.

So excuse my sensitivity and selfishness.

Don’t mind my wanting it to be about me,

My friend.

I’m just having a hard time adjusting.

But I will.

So excuse my tears when I say “I’m happy for you.”

Really, I promise I am.

 I’m happy for your additions in life: marriage, family, etc.

But I’m just a little sad at the loss.

Of who?

Of you,

My friend.

No you have not moved, died, nor has your number changed.

But I can feel the loss.

The stream growing into a lake.

As priorities change.

Responsibilities grow.

Perspectives differ.

And life experiences take us in different paths.

Each equally important.

But separate.

And as time progresses.

The dynamics will continue to change.

As our conversations get shorter.

And our visits are fewer.

And the day-to-day updates become antiquated.

I’m not upset.

It’s a fact of life.

But,

Know one thing my friend.

My love for you won’t change.

The older I get, the more I realize that friends change, their priorities change, and I cannot get mad at that. It’s called maturation. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish things could stay the same sometimes…just for a little longer…just for a little longer.

*This post was inspired by a friend, my friend*