Thursday, November 6, 2008

Smart Planet?

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Joy and Pain Return

In more than one past blog entry, I referred to joy and pain as "fraternal twins," but perhaps I should have called them conjoined twins, as they have seemed inseparable, especially lately.

In the past several days, I saw marvelous Halloween-decoration festooned homes all over our town -- artful in some cases! -- and then November 1st was my dad's 26-year death anniversary.

Over the weekend, I learned that my friend and colleague's 10-day-old baby died and I felt helpless, as I wasn't sure how to honor her grief; I didn't know Trinidadian mourning rituals. Then I was pleased to learn that my colleague and friend would be happy to have a tree planted in her son's memory. It is relatively common for Jews from all over the world to have a tree planted in Israel for a variety of life-cycle occasions, including a death, and so I had one planted in the United States...and then was gratified to discover that there's a Coretta Scott King Forest in Israel, and so I had a tree planted there in memory of my friend's baby, too.

I wrote to my friend:
My most recent visit to Israel was in 2002 with my mother, and one afternoon, we accompanied a blind tour group to plant trees on a hilltop. It was incredibly touching to see them, alongside us, patting down the dirt, and touching the little, seedlings, since they couldn't see them.

And then Election night was historical for its elevation of a member of an historically-underrepresented group, and would have been historical no matter the winner. But then by the next day, I felt disappointed by the outcomes of some key initiatives; people's beliefs were not better or worse than mine, just different.

And Still More Joy, and More Pain

It's not about waiting for the pain half, as that always seems to come, but right now, I want to celebrate a double joy:

This morning, I was so tired, as I had class last night for my part-time Masters program, and then stayed up till 1:30 am to participate in an internal, online class with peers in Russia, Australia, India and other places, so that I could learn during their timezone convenience...and then I had a 7 am meeting that couldn't be moved. This is all a preface for telling you about an online invitation I saw as a gift when I logged on and how it energized me:

Our intranet's editor sent a flattering note to a relatively small number of us, letting us know he had permission to share the Chairman's remarks with us [nearly 90 minutes] ahead of time, and added, "'re some of the most widely-read bloggers on our intranet and it would be great to read your thoughts on this topic."

Wow! Who knew? I realize how grossly self-serving this might seem, my posting about this, but it's really a dream for me to be acknowledged as a writer whose words are valued by people other than me, and it's the second time this quarter that it has happened at work on this scale; the first was being interviewed, among others, for an intranet feature story on why I write articles for Bluepedia, our internal version of Wikipedia; it's all things IBM, by IBMers. I was asked because I was among the top 10 most prolific authors in the company. Again, who knew?

Sharing all of this is also a way to soothe myself for appearing here a bit less often than I have done historically, i.e., I've not necessarily slowed down with my writing, but just have done a bunch of it behind our firewall....Still, this is where I come to write for pure fun, and so I need to be here, too.

The double joy was being invited to blog about the Chairman's remarks, and then the remarks themselves, which I thought showed bold leadership and included an appealing invitation to action.

And then the pain-twin appeared: In the same newspaper, where I got to read about the visionary company I work for, and feel prouder than ever to be an IBMer, I had to see, "Bans in 3 States on Gay Marriage." Our friends Jane and Christie, a married, California couple, felt all of the past couple of days' events around the election and Prop 8 extra-viscerally. Christie blogged about it, and I passed along a wise comment from my mom in response, as a comment on the blog entry.

In addition to trying to follow my mom's advice, I'm recalling what usually restores and salves me: channeling indignities/pain into art, e.g., writing about them, so that others can relate. (I'm doing something I've never before done and taking a totally non-secret blog entry that I posted on my internal blog, "Learning for Fun and Profit," and re-posting from it here:)
Becoming smarter
Sarah E. Siegel Today 11:53:13 AM

Here is my interpretation of our chief leader's call to action in his remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations:

1. Believe in, and scaffold, our planet's growing intelligence
2. Imagine the positive possibilities that more intelligence will enable
3. Do your part collectively and individually to realize the possibilities.

Here is how I pledge to act on the call to action:

1. Demonstrate, observe and encourage open minds and open systems
2. Think strategically (everyone can do so by reading and absorbing Julia Sloan's Learning to Think Strategically)
3. Promote the value of being a global IBMer and be a global IBMer myself.

(I linked from the first occurrence of "global IBMer" to another totally non-secret posting I wrote recently in the same blog, and which I'll share here:)
What is a global IBMer?
Sarah E. Siegel 31 Oct

I think a global IBMer is any IBMer who:

  • Uses the IBM Values when making business decisions
  • Is a mensch (in the Yiddish sense of the word, i.e., humane being)
  • Listens well and non-judgmentally
  • Is curious about others' cultures and seeks to learn about them
  • Understands that people's cultures are not better or worse, but rather just different
  • Has studied at least one foreign language, which demonstrates some knowledge of another culture.

What have I left off the list? Anyone else have additional ideas? If so, I welcome your comments.

Note: The IBM Values are Dedication to every client's success; Innovation that matters -- for our company and the world; and Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships. I'll just keep trying to live this way while also trying not to come off as self-righteous -- a fine balance.

For all the earnestness of this particular posting, I'm happy to finish it because it's kitty feeding-time.

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