Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How cold are we?

I must start by saying that I am not a huge fan of Zombie culture. I had a student once that was very focused on preparing for the Zombie apocalypse. It was fun to have discussions about it, but I do not seek out occasions to watch movies or TV shows dealing with the undead. One exception to this is if they are funny movies about Zombies. Not sure why this is better to me but two of my favorites are Zombieland (which makes me want some Twinkies even though I loathe them), and Shaun of the Dead (where I imagine having a Zombie for a pet to play video games with).

Honestly, the one thing that got me to watch Warm Bodies is the staring of Nicholas Hoult, of whom I have been a fan since About a Boy. This movie surprised me in several ways, one of which is that we get to hear the thoughts of a Zombie, narrating his own life. LOVED IT!!! I could not stop myself from giggling like a little kid every time he talked about what he was doing.

The other is the message that I got from the film, not that it was intended, which may have been but I don't know for certain. Basic plot is that a girl, in the wrong place during a Zombie attack, is "captured" by a Zombie in an attempt to save her from his flesh-eating pals. They then begin a friendship of sorts where he starts to regain some of his humanity. I will stop there to not ruin the movie for any potential watchers. To me the movie has a lot to do with second chances and not judging someone on their first or even second impression.  However, it inspired me to think about how disconnected from people we are. That some people are just beyond feeling and don't care because they believe no one reciprocates those feelings.

As a teacher I see this daily as my students enter the classroom and sit down to pull out their phones. Some talk to other classmates but most are on their mobile devices until I force them to interact with others. The main message of the movie for me was connection. While we try to avoid in some instances human connection, it is not possible to avoid it altogether. In certain cases, if done correctly, it can bring someone back to the land of the living where they can contribute their awesomeness too. After all, Zombies just want to be loved, right?!?!


In a desire for people to know who it is writing this blog, I want to reintroduce myself. My name is Travis Hawkley. I am a father, teacher, writer, reader, scholar of sorts, and a firm believer in human potential. I grew up partly in Texas and at 6 foot 6 inches tall and 280 pounds represent that things are bigger in Texas. The other part of my childhood was spent in Boise, Idaho, a place I call home and hope to return to one day. My younger years were spent reading, thousands of books on all different topics and from many distinct genres. I have lived in Russia and Spain and count those experiences as defining ones for me. I have a BA in Linguistics and a MA in Second Language Teaching. I love language and have taught ESL (all ages) and Spanish (college level). Language can be a great equalizer or divider if not used correctly. I am a bearded, Croc and old polyester tie wearing professional. I have an addiction to reading and purchasing 40's to 70's self-help books such as Og Mandino, Norman Vincent Peale, Alan Loy McGinnis, etc. I love Sci-Fi, fantasy, and many other genres. I am part Whovian, Sherlockian, Supernaturalist.  Above all, I love teaching and helping people succeed where they thought they couldn't. Any questions?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

What do you control?

As a college instructor who teaches students to be successful both in school and their professional lives, I have several key lessons that I try to pass on. Most of them come from the teachings I received from my accountant father. I often describe him as "insane", given that he taught us very adult ideas at very young ages. The truth, however, is that his teachings, more than either of the college degrees that I hold or the countless books that I have read, have shaped the professional that I am. I love my father for what he taught and continues to teach me. I hope and strive to share that insanity

One of the main lessons that I feel I learned from my parents is to take responsibility for myself. To not blame others for my own problems. The idea that I share with my students is that "You are in control of yourself, and only yourself". Even as a parent, you only have control over your kids because they allow you to. As a manager, it is the same. Something I see every single day is that people blame everyone else for their own shortcomings (their teachers, parents, employers, co-workers, friends even.) They waste so much time talking about the external reasons for which they aren't successful and not looking at the damaged beliefs they hold that limit positive action.

Another lesson dealing with professional job searches and something else that I impart to my students is that you can do everything the right way, have an awesome resume, great cover letter, answer every interview question correctly, be the "best" candidate (if that exists), and the company can choose someone else. That is the way it is working with people. Very important to remember here is that this is NOT a bad thing. We all have the right to choose as we will. Sometimes that choice is used not in the best interest, whatever that may be.

My story: I just had the opportunity to interview for an awesome position and opportunity with my own company. It was for a director level position which I was hoping would give me the experience to keep moving up. Given that I teach people how to do this, my resume was great, my cover letter as well. During the interview I answered every question with ease and ability. If there was a question I had no answer to, or no good answer, I admitted to my shortcomings and gave an amazing answer anyway. I interviewed with the other directors, the national and regional directors. I felt like it was a lock and that they would make a decision soon. I was even told, without being told, that I was the probable choice.

Ending to the story: They chose at the last minute to not hire me or the other qualified candidates and reopen the search.  They had a reason. Was it a good one? Sure, kind of, but one they should have known from the beginning. They also did not handle it very well.

Moral: Am I mad? Am I going to sabotage the company to get back at them? Is my level of work or professionalism going to slide in my disappointment? Now, of course I am upset. I have been hoping for the job for a while, working towards it, being mentored in how to do it. I am not upset with any of the people involved though because it is their right to choose as they will. They feel justified in what they did because they are looking for the right person. I was not it. I am in control of my reactions. I am in control of my future actions that will allow me to be an amazing candidate and professional. I did everything I could. I continue to move forward.