Monday, March 28, 2011

tortoise vs. hare

The two of the came in at successive hours.  Both extreems of what you can be.

One, out there to make millions, talking,  screaming, planning, forecasting out six months to ten years, putting things in motion: phone calls, emails, banners, social contacts, meetings all set-up.  My job is to keep him just this side of psychotic.  If he succeeds he will be thought of a brilliant.  If it all blows up and falls apart; he will be just another bipolar disorder, needing more medication.
   Look at the heads of many of your most successful start-ups and you will seem guys just like this.  But you can look at the guys standing outside of the pub, flicking cigarettes and talking rag-time.  The differences are slight.

The next hour the tortoise came in.  He carefully obsesses over each detail of each decision.  What are the possible reprecussions?  What can go wrong?  What will people think? Session after session he seems to go over the same things. But he slowly, cautiously moves forward, often aware of the price he pays for hesitating, but also knowing that worrying about the risk would have ruined everything anyway.

Thankfully, most people fall between these two.  But we all have tendencies to go more one way than the other.  Often people seem to choose areas of their lives to take risks and be a bit "out-there": business, investing, relationships, sports, drinking, drugs, sex, or just not doing their taxes.  I am no longer surprised to find how many people seem measured, reasonable and secure, and yet will do one or two really wild, fucked up things, and do them over and over.

Keeps things interesting.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Non-tech - just not good

A colleague of mine from across the city sent them to me.  He has been seeing her in therapy for eight years.  Another therapist we know has been seeing him for only three.  They came to me, I thought, to work on their relationship.

But soon after they arrived the husband announced, pretty clearly, that the relationship was dead.  From his years in therapy he had learned to finally express himself and to take steps to pull himself out of what was a long-term depression, that he didn't even realize he was in.

He said that for years he has felt unappreciated, disregarded, and demeaned.  He said that he felt his wife was always bossing him around and he didn't like it.  He wanted to get a divorce.

His wife broke into tears. She had not realized that he had reached this decision.  She was still hoping to learn what she could do to save the marriage.

Fine, this happens, I often see people who know that the relationship is over. Sometimes they need a safe place to say everything.  Then they leave.  His wife was not in favor of ending the marriage, but she seemed to realize that she cannot stay in it by herself.

But this was different.  After it was clear how this husband felt, I asked about his plans, and how he expected to move the process of ending the marriage forward.

He had no plans.

Did he expect to leave soon?  Did he have a place to go?  Would he work out temporary support payments? How did he want to tell the kids?

He didn't know.

I asked if he realized that now that he had laid this bomb out on the table, things would be different at home.

He said that he had been working for a long time to clear up his thoughts and express himself.  Now that he had done that he was very pleased.  But he had no idea of what the next step would be or when it would occur.

I think I can see why she bosses him around.

Really, there is a 50/50 chance that they will stay together.  He got it out, he made her cry, that may be all he needed.  Perhaps now he can assert himself in other ways that will make her happy, and then she can respect him and make him happy.

or, perhaps he is already screwing someone in his office and she makes him feel very special.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tech 3, retail

It is clear that books, music and newspapers have been drastically affected by the use of the Internet, but those are just the most visible.  Every kind of retail sales has been totally changed by technology. 

Yes, a few people go to the mall to hang-out and look at stuff, but I certainly don't expect any new malls to be built around here any more.  Many are in bankruptcy, and most have obvious vacancies.

I love my iPad, but I am sure I ma putting more people out of business.  These are jobs that will never come back.  Retail is being condensed into a few leaders in on-line sites, and other sites that tell you where to find the best prices.

Have you been in a Staples story recently.  You were probably one of three people wandering around the entire, huge, retail space.

I have had about six clients during the last year who have lost their jobs and began looking for work.  Four have found jobs making much less money.  Two are still looking, and they are skilled people who are looking very hard.  They are draining the money of their extended families.  Support for the unemployed has dried up with all of this "deficit" talk.  The deficit will never get paid if no one is working, and no one can pay taxes.

My daughter, who has a job and is very busy, needed diapers for my grand-daughter.  She went on-line at 5 PM and spend about three minutes clicking.  The next morning, before 10 AM the diapers were delivered.  I don't know what store she would have gone to, but it won't be there in five years.  The jobs of the people who work there, and the rent that is being paid, will all disappear from our economy.

For everyone else, life is easier, probably cheaper, faster and more convenient.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tech 2 -- People real or virtual

This won't come as any real surprise to anyone who has been on a dating site, and many of my clients have told me many, many stories of their experiences with them, but I had the experience last week of turning virtual relationships into actual ones, and it was fascinating.

Years ago, at least fifteen, I met some other therapists at a psychology convention.  We have managed to find each other several times after that, at other meetings.  We have formed a group of about six of us, sometimes four can meet, sometimes it's a different four or five.  But those meetings for me,  happen about every three or four years and our fatherings last for about two, perhaps three hours.

However, we began to correspond on a small email list, and exchange ideas, comment on happenings and keep track of each others lives, both business and personal.  It's been fun.  They all seem like intelligent, caring guys, who share many of the same views I do.

Last week someone arranged for us to all meet to view a couple of games that we could enjoy.  We are all kind of sports nuts, all within ten years of age -- I am the oldest, and all from very different parts of the country.  We spent three full days together, watching games, talking, driving, drinking, eating, and just hanging around.  It really worked pretty well, considering that we really didn't know each other that well.

What was most fascinating was that, although I got along with everyone, what I expected from each of them, how I thought they would talk, interact, take stands, lead, follow, be funny, be smart, know stuff, make decisions,  be creative, be trite, all the ways that people interact ... I did not predict correctly.

People, all of them except one, were very different in "real" life.  If I had to rank order who I expected to get along the best with, my order would have been wrong.  What people say in emails, how they say it, and what it really means, sends a very different message.

As I said, people who have experiences with dating sites know this only too well.

A great virtual friendship has often been ruined by a brief meeting.  It's not the same. This did not ruin anything, but alot has changed.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Tech 1

This is my new theme: technology is changing our lives.  It does not seem startling, but really it is, because the changes are much more far-reaching and long-lasting than people realize. for our old life-style it is a death by a million tiny cuts.

I am not one who believes that the great Singularity is coming, but things are very different.

My first post about it is simple.  It began with a tiny insight.

I walked into the waiting room to bring in my next patient.  There were four people there, waiting for everyone in our office.  We have the best magazines of any waiting room I have every been in.  We get, mostly for free, Yankee, People, Rolling Stone, Discover, and a few health and women's mags that I can't tell one form the other.

But, at that moment, and then I noticed for the rest of the day, one person, and she was about sixty, read a magazine.  Twenty people were playing with their phones: texting, playing games, updating apps, on Facebook, all of that.

Piles of unread, fancy paper, wasted.

Is  the world better or worse?  Not a relevant question.  this is the way it is and it will only become more so.