The Toolbox

A good friend of mine has helped me see that there is value in blogging content from my YouTube videos. This is my first trial. If you would rather watch then you can see the video here. (note that it’s a pilot and the sound can use some work as described in this video)

Lately I’ve been writing a lot of talks. I’ve discovered that my strengths are leadership skills, soft skills, and emotional intelligence. These are the things I teach and I study. I try to figure out where I have success or where other people have success and I break those down into ways that I can hopefully explain to others.

I’ve told people I view my job sort of like building a toolbox. Imagine something like the guy in one of the prison movies pushing the library cart. Coming past one person they say “give me something exciting” or “give me a drama” and he pulls the book off and gives it to them. I have a cart that I push around, but it’s my toolbox.

When I analyze these things and I figure out what works for me, and then what works for others, I process the situations and put those new tools in my toolbox. What I’ve found is that when I have empathy for a person, when I have the close connection I try to build with all of my reports, I can deliver things in a good tailored way. When you don’t have empathy then you have compassion so you just have to throw stuff at them and see what works for that person’s personality type. Not every fix or process is going to work for a problem or situation so you watch other people as well. You analyze behaviors and collect tools. When you’re solving a problem you are handing people these tools. You hand tools out to whoever needs them and eventually you find one that works for them.

When I interact with my peers, when I do talks, and when I help people I find out how to coach. Then I do more of these things and as a result I grab more tools. This got me thinking “Why is my job important”.

I started thinking of people going to therapists. When someone sees a therapist what happens is they eventually create an environment of trust where they share. They share things about themselves and open up to the therapist and when they find problems the therapist has insights because of the sharing. They know what might work for the person. This can cause revelations, that person builds a new tool or process, and then maybe doesn’t need the therapist for that problem anymore.

The therapist goes to school to learn these things and to build a huge toolbox. I think the reason we need to go out to these people is because we don’t have close connections anymore. We don’t have small friend groups. Part of the reason is it makes things like popularity less accessible. You’re not on display for everyone. We don’t feel social because we’ve replaced that connection with things like social media and technology. (That’s another subject on it’s own).

We do things on display and there’s the like indicator or some interaction. This “like” isn’t the same as something like “Hey man, I really like this because it moved me” or “It made me realize something”. It’s just “click” and you don’t even know if that person really read it. You don’t have strong connections with people.

When we try this in the face of problems we may have a friend group we can lean on. If that’s the case you don’t need to go to the therapist or find a coach and somehow build skills. When you have friends that you have connections with, what happens is you’ve shared with them. The relationship there is already built and they do the exercise with you. They think about your problem with you and offer their tools and suggestions. Then you get a revelation and build a new skill or process and you move on.

The problem is that this isn’t common anymore. Slowly these tool kits are getting less and less. In order to really save ourselves we have to realize that close connections and small friend groups are what build these skills. Working together with people and being interested in helping, and maybe even learning to do so. The group collectively builds the tool box. Because of this general breakdown sometimes our friend groups don’t have the tools necessary to help and you may still have to go find a therapist. Over time if we realize this then we can get better as a people, and maybe reduce some of the problems that people have just coping with life in general.

I recommend making strong friends. Make friends who you would go to lunch with if they were in town and you could tell them you love them and mean it. Make close connections where you feel good sharing with people and a group can pay attention to one another. This is not 50 or so people on facebook, but really having quality relationships.

We are losing the traditional family unit. We aren’t seeing these relationships or those skills being worked on. We need to focus more on those close connections and why they are important. We need friendships where we can be real with each other, share, and not subscribe to this idea where you don’t have feelings with your friends. That classic information being pushed out about men and toxic masculinity, but it’s not what masculinity is. Don’t subscribe to that and be vulnerable and bring your friends close. This will really improve the quality of your life and relationships.

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Steven Griffith

I was a software engineer for right around ten years before transitioning into management. I’m still growing in my new field.