Hump Day: I thought about changing careers.. for about five minutes

HHump Dayump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I often wonder what career I would have chosen had I not gone to journalism school and then made my way into the communications field. I love my career and am in it for the long haul, but I often wonder what else I could have done with my life.

Lately, I’m thinking that I should have been a lawyer.I would defend the downtrodden and get justice for those who’ve been wronged. In court, I would be a force to be reckoned with. Judges would defer to me, surely realizing that my superior legal intellect far surpasses their own knowledge. I would yell at them and make them rule in my client’s favour every time. They would quake in fear.

That happens in real life, right? No, probably not. A boy can dream, though. The couple of times I’ve been in a real courtroom have been pretty intimidating, actually. The lawyers were very reverential to the judge, as they should be. I guess all that talking back to the bench only happens on television. I’m not sure it would end well if they tried it.

Maybe a personal injury lawyer is more up my alley? ‘So you stubbed your toe at the mall? Well, guess what! Now you own the mall!’ If I were your lawyer, the settlement would be nothing   less. Of course, there would be the small matter of my fee. Does $1 billion sound fair? Yeah, there’d be tax on that, too. It’s always the taxes that get you. And don’t forget the $2.50 for those photocopies. Can’t forget the photocopies.

That happens every day in the legal field, right? Am I delusional? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time.

careers2Actually, I’ve always wanted to be an emergency room doctor, too. It would have to be in the trauma ward at a large inner-city hospital – somewhere where they get people coming through the doors with little chance of survival. That is, until they hear who their doctor is. ‘Dr. Cormier will make your booboo all better, sir. Yes, I realize the only thing left after your accident is an earlobe on a pillow. We’ve seen worse.’

I’d probably get my own primetime network television show, too. Dr. Cormier: Miracle Worker. Every Thursday at 9 p.m. Watch as the good doctor brings a package of hamburger back to life with his bare hands. A couple of zaps from the defibrillator and the next thing you know, that package of hamburger is back in the field eating grass and mooing contentedly. Not the prettiest cow on the farm, though. Looks a bit rough around the edges.

If I were in the hospital, the first thing I’d ask the doctor is if they’ve ever seen anyone in worse condition than me. Now, normally, that answer is always yes no matter what’s wrong with you. Every doctor would have their own horror story no matter in which field they practise. The one answer you don’t want to hear from a doctor after asking if they’ve seen anyone worse is, ‘Oh, you’re pretty bad.’ That’s not very comforting and is pretty much a polite way of saying you hit the jackpot in the ‘worst they’ve ever seen’ category.

I’m not sure I’d be able to not react, so perhaps a career in the medical field is not for me. The last thing someone with a bad sunburn wants to experience is a confetti cannon going off in their room and a line Rockette dancers doing their trademark high kick after being told they have the worst sunburn the hospital has ever seen. Not great bedside manner, although seeing the Rockettes in person would be pretty cool.

And who hasn’t dreamed of being a singing superstar? I think I’d be good at that. Perform concerts in every city and sing the same songs every night? How hard can that be? Well, I’d have to have songs people want to hear first, I suppose. That could take some work. And even if I managed to do that, wouldn’t singing the same songs all the time drive me nuts?

I always feel sorry for singers with long careers who try to perform songs from their new albums at concerts when in reality everyone is just sitting there waiting to hear their old favourites. ‘Shut up and sing The Green Green Grass of Albert County!’ the crowd would yell when I would just want to sing my latest hit, I Used the Bathroom in the Middle of the Night and When I Came Back, My Baby Was Gone.

I often wonder about those one-hit wonder singers who are only known for that one colossal hit. It must be the definition of hell to sing that same song over and over and over for 40 or 50 years. I’ve seen a couple of these singers performing at shows. Their eyes were dead like they were just waiting for an aneurysm to take them into the sweet embrace of death right there on stage.

OK, so if not a lawyer, doctor or singer, what else? Ballet dancer? I think not You know, because I wouldn’t want to embarrass the others by being too good of course. How about child beauty pageant coordinator? ‘C’mon, Tiffany! Don’t be a crybaby! I know you’re only two and we’re on our 12th hour of rehearsals, but that’s no reason for a tantrum. And didn’t I tell you to spit-shine that Barbie tiara?’

How about a baker? No, I wouldn’t trust myself around all that frosting They’d find me a week later unconscious, naked and covered in icing sugar in a ditch somewhere. It would be like putting a dingo in charge of a daycare.

Maybe I should just stick with what I know – at least until I get used to raking in the millions that I’m making now Yup, just until I get used to that.

This week’s newsletter giveaway: Give and Take by Adam Grant

Give and Take

This week’s giveaway is Give and Take by Adam Grant.

Publisher’s description: “For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But in today’s dramatically reconfigured world, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. In Give and Take, Adam Grant, an award-winning researcher and Wharton’s highest-rated professor, examines the surprising forces that shape why some people rise to the top of the success ladder while others sink to the bottom. Praised by social scientists, business theorists, and corporate leaders, Give and Take opens up an approach to work, interactions, and productivity that is nothing short of revolutionary.”

The deadline for entries is Sunday, July 27, at noon. To enter your name in the contest, follow the instructions in this week’s newsletter. To subscribe, please fill out the form in the right-hand column of my website. The winner will be chosen by random draw.

Congratulations to Cécile LeBlanc for winning last week’s giveaway, a copy of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor.

Greater Moncton’s 100 Men Who Care group welcomes new members

Men

100 Men Who Care of Greater Moncton is calling on all willing and able men to join their movement and attend their upcoming inaugural meeting. The men’s charitable group provides funds to deserving non-profit organizations in the local community.

The charity organization brings 100+ men who will each bring a blank $100 cheque to a group meeting four times per year. Three different local charities will present during each meeting, one will be selected as the recipient, and that charity will then walk away with a total donation of $10,000+. Each member’s $400 annual commitment translates into $40,000+ for four local charities. One hundred per cent of all donations go directly to the awarded charity and all donations are tax deductible.

The initiative, under the leadership of Troy Akerley and David Hawkins, was inspired by the newly launched local chapter of 100 Women Who Care of Greater Moncton.

“Many local charities are facing critical challenges today,” Mr. Hawkins said. “The demands on these charitable organizations often go far beyond the resources they have available to support those in the community that need it the most. With a small commitment of time and resources, this group of men can significantly help local charities do their work and positively impact the community.”

Interested individuals should visit www.100menmoncton.com to learn about and join the group.  The first quarterly meeting of 100 Men Who Care of Greater Moncton will be hosted by the Ramada Crystal Palace Convention Centre in Dieppe on Tuesday, Aug. 26, at 5:30 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m. for meet and greet.

“100 Men Who Care of Greater Moncton is not your typical fundraising organization,” Mr. Akerley explained. “It doesn’t have a board of directors or officers, no chairman or president, no secretary or treasurer. It’s made up of a few guys who came together to volunteer their time and offer a fun and innovative venue to facilitate fundraising within the community. Every dollar donated goes directly to the selected charity. It can’t get any simpler than that!”

This Greater Moncton group is the latest addition to the 100 Men and 100 Women Who Care movements that have seen chapters sprouting up in many cities in North America over the last 10 years.

For more information, contact Jane Harwood at 506-378-0177 or jane@xyzstratcom.ca.

TEDxMoncton looking for presenters

1369745913

TEDxMoncton is calling for speakers and performers for the upcoming TEDx event, Connect the Dots. The event will be open to the public and will be held at Théâtre l’Escaouette on Saturday, October 4.

“I’m thrilled to be part of TEDxMoncton for its second year,” said Stephanie Nelson, Executive Director of TEDxMoncton. “I have been a fan of TEDTalk videos for many years now and am looking forward to establishing a TEDx community here in Moncton. This year’s exec is dedicated and hard working and I’m excited to be part of such a strong team.”

TEDxMoncton is searching for engaging and passionate presenters who have ideas or projects that will be new to audience members. The theme is Connect the Dots, and TEDx Moncton wants to know what that means to you. TEDx Moncton is also looking to connect with performers who would like to share their talents on the TEDxMoncton stage. The organizing committee wants to hear from interested candidates — singers, dancers, ventriloquists, magicians, etc. Those interested should visit www.tedxmoncton.com and apply to speak or perform. Recommendations from the public are also being accepted for speakers and performers.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalk videos and live speakers combine to spark a deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to ideas worth spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California almost 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED conferences invite the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes on a diverse mix of topics. Many of these talks are then made available for free at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former British prime minister Gordon Brown. The TED2014 Conference takes place in Vancouver along with the TEDActive simulcast in neighbouring Whistler. TEDGlobal 2014 will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

TED’s media initiatives include TED.com, where new TED Talks are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed; and TEDBooks, short e-books on powerful ideas. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world get help translating their wishes into action; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

For more information on TEDxMoncton, contact Stephanie Nelson, Executive Director, at 506-875-8530 or tedxmoncton@gmail.com.

Hump Day: Keeping a stiff upper lip when life seems like a hurricane

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

There are so many people around me — either close to me or close to people I know — who are going through rough times lately. Summer is supposed to be a time of relaxing, fun and carefree days. For so many, this doesn’t seem to be the case this year.

People in palliative care, others in the hospital for serious ailments, deaths of friends and relatives, friends who are going on 10 days with no electricity after that jerk-of-a-storm named Arthur and a number of longtime beloved pets who’ve passed away, leaving painful voids in their adoptive families.

While my immediate family hasn’t been touched by this bad-luck wand knock on wood!) it’s terrible to see all the bad luck people are having. It seems to be hitting in a particularly heavy wave this summer. It’s enough to depress a person.

This all reminds me of when my father was ill in the summer of 2012. I get the odd pang of melancholy now and then about the entire ordeal, but it’s mostly all just good memories. But whenever I drive by the hospital, I remember visiting there many times in the oppressive heat of the summer of 2012.

Winston Churchill

Former British prime minister Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” That’s good advice for many people I know these days who are going through struggles.

Seeing him there lying in bed in palliative care was in stark contrast to the scenes I saw when I left the hospital — happy people out for walks during the long summer nights and children enjoying their summer off from school. I guess it was all just so stark in contrast. Inside it was so sad. Outside it was so happy.

Technology doesn’t seem to be helping. Like many people, I’m on Facebook often and keep in touch with many people through the site. It’s also a way I keep in touch with business colleagues and build relationships there. But as much as we have to hear about all the great stuff going on with our friends, it’s also a place where we hear a lot of sad news. Now, don’t get me wrong, it comes with the territory. The more people you keep in touch with, the odds would tell you that the more sad stories you’ll be hearing. It all can’t be roses and sunshine.

But man on man, I have to say again that this summer seems to be a bad one for so many — at least in my little Face-book (and non-Facebook) world. In the end, though, it’s all in how you handle the bad luck. I have to say that I’m so impressed with the grace and dignity with which so many people I know who are sick (some of them terminally) are handling their new realities.

Despite their unfortunate state, they continue to be positive and their families and friends have surrounded them with love. No one is dying alone, that’s for sure. Inasmuch as it is a bad thing, everyone I see seems to be using it as a learning experience and as an excuse to spend as much time together as humanly possible. From what I’m witnessing, there will certainly be no regrets when the time comes — whether it’s this year, next year or the year after that. And who knows? Stranger things have happened. We just never know when miracles will occur. There are lots of stories out there of people who’ve lived much longer than anyone expected them to. Let’s hope the people I know will find themselves in that boat.

I know all too well the exhaustion and stress of having a loved one dying in the hospital. Many reading this column today know that, too. In fact, when I wrote often about my father’s illness a couple of summers ago, one of those columns dealt with the immense amount of stress. It was almost unbearable at times. The reaction I received from readers who’d been through something similar certainly told me that it’s normal. And for those who didn’t realize that the stratospheric level of stress was normal, they knew it after they read the column.

I’m one of those people who feels better about how I feel when something bad is happening as long as I know it’s ‘normal’ (whatever that is) to feel that way. First of all, it tells me I’m not crazy and second of all it makes me feel not so alone. So if you have a parent in palliative care right now, I get it. It’s difficult to think of anything else. It’s impossible to concentrate at work. Every time the telephone rings, you wonder if it’s ‘the call.’

Hint: If the caller ID says PNB — for Province of New Brunswick — it’s likely not good news since it’s the hospital calling. I still remember the Sunday night in August shortly after 6 p.m. when the telephone rang and the caller ID said ‘PNB.’ And as much as the news was expected, my heart still sank because I knew what the call was about.

I greatly admire the many people I know who are going through struggles right now. I don’t see any self-pity from them. I don’t see any bitterness or anger. Oh, I’m sure they’ve gone through an acceptance process. Of course they have. Thankfully, though, they’ve chosen to live their lives and not wallow in grief before their time is up.

We only have two choices when we’re going through hard times. We can give up or, as former British prime minister Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” A simple thought, but one that takes the heart of a lion.

We can really learn a lot from people going through difficult times. I’m grateful to know those who are setting an example of how to live well even after you’ve received some news that can hardly be considered good at all.

If I ever find myself hearing the news that my time on earth is soon coming to an end, I hope that I’ll remember to take what I’ve learned from these brave souls currently going through adversity. Going through hell: check! Keep going: check!