Saturday, May 03, 2008

Saturday Morning Musings - five random things about me

In another of those memes, Blonde Canadian kindly nominated me to say five random things about myself. Blowed if I know. Strange things that I have done, or strange things about me, or just odd in general? Or things that are more typical? And how to make them random?

I don't think that I can, but the following may be of some interest.

One: Bare Feet. I love going round with bare feet. I have done so since I was a child, and my feet are still very callused. This has become harder as our society has become more conformist. I blame the invention of the thong in part - we must all wear thongs! Pressures on us bare feet people are great; stern glares from those in suburban shopping centres; odd looks in the street; and great direct pressure from daughters not wishing to be seen in the company of a bare foot dad! I really must find my thongs.

Two: the Importance of Manners. The need for good manners was drummed into us as children. This was partly a matter of social custom. But it was also a practical need because of the way we mixed across groups.

Our grandfather was the local Federal MP, our father a prominent academic; we lived in a mixed town, gown, country gold fish bowl world that was both international and intensely local, a world with great variation in views, each slice regarding its views as natural and right. Good manners provided the social lubricant required to straddle variation. Even today, I regard good manners as the glue holding civilised society together; cases of bad manners upset me greatly.

Three: Role Player. Sometimes I do wonder who I am. Apparently I was quite out-going as a young child. I was also bookish, interested in ideas and, while physically very active, somewhat ill-coordinated. Happy on my own but loving company, my natural mode is to fluctuate between enthusiastic, sometimes over-enthusiastic, participation and withdrawal.

From what is now year five to year nine I went through a period of varying but often intense unhappiness and great lonelyness during which I largely lost the capacity to mix. Even today, a word or event can still trigger fight or flight reactions from this period, especially if I am feeling insecure for any reason.

In breaking out of the dark days, I learned to role play: Jim the sports enthusiast, Jim the patrol leader, Jim the manager, Jim the public extrovert, Jim the trainer, Jim the professional, Jim the policy adviser, Jim the good host, Jim the salesman.

All these things draw from my core character, aided by the observational and empathetic skills that I have been forced to learn. So long as I am thinking about it, I am very good at reading things like body language and adjusting my behaviour and role to suit the situation.

At a professional level, this makes me, for example, a good facilitator and chair. It has also been very helpful in management terms, especially in giving people the sensitivity and skills they need to operate in different organisational environments. Yet because my roles are learned skills, I can sometimes lose it entirely, especially where my personal position or feelings become involved.

BC, I am sorry, but somehow I managed to lose the rest of this post. I still do not know how. I was ready to post and went to preview to check. Then I realised that two hours work had vanished. I don't want to start again. I am simply going to stop.


Koren said...

Jim, not a problem. I think it happens to be a great post anyway!

Strangely, I can relate to all three of the things you posted. When I first lived in Germany my family was amazed that I would happily walk around the house barefoot, even in the middle of winter. When I went into the garden it was quite the scandal!

As for the manners, they can never, ever be taken for granted. I have such strong memories of sitting in the car on the way to friends houses for dinner, with mum and dad reminding us to 'use people's names, girls, and look them in the eye.'

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, BC. Again customs: bare foot in the garden! When the kids were young and we were still living in Armidale, the girl's grand aunt, Aunt Kay, would have manners competitions. It was the only time youngest ever sat still at the table!