Archive for personality

Standing in the Hammock: Being an Innovator

Posted in opinion with tags , , on April 11, 2011 by Kyle Fleming

This weekend I was at a music therapy conference in Overland Park, Kansas. The keynote speaker at the conference was Dr. Alicia Clair, who talked about being an innovator in the field of music therapy. She mentioned that often, an innovator is someone that doesn’t quite fit the mold. In her words, they’re people who “stand in the hammock,” and shake things up. They are often seen as outcasts with radical ideas and often times aren’t taken seriously.

I talked with her after her presentation and asked her what I could do to be an innovator (since I fit pretty much every description she had up on her slides). She told me to focus on my studies, since I’m still a student, and when I get into the professional world, to not be afraid to shake things up a little bit, think outside of the box, and if anyone says that I can’t do that, to tell them, “Thanks for the advice. I’ll take it into consideration.” Then do it anyway.

While her presentation was primarily about the music therapy profession, there is something to be said about standing up in the hammock in every day life. There is some complacency in daily life in every facet. Speech is limited, creativity is limited, and brilliant ideas are taken and immediately shot down before they even have a chance to be something more than ideas.

I honestly believe life would be so much better if innovators were given more of a chance. Today’s instant-gratification world is disappointing, because new ideas take time. I even find this behavior in myself: if something doesn’t immediately remedy my situation, I consider it a failure. If something doesn’t work within the first week, I’m over it and ready to move on.

This sort of mentality isn’t helpful. If we always gave up on something that doesn’t work right away, I wouldn’t be blogging from a laptop. I’d be going back to the olden days, writing out my entries longhand and standing in the middle of the city shouting my words at the top of my lungs.

It’s time to be innovators. It’s time to rock the boat. It’s time to stand up in the hammock (which, really, is probably the best metaphor I’ve ever heard in a long time). We must embrace new ideas, because how will we know what will advance our society and what won’t?

Granted, there are some ideas that really are radical, and in the totally wrong way. But be an innovator: maybe the idea as a whole is pretty terrible, but what’s to stop you from taking ideas from the radical plan and applying them somewhere else?

I challenge you to be an innovator. I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and propose something crazy. You never know what will stick and become the Next Big Thing.

Nice Guy? Doubt it.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 28, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

I’m going to break character for a moment. I pride myself in only allowing person information out if the need arises. Rarely do I make anything personal on this blog, with the only exception I can think of being The Importance of Family.

But recently, I’ve noticed that a lot of people are all starting to tell me the same thing over and over again, and I am addressing it here.

I feel that I have the uncanny ability to read people, and to know when they’re being real or fake. A lot of times, I don’t get along with people simply because of a personality issue: there is something about this person that grates against my personality, and we might not get along for a while. Sometimes it happens right away, other times it happens after I get to know someone. But when it happens, it’s hard for me to look around that.

But it seems like whenever I talk to other people about this person that I’m suddenly grating against, I hear the same thing: “Relax. He’s a nice guy.”

The problem I have with this statement is that it assumes that I don’t already know this, and by telling me so it’s going to change my mind. I know someone who is annoying, mouthy, and rude. He doesn’t listen to anything I say, and is a completely different person to everyone he meets. He is a completely fake person, and he absolutely gets under my skin every time I–

Wait…. he’s a nice guy? Well then, that certainly cancels out his personality traits. I suddenly have no problem with him.

I generally don’t describe people as “evil,” and if I do, it is usually in jest. The fact that he’s a “nice guy” does nothing for the stuff he can control but chooses not to: his interactions with people he disagrees with, being able to stay cordial and professional to everyone, and the ability to put animosities aside and make eye contact for a split second in the hallway.

Telling me that a person I’m not too keen on is a “nice guy” doesn’t tell me anything. I hate to invoke Godwin’s Law, but: Do you know who else was a nice guy? Hitler.

Hitler was a nice guy in the 1930s, trying to help the country of Germany out of economic ruin. He was a nice guy because he was trying to find a solution to the problem, and for him, the solution to the problem, I guess, was to exterminate millions of people.

This is not to say that the people I’m not fond of are going to commit genocide. I’m just saying that everyone in the world has at some point been described as “nice”: Hitler, Glenn Beck, Obama, Jeffery Dahmer, myself, and you.

I don’t suddenly dislike people on a whim. I don’t wake up in the morning and think, “Who is it that I haven’t had beef with in a while? I think I’ll take out this pent up anger and frustration on them.” When I have a problem with someone, when our personalities grate against each other, it has a reason.

Maybe I saw someone I once respected kick an old lady’s walker away from her. Maybe I saw a person greet me with a warm embrace, but completely ignored someone who came to them for help. Or maybe it’s simply because I really got to know this person, and suddenly realized that a very blatant flaw in their personality is in conflict with mine. A lot of times, I have no idea why this person is suddenly no longer friendly. The fact remains: our personalities are grating against each other, and in order for me to remain a positive person, I have to remove them from my life.

So next time I mention something about a person I don’t agree with, don’t tell me they’re a nice guy. I know that. Instead, just nod your head and smile as I go on a mini-tirade. Or better yet, just change the subject. You do that anyway with TV shows you’re not interested in watching.