Every day I jog by the same bowl full of community dog water that a neighbor has set out for the neighborhood mutts.
The burgundy bowl is accompanied by a cool rustic-looking hand-painted sign, and it’s almost always filled with water — sometimes it’s even free of cottonwood lint, leaves, twigs and floating bug scum. Most important, the bowl is strategically located at the top of a little hill giving both man and beast a chance to stop and take a load off for a few minutes and contemplate the world’s fate.
It’s a nice gesture by someone, you can tell, who really cares about the neighborhood – mutts and humans alike.
Every time I see the bowl it always reminds me of a folder I keep on my computer that is filled with other people’s blog posts. I think of it as free water for the uninspired soul.
Back in my newspaper days, we used to call these tickle files, and we used them to create “chits and bits” columns where we’d take a little chit or bit from several sources and cobble together something we hoped was interesting and somewhat coherent. If you ever see someone start a column with something like “A little bit of this and that while …” you knew they were relying on their tickle file for material.
As a job-seeker and Mr. Know-It-All in training, I keep tabs on everything from “20 ways to ask for a raise” to “4 things not to say at a job interview.” Much like the community dog water bowl, the file is there for anyone to drink, and hopefully the result will be a post that can surprise, delight, inspire or just provide fodder for other blogger’s tickle files.
Seems like everybody these days is an expert on something work, career or job related — just check your email in-box if you don’t believe me — or maybe that’s just the company I keep.
Early on in my job quest, I saved one from Askmen.com titled “20 Salary Negotiation Tips. “Sell yourself. Know your worth. Don’t talk about money.” Hmmm? Pretty boilerplate stuff. Nothing really earth-shattering there. What I really need is a job offer — the rest of this seems like it will fall into place.
Here we go, AOL.com brought us “4 Toxic Words that Hurt the Unemployed.” With any luck these would be the same as George Carlin’s five dirty words you can’t say on TV. Not likely, but it would have been a lot more amusing. They ended up being a lot less showy: unemployed, nice, try and open — as in nice try, I’m unemployed and open to anything.
How about “5 Things Really Smart People Do?” Inc.com offered up a list that starts with “Tell your inner voice to shut up,” and ends with “Focus on the message and not the messenger.” Along the way, you need to “argue with yourself” and “act like you’re curious.” I’m banking on item No. 4, “Find the kernel of truth,” as their best tidbit of wisdom.
But if my tickle file turns too fickle, normally all I have to do is wander over to LinkedIn for a glimpse of what the blog-o-shere has on its mind. Let’s see, nope, don’t care what MBA interns are making this summer. That shipped sailed long ago for me.
Somebody named Katya, the president and COO/Incoming CEO at something called ePals, wants me to know, “The Story of the Monkey and the Work Force we Need.” I have to say my BS meter is flashing red on this one. ePals? Are you e-#Kidding me? I want to be COO of eINEEDAJOB in my next life — the monkey is optional.
And so it is that the blogging landscape is littered with the carcasses of dead posts that start out with: “Five ways to …,” or “10 tips to avoid …” or my personal favorite, “3 items that will get you hired, and 2 that won’t.”
Every once in a while there’s a gem out there on the Interwebs. Amidst all the cottonwood lint and bug scum on the surface of the community water dish you find a jewel. A kernel of wisdom by which to plot the course of your life’s journey.
The other day Bernard Marr posted, “The One Thing Successful People Never Do.” The answer was so simple — never give up. Never give up! And by extension I say focus on what you can do and not what everyone says you can’t. Never lose sight of your ultimate goal. Never give up on yourself and your abilities.
This is my advice from the depths of the community water bowl. Every once in a while you need to run up the hill, push aside the film of bug scum and drink deeply from the free doggy dish of knowledge that is the Internet. And whatever you do, never give up.
Photo credit: Greg Peters