I can’t wait to live in Paris.

The culture, the fine art, the food.  Okay so it was mostly the food, and the fabulously dressed people that I get to watch. But the food.  The pastries.  The cheese.  The bread. Oh, essentially anything that can relate to high quality butter. And wine.

Now I have finally been inspired to be excited for the arts.  The architecture, the music, the musée.  It only took two hours of being forced to walk through the National Art Gallery and REALLY look and the art for me to be convinced.  I actually liked it.  Not that I didn’t think I would, it’s just been a while since I’ve been in a museum or art gallery.  I assume that memories of slowly walking through galleries as a child and being perpetually frustrated because of lack of slides, food, and noise had tainted my perception.  I did also rush through the Met a year ago on a whirl-wind trip to New York.  I discount that trip, however, because I had to motor through one of the grandest museums around in all of one hour.  When you breeze through a gallery without actually giving yourself time to observe any work of art, it seems even more dull.  Like walking aimlessly through a maze of hallways for an hour, thinking about nothing but the cafe you saw on the way there (on the upper east side of course).  Fortunately, this tuesday, that was not the case.

The first work of art that I “responded to” was the Louise Bourgeoise, as we were required to do.  Fortunately, spending five minutes staring at this contraption did NOT seem like an eternity.  I credit the multidimensionality.

The notes I took on this piece look like abstract chicken scratch, or maybe a collection of Haikus.  Evidently I was trying to be “edgy” in my analysis.  To my current dismay, I didn’t give much consideration to the re-reading step I would have to take.

I will attempt to share with you the essence of my thoughts on the meaning of the Bourgeoise:

– The common goal is to reach the top, and there is more than one way to get there.

– Everyone strives for the top because it looks like freedom, there will be do cage to restrict you once you reach the top

– Some people will never reach the top. Their hopelessness weighs them down.  The large, cracked spheres at the bottom of the cage represent these poor unfortunate souls.  Their size could be interpreted as the volume of suffocated people at the bottom, compared to the few who make their way upward.

– There is always a conventional and an unconventional, or unique way to get where you’re headed.  You could quite obviously, take the stairs.  It’s long, and it’s hard, but it’s tried and true.  Some unique individuals don’t follow the path, and they make it.  These, to me, are the bubbles.  They are eventually set free.  The hope and positive energy derived from the creative route to escape the cage can be seen in the brilliant hues of blue.

– Why did we enter the cage in the first place? There is a door.  It seems as though the only thing that holds us back, is a self-inflicted restriction.  If we saw it early enough, we could have just left through the door.  The restrictions, rules, and conventions that have been created around our lives and organizations are kept together by a fabric so fine and breakable (the thin threads keeping everything in place on the inside of the structure, barely visible), and yet we don’t see that we have the ability to tear them down.

The piece of Art that I chose on my own, did not feel heavy like the Bourgeoise.  It certainly didn’t have implications toward the conventions of the modern organization.  It was simple, and made me smile.  I wanted to live in it.

My favourite paintings are the ones the take me somewhere I’d rather be.  A break from all mental and physical stresses.  It’s like a mental vacation.  Even if I’ve never been somewhere like the place portrayed, the mood of the scene strikes a common chord.  That is most certainly how I experienced this Monet.

It caught my eye without the necessity of detail.  I didn’t see the scene or the story it would tell, just the colours and the brush strokes.  I was looking for something that just made me think “pretttttttyyyyyyy”, complete with the big dumb smile that one may have seen on my face the first time I ever saw a McDonalds playplace (before I developed the ability to consume consciously of course).  The soft colour and glow pouring out of this painting put me in a partially open-mouthed trace.  It was like a sedative.  That’s how I knew I would be back.

I thoroughly did not mind standing in front of this for ten minutes.  I forgot about the parking I would have to pay for, or the groceries that I would have to buy, or the business plan I would have to write, or the sublets that I would have to arrange for – all to be done later that day. I do slightly wish that there had been a chair in that particular room though.  I got tired of standing, and sitting on the floor in jeans was mildly uncomfortable… not to mention awkward for the one quiet security guard that I had been sharing the room with.

Regardless of uncomfortable jeans, I still managed to respond to this work of art:

– Everything about it seemed pastoral and infinite, as though the pleasantness that is this setting could extend forever.  The trees themselves have no end, and everything in the background looks as though it would be equally beautiful if I were to wander deeper into the wood.  We don’t actually know what lies deeper in the wood, but we know that whatever it is, is happy.  The lavender and cherry pastel colours told me so.

– The colours he used give the scene it’s atmosphere and convey all of its emotion.  They may not represent the actual colours that Monet observed while on the bank of the river, but they convey the warmth he experienced.

–  I love the shadows.  They are not very dark, but instead soft.  They add texture and comfort.  For some reason it’s as though they secure he fact that the infinite bliss is real and attainable.  As though if this amazing place has gently cast shadows, it’s clearly real.  They prevent the brightness from being overwhelming.  They cool you off on an uncomfortably warm day.

–  The image in the water is as clear as the original scene itself.  An ode to the tranquility of this place.

–  No blossoms are actually present in this picture, but it made be think of them.  I could smell a cool summer day.  Those clean, subtly sweet outdoor smells.

From my perspective, it was the colours used that gave the scene context.  This painting emphasizes the palette used.  In any other situation, one would not see a riverside scene in lavender, soft cherry, and periwinkle, with hints a yellow.  The relationship between the trees, the sky, the grass, the water, and the two boys is changed by the context that the colours give them.  Their colours are normally so different, each element is one in itself.  Strong brown tree trunks would disrupt the green of the grass which would looks sharp against blue water.  Typically the presence of the two boys would be yet another intrusion.  The colour scheme implies a sort of symbiosis.  It’s like a universal calm.  Everything that rests by this riverbank is relaxed into a harmonious flow in the moment that Monet captured.  The brush strokes only add to the coalescence of each element.  The scene means something new because of the way it was painted.

Yes, I rarely ever give myself this type of un-interupted time simply for observations. I do, however, have my own forms of meditative concentration.  The things that I am most passionate about consumer my undivided attention.  The outdoors.

As an athlete hailing from this place, dedicating at least one hour a day to running outside, focusing on this and breathing, is a necessity.  With cell phones, facebook, email, skype, blogs and twitter I don’t know what kind of person I would become if I couldn’t take a bit of time to plug into something that is not electronic.  The other two things that I lend my attention to in the way that I lend it to the outdoors are, as of recent, my guitar and my kitchen. Certainly my family and friends, but typically they have to share me with the kitchen or the outdoors.  These things matter. The extra time is never time wasted.  If I felt this way about my movement and my followers, hypothetically, I would have to accomplish my goals.  If I lead something that was as true to myself as the lakes behind my house, fulfillment would be inevitable.

It’s fair to say that I wish everyone felt this way about nature, about each other, and about what they chose to put in their bodies.  To me, these are the things that deserve our attention.  Without our attention, they are neglected. People quite often don’t pay enough attention to things that have always been here, because they assume that if they’ve always been, then they’ll always be.  Ignorance fails to address the fact that they won’t always be.  If all we are concerned with is everything new, there’s nothing to prevent the old from slipping away.

In my future, If I lead with the quality of attention that my goals deserve, I think my world will look like this.

As beautiful as ever, but with enough people standing at attention.

Oh yeah, personal photo credits on the last two. No big deal.

The people are the stalks of grass. I didn’t need to tell you that…


I don’t want to be that leader that made you do it. That’s just asking to be resented. I definitely don’t want to be that leader who thinks that they are the be-all and end-all. I’d also like to avoid being the leader who’s in that position just because they deserve it and their stance signifies their power, authority, or social status.

Can I be that leader that people decided to follow because they benefit from it? The person that they listen to because they want to know what I’m saying, not because they know they have to follow my rules. Can I also be that person that people feel akin to? The one that relates to them, even though they come from different backgrounds? The one that evokes positive emotions, inspiration, and hope. Can it feel like I’m speaking just to you? Directly connecting to something that matters to you?

That’s the plan Stan.

I would like to be like this guitar.

This guitar can send a message. It can tell a story. It can change people. It commands an audience without coersion. I would like to do that. The guitar is an instrument, and I would like to be instrumental.

Instruments use what they have to make a song come to life. I would like to do the same for my movement, my ideas. People who are very opposed to your genre of music won’t listen to you play, but they typically won’t despise you for committing to the genre. On the other hand, one instrument can play the same notes, the notes that you want it to play, in so many different ways. A guitar can play the blues, it can rock heavy, it can strum a gentle melody, or it could even pull off an intricate Spanish progression. The guitar can get it’s song across to a variety of audiences in a variety of situations. I would like to be able to still convey the emotion and the message that I desire, but convey it in a way that the audience can feel and understand. That is what an instrument would do. It has the ability to connect with individuals on a personal level, even if it’s playing to a crowd. That is how I would like to generate my following.

That’s one way to lead, like a guitar. Some people would prefer to Lead like a designer.

Design thinking and leadership have parallels in nearly every aspect. I could go ahead and say that about numerous things that we encounter day to day. I could talk about how puddle jumping or sauteing broccoli has a connection to leadership strategies or tehniques. I think, however, that does not discount the connection and applications of cross disciplinary thinking with leadership. What it does suggest is that looking at leadership through a lens that applies human activities and our basic nature can be beneficial in shaping our leadership perspectives.

Evidently I was drawn to human cenredness and empathy aspects of design thinking with regards to leadership. Designers know that the purpose of a design, any product, structure, design, or idea, is to ultimately interact with humans. It isn’t all about the business model. The design has to fulfill a function. It has to connect to a person or solve one of their problems.

As leaders, who would we lead if not humans? We aren’t formulating strategy and preparing to calculate the ability to lead an army of automatons. At least not in this decade. I’m talking design thinking, not engineering. This is leadership, not an internal combustion engine. If our motives and our movements aren’t human centered, they won’t be productive. In order to gain momentum, we have to understand what people stand to gain from our movement. Designers certainly have that correct. A simple way to be a human centric leader is to empathize. Leaders are people too after all. It helps to really understand both the problems that your movement will solve for people, and the problems that people will have with your movement.

Design thinking found new ways to help designers and leaders connect to those potential human issues. Inspiration. If the root of our solution, our movement or design, comes from observing people, resulting with a human centered product becomes inevitable. If I had started out with an idea, without first figuring out what’s in it for people, I might as well have requested failure.

Not many people might consider starting out with a blank slate and observing in order to get inspiration, a viable option. We all start out with preconceptions that cloud and influence all of our future decisions. Experiencing life from a completely different perspective allows for less bias and the potential for something fresh and useful. We aren’t trying to solve problems for ourselves, so why would our own perspectives be sufficient? Without observation and external influence, a leader is just a loner. For people who strive to be leaders, but are stuck as loners, I think inspiration within design thinking could be transformational.

Not only is inspiration the most helpful, I think it’s the most challenging. I certainly don’t know what I’m looking for. I think the problem is that I look for things that I’ve already seen.

Here’s to noticing the dustbunnies that you’ve been avoiding looking at in hopes that they would clean themselves!


Yes I’m serious.

I totally burn holes in walls if I don’t wear sun glasses.

Why haven’t you noticed this before?

I always wear invisible sunglasses to class.  Wouldn’t want to burn down the building.  You see, my parents had to become sunglasses engineers when I was younger and began to develop this super power, as a necessity for their survival.  Also that’s why I live in the Yukon, to cool me down.  Also I am the reason for global warming. I am sorry.

Okay, it is potentially a metaphorical super power, which makes it no less awesome.

It’s difficult to explain exactly how “laser-vision” relates to my particular talent, because my talent isn’t quite as narrow as beams of energy being propelled from my irises. I recognize that I am different, talented, and unique, but I don’t think the talent that I possess can be attributed to one activity.  I’m a competitive elite athlete (runner, cyclist, XC skier) but not the best of the best, I’m a great mathlete, but not the nerdiest of the nerds, and I’m a huge foodie, but not the foodiest … among seemingly infinite other things.  I also consider myself a natural people person, with the innate desire to communicate, teach, learn from, and change others… with an eerily keen sense of others emotions.  The way that I put all of these things into one lump of person is my super power.. but how do I group them.. what does that make me?

If I thought about it from the perspective of any of my friends, I think it would be clarified.  If most or any could describe me with one word, I am sure it would be “intense”… in fact, I’m quite sure they have told be this before.  I see, hear, or learn about things around me that are deserving of attention, and I devote un-wavering passion toward them.  Passion with the intensity of a laser beam… hence the laser vision.  I spend boundless time and effort determining which aspects of my environment are worth addressing within my life, and once I decide, I commit.  These passions are not determined by trend or stubbornness, they are borne of education and energy.  I am never the girl who jumps on the bandwagon.  I’m the girl who drives the wagon because she did the research and found out that the purpose of moving the wagon resonates with her core values and the wagon has a viable path to success.  I’m also the girl who, if she sees other people who she knows would benefit from the wagon, will do her best to give them the opportunity to climb aboard.

Here are a few examples of me:

– I have a four-year plan for my future, with branches existing for alternate routes upon reaching a junction

– I have a list of potential companies that I could work for based primarily on their corporate ethics, and I have them mapped out on a globe

– I have decided which year I am going to run an Ironman and which year I am going to start training

– I have educated myself, and only eat organic, or local grass-fed meat

– I now have a roommate who also began training as a runner

– I now have a teammate who also only eats grass-fed meat

– I swear I don’t use mind control, they were drawn in by the intensity of my laser-vision

Still with me?

Yes complicated.

I’m an ENFJ.  That’s my Myers-Briggs personality type.  Please click the link (if you have time), it helps clarify a bit about where my “power” comes from (also the author of the page’s name is Joe Butt.. ha.. ha).  I am more of an ENFJ than anyone I know, except Oprah.  That’s where the uniqueness comes in.  My personality type alone encompasses only 2-5% of the population.  Beyond that, the way in which I use my personality to make change, encourage others, and accomplish goals? That’s as unique as my fingerprint.

Nobody has the same exact passions, coupled with the same skills and knowledge, coupled with the same intensity as anyone else.  From where I have come from, to where I’m going to go, nobody has the same vision.

That is why it is important.  I know that my bundle of abilities will be key to the movement I make or support.  I don’t plan on finishing this life without making an impact.  I follow through with plans.  I have the power to influence others because of my own ever-evident passions.  Perhaps it is difficult to explain, but I recognize my abilities as paramount for growth and change, because regardless of me being just me – me being one very independent, stable, driven individual – I am also equal in value to the sum of the people that I affect, inspire, or carry. Even the people that those people carry.

Okay, coming full-circle, perhaps my super power of laser like intensity and drive, has a result more to the affect of Magneto.

I’m just assuming that you watch X-men.

With this power, whether it be laser or magnets.. or a super laser-magnet…

(my apologies)

… I plan on using it to first absorb all of the applicable knowledge possible, sorting that knowledge into a viable path of action that will instigate change, then gathering people and bits of metal who value the things that I value, and then propelling it in the right direction.

So far, one potential first action plan is getting an internship at TOMs shoes after graduation.  They’re going in an awesome direction that I would like to contribute some serious passion to.

I’ve already bought my first pair. I’ve worn them around my house for the past two days.  They fit me like sage fits butternut squash (if you haven’t paired the two, please do).

Three of my roomies are planning which colour they are going to buy their first pair in. 🙂

Super laser-magnet power.



Talking with TED

Perhaps, when searching through TED talks yesterday, I didn’t give many a fair chance.

First I filtered by topic of interest.  I’m a girl for the “food”, the “environment”, the “global issues”, and the “beauty” categories… in that order.

I really like food, it’s because I run.

Now, I had to pick at least two exceptional talks, which meant I had a bit of an obstacle to hurdle.  I had gone ahead and opened nearly twenty tabs, each containing a different talk.  Yes that’s more than six hours, I know. This lead me to the strategy that I employed.

I listened to the first fifteen to thirty seconds of a talk, and if I was bored by then, it got “X”-ed. It appears to me that I’m a sucker for a good hook.  Or a nice suit.  Or an expressive face.  Or pretty colours and toys.

In any case, the point of that explanation is to emphasize that, though I chose the two talks that I did, I certainly cannot discredit the talks that I rejected, because they really weren’t given much of a chance.

Given my requirements of either a nice suit, a good hook, and pretty colours, in addition to my initially selected topics of interest, I decided that the following TED talks were the most excellent:

Dan Buettner on How to live to be 100+


Chris Jordan pictures some shocking stats

These talks both gave a very clear image of where we currently sit as a society.  Dan’s talk, however, gave an even clearer image of where we should be (if longevity is what we desire).  Dan used charts directly comparing the average lifespan of individuals throughout North America, with individuals in what he called “Blue Zones” throughout the globe.  This gave the audience an unobstructed view of both our potential, and our real possibility for positive change if we so decide.  We were even given videos depicting the lives and happiness of centenarians living in “blue zones”.  It made me want to be 100.  That’s saying something.  Aren’t your twenties supposed to be your “prime”? Well Dan gave an excellent case for extended happiness through an extended life.

doesn’t this guy look happy? Yeah, he’s 100.

Chris Jordan, on the other hand, made a very compelling depiction of “WHAT IS”, while leaving “WHAT COULD BE” in our hands.  The contrast he really made, was that between what we know to be true, and what the truth really looks like.  For him, it’s our decision to take the truth and determine whether or not we our satisfied with our current state.  His job was to deliver us the truth in a way that we can feel, conceptualize, and relate to.  He took staggering statistics involving unfathomable numbers and turned them into works of art involving tangible items in huge quantities. The picture below is made up of individual barbie dolls.  The number of barbie dolls in the picture represent the number of women in America who have undergone breast augmentation.

I had three barbies when I was little.  My mom told me that three was too many. “Brittany, barbie dolls represent unattainable female proportions and I do not want you developing your self image based on this plastic figurine.”  Well mom, I’ll show you too many barbies.

Chris is the master of showing you “WHAT IS”.

Chris, however, conveyed this without the use of much literary genius or storytelling.  His only narrative was his personal story.  He told us about why he started creating this art and how challenging some of his pieces were to put together.  He explained to us what he hoped to accomplish.  This “narrative” in a sense, brought the pictures home.  It inspired self reflection.  Wow, we really have become numb to crises and incredible statistics. It took this man to turn tobacco deaths into a giant mural for us to actually feel magnitude.

Dan Buettner’s entire talk was about stories.  Dan visited people in each of his focus communities in order to understand how they live the way they live and why it has benefitted them so greatly, and he shared this with us.  He spoke about spending a day with one centenarian who took him cruising in her new ride, and another who completed open heart surgery.  This spoke to the audience in a way that connected them to the added joys they could experience with those extra years of life.  Living longer was no longer an equation, with the result being an increased number and satisfaction, it was an experience.  We saw what we could have and how we could have it, by actually seeing and hearing about people who do so.

Dan had a very keen sense of using both logical information and emotional content because the formula that he prescribed as a solution required both in itself.  Not only do individuals require a heavily plant-based diet and continuous physical activity (which can be quantified and scientifically explained), they require love, care, and a stable community (none of which can be calculated).  His explanations and delivery of content simply had to follow suit because those were the foundations of his presentation.  Longevity could have easily been a physician prescribed pill, but his presentation emphasized the untruths of that theory by using both logic and emotional connectivity.

Chris, on the other, balanced emotional content with logical content within each art piece.  Each picture was not only created to evoke emotion, but it was created using a hard statistic.  The entire point of Chris’s presentation was to attach feeling to statistics.  His way of balancing the two seemingly different things, was by combining them in form, so that we would be able to more easily connect the two.

In this way his art was very effective.  I know that if someone had stood on stage and simply dictated each of the statistics that he had portrayed on canvas or in a mural, I would have “X”-ed the TED talk and labelled it boring.  His explanations that went along with each picture were also essential in order for the media to do it’s job.  Without his appeal, explaining that we have become recognizably numb, the pictures would have had the same personal effect.  I could have simply looked at them with disgust and blamed others for being so ignorant as to let this happen.

Dan’s form of media was also, fancy that, effective.  Now, quite honestly, I wouldn’t have suffered through either of these two videos if I hadn’t found their mode of conveying messages and their media effective.. which can explain why I am singing their praises.  His videos were heart warming and made me think of my grandparents or great-grandparents.  They made me hope that those that are still alive have followed the right formula and will be with me for a while yet.

That’s my great-grandma.  She’s a go-getter. I hope that I can be a go-getter too, and that I will HAVE great-grandchildren alive to se me go-get.  Dan’s videos helped give the audience hope by seeing, in person, that longevity can happen and how longevity can happen.

I think that the benefits of Dan’s talk to the audience was incredibly implicit.  That, or perhaps he really did use “What’s in it for you” strategy.  He’s giving us the tools that we need to live longer.  It’s like he gave us the magic key to the elixir of life, the philosopher’s stone, the chamber of secrets. Ok this isn’t hogwarts, he told us that we can grow old and happy, and he told us how.  There isn’t an individual in the audience who couldn’t gain from that knowledge (save those who plan on martyrdom etc.).

Now, Chris Jordan’s presentation didn’t necessarily have the same power of persuasion.  His was eye opening, but it seems that he believes it is up to us to take action based on the depth of our feelings.  What he wanted to do for us was to engage those feelings that we may have been ignoring.

His presentation may only call to action people who already have opinions and ambitions in global social improvement, because it is those people who will most appreciate the new emotions that have been evoked.  Though perhaps not everyone will be provoked to react because of his presentation, Chris certainly did his part to relate to individuals who began with a limited perspective.  His entire presentation was about turning what we know now, into the real picture.  He took individual objects, that anyone can relate to and understand, and allowed them to represent a staggering social truth, at least one of which has implications in each and every audience member’s life.  Everyone can relate to cups used on an airplane, and each person can relate to the size of the statue of liberty.  Any audience member can relate to practical references.

Dan’s topic in itself has universal appeal.  It seems like adding emotional appeal in the form of real life stories, taken from a very bipartisan standpoint, to a presentation about enriching and lengthening our lives … a presentation with that content would have to go out of it’s way to avoid identifying with the audience.  Everyone faces age.  Everyone has family.  Everyone wants health.  I think he emphasized the fact that his solution was universal by using multinational examples.  He finished with an example of a group in North America itself.  This, I believe, was the final step in sealing his connection with the audience.  Not only could we see that longevity was possible, we saw that it was possible for us.  Many people started out knowing that in remote asian cultured where strange varieties of fish were available along with boundless tofu and wild vegetables, people lived incredibly long lives.  What we didn’t know was that it wasn’t those strange unique factors that determined their life expectancy, it was the factors that are common between many global communities, factors that North Americans can use to their personal benefit.

Now excuse me while I go eat plants,

walk downtown,


drink wine,

and spend copious amounts of time with my family. 🙂

See you in 81 years when I’m still kickin.




My Movement

I plan on leading others to treat the environment and all those inhabiting it with the care that they would give to their mother or child.

Yes it is a plan.

I plan on doing this because I feel that it is unjust to force other nations and future generations to suffer the consequences of our destruction.  It is not their responsibility, nor should it be. As it is currently, the way business is done is not sustainable.  Those doing the business and committing or perpetuating the environmental and social atrocities, aren’t going to be alive to feel the burden.

As North Americans, our actions have global consequences. The repercussions of our corporate and consumer decisions can be seen primarily in developing nations that rely on us for “economic stability”.

I witnessed some of these repercussions in the Dominican Republic.

I took the above photo just outside a typical home on a sugar cane batey. This is the typical yard.  Garbage removal isn’t common.

This following photo is one of the Haitian accommodations.  Haitians come to the Dominican for better jobs and money to support their family.

This is what the “better jobs” afford them because this is how cognizant the american sugar companies are of the implications of their cost-cutting business strategies.

The Haitian situation is reflected in every major industry in many developing countries as, for these individuals, cutting cane for a pittance is better than the alternative of no job at all.

This doesn’t even address environmental degradation.

There is a clear reason that I plan to work ethically and inspire others to use conscientious business practices, as opposed to simply having a pipe-dream.  When you feel connected to the issue, contributing to the solution no longer becomes an option, it becomes a necessity.  I do not question the attainability of my leadership goals.  There are many approaches and boundless opportunities for corporate social responsibility, which leaves me certain that my plan will be carried out in some form.  Everything I currently take on, and each step that I have planned for the future is centered upon my leadership goals.

The gift that I will give is self-evident.  Social and environmental improvement.  Contributing to our ability to maintain life can be a gift.  Anyone who sees or perceives the current issues will appreciate the gift.  The gift, however, is for everyone, not only those who understand or appreciate it.  You cannot avoid the benefits of ethically sound commerce.  My art is created by my avenue of choice.  There is art in changing business.  Any new way of doing anything is art.  It will require both guts, creativity, and communication skills to either create a successful business on a platform of sustainability, or to convince other businesses to convert.

In return, I expect understanding.  All I want is for other people to empathize with the issues I plan to address.  If others open their minds and demonstrate willingness to move forward, my goals will be satisfied.

Right now, I could just drop out of business school and run around telling my friends to love the earth and its people.

Abandon my career.

Pick up a guitar.

Sing songs trying to persuade others to act ethically.

Dispose of my material possessions and eat vegan.

I could even use the last of my scholarship money to fly off and build homes in Haiti.

That would be easy.

No challenges, no further skill required, no real impact, just one person. Likely very enjoyable.  I like playing guitar, I like lentils, I like carpentry, I don’t like school all that much, and I like sunny weather.

Well, now that that’s been decided…


(that’s the one nice looking corner of Haiti)

Well, maybe I won’t, I think there may be a better option.

I could attempt to weasel my way into becoming Prime Minister and implement some SERIOUS regulations etc. That would be pretty high impact. Right?

I don’t, however, see that going over too well in the long run.  I’m more of a “fix it at the source” kind of gal.  The source is business.

I plan on finishing my undergrad in accounting – gaining some legitimate financial knowledge and credibility.  Traveling -gaining some serious global perspective credibility. Schooling more by taking this sustainability MBA – gaining some real credibility in my area of future business.

From there I will look into becoming an intern at a sustainability consulting firm, and then (if necessary), developing my own business plan in order to brainwash companies into being responsible.  My business will grow and become a well known brand of ethical certification and from there EVERYONE will want to work with my business.  Through marketing and educational campaigns done by my business, consumers will realize that being conscious of their purchases will make the world a better place.  At this point, the world will be perfect, obviously.

People in developing countries will be receiving a fair wage.

DDT will be locked up in prison along with the Monsanto corporation.

Genetically modified foods will have fled the planet is search of other life forms to prey on.

Cow farts will not be causing holes in the ozone layer because cows will be eating grass, like they’re supposed to, roaming fields, like they’re supposed to, and there will not be seventy gajillion of them.

Lakes and oceans will be completely clean, and all of the fish will dance and sing.

Non-biodegradable plastics will be shipped to Pluto, because it’s not a planet anymore and therefore doesn’t matter.

Ice caps and glaciers will re-freeze and the Polar Bears will come back to life.

AIDS will disappear because of the education in developing countries due to the new found income increase.

Cancer will run and hide because bisphenol-A will be history.

There will be no war because we’ll all be so Dang happy.

Organic skittles will fall from the sky whenever there is a rainbow.

Somehow, even with skittles falling from the sky, there will be no obesity.


You’re Welcome,



I think I should be knighted.

Sir Brittany Pearson.

It just sounds right. I mean, wouldn’t they knight you too if you success fully mediated the Israelis and the Palestinians?

Because I did. In a simulation.

How did she do it?

Well first of all, failure was necessary before success.  I struggled through a very unsuccessful dry run in the position of Palestinian leader.  I was determined to make each and every decision based on my ultimate goals and peaceful tendencies.  I consistently attempted to deter violence and ignored security measures due to my belief that they would hinder any kind of empathy and connectivity between the civilians of both sides.

I was still thinking with my Canadian perspective.

What would a Canadian citizen want from a Canadian leader. Resources put into munitions? I don’t think so.  Support for Religious extremist groups? Um, who are we talking about here, the mennonites?

By the time I started recognizing the reasons for my demise, I could do nothing but dig myself a deeper hole.  Failure from the palestinian side was quick and dirty.  Most of the palestinian population was furious with me every time I went for the peaceful solution.

I was “weak”.  That isn’t exactly a prime descriptive word for a leader.  I don’t think I survived well trying to deal with a population that had been hit with such heavy personal loss.  In hindsight, my peaceful solutions would seem placated to a population that has been hit so hard with despair and violence that they’ve become filled with passionate hate.  Though the violent solutions don’t appeal to the entire Palestinian population, Religious groups can still influence the general consensus by taking violent action and being outspoken with their perspectives.

My brain kept on telling me to fight the radical groups because they were instigating so much death and chaos. A super theory, not so super in practice.   This was where my issues with the simulation came up.  It seemed that, from the Palestinian side, my choices were either:

a) Be violent and side with the radicals


b) Be peaceful and consequently receive no respect while fading into oblivion

Evidently I chose the latter.  I also chose to curse the simulation and be frustrated.  I wanted to make negotiations and choose options that were in between the options available but the computer was stubborn.

Maybe the groups are actually this stubborn. Perhaps my ideals of attending to everyones needs simultaneously and not taking drastic measures is actually unattainable.  Resources can only be spread so thin before any changes made lose their effect.  My personal values have to be applied in context in order to be viable.  I can still be peaceful and serve a common good, but do it Middle-East style… except that I’ve already failed…

WAIT, I have another chance! HURRAH.

My strategies and tactics used as an Israeli leader still followed my initial peaceful interrelation model, because in my personal opinion some credit has to be given to a leader who maintains their platform.  Upon turning over a new leaf, however, I decided that I would take an active role in providing the common citizens what they would ultimately need.  I would not be afraid of providing them security, just because it may offend the palestinians.  I would also not be afraid to offend the Jewish radicals settling in Westbank.  I figured anyone who causes violence is a common enemy to anyone who fears for their safety and desires peaceful solutions, and I would unite them by being stable in policy and platform and prioritizing by putting health and economic needs on the front burner for both sides of the conflict.  I thoroughly enjoyed using the “Reduce Criticism” and “Unite for Peace” speaking buttons.

Yeah, It was pretty serious business. Simulation Shmimulation.

It was not always successful. I thought I was going down the failure path for a while, but then I persevered and developed a following.  People rallied for me.  I was a big shot. Once I was on the upswing, my confidence (along with the confidence that my people had in me) saw me through.  The smaller mistakes and bumps along the way were easy to recover from when the big picture was in sight.

Yes, at one point I was frustrated because (due to the success of my leadership) it was becoming a seriously long game and not a fast fail, BUT I felt some very well earned accomplishment upon finishing. It was worth it.

I felt like I was back playing the Sims or neopets.  Back when I would forget that earning one million neopoints had no payout in real life.

Reflecting on some of the leadership styles that could have played roles in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I believe that ultimate success will come from a transformational leader.

Charismatic leaders have the power to evoke emotion and impose control.  To me, this sounds like the way that the religious factions have been operating up to this point.  They play upon their influence, and they play upon the suffering of the population in order to fulfill their directives.  Charisma doesn’t seem like it has the ability to build a common ground.  It can make the individual sides fight harder and stand their ground, but I don’t believe it could foster mutual goals and negotiation.

Transactional leaders might be able to maintain the current goals, and attempt to work well with what is currently available, but will they be able to see the ultimate goal?  Transactional leadership would likely be able to overcome problems as they arise and minimize damage.  What this conflict needs, however, is an overhaul.

In order for the destructive, violent situation to disappear, the hatred has to disappear.  A transformational leader would have the ability to change the game.  Unite each and every peaceful citizen against the war, not against each other.  The violence could be the enemy.  This requires a new perspective and a complete transformation.

I virtually rocked that.  We will ignore the fact that before “rocking that”, I sent the situation into complete chaos and started over.

I could comment about how one could take this situation and relate it to a business attempting to please conflicting stakeholders, or dealing with an agency problem.  An easy way to understand it, to empathize. In this situation though, I think it’s important to emphasize that, as physically far away as the gaza strip is to Canada, the issue itself hits close to home for many Canadians.  Canada is home to a population with a variety of ethnic and political backgrounds, many of whom have ties to the Jewish-Arabic conflicts.  We also happen to live in a place of opportunity, where our policies, our alliances, and our educated citizens can make a global difference.  Transformational leadership is all about dreaming big.  If someone has a desire, ambition, or aspiration, whether it be simply starting a local business or getting involved in international relations and managing global conflict, “Where there’s a Will, there’s a Way”.

And where there is one person dreaming of peace, there are countries full.

She’s in Accounting?

If I’ve known someone for long enough, they’ll start to develop an idea of who I am.  “Long Enough” isn’t really very long.  I make my values, lifestyle, choices and perspectives very evident.

I’m from the Yukon, this means I like:

– mountains

– trees (evergreens)

– glacial streams

– endurance sports

– hippy sweaters

– vegetables

– music festivals

– socks with sandals (only under certain circumstances, also this point is pretty irrelevant)

I’m that girl who’s obsessed with “Healthy Living”, “Sustainability”, and “Equality”. Now, just for clarity, the people that I surround myself with are a mixed bag. I may be an enviro-keener, but that isn’t everyone’s schtick.  Either way, my enthusiasm and intensity toward my passions tends to define me to those I meet.

Somewhere along the road the inevitable question is asked when we’ve run out of more stimulating conversation, “So… what, um, program are you in at school Britt?”

“Oh I haven’t told you? I’m in commerce, Accounting.”

“Wow, I mean, good job, but I didn’t see that coming.  I was thinking maybe environmental science, International affairs maybe?”

I suppose and explanation is necessary. I mean, usually telling them my grand plan helps them connect the dots. “I plan on doing my masters at UBC in sustainable and socially responsible business.”


I can, however, divulge a more in depth “Why?”

1. I’m a planner.  Every single piece of my life-puzzle so far plays a role in a larger objective.  Even though each tiny piece on it’s own doesn’t seem to fit anywhere, together they become my ultimate goals.  Not everyone can see my big picture.  Seeing the big picture is a chronic illness of mine.

2. I like every school subject.  I took every possible course in high school and wound up with great results in each field of study.  How do you narrow down an array of sciences, MATH (emphasis on the math), history, english, philosophy, outdoor ed, french.. and the list goes on. Well, in business, I can expect to be affected by everything.  I like math, I like people, and I like other things.  My mom told me I might like business 🙂

3. I have a fear of permanently closing doors.  If I chose another field of study, would it be as applicable in as great a variety of fields as commerce? Likely not.  My degree, from my perspective, didn’t have much of an opportunity cost.  I wasn’t permanently forgoing my love of anything else.

4.  I embrace change in most aspects of my life, as I have since I was born while my mom was in university, but I crave stability.  I love to travel, and move, and try new things, and I want to make sure that my degree won’t let me fall off the deep end while doing such things.  No matter where my dreams take me, I will be employable.

5. I admire my dad.  Inside and out, I am nearly identical to my mother, because she raised me, but somehow, somewhere my dad had to have an influence.  Even though I haven’t lived with him since I was two, my biannual visits have instilled a subconscious need for connection, common ground and approval.  My dad is a very successful businessman.  He has an awesome, relatively small resort development partnership called Resort Ventures West.  He also has an accounting degree.  He absolutely loves his job, because it relates his personal passions (skiing, golf, outdoors) to his work.  I would like that, and I want to show him that I can have that.

6. I went on a trip to the Dominican Republic.  There I lived with their “Middle class” (impoverished) families, and was exposed to the atrocities that large corporations are capable of.  From the living conditions in the sugar cane Batays to the treatment of “employees” in the Free Trade zones, I knew that once I had seen it, I would not be able to live with a clear conscience unless I took it upon myself to somehow change the current state of commerce.

7.  I believe that the only way to fix an issue is from the source. Public policy is excellent, most definitely, but it doesn’t change the nature of business.  I think a socially responsible business only arises from consumer’s demand and/ or an individual’s values.  Power hungry corporations will continue to seek out ways to bend the rules and be malicious if that is perceived to be the way to success.

8. I want to be credible.  I want to have the business knowledge needed to make a legitimate case for sustainable and socially responsible business.  I know that businesses can be profitable and ethical, but if I want to either create my own company or make a living at sustainability consulting for other companies, I have to have the business sense to prove it.  If I understand the accounting and the economics, I will make a better case.  They don’t listen to hippies.

9. My mom told me that her science degree was useless.  She has a degree in biology.  She Is now the director of community affairs in the Yukon.  Correlated? I think not.

10. Organic produce is expensive.  If I want to pay for my ethically produced food and goods, I need to have a degree that will enable me to foot the bill.

I think my ambitions are evident.  I want to complete my bachelors with honours.  UBC is strict with who they let in.  I want to travel.  If I don’t travel more then I have, I believe I will have an insufficient global perspective. I have a fear of being ignorant, because I am fairly intolerant of ignorance myself. Such is life as a hippie.  Following my travels, I hope to find a sustainability consulting firm in Vancouver looking for interns.  The hippie MBA at UBC requires 2 years minimum of post baccalaureate work experience.  From that point on my dreams involve running a company that does it’s part in the fight for ethical business.  I only want as much money as my sports equipment, organic produce, hybrid(or diesel), and reclaimed wood home will cost me.  Somehow, I want this to take me back home so that I can contribute to the Northern economy.  I plan on raising a family where I was raised, because regardless of the “isolation” of the North, I think it gave me countless opportunities.

I truly aspire to inspire others to treat the environment and other individuals with the care they would give to a loved one.  If I can do this through example AND through the purpose of my employment I will be satisfied.

No way.


I would like to contribute to the improvement of the condition of our earth and society so that the next generation does not have to feel our burden.

That is my BIG, GIANT, ALL ENCOMPASSING sense of purpose

My aspirations, fortunately, can be worked toward continuously.  I do my best, daily, to practice what I preach, to keep myself informed, to share my perspective with people who appreciate it.  In living the way I live, I give priority to my aspirations.  In persevering through each class and planning ahead, I give priority to my ambitions.  My ambitions were developed after my aspirations because they were instilled at a young age.  I have a hard time distinguishing between the two because I live them both simultaneously.  My ambitions will amplify my aspirations, which is why I am committed to all of my plans.  My aspirations, however, can be achieved through everyday interactions.  In this way, I’m torn.  I do not have to give up one to get the other, even today during my second semester of my third year of university.  I haven’t prioritized.

I hope I won’t flop because of it.


I’m stressing out about my ski race next weekend.

The race format is ideal for people who are excellent at classic technique.

Classic makes my back seize.


BUT, I also suck at double polling because I’ve avoided it so long because of my bad back.

SO, that means that this weekend’s race is designed for me to fail.

So if I do fail because my back seizes, or because of my weak double poll (or because I decidedly didn’t give it my all in order to make up for potential weakness) at least I’ll have a reason. I’ll likely place significantly behind the lead pack, which will legitimize my excuses, instead of in fourth place, which will show that I tried (but failed).

As a cross-country skier I recognize (with the help of my sport psychologist)  that there are at least three layers of internal dialogue (voices) that I deal with when I’m preparing for a ski race.

The outer-most layer is the one that interacts with other people. I can always tell my friends that I’m feeling under the weather or have a sore back, that way they’ll understand that if they beat me, it was only because of my ailments.

The next layer in is coercive.  It’s the voice that tries to lie to me when I recognize my ailments and feel like a debbie downer.  It tells me, “No Britt, you don’t feel bad, you can do it”, but it’s pretty pathetic.  I can tell when I’m lying.  Persuasion only works if I’m completely on board.

That’s where the next layer comes in – The Truth.  This layer decides, above all other layers, what my outcome will be. This layer is how I really feel, regardless of how I’m supposed to feel.  When my back hurts, this layer doesn’t believe I’ll be able to race well.  When I’m telling other people I’m tired, but I’m not, this layer knows that I’ll secretly be able to race well but that I have a safety net in case.  This layer also recognizes when I have given myself an easy way out, a “Plan B” if you will.  If it’s easier, this layer always choses Plan B.

Apparently, what I was thinking of as the core of a gobstopper, that raw instinct at my core (the one that knows how it’s going to end), is a lizard.


I suppose a gobstopper was a little too inconspicuous to represent such a potentially malicious force. Lizard could work.

That resistant lizard seems to haunt me most in skiing.  Ski races are such clear valuations of your worth as an athlete.  If you try hard and succeed, you are both excellent, talented, and admirable.  If you don’t try hard and you succeed, you are talented, but fewer people admire you.  If you don’t try hard, and you don’t succeed you are inconsequential, no one will think less or more of you.  I think the lizard likes this option. If you try hard and you don’t succeed, you’ve failed.

Thinking further, however, utter failure has it’s up side.  At least you can learn success through a process of elimination.  I think that is admirable.  Having the strength to really fail.

Taking a look at this picture of my friend Heidi, I can easily recognize that she is an admirable skier.  Not because she won this race (I mean come on, I don’t actually remember the results of every race), but because she drained her tank.   No excuses.  She never said she was tired.  She never said she was injured.  She never said she had bad wax.  She always has the strength to look her results in the eye and take accountability.  People who don’t put themselves on the line, will never be able to take accountability. But what is on the line? Nobody is going to think less of you or laugh at you. That’s the part that’s hard to accept.

I have to face my own failures when they come and I’m afraid of that.  It’s far too easy for me to forget about that guilty, empty feeling that follows a half-assed race.  All I can see is the failure.  Remembering properly, I know that feeling of guilt, that feeling of “I don’t, and may never, know how well I could have done”, that feeling is worse.  It’s just easier.

This is where that middle level comes in.  I know you were wondering earlier, what’s the point of having a useless level that lies to you and tries fruitlessly to encourage a change of heart?  Well, when that middle level stops lying, it’s the most important factor for success.  That little voice has the ability to acknowledge a bad situation, understand that there is a chance of failure, and decide to persevere regardless.  When the little voice takes that kind of initiative, I can break down the resistance.

On those days where that little voice feeds me logic, things that my lizard can’t refute, that’s when I win.

It says things like, “Who honestly cares?! Are you going to die if you lose? Are your friends going to laugh? You aren’t losing anything my not winning, but you’re not going to win if you don’t try.” It sometimes even throws is things like, “Hey, I bet you that extra little effort you put in, I bet you it burns a couple hundred more calories. Is there harm in that? Never.”

You know, now that I think of it, every time you decide against doing something that’s difficult, you’re probably forgoing tons of potential burnt calories and built muscles.

Dumb lizard is probably fat.

Now that’s more like it.  I think it will be easier for me to defeat the lizard if I think of him like that.

So right now, I thrash.

Instead of trying, futilely, to convince, persuade, and lie to myself one hour before the race, I will prepare ahead of time.  If I understand now, that the only way to reach a desirable outcome next weekend is to completely drain my tank, I will be able to do it.  If I understand now that losing with accountability will get me further than losing with excuses, I will undoubtedly be able to conquer the resistance. Jabba doesn’t stand a chance.  Waiting gives Jabba the chance.  The longer I postpone my decision to give it my all, the longer Jabba has to gather his artillery. Feeble, last minute attempts at self confidence boosts can’t battle on the vast deserts of Tatooine.

I apologize for the excessive Star Wars references, but I think I make my point.  Even internal struggles need to be dealt with as soon as the issue arises.  The more we feed Jabba, the larger he grows.  Every insecurity feeds our desire to take the safe route.

Writing this post, following my own well reasoned thought process is one way of trashing ahead of time in order to ship ON time.  There are no second chances with shipping in a ski race.  One set of OUA championship races in 2011.  Every sub-100% race is an opportunity lost.  I can deal with my challenge.

My teammates face the same challenge.  Any skier, and hopefully any non-skier, who reads this post can empathize.  Sure, in individual endurance sports team doesn’t mean the same thing as it does in hockey, because our team is also our competition. If I didn’t do everything in my power to help my teammates overcome their obstacles, in a way I would be succumbing to the resistance.  The only way I know I deserved my results, is if I know the other athletes were giving their all too.  I’ll be there for them, as a support system, when they are afraid of failure, and encourage them to ski until they yack. Please don’t question the potential negative health consequences of such things… I’m sure it is in fact good for you… somehow.

Either way…

Though giving into the lizard may result in prettier pictures

The energy put into that smile could have been used to ski faster.

I want to look like this again.

just imagine skis. and snow.

A Leader and a Follower

My fingertips on my left hand have callouses and no sensation.

My fingernails are short enough that it looks like I bite my nails, even though I abhor the habit.

I now spend an hour every day.

I now cough up $120 per month to the Folklore centre.

Neither of my parents have a musical bone in their body.

This is just proof that I never would have started playing guitar this year  if left to my own devices.

I suppose I was inspired.

This summer I won tickets to the Dawson City Music Festival. DCMF is famed for it’s unique location in a quaint, riverside, mining town smack dab in the middle of the Yukon, neighbouring… nothing.  Each year it draws in an unimaginable array of talent from across the globe.  This year’s line-up exceeded my expectations.  I must admit, I was looking forward to DCMF because of the dancing, the food, the random running race, and the socializing.  The music, I thought, was just a catalyst.

I stand corrected.

Mid-afternoon on the second day of the four day fest, I was exhausted in the worst way.  I had been up a little later than originally planned, and consumed more beverages than I care to remember, and to top it off, I woke up at 8 AM to run the Dome Race (just 8K straight up a hill, NBD).  Regardless of all of my ailments, I was compelled to not let the tickets go to waste and in fact listen to some of the music.   My friends and I parked ourselves on a bench in the main tent and enjoyed the first act, an upbeat swingin’ band from Chicago.  It kept me awake and interested long enough to listen to the second act, which I had originally planned to spend asleep on the grass.  Thank god I decided against it.

This act was a compilation of guitarists from all attending bands, gathered together to simply jam Neil Young songs.  It started off slowly, and it took me a while to recognize that they were amping up to Cortez the Killer.  I mentioned to my friends that there was a single female guitarist on the far left rockin’ with a sleek gold guitar.

Interest totally piqued.

Then I noticed that she had a small section of her head shaved…

Yep. Badass.

Then the wicked-super-beyond amazing solo’s began. WOW. I’d never seen someone play guitar the way she did.  Even the male guitarists on stage stopped to stare (why so surprised guys?). At this point I couldn’t decide whether to head-bang, or continue to stare in awe with my jaw on the floor. My (low) energy level dictated that I remain there with my mouth open.

That, dear readers, was the beginning of an inspiration.

Following that performance I:

1) Googled her and discovered that her name was Donna Grantis

2) Made sure to attend each and every show that her and the band the she belonged to (I eventually found out that it was an amazing blues band lead by the talented Shakura S’Aida) played during their entire stay in the Yukon.  That included one night, when the emotional connection between guitarist, vocalist and audience pretty much moved me to tears. No shame (swear it wasn’t just me). And one night in Whitehorse, when my dear friend went up to Donna pre-performance at a local pub, pointed at me, and said “Say hi to my friend, she’s in love with you”. I proceeded to blush, and die.  Then Donna came and gave me a hug, and we chatted, and I was forever inducted into the Donna-followers-for-life club (figment of my imagination).

The connection that Donna Grantis has with her guitar, her music, and her fans is unparalleled from my perspective.  It is safe to say that it is her sheer passion that evokes such strong responses in others.  I must also mention that nearly everyone who witnessed her on stage throughout the festival was hooked.

I equate her to the female version of one of her inspirations: Jimi Hendrix.  The female Canadian Jimi Hendrix from Toronto who studied at McGill, close enough.

Something about Donna just demands a following.  It’s not power of persuasion.  She isn’t incredibly marketed. She could not be labeled as outgoing.  She is, however, sincere, raw, and incredibly encouraging to those whose passions and dreams involve music.  The way she plays just dares the audience to enjoy music as thoroughly as she does.  She does great work in promoting guitar playing among women internationally, as well as locally.  This type of leadership is derived from her relationship with the musical community.  None would categorize her as a leader based purely on her profound “leadership characteristics”.  Her success as a leader is determined entirely based on the dedication of her followers, in addition her depth of connection to those followers at the individual level.

If I am any evidence, then she has been a successful leader. I not only aspire to play guitar beautifully (like she does). I aspire to lead like she does.  The signed poster and christmas card (also the two picks, and pickholder!) that I received from her (via my very smart boyfriend) for christmas, can attest to my motivation.

If I could lead because my followers share my passion, and see me as an aid in achieving their goals, then I would be satisfied.  Inspiring people by demonstrating, by embodying the spirit you want to portray, requires no convincing.  The generosity and enthusiasm that Donna has shown me will, undoubtedly, play a role in the way I treat individuals and live my life in the future.

Now, my story of a follower is going to be more succinct. It took me a long time to think of someone fitting.  The reading assigned, by Baker, reminded me that I’m not looking for someone who “is” a follower, just someone who plays the role with grace.

I realized that this could be none other than my step dad.

He is soft-spoken, good-humoured, and flexible.

Not just any individual could withstand the power that is my mother.  She has vision, ethics, and is characterized in every possible way as a leader.  In order to play the follower in our household one must empathize with my mothers motives, understand her rants, be able to translate goals into actions, and have the grit to challenge her when it is evident that new direction needs to be taken.

My step dad does this.

His actions may be inconspicuous, but they do not go unnoticed (by me anyways).

He knows that my mother wants to have a more workeable kitchen that promotes homemade dinners and moves us away from spending too much money eating out, while embracing the values of whole foods.  He also knows that my mother loves food blogs.  He uses his incredible knowledge and skill in the area of technology, with my mothers primary directives, and takes it upon himself to install a touch screen computer in the kitchen attached to a mac mini.

This is genius.

Food-blogging, recipe-accessing genius.

We advance as a family, not simply because my mom has the ultimate say and is a fearless leader, but because she and my step dad form a partnership.  The leader and follower roles are symbiotic. If my step dad was unable to follow in the way that he does, it would still be just my mother and I.  He would have perhaps been eaten alive if he didn’t possess the ability to ground my mother.  I now have another father figure and a fabulous four and a half year old broski.

From my step dad, I understand the importance of patience and understanding in being and effective follower.  Sometimes the calm, well thought out solutions are required to bring the unbounded passion of leaders back to earth.

I love my modern family.


Self Reliance

Somehow, certainly not because It was assigned to me in Organizational Leadership, I found myself reflecting on an essay written by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  The following are my findings:

Emerson explains that for the most part, our population acts with consistency. That is to say, our past actions and characteristics dictate those in our present and future.  In this way, little advancement can be made within one lifetime.  We tend toward consistent actions and reactions it seems for predictability’s sake, so that others can know what to expect from us and when to disapprove.   In order to gain strength and make changes, people must focus on self-reliance and our current perceptions of our surroundings to dictate our actions.  I can see truth in this when I look at the transition between high school and university for people like me, who have had to travel a serious distance from home.  Life transitions like that cannot just draw from past experience if we want to succeed through them.  Imagine if we treated university like we did high school.  Yes “they say” that an undergraduate degree is the new high school diploma. Perhaps it’s because it is necessary to be this educated in the current world, but perhaps people are also looking at it the way they looked at previous learning experience in high school (as a necessity that has to be done, merely for grades and accreditation, because it is expected, how they’ll raise wealth).  The successful students likely used their education for their own means, interpreted information for themselves anew and applied it to their current (and potential future) lives. Regardless of whether they use the commonly adopted tips tricks and strategies to pass or excel grade-wise, they learn, grow, and are likely more satisfied people.  This is not to say that I personally follow this mantra of “the love of learning”.  I recognize that I can capitalize on my education by personalizing my experience, and taking it to heart, regardless of whether or not my peers like to joke about how they “do what they need to get by” and seriously dislike school.  Certain classes don’t speak to me personally, and so I follow to socially accepted minimal effort for maximum return practices (and assumingly retain nothing). There are other classes, however, in which I feel personably accountable to learn to material. This, I assure you, I would have never done based on my experience in high school.


Sure, I can recognize that, to others, this makes me a “keener”, and friends of mine may look upon that with distaste.   This speaks to Emerson’s point about originality vs. imitation.  He notes that imitation, in terms of strength, happiness, and advancement, is suicide.  Simultaneously he relates originality to the ultimate goal of self-reliance, with positive results.  Society, he says, stifles originality by expressing disgust to those who break social norms. I, personally, derive satisfaction from those instances when other people look at my actions in awe (whether positive or negative from their perspective).  This ranges from being an over-enthusiastic sustainability-buff, or that girl who full-out jogs to class while singing Neil young at square block’s audible range and wearing rubber boots.  I agree with Emerson on this topic in the way that, regardless of whether or not there is societal evidence, these personal preferences and oddities will benefit me… somehow.  I believe, in fact, that the initial distaste that others put forward when witnessing something “original” is entirely on the surface.  Almost in fear, in case others will alienate you for condoning the odd behaviour.  I feel that they are secretly jealous of my freedom of expression (or of Neil Young’s expression I suppose), and that they recognize the innate confidence.  The evidence is in the fact that I do in fact have friends, regardless of my behaviour.  Some people are drawn to originality.  I believe I could form a Neil Young singing-rubber boot wearing-running club.

This leads to Emerson’s perception of hero worship.  Though individuals in society are drawn to consistency and wince at abnormality, over time, it is those peculiar people that act on their own instinct, who develop a following.  He mentions Calvanism and Jesus, among many other religious leaders or heroes.  The individuals begin with unusual ideas or characteristics, but these eventually become the norm as groups of people congregate under their beliefs.  The picture of Mark Zuckerburg on the front page of Time pops into my head.

Someone without conventional social skills revolutionizes socialization.  Must I again mention that I believe I may lead a group of Neil Young singing-rubber boot wearing-runners, one day.

I do disagree in part with his perspective of society and culture, only in that I believe culture has changed since the time of his writing.  He carries the perspective that nonconformity is thwarted from every direction.  In large Canadian cities at least, that doesn’t seem to be the case.  There are so many fringe groups and odd characters produced due to the perceived anonymity of the individual in a large city that, at least personally, I feel that nonconformity has very few consequences.  Perhaps he is still correct, however, given that currently, there is a group, cult, or sect that fills nearly every distinction.  Few of us are on our own with our individuality, as we find the same individuality in others and gravitate toward them for security and support.  My self-reliance has grown tenfold, however, since leaving home in pursuit of university in a very non-Yukon place.  I haven’t particularly found a cult or a homogenous group that I fit in. I have, however, found myself accumulating friends and succeeding in school while doing things that those around me simply were not.  Being in a bigger city has definitely encouraged me to recognize that my perspective is not at all like the perspectives of those around me, but that expressing those perspectives as my own has improved my skills as a leader.  Even in this third year of school it continues.  I began the school year as “that one girl who rollerblades to class in the rain”.  As the months passed, I saw three more take up the activity (one of whom was my enthusiastic roommate).

Either way, checkmate Ottawa