Earth Day 2021

Celebrating Earth Day

Creating a friendly garden for bees, butterflies and a snack bar for the neighborly squirrels.

Pollinator

Earth Day is an annual event on April 22, to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First held on April 22, 1970.

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”

― Henry David Thoreau

Knowing Your Value

Today, a friend told me she was dissatisfied with her job and was considering using this feeling as motivation to seek another job. My response, “if your employer does not value your work, it is time to go”.

I am not saying you should leave at this exact moment in time. It is time to plan your next pivot to a better working environment, where you are valued by your knowledge, skills and abilities. A job does not define us as a person. We are more than a job description. We are human beings first, with thoughts and emotions attached to our life at work.

Awareness of your value is important to feel success or happiness in your life. The more you believe in yourself, the more confident you will become in many aspects of your life. If you see obstacles instead of opportunities at work, it may be time to change your mindset or venture off to another opportunity.

National Volunteer Week

April 18 – April 24, is National Volunteer Week

 ”What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.” – Aristotle

”Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” – Elizabeth Andrew

”I’ve learnt that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.” – Maya Angelou

Open Doors, Step Inside

Installing air traffic control systems and equipment at the Seattle TRACON and Tower was a rewarding experience in team work, applying knowledge and learning new skills. I was the lone woman on a team of eight for 14 months from July 2013 through August 2014. This job was a great opportunity for my personal and professional growth as an electronic tech as a contractor for Lockheed Martin.

My IT experience included an Associates degree in Electronic Technology and three and a half years in the field at the Denver International Airport as an electronic technician. The aviation industry was male dominated then and still has that reputation. Despite the odds, I never felt that my gender was an obstacle at the Seattle TRACON or Tower. I predominately worked at the TRACON. Physically, it was obvious I was the only woman on the team, and for months, the only woman in the building. It was never an issue.

I had the knowledge to perform the job and was eager to learn more skills. The members of my team taught me how to install cables, wiring techniques and expanded my electronic knowledge. The men I worked with were trained as electronic technicians in the military and had years of hands on experience. They treated me as an equal on the team. I was teased a few times, nothing negative.

The first day of this project, I saw rows of empty steel cabinets at the Seattle TRACON and Tower. A year later both facilities were fully operational. I was asked to continue for three more months to work on demolishing the former SeaTAC Air Traffic Control Tower that was damaged in the Nisqually earthquake. That was a dirty job.

There were toughs days, slow days and hectic days. Some days, I did feel challenged. Crawling under the floor, wiring all day long, or feeling physically exhausted from testing equipment for ten hours. Overall, I was grateful to have a job that paid well, had an amazing boss and team, and was proud of the work we achieved from an sparse building to an operational aviation facility over 14 months.

The installation project for the Seattle TRACON and Tower was a memorable experience for me. It was not on my list of things to do in life, one never knows what opportunities lie ahead.

Self Awareness

As part of a Mentor Program, I had an assignment to take the Clifton Strengths Finder Assessment. My top five strengths are listed below and are aligned with my values:

  • Lifelong Learner
  • Strategic
  • Intellectual
  • Self Awareness
  • ,Maximizer

I find this article interesting on leadership from the Harvard Business Review, Self-Awareness Can Help Leaders More Than an MBA Can, is worth reading. What we believe to be good Leadership traits have changed recently due to inclusion, diversity, and transparency becoming expectations in the workplace and organizations. Leading with authenticity, empathy and integrity requires one to be self aware in their environment. Knowing what your values are and how they impact your relationships with others will affect your success as a leader.

Mentoring Benefits

Mentors

Having mentors throughout my career has been an enlightening experience for me. Mentoring others has been equally rewarding. Mentoring can be within a formal program or occur informally. A mentor – mentee relationship is a commitment between two people.

The role of a mentor is to encourage the personal and professional development of a mentee through the sharing of expertise and knowledge. The mentoring relationship is developed through mutual trust, respect and communication. Both parties agree to meet regularly to exchange ideas, discuss progress and set goals for further development. Mentoring is a process.

Benefits

Guidance from a mentor can offer a mentee the opportunity for personal and professional growth. Mentors can offer advice on how to develop ones strengths, develop new skills, or expose them to new ideas and ways of thinking.

Confidence and Self Awareness

My first manager after college graduation was my first mentor I realized years later. He taught me to be selective of the battles I fought and told me to take my seat at the table, I earned it. Those words of wisdom have guided me throughout my life and career, especially with the “imposter syndrome”. Another mentor guided me through the maze of office politics in the federal government. I learned through her how political alliances materialize in the workplace. You can be an outstanding employee, but if others do not see your brilliance, your career will stall.

Insight

I have observed people that I have mentored develop to become outstanding speakers or improve their technical skills. Watching a mentee give her “Ice Breaker” speech in Toastmasters, thrilled me to the core. Watching another mentee learn cyber skills was rewarding. Through mentees, I have gained technical expertise and honed my leadership skills. Mentoring is more than the transfer of advice, knowledge and insights. It is relationship building.

Feedback

The reciprocity for mentors and mentees is an opportunity to reflect on ones personal and professional goals, exposure to new perspectives, and recognizing ones self worth. I am grateful for mentors who took the time to guide me through my professional journey. Thankful for the mentees and mentors who guided me through the labyrinth of life.

Cogs of Reflection

Despite all the craziness, we need to count the moments of joy in our lives. This is the time for reflection, resilience and moving forward. Reminding everyone that this time will become the past and the future lies before us. Cogs grinding forward. The human spirit still breathes

 “Resilience is knowing that you are the only one that has the power and the responsibility to pick yourself up.” – Mary Holloway

March Hackathon

Hackathons generally begin with a presentations about the event or a specific topic. Participants suggest ideas and form teams, based on individual interests and skill sets. The main work of a hackathon can last anywhere from several hours to several days. 

Democracy Lab

Democracy Lab hosts hackathons every other month. Currently, I am on a team that is developing a web application for nonprofit organizations and people to share resources. Due to the pandemic we have been meeting virtually. The team is adapting to the virtual communication model.

Team members are from different time zones and countries; diversity is a benefit. Despite the distance, I think we now have the right skills and people to finish the project on the near horizon. Exposure to ideas, tools, techniques, and mindsets from many points of view is an asset. I do miss the pizza at lunch and the personal interaction. Sharing a meal is a bonding experience. Eventually, I think a hybrid model of virtual and onsite hackathons will develop as a result of technology and communication. The pandemic has forced the Digital Age upon humanity. The world is shifting from gears to clouds.

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