Friday, March 11, 2011

The Mighty Wind

Red umbrellaThe Mighty Wind...

It’s been a long time since I’ve had or used an umbrella. And let me tell you, these weather-related accessories are important when you live in the Big Apple. So how hard can it be to get one that works? I mean, you go on the Internet, type umbrella into your search engine and in seconds there are literally hundreds to choose from.  Sounds easy until you start to see all the dead umbrellas lying around the landscape after the last wind and rain. And let me tell you, those umbrella carcasses make a big impression.

But it’s not just the umbrellas lying in the gutters and against the gates that you start to see when your eyes begin to focus on things like this. While I understand the mountain of trash that goes out for pickup regularly (after all, there are a lot of people living here), it’s all the things that get discarded along the way that are a more interesting (and potentially troubling) commentary on society. It’s one thing to buy cheap stuff that’s never going to work – between the advertising BS and trying to save a buck we all get trapped owning stuff that’s somewhere between useless and worthless – but it’s another to get hoodwinked by unscrupulous advertising and sales techniques.

What can you do?

•    First, stop being so impulsive and go back to really checking things out like you used to before the Internet became a shopping habit. There really is no substitute for checking things out thoroughly, asking others about their thoughts and experiences with things and then looking for the best rather than the cheapest thing.
•    Second, don’t accept poor quality in anything – either in the answers you get, products you buy or the service you expect. The more we accept mediocrity the more we enable poor quality to exist. Maybe we should post more feedback (good and bad) online – the Internet’s reach can certainly be leveraged to modify unscrupulous attitudes and behavior…and these just may force quality improvements in lots of things.
•    And third, use the Internet (and any other source of information) to learn more – about the way things should be made, how they really are made, the advantages of one thing over another, the feedback that’s already out there and the comparisons that should always be made before you buy anything.

My parents used to say “you get what you pay for” and “buyer beware”; these are still true today – maybe more so – because there’s so much available and much of it can be pretty complicated. But you don’t have to be the victim; you don’t have to be the one who tosses something away because it just wasn’t good enough. Stop buying poor quality stuff or falling for it because you were attracted to a trend or a catchy phrase or because you got lazy and didn’t do your homework – these are the kinds of excuses that fill landfills and gutters. In the end, I suspect a mighty wind may overwhelm a good umbrella – but the gusts haven’t been that bad here lately; certainly not bad enough to result in all the broken and discarded ones I’ve seen on the street lately. Take a little extra time today to look before you leap when it comes to purchasing any of the stuff you want or need at home, work or play. And then maybe the people making stuff will become more scrupulous and honest in how they promote the things they want you to buy.

My message this week is about integrity and how it can, but shouldn’t be, blown about in the wind.
“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”
-Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Ann Johnson on April 4, 1928) is an American autobiographer. Angelou and other female writers in the late 1960s and early 1970s used the autobiography to re-imagine ways of writing about women's lives and identities in a male-dominated society.

Nobody said life was easy.  Every day there are so many things that happen, and not all of them go the way you want.  In fact, if you were to add up all that you’ve done, you might find that more things have been less than successful, more have been more frustrating than not, more have left you wanting, and more than you’d hoped have set you back.  But in the end, you still have to keep going, you still have to pick yourself up and look at the positive side of things, you still have to see the glass as half full or more. You can’t use the unfairness of things as an excuse to give up because you and all the other people who rely on you need you to keep going. If you’re defeated, then you let all those other folks suffer defeat too – and you never want to do that. Keep telling yourself that while you may encounter defeats, you will never be defeated!  That’s how the strong keep getting stronger.

Stay well!

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