Friday, March 15, 2013

Fixing People

I've been hearing the phrase 'fixing people' a lot these days. But what does it really mean?

When I think of fixing, I think of something that is broken, something that doesn't work as it is supposed to be. For instance, the headlight of my car is broken. What does it mean? Well most likely the bulb is burned out (no pun), and needs to be replaced. So I grab the manual, look up how to access the light, and which bulb it needs. Then I go to the store and buy a new one. Actually I will buy two, because when one bulb is burned, the other one will probably go too, so why not replace them both while I'm at it.  Back home, I grab the manual again, open the hood, maybe unscrew a cover, and then I take out the old bulb, and replace it with the new one. And the other one as well.  Close everything up, turn on the lights, check, and if everything works fine I'm done. Clean up, and move on.

So there are two parts here.

  1. The first one is to realize that something is not working the way as it is supposed to be. It is broken. In this case the headlight of my car is not working. We all know how important the lights in a car are, so fixing it is a no-brainer, and needs to be done sooner than later. The key phrase here is 'as it is supposed to be'.  A light is working or it isn't, that's pretty straightforward.
  2. The second part is to figure out how to fix the light. That's straightforward too. Grab the manual and it is all described there. That's pretty easy too, it's a step-by-step plan and if you follow that, and not end up with some screws at the end, the light is fixed. The endgoal is defined, and you don't have to worry about it anymore until the next time the light stops working.

This is of course a pretty simplified example, and for bigger problems you may need to have to bring your car to the garage because they have the expertise and tools to do it. I'm sure the garage also has their step-by-step plan that they follow. And in the end, the final result is that the car is working as it is supposed to be.

Now, let's move on to fixing people.  Following the above analogy, there are two parts to realize:

  1. Someone isn't working as he or she is supposed to be. Now what does that mean, how do you measure that? Is there a blueprint somewhere that describes how a person is supposed to work, to behave, to live? Besides that person's DNA of course. I haven't found one yet.
  2. Ok, just hypothetically, let's assume that the blueprint for this particular person has been discovered. But now what? Where's the manual that describes how to fix the person? When I bought my car, it came with a manual that I keep in the glove compartment, but when I was born no manual was provided as far as I know.

(BTW, if your leg is broken, you go to the doctor and he or she will fix it according to a step-by-step plan, maybe after consulting Gray's Anatomy - the book, not the TV show. But that's of course not what this is about).

Now back to the car.  Last year, I wasn't happy with my car stereo because I couldn't plug in my iPod and listen to music and podcasts during my daily commute. So, I went online, did some research, and bought one. And guess what, it came with a manual that described how to install it!.  So installing it wasn't that difficult, and I can now play my iPod. Was it ideal? No, for my taste the buttons are too small, and I don't like the blue color, but I can plug in my iPod and that was the objective. So mission accomplished. Many people do modifications to their car either to improve the functionality, or just the way it looks.

These are all improvements or enhancements, or whatever you want to call it.

So when I hear the phrase 'fixing people', I think what is really meant is how to improve someone, how to enhance someone, how to make someone shine, etc. But again, where's the blueprint, where's the manual? Are these needed for personal enhancements?

Now I am not saying that because there is no blueprint and/or manual that people are not in need of enhancements, improvements, or even a new coat of paint. As amatter of fact, thank goodness there are no such things, live would be boring because we would all know what the outcome is.

I just don't think that 'fixing people' is the correct phrase to use, since it implies that a person is broken based on an imaginary blueprint, and there is a manual somewhere that describes how to successfully execute a repair.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My personality type

This weekend I've discovered some real interesting insights of my personality. While I was researching a possible career change this weekend, I came upon the concept of the Myers-Briggs personality types (MBPT), see for instance here. Based on their classification, there are 16 different personality types. Using an online quiz, it turned out that I have the INTP personality type. INTP stands for Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving. On the MB website it is described as follows:
Seek to develop logical explanations for everything that interests them. Theoretical and abstract, interested more in ideas than in social interaction. Quiet, contained, flexible, and adaptable. Have unusual ability to focus in depth to solve problems in their area of interest. Skeptical, sometimes critical, always analytical.
There are many other websites dealing with MBTP, describing the personality types in more detail. I especially like this one, and this one. Most of the statements on those two pages about INTPs are spot on, and I recognize almost every bit of it in myself. It explains a lot of my behavior, and more importantly, I now finally realize that it (my behavior) is not something bad, but it is really who I am. It almost feels like coming out, and it allows me to accept who I am and knowing that there are many others who are like this, and that there is nothing wrong with it. I was so glad to have found this, and when discussing it with my wife, it also gave so much more insights into our relationship and interactions, and I am now much better able to understand why I sometimes act the way I do with respect to her. One characteristic of INTPs is that they tend to live in their own world, and have difficulties expressing their feelings and be compassionate towards others. This state of 'absent minded-ness' can be easily interepreted by others as disinterest or coldness. But by realizing all this, I have been in such a better state all weekend, was much more focused, and we've had great discussions, we relaxed, just so wonderful to feel and be loved. It would be interesting to learn what personality type she is, she hasn't taken the quiz yet. But I know she's definitely a 'feeling' type, whereas I am a 'thinking' type.

On a side note, I have also decided to quit the band I was in for the last few years. There was just no more chemistry for me. We had a show on Thursday night, and once again it became apparent to me that I wasn't enjoying it anymore. Interestingly, my decision to quit was done before I learned about MBPTs, so I wonder if I also felt much more relaxed in the last few days because of the relief I felt after quitting.

All in all a very revealing weekend for me, and I feel very positive about moving on, and am curious where I will be in the months to follow.

Sunday, March 20, 2011



This morning I ran my first ever half marathon, 13.1 miles, or 21.1 kilometers. I never ran more than 10 miles, so this was definitely a new challenge for me. I ran with my good friend and we decided to go for a 2 hr final time, and lined up at the start close to the pace group for that time. It's a bunch of experienced runners that make sure we keep the right speed to end at a 2 hr time, and they were easy to spot with their yellow balloons. After about 2 or 3 miles I noticed that my friend was having some problems, but he told me to keep going and not to wait for him, so I stuck with the 2 hr group, and it kept on going really well. And after 11 miles I felt so good that I accelerated and got ahead of the 2 hr group. My final time was 1:58:13, pretty good for a first time, if I say so myself. My friend finished in 2:03, only a few minutes behind me.

Now I'm back home, relaxing with my family after a nice breakfast and a hot shower, watching NCAA basketball.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Race day coming up!

In less than 2 weeks, I am going to run my first half-marathon. I have been training on and off for the last 2-3 months, and I've had bad days and good days. On Sunday a week ago we ran 10 miles, and it was warm, I had some drinks the evening before, and it felt very bad. I walked at least 2-3 miles of the total route and it felt as I was completely out of shape and had no energy in my body. So I learned my lesson. Last Sunday we did the same route, and now we ran at 8 am, and I only drank water the evening before. What a difference! I felt like I was flying. We stopped at one point to drink some water at a fountain, and it took my 46 year old legs some time to warm up after that again, but I did it without much problems, and could easily have run a little bit more. That was our last long training, from now on we will only do shorter runs, the so-called 'tapering'.

I'm ready!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Birthday party

This weekend my son celebrated his 11th birthday. Amazing how fast he is growing up. We got a very nice birthday cake for him:

Then we went to a bowling alley where he invited some of his friends. It was difficult to take some nice pictures since all the kids were constantly running around, but this one turned out pretty good:

All in all a great weekend!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spring is here!

I can hear the birds
Outside in the trees
All they tweet about is
Follow me, please

I'm sure they know that spring is here

There's not much else to do
What they are really saying is
I love you

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Creative goals

Besides the personal goals for 2011 I posted about a few days ago, I also want to explore my creativity more this year.  For instance, take more photos (and I will post them here), write more music (and I may post it here), make bread, prepare Indonesian food, read more books.

So, let's start with a picture. I took this last week when the kids were playing in the snow. I like the contrast between the black and white landscape, and the colors in their clothes and faces.

By now, the snow is all gone, and it's unseasonably high at 60 degrees.