Simple question of Religious Faith

I’m a Christian, a catholic to be exact. I know its a strange time to question your faith. Don’t get me wrong. I have no doubt that God exists. I also believe in Jesus Christ. Here’s the thing, I don’t know enough about Mohammed to know if Islam is for real either. It certainly could be. Why do I ask this?

I’m a trained scientist. As a scientist, one is trained to identify a problem. Form a guess or an explanation for the problem. Then identify predictions based upon your guess. Finally test or experiment with your guess and observe objectively during the experiment.

Through life experiments, one edict I have found to be more true than not is when there are multiple hypothesis that are correct for the same problem, then the truth lies in the combination of all the hypothesis.

For example, when my income increases, it could be due to more work I’ve been doing. It could be due to my using my existing time wisely. It could be increased concentration, focus, and motivation causing more avenues of income. In reality, its a combination of all these forces.

I’m beginning to question faith from a scientific viewpoint. Who’s to say, that Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Folk Religions are all right or all wrong. I venture to guess that each of them have some things correct & some things wrong.

If I believe that, then I must go a step further and wonder why am I Catholic? Is the sole reason for my being Catholic that my family raised me a Catholic. If I was born in India, would I be a hindu? If I was born in the mid-east, would I be an muslim?

Or would I have arrived at Catholicism and/or Christianity as my religion regardless?

Christmas time is here. We celebrate Christ’s birthday. Yet, I have decided to wonder about Religion.

Here’s the thing that worries me. Why did Christianity spread so fast and so far? Why is Islam growing so fast and so far in modern times? What if Fanaticism is really the cause of the growth of religion?

We’ve heard of many holy wars. The winner of the war proceeds to rule. If you are a person who wants peace and wants to live a normal happy life, wouldn’t you accept the religion of the winner of the war in order to seek the life of the least resistance. Additionally, wouldn’t the winner of the war try to convert or destroy the loser of the war?

You might ask, what brought this on at this time? Its something that’s been brewing in me for a while. Yet, I watched an historical fictional piece about the philosopher and mathematician Hypatia and the Roman time where Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity all converged in the city of Alexandria. I won’t give away the movie, but the movie provides a plausible and though-provoking example of how Christianity might have grown. Since, I am taking a more dedicated approach to my writing. I decided this was my topic today.

The winner’s of war God wins is not not the God I know. That’s not the Christ I know. Yes, we should defend our freedoms and our faith. Yet, we should also behave like Christ. Demonstrate compassion and love for everyone even in the face of danger.

I don’t know enough about the other religions, but I have to imagine much of the core message is the same: Be good to your neighbor. Treat them like you would treat yourself. If we all do that, Life will be good. Forcing someone to commit to a religion doesn’t seem the appropriate method of evangelism. That’s my deep food for thought today.

Yet, even with my questioning everything, I still Believe. I guess that’s why they call it Faith.

Topics, topics, topics & don’t discount yourself

Last week, I mentioned that I joined a mastermind group.  I’m not sure I’ll blog every meeting, but, for now, it feels right to write.  I want to listen to my gut, and go with the feelings.

Topics in the wind

This week, we were supposed to claim our topic.  We had some exercises to flush out our topic, and help us to decide what our cornerstone content will be about.

If I graded my assignment, I’d give myself a C-.  I didn’t really follow the directions.  The assignment, was really to identify 5 things that you know about your topic.

Now, I’m not sure what path my focus or passion should take next.  I’m torn between a few different routes I can take.  So instead of talking about 5 things I know about my topic and flushing out the details, I decided to brainstorm my topics.

The idea is to identify a topic that I can do with Elegant and Ease.  This topic must combine my innermost passion with my existing skills and knowledge to create products and services people will buy.

So, Here’s my assignment that I did:  Identify an Idea you have passion and knowledge around.

If you have more than one idea, pick up to three different ideas and complete the assignment using those ideas.

Here are my three ideas:

1) Train the Trainer: The Three T’s: Teaching Simplified
Use my 11 years expertise as a trainer and a former training manager to help others to become trainers/leaders in their own departments/businesses.  Teachers are not born, they are made.

2) Technology: Personable Training Online.
Use my expertise as a technology consultant to build some online classes to help others solve their business problems. Specifically related to Google Analytics, Search Engine Marketing, Search Optimization, Websites Development, Windows Server Administration, and SQL Server.  (Feels like a crowded space. Doesn’t everyone who needs to know, know how to do this stuff yet? )

3) Fitness, Food, Money: Habit forming
Describe the dynamics of competitive challenges and how group social pressure improves the likelihood of achieving your goals. Use this topic to drive users & traffic to my still in genesis-staged project:  dogdare.us a habit forming website.

4) Decision Making Alone.
The art of making decisions in today’s crowd-sourced society. Quick, decisive decisions are more important than ever.  At the same time, most of us don’t make a decision without consulting our friends, family, facebook, twitter, and web research.  How can we improve our decision making skills to improve our lives and businesses?

5) Read, Experiment, Implement, Repeat.
Becoming an expert in any field. It has been said, that 10,000 hours is the required practice time to become an expert. However, aimless practice will only make you an expert at aimless practice.  10,000 hours of practice must be deliberate. So, What is Deliberate Practice?  How can I figure that out for myself.  Read, Experiment, Implement, Repeat.

6) Parenting – Its hard.
A retrospective from a work-at-home father.

51% time, parenthood is the most sublime joy you’ve ever felt.

49% time, parenthood is an incredible pain in the ass.
That one percent makes all the difference.
via:  http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2011/10/on-parenthood.html

 

I totally agree with this assessment of parenting.  I think most of our parenting articles, blogs, and books are written with females in mind.  With more educated fathers staying at home and/or taking a more prominent role in the parenting process, I think there’s a great opportunity for a parenting book that’s both humorous and informational regarding parenting from an active and involved male perspective.

How’s that for three topics?  Doh!  Did I forget to count?  I have six topics.  See.  if I wanted to, I could keep going and going with topics.  Now granted, I have to say a few of these ideas would require a little bit more research to flush out into large topics.  I understand now, that was the point of the exercise.  “Five things I have learned about…”insert topic here.  I didn’t really do that at all.  I just thought of topics and didn’t really follow it.

So, how do I narrow my topic chose so I can complete the assignment?

Now, There is one topic that I do with total ease and elegance.  The topic is Technology Training.  This topic is a mental battle. On the one hand, I read about lots of gadgets.  I read about the latest websites and follow hackernews.  I follow Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, and whoever else’s latest advances.  I aim to be on the cutting edge and technological futurist with business in mind.

Here’s the dilemma: the minutiae isn’t as passion driven these days.  In the beginning, I would code javascript just for fun.  I’d set-up networks just for fun.  I’d build my own database-driven web applications just to test out the new database or code that I’d just discovered.  I’m not doing that as much these days.  Granted, and I have a lot of different responsibilities now rather than when I was starting out in technology.

Yet, the more things changes, the more I feel they stay the same.   The minutiae and the individual details are the same.  Once you know the inner nitty gritty details of one web development language, you can learn them all.  Once you learn Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows 2000,  you can learn them all.  Once, I’ve learned SQL Server 7, 2000, 2005, 2008, mySQL, and others, I feel like I’ve learned them all.  I know I’m generalizing here and over-simplifying it, but really that’s how I feel.  I’m bored with learning the depth of technological details.  Its almost like been-there-done-that feeling.

See my dilemma is that my personal passion is waning on the details.  I tend to enjoy the bigger picture these days.  The grander scope.  In my consultancy practice, I do that just.  I get to dabble in the details while applying large vision of technology solving problems.

So, if I’m less passionate about the details I need to know in order to be a successful technology trainer.  Why even list this topic as a possible cornerstone content area?

First, I can do this with ease and elegance.  Learning new technology, passing technology certification exams,  using the new stuff in real-life where applicable, all comes easy to me. It merely takes a little bit of time.  Even then, if I needed to and the students were okay with the idea, I know I can teach a technology class even if I didn’t know the technology.  I’d learn the technology as I was teaching it, and the students would be learning too.  This is how easy technology training comes to me.

Second, I wonder if I’m discounting my talent.  Not everyone can teach and not everyone can discern technology.

Third, when I’m teaching a technology class, no matter how many times I have taught the class, I still get jazzed and fired up during the class.  My students’ love that passion.  I always say, if the students are bored listening, then I’m going to be bored presenting.   I don’t like to be bored.  So, I bring enthusiasm to the class. My Passion brings out the best in the students.

Why am I not sure still?  Competitors, Competitors, Competitors.

There are so many competitors in this field: I can list off a few just here

  • http://codeacademy.com/
  • http://peepcode.com/
  • http://teamtreehouse.com/
  • http://www.codeschool.com/
  • Tons of Technology Training Centers across the Country
  • Not to mention Universities and other Institutions.
  • http://trainsignal.com/
  • http://railscasts.com/
  • http://www.learnitfirst.com/
  • Oh yeah, who could forget all the free content at http://Youtube.com & http://Vimeo.com & http://www.ustream.tv/

Then there is:

  •  http://www.about.learnopia.com/
  • http://www.litmos.com/learning-management-system/sell-online-courses/
  • http://www.liveperson.com/experts
  • http://www.wiziq.com/courses/create/
  • http://www.odijoo.com/
  • http://www.prfessor.com/
  • http://edufire.com/
  • http://tenbux.com/

If I keep researching, I could find tons of competitors. It seems in this crowded and commoditized field that marketing and sales tactics will matter more than the content.

Another reason, I’m not sure about technology training: I just wonder how long I can keep learning new things and staying a head of the curve.  At some point, it seems, that the technology passes an instructor by. There are plenty of information technology employees out of work only because their skills were diminished due to the ever increasing cycle of innovation requiring increasing quantity and quality of technology skills.

As you can see, I’m really battling internally about using technology training as a cornerstone topic.  On the one hand it seems like the natural and best fit.  On the other hand, I’m not sure my passion lies there.  Is my passion diminished due to the competition?  Is my passion diminished due to my desire to move on and try something new?  I’m not sure.  So, its really difficult to complete assignments when I’m not sure about the topic to pick.

What do you think?  What’s the most marketable & best niche topic I have listed?  If you know me, where do you think my passion lies?

  1. Train the trainer
  2. Technology Training
  3. Fitness, Food, Money: Habit Forming
  4. Decision Making Alone
  5. Read, Experiment, Implement, Repeat
  6. Parenting – Its Hard!
  7. Other:

First Draft: About Scott v 0.1

I recently met with a newly formed master mind group involving some very new and old friends. If you are not familiar with a master mind group, I suggest you read Think and Grow Rich. Here’s the quick run down: A mastermind is a group of people who collectively work together to help us all achieve our dreams and goals.

This particular group was started by my friend Coach Culbertson.  If you have not had a chance, you must see coach talk.  He’s an amazing motivator and is rather entertaining.  Anyway, our first assignment was to create an About me page.

Now, I have written bio’s for myself before.  In fact, you can read my long-ish version of the bio at my company’s site: Octavity Services page.  In addition, you can read my shorter more personal biography at my personal blog:  scott.stawarz.com.  Or maybe, my Fitness biography at Simpleweight’s about page (okay, that last one needs some work). I’ve also written biography’s for various technology training center’s.

So, I wanted to go into this assignment with an open mind.  I wanted to clear my past, and just think about what I want to say as an expert and for the future.  So, here’s my very rough, First Draft.  I’m almost embarrased to post it, but part of my growth experience needs to be bringing this out in to the wild.


Scott Stawarz

Scott Stawarz Mountain Biking in Oahu

A passionate contemporary technologist and world-class problem solver, Scott helps business owners use technology to improve profit. He also teaches how to become a world-class trainer. Scott’s super power is converting technology & business language into layman terms that solve everyday problems. He has been a technology trainer for more than 10 years and has helped businesses get the maximum firepower out of their I.T. budgets. He set off on a quest to— (I really don’t know. If I actually knew what it was, then this would be easy. Still figure out what my quest is).

As a software engineering consultant, Scott helped Livenation.com, a $5 billion/year company, save gobs of money by converting an antiquated paper back-end ticketing process system into a web based application that is now used across the midwest amphitheaters and concert venues. As a Technical Trainer, Scott trained thousands of students on complex technologies to solve real-world problems. Besides speaking and teaching, Scott is an out-sourced Director of IT for Small Business.  He is currently directing experiments in Conversion Rate Optimization for improving website leads.

Scott’s ideas and work have been recognized by his parents, his brother, and his wife (change this?). In the past, he has worked with a bunch of people (Do I need to identify who?). Scott’s latest book, The Three T’s: Teaching Simplified (still need to write this), is available at Amazon.com.

Scott Stawarz has played jazz trombone since 1985. He has completed multiple olympic distance triathlons, and he thinks of himself as a polymath. As a fitness aficionado and technology geek, he is not afraid to admit to loving food, reading, and the internet. Tweet @scottstawarz to connect with him, he’ll be glad you did. And while you’re here, why not sign up for Scott’s latest FREE ebook, “I don’t know what the…(Still have to write that ebook) ? Just leave a comment or put your name and email into the box below, and I’ll send it to you when the ebook is written.  🙂


Like, I said, this is a rough draft. I’m still working on this, and I’m not sure which way I want to go. I have lots of passions: Fatherhood, Husbandry, Finance, Life, God and Spirit, Technology, Politics, Jazz, Fitness, Health, I could go on and on etc… Figuring out my passion is a challenge. Figuring out what comes easy to me and something that I do with elegance and ease is a challenge. If you know me, What do you think? what do I do with elegance and ease? I know its not dancing. I dance like a tin robot who’s been sitting out in the corn field getting rained on. Stiff as a board.

Parting thought

I often think deep. I often think about life.  In my thoughts, I wonder if the meaning of life is learning to become self-less and giving.  What do I mean?  When we are born, we are born selfish.  I mean we have to be.  As a baby, you only care about: eating, sleeping, pooping, and receiving love, of course not necessarily in that order. As we grow older, as a toddler and a young grade-school child, we actually demonstrate great compassion and self-less-ness, but we are still incredibly needy.  Then, puberty kicks in and of course, during these difficult teenage years, we become the center of the universe.  As we begin to age and have our own kids, we gradually learn to give.  We give ourselves to our wife, husband, friends.  we give ourselves to our kids.  We give ourselves to our country, our business, and for the lucky some, we give ourselves up to the divine.  Yet, are we giving because we’re selfish or self-less?  Eventually, we are humbled in our old age, and we relinquish our independence and become needy and learning to give up everything we ever received.

I’d love to hear your comments about my First Draft Biography.  I’d also love to hear what you think my talent is.  What do I do with elegant and ease?  When I have a conversation with you, what topic do you see my passion rising?

Working Hiatus

I recently took a hiatus from Night Time Technical Training.

For approximately three years, I taught Tuesday and Thursday evenings.  I had a few weeks break every now and again, but for quite a while I didn’t have a break at all.  In addition to working at night, I also do consulting work during the day, and I have contract training during the day.  I also do my best to take time to raise my children at home.

Let me take a step back,  The reason I choose the life as a micropreneur was the ability to take time to raise my children.  I want to be a work at home Dad.  Yet, my commitments collectively were intruding on that time. So, I decided it was time for a break.  I needed a hiatus.  Fortunately, I have enough projects and gigs to allow me to choose the time I want to work.  (Although, I am always on the look out for new projects, call me.)

Now, What do I want to get out of my self-imposed Hiatus?

  • I wanted time to think.  When all you do is work, work, work.  You lose the time to be creative.  I needed that time back. I want to think and create.
  • I wanted time to my family. Working at night made me miss some events for my son, and I hated that.  Additionally, my wife’s work life is more hectic these days.  I need to be able to help out when she’s crazy busy.
  • 2011 is the year of the product for me.  I want to create products, and I need time to take action.
  • I haven’t played Jazz Music in a while.  I wanted time to practice my trombone, and join a Jazz Band again.  (still working on this.)

It’s been a little over a month since I taught my last night class.  Here’s the thing I have noticed.  When you create free time, its easy to fill it with other tasks.  If you don’t set time aside for thinking, then your mind will shut down.  The mind is a muscle.  It must be exercised.  It must be tuned. I’ve been home.  I have exercised more.  I have cooked and cleaned more.  I’ve watched more shows on netflix.  I’ve actually read less email, read less social media, and less blogs.  I allowed my mind to rest while I fill the time with other tasks.  Its time to take that back.  Still thinking, but action must come sooner rather than later to meet my 2011 goals.

I was listening to the Back to Work Podcast.  I loved this thought:  If you ever want to get back on the path, all you need to do is step onto the path.  If you ever want to work, all you need to do is get back to work that is meaningful.

As you can tell, I’m stepping back on the path.  I’m keeping these blog posts rough.  I figure its better to just post rather than not post.  The more I post the better I’ll get at it.

It’s time for me to get back to my working hiatus.

Career Experiments – Passion Finding Process

Career Experiments

I’m searching for my career passion.  I’ve tried various surveys both professional and self-administered.  I’ve read multiple books on the subject.  I read multiple blog posts about finding ones’ passion.

Yet, I’ve come to realize that passion is like love.  For me, with love, when I met might wife for the second time after a layoff, I just knew.  She was it.  Yet, it took me multiple experiments to figure it out.  I had to date.  I had to find out who and what characteristics I was compatible with.  What did I like?  Experimenting is a lot of trial an error. One might present a hypothesis, then control various variables to identify cause and effect.

Finding my career passion must not be from internal reflection, but more external reflection.  I should look at my reactions to the actions I take.  Daniel Pink discussed a similar topic recently, “the case against passion.”  His take:  What do you do?

Now, when I first read that question, What do you do? I mistakenly thought it meant what do you do for work, but that’s not it.  What do you do for everything?

We all do stuff.  We don’t just sit around and stare at a white wall day.  Okay, maybe some of you do that, but you are stilling doing something.  Its through this doing and evaluation of actions where we can identify our career passions.

I love technology.  I love helping.  I love people.  I love talking and evangelizing ideas.  Dreaming up the future.

Many times what we say we do and actually what we do are two different things.  My March challenge to myself (should I choose to accept it) will be to be conscious of my actions.  What do I actually do when I make time for myself?  How do I spend that time?  If I read, what do I read?  If I watch tv, what type of shows am I watching?  What is the show about?  What content is there?  If I’m out and about, what am I doing?  How am I doing it?  How do I feel while I’m doing it?

At one point, I wanted to be a blogger and a writer.  Yet, I often don’t write just for fun.  Yet, I realized that when I do write, I often perform better.  I write often on paper and not on a computer.  I’ll talk why I have not opened up this writing to the internet at a later date.

For now, I’m off to chronicle my actions.

 

Dream Big and Act Small: A Forest Fog Lament

I am wandering. Lost in a Forest. The fog is so thick that I have to feel for the trees as I walk. Forget running. If I were to run in this thick forest with such an onslaught of a low flying grey cloud, I’d knock myself out.

How did I get here?

I’m not sure. I can pinpoint when I realized the fog. The trigger point if you will, but I am certain the trigger point did not bring the fog.

A friend of mine asked me, Why do you do it? I did not have a good answer. I am full of answers. It is what I do. I provide answers to questions people don’t even know they have. Solutions to Challenges. I teach, I train, I consult, I develop, I design, I architect, and I ultimately provide good correct answers.

The Irony: Why do I do it? I didn’t answer the question. I tried. I sat down. I thought about it. I researched it. I wrote and wrote. I prayed. I talked and talked. I stayed the course. I pretended. Pretended some more. I got sick of it. Ultimately, I ran. I ran away from everything I know. I kept running and running until I was so thick in the fog, I could not focus on a tree much less see my way through a forest.

Now, I am lost in a foggy forest.  Looking.  Searching. Why do I do it?

All this searching, what have I learned? Even in situations of utter darkness and despair, we can learn to see via our other senses. We adapt. We learn. I have learned. I have learned to be cautious. Just when I think the Fog has lifted, and I can see a path through the forest, The Fog drops, again, just as it is now. I learned I am still learning. I am learning that to navigate a deep dark fog through a thicket, one must take short quick steps and trust your internal compass.  I am learning to Dream Big and Act Small.

Yes, The Fog is upon me. Yes, I have bruises all over from bumping into trees. Why do I do it? I’m still searching for answers, and I am still lost.