Preparation for the Expected and Unexpected

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
― Benjamin Franklin

Preparation is key to action

There is an expectation that men should know how to do almost anything, including being calm and prepared during an emergency situation.  This post is designed to help set foundation for your emergency preparation planning.

Natural or man-made disasters occur whether we are ready or not.  Here are some tips to make sure you’re not caught unprepared for a disaster.

The first thing you should do is know your risks.  Are you in a flood area?  Are there tornados?  Are there hurricanes?  Wild fires? Earthquakes? Severe snow storms?  You need to know your risk profiles so you can make the correct choices when developing your disaster plan.

Move quickly with preparation

If you need to leave your home then you’ll need something called the “go-bag or bug-out bag”.

This is a bag you keep prepared and ready to go when you need to evacuate quickly.  The basic contents should include:

  • First aid kit
  • Multi tool
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Emergency whistle
  • Cash
  • Pain relievers (i.e. ibuprofen)
  • Copies of important information (i.e. driver’s license)
  • Critical contact information written on paper and stored in a plastic bag
  • Nylon cord (i.e. paracord)
  • Water filter or water purifier
  • Prescription medications
  • Dry fire starter and matches (in water resistant case)
  • Protective gloves (if not in first aid)
  • Leather work gloves
  • Charged portable phone charger
  • Dust mask

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
― Abraham Lincoln

“Hunker down”

If you can’t leave then you’ll need to have a designated location in your home away from windows and doors to remain safe.  Preparation supplies will be similar to the “bug-out bag” with some differences.  You will also need:

  • Potable water: 1 gallon per person per day for 3 days. Water bottles have an expiration date, this is not because the water will go bad, it’s because of the bottle.  The longer water stays in the bottle changes the flavor of the water.  One way to prevent this is to store water bottles in cool areas away from direct sunlight.  Light and heat are common ways plastics are broken down.
  • Non-perishable food (3-day supply): freeze dried meals work because they contain a lot of calories, they are easy to store, they last for a long time, and as they expire you can cycle them out during camping or fishing trips. Plus, utensils
  • Weather radio
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Chlorine bleach and eye dropper (1 drop bleach per quart water)
  • Garbage bags and ties to prevent waste contamination
  • Books, games to keep children distracted and pass time.
  • Local maps
  • Know how to turn off gas and water flowing to your home.

Chance favors the prepared mind.
― Louis Pasteur

Mental preparation

Besides the physical supplies, you will need to be mentally prepared.  This is where a clear plan comes into play.  If you’re separated from your family when a disaster occurs a clear and simple plan can reduce stress in an already stressful situation.  Key points of a plan are:

  • Have a meet up location(s). If you have a house fire and everyone has to evacuate through a window then pick a place across the street as a designated area.  If you have a hurricane or tornado, or other event, pick a building designated as a shelter to meet (local school).
  • Know your evacuation route.
  • How will you receive emergency alerts?
  • How will you move people with special needs?
  • Learn CPR and first aid
  • Learn how to communicate without cell phones. Use an out of area contact to relay messages.
  • Don’t drive through flooded roads, this puts you and rescue workers in danger

Once you have secured yourself in a safe area and everyone is accounted for, then it would be time to volunteer in any capacity you can with response agencies or nonprofit organizations.  You may be handy with a chain saw or know how to pilot a boat, you may know how to organize people into working groups, all of this little skills matter when a disaster occurs.

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
― Seneca

 

 

 

Earn your way

Changing Mentality: Deserve to Earn

Shaping our world and our place in it

There are different ways we look at the world and our actions in it.  We use words like: should and deserve as a way to describe how we want things to be.  When real life doesn’t meet our expectations.   A tool we can use to help achieve our personal and professional goals is changing our mentality.  We change it from thinking we deserve something to having to earn something.

I always hear people say, “I did “X” so I deserve “Y”, or “I deserve “Y” because of all the time I spent doing “X”.

The good news is, you don’t deserve anything.  No one is obligated to give you anything.  The better news is, you can change your perspective and not rely on coping tools when things don’t go the way you planned.  You can go from thinking you deserve something, to earning something.

My goal isn’t to be cynical, it’s to be realistic.  Even after hard word and dedication you still may not reach your goal.  You may feel like you earned it but it just doesn’t happen.  When I was accepted to multiple pharmacy schools, I felt like I earned it but it didn’t work out.  I carry the lessons of my failure to make myself a better person.

What’s the difference from the deserving mindset and the earning mindset?

The deserve mindset is passive, relying on people “giving” or validating your results.  This kind of mentality sets us up to accept what does or doesn’t happen.  People start thinking, “I deserve ‘X’, but ‘Y’ didn’t give it to me, so its their fault.”  A deserve mentality puts the blame on others for events that don’t turn out the way you plan.  This pattern of behavior takes away your control, remember:

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
― William Ernest Henley, Invictus

The earn mindset is active and depends less on the actions of others.  This mentality is both outward looking, but it’s mostly inward looking.  This mindset enables you to evaluate your actions against your goals and readjust actions or goals as necessary.

With the earn mentality, you can build on your successes and failures.  You may not reach your goal but you would an opportunity to evaluate your failure points and learn from them.  These are valuable lessons that are hard to learn with the deserve mentality.

Drawbacks of the deserve mentality

We see the world the way we want to see it and how it actually is, until we run into failure. People want to believe this is a fair and just world because it would be harder to believe otherwise.  We want to believe people, good or bad, we get what we deserve.

The mindset of thinking you deserve something is a distraction from the lessons of failure.  This creates a hurdle to achieving your goals by not allowing you to take responsibility and learning from failures.

When you think you deserve something, you’re always going to be looking for that external feedback or reward, and not self-evaluating and adjusting.  In school, I would study late into the night and still might get a poor grade.  Did I deserve a poor grade after all that work?  Yes, I didn’t study the right things, I wasn’t evaluating myself properly to change the topics and find weaknesses.

The deserve mentality sets up something like a diffusion of responsibility.  For example, there were so many other people working on this project so it’s their fault it went wrong and I deserve “X” for my work.   You have so many outside options to choose from when assigning failure but how often do you look inward? This is a hard lesson I had to learn.

The deserve mentality decreases your ability to lead and your leadership abilities.  Your ability to act like a leader depends on taking personal responsibility for your actions and outcomes.  The deserve mentality, mentioned above, is passive and dependent on outside actions.  You lose leadership abilities and potential when you’re passive to outside influence.  You ability weakens when you don’t know how to interpret the outside influences and adapt based on it.

Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Adopting the earn mentality

Changing your mentality will take time and practice.  Knowing the difference between earning and deserving something, and how to learn and grow from mistakes, is a great start.

Adopting an earn mentality requires you to focus internally as much as you focus on your external actions. Your external actions should be in response to your internal review.  Internal actions include: discipline (this is important to keep yourself moving in a positive direction).  Doing an honest self-evaluation (example).  Having realistic goals (start small and have your goals grow as you grow). Finally, the ability to change yourself or your goals based on feedback you’re receiving.

It’s going to take time to remove yourself from the deserve mentality to the earn mentality but the outcome will be rewarding.

 

 

King, Warrior, Wise Man, Lover

Archetypes of Masculinity

The conflict between archetypes and modern masculinity

The idea of masculinity has different meanings depending on your culture. Throughout western culture there has always been a trend to characterize masculinity as distinct masculine archetypes. There are societal pressures on men, personally and professionally, due to our limited characterizations and expectations.

Therefore, this puts a limit on men and our ability to characterize internal dispositions such as depression.  Men are supposed to be strong and stoic, especially during a time of crisis.

Modern challenges to archetypes

Modern times has challenged the classic archetypes by presenting new challenges for survival (from actual jungle to corporate jungle).  There’s no outlet for men to have strong internal feeling based on certain expected archetypes; it is my opinion that these rigid models of masculinity are failing modern man.

It’s our job to adjust our self-view and use the archetypes as a guide and supplement to masculine behavior.  These days present us with a dynamic environment and the key to excelling is by being a more dynamic person rather than a caricature of an archetype.

I’ve been very interested in the life of Theodore Roosevelt; he is a good example of a modern man incorporating the archetypes presented below, in a dynamic way to address situations as they arise.

An archetype is based on Carl Jung’s theory that there is a model of human nature people can be divided into.  You can look at almost any movie or book and find archetype models based on Jung’s theory and Joseph Campbell’sThe Hero’s Journey” (Star Wars is a great example).  In this post, I am going to focus on four archetypes I think are important for defining modern masculinity.

Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether it is in matters social, political or other. It consists in deeds not words.

Mohandas Gandhi

Archetypes of Masculinity

Archetype roles I’m going to focus on are: King, Warrior, Wise Man, and Lover (take the quiz to see your archetype)

King / Modern Rugged Individual Lawman

The King is typically a loner, the power above it all, working as the source of order out of chaos.  We see this in modern depictions of the romanticized wild west; a lone person coming into a distressed town to provide justice and order.  Modern presidents can also be considered the archetype. Other branches of government have multiple members but the executive branch only has 1 lone member, the president, charged with making sure laws are executed.

Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Warrior / The Soldier

Before there were kings, there were warriors.  These were often common men farming and hunting, waiting to protect the tribe/state at any moment. America has a warrior ethos born form the challenges colonial America faced.  Many of the colonists were militia members when they weren’t living their lives as merchants, farmers, etc.  This type of living continued during western expansion into lawless territories. The warrior lives by a code/rules and commanded by the king to protect the group at all costs.

There is often a “romantic” quality to the warrior; the one who faces danger and returns with glory. Hemingway and others of the “Lost Generation” volunteered for service in World War I and found the true horrors of war; people returning home broken, physically and mentally.  This is reflected in Hemingway’s writing, The Sun Also Rises is a story of people coping with PTSD through alcohol and escapism (travel).

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
― William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Wise Man / Magician

The Wise Man is typically the elder member of a group, one with experience and wisdom to guide leaders.  He is the thinker, knowledgeable in technology, science, and logic. He is a statesman with the ability to understand the meaning or context of events and explain what they mean and their relevance.

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

The Lover

The Lover lacks the toughness of the Warrior, the order of the King or the oratory skills of the Wise Man, but this archetype is the “human” archetype, the “heart” of the group.  He is the person who can read others and understand what they want or need.  This can be the everyman, the man who takes care of his family and others, the one who reminds the group about what is really important.

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

What this means for men

Each has important lessons to teach us about being men. From the Warrior, we learn about duty to the community and courage.  We learn from the King the importance of and rules.  Wise Man teaches is about learn to get to the root cause of a situation and to make decisions based on the best available information for the benefit on the community.   From the Lover, we learn to have “heart”, to have a reason why we have order and the reason why it’s worth protecting at any cost.

When I think about what it means to act like a man, there are many examples of traits to choose from but maybe that is the problem.  People are multi-dimensional, a mix of these archetypes in a dynamic state of change depending on the situation.

My goal is to recognize the archetypes in myself and to use them as a tool or guide and apply them, the best I can, in appropriate situations.  I should also recognize that as I am managing these archetypes, some archetypes may be stronger than others. A balanced archetype, I hope, will be my model of a resolute gentleman.

 

 

 

Hydration for Performance

Hydrate for Peak Physical and Mental Performance

The importance of hydration

An easy way to maintain your health is by maintaining proper hydration.  Drinking enough water keeps your mind and body functioning at optimal performance.

Drinking water is important regardless of the temperature.  Water helps regulate our bodies by helping digestion, regulating electrolytes (salt/potassium), providing cushioning for joints, and other important cellular activities.

The first thing to consider when figuring out how much water to drink is your activity level.  Are you active or sedentary?  Are you at high elevations (more than a mile high)?  If you’re active or in high altitudes then you’ll need more water.  But there is no one size fits all approach to how much water you should drink.

During the summer months, what is the right amount of water to drink to stay hydrated?  I’ve heard 8 cups is best, I’ve seen people walking around with gallon water jugs, and people drinking when they feel thirsty.  According to the Mayo Clinic, men need 13 cups (104 oz) of water per day to be properly hydrated.  Summer isn’t the only time proper hydration is important; winter’s cold weather can dehydrate a person as easily as a hot day.  Because you’re not sweating doesn’t mean you don’t need to hydrate.

Total water intake can include other drinks including tea, coffee, and soft drinks.  They do have a small dehydrating effect but when viewed in the total water intake, it balances out to a hydrating effect.  This doesn’t mean you can drink soft drinks all day and be properly hydrated, you won’t.  You have to drink water to balance it out.

According to a water absorption study in 2012, it takes 20-30 minutes after drinking 10 oz water for that water to enter your blood stream. This tells us that if you want to space out your 13 cups of water per day goal, drinking a cup of water every 30 minutes.  This can help prevent you from drinking too much water (urine will be clear) or becoming dehydrated.

Dehydration can lead to dizziness and confusion (heat syncope), things you don’t want to happen when you’re mowing the lawn, driving a car, or hiking in the woods/mountains.

Water can help with mental alertness.  The brain needs a lot of water for moving nutrients in and waste products out.  When you’re properly hydrated your brain is maintaining a proper flow nutrients, maintaining alertness.

How to tell if you’re drinking enough water

If you’re thirsty, then drink water.  Simple enough. If you’re not feeling alert or you have a lack of concentration, it may be caused by dehydration.  There’s urine color indicators for those of us who don’t feel thirsty often.

Urine color is a good indicator of water intake.  Pale straw – transparent yellow is the goal.  Clear urine may indicate you’re drinking too much water and darker amber colored urine may indicate you’re not drinking enough water.

Simple tips

When it comes down to how much water you should drink you can follow 2 tips:

  1. Drink when you’re thirsty
  2. Drink water when you’re hungry (there is weak evidence to support for thirst being mistaken for hunger), if you’re not drinking enough water then it wouldn’t be a negative thing to drink a cup of water.

If you have sign/symptoms of dehydration and they persist after drinking plenty of water, please contact a health care provider for medical attention.

Failed Pharmacy School

Recovering from Failing Pharmacy School

It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.
― Theodore Roosevelt

Failing Pharmacy School

I had a moment where I thought ” I failed out Pharmacy School so now what do I do?”

What happens if you find yourself in this situation. Give yourself a short time to mourn your loss and recover. It was a hard process getting into a school and once there it was harder to adjust to the lifestyle. Now you’ll have to make another adjustment.

For anyone who has not gone through a professional program, it’s not school as you know it. It’s a lifestyle, it’s a way of life and a majority of your time and attention.

Taking Action

But, now you have to get planning your new life. As you start over you will cycle though the stages of loss in some way. I did. For me, denial passed quickly. Anger lasted the longest, I felt anger mixed with shame and embarrassment. I didn’t bargain but depression lasted longer than I thought it would. Acceptance was hard-won.

You will have to do an evaluation of how you failed, what you failed, and why you failed. These will be your tools so you can learn from your mistakes and apply this lesson in future endeavors.

This is hard for high achievers, and yes if you made it into a professional program you are a high achiever. High achievers have a habit of taking credit for their successes and blaming other for their failures. For this failure (and anything failed), you have to take a hard and honesty view of your role in the event. You may have felt the instructors weren’t fair in some way, or they didn’t teach or evaluate fairly. This may or may not be true but you have to look past that to yourself and your role.

Looking at my role in the event wasn’t easy but I realized that I was only going through the motions and my heart wasn’t into the program or the school. If you’re in a program you have to be completely dedicated and I wasn’t. I felt like I could see the flaws in the program, how they weren’t being true to real life. I’ve had a lot of experience in the real world and I am older than some of the instructors and it all felt fake. No matter what the program was or wasn’t, in the end the failure was on me and no one else.

Redefining Self

I learned a valuable truth: I set the rules to my life so the responsibility is on me to create a new path.

Up to this point you’ve been doing we I was doing, defining yourself by what you do; I’m a student, I’m a Pharm.D. candidate; I’m a (blank). This is the wrong mindset. You’ll have to learn to define yourself not by what you do but how you do things. By this, I mean you need to have your heart in it, a drive, or whatever you call the internal voice that keeps going when things are tough and people around you are telling you to stop. This is something I’m still learning to control.

(A small rant) Some people would call it passion. I disagree with the whole follow your passion theory. We all hear this term thrown around like it’s a magical solution to everything. Follow your passion and you’ll be happy. What if you don’t have a passion? What if you haven’t found your passion? I don’t know what my “passion” is, I’m still looking. I think you should follow what you’re good at doing and put all of yourself into it.

You can find a whole list of people who were great at things that weren’t their passions. Steve Jobs, whether you liked him or not, was very successful by NOT following his passion. He wasn’t passionate about technology, he was into eastern philosophy and that lifestyle, nothing to do with technology. The point is, take chances (see Option 4) and find what you’re good at doing and put all of yourself into it. (end of rant)

If you’re here then you know things you want to do take time. Getting to professional school took 4 or more years but transitioning your mindset shouldn’t. But it will take an effort.

Transitioning to a new path and changing your mindset may take some time but if things were always easy then everyone would be a doctor of something. You’re going to feel anxiety, stress, fear, and anger and more. The key is to stay positive and not let it get to you or get in your way of changing. It got in my way for a little while but having support can help you correct your course so you don’t crash into the proverbial rocks.

Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.
― Dale Carnegie

Taking a New Path

There are a lot of options and you can blend options. I’m a blend of options 3 and 4.

Option 1: try again.
You’ll have to do a cost benefit analysis of redoing your first year and adding to the cost of your student loans. Is it worth taking on the additional debt? If you have a true drive for it then ask around, talk to your peers, to instructors, you’ve probably already spoken to administration.

Use this as a valuable learning tool. Talk to other schools and get their perspectives. You will need to find a way to learn from your failure and show you’ve changed for the positive.

Option 2
Go for a degree in a similar field (pharmacology, toxicology) or MBA. If you like it then go for the PhD. It’ll be cheaper plus you can do a lot with a master’s degree and you can turn a loss into a win if you can transfer credits at the same school to a different program.

Option 3
Pivot to something completely different. Do a honest self-evaluation of your skills, knowledge base, and drives. Don’t let opportunities pass by; say yes when you would have said no. Explore your options by volunteering in areas outside your comfort zone. You can’t know what you don’t know unless you explore and discover new things.

Option 4
Find what you’re good at doing and focus on making that your career. Work at it as a side hustle until you can monetize it and transition to full-time. You’ll find this path is loaded with a lot of potential failures. The first few times you try doing something, you’ll probably fail. It happened to me but I used each failure as a learning tool.

Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.
― Salvador Dalí

If you try options 2-4 then be aware you’ll always think about the program you left. Every time the school year starts you’ll think “this would be my P3 year.” The month you would have graduated will lurk over you months in advance. Don’t let it bring you down.

The lessons I’ve learned from Pharmacy school were hard. Process the failure was harder but not impossible to recover from. In the end, you have to pick a new path, try new things, and learn what you’re really about. You’ll have to learn from your failure and build on it or you’ll have a hard time moving forward and succeeding in whatever you choose to do. Lastly, be happy for your friends that made it.

Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.
― Truman Capote

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