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How existential philosophy made me a better manual worker

John's reflections, Storytelling Leave a comment

Sometimes, when I remark that I have always enjoyed manual labor, friends and colleagues comment that it is relatively easy for someone like me to make that kind of statement. My experiences as a factory line worker, winery laborer, security guard, painter, delivery person, and such, were all temporary passages in life, rather than jobs I was stuck in for the long term.   Of course, this is true, and that is one of the reasons that I have the utmost respect for those who engage themselves fully in their work—day after day, year after year—even when the tasks they perform on a daily basis may resemble Sisyphus and The Absurd.  In … Continue reading

Reasons to Smile at Work

John's reflections, leadership Leave a comment

These days, several elements seem to be conspiring to encourage me to extend our “visit” to the winery of my student years. First, my own reprocessing of this period from my past continues to yield surprises, and that has indeed been fascinating for me. Second, I am finding the lessons from this time more interesting and important to my current thinking than I had previously realized. And third, coincidentally, what I picked up on the floor of the winery relates well to some of the issues I have been reading about lately in the press, particularly with respect to self-engagement.  Of course, I had no idea back then that I was learning so much that would influence … Continue reading

Philosophy as Food for Life

John's reflections, Storytelling Leave a comment

This week, I happened upon an article in the New York Times entitled “Philosophy’s True Home”. The author, Scott Soames, is director of the school of philosophy at the University of Southern California.  Professor Soames weighs in on a debate among contemporary intellectuals about what philosophy’s place should be. He argues against the prevailing view that philosophy is an isolated, “ivory tower” discipline, cut off from virtually every other progress-making pursuit of knowledge—including the “hard” disciplines of math and science—as well as from the actual concerns of daily life. Philosophy’s status as a somewhat esoteric and intellectual university-based discipline should not lead us to the conclusion that it is divorced from the rest of … Continue reading

The Value of Rekindling your Past

John's reflections Leave a comment

I often joke with colleagues, clients, and friends that we human beings need to learn the same lessons over and over, until we internalize them and integrate them into our worldview. Based on recent experience, this seems to be true for me.  In the past few weeks, with people requesting more of my personal anecdotes, I’ve been reflecting on my time at the winery where I worked for several summers during my student days. I had not thought actively about this phase of my life for many years. So, in essence, I was now “reprocessing the experience”, in more depth than I had ever done previously.  It occurred to me, with some … Continue reading

Tapping into my own human spirit

leadership, Storytelling Leave a comment

When I began my meanderings into the realm of Greek mythology last week—my rumination on Sisyphus and existential philosophy, and making connections with my job as a winery worker—it was not without some hesitation. Not wanting to make my blog—or any of my writing—self-absorbed, I have often shied away from writing about myself and my personal experience. Now, I am beginning to think that such reticence is probably misguided.  My views on this are changing for a simple reason. In the past 10 days, I have received a truly inordinate number of favorable reactions from a variety of people about my last two posts. Several long-time readers commented that these were among my … Continue reading

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