Are some people not amenable to being mentored?

As harsh as it sounds, and the possibility that it may anger progressive, liberals, and activists, some individuals, regardless of how capable, friendly, needy or smart they appear to be or are, and the context in which they live or work, are not just difficult to mentor, but repeatedly ignore the advice of the people who have agreed to mentor them, or fail to implement their good council.

That being said, it’s important to realize that there is a difference among coaching, counseling, facilitating, training, and mentoring.

In general, mentoring is a reciprocal and voluntary relationship between two people where one of the individuals has some sort of valued knowledge or expertise and attempts to direct, guide, or influence the less experienced person by providing advice, assistance or help.

And, just because a student, junior worker or colleague seeks your advice or you freely give some, it does not automatically mean that you have a mentoring relationship with them. Clearly these kinds of interactions develop over time.

It’s also unrealistic to believe, think or require students, workers, or other people with whom you have a mentoring relationship to follow all the “pearls of wisdom” that you freely bestow on them. But some mentees, for one reason or another, may ignore almost all of what you have to say.

Let’s face it not all work, career, or relationship advice you may offer is helpful. And an astute mentee should judge the quality and source (i.e., expertise) of the advice and its potential ramifications. Plus the mentee may choose not to implement your advice now, but do it later on.

Actual or potential mentors, on the other hand, might be hard pressed to ignore a mentee’s stories about their dissatisfaction with the mentors they left (or left them), their constant search for new advisors, and the appearance as if they don’t listen to or consider expert advice, draw most of their lessons from their own lived experience, think and act as if “they know it all,” and maybe even with a touch of grandiosity thrown in for good measure.

When this occurs the actual or potential mentor should realize that no matter how determined they are to make a positive impact in the career, life, and work of the mentee, how good or well packaged the advice that they give this individual is, nor how often it is transmitted, will it make a difference.

There are lots of people who need and want talented mentors and they might actually benefit from your advice and expertise.

Photo credit
Photographer: Jo Morcom
Title: ignored advice
in guinness tent @ port fairy folk festival

Why has air travel become such a shit show & some simple things you can do about it?

In addition to visiting relatives and friends, and filling ones belly with copious amounts of turkey and predictable side dishes, this Thanksgiving holiday weekend reminds us how historically, the greatest number of people travel via airplane during this time.

For many people, the holiday also reminds us how air travel, in the United States at least, has become such a shit show.

Starting from the time you arrive at the airport until the time you get to your destination airport, air travelers quickly learn that many of the systems to get you safely, securely, and efficiently on to your plane and off either don’t work in a rational manner, or numerous entities seem to do their best to frustrate the process. No wonder why airlines and other advisors tell you to come to the airport two hours early before your flight.

Many of these annoying experiences have been going on for a long time, but the ubiquity of smart phones, and popularity of social media, has enabled the public to witness passengers on their worst behavior.

Why does this occur?

Traveling by air has rarely been fun, but since 9/11 it’s become an unnecessarily frustrating experience, enabled by a unique combination of airport authorities, the airlines, airline personnel, government entities, and most importantly passengers.

Although some airports are better than others, whether its resources or poor leadership and management, in some cases airport authorities have failed to take into consideration the user experience. This includes a lack of signage, signs that may be minimal or confusing, and parking, drop off, and pick up protocols that don’t make sense.

The Transportation Safety Administration, (TSA), which is responsible for passenger and airline safety, has been a source of constant frustration. More specifically many TSA rules in connection with passenger screening do not appear rational and they are enforced in an inconsistent manner. More specifically what is required or enforced at one airport (i.e., belts on, versus belts off, etc.) is not enforced at another.

Most airline desk, gate, and flight attendants do their best to assist passengers. In some instances, however, some airline personnel can be unhelpful, dismissive, and rude. Some of this is because they have been constantly abused (emotionally, mentally and physically) by passengers, co-workers and supervisors. And thus they are short, and unaccommodating.

In an effort to maximize profit the airlines have configured seating so that passengers are often struggling with small spaces that force passengers to sit ever closer together, charging for all manner of things that the airlines used to give out freely (e.g., water, soft drinks, beer and wine). In the meantimes electrical outlets may not work, gate changes are provided at the last minute, etc. etc.. Everyone seems to have their favorite airline horror story.

Most importantly, for some strange reason many airline passengers see the airport and airplane experience as an opportunity to cop an attitude, be on their worst behavior, and in some cases loose their shit. How does this happen?

Flights are long. You are forced to sit beside people who you don’t want to sit beside, often don’t respect personal space, and disrupt you, etc.

At a minimum travelers accidentally or purposely ignore written signs and rules, and oral instructions. Predictably this slows things down, particularly getting through security checks and in the worst case flights. Alternatively travelers talk back in a condescending manner and in some cases assault airport and airline personnel and fellow passengers. Sometimes this is because many airplane travelers mistakenly feel entitled or believe that possession of an airplane ticket grants them all sorts of unwritten and unspoken rights and privileges, that enables them to disobey the rules.

What can we do to rectify things?

It’s not easy addressing these challenges. Each offending constituency and situation demands different solutions, and some are easier to change than others, but let’s start with the ones that are under our control, and those involve the choices we make when and how we decide to travel, more specifically by plane.

Before you go do a handful of quick cost-benefit calculations.

To begin with prospective travelers should be very clear about the purpose of their trip. More specifically ask yourself do I really need to travel?. If the answer is a resounding yes, then accept the fact that flying is generally speaking a clusterfuck.

. When choosing a ticket, airline, departure and arrival time, consider flying during times of the day, week, and part of the year when airlines are not as busy.
. Try to avoid using budget airlines.
. If you can get to your destination in about the same time as it takes to travel by train, take the train.
. Try to relax. If you can’t do this by physically exercising before your fight, consider meditation, one drink, or taking an edible (but don’t get drunk or stoned).
– Wear comfortable clothes particularly if it is a long flight.
– If you are on a relatively uncrowded flight move to a part of the plane that is less crowded.
– Show up well in advance of take off to get through security and to your departure gate that may end up being at the other end of the airport.
– Bring enough stuff along the flight to occupy yourself like reading material or videos downloaded to your personal device.
– Travel light (i.e., try not to take so much baggage that you need to put it underneath in the hold)
– Don’t put your medication in a bag that you check in.
– Resist the temptation to snap back at others whom you believe treat you in a disrespectful manner; and,
– If you are taking a long flight, try to take one as late as possible in the evening (That way both you and your fellow passengers are likely to sleep the majority of the trip).

By properly preparing yourself for the long haul you can’t eliminate the craziness that comes your way, but you will be better able to deal with it when it arises.

Photo Credit
Photographer: Rudi Riet
Title: Passengers await their flight call

Softening the brutalism of big downtown hotels and areas where they are located

Almost every big North American city has a part of their downtown where tall, frequently imposing, and well-known brand name hotels are located.

Sometimes these structures are built beside each other or sprinkled among the equally massive office towers, apartments, and condos.

Occasionally they are integrated into a central business district where a variety of retail stores and businesses operate and where people may work or live.

Catering to business travelers, tourists, and conference goers, these hotels are often close to shopping malls, food courts, transportation hubs (e.g., train or subway stations), convention centers, and entertainment venues.

Built out of tons of concrete, steel and glass, the hotels may be connected by skywalks or skybridges or underground tunnels. This often means that guests do not need to go beyond a small square two-three block radius to get their business done before departing the city.

In some cities, guests who use these hotels, may not need to set foot on to the mean city streets if they want to get their business done.

If patrons are so daring as to venture outside the protective enclosure, it’s easy to get turned around going from one building to another, as the structures and the topography often look the same. Try this during the winter, and the winds rip between the buildings and hits you like a slap on the face and you curse your fate.

Good things about these parts of the city?

These structures and areas present a number of benefits to the owners, the people who work and visit there.

If you are staying at one of these hotels you may be afforded a great view of the city, which has its own intrinsic benefits.

Moreover there’s not much need for the architects and contractors to be creative. The buildings are no Corbusier’s, they pretty much look the same, mundane in appearance, even boring.

For the tourist or business traveler these buildings and locations are incredibly convenient. Visitors can meet their clients at the hotel, eat nearby, and then go their merry way.

Drawbacks to the concentration of hotels in the same downtown areas of cities

Indeed there are drawbacks and they are relative to your needs, wants, and desires.

One would be foolhardy to assume that you have experienced the soul of the city by visiting this area. Quite the opposite. These areas in physical features are just about as interchangeable as any other city.

Drop me into downtown New York City, Chicago, and Atlanta, and there is a sameness and predictability. That’s okay if you want this kind of experience.

But the sameness is boring, demonstrates a lack of creativity and over time has a soul crushing effect.

In a small subtle way, akin to the living and working in the suburbs, or vacationing at east coast beach towns, highway service areas, and resorts, it contributes to the alienation that is rampant in American society.

Make no mistake, it’s not a neighborhood, in the typical sense of the term. And nobody promised it would be.

Some solutions

One way to address this monotony is for the building owners to do something more engaging with their exteriors. How about commissioning some murals to combat the drabness? This process could start by identifying which surfaces would benefit the most from murals, and then there could be some sort of a design competition judged by experts.

Urban dwellers could also encourage city planners to only give building permits to hotel developers if they are willing to locate them in mixed use parts of the city. This plan could be accompanied economic incentives like tax breaks to encourage other types of structures etc. in the area.

Another suggestion might be the issuing permits to street vendors and/or food trucks.

It does not have to be every day, but on a semi regular basis.

Like New York City, every weekend avenues are blocked off and vendors set up kiosks where they sell food, clothing etc. In this way public spaces are being energized.

There are ways to enhance what is typically a boring experience. It just takes the willingness to experiment, be a little more creative and the resources to enable these small changes are minimal.

Photo Credit
Photographer: fklv (Obsolete hipster)
Title Atlanta (Hilton)