What's a "Boom Wrangler"?

Originally published 6/12/10

According to Po Bronson's book, I gather a "Boom Wrangler" is someone who rides the crest of each boom, each fad, in the marketplace. The wrangler enjoys the ride, and is constantly looking for the next big thing to dive into.

As I read this description, it sounded a lot like a person who is a "learner", as was described in Gallup surveys that I took: first in YPO, then later at work. A learner is someone who loves to learn new things. A "Boom Wrangler" sounds like a "learner" on steroids. Of course the term "Boom Wrangler" sounds pejorative, but I'm sure a confirmed B-W can be happy, if they feed this need they have.

In those surveys, "learner" came out as my top characteristic (I think, it was at least in the top five). So I eagerly set out to decide if I was a natural "Boom Wrangler", who had somehow missed the "Booms" (like, dot-coms, hedge funds, selling mortgage bonds, etc.).

I've always liked trying new things, and my interest in most of the things I've tried, both career and leisure, has tended to peak and then decline over a span of two to five years. These are B-W characteristics.

As I read further, I decided, however, that this does not describe me. I don't line up in several areas:
1. I'm too risk averse. I like my risk in smaller, less scary doses. I'm okay with moderate mountain climbing, but not with jumping cars on a motorcycle. I'm okay with incremental career changes, but, up to now, have always avoided going back to the start and trying something completely new.
2. I've got too many things I definitely don't like doing, and haven't been interested in trying. Most of them involve taking social risks -- like being in sales myself, or going around asking people for money (donations, investment capital, whatever). Sure I've done some of that stuff in limited quantities -- I've had too. But they definitely aren't something I would be willing jump into with both feet.
3. I do actually have some interests that have had staying power. I like products -- like working with them, like making them better, like thinking about how to produce them more efficiently. I have always liked athletics, and continue to enjoy regular fitness. I like music -- at least my own particular taste in music. Travel, particularly international, is another preference with staying power.
4. My changes have never, ever been motivated by boredom. Almost always by that creeping fear and anger that I've discussed in previous blogs.

So, I can cross B-W off of the list of possible diagnoses. It sure is helpful to read other people's ways of thinking about transitions and what drives them, however, because I never in a million years would have ever come up with "Boom Wranglers"!

Fear -- Part 3, Anger -- Part 1

Originally published 5/28/10

Revenge may be a dish best served cold -- I wouldn't know about that. Reflection is also a dish best served cold, or perhaps 'detached' rather than 'cold' is a better way to think of it.

In two previous blog entries, I talked about Fear. How fear permeated so much of what I did at work. How fear negatively motivated me. How I had a kind of love-hate relationship with fear.

After nearly 9 weeks away from the source of the fear, I'm very aware of its influence and its and the degree to which it engulfed me. Even when I had the financial ability to quit work, I still was driven by fear of criticism, failure, labeling, and fear of so many other things.

In the last 9 weeks I've also become more aware of another negative emotion that was present in large quantities while I was working -- anger. Anger can be a useful emotion, when it drives us to act decisively and effectively. But like a lot of emotions -- too much of a useful or good thing can be bad. And I now know that I had to much of it.

My anger was mostly suppressed when I worked. But suppressed emotions need to find ways to escape. I had a few methods of coping.

1. Risk taking -- hey, I wasn't white water rafting the Zambizi River, or hiking in the backcountry in Canyonlands just because it was fun.

2. Escaping on trips -- to focus on something exclusively, and put aside the things causing the anger.

3. Listening to hard driving music -- I'd scream my lungs out in the car sometimes to let off steam.

4. A short fuse at home -- unfair as it was, I was transferring anger to my family.

5. Complaining -- my apologies to those whose ears I bent unwillingly to listen to a rant over something. I was more aware of this outlet than any of them, and tried to at least moderate it some....

So what caused the anger? I'm not as sure about that. Feeling trapped, perhaps? Any kind of criticism leveled in any but the softest way? Feeling unappreciated for having to deal with the Fear? Probably a bit of all these.

And don't think these feelings just dry up and go away the minute that the source is removed. My emotional reactions to the world developed over a pretty long period, during which there was very little deep change in my life. Those patterns will take some time to wear down and change. But I can feel them beginning to thaw now after 9 weeks away.

Here's to a fear reduced and anger reduced future!