Being you

“Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of, who do the things no one can imagine.” -Alan Turing

Life is hard. People can suck, words can hurt and life as we know it can change in an instant as a result.

I don’t mean to get into a deep ‘life meaning’ discussion but I want you to know that you are not alone. I’ve been bullied, I’ve been put down and I’ve even been told that I am nothing. But I want you to know I have persevered; I am still here and I like to think I am a better person for all of life’s hardships.

So why am I telling the world this? Because when life is down it seems nobody is there for you. I want you to know that is not true. If you are reading this, I want you to know I will always be here for you as I hope you will be there for me.

But most importantly, this is normal. If you are different, which I hope you are, there is no doubt that life has been hard. People don’t like “different” and they expect everyone to fit into a box or machine and when we don’t, people can be rude and mean.

Which brings me to the quote at the beginning of this post. If you haven’t already, check out The Imitation Game. The film touches on the life and work of Alan Turing and a team of British cryptanalysts during WWII. Is the movie completely accurate to Turing’s life? It’s a movie, so of course not. But there are some great life lessons to take away from this film and I don’t think you will be disappointed with this one (plus, it’s an amazing story 🙂 ).

Just remember, you are unique and that’s a great thing. Those who do and think differently, as Turing said, do the things no one can imagine.

So give those haters a reason to sit down and shut up. But most importantly; never change who you are because you are beautiful. Now go do the amazing things you were born to do!

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Which tool is the right one?

A tweet from Matt Kremer last month (listed below) sparked something greater with me that I wanted to share with others. Enjoy, and please comment on your own experiences, too!

Almost two years ago I was sitting with a colleague enjoying a cold beer and he mentioned something that has stuck with me ever since, “GIS is a tool, we use it to produce results but if we don’t understand what we need, it’s useless.

So incredibly true! As someone who has worked in many different sectors, I’ve applied GIS technology to many different departments, areas and projects.

Two years later, Matt’s tweet hit home yet again. As a developer – code isn’t the end goal, it’s a tool, like GIS is, to produce something great. Is it always the answer? No. But it could be.

What I’m getting at is – don’t think of the means to solve a problem, think about the end product (but remember that end product can change over time, too). Here’s a list of some of the questions I think to myself before initiating anything in my life:

  1. Why do this?
  2. What is the goal/purpose?
  3. Will I have help? Guidance? If yes, how much?
  4. What is the anticipated timeline?
  5. What do I expect to see when I’m done?

After answering some of these questions, we can better define the means, and which tools best suit our purpose and goals. Will we always use the right tool for the job? Not always but we can try our best to solve the problems that we face to find solutions – and I think that’s a pretty cool thing.

Relationships

One of the best things any person can accomplish in his or her life comes back to one word: relationships.

This past week I attended the ESRI User Conference and Homeland Security Summit in San Diego, California. This was my fifth time in attendance and by far the best experience I have had. Why? For the first time I was able to connect with fellow EM/GIS professionals and GIS professionals from my home state of Minnesota. I was also very fortunate to connect with someone who inspired me to start a blog – this blog.

Which brings me back to relationships. Relationships – professional and personal, even in today’s technology-driven age, are one the most important components in our lives. If it was not for relationships I would not have a state championship, I would not have the job I hold today, nor would I be an assistant hockey coach. All of the things that define me and that I love would not be part of my life if it were not for relationships.

With technology, we can now form electronic relationships via e-mail or social media. It is the understanding between you and those you communicate with. It does not matter how you communicate but that you do so. We do not need to be in same jurisdiction, county, state, or even country to maintain our relationships. If anything technology should allow us to maintain even healthier relationships.