Exploration Nation

I just found out that the power is out at work, which gives me an accidental day off- I have time to blog! So lately, I’ve been dabbling around in a few extra projects. I joined BookMooch.com, which is essentially a digital library between a large group of people. You list books that you don’t want, people request them, and you pay to ship them one way to them. You get points for listing and sending books, so in turn you can request books from others, and they will send them to you. It’s a great way to give unused books a good home while scouting for new ones! I have about four books to send out this week, and I will be receiving two. Color me excited! I have also decided to become an anchor for coffee culture at work, so I have taken more hours on in order to really vamp up the store. Thus far, I think it has been a success.

I had a Skype chat with Hannah, the founder of More Love Letters, and I have a lot to work on as far as getting to know the digital ropes of the group. It’s so interesting that technology has come so far in such a short amount of time. Just 10 years ago, AOL Instant Messenger was coming out, and that was one of the first times that people got to talk to each other over the internet in real time. Now we have full organizations that function on a purely digital platform, which enables them to reach out to others across the world. I just had a face to face conversation from the comfort of my living room with someone who is currently in the New York area. Let that marinate for a second. Someone who is HUNDREDS of miles away from me is able to talk to me and see me as if we were sitting across the room from each other. I feel that my generation may be the last to truly appreciate how far the digital world has come. Children and young adults now have grown up with cell phones, real time chat, and the worldwide web, never really knowing the world before. We take advantage of the fact that this technology is around, and don’t give a second thought to life without it. 10 years ago, if there was a power outage, businesses wouldn’t shut down. Today, a storm knocks a cable down, and I have a day off of work until the power is back up. Technology is amazing, but it also has the capability to cripple us in our self-sustaining efforts. How many kids and teens would be able to function without a computer or cell phone? There aren’t many activities that can be done without electricity nowadays, but letter writing will always be a non-electric champion. More Love Letters, while a generally digital organization, has the capability to work offline. Why? Because we rely on the power of a letter. Snail mail. Stamps and seals. If we lost electricity today, we would still be functioning. While the digital portion of our organization is huge and helps us to stay connected in real time, letters will be forever. I think that, if it came down to it, we could still function, although we would have to work more slowly. It’s good to know that we are versatile, and can adapt to the changes in technology while retaining a part of our history and humanity.

So this week, I will be exploring the website to see what can be updated. One of the perks of having such a digital platform is that everything is right there in front of you. I don’t have to go searching around file cabinets, call around to have things faxed to me, or rely on “hours of operation” to get my work done. In fact, I will be SO excited when the fax machine is a thing of the past. Faxes and I don’t get along, and I am currently battling with some documents that need to be faxed. Office Max will just have to be my scan and fax go-to until the fax machine is extinct. Fingers crossed that it’s sometime soon. Anywho, if you happen to stop by http://www.moreloveletters.com, please feel free to have a click frenzy and let me know if you find anything that should be changed. I plan on whipping this site into shape, since I am well-versed in digital organization and website construction. I will also take over several administrative aspects of the organization that will allow me to be more in touch with MLL like never before. I can’t wait for my day off so I can spend all day wrapped up and cozy while becoming one with the site. A cup of tea (I had Tazo Awake Tea with chai and coconut this morning. Yum!), a warm blanket, and my not so trusty macbook. You, me, and the world, baby.

I believe that it’s very important to give yourself a “second set of eyes” every once in a while. By second set, I mean trying to look at something from someone else’s point of view. It’s a great method to approach arguments and troubleshooting with, as it allows you to be more empathetic to each viewpoint. At Starbucks, we have something called a “Values Walk,” where we take notes on the store from a customer’s perspective. We have a sheet to guide us through the walk, but it’s important to always be able to walk yourself through someone else’s mindset, with or without a guide. Everyone on the More Love Letters Team has proved that they are proficient in using their second set of eyes when writing letters. It is so important to be able to understand how your words may affect others, especially when writing letters to those that may be having a hard time. As a Letter Writer, you need to be able to empathize with each person you are trying to connect with so that you will better know how to interact with them. For More Love Letters, first impressions are King. When you write a letter to a stranger, that may be the first and only time they will connect with you, so the first impression is generally the only impression. By being able to understand the situation from the reader’s point of view, you are putting a safety net under your words so that you may be confident that you are coming off as supportive and encouraging rather than nosy or aggressive. I like to interact with everyone I meet as if I were writing a letter to a stranger, because I never know if I will have the opportunity to see them again to make up for a verbal mishap. As a barista, a second set of eyes is part of the professionalism that we require in order to gauge the interaction with our customers into a positive one. No, you can’t make the right calls all of the time, but understanding others is a great way to start.

Take some time and do some exploring this week. Have you gotten in touch with yourself lately? How would you explain yourself to others while still be conscious of how they perceive you? Do you feel confident about the way you interact with others? I will be working on getting in touch with myself this week, as well as getting in touch with the heart of More Love Letters. I have been asking my coworkers for feedback on our interactions and my work habits so that I may be able to learn and better myself in my professionalism and my image. I have been trying to understand others with my second set of eyes, rather than judging them with my first. What will you be exploring today? 

You can tweet your explorations to me @OnlyInfinity on Twitter! #ExplorationNation

With love and love letters,

J

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