Friday, January 31, 2014

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

              You Tell on Yourself

You tell on yourself by the friends you seek
By the very manner in which you speak
By the way you employ your leisure time
By the use you make of dollar and dime

You tell what you are by the things you wear
By the spirit in which your burdens bear
By the kind of things at which you laugh
By the records you play on your phonograph

You tell what you are by the way you walk
By the things of which you delight to talk
By the manner in which you bear defeat
By so simple a thing as how you eat

By the books you choose from a well-filled shelf
In these ways and more you tell on yourself
So there's really no particular sense
In an effort to keep up false pretense

~Author Unknown

Monday, January 27, 2014

Heat Treatment

I spent over a decade in the aerospace industry. We supplied solid (and later, blind) rivets to Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, Lockheed, and other aircraft manufacturers. While working with metals like monel and titanium, the vast majority of rivets we produced were made of aluminum alloy's. After cold heading a rivet, they were subject to a production process known as "heat treat." What we were doing was "annealing" the metal. This heat treatment would change the metals properties to increase its ductility. Ductility is the measure of strain a metal can withstand before rupturing. A metal with low ductility is said to be "brittle." According to my New World Dictionary, brittle is defined as; 1) easily broken or shattered because it is hard and not flexible. 2) having a sharp, hard quality 3) stiff and unbending in manner.

My question to you is this: how do you react when the "heat is on?" Heat comes from fire, fire from friction, friction from rubbing two objects against one another. In our particular case, I am speaking of the friction created by disagreement or conflict because of differences of opinion. How do you handle the "heat" in your personal relationships? Have you become the very definition of brittle?

People avoid conflict. They are reluctant to engage because often, in the "heat of battle," things are said or done that cause irreparable damage or heartbreak. I totally understand. What might not be clear to you is in the annealing process the metal is allowed to return to room temperature naturally. This cooling off period is part of the process that refines the structure of the metal while increasing its rate of diffusion. In other words, after heating up and cooling down, the metal becomes more ductile.

My challenge to you is this: when things heat up, create the image that you are being "heat treated." That Life has brought you an opportunity to go through a process that can change long held beliefs. That the situation can be exactly what you need to become more expansive, inclusive, understanding. That a situation is defined solely by your perception of it, and employing your imagination can alter the construct by which the dynamic is interpreted. Rather than having your feet "held to the fire," you can cherish the chance to enjoy a natural by-product of the heat treating process; internal stress reduction. Ductility is defined by what can be stretched, drawn, or hammered without breaking. My wish for you is that you develop the ability to bend, not break. And I just may "bring the heat" to see that it happens.