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Karma

Karma: What’s it all about?

I’ve been having a wonderful time thinking about Database Sherpa. I am grateful to have the time to develop a process that will work for all organizations. Maybe a little history would help for those new to my concept.

It started about 20 years ago when I was running my business, Hopper Business Solutions. Hopper was the embodiment of my dream to run my own business, be my own boss, and to change the way women were viewed in technology. In the beginning, Hopper provided Internet consulting to emerging businesses, but over time, turned into much more.

In addition to creating new databases, I started modifying existing databases for small businesses and nonprofits—systems created by another consultant prior to my arrival. Whenever I began a project, I always found a mixture of disgust, frustration and anger with these systems. I never enjoyed walking into a place with such negative emotions. I often heard these complaints:
  • “The consultant never listened to us and did their own thing. I don’t know why we have to capture the client’s (shoe size, favorite color, etc.). So we don’t and leave that field blank.”
  • “The reports don’t give us what we need. We fill in all the information, but the reports are missing a lot of information that is in the database. Our data is trapped.”
  • “The consultant never finished the database because we ran out of money (or worse, they stopped helping us and moved onto another project). Plus, they worked too much on what they felt was important, and not on our immediate needs.”
This litany is probably no surprise to organizations that have probably at least one such pain point with their former or current system. Let me just say this: It’s NOT just the consultant’s fault.
How can I say this? When I began working with unhappy clients, at some point they say that they had forgotten to mention something to consultant, emphasize the deadline, or take control of the project when things got out of hand. Blaming the former consultant was an easy out.
But, these are mistakes that happen. Even to the best consultant. I wondered, what could we do to make these complaints a place in the past? How can we, as consultants, pass on our knowledge and skills so that the client is now capable of doing the work needed? How can the client be put in the driver’s seat and the consultants be the guide? How can we make our clients happier—and more productive—than when we began with them?
My search for these answers lead to the birth of Database Sherpa where we have a simple value: Bring compassion and joy to our clients, all the while helping them achieve good database karma. (Thanks to DVQ Studio for that fun word combo).Yes, I said JOY. Database work can be tedious and boring. Sometimes it’s even downright frustrating. There is enough frustration in the world, and we have a strong desire to change that. So we approach every project with a positive attitude and encourage lots of laughter and fun to bring back the smile! Now, about that database karma thing, I’ll get to that in a sec….
So, what brought about this thinking about going the extra mile to bring joy into work? Well, recently I’ve been in dialogue with another consultant who has also gone down a similar path, albeit for much longer than I. She has lots of great stories and results, and she’s quite a guru who is becoming a dear friend.She feels it’s important to meet the client where they are at the time they contact her. She told me, “I want to work with clients whose missions I feel strongly about, that I want to support. It’s important that I meet the client where they are, not where I am.” She’s quite compassionate to her clients, and I am sure I can learn more from her as time goes on. And I am in complete agreement with her. We could all learn a thing or two about compassion! She makes a compelling case that makes a lot of sense to me.

We should all help those that reach out to us. Give them the guidance and tools they need so that they are more capable and empowered to drive their mission in the right direction.

But, before you run off sharing your wisdom with everyone you cross paths with, I’d like to offer a caveat. While it’s important to help organizations that to seek change, it’s also critical to make sure they align with your core values.

A key core value at Database Sherpa is to help build good database karma for organizations (I said we’d get back to that). What is this database karma and how does it work? Well, it’s not the karma from the eastern philosophies, or from the TV show, “My Name is Earl.” It’s about destiny to a small extent, but karma is more about action than anything. (And as an aside, I’d like to say there is really nothing “good” or “bad” about karma; it just is.)

Taking this concept one step further, we also believe you cannot outsource your karma. You can’t blame your karma on a long-gone consultant. Good database karma is the result of organizations investing energy to create its database and taking ownership of its long-term maintenance and evolution.

In order to bring positive database karma to organizations, it’s crucial that they be open, be willing to spend time and learn, and be capable of making their database work for them. Good database karma is not as simple as importing data from a spreadsheet. It requires being patient, practicing compassion, facing your fears and doing it “self mommy“.

So, my friend will continue to exhibit compassion for her clients, encouraging and guiding them—even after they’ve started working with her. (A workstyle I greatly admire.) Compassion can have a powerful outcome. It could change the world by making us active, rather than passive learners. (If you read my last post about compassion, you’ll see why I’m such an idealist now.) Ultimately, we desire the same outcome: To make our clients successful with their database systems and increase their knowledge.  My friend has already achieved that, achieving great success and admiration from her clients. That is a wonderful feeling and one she is very proud of.

As a Sherpa, I dream of a day when my client will outshine me and go on to do great things in the database community. I bow deeply to my new friend who has given me food for thought and opened my eyes to other possibilities.

Be Nice!

Compassion… pass it on!

Today was an amazing and thought filled day… I say this because I saw two totally different movies that moved me in a way I didn’t think was possible. Let me try to explain in writing (I’m much better at talking, I wish I could talk my way through a blog)….

I was invited to watch Miss Representation with a group of women, all in high school, and discuss the movie. I don’t often get asked by young people to engage, so this was an opportunity I wasn’t go to let pass by. Also, I’ve been wanting to see this movie. These women are part of a group called Young Women for Change, a program that is run through the Michigan Women’s Foundation.

Let me also mention the other movie, The Lorax. We went as a family and this was Zola’s (my daughter) first time at a movie theater. It was exciting yet nerve wracking as I wasn’t entirely sure how she would behave in the movie, she’s only three. Also, although I know The Lorax, I was really expecting to be bored and focused more on her, especially after reading some of the comments from various critics. When will I ever learn to ignore the critics?!

After coming home from The Lorax, I found something gnawing at me… like I needed to write down my thoughts, but what were the thoughts? I wasn’t entirely sure…. but I felt like a something was bubbling deep inside of me and had to be unleashed. I had to find a way to share that with all of you. Something has happened to me…. deep, powerful and profound. So, this blog post was started…. I’m still unsure how it will end, so let’s see what happens.

Miss Representation took me on a journey through the dark side of how women are represented or the lack of women’s true representation in government, media, technology, etc…. things that really impact us all. The Lorax took me on a different journey, one where we misuse our natural and wonderful resources. Yes, one was more like a documentary and the other a “cartoon”, but both had strong messages and made me feel inspired and also entirely overwhelmed.

Although the journeys were quite different, both movies were very inspiring. And, my head kept coming back to the fact that they were similar. Not just in the length of the movies, or the fact that they had themes or that they were telling stories. Something else was smacking me across the face in each journey. The part that had me feeling inspired. But, I couldn’t figure out what it was. What was that thing smacking me?!

So, I stood in that feeling and breathed. I sat in silence and dark and just breathed. I breathed in the comments made by the young women after the Miss Representation. I breathed in my notes from Miss Representation. I breathed in my daughter’s comments after The Lorax. I breathed in the conversation David and I had on the drive home after The Lorax. I breathed it all in…. my thoughts blended together with my breath. My breath took my thoughts around the earth and back. And, what came back to me was a loud sound of a single word… COMPASSION.

I was shocked. I expected to hear GREED or EVIL or something negative, but instead, I hear the beautiful word.. COMPASSION.

I rumble through the notes in my head…Compassion? Seriously?! Universe, please help me make sense of this word… compassion. Why is this the word you serve me… let me see if I can break it down for myself here with you as my companion.

I’m not sure I saw much compassion for women in Miss Representation? The stats were alarming.

  • 78% of girls hate their bodies by the age of 15
  • 65% of girls have an eating disorder
  • Women are 56% of the population yet only hold 17% of position in Congress (less now that Olympia Snowe isn’t running again) and 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs

So, where the heck do that word come in? Why compassion? The movie presented some thought on why these stats were our reality. Why women were struggling so much at so many levels. Why men saw women as objects to be obtained and why women accepted it. But, compassion? Ummm… Wow. Not what I expected to hear in my head.

The Lorax. Was that a compassionate movie? What happens?


SPOILER ALERT, if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie and want to be surprised, stop reading.

Well, an individual called an once-ler found an amazing tree (Truffula) with beautiful tuffs that allowed him to make a “thneed”. People buy the thneeds like crazy. He can’t keep up and begins to cut down trees (although he promised The Lorax he would never cut down a tree). His business ends because he cuts down the last tree and cannot make anymore thneeds.

Compassion? Where?

But wait, there is more to both of the stories….

I left out the part in The Lorax where Ted, a young man living in Thneed, goes looking for a tree and the once-ler. He finds him, asked for a tree and instead hears the story. He returns to the once-ler, now an old man, living alone with nothing at all but his sad thoughts, to continue to hear the story of The Lorax and the Truffula trees despite the obstacles in his way. He is finally given a seed by the once-ler and is told “unless he does something, nothing will ever change”. And, he does…. he plants the seed and hopes it will change the world. He has deep compassion for the once-ler and his fellow human beings. He also believes that he can change the way of the future.

With Miss Representation, I found compassion in the women who sat around the table with me. These women, they were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and will be great leader,s for which I cannot wait! One actually said “we need to get everyone to see this movie, it needs to be broadcast everywhere. Men and women both need to see this movie!” She felt compelled to show it to everyone because she believed that if they saw it, they would surely be changed for the better. She showed deep compassion for those around her being able and willing to change.

It’s just like in The Lorax as the young boy believes that if he can get a tree to grow then everyone will love trees. Once they see that tree, it will change everything. If we can get this movie to everyone, this will surely change everything.

I know, it’s idealist.
I know that we, jaded adults see things differently. Our hard knocks make it hard to see it any other way. Our lens have been fogged up.

But, for an instant, in my breath, I was taken to another place. I feel my lens has been wiped clean. I felt like I had arrived in a place of DEEP, heartfelt compassion. One with breathtaking views and beautiful scenery.

Compassion

So while we adults all continue to complain about the state of our country and the fact that we’re losing good people in government (see Olympia Snowe). While we continue to argue over what is at play here: greed, ego, power, anger, hatred, etc.

Compassion

I ask you to make this pledge with me. Show everyone around you compassion. Even those you disagree with. Those you agree with. Those you dislike intensely. Those who make you life horrible. Those who make your life easy. Bring compassion back to the mainstream.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s not. We’ll fail and fall and make mistakes, but then we should get right back up, dust ourselves off and try again.

We need to take a lesson from all the young people with their idealist, fog-less glasses because in the end…

COMPASSION WILL WIN

I leave you with the quote at the end of The Lorax that made me cry and smile at the same time…

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

Quote by Dr. Seuss in The Lorax

Bold Goals for Database Sherpa

As I mentioned before, I’ve been working with a great marketing firms, DVQ Studio. The company is run by two amazing women, Emily and Gretchen. Brilliant and nice.. combinations I admire.

Anyway, the process started with a lot of questions and note taking. It forced me to think about the future of Database Sherpa. This was interesting, because I’ve been really taking it one day at a time. I don’t like to think too far ahead because I tend to get distracted by the big pictures and move to that before I’m ready.

But, I know that thinking about the future is important. It keeps the momentum moving forward. But, I need to focus on the here and now. So, while those big dreams about the future of Database Sherpa are buried in Emily and Gretchen’s notes, I wanted to share some of my current bold dreams:

  • Bringing joy and compassion to database development.
  • Blending yogic and Buddhist principles into consulting.
  • Bringing in another Sherpa.
To make these dreams happen, I need to get busy. Soon, you will be seeing my newly transformed web site and materials that outline how joy and compassion can be brought into database development.
Secondly, I’ll be documenting the practice of being a Database Sherpa. My advisor, Veronica, will be helping me along the way.
Finally, by the end of the year, one Sherpa project will be lead by Veronica to refine the process and documentation.
This is a very exciting time! There is much change in the horizon, but change that will come with compassion and love.
I can’t wait to share this with you all as things are completed. So, until that time, I wish you peace, joy and love.