A Year in Review: My Favorite 7 HR Philosopher Blog Posts

“I will keep constant watch over myself and — most usefully — will put each day up for review. For this is what makes us evil — that none of us looks back upon our own lives. We reflect upon only that which we are about to do. And yet our plans for the future descend from the past.” — Seneca,

The last few years have instilled many lessons on humanity. Probably far too many to count. However, I choose to find the ones that are meaningful to me. One of the key lessons I have learned is resilience. I have learned to understand that we have been here before, and we will be here again. So, keep on swimming. That’s all we can really do.

The other lesson I learned, and continue to learn every day, is one of gratitude. I am grateful for a great many things. One of which is those who take their limited time here on earth to read my blog posts. THANK YOU. I truly mean that. THANK YOU for reading, sharing, commenting, adding to the conversation – all of it. I write for myself, but at the end of the day, I am truly grateful that others find value in my thoughts and words.

So, I wanted to take an opportunity to reshare my 7 favorite blog posts in 2021. Why seven? Why not? Seemed like a good number. There are seven days in the week. There were Seven Sages of Ancient Greece. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers? Whatever!

Again, thank you all for the support in 2021. It was a truly blessed year for the HR Philosopher Blog, and I hope to continue the conversation well beyond! IN no particular order, my favorite blog posts of 2021 were:

Post 1: Panel Preview: Why Discuss The Obstacle Is the Way?

Original Date: February 7, 2021

Why I like: The book The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday has influenced MANY lives including my good friends Olga Piehler, Erich Kurschat, and Carlos Escobar. The four of us put on a free panel discussion to discuss the book and its implications on professional and personal life. The panel was a smashing success that attracted over 100 registered participants! I wrote this blog post to help promote and discuss “the why” behind the panel.

Favorite Line: “Philosophy is about becoming a better person, not just a smarter one. Studying wisdom is an action. Philosophers take words from pages and put them into practice in their daily lives for the goal of changing oneself – and by extension, the world – for the better.”

Post 2: Black History Lessons: Why HR Needs to Study the Past

Original Date: February 20, 2021

Why I like: I have always been an amateur historian. I studied it when I was a little kid. I studied it intently in high school, and I went on to major in History in undergrad school. I am also someone who likes to dig into what I am reading and studying. Unfortunately, many American history courses and shows brush over the more unsavory aspects of our history. I wrote this piece as a tribute to Black Americans, whose history is one of deep pain and injustice – yet perseverance, triumph, and honor. I wanted to bring forth some of the aspects most White Americans don’t know, forgot, or willfully subvert.

Favorite Line: “What does this have to do with HR? Everything. The latest trend in HR is to recognize (finally?) that HR is people work. Workplaces are a direct reflection of society. They mirror one another. That’s why it’s so important to see posts about Black doctors, Black inventors, Black CEOs, and Black superheroes. For our entire history, Americans have been taught that Blacks couldn’t be any of those things! HR can be the voice in the room that helps push workplace systems towards equity and belonging. HR is an ally that can push cultural and policy initiatives to allow structures for Black success – not to be a reason for their success because many Blacks don’t need that help, per say. They just need what everyone else needs – structural support. HR needs to fight to create the workplace structures necessary for success, ensure that all have access to those structures, and then get out of the way. Many Black professionals have succeeded in the past and present despite overwhelming systemic roadblocks. HR has a sacred duty to help remove those roadblocks and move aside.”

Post 3: HR, Be Water

Original Date: April 11, 2021

Why I like: This one is not only one of my favorite from 2021, this is one of my favorite pieces I have ever written. It combines my love of Eastern philosophy, especially the ones espoused by badass Kungfu philosopher Bruce Lee. To be in HR is to be flexible. If you’re not, you’re doing it wrong!

Favorite Line: “The universe is complicated. Nature is complex, probably far more so than our minds can comprehend. So, too, are our lives, since we are part of nature and not separate. How do people cope with this complexity that we do not understand? We form boxes, categories. We then put ideas and thoughts into these superficial spaces, which is limiting and constricting. It’s a great coping mechanism for hunter-gathers trying to survive on the ice fields of Eurasia; but humans have long since moved past our primitive surroundings, and it’s time our thought patterns move along with it. The sabretooth cat isn’t going to jump out and eat us anymore. Let go of the notion that there’s something scary hiding behind the bush.”

Post 4: The Tao of HR

Original Date: April 18, 2021

Why I like: This piece was a sequel/continuation of a piece I wrote called The Vinegar Tasters, Pooh Bear, and HR. It is also a continuation of my exploring Eastern philosophies and how they can affect HR practitioners. This piece is particularly special as I was awarded an MVP Award from Human Resources Today in the Workplace Wellness Category! I am humbled that this piece got such prestigious recognition. I wrote it as a way to remind myself to be healthy I must “let it go.” Knowing others received that message, too, means a lot.

Favorite Line: “This is about letting go of control. It’s about building systems that can function without (HR folks). It’s not about abdicating responsibility or ownership. It’s about building systems for people, not for HR.”

Post 5: The Time That Is Given to Us: A Eulogy

Original Date: July 9, 2021

Why I like: I don’t like this one. My brother passed away a few days before publishing. It’s the only reason I wrote it. I wish I didn’t write it, but I did. I just hope it helps bring peace to someone else who was going through the pain of loss that my family felt.

Favorite Line: “This is the power of memento mori. For it is death that gives life meaning. Because one day we will not be here, and many of our days have already come and gone, we should do all that is within our power to make this moment count for all its worth. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is not promised. All we have is the time that is given to us. So, let’s live there, and focus on that.”

Post 6: HR is Professional Wrestling

Original Date: September 17, 2021

Why I like: I grew up on professional wrestling. I love the theater, the art, the gymnastics. It’s brilliant and beautiful when done well! All things in life are wrestling, in some way, HR included. So, I took some wrestling terminology and applied it to the profession that I work hard to master!

Favorite Line: “It’s a lie that wrestling is ‘fake.’ You take a bump off a six-foot ladder and tell me it’s fake. No, wrestling is ‘scripted.’ It’s a show. It’s an art form that is part athleticism, part choreography. So, when someone says “it’s a work” it’s part of the act. I think what leads to the downfall of many potentially great HR professionals is a lack of foresight, a lack of strategic ‘working.’”

Post 7: Future Ready HR! A #WISHRM21 Interview with THE Jennifer McClure!!!

Original Date: October 10, 2021

Why I like: One of my heroes is Jennifer McClure. There is an old saying that states one should never meet their heroes – lest they be disappointed. That does NOT hold true with Jennifer. I have met her on several occasions, even being so lucky as to dine with her (and the awesome Laurie Ruttiman!!!) in St. Louis. Jennifer is gracious, humble, accommodating, and generous! I had the immense privilege of interviewing her for the Wisconsin State SHRM Conference this past October. Her answers were thoughtful, enlightening, and snarky. All the things that make her wonderful! This was certainly a highlight of the year for me.

Favorite Line: “Great HR leaders really understand that their role is to ensure that their organization has the people that it needs, with the skills they must have to deliver upon strategic objectives. That requires creativity, innovation, and a willingness to think differently, because the world is always changing. “Legacy HR” was always about maintaining something, or keeping things the same. That’s never going to be a path forward, or to great impact!” – Jennifer McClure

Published by Paul LaLonde

Husband. Father. Passionate about HR, helping people, and doing the right thing. Also, heavy metal, craft beer, and general nerd things! #SHRM19Blogger. Find me on Twitter at @HRPaul49 and LinkedIn. Thoughts, views and opinions on this site are solely my own and do not represent those of my employer or any other entity ​with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated.

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