Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A-Z Blog Challenge: Z is for The Z-Factor by Mickey Mills

It's that time again!!!  Unwritten and some 1000 other blogs participated last year, and this year looks to be even bigger! Just like last year, I've opened up the blog to host 26 fabulous writers, with each day of the challenge representing the letters of the alphabet from A-Z. I've asked each writer to focus on something that is personal to them, so we can learn more about each other. 

Please check out some of the other blogs in the challenge here: 


Z is for...The Z-Factor 

Mickey Mills

For you math geeks out there I am not talking about the measure of statistical effect size. Any statistic not involving runs-batted-in or lap-times on a race car has the numbing characteristics of Novocain, guaranteed to close my eyes faster than granny’s Thanksgiving turkey dinner. A statistical Z-factor is reserved for the domain of math wizards and prognosticators.

For you geometrical pundits, I’m not talking about the Z dimension either, although it is much closer than the aforementioned Z-factor. It does involve measurement, not necessarily in numerical increments like inches or millimeters. It’s more intangible than that – it’s emotional and spiritual.

I’m talking about that thing inside us. It’s the thing that says I’m going to be an artist, or a doctor, or a soldier, or any number of noble, or not so noble endeavors. It’s the thing that says I am going to be pleasant to talk to or a conversational cripple.

If we relate it to the geometrical metaphor, there are the X and Y dimensions of our lives, the mundane information which pushes us into a cubby-hole from day one, with X being specific, unchanging details carried with us from birth canal to coffin. Not being cliché but things like: Who’s your daddy? Who’s your momma? What color is your hair, your eyes, your skin? Do you talk like Tinker Bell or Ty Cobb?

On the Y side it’s things like – where you went to school, what kind of foods you ate, the people you associated with, the movies or TV shows you liked or disliked. It’s the teachers you admired and the teachers you hated, the sports you played or the music you listened to. In many ways from the crib to high school and beyond, the Y’s molded your Z, like writing the screenplay which would become the theater of your life.

The Z-factor is related to character, feelings, wants, desires, and other emotional substance. It’s not a constant and it drifts in amplitude and direction through the years, but at its core, the Z-factor is your life’s rudder. It tries to steer but it fights a constant battle of external influence. Like the wind and current pushes against a ship’s rudder, your pathway is cleared or barricaded by forces we can’t control.

The moment we leave the warmth of the womb and inspire our first breath our Z factor is beginning to shape our future. The last thing we do in this life is expire, we exhale that last breath, the chest stops rising and falling, and at that moment our Z-factor is complete. So between inspiration and expiration our lot in life is to learn, to be, to do, to grow, to serve, to live, to laugh, to cry and ultimately to die.

At that instant my hope is the good of my life far outweighs the bad. To that end my Z is my compass.

Mickey & Pearl in Colorado - 2009
Mickey Mills has published at EveryDayFiction, Write-in Magazine, Everyday Weirdness and other others. His debut novel, Haunting Injustice, has been described as: “…a bona fide page-turning thriller.” His follow-up novel, Haunting Charleston sits unfinished in the crevices of a spinning electronic disk begging for completion.

He lives in Shawnee, Ok. When not writing or making a living designing world class PowerPoint presentations and graphic art, and the weather allows, he might be found on a remote highway somewhere working Pearl’s odometer ever closer to 100,000 miles.


  1. Teh z-factor is complete with the end of this challenge. Your words about a life well lived are beautiful.
    A - Z Challenge
    Website blog:

  2. Whew, I thought this was going to be a math lesson but turned out to be a life lesson, and a very good one at that.

    Now, I can blame my Z-Factor for some of the things I do.

    A very nice and well written article, Mickey.

  3. Interesting way of putting this. So would you equivocate the Z factor to a concept like soul, spirit, essence of who we really are? Something like that.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  4. Someone sent me a message earlier which I think sums up the concept well. She said:

    "So you have x and y (nurture and nature, or genetics and environment), then you have Z factor which I would define as character."

    By golly, I think she's got it.

  5. What an incredible end to this A to Z challenge. You don't always have very much control over your X and Y, but you do have control over your Z which can make a crappy X and Y turn out okay. :) LOL! I used algebra today...sort of.

    Thanks, Mickey. I enjoyed your piece. Much wisdom to be found here.

  6. Clever Z-Day post.
    Congratulations on finishing the A-Z!

  7. wonderful post....and so true. I never thought of life this way. Thanks for sharing....I might need to make sure my Z factor is working right. :)

    Congrats to everyone on the A to Z challenge....so happy it's done, but sad in some ways.

    A Dose of Jules


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