Showing posts with label Ambition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ambition. Show all posts

November 20, 2018

How Does It feel At The Top

A colleague told me something interesting about what it feels like at the top.

He said:
The 360 degree view is good, but it get's windy at times!

I thought this was pretty smart, and one reason that many people opt out of moving into senior and executive positions in their organizations. 

Yes, it's great to be able to lead and have more visibility, influence, and impact. 

But at the same time, this does not come for free or without risks. 

At the top of the pyramid or corporate offices or whatever, there is opportunity. 

Yet, your dealing with other top honchos with strong personalities, egos, and often harsh ways of dealing with others and conflict can be perilous for many. 

My father used to tell me his philosophy:
Better a little less, but you know what you have. 

There is definitely wisdom in those words. 

Maybe as with most things in life, there is a time and place for everything. 

It is great to have the opportunity to lead.

It's also not bad to have a time to follow and contribute in that way. 

What's important is that whatever role your in at the time, that you do it with integrity and passion to do good. 

So how does it feel at the top--sure, it's a nice view, but it can get very windy too. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

August 20, 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017

In honor of the solar eclipse tomorrow, the local grocery store was selling these cool celebratory pies!

Everyone is excited about this eclipse that is cutting a path across the U.S. 

The last one that did this was almost 100 years ago in 1918.

It's a magnificent thing to see two amazing and large celestial spheres like this literally cross paths. 
"Hi sun."
"Hello moon."
"Nice to meet you!" 

We are so small in the realm of these universal things...it's almost funny how big we think we are. 

Yet, we have so much ambition and desire to be bigger--to solve problems, innovate, and delve into the depths of the sea and to the far reaches of heavens.

You can blot out the sun, but we'll still figure out all the details on precisely when, where, and which goo goo goggles to wear so we don't hurt our eyes. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 21, 2014

Disease Of The Ordinary

Wow, I love these glasses--red, big, and with wings!

I asked the store owner about them, and he said he gets these mostly for (window) display purposes.


But one lady actually bought a pair similar to this for a big event she was going to. 


I think these would certainly make a statement (however crazy) when someone walks into the room wearing these. 


Maybe that's the point for many people--to stand out!


People want to be noticed, special, and be thought of as something or as somebodies. 


Being 1 of 7 billion people is not very satisfying--so how do we differentiate ourselves?

  • The fancy house and cars we have
  • The clothing and accessories we wear and carry
  • The trophy wife or husband that hangs on us
  • Our own physical good looks, fitness, and skills
  • The prestigious university we went to and the degrees we possess
  • Climbing the career ladder and our titles and offices
  • Our pedigree from kings, clergy, hollywood, rich, or otherwise famous or successful people
  • The children (and grandchildren) that we rear to be smart, successful, well-integrated, etc.?
  • How religious we are, how much charity we give, the kindness we show others?

This is something that we all struggle with as human beings--what is a life of purpose, meaning and how do we know that we've achieved it?  

I think the problem for many is that we measure ourselves by what we have and not who we are. Perhaps, this is a clear mistaken case of quantity over quality.  


Down in Florida, I see so many "haves" and "have nots"--but it's not enough for the haves to have, but if they aren't showing it off, getting stares, having people talk about them, then they seem to feel uncomfortably ordinary. 


What is this disease of the ordinary that people must ever run to escape from--and even with the reddest, wildest, wing glasses or whatever--will they ever feel truly happy and satisfied inside?


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

January 11, 2014

Work Life IMBALance

Mental, emotional, and physical health often feeds off of maintaining a good balance in life. 

Yet, the financial services industry has been notorious for making people work unearthly hours, but also paying them unG-dly sums of money, especially in end-of-year bonuses. 

I remember reading the other year that the average bonus at Goldman Sachs was something like $750,000!

The price people pay for this is work, work, and more work (and like in the film, Wall Street, often some very unscrupulous behavior as well).

Many people get apartments down by Wall Street, so when they stroll out of the office at 1 am (maybe that's a good night), they can get to their place and clock a few hours of sleep before it's back to the office--in record time. 

Does the wealth accumulation and perhaps early retirement make it worth it--I guess to some people it does. 

Today, the New York Times reported how financial firms like Bank of America (BOA) Merrill Lynch is perhaps seeing the ill effects of this misguided "human capital strategy."

Finally, they are now encouraging people to "take four days off a month" and we're taking about weekends. 

That still leaves you with 6 days a week of work and typically 90 hours per week in the office!

Anyway, this is what they call being "committed to making the work experience better."

This is coming off the heels of a 21-year old intern at BOA that died last Summer in the office "after working three consecutive nights" even though they attributed the death to epilepsy. 

Work is good and healthy, except when it's extreme and not. Work-a-holism is a disease and money is at the root cause. 

It's great to be committed to the organization, mission, people and to doing your best, but it's another to sacrifice your soul, health, family and friends, and other interests that make you a well-rounded person. 

Ambition is healthy, greed is deadly--and if you have to come up with three lemons to see that, then it may be too late. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

August 6, 2013

Teamwork, There Is No I

I really love this saying--"There is no I in Team."

A colleague said very astutely, "even though some try to put it in there!"

Teams work best, when everyone does their part and contributes, and no one makes it about their personal agendas, ambitions, and issues. 

A team implies a large degree of selflessness where we do what is best for the team and the mission we serve, and we don't get caught up in personal ego trips. 

When people place themselves above the team--and they try to impose that "I" right on in there, then rather than teamwork, we end up with rivalry and conflict.

From my experience, those who try to take the credit for themselves--typically end up exposed for who they really are and without the honor they chase.

But those who give recognition genuinely and generously to others are in turn respected for their contributions to the mission as well as to the team. 

Selflessly united as a team we can assuredly succeed, but selfishly divided as just a bunch of I's, we will most certainly fail. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

January 5, 2013

The Nature of Envy and Ambition

I watched a really good movie the other day called "The Violin."

It was about a civil war in a South American country where freedom fighters are vastly outnumbered and outgunned and an old violinist tries to smuggle weapons and ammunition to his people in his violin case. 

At one point in the movie, their village in overrun by the army, and the boy's mother and sister are killed. 

The little boy asks the grandfather to explain the horrible life events that have befallen them to him and the grandfather tells how G-d created the world with good people as well as people the are envious and ambitious and those people sought to take everything away from the others--no matter how much they accumulated, they wanted more.

I thought about this with respect to a quote I had learned in Yeshiva that "absolute power corrupts absolutely"--that those who have unbridled power and ability, will use it without limitation and in wrong and harmful ways to others, because they can.

Envy and ambition and power--can be used for good--when people see others succeed and are motivated to work hard and do their best too. 

But when people become blindly consumed with it for its own sake--they can't stand anyone having more than them or even having anything--they think they should just as well have it all--then they will not just work hard to achieve it, but they will act out against others to unjustly take what they want and as much as they want. 

My father always taught me never to be jeoulous of anyone. He told me that if you knew what really went on in their lives--what their basket [of good and bad] was--you wouldn't trade places with them in a million years. 

And I believe he was right. Often when I know someone only superficially and their life looks so grand and "perfect," it is tempting to think they have it all or even just better, but then when you get to know their life challenges--sickness, abuse, death, loneliness, and other hardships--you realize how things could always be a lot worse and how truly lucky you are. 

Of course, there will there always be people who are superficial, materialistic, and can't control their urge for power and things--and they will try to take more than their fair due and by force if necessary. In the end, will it bring them real fulfillment and happiness, the answer is obvious. 

I believe it was my Oma (grandmother), a survivor of The Holocaust, who used to say "count your blessings"--she was right. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

January 20, 2012

That Special Cane

After seeing one of my colleagues with this souped-up cane at work this week, I learned that this is the special gift for someone reaching their 50th birthday.
This is not an ordinary bamboo cane as you can see, but one with a rear-view mirror for passing, a honking horn for warning people out of your path, and even a little green change purse for the toll. :-)
While I am no spring chicken anymore, I am still not old enough to receive my special cane--oh shucks!
But this did give me pause to think about what it means as we get older and the weeks and months at work turn into years and decades.
Before we know it, the up-hill climb of life, plateau and eventually heads in the other direction.
It reminds me of whenever someone asks my father how old he is...he flips the numbers--so for example, when he was 72, he would say I "turned" 27 and so on
It's not easy getting old(er), we all want to be back in our youth or prime of life, which my father calls the time period, "when the world is too small," and I think what he means is our aspirations are large.
This week at work, I learned that one of my colleagues who retired just a few years ago passed away from one of the horrible "C's" -- it was terrible to hear this.
Moreover, it reminded me of other colleagues who I have seen work hard their whole life, sacrificing and putting off all types of enjoyment, and waiting for that big day when they would retire and then they "could live the good life."
And one guy, I remember, did retire after putting in his time and within about 3 months, he dropped dead of a massive coronary--I don't think he even made it with heart beating to the hospital.
Life is too short! And of course, life is hard--that's how we are tested and grow--but we can't wait for the good times. We need to savor every moment of our lives, appreciate our loved ones , and enjoy what we do day-in and day-out.
Else, we may miss the finest times that we have here on earth and then we really will be left holding that special cane and looking back at our lives in the rear-view mirror wondering why we wasted so much precious, precious time.

Share/Save/Bookmark

July 31, 2011

Technology Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous is famous for their program to help people attain and maintain sobriety.
With the latest addiction being everything technology, there is now a movement toward "technology detox" or the AA equivalent, Technology Anonymous.
I remember reading months ago about people so addicted to the Internet and online video games that they literally had to be institutionalized to get them to eat, sleep, and return to some sort of normal life again.
Apparently, technology taken to the extreme can be no less an addiction than smoking, drinking, of fooling around.
And there is even a Facebook page for Internet and Technology Addiction Anonymous (ITAA).
I've recently even heard of challenges for people to turn off their technology for even 24 hours; apparently this is a tough thing even for just that one day--wonder if you can do it?
The Wall Street Journal (5 July 2011) reported on someone who "signed up for a special [vacation] package called "digital detox," [that] promised a 15% discount if you agree to leave your digital devices behind or surrender them at check in."
The message is clear that people "need a push to take a break from their screens."
Here are brief some statistics from the WSJ on technology addiction even while on vacation:
- 79% expect to remain connected for all or some of the time on their next vacation.
- 68% (up from 58% in 2010) say they will check email while on vacation--daily or more frequently--for work.
- 33% admitted to hiding from friends and family to check email on vacation.
- Also, 33% check email on vacation while engaged in fast-paced activities such as skiing, biking, and horseback riding.
For people routinely checking email as many as 50-100 times a day, going on vacation and leaving technology behind can be a real shock to our social computing systems. Should I even mention the possibility of not logging unto Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flikr, etc. I see people convulsing and going into withdrawal just at the thought.
So what is this technology addiction we are all on? There's no nicotine or alcohol or testosterone involved (except in some extreme video games, maybe).
Incredibly, for many technology is the first thing we check in the morning and last before we close our eyes at night.
It even lays on the night table right next to us--our spouse on one side and our smartphone on the other. Which do you cuddle with more?
It's scary--technology is an addiction that is not physical, but rather emotional.
It is the thrill of who is calling, emailing, texting, friending, or following us and what opportunities will it bring.
Like Vegas or a lottery ticket...technology holds for us the possibility of love, friendships, sexual encounters, new job opportunities, fame, fortune, travel, and so on.
There is no limit, because technology is global and unbridled and so is our ambition, desires, hopes, and even some greed.
(Source Photo: here)

Share/Save/Bookmark

February 13, 2010

Fire In The Belly

Recently I read a classic article in Harvard Business Review (March-April 1992) called “Managers and Leaders,” by Abraham Zaleznik, in which he differentiates between these two frequently confused types of people.

Some highlights:

Leaders

Managers

Personality

Shape the goals

Solve the problems

Decision-making

Open up new options

“Limit choices” to execute

Relationships

Emotion-driven

Process-oriented

Risks

Prudent risk-takers

Conservative risk-avoidance

Sense of self

Strong and separate

Based on the organization

In my experience, Zaleznik was correct in observing that leaders and managers are very different. In particular, I have seen the following.

· Discipline: Leadership is more of an art, and management is more of a science.

· Orientation: Leaders focus on “the what,” (i.e. effectiveness) and managers on “the how” (i.e. efficiency).

· Aptitude: Leaders are visionaries and motivators, and managers are skilled at execution and organization.

· Ambitions: Leaders seek to be transformational catalysts for change, and managers (as Zaleznik points out) seek perpetuation of the institution.

Given that leaders and managers are inherently dissimilar, advancement from management to leadership is not an absolute, nor is it necessarily a good thing. However, many managers aspire to be leaders, and with training, coaching, and mentoring, some can make this leap. Those who can make their mark as leaders are incredibly valuable to organizations because they know how to transform, shape, and illuminate the way forward. Of course, the role that managers play is incredibly valuable as well (probably undervalued), but nevertheless, they support and execute on the vision of the leader and as such a leader commands a premium.

What I think we can take away from Zaleznik’s work, then, is that a leader should never be thought of as just a manager “on steroids.” Instead, leaders and managers are distinct, and the synergy between them is healthy, as they each fulfill a different set of needs. In this vein, when organizations seek to recruit from within the ranks for leadership positions, it would be wise for them to look at candidates more discriminatingly than just looking at their managerial experience. (In fact, counter to the conventional wisdom, the best leader may never have been a manager at all, or may have been a mediocre or even a horrible one!) We cannot just expect that good managers will necessarily make good leaders (although to some extent success may breed success), but must look for what fundamentally makes a leader and ensure that we are getting what is needed and unique.

So what can a person do if they want to be a leader? In my view, it starts with believing in yourself, then genuinely wanting to achieve a leadership position, and after that being willing to do what it takes to get there. Baseline efforts include advancing your education, hard work, building relationships and credibility, and so forth, but this is only part of the equation.

The truth of the matter is, you can go to an Ivy League school and leadership boot camp for twenty years, but if you don’t have passion, determination, and a sense of mission or cause that comes from deep inside, then you are not yet a leader. These things cannot be taught or handed over to a person like a baton in a relay race. Rather, they are fundamental to who you are as a person, what drives you, and what you have to give to others and to the organization.

Regardless of what role we play, each of us has a unique gift to share with the world. We need only to find the courage to look inside, discover what it is, value its inherent worth (no matter what the dollar value placed on it), and pursue it.


Share/Save/Bookmark