Showing posts with label Choices. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Choices. Show all posts

March 1, 2021

Lots of Lenses

Wow, each of these are different eyeglass lenses. 

So many prescription strengths. 

Trial and error to figure out what is the right one. 

Hold it up to your eye or flip it into the machine. 

How's things looking now?

A little stronger, no a little weaker. 

Wait, stronger.

No, weaker.

Ah this is nuts. 

How can I even see what the heck I am choosing. 

Seeing is believing.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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January 27, 2020

Life Equated With Hate

Does anyone get this sign from the Pro-Life rally last week?
Pro-Life is Pro-Hate

But equating Pro-Life with hate doesn't add up.

It actually seems the opposite that if you want to sanctify and protect life that you are loving people, not hating. 

Sometimes to make a point, people will just say anything. 

It's related to "gaslighting" where they want to manipulate you into questioning your own beliefs, values, and sanity.

Perhaps, throwing around terms like hate just dilutes the real meaning of it similar to making other false accusations against people. 

We need to argue the issues, and not attack each other. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 23, 2019

Hopefully, All's Well That Ends Well

I liked this Hebrew sign that says (translated):
When the end is good, all is good. 

Or as we commonly say:
All's well that end's well. 

Lot of truth to this. 

And there are so many languages that talk to this.

I remember my father used to say it in German as well.

When things end well, it's as if everything went well. And when things end badly, it's as if everything was bad. 

The human mind seems to focus on the last thing (and forgets virtually everything leading up to it). 

Perhaps, we justify the means with the end (i.e. all the time and effort leading up to it). 

Or maybe we recap our lives as either a success or failure by how things ended up. 

In 20/20 hindsight, we can see the consequences of our actions.

- Was all the hard work worth it?

- Did we even focus on the right priorities and goals in life?

- Were the choices and decisions we made well-founded? 

- What was the impact on ourselves, our loved ones, and more broadly?

We look for meaning and purpose in our lives, and hopefully in the end when we look back, we are blessed to see that it was all for the good. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 22, 2019

You Ended Up In Hell City

So a friend told me something funny.

It was about being given what appears to be a wonderful opportunity, but in reality it's not all roses. 

In short, it went something like this:
There was an exciting competition and a prize at the end. 
Everyone prepared and worked hard to win it. 
But when the competition was over, what was the prize?
The 2nd place was two weeks in Philadelphia. 
The 1st place was one week in Philadelphia. 

I had to think about that for a second, but that is really pretty funny and true. 

No not about Philadelphia, but about life--that what we often mistakenly want so badly and strive for with all our energies, and then only to find out that it really wasn't as good or amazing for us and our families as we imagined. 

Yes, very often you set your sights on certain goals to win the competition, but then you find out that the BIG prize ("first place") is really not something to get excited about, because it's in Philadelphia!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 30, 2018

Alternatives Are More Valuable Than Criticism

So one lesson of life that I have learned is about criticism. 

It's easy to criticize, but tough to come up with real solutions. 

Criticizing someone else, does not usually provoke a good response. 

UNLESS, you can provide a bona fide better alternative in a loving way. 

It's important to solve problems and not just create new ones. 

Criticizing without an alternative just causes anxiety and frustration in the other person. 

But when you says something isn't right and why, and provide a better alternative, now the other person can see concretely what you are talking about, and they know they have options and that you are trying to help. 

No one wants to be told they are no good or their choices are no good. 

But people don't mind and perhaps may even embrace being told that there is even something better for them out there.

Don't criticize, instead give alternatives that are good for the other person. 

That's real love without being a jerk. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 17, 2018

What Is Life?

Here is a great parable that speaks to the meaning of life:

A man died.

When he realized it, he saw God coming closer with a suitcase in his hand.

Dialog between God and Dead Man:

God: *Alright son, it’s time to go*

Man: So soon? I had a lot of plans.

God: *I am sorry but, it’s time to go*

Man: What do you have in that suitcase?

God: *Your belongings*

Man: My belongings? You mean my things...clothes...money...

God; *Those things were never yours, they belong to the Earth*

Man: Is it my memories?

God: *No. They belong to Time*

Man: Is it my talent?

God: *No. They belong to Divine Providence*

Man: Is it my friends and family?

God: *No son. They belong to the Path you traveled*

Man: Is it my wife and children?

God: *No. they belong to your Heart*

Man: Then it must be my body

God: *No, No... It belongs to Dust*

Man: Then surely it must be my Soul!

God: *You are sadly mistaken son. Your Soul belongs to me.*

Man: I never owned anything?

God: *That’s Right. You never owned anything*.

Man (with tears in his eyes and full of fear took the suitcase from God's hand and asks God): Then? What was mine?

God: *Your choices.*

Every choice you made was yours.

Create each moment by filling it with meaning.

Do G-d's will at every moment.

Choose to act kindly to others in every moment.

Life is the choices of every moment.


(Adapted from and with Gratitude to Minna Blumenthal for sharing this with me)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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February 26, 2018

What's Free And What's Not

I like this saying and wanted to share it:
"The dream is free, but the hustle is sold separately."

Yes, this is the home of the free. 

And we are all able to dream BIG dreams.

However, without the hard work and hustle, dream are not made, but rather they die on the vine. 

So dream big--imagine the very best.

Reach for the stars...

And then work your butt off to make it happen.

Choose carefully. 

No one can have it all.

You have to prioritize.

Also, you need to balance. 

In the end:
Dreams + Hard Work + Blessing From G-d

That's success by whatever standards you measure. 

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 2, 2017

Can You Do No Right?

Do you ever feel like you can do no right?

That whatever you do or choose, you are opening yourself up to criticism by others or more importantly from yourself.

That's because in life every moment is a choice and each selection of what you do with your time and efforts means by definition that you are not doing something else important then.

- Take the mother or father who chooses to spend time raising their children, but then are not focused as much on their career.

- Take the student who is working really hard on getting those good grades and SAT scores, but then are not doing as much or well with extracurricular activities like sports or socializing. 

- Take the spiritual or religious person or clergy who chooses to focuses their life studying and performing holy speech and deeds but not so much other earthly and material matters. 

- Take the athlete who works out and eats right focusing on toning and honing their body and physical skills but doesn't spend as much time and effort on intellectual interests or more standard career pursuits. 

- Take the extrovert who focuses on building and maintaining relationships and networks--family, friends, community, colleagues, others--but are not putting the same time and attention to enhancing their other knowledge, skills, and abilities. 

So you say, but why can't we just do everything we're supposed to do, and simply balance?

Well, that is what we all try to do in our own way, but still each time and every moment you are doing one thing, you are not at that moment doing something else or being somewhere else. 

So that causes tension, perhaps a tug-of-war within ourselves, stress, and even guilt. 

The impact is that we often run from one thing to another or we get distracted in what we are doing--"Honey can you answer the phone?"

Some classic examples are when we race home from the office to pick the kids up from school or while playing with sweet little Johny or Suzie, the phone rings and and we have to pick up that call from the boss at work. 

As they say, you can't be--physically or mentally--in two places at the same time!

Hence, now the movement for mindfulness, being in the moment and focused.

But as the demands in life forever ask more of us--even amidst ever greater technology and automation to assist us--somehow we can never do enough because of course, the bar gets raised for ourselves and the competition gets tougher from those who make choices to focus on specific areas that we are not as much. 

So say that you are splitting your time between work and family, but someone else is single or doesn't have kids and they are full in with work, staying late, going in weekends, getting those extra credentials, and just putting in every extra effort there...well, how do you think you will stack up?

Yes, some of us recognize the importance of work-life balance and even focusing incrementally across the many important areas of our life: physically, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and socially.

Never-the-less every moment, in a time- and space-bound world, we are forced to choose this or that. 

There is no one right answer for everyone!

And every choice in every moment is the opportunity for you to criticize yourself or for others to criticize you that you weren't paying attention, focused, doing your best, etc.

But who cares--it's our life to live and we can live it as we want?

True, however as inevitably important things or relationships break down or fail, have mistakes or errors, or aren't going as we would ultimately want or dream they should--we ask ourselves, could we have done things differently or somehow managed our time, efforts, and focus better.

(Source Photo: Online Advertisement provided by Dannielle Blumenthal)
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September 22, 2013

Black and White and Gray All Over

My trip to South Florida this week was full of juxtapositions and lessons for me as a person:

1) Attention and Inattention—There were 2 father-son pairs in this gorgeous infinity pool at the resort.  One father and son (age maybe 3) were together—jumping, splashing, swimming, holding each other—it was really beautiful.  The other father and son (maybe 4) in contrast had the kid standing alone in the pool trying clumsily to pull a pair of goggles over his face, while his inattentive father stood off to the side glued on his smartphone.  The first kid was smiling ear-to-ear under the attentive and adoring eyes of his father, the second kid was clearly rejected and dejected. 

2) Beach and Poverty—I visited the beach in Hollywood; we were told it had a great little boardwalk.  When we got there at first, it seemed awesome with the sun and palm trees, music, eateries, skaters, and bicyclists, and more.  But as we started walking and exploring, it quickly became apparent that this was the poor side of town.  There were no high-rises here, no fancy cars, no eloquent shops, and sort of a menacing feeling overall. The contrast of the beautiful beach and boardwalk with the surrounding poverty left me feeling sort of confused about wanting to be there, but also wanting to leave.

3) Ocean and Starbucks—whenever, I come down to South Florida, I invariably end up thinking about finding a place down here.  This time, I saw some options that were attractive for very different reasons.  One place was an older building, nice and enticing with a direct ocean view.  The view from the apartment was so amazing; it literally made my wife cry.  But then we saw another condominium—this one brand new, about 15 minute walk from the ocean, but right over all the shopping, Starbucks, and conveniences.  The first place had a million dollar view, but the second place was practical and we could see ourselves really living there. 

4) Driving and Jolly--We took a trolley ride and the driver was obviously hard-working, but low paid. Yet he turned up the tunes and took us around town not just driving, but literally singing and sort of dancing to them too--waving his arms and smiling the whole time. It was great to see someone so spirited and happy in whatever they were doing in life. 

As I get older, and hopefully wiser, I see more clearly that situations in life are not simple or “black and white,” but there are lots of complexities, choices, and grays.

Do you choose self or family, live where you like or where you can earn a good living, go for the view or for the convenience, bemoan what you don't have or celebrate what you do?  Lots of decisions in life—each choice has consequences, so choose carefully.  

No one has it all—even if it looks like they do. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 30, 2013

Never Worn, But Not For The Reason You Think

I remember learning for my MBA about people's shopping addiction (aka compulsive shopping) and how it consumes their time and money and fuels their self-esteem. 

Like a high gotten from alcohol, drugs, and sex, shopping can give people a relief from the everyday stresses that engulf them.


An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal (18 April 2013) called "A Closet Filled With Regrets" chronicles how people buy stuff they never wear and are sorry they bought it. 


In fact, the article states, "Only about 20% of clothes in the average person's closet are worn on a regular basis."


One example given is a Pulitzer Prize -winning author who spent $587,000 on Gucci items between 2010-2012, before seeking treatment for his addiction. 


A related disorder is shopper's remorse that occurs, because people second guess themselves and feel maybe an alternative would've been a better choice (i.e. they made a bad choice), they didn't really need the item to begin with (i.e. it was just impulsive), or that they spent too much (i.e. they got a bad deal). 


For me, as a child of Holocaust survivors, I find that when I purchase something nice (not extravagant), I put away and also never wear it. 


The difference for me is not that I have shoppers remorse, an addiction to shopping, or that I am unhappy with my purchase, but rather that I cannot wear it because I feel as a child of survivors that I have to save it--just in case. 


No, it's not rational--even though I am a very practical and rational person in just about every other way.


It's just that having seen what can happen when times are bad--and people have nothing--I cannot bear to grant myself the luxury of actually wearing or using something really good.


Perhaps also, I look at my parent's generation, who suffered so much, and think why am I deserving of this? 


They sacrificed and survived, so we (their children) could have it better--what every parent wants for their children, or should.


But still, in my heart, I know that I am the one who has had it easy compared to their lives, and so those purchases are going to stay right where they are--never worn until I donate them to Goodwill. 


I never really considered them mine anyway. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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April 6, 2013

Go Simple!

Two interesting recent articles discuss the importance of building in simplicity to product design to make things more useful to people.

Contrary to popular belief, simple is not easy. Mat Mohan in Wired Magazine (Feb. 2013) says that "simplicity is about subtraction," and "subtraction is the hardest math in product design."

Two of the best recent examples of simplicity through subtraction is what Apple was able to achieve with the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and iTunes, and what Google did through its "sparse search page."

Unfortunately, too many companies think that "quality is associated with more," instead of less, and so they pack on options, menus, and buttons until their darn devices are virtually useless. 

Similarly, an article in the Wall Street Journal (29 March 2013) advocates that "simplicity is the solution," and rails against the delays, frustration, and confusion caused by complexity. 

How many gadgets can't we use, how many instructions can't we follow, and how many forms can't we decipher--because of complexity?

The WSJ gives examples of 800,000 apps in the Apple store, 240+ choices on the menu for the Cheesecake Factory (I'd like to try each and every one), and 135 mascaras, 437 lotions, and 1,992 fragrances at the Sephora website.

With all this complexity, it's no wonder then that so many people suffer from migraines and other ailments these days. 

I remember my father telling me that you should never give consumers too many choices, because people just won't know what to choose.  Instead, if you simply give them a few good choices, then you'll make the sale.

Unfortunately, too many technologists and engineers develop ridiculously complex products, and too many lawyers, legislators, and regulators insist on and prepare long and complex documents that people aren't able to read and cannot readily understand. 

For example, in 2010, the tax code was almost 72,000 pages long, the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is about 2,700 pages, and the typical credit card contract now runs to 20,000 words.  

Even the brightest among us, and those with a lot of time on their hands, would be challenged to keep up with this. 

While rewriting and tax code is a welcome topic of discussion these days, it befuddles the mind why most of the time, we simply add on new laws, rules, regulations, amendments, and exclusions, rather than just fix it--plain and simple. 

But that's sort of the point, it's easier for organizations to just throw more stuff out there and put the onus on the end-users to figure it out--so what is it then that we pay these people for? 

The plain language movement has gotten traction in recent years to try and improve communications and make things simpler and easier to understand. 

Using Apple as an example again (yes, when it comes to design--they are that good), it is amazing how their products do not even come with operating instructions--unlike the big confusing manuals in minuscule print and numerous languages that used to accompany most electronic products.  And that's the point with Apple--you don't need instructions--the products are so simple and intuitive--just the way they are supposed to be, thank you Apple!

The journal offers three ways to make products simpler: 

- Empathy--have a genuine feel for other people's needs and expectations.

- Distill--reduce products to their essence, getting rid of the unneeded bells and whistles. 

- Clarify--make things easier to understand and use.

These are really the foundations for User-Centric Enterprise Architecture, which seeks to create useful and usable planning products and governance services--the point is to provide a simple and clear roadmap for the organization, not a Rorschach test for guessing the plan, model, and picture du-jour. 

Keeping it simple is hard work--because you just can't throw crap out there and expect people to make sense of it--but rather you have to roll up your sleeves and provide something that actually makes sense, is easy to use, and makes people's lives better and not a living product-design hell. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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February 14, 2013

Three Beautiful Sayings


In the last few weeks, there are three beautiful sayings that have stuck out in my mind and I wanted to share them with you:

- Materialism and Relationships: 

 "It's not about what you have, but about who you have."

- Sin and Punishment:

"You're not punished for your sins, but by your sins."

- Creation and Creator:

"All things serve the will of the L-rd"

I think if we keep these in mind and use these to guide our everyday actions, we will make better choices and be better people for it. 

Hope you appreciate the importance of these sayings as much as I do and find them useful in your lives. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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May 27, 2012

The Truth About Lying

House MD said it first "Everybody lies; the only variable is about what."

This weekend's Wall Street Journal (26-27 May 2012)--states that research confirms this as truth.  

"Everyone cheats a little right up to the point where they lose their sense of integrity."

According to the article--"very few people steal to a maximum degree, but many good people cheat just a little here and there."

They pad their billable hours, underreport their earnings to the IRS, claim higher loses on insurance claims, pocket a little from the cash register, walk out of the store without paying, copy test answers, plagiarize someone's intellectual property, and the list goes on and on. 

Already in the Ten Commandments, we see the fundamental precept of "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."

Yet according to the research, people's dishonesty is enabled by their disposition to:

- Rationalize away the crime.

- Overshadow it with previous immoral acts.


- Excuse the behavior by stating that everyone does it.


- Minimize the significance of the wrongdoing.


- Claim it is necessary or for the greater good.


Interestingly, factors that we would think would have a big impact on dishonesty, don't--such as either the amount of money to gained or the probability of being caught. 

Apparently, the cost-benefit calculus is not the driving factor in wrong-doing, but rather the absence of "moral reminders" and of enforcement/supervision is what creates the fertile ground for people to do the wrong--whether because they can, for the thrill of it, or because in their minds it "levels the playing field."

Everyone has the capacity for evil and to do wrongdoing, but the vast majority of the people with the right moral guidance will do mostly the right things.  

"Except for a few outliers at the top and bottom, the behaviors of almost everyone is driven by two opposing motivations"--these are greed and fear. 

One one hand, greed drives people to push themselves and work hard, but it can also be used to go overboard to the point of acting dishonestly--to take what is not theirs and to lie about it.  

On the other hand, fear of losing our integrity keeps people's unbridled desires in check and perhaps even motivates us to give back to others, but fear can also can inhibit people from giving it their all. 

The ongoing interplay between greed and fear long known to drive financial markets are the underpinnings for our own moral tug-of-war. 

Balancing greed and fear is a powerful embrace that can propel humankind powerfully forward with drive and motivation or undermine its very existence through inhibition and dishonesty.

Reading the article and the underlying research was upsetting to me to see that so many people can be swayed seemingly so easily to have such little integrity.

And while most situations in life are not "black and white"--they are complex shades of gray--people can be tempted to rationalize even when they really know what they are doing in misguided. 

This is the ultimate personal challenge for all of us--to maintain our integrity in the face of all temptations and readily available excuses out there.

G-d speed in making good moral and productive choices. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Gerard Stolk)


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