Showing posts with label Honor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Honor. Show all posts

April 11, 2019

Black Hole--What's Really Important?

Amazing beautiful photos of a black hole from 55 million light years (311 million trillion miles) away. 

It measures about 25 billion miles across--about the size of 29,000 suns. 

If this doesn't make you (with all the money, smarts, good looks, and ego to match) feel small, nothing will. 

We are but a speck of dust in this vast universe (maybe not even that). 

Perspective is in order for your life and what it means. 

Forget the money-grubbing and honor-seeking.

Realize what's really important is what you do in terms of choosing right from wrong and good over evil in every small thing you do.  ;-)

(Photo Credit: Event Horizon Telescope)
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February 10, 2019

The Not So Civil Service

At one time, it was considered a great honor to work for the Federal government, and people fought for the jobs and to take the civil service exam. 

The Civil Service was not only a term, but also a reality filled with honor, dedication, and devotion to one's country. 

Working for the Federal government meant interesting and exciting work opportunities not only defending our great nation, but in making it just and prosperous, and literally a beacon of freedom for the world. 

While no one became rich working for the government, you could make a stable living, build tenure over your service, and finally receive a pension upon retirement. 

Over the course of almost 20-years of my federal career, I have had the opportunity to serve in positions that I only could have dreamed about as a child, and to feel such pride in serving. 

But it seems like times have taken a turn for the worse either willfully or through neglect:

- From Capitol Hill to the Executive Department, we see the extremus of polarization and endless obstacles to getting anything done.  

- With each change in administration, aside from a change of leadership and direction at the top of each Department, the workforce is seemingly accused of subversion for the other side and turned on itself. 

- Just recently, we've seen the longest federal government shutdown lasting 35 days and with hundreds of thousands of Federal workers required to work without pay at the time. 

- We have also seen many years of pay freezes--with not even a meager cost of living adjustment (COLA), while the overall economy is booming!

- The pay for grades at the upper levels are hitting up against the Congressional limits with multiple pay steps being the same pay and no increase for career advancement or growth of responsibilities. 

- Employees have been forced to endure the A-76 outsourcings, threats of disbanding entire agencies, demands to reduce the size of government, and hiring freezes even while serving a larger population requiring ever more services. 

- There have been limitations on the power of employee unions, and an ongoing series of tightening of benefits from CERS to FERS and continuing thereafter requiring greater employee contributions and what feels like ever less benefit payouts. 

- Staff are threatened with firing in a short(er) period of time for making a small number of mistakes to a host of "conduct" issues that may or may not be true, and may at times be the outcome of poor leadership rather than problematic employees.

- The system for employment grievances and judging these has gone without a quorum for the longest period on the books and the backlog of cases continues to build. 

While no system is perfect, and there are bad apples on every side, there clearly seems to be a devolution of the federal service, and what this means for governing and for our defense and prosperity is yet to be fully felt. 

For me, serving the Federal government has been one of the greatest honors and has been many of the best years of my life. My wish is for others going forward to have a positive and productive experience as well. 

Perhaps with an appreciation and true respect for the millions of good men and women that serve our country--from the front lines to the back offices--we can once again create a system that is equitable, fair, and just and that inspires the world-class results we needs for our nation and our people. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 25, 2018

Who Is More Religious?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Being Super Duper Kosher."
Of course, I am sure many good people are trying to do the right thing and genuinely practice to be better servants of Hashem. However, this should never become an excuse to use religious practices to misguidedly “compete”–hurt or shame–and somehow “one up” their neighbor’s religiosity or status as fellow Jews. That would be to erroneously think that G-d can’t see all His children as good and deserving in their own ways, even though the creator can certainly see what is in the heart and in the doings of all of us.

Hope this resonates with many of you who are kosher but feel unfairly (mis)judged by all the latest variations these days. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 15, 2018

It's Fight or Surrender!



This is why President Reagan was able to "tear down that wall" and win the Cold War. 

He was a true role model for leadership and what a President is. 

- Faith in G-d.

- A strength of convictions.

- The Integrity that touches hearts. 

- Courage to carry forward. 

- Pride in our nation.

- Judicious use of our might.

Go USA! ;-)
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April 2, 2017

Why We Fight?

Well first of all, let me say that I really liked this image on Google the other day. 

Beautiful to see the diversity and brotherhood (and including those with disabilities)!

I had a an interesting conversation with my daughter the other day about why people often don't get along. 

She said something that I thought was really astute:

"If there were unlimited resources, then no one would have a reason to fight!"

Think about that a moment...

Everyone feels they don't have enough or someone else has more then them or they are afraid they won't get their share, and so what happens?

Like jealous little children, we fight for the pail and shovel in the sandbox. 

Only as adults, our sandbox is a lot bigger and it involves hate, bigotry, racism and deadly weapons including guns, knives, and even nukes!

So this isn't the Garden of Eden where everyone prances around free and with plenty and nothing to worry about. 

Instead, everyone has to work "by the sweat of your brow," and there are limits to what we have, and there is fighting over who has what.

Yes, truly "greed is the root of all evil."

What we need to learn and internalize is that it's more important how we act towards each other than what we have and that the real gold in life is the good we do and not the plenty we amass. 

Sure we each need enough to be able to survive and excel as human beings, but it's fool's gold that prevents us from seeing each other as the real brothers and sisters we all are. 

If only we had enough--in both perception and reality--then peace could reign among mankind. ;-)

(Source Photo: Google)
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May 29, 2016

Getting A Leadership Washing


So I am reading this book called, "What Your Boss NEVER Told You."

In terms of leadership, a key principle is stated very well here: 


"'What' flows down

And

'How' flows up."

Meaning that as the leader, you set the goal, but you don't tell people how to achieve it.

Micromanagement "stomp[s] out 

creativity, ownership, and commitment."

To give your people the breathing room to innovate and solve problems and feel good about their work, here's the ideal manager:

"Hands-off whenever possible, 

and 

hands-on whenever needed."

And finally the 3 "H's" of leadership:

1. Honor -- doing the right thing (i.e. integrity)


2. Humility -- "give away the credit," but own the responsibility 100%!


3. Humor -- "take their work seriously, but themselves lightly."



Overall, good book to get a clean bill of leadership health. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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March 10, 2016

Every Day Is Women's Day

My mother taught me well, every day is women's day!

Little did I know that March 8 is also designated International Women's Day.

Today is the 10th, but I still saw a lady on the Metro carrying a balloon down the escalator celebrating this special time. 

Overall, even in the 21st century, it is appalling to say that women are not only still under-appreciated, but highly disrespected, and worse physically and emotionally abused around the world

Just this week, I read about another horrible rape in India of a 16-year old girl who was then set on fire and burned alive over 95% of her body--what crazies out there do this to women?

In Afghanistan, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head for being a girl and wanting to go to school.

In other places in the world, terror groups like ISIS and Boko Haram abduct and make sexual slaves of women

In Germany, migrants sexually assaulted literally hundreds of women on New Year's Eve. 

And in Brooklyn, New York, 4 out of 5 suspects in a rape of an 18-year girl in the park go free without bail

This doesn't even touch the more mundane matters of pay inequity and equal opportunity issues where women still only earn 84% of what men earn in the workplace.

As if any normal person should even need to be told this, I remember some progressive teacher in yeshiva telling us that women being disrespected or hurt could be your mother, sister, wife, or daughter, so DON'T do it or tolerate it!

While gender stereotypes still prevail about women being solely the homemaker and rearer of children, at least more men are now open to sharing or taking on these roles as well. 

I think for women, it's still a grossly sick and inequitable world out there and it's a true mark of shame on anyone who perpetuates these abuses. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 16, 2015

Mano A Mano

So this is what it comes down to.

Man against man.

A fight to unseat and prevail against one's ultimate opponent. 

Each one bravely charging forward into the fight. 

Armed and dangerous. 

Both shielded, but not fully protected. 

One will be going down hard and maybe not coming up again. 

Good versus evil. 

Repeated over time as the war of attrition plays out. 

The heavenly battle taking place among mere mortal agents. 

Until eventually the righteous triumph over the selfish, lusting, and greedy villains.  

In didn't start in Medieval times and it won't end until it's over and won, and it will be won for G-d's sake. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 23, 2015

Team, It's Not About You

This mug on teamwork was really funny.

Teamwork (noun):
1) A group of people doing what I say.
2) Work done that I can take credit for.

Of course, this really isn't teamwork, unless you consider it the "I Team." 

Yes, this is sort of sterotypical of bad bosses:
- They take the credit for the team's work when everything goes well.
- But they pass along the blame when something goes wrong. 

Has this ever happened to you?

It reminds me of another funny saying about how greedy, narcissistic people think:

"What mine is mine, and what's yours is mine."

In other words--mine, mine, and mine, why thank you!

The best bosses are humble and giving. They make sure everyone knows what the goals are and are working efficiently to achieve them. 

The credit goes to the indivudals and team who are working their butts off, and when appropriate, the boss will take the heat to help others save face and enable them to press forward with the mission. 

I remember one of my colleagues who is a supervisor and he was called out for doing a great job. Immediately he goes, "It's my team that make me look good." And knowing this person, that wasn't just talk or a show...he was completely sincere. 

That's leadership and an impressive human being--someone to emulate!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 11, 2014

Govgeddon Is Not An Option

Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about how the Federal government is falling to attract young people. 

"Employees under the age of 30 hit an eight-year low of 7% in 2013...[while back in 1975, more than 20% of the federal workforce was under 30."

Conversely, 45% of the federal workforce is older than 50.

Moreover by September 2016, a quarter of the all federal employees will be eligible to retire--that's the retirement wave we've been hearing about for years, but never seems to really come (because of the economy). 

Without "a pipeline of young talent, the government risks falling behind in an increasingly digital world."

It's not the older people can't learn the technology, but rather they aren't digital natives as those born in the later part of the 20th century.

To see just a glimpse of the digital divide, you need to go no further than when many of these folks snicker at us for even just sending emails--something so uncouth to the younger crowd.

With years of salary freezes, no awards, benefit cuts especially for new hires, and shutdowns, the federal government which used to be "an employee of choice," is "now an employee of last resort."

Further, "the reputation for bureaucracy and hierarchy is driving away many workers." People want to be productive and get things done, not spin their wheels. 

Yet, the government offers so many exciting jobs performing critical missions in everything from national security, diplomacy, law enforcement, and so much more, it is ironic that we cannot attract young people, who are often the most idealist. 

Diversity in the federal workforce means that people under 30 are not a rarity!

Everyone--no matter what age, sex, race, religion, and so on--provides an important contribution, so that the sum of the parts is greater than whole. 

We need people to clearly feel the honor in public service, to see the importance of the missions performed, and to be treated like valued workers and not political pawns in partisan showdowns and Washington shutdowns. 

Let's actively recruit with an attractive smorgasbord of enhanced salary and benefits, especially in critical fields like cyber security, information technology, biotechnology, aerospace engineering, and more.

It's time for the federal government to become attractive for young (and older) workers again, and not apologetic for providing important jobs in service of the nation. 

The federal government needs to compete for the best and brightest and not resign itself to second-tier, ever. 

Our young people are an important pipeline for fresh ideas and cutting-edge skills, and we need them to prevent a govgeddon where we can't perform or compete with the skills and diversity of workforce that we must have. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 24, 2013

Me and George

So one of the advantages to working in Washington, D.C. is that I get to meet lots of new and interesting people. 

Never thought though that I'd actually get to meet George Washington.

Well, he was certainly quite the character!

Anyway, three cheers for GW--it was a true honor. ;-)
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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)
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October 24, 2012

And She Was...


Seeing and hearing the candidates continuous jockeying for the women's vote in their speeches, debates, and commercials, it was sort of funny to see this sign hanging in a local store. 


Anyway, I don't know who the "she" is in this advertisement--but I think it refers to basically all women--and the description is supposed to be the many positive attributes they have--professionally and personally. 

Regardless of the adjectives, maybe the point is to respect, appreciate, and treat women properly in every way--and not just at election session. 

And to recognize that you can't charm their vote, you must earn it with truth, trust, and equality. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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