Showing posts with label Judgmental. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Judgmental. Show all posts

May 23, 2020

The 11th Commandment

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "The 11th Commandment."
How many times do I hear about fellow Jews trying to "out-frum" (i.e. be holier than thou) other Jews: whether it's in terms of Kashrut, Shabbat or even who stayed up the latest for the Passover Seder. Recently, when it came to coronavirus, I was more than a little shocked to read that someone actually attributed the disease to it being a punishment from G-d because women's skirts are not being worn long enough. While certainly it's good to be introspective and there is a strong concept of reward and punishment in Judaism, there is something about us Jews where we tend to want to go a little more and a little farther. In some cases, we are doing "hiddur mitzvah" (beautification of the Mitzvah) which is praiseworthy, but in other cases, we may be adding unnecessary "chumras" (i.e. stringencies) than can backfire religiously. My unequivocal preference is to follow my father's teaching to me of the Rambam's "Shvil Ha'zahav" (i.e. the golden path) and not go too far to the left or to the right, but keep a healthy middle of the road approach to life.

In the end, the number of commandments are what they are, and with 613 throughout the Torah, there is enough to keep us all busy going what is right with G-d and our fellow man. While we may like to overachieve in our careers, our education, and our pedigrees, it is not necessary to try to outdo each other religiously. Religion is a matter between us and Hashem and G-d knows what is in our hearts and counts up all our deeds according to His holy Torah with nothing added and nothing subtracted.

(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 3, 2018

Nitpicking To Death

It's funny some people go straight for the kill when they don't like something. 

Others may nitpick you to death. 

Always! looking for something to henpeck at.

It comes out as you're stupid, lazy, incompetent, and even worthless.

Why can't you do anything right (read: the way I would do it)?

If only you would change this, that, or the other thing then it would all be better!

But even when you do manage to change this, that or the other thing--guess what? That just sparks the next round of destructive criticism and never being satisfied.

Hey, since when are you so (f*ckin) perfect?  

Or as the old saying goes, "Who died and made you G-d?"

It should not be about grabbing some sadistic pleasure out of torturing other people with narcissism, judgmentalism, endless criticism and naysaying.

Instead of tearing down, let's focus on the big picture and what success looks like.

How can everyone contribute to that vision and effort?

Customer service doesn't mean personal servitude. 

There is such a thing as being a team player, identifying when good is good enough, and driving forward rather than seeking to derail or even go backward. 

Competency is not just for service providers, but for the customers. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 4, 2017

Kosher Trust Or Not

Here's the big controversy in our synagogue this week. 

The Rabbi is having a Purim open house and he invited everyone to bring a pot luck.

"Only home-made food, no purchased food please!"

In Jewish circles, this is the opposite of what you'd expect, where checking the kosher labels and symbols is critical to ensuring the food has followed the strict kosher dietary laws and can be eaten. 

Yet as pointed out, kashrut has been made into a whole commercial business these days...does it still reflect the intent?

The Rabbi explained in services today, in a very well received way, that we need to get back to respecting and trusting each other. 

That these values are essential to being truly religious people.

It was a wonderful speech in that it evoked unconditional acceptance and respect for everyone. 

As we know, no one is so perfect, even though the goal of course is to be as perfect as we can be. 

So two things:

1) I really like the notion of treating people well and putting that high on the priorities as we are all G-d's creatures.

2) I myself am kosher, but not fanatically so, therefore, I personally appreciated the acceptance and love in the community. 

Yet, after I got home, and thinking about this some more, and despite my own failings religiously and otherwise, I asked myself, "Am I really comfortable eating from a parve and meat community pot luck?"

And even as I ask this question, I am sort of squirming at the idea of just eating anyone's food--and not knowing anything about it. 

How am I doing due diligence in even trying to keep kosher like that?

While maybe I'm not the most kosher of everyone, it certainly is important to me to at least try (to some extent), but I ask myself can this be considered really even trying--when some people aren't religious, may not have a strong religious education, and perhaps some may not even be (fully) Jewish?

Sure, someone can even have the best intentions and try to bring kosher food, yet it's certainly possible that the food may not be kosher. 

Perhaps, in prior times, it was an issue of more or less kosher, but these days, it can be an issue of kosher or not kosher at all. 

This is a very difficult issue--because we can't put people up against the law--we must by necessity respect both. 

So yes, I love the idea of respecting everyone and that's a given assuming they are good, decent people, but trust is not something you just have, it's something you earn, by...being trustful!

I'm not one to preach religion to anyone...I struggle myself with the laws and in trying to do what's right in the commandments between man and G-d. 

And while I am ready to accept all good and loving people, I am perhaps not ready to just trust them without knowing that the trust is dutiful. 

Love thy neighbor as thyself is paramount, but also we have a duty to G-d to try to fulfill his commandments the best we can. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 21, 2016

Prove Them Wrong

So I was recently teaching a certification class. 

And this was a very high-caliber class of professionals attending. 

One gentlemen was a wonderful African American who I will call John. 

As part of one of the class assignments, John,  a very successful man, told of how as a young man growing up in the DC projects, a neighbor told him something very hurtful and potentially devastating to him.

The neighbor angrily said, "You'll never be anything in your life!"

And John described how he pursued his education, his career goals, his family, as well as philanthropic pursuits to give back to the community--and he went quite far. 

He told with great emotion and tears in his eyes how ten years ago, he went back to his old neighborhood to thank this neighbor for motivating him (even though in a negative way) to go as far in life as he did. 

You could hear a pin drop in the class--I think a lot of people could relate to this story in their own lives. 

I know that I for one certainly could. 

For me, while I am a simple person and have not gone so far, I have certainly had an interesting life and lots of wonderful opportunities.

Yet, I too remember more than 20 years ago, when I had taken a job in a wild pursuit in my youthful ambitions that one crazy boss that I was briefly working for who was considerably older than me and with his own business abusively said to me one day, "You're not half of what you think you are!"

BAM! Like a huge sledge hammer hitting me right across my head--I was still relatively young and impressionable.

Also, I came from a pretty blue collar-type working family and although upwardly mobile, and I was certainly trying to become "more," I never really felt at all entitled. 

Anyway, the story this student told really brought my own experience hurling back to me from my past. 

In the class, John said--you have to go out and "Prove them wrong." 

And while I don't exactly feel that proving others who wish us bad to be wrong is the point, I do agree that we shouldn't let any of these negative nellies in our own lives drag us down. 

We all have our mission in life--and it's up to us to become the best people that we can--and to hell with everyone who looks down on us, discourages us, maybe are competitive with us or jealous in some way, or simply don't wish us the best. 

So John is right--go out there and do great things! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 28, 2015

Big Kiss Followed By Hard Slap

So I share this story not out of anger, but to tell of something important that happened to me.

It was when I was very sick last year from surgical complications...


And someone did one of the nicest things for me...and also one of the most hurtful.


This was at the point of hospitalization #3, I think (there was more after), and the doctors were shaking their heads--uh, not a good sign. 


Frankly, I didn't know anymore whether I was going to make it. 


At that time, someone close reached out to me and my wife and said they were going to hold a prayer vigil for me in their home one evening to try and help. 


They did and even sent me photographs of the wonderful people taking the time to ask G-d to save me...I was deeply moved and grateful. 


But subsequently on a phone call with the person who set this up, they said to me seemingly with resentment at having to have done it and undoing all the good they had done...


"You know you really need to get some zechusim of your own!"


Zuchusim means qualities or deeds that merit some reward or good.


In other words, I was getting judged and scolded and was being told that I was in pain, suffering, and sick because basically I MUST be an aweful person who deserves it


And if not for her organizing the prayer group and those others with zuchusim that attended, I on my own probably did not even deserve to live. 


Gee, thanks for the slap, slap, and slap.


While I am sure her words were intended to help me by exhorting ultimate life betterment, at the time and even now, the roughness and shrill of them hurt--it's nothing less than a matter of soul!


While I am no saint--and I think few of us can claim that title no matter how hard we may put ourselves on that lofty pedestal--I know that in my own way--maybe not the most traditional way that other religious people can fully relate to--I try my best to serve G-d, be a decent human being, and a good influence...while not perfect by any sense of the word. 


Laying sick and vulnerable, I needed to be told that I was okay and everything would be okay with G-d's blessing--that whatever the suffering and whatever the reason, my life has good in it and meaning to it--even while we can all better ourselves. 


But while I felt the kiss from this person when they organized the beautiful prayer group for me, I soon felt the sting of the slap from the strict harsh "religious" judgement from someone that didn't even really know my days in and outs. 


While I know I can do better--and I am committed to continue to try to learn and grow as a person--and serve G-d and help others--but for crying out loud have some compassion, go easy on the severity of the judgement and exhortations, and maybe give some benefit of the doubt. 


Words have meaning even though deeds surpass words, and we should be careful with both. ;-)


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos posting of Batmancomic.infogenerator)

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August 4, 2012

Words Have Meaning

Recently, I heard a very smart mentor tell a crowd that "words have meaning."

The context was that even in relation to giving criticism, it is important to be constructive, and not destructive to those receiving it. 

Some are not good at giving criticism and others can be downright sadistic--humiliating, embarrassing, marginalizing, verbally abusing, and even throwing things. 

Words can really hurt people, and the kids song about "stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me"--is just not true for children or adults. 

From a work perspective, I relate this to what I learned earlier in my life about being not only balanced with people and their performance, but also seeing the whole human being--listening to them and being empathetic. 

In performance terms, it's as important to say what people are doing well, as well as to point out areas where their is room for improvement--and yes, it's hard to admit it, but no one of us is perfect, and at the same time, no one really likes to be criticized. 

So it takes a special talent, but one that can be learned--if you have an open mind--to have a heart-to-heart with others, and show that you are not just criticizing to be an S.O.B., but that you genuinely accept the person for who they are, and want to help them learn and grow--and do even better in the future. 

We all have strengths and weakness, and with kindness, we can help others to rise above their limitations and break new barriers in their lives. 

I came across a different example of where words have meaning in terms of people looking for opportunity. 

I heard a story about this person who when asked why they should get a job, responded because they are a "good person."

Word do have meaning and we don't give opportunities to people because they like the person they are, but rather because they have "earned it" professionally--life is competitive and opportunities are not just handed out. 

One more example of how words have meaning, happened when I heard one lady ask another what her son was doing for the summer (given all the unemployment). The other lady replied, "oh, he's busy--sleeping and eating."

Ouch. Yes, times are tough out there, but to hear the mother say it--in that way--about her own child, just sounded perhaps a little harsh and judgmental, but who really knows their particular circumstance. 

Words have meaning--they can bring lovers together, hurt those you love the most, damage reputations, destroy lives, and tear nations apart or bring unity to them and determination to their cause. 

Watching what we say and how we say it--is important for us in growing as decent and thoughtful human beings and in becoming good leaders--in both, we have to have heart and treat others well in both word and deed. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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November 16, 2011

Leadership Is Not A One Personality World

An article in the Federal Times (13 November 2011) called "To Change Government's Culture, Recruit Leader, Not Loners" was very unfortunate.
According to the author, Steven L. Katz, "Government in particular, attracts, rewards, and promotes people who want to be left alone. As a result we have a government of loners...seen in the scarcity of people with a healthy balance of substantive and social skills who are needed for leadership, management, and bringing projects large and small to completion."
Katz identifies these "loners" as Myers-Briggs ISTJ--Introverted Sensing Thinking and Judging. Moreover, he proposes that we consider "more people who test in the range of Myers-Briggs ENTJ--Extroverted Intuitive Thinking Judging"--to assume the leadership mantle instead.
In other words, Katz has a problem with people who are introverted and sensing. In particular, it seems that the introversion type really has Katz all bent out of shape--since this is what he rails at as the loners in our organizations. What a shame!
Katz is wrong on almost all accounts, except that we need people who can communicate and collaborate and not just in government:
1) Diversity Down The Toilet--Katz only acknowledges two Myers-Briggs Types in our diverse population--ENTJ and ISTJ. He is either unaware of or ignores the other 14 categories of people on the continuum, and he promotes only one type the ENTJ--1/16 of the types of people out there--so much for diversity!
Further, Katz makes the stereotypical and mistaken assumptions that introverts are shy and ineffectual, which as pointed out in Psychology Today in 2009 (quoted in Jobboom) "Not everyone who is shy is introverted, and not everyone who's charismatic and cheerful is extroverted." Further, shy people are 'routinely misunderstood as cold, aloof, or stuck up."
Katz missed the point as taught at OPM's Federal Executive Institute that all of us have something to learn, teach, and a preferred pathway to excellence.
2) By the Numbers--Contrary to Katz's implication that introverts are a small and social inept portion of population that should shunned, a report in USA Today in 2009 states that '50% of baby boomers are introverts" as are 38% of those born after 1981 with the onset on the modern computing age, Internet, and social media. Interestingly enough, Katz is even dissatisfied with these Millennials who according to him: their "dominant form of communication and relationships is online and on cellphones."
Moreover, according to a 2006 article in USA Today quoted on Monster.com, "Introverts are so effective in the workplace, they make up an estimated 40% of executives."
Included in these successful introverts are people like "Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Diane Sawyer, Andrea Jung, and Bill Nardelli"--Sorry, Steve!
3) Situational Leadership Is Key--While Katz is busy searching for personality type scapegoats to government problems, he is missing the point that Myers-Briggs is "neither judgmental not pejorative" and instead "helps assess the fit between person and job" (Reference: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in Organizations: A Resource Book).
In fact, according to a recent study published in Harvard Business Review (4 October 2010), introverts are not only incredibly effective, but are "the best leaders for proactive employees." Moreover, HBR points out that "Both types of leaders, the extraverts and the introverts, can be equally successful or ineffectual..."
So for example, Introvert leaders (who are "more likely to listen to and process the ideas") tend to be better leaders in a situation with a extroverted team, while extroverted leaders (who "end up doing a lot of the talking") tend to excel with a more introverted one.
However, the ultimate key according to HBR is "to encourage introverted and extraverted behavior in any given situation"--that is to use situational leadership to lead and manage according to the situation at hand, and not as a one personality type fits all world!
Katz is right that communication and collaboration are critical skills, but he is wrong that there is only one personality type that gets us all there.
(Source Photo: here)

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