Showing posts with label Balance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Balance. Show all posts

November 17, 2019

OPTIMISM vs pessimism

So I thought this really matched my philosophy to a T on optimism and pessimism. 

As Joel Rosenberg put it in his book The Ezekiel Option, "In the long run everything would turn out fine...but tomorrow could be a disaster."

In short, this equates to:

I'm a strategic optimist, but a tactical pessimist. 

My mom used to say, "If I am pessimistic, I'll never be disappointed." LOL

I think though when we have faith then we know that truly, in the end everything is for the best and will be okay.

In the short term though, there are challenges to face and these can be tough indeed. 

- Strategically an optimist. 

- Tactically a pessimist. 

Plan for the worst, hope for the best. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 22, 2019

Four Types of Desire

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "I Want What I Want."

There are four types of greed/jealousy:
  • I want what I’m missing
  • I want what I had
  • I want what you have
  • I want you to not have what you have

We can be slaves to our egos, emotions, and desires, or we can seek to control them and be better than mere animals. We have a soul, a conscience, and the Torah, so the choice should be clear even if not always easy.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 25, 2019

Confidence Speaks

I found this interesting about communications management. 

On one hand, when discussing issues, you want to listen to everyone's input, and consider all sides. 

On the other hand, it's critical to be competent, confident, and "know what you're talking about."

Amos Oz wrote:
Those who hesitate and doubt are convinced by those who are strong-minded. 

So it's an important balancing act:

- Not to be so self-confident that you aren't listening to others, 
- But also not being so unsure and hesitant that you don't stand behind your values and views. 

Confidence speaks, but overconfidence is deaf. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 1, 2019

Victory Or Defeat

I was reading Vladimir Jabotinsky's "Story of My Life."

And there is this quote that I really like attributed to Kipling in it:
Victory or defeat: learn to accept both with equanimity since both are deceptions.
I just thought this is profound.  

We never really fully win or lose. 


Everything is on a spectrum. 

And where we think we are on that spectrum is often not even nearly correct. 

You think you won that one, but guess what someone else has outsmarted you and you don't even know it yet. 

Also, wins can be easily followed by loses and vice versa.

Things can turn on a dime and who's up becomes who's down--as the wheel of life turns and turns again. 

Recognize that you don't control everything--actually, the only thing you do control is how you react and behave.

Everything else is a test to teach you and help you grow. 

And as I heard from a speaker yesterday, "you can't make up in space, what you have lost in time."

Victory or defeat, both are deceptions. 

Only how you choose to act is the real win or lose. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 4, 2019

What Makes Happy

So the same things don't seem to drive happiness for everyone. 

Some like big jobs and lots of power. 

Others are happier with more work-life balance. 

Some like to pursue lots of degrees and certifications.

Others like to learn on their own and through life experience. 

Some like to travel the world.

Others like a day in nature or at the museum. 

Some like big families and lots of people around them. 

Others like smaller families, close friends, intimacy, or even being more on their own. 

Some like lots of money. 

Other are happy with having what they need.

Some like to be tremendous athletes. 

Other like to just stay fit or maybe are more comfy as "couch potatoes."

Some like to be very religious and follow all the laws.

Others prefer mindfulness, a sense of spirituality and being a "good person."  

Some like lots of activities and to always do different things. 

Others are more comfortable with routine and incremental change. 

We all have basic needs, but we also have different values, priorities and comfort zones. 

Happiness isn't a yes or no answer, but what makes us feel on track and doing good. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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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)
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October 5, 2018

Justice Under The Microscope

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "We Are All Kavanaugh."
Under the microscope of the media, political pundits, and the FBI, no one is guiltless. 

When it comes to promoting and appointing people to the highest positions of our great nations, businesses, and organizations, we need to ensure the highest integrity. 

At the same time, we need to weigh the good and the bad in people, and not hold them to a bar that no one can live up to. 

This is a difficult time for the nation where we must always protect women's rights and also protect people from being presumed guilty.  

Let's hope for Heaven's guidance in ensuring a good decision for the Supreme court and the Justice System.  

(Photo Credit: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 2, 2018

How Do I Choose?

So I thought this was an interesting topic for the sermon on Shabbat by Ben Shemony. 

It was about how we are confronted in life with whether to follow our impulses or our values. 

I think there is a lot to this topic...

Some may see it as the little good angel standing over one shoulder and another bad angel standing over the other trying to convince us what to do when it's decision time.  

Others may be perpetually torn between temptations or pleasures of materialism and the flesh versus of pursuing what you know to be spiritually good and right in this world. 

Either way, as human beings, we are a complex make-up of both body and soul.

Do we give in to temptation and do what feels good--more money, more food, more clothes and jewelry, more houses, cars, and yachts, more vacations, more carnal pleasures from the proverbial "wine, women, and song" or do we pursue the path of spirituality, serving our maker, caring and giving and doing good for others and the world?  

It sounds simple, but our impulses tell us one thing and our values tell us another. 

Are we being selfish or selfless?

Perhaps, too much of anything is bad for us--even too much giving and selflessness--we need to care for ourselves too--we are mortal, we have needs, we have to nourish ourselves, and we need to live. 

But you can't be a glutton or a slave to your impulses--you can't take and not give, your can't indulge until you make yourself sick, or take at the expense of and harm to others.

Like all things in life, there is a need for balance.

Certainly our spirit should guide our animal. 

If and when our animal is dictating to our spirit then we are in real trouble. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 10, 2018

The Essence of Time Management

So here are some quickies on the essence of time management.

1. Urgency vs Importance:

Don't sacrifice the important items for the urgent ones!

- Focus on the items that are important on the right side of the matrix--if they are urgent (upper-right), you need to do now; if they aren't urgent, but they are important (lower-right), you need to make time for them. 

- Deemphasize the items that aren't important on the left side of the matrix--if they are urgent and not important (upper-left), limit them or delegate them; if they aren't urgent or important (lower-left), delete them. 

There are two potential areas of dissonance that can cause you tension, stress, and anxiety.

- When the urgent top row items and the lower-left life necessities get in the way of your focusing on the quality life items that are of long-term importance to you (the lower-left).  For example, work and errands can crowd out your personal, family, community, and spiritual time. 

- When you have too many items in the lower-right quality time area and these are in competition with each other for your time and attention, and you don't know how to prioritize them and get it all done.  It's like there is never enough time. For example, we ignore our spouse, the kids, or closeness with G-d, because we just can't get to it all.

This is where our personal values and conscience come into play to drive what we do and how we spend our precious time in this world. 

We all only have 24 hours in a day, so our actions need to be purposeful and driven by our values!

2. Tasks vs Relationships

Imagine another matrix with focus on tasks on the vertical access and focus on relationships on the horizontal access. 

Again here, we want to ensure a healthy balance of focus on both task and relationships (upper-right corner). 

If we focus on tasks at the expense of relationships or relationships at the expense of tasks, we are going to have a problem.  Moreover, it makes no sense to focus on items that are neither task- nor relationship-focused (lower-left).  

We need to collaborate with others to accomplish great, complex tasks (we can only accomplish so much alone). 

Again, dissonance (tension, stress, anxiety) is caused when we are pulled off-balance to focus on work or people to the exclusion of the other.  

As they say,

"Mission first, people always!"

We've got to build meaningful relationships and work together to get the mission done and the mission can be helping people and building a better society in a variety of ways. 

In a sense, it's people helping people. Love thy neighbor to help thy neighbor.  

Time is of the essence--we have so little of it--it is precious--we can't get it back--it goes so fast--we need to manage it like gold. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 13, 2018

Why Worry?

So I had an interesting conversation with a colleague, and they tell me their philosophy about worry, as follows:
Worrying is suffering twice!

I thought this was pretty smart. 

With worry, we suffer when we worry and then we suffer again if the thing we are worrying about actually comes to fruition. 

So in essence, we are doubling up on the suffering.

Yet, worry can be constructive if we use it to spur us to positive action such as in confronting and dealing with challenging situations. 

But when we worry just for the sake of worry because we can't control our anxiety and moreover, it actually may paralyze us with fear, then this is obviously a bad thing. 

Do I worry?

Sure do, but like my dad, I use worry to try and think out-of-the-box, to plan, to problem-solve, to figure out coping mechanisms etc. 

Worry is suffering for sure. 

However, if we can channel the worry to positive impact, then the worry can be worth the pain it inflicts on us. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 11, 2018

Three Legs of Quality of Life

So this is something that I am learning. 

Quality of life means perspective and balance. 

When people go to the extreme and focus all their energies on any one area almost to the exclusivity of the others in their life, it usually means they are going wrong. 

Some people are "party animals"--life is all about their fun, enjoyment, experiences (and even excessive partying, sleeping around, getting drunk and high), and their very immediate gratification. 

Others are all about work--climbing that professional ladder and earning more money, material goods, and more power is the holy grail and also the bane of their existence. 

And yet there are some people that are focused on faith, family, and community--they are mothers and fathers, religious students and clergy, community organizers and organizers of charitable events and giving. 

The problems is that people need multiple facets of their lives--yes, they need playfulness, interests, activities, hobbies, and fun and joyous times; at the same time, they need intellectual curiosity, professional contribution and achievement, and the wherewithal to be responsible and pay the bills; and very importantly, they need  social, spiritual, and emotional fulfillment from family, friends, giving, and faith. 

When a person stands on only one of these legs, like many seem to--they are on wobbly ground and are likely to fall hard and fast.  

Even on two legs, something is missing in their lives--they are standing tall, but not strong and stable. 

On all three legs, a person can be grounded and able to not just stand for themselves, but able to bear weight like on a stool, and they are can play music and sing and smile, knowing that they have a genuine quality of life that few ever really achieve. ;-)

(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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November 3, 2017

Tooting Your Own Horn

So I always try to see the best in people.

But sometimes it is hard when they are so intent on tooting their own horns. 

Bragging, boasting, patting themselves on the back about how smart they are or a job so incredibly well done.

Oh, you've got to ask yourself...

Is it all really true?

OR  

Do we have perhaps some slight exaggeration going on with a dose of self-aggrandizement, a spoonful of self-promotion, and more than a pinch of big ego?

Perhaps, also the person is in denial as to what their own capabilities--and limitations--really are. 

For example, many artists are enthralled with their work and themselves.
"Isn't this so good?"
"Can you believe I made this?
"Wow, this is impressive, right?"

Sure, there are plenty of talented people out there doing good and even amazing work. 

But even then tempering your achievements with a little modesty and balance, like "I do this well, but I need to grow more in that area"--goes a long way to making the admirable talents and achievements more honest, humble, and believable. 

Always, people are good at some things, and worse at others.

We all have things to work on and improve, and nobody is so perfect in this world!

We can try to come close--that's our job to strive for it--but true perfection belongs to G-d alone. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 7, 2017

Managing for Humpty Dumpty Risk

So this was interesting...

I was in a meeting and someone was discussing the risks involved in a project.

And they mentioned the Humpty Dumpty Effect.

A bunch of people looked at them like what's that. 

Then they explained that it's the risk of breaking something during the project. 

Sort of like the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take to, "first, do no harm."

When we are planning, designing, building or implementing a project--be it information technology or something else--we don't want to break something in the process. 

That's the Humpty Dumpty Risk to beware of and it's an egg-celent point! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 23, 2017

Needed: A Giving Hand With Smart Border Security

While we should certainly help immigrant refugees and those in need, we also need to provide adequate vetting and border security for our people. 

This does not mean that all immigrants are bad or that we are mean or paranoid, bur rather that we need to take smart and measured precautions in the dangerous times we are living in.

Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other such brutal terrorist organizations have shown they mean murderous business, and they are vowing to strike at the hearts of America and the West.

So while we open our hearts, we can't close our eyes!

Safeguard America and the good decent people already here, and at the same time be merciful and giving to immigrants, but don't sacrifice one for the other. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal with photos adapted from here and here and with attribution to the New York Times and Alan Silver)
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February 25, 2017

The Trouble With Our Security

So the problem with our security is that we value our openness more than we do our security.

And perhaps, we fear war more than we desire true peace. 

This was a photo from Summer 2015 when the Pope was in DC.

And despite a "massive" security apparatus set up to protect the Pope, the "largest security operation in U.S. history"...


Check out this photo of a colleague who was able to literally run up to the Fiat car where you can see the Pope waving from. 

Our security is full of holes--if this guy had a gun, molotov cocktail, or bomb then the top Christian leader in the world could've been taken out, just across the street from the U.S. State Department. 

As a democracy, we value openness and freedom to say what we want, do what we want, protest what we want, carry guns as we want, but when is open too open?

Again, whether it comes to cybersecurity or physical security, unless we start to get serious about what massive and large security really means, it is just a matter of time before something really terrible happens, G-d forbid. 

We've got to do a better job balancing security and openness. 

No one should be getting right up to the Pope's car like this!

No one should be smashing windows, burning cars, and attacking police and pedestrians in Washington, DC or anywhere.  

No one should be buzzing our battleships and jets!

No one should be hacking into our sensitive cyber systems, taking down and crippling them and stealing our secrets!

No one should be recruiting, plotting, and carrying out increasing and devastating terrorist attacks right under our noses in this country or elsewhere. 

No one should be using chemical weapons around our red lines in population centers or in airports!

No one (Iran, North Korea, Russia) should be developing, testing, and aiming nuclear ballistic missiles at the West!

War is a last resort, but this is not peace.

It is time to rethink our security posture...it is past time. ;-)

(Source Photo: A Colleague)
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February 6, 2017

Smell The Roses

I am a big proponent of stopping to smell the roses. 

These purple, yellow, red, and pink flowers were sitting on the counter in Whole Foods, and I had to stop, back up, and take this amazing photo.

They were absolutely gorgeous!

Sometimes, I can't believe the beautiful things and people that G-d has made. 

We're part of a most-amazing and perfect world. 

Of course, there are also hardships and suffering in this world - illness, disability, hunger, homelessness, violence, loneliness, and loss. 

Perhaps, these are the most difficult of things for us as human beings to reconcile with the beautiful world that G-d has set us in. 

While surrounded by beauty, people are also beset by life's many challenges. 

Maybe all the more reason to stop and smell the roses even for just a moment--to enjoy the spirit of life and of our amazing Creator, and the opportunity to make the most of it all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 3, 2017

The Trump Twitter Genius

President-elect Trump is a Twitter genius!

At 70-years old, he has managed to use a millennial social media tool to take on the world, and despite opponents questioning of his temperament, so far he has unequivocally won with it. 

Using Twitter, Trump defeated candidates from Cruz to Clinton in running for president of the United States and at a fraction the cost.

Using Twitter, Trump has shaped not only policy discussion, but national sentiments around healthcare, over-regulation, tax reform, and even updating our critical nuclear deterrent capability. 

Using Twitter, Trump has strengthened alliances and friendships with nation and states from Israel to Taiwan and decreased escalating tensions with Russia. 

Using Twitter, Trump has put competitors and adversaries on notice about bad behavior from China to North Korea.

Using Twitter, Trump is setting the stage for correcting economic problems and imbalances from unfair trade practices to shipping jobs overseas.

Using Twitter, Trump gets around media bias and messages and connects directly with the people of the world. 

Of course, it is critical to vet important communications and ensure they are accomplishing the goal, but this needs to be weighed with the ability to reach out and get the message out quickly and effectively to the masses...and it's a most fascinating and delicate balance that needs to be achieved. 

So far though, we are no longer working at the speed of government, but at the speed of the Internet. 

This is an incredible awakening in politics, but also for everyone on the incredible power of social media tools to communicate directly, unvarnished, and with impact, and no one has done it better than Donald Trump. 

The mastery of social media will continue to depend on messaging with speed, significance, and effect balanced with the vigilance as to exactly when to hit that crucial send button to the Twitterverse and the world. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 15, 2016

Bonding and Independence

It's an interesting phenomenon between parents and children. 

Parents (with G-d as the third partner) birth and raise their beautiful children. 

It is in a way a thankless job that we all savor and do with love, joy, and even gratitude just to have the opportunity. 

From sleepless nights to dirty diapers, homework to honing on how to be a mensch, family outings to school trips, braces to bar/bat- mitzvahs, birthdays to sleepover parties, shopping trips to college choices, as parents there is nothing we won't do for our children. 

Yet, the role of children is to learn and grow to be independent. Children must spread their wings, so they can function as their own adults and parents one day (and hopefully before they are 33 and still living in mom and dad's house)!

Yet to a parent, a child is always their child, no matter how big, smart, or successful they are (and even when, G-d willing, they surpass their parents in height, good looks, and achievements).

My father used to say, "Blood is thicker than water," meaning that it's a harsh world out there and the family always needs to stick together.

As children of Holocaust survivors, I learned that we can't stray to far (or far at all) from either our religion or family, because otherwise, "We let Hitler win."

We grew up living next to my grandparents (1 block away) and later in life, we always lived right near my parents as well. 

I watched TV and ate salami sandwiches with my grandmother and doted over my grandfather who sat on the bimah in his big chair as the president of our then struggling synagogue in Manhattan. 

Similarly, my parents were like surrogate parents to my own children and regularly babysat, picked the kids up from school/camp, made Sabbath meals, and happily spent time with them doing whatever. 

My parents were always there to advise, guide, lend a hand and support...no matter the cost to them, as my father used to say, "I would go through fire for my family" and this--his devotion and integrity--I knew was the utter truth. 

In turn, I tried to be a good son and although I disagreed and fought with my parents (mostly my dad) on many issues (often religious and sometimes politics as remember them), I knew they loved me dearly and I them.

As my dear parents are now gone, and I have become (slightly) a helicopter parent myself with forever worries about how my kids are doing, I know that they need to be independent--and that (more than) sometimes means making mistakes or falling down, and hopefully getting right back up again on their feet.

It is hard to learn that as parents, in many cases, we are just spectators--not that we know everything, we don't, but the maternal and paternal instinct is to safeguard our children whom we love and adore. 

Kids need three things to individuate successfully: stability, consistency, and safety. Absent those, you run the risk of unhealthy knotted bonding and stunted separation anxiety. 

Everyone needs to lead their own lives--we really only have one life to live. Yet, as family, we are very much the foundation and part of their inner strength for everything that follows from their determination, hard work, and blessings from Above. 

For parents and children, it is critical to balance the need for healthy separation and independence with love and bonding that is timeless.

We have to "let go and let G-d" and let our Children. 

The parents are the past and the children are the future, but we mean everything to each other. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 13, 2016

Balancing Change and Stability

So new leaders frequently want to come into town like a knight in shining armor riding speedily on their white stallions to "save the day." 

Being new and needing to prove themselves, change and quick results are the imperative.

The problem is that fast, quick wins can be mistakenly and superficially achieved while sacrificing longer-term organization success.  

We push people to hard, too fast, and without the underlying care and emotional feeding to duly support the rainbow in the sky changes being sought. 

People are human beings that need to be brought along in a unified manner and with a solid infrastructure and not plowed over for the sake of some short-term gains.

You can push for change so hard--you can crack the whip and you can demand what you want when you want--but rest-assured that you are leaving a great pile of destruction in your wake. 

Performance results are built by maintaining a sane balance between change and stability--pushing others to do more with less has to be replaced instead with getting out front yourself and pulling the organizational weight at a measured pace so that workers aren't trampled by the raw, unbridled ambition of the leadership. 

You may have a great scorecard of accomplishments, but they may be the tip of what is otherwise an iceberg of discontent and disaster beneath. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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