Showing posts with label Chance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chance. Show all posts

February 26, 2021

It’s Never About Luck

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "It’s Never About Luck."

Today is Purim, when we celebrate the Jewish victory over the evil Haman and his conspiracy to annihilate the Jews in the Persian Empire. Haman drew a lottery to determine what he thought was a fortuitous day, the 13th of Adar, to murder the Jewish people and pursued this plot through a decree by King Achashverosh. But as we know, G-d made miracles through Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai, and Haman and his ten sons ended hanging by the noose that he built for Mordechai. 

This has been my personal experience as well, as I can see both now and in 20/20 hindsight that there is a definite Divine method and not just a world of random chance and madness.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


March 8, 2020

Why The Happiness of Purim?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Why The Happiness of Purim?"

In a world that is constructed of the story of Purim, everything looks like it's based on mere happenstance and there seems to be no G-d involved—this is a world of randomness and meaninglessness. Whatever happens, just happens by nature or luck, and what can be more meaningless and depressing than that! Thus, the Rabbis had to decree all the laws for the happiness of Purim, because happiness is not innate to a story that is seemingly happenstance and devoid of G-d. That is the big difference between Purim, where Hashem is hidden, and Passover or Hanukah, where Hashem revealed Himself and made incredible miracles—the 10 plagues and the splitting of the Red Sea or the one day of oil that lasted for eight days.

On Purim, we celebrate our deliverance from the evil Haman and the king's decree to kill all the Jews, but also we are overflowing with Joy remembering that G-d is always with us—in good times and G-d forbid in the bad times--we are not afraid of anything (another indecisive election, the stock market downturn, our enemies, Coronavirus, etc.) knowing that He loves us and cares for us, and will deliver us in the old days and in the new. May the final deliverance soon be completed with the arrival of the Mashiach—and the hidden will become revealed like on Purim and the joy will be forever increased. Amen.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


December 8, 2012

Go Safe or Go For It?

I came away with some thoughts on risk taking watching this scene from the movie "Lies and Alibis."

The girl says: "Simple is boring."
The guy answers: "Boring is safe."
The girl responds: "Safe is for old people."

(Note: nothing personal here to the elderly. Also, hope I didn't get the who said which thing wrong, but the point is the same.)

Take-a-way: Very often in life we aren't sure whether to take a risk or not. Is it worth it or is it reckless? And we have to weigh the pros and cons, carefully!

- We have to ask ourselves, where's the risk and where's the reward?

We have to decide whether we want to try something new and accept the potential risk or stay stable and go safe with the status quo that we already know.

At times, staying with a bad status quo can be the more risky proposition and change the safer option--so it all depends on the situation. 

- We also have to look at our capabilities to take chances: 

For example, in terms of age appropriateness--it can be argued that younger people can take more risk, because they have more time to recover in life, should the situation go bad. 

At the same time, older people may have more of a foundation (financial savings, built-up experience and education, and a life-long reputation) to take more chances--they have a cushion to fall back on, if necessary. 

- In the end, we have to know our own level of risk tolerance and have a sense of clarity as to what we are looking for and the value of it, as well as the odds for success and failure.

It's a very personal calculation and the rewards or losses are yours for the taking. Make sure you are ready to accept them!

Finally--always, always, always have a plan B. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


August 6, 2011


 Wow--the last few weeks and months have unfortunately seen so many things going wrong for us as a country (with the exception of nailing Bin Laden, which was a huge win!)--the problems start with intractable political battles over the debt ceiling, the continuing mounting deficit, the S&P downgrade, the high unemployment, the housing funk, the stock market instability, our falling education rankings in the world, the drought in the Southwest, the famine in Somalia, the turmoil in the Middle East, and today losing so many of our brave special forces soldiers in Afghanistan, and they don't end there--you just shake your head in disbelief and ask how can all this be happening?

I suppose on one hand there is the religious answer that perhaps we are sinners and are being punished for our wrongdoings and that G-d out of his love for us is trying to teach us something and put on us a better track. It is comforting to know that G-d is watching us and controlling the events of the world and is ultimately looking out for our good. With the recent hardships, I would say let the L-rd have mercy on us. Amen!

On the other side, there are those who attribute life events to chance--the roll of the dice--life's general tendencies to ups and downs--perhaps even astrology or fate or other forces of the universe. To them, what happens, happens. It is part of the tests of life and we have to do our best to overcome the trials and tribulations that come our way and hope for better days ahead.

A third viewpoint are those that hold self responsible. They say, what have I or we done to screw things up so badly--What mistakes have we made? What misinterpretations have we read? What actions did we take or fail to take that led to all this mess? This is one that I am most curious about here because it has to do with our our taking responsibility for what is going wrong and for making things right (not in a spiritual sense like in the religious view or in the reactive sense like the rollercoaster view of life as a sequence of chance events).

When we hold ourselves accountable--I believe that means at all levels of our society--from the "I" as in each and every one of us to the the Principals of our Schools, the CEOs of our Fortune 500 companies, our Representatives in Congress, and the Commander in Chief, as some examples. Is everyone doing what they are supposed to be doing and as well as they are supposed to be doing it?

Fortune Magazine (23 May 2011) in an article about the enormous success of Apple pointed out something really critical in their culture that breeds excellence--and that is accountability for delivering results.

"At Apple there is never any confusion as to who is responsible for what." They have a name for this at Apple and it the "DRI"--the Directly Responsible Individual! "Effective meetings at Apple have an action list [and] next to each action item will be the DRI." Moreover, they function as "a unified team."

So at Apple they have individual accountability and that is balanced with teamwork, and they nimbly execute the vision of leadership--who too are directly accountable. For example, the Apple Chief Financial Officer is directly responsible for all cost and expenses that lead to profit and loss.

I believe that as a society we could leverage the Apple model to deliver better results for our country without sacrificing our values and freedoms. We all need to step up and be directly responsible individuals! We can't keep looking at the guy/gal next to us and hoping that they will pull us through. It's will take each and every one of us individually and as a team to cut the pork spending, work smarter, study and increase our skills, and stop the incessant bickering and start doing something constructive.

If we keep fighting over who controls the pie, soon there won't be any pie left. Let's all be DRIs and take a bigger picture view to save the country, while there is still a lot worth saving.

(Source Photo: here)


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 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)