Leading Change

I heard a great presentation on change management.


Some highlights I really liked:


– U.S. Army War College in developing high performance leaders seeks to develop competency to operate in an “VUCA” environment:


Volatile

Uncertain

Complex

Ambigious


– The key is NOT to get “emotionally/amygdala hijacked” where our “reptilian brain” in response to threats jumps to:


Fight, Flight, or Freeze


– Instead, we need to manage change methodically as “transitions” (which are personal and emotional) so that we understand that:


Every Ending is a New Beginning


(G-d does not close one door without opening a new one for us.)


–  When one thing in life comes to an end, this is where there is enormous potential for growth in:


The Reinvention of Ourselves


Release the emotions and be ready to move on!


– In short, it can be difficult to accept change unless we realize that:


Problems = Opportunities


And this is the critical place where we can try new things and learn and grow. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Purim In Israel, Chabad Style

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Purim in Israel, Chabad Style.”

We had the privilege to be in Israel for Purim night. We are going down Ben Yehudah Street in Tel Aviv looking for a synagogue for Megillah reading. Out of nowhere comes this Rabbi in Purim costume dashing down the sidewalk on roller skates. He pulls up in front of me and asks me to join them at the Chabad shul (#770 of course). Who can say no when Chabad is not only so cool and inviting, but also always helping to keep our minds focused on doing another mitzvah and towards the ultimate coming of Mashiach.


Over and over, I find you just gotta love everything about Chabad–they understand faith, ritual, and people’s hearts and for that and their acceptance of all Jews, I truly appreciate them. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

We All Have Our Moods

Thought this was a funny comic strip in the office. 

Today I’m feeling {choose your poison}…


While I’m sure that we’d like to be happy all the time, it’s not realistic to think that will actually be probable or even possible.


Sure, everyone puts on the big smile.


But behind the smile is often many other feelings 


As one colleague said to me:


“People are complex!”


Isn’t that true?


Anyway, don’t beat yourself for feeling what you feel–it’s okay to be relaxing, excited, angry, sad, stressed or whatever.


Of course, that doesn’t excuse letting it get the best of you and bad behavior.


We’re adults, not children with temper tantrums.


Certainly, though, we are all human, and all feelings are fine. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Today is Father’s Day

What a beautiful Father’s Day card from my daughter. 


Also, the message she wrote to me inside was so thoughtful and mature. 


It is wonderful for me to see her grow up to be such a lovely young lady. 


The cover of the card:

“Father:
Neither an anchor to hold us back, 
nor a sail to take us there, 
but a guiding light whose
love shows us the way.”


As parents, we certainly don’t have all the answers either for ourselves or certainly for our children. 


And frankly, the kids don’t want us to tell them what to do or how to do it. 


The best we can really do is to be there for them–to spend time with them, to support them, to show them we really care, and to provide perspective, balance, and faith. 


I used to love going to my parent’s house even if just to lay on the couch and feel the comfort of being “home” and with them. 


I didn’t have to think about what I did or said–I could just be me, and they loved me for that. 


Now, I want my home to be that for my kids. 


Even though they are adults now, they know we are always here for them in any way that they want or need us. 


Our home is always their home. 


Our love is always surrounding them. 


My father used to say, he would go through fire for his family, and I always knew he meant it. 


I could count on him for anything.


I miss him always, and especially today, Father’s Day. 


But I can carry on his fatherhood to my children and try to be a good dad–there, and loving and giving–no bounds, no expectations, no judgment–just love, plain and simple. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Left Handshake Is Right

So I heard about someone misinterpreting something I did for the worse.


Occasionally, when someone tries to shake my hand, instead of shaking with my right hand, I will take their hand in my left. 


I’ll do this for various reasons such as arthritic pain or from dirt (like ink or cleaning ) from some prior work I was doing. 


But always when I extend my hand it is with warmth and friendship. 


However, I learned that one person took this handshake as a serious personal affront. 


They thought that I was “disrespecting” them intentionally.


So I learned that even the most everyday, mundane gestures like a handshake, but done differently, can be taken out of context and misinterpreted. 


Why do we judge others for the bad?


Maybe because we don’t trust, don’t want to ask, don’t want to know, or have had bad experiences in life that jade us. 


But sometimes a handshake is just a handshake whether with the right or left hand. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Drive The Tractor

Thank you so much to Rabbi Schneur Kaplan for his wonderful speech today in Downtown Jewish Center Chabad synagogue, Fort Lauderdale.


He told the story about the boy who grew up in Israel as a chasid, but later left chasidism to work the land–he drove a tractor!


Years later, the young man rediscovers his religion and goes back to yeshiva to study, and he is excellent and surpasses many of his peers.


Eventually, he ends up in a one-on-one with the Rebbe–and he waits with baited breath for what the great Rebbe will tell him that will guide his life–will he become a great scholar, Rabbi, shaliach, or head of a Yeshiva.


Then the Rebbe speaks, and says:

“You will be a tractor driver”


The young man is shocked and goes back to studying Torah with even more determination and harder than ever.


Once again, he comes before the Rebbe, and he is anticipating what he will say.


Again, the Rebbe looks deep into his soul and says:

“You will drive a tractor!”


Sure enough, the man now understanding that he has to meet his particular fate head on, goes back to working the Holy Land and driving the tractor.


But in so doing he is able to do outreach to tens of thousands of people who otherwise would have never had the opportunity to be brought close to Hashem through Chasidism.


The message was that we are not all destined to be clones, robots, or do the same thing in life.


The Torah is our guide to serve Hashem and do what is right.


But each of us has our own mission in serving Him and we can achieve greatness and Holiness even when we drive a tractor or do whatever we do.


I am not a Rabbi, but in my own way, I try to raise my family–be a good husband, father, and prior a good son–and also to serve with integrity and a good example in my professional and educational endeavors.


It’s okay that I’m not a Chabad Rabbi doing outreach–that’s not me–although I did meet someone today from my elementary school, Manhattan Day School, that did become just that and we had a nice kiddish lunch with him and caught up together after services.


I am me–and I am okay with me.


I don’t have to be someone else–anyone else.


I can do good being me–and that is what I will try to do with each and every breath of every day.


Whether I drive a tractor (or this cool VW van with a big smiley face), we all serve our Maker.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Where Does Organized Religion Go Wrong

Organized Religion.jpeg

So I am definitely someone who is spiritual and tries to be faithful to G-d.


I believe, He is my creator and sustainer and that we are here to learn and grow our soul before it goes back to Hashem. 


Yet often, like so many others now-a-days, I find organized religion to be a turn-off. 


Why?


1) There is a consistency and sincerity problem.


To some people, I believe it’s partially the rote and robotic nature of some of the practices–where we just do it, because we are told to do it, and we do it over and over and time after time, again–even when we don’t feel it in the moment, and even if we do other things that are not so right in other areas of our lives.  


In contrast perhaps, there can be more spontaneous and genuine feelings and actions, in the moment and every moment–that come from the heart and the soul of the person and directly to G-d–and they are consistent whether we are in a religious setting to how we treat others and how we act in business. 


In other words, we just don’t follow the rules, but we live them fully and integrated with ourselves and all situations we find ourselves in. 


2)  There is a money and power problem.


In some religious environments, all people are not created equal or treated equal. Instead, the say, the attention, and the honor goes to the powerful and the rich, who are courted for their donations and their votes to the institution and the spiritual leader. Who gets talked up? Who is given the honors at the religious rituals, at the events and the dinners, and with their communal “peers”? 


In other cases, it’s not just money and power that talks, but who is outwardly the “most religious” and presumably walks the walk.  If you but “seem” more religious than the next guy, then you are elevated and exalted in the religious community.  


Instead, what happened to welcoming and caring for everyone–to everyone being children of G-d–to each person having a soul and their personal life challenges. Why can’t we treat everyone as religiously worthwhile and give everyone a chance to learn and grow in their own way from their starting point and to their destination?  


Religion should be the one place that isn’t a competition with others. 


Religion is ultimately between man and G-d!


And only G-d knows what is inside man’s heart and in his soul–and what his actions really are all the time and what they truly mean in context and in essence


I welcome G-d in my life, because I:


– Have faith in Him and that ultimately He has a master plan and that everything is for the good 

– Love Him for giving me the chance to learn and grow my soul to be better

– Fear Him for when I do something wrong in my life and need a course correction 


I wish for a time and transformation when religion would not just be based on outward manifestations but on being sincere and consistent in people’s lives, and where people would no longer be superficially judged and (mis)treated because they are themselves and on their G-d given paths. 


If only we could religiously love, rather than endlessly judge, each other, oh what a heartfelt and inspiring religion that would be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)