What’s With All The Finger-pointing

Fingerpointing.jpeg

Have you ever seen someone point fingers at the next guy/gal (a classmate, neighbor, co-worker, or even family and friends)?


It’s the blame game, the one-upmanship, the I’m golden and your mud way of doing business–can you really push that knife in any further?


And whatever finger your pointing, frankly it might as well be your middle finger in terms of the message you are sending. 


The old saying is that when you point fingers at others, there are three fingers pointing back at you–try it with your hand now and see what I mean.


Getting the job done–means working collaboratively and cohesively–we all contribute from our unique perspectives and skills sets. 


It’s synergy where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, rather than I think I’ll take all the darn credit–hey, I really do deserve it (in my own mind anyway)! 


Really, it’s not who did what to whom, but who helped whom and giving credit amply all around.


Ultimately, when we work together, we are strong, and when we point fingers at each other, it’s because we are weak, and we are weakening our relationships and the organization. 


The only time to point a finger, for real, is when you are gesturing to the Heaven, where all blessings come and from whom we are all created in His image. 


Otherwise, keep your fingers to yourself unless your fixing something that’s broke. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Getting Past The Political Blame Game

Cup and Bowl.jpeg.jpg

Really liked this Japanese bowl and cup set–so cute. 


The head is the bowl, and the cup which holds all the water and has the handle is the body. 

The head is much bigger than the body, like people’s egos are bigger than their sense of responsibility. 


Today, I read again about some leaders blaming others for the world problems:


“Obama said Trump’s election and the U.K.’s vote to leave the EU were spawned by world leaders’ mishandling of globalization.”


Note, he blames these unspecified “world leaders,” with no attribution or responsibility to himself


To be clear, he is resolute that his policies and way of governing had no impact on the rise of President-elect Trump, his diametric opposite!


This is similar to Hillary Clinton blaming her election loss on the FBI Director investigating her, and not taking responsibility for her own lengthy history of scandals.


Again on Sunday, the New York Times blamed the gender-based, glass ceiling on Hillary’s defeat, rather than acknowledging the impact of the “corruption ceiling” that may have prevented her winning. 


And there is a long pattern of this blaming in politics whether for gridlock, the deficit, healthcare, divisiveness, violence in inner cities, terrorism, improprieties, distrust of government, and more. 


In the extreme, some leaders even blamed the U.S. people themselves for the suffering caused by radical Islamic terrorism!


Even in the recent election, some blamed their own constituents for insulting and ruining their legacy if they don’t go out and vote for his DNC hand-picked successor. 


Yet despite the endless blame game, Obama attacked Trump for whining and blaming rigged elections, saying that this demonstrated a lack of leadership or toughness to be president. 


But at the same time, he takes credit for everything good that happens: for ending Iraq war, for killing Bin Laden, for saving the world economy, for reforming our schools, for “stamping out” Ebola, for $2 gas, and even for the success of Fox news!


How wonderful (NOT) is this philosophy and practice of leadership:


If something good happens, you take the credit; If something bad happens, you blame someone else. 


That’s a very big head on top of that very narrow body. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Break-Fix After Breakfast

So I learned something new about being Mr. Fix It.

First of all, depending on how you look at things, you are either the guy who miraculously arrived on the scene and fixed what was so horribly broken and dysfunctional for way too long.

Or

You are the one who broke what was working so well before you came along and messed things up.

Second, just because you want to fix things, doesn’t mean that the system or actors want it fixed.  

Often, they are used to it that way and are comfortable in their managed chaos.  Objectively better is not necessarily better to those who like to fly below the radar and aren’t looking for change or perceived trouble.

Dealing with what’s wrong means not only admitting something is broken, but also committing to putting in the substantial effort to fix it. To some people, why even go there? 

You may be getting up after breakfast energized to take on the dysfunction, but the organization is frozen in it’s own sickness and the fever isn’t going down or away.

Be careful what you try to fix, because rather than kudos for a job well done, you may be walking into the blame game where after all, pretending that there is no problem to begin with is the greatest shenanigan to hide behind of them all. 

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Broken Mirror Reflections D.C.

Smashed Mirror.jpeg.jpg

So I took this photo of a smashed mirror hanging out of a corner trash can in downtown D.C.

Half is reflecting the garbage in the can and half is reflecting the buildings and trees outside. 

Such a metaphor for the society we live in these days. 

Where we are broken, and society is broken, and certainly lots of government is broken. 

And the shards of glass reflect on the both the garbage of what has piled up inside us and the system, but also the possibilities on the outside for development, growth, and change. 

The broken mirror with the sharp glass shards is dangerous, but perhaps by seeing the mess we are in, we can finally step up and do something to fix it. 

No more circling the wagons, infighting or deflecting from the issues; no more blaming the past or demonizing the opposition; no more excuses for stagnation, incompetence, or impotence; no more whitewashing and red tape; no more firefighting, shoddy quick fixes or waiting for another break/fix; no more whirlwind spin around the dazed and confused; no more sugar-coating, backpedaling, or dressing up or down the facts; no more playing politics or deceiving ourselves and others–is that even possible any longer?

Instead, we change to a model of acknowledging that which is broken and teaming together to fix it–doing something positive, and constructive for ourselves and the world–oh, fix it Dear Henry, please fix it.  😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Is Blame A Leadership Quality

Blame

One of the most important qualities of a leader is responsibility and accountability–as they typically say, “the buck stops here.”

So why do we have so much of this:

1. “Blames his guards [the U.S. Secret Service] for closing White House Tours


2. “Blames [former U.K. prime minister] David Cameron for Libya Descending into a ‘Sh** Show‘”


3. “Says GOP is to Blame for Rise of Donald Trump


4. “Blames [former House Speaker] Boehner for Ongoing Government Shutdown


5. “Blames Democrats for Midterm Losses


6. “Shifting Blame for Bergdahl Trade to [former Defense Secretary] Hagel


7. Blames “Detaining Terrorists at GITMO Helps ISIS [recruit terrorists]


8. “Blames media for losing war against ISIS


9. “Blames U.S. for Gun Violence in Mexico

10. “Blaming [former HHS Secretary] Sebelius” for botched Obamacare rollout


11. “Blames ‘bad apple’ insurers for cancelled [Obamacare] coverage

12. “Blames his Low Approval Numbers on Racism


13. “Blames China…for not playing fair [as competitors]


14. “[Russian President] Putin largely to blame for Syrian crisis” 


15. “Blame Middle East Turmoil on [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu


16. “Blames Christians from Holding Back America from Doing ‘Big Things


17. “Blames Founding Fathers’ ‘structural’ design of Congress for gridlock


18. “Blames the rich–big banks, big oil, big hedge funds…[and] recklessness of Wall Street” for economic crisis


19. “Blames [former President] Bush for Economy While Standing Next To Him


20. “Blames the Messenger” for “legitimate criticism


21. “Blames Everyone but Himself for Failed Economic Policies


Do you think that there is probably a lot more blame to go around? 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Wild Trees)

Head Of Peace Now Is A Moron

Jerk

I don’t often go about calling people names.


It’s not diplomatic or politically correct, of course. 


But I want to make an exception on this special occasion.


And that is when this week, the head of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, actually had the audacity to criticize terror victim, Yonatan Azriaev, in Israel.


The victim was savagely stabbed by a terrorist, yet the victim managed to pull the knife from his own neck and trust it into his attacker, killing him.


What an unbelievable act of courage, strength, and heroism!


But to the leader of Peace Now, he blames the victim and calls this an extra-judicial execution, instead of a completely appropriate act of self-defense against a terrorist on a murderous rampage.


All I can say is the guy is a complete moron (yes, I said it) and shame on the self-hating, anti-Semitic, Peace Now members who are indirectly supporting terrorism, instead of defending their brothers and sisters. 


Let’s hope and pray for a genuine peace with security for the Holy Land.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Going To War, In The Office

Indian
So occasionally in the office, people perhaps forget where they are…



And instead of working together to solve problems, they go to war with each other and make more problems. 



Yes, there are power politics and plenty of my slice of the pie versus your slice of the pie–whose slice is bigger, whose got more cheese and toppings, and whose slice is pipping hot. 



Most often these office controversies happen behind the scenes or closed doors.



Behind the scenes, you can’t see the knives violently slashing and behind paper-thin closed doors you (usually) can’t hear the screaming!



But every once in a while the “passion” of the work spills over into the public domain–sometimes in a meeting, hallway, cafeteria, or the even the company picnic. 



In all these cases, the professionalism goes out the window way too fast and out comes the drawing of lines in sand, the I’m right and you’re wrong (including wagers for a good lunch or even maybe a nice crisp $100 bill), and threats to escalate (as if this wasn’t ugly enough already).



What comes over people in the moment–perhaps they simply feel like they are in the right or that they are simply defending themselves, or maybe there is spillover from problems at home, ego at play, socialization issues, or even personality disorders.



Whatever the reason, as one of my best friend’s fathers used to say, “When 2 people fight, they are both wrong!”



Or some people say that “they both end up with black eyes”–even if one comes away worse than the other…



And I think if you’ve ever had a car accident with another driver, you would know that the insurance companies agree with this principle, and attribute some portion of blame to each driver–whether 50/50 or 99/1–everybody plays a part whether in an accident, dispute, or an all out brawl.



What’s interesting watching these unfold is how the participants are almost in their own world with everyone else as bystanders, sort of just fading into the distance–so they do everything wrong:



They speak emphatically in absolutes (and maybe even yell a little), cite chapter and verse (but from different books), name drop (ever bigger executives in the organization whether they really know them or their positions on the issues or not), name call and make personal digs, and perhaps–although it should absolutely never come to this–get physical (like slamming their portfolios, coffee mugs, and doors, or I heard one person who even threw something at their colleague).



Aside from these folks typically losing the argument and whatever they were after, what’s worse is they lose everyone’s respect, and maybe even their jobs. 



The arrow of the workplace fight shoots way up, and comes down hard and fast right in their behinds…it’s a stupid, but endlessly painful and deserved ouch.  😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Didn’t Do It

Ice Cream Kid
My elderly father retold a funny joke to us yesterday when we visited him at his assisted living home.



It goes like this…



A teacher in school asks the classroom of children, “Who killed Abraham Lincoln?”



One little child in the front of the room meekly raises his hand, and when called on by the teacher answers,”I didn’t do it!”



The teacher is taken aback at the response, and after class calls the child’s father and tell him to come in after school to discuss this. 



After school, the father shows up and sits down with the teacher, and listens to him repeat the story about what happened in class.



The father is visibly annoyed, and when the teacher is done staunchly says, “If my son says he didn’t do it, then he didn’t do it!”



Ah, I suppose one could take this as a sad commentary either generally-speaking on the state of our education system or in particular of this family that is quite clueless–and where it’s clear that the apple does not fall far from the tree. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Not Bias, Just Plain Old Hatred

Not Bias, Just Plain Old Hatred

I read a book review in the Wall Street Journal on Profiles in Denial by William Storr about David Irving the notorious Holocaust denier.

He is a “‘revisionist’ of all things World War II,” but apparently is particularly keen on Holocaust denial, as someone who according to Wikipedia is an “anti-semite, and racist who…promotes neo-Nazism.”

The Holocaust denial goes deep for Irving and even upon visiting Majdanek concentration camp, he tells his group “This is a mock-up of a gas chamber. Those cylinders are carbon dioxide not carbon monoxide…There are handles on the inside of these doors,” so the prisoners could let themselves out.

Actually, the door was locked with huge bolts right on the outside and was sealed airtight, but to Irving it’s as if these didn’t exist.

The book discusses how cognitive biases such as confirmation biases help people “find confirming evidence for our beliefs, ignoring or rationalizing away all discriminating evidence.”

But I think this is really beyond the point with someone like Irving, who according to The Guardian is a discredited British historian and Nazi apologist” and was actually jailed for a “three-year prison sentence in Vienna for denying the Holocaust and the gas chambers of Auschwitz.”

The State Prosecutor said of Irving “He’s not a historian, he’s a falsifier of history…this is about abuse of freedom of speech.”

Judge Peter Liebtreau called Irving “a racist, an anti-semite, and a liar.”

So this is no simple bias or mind game for Irving, but apparently a convenient way for him to pursue his hatreds under the guise that everything was and is really okay.

So rather than “Never forget,” is is far more beneficial for those that would wish it to happen again that they lull people to believe that it never even was to begin with.

Interesting that another famous Holocaust denier is no less than Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who claimed the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were murdered, was a “myth” (Washington Post).

By the way, Ahmadinejad also said “9/11 was an inside job.”

People like Irving and Ahmadinejad are not about confirmation bias, but rather about distortion of truth to further their own evil destructive aims.

In the case of Ahmadinejad, it’s that he wishes to see Israel be “wiped off the map” (New York Times).

And in the case of Irving, he has said, “there will…probably be another holocaust in the next thirty years…oh, and if the Jews are lucky, there will be a David Irving or Adolf Hitler [may their names be obliterated] to protect them” (The Independent).

Oh, G-d forbid!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Shout, Let It All Out or Shut Up and Take 10

Shout, Let It All Out or Shut Up and Take 10

I like this photo…”I don’t know what we’re yelling about!!”

On one hand, some people may yell out of frustration or anger–because they feel terribly wronged or even abused by someone else (i.e. they feel a “righteous anger”).

On the other hand, others may yell because they are mentally unstable or just can’t handle their sh*t (i.e. “they are losing it”).

Some may yell like in martial arts training to scare the other person and get them to back off. I remember someone telling me back in NYC that if you’re about to be attacked, start to talk to yourself, act crazy, foam at the mouth, and yell…this way maybe they will leave you alone (i.e. “they’ll look for an easier target”).

While some studies are saying that yelling is becoming less of a problem, the sheer number of articles on this topic tell a different story. From yelling at your children to yelling at your employees, the yelling phenomenon is alive and well.

Parents are yelling more, maybe to avoid spanking, which is now more a social taboo. Studies show that 75% of parents scream at their kids about once a month–this includes shouting, cursing, calling them “lazy,” “stupid,” or otherwise belittling and blaming them. The problem is that yelling only makes the kids depressed, angrier, and creates more behavioral problems, not less.

In this way, shouting at children is no different than physically abusing them (e.g. hitting, pushing, etc.)

Similarly, when superiors or customers scream at employees, the workers feel they are in an out of control situation where they are powerless. There are numerous negative impacts that this has on them, including problems with memory, reduced creativity, worse performance, and higher turnover rates.

While some people may not resort to actual yelling in the workplace, they instead do “silent yelling–sending flaming emails, making faces or otherwise denigrating employees or simply marginalizing them. In other words, they don’t yell, but rather are silent and deadly, nonetheless.

Businessweek quotes Rahm Emanuel about how he motivates people, “Sometimes–I don’t want to say scream at them–but you have to be…forceful.”

Rather than yell or scream, the common advice is to bring it down–way down–using measures from taking a deep breath to meditating, counting to ten or waiting 24 hours before responding, describing how you feel to focusing on problem-solving.

The key is to calm down, act with your brains not your brawn, and figure out how to get to the root cause of the problem and solve it.

People may raise their voice to vent or make a point, in the heat of the moment, or if they are being personally attacked, but in general, as it says in Ethics of Our Fathers, “Who is strong? One who overpowers his inclinations.” 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Soukup)