Aging Gracefully

So as we age, we’ve got to cope with a different reality.


Our bodies and minds may start to deteriorate. 


We can’t do all the same things we used to do (even as we can maybe do others). 


There can be a deep sense of loss as abilities, things, places, and people that were critical to us for many, many years may no longer be present with us. 


When I used to speak with my aging father about he and my mom getting older, he would joke and say:

Yes, we’re getting older–what’s the alternative?


Then the other day, I ran into a nurse from the Jewish Social Services Agency (JSSA). 


We chatted briefly about the good work they do in helping so many elderly and handicapped people.


And then she says to me about how she herself is starting to feel what it’s like to get older, and that she often tells her mom that everything hurts to which her mother responds:

You’re not supposed to leave this world alive!


Putting these together: 


I suppose we all need to do the best we can to age graciously ourselves as well as help others in the process–because there is no alternative to aging and no one leaves this world alive. 😉

Lasting Decisions

So it’s a funny thing about decisions…


Decisions are supposed to represent the conclusion of a process involving the following steps:


– Research of the problem

– Decide on the scope

– Discover the requirements

– Determine viable alternatives

– Evaluate costs, benefits, and risks 

– Do some soul-searching

– And then resolve and commit on a way-ahead


While these steps are typically formalized in a work-setting, they may be done informally in our personal lives. 


But even after all this, we need to remain adaptive to changes in the environment that would cause us to reevaluate the decision and alter course. 

So a decision is a decision until we revisit the decision. 


The problem is that in some highly complex, unstable/turbulent environments, or ones where there are a lot of disagreements among stakeholders (such that there was perhaps not a consensus on the original decision to begin with) then “decisions” may be short-lived.


In this case, decisions may be half-baked, not even last until the ink is dried, and certainly not have a chance in hell to be executed on or seen through to determine whether they actually would’ve worked. 


In a way a decision that is so temporal is not even really a decision, but sticking your toe out to feel the temperature of the water, and any commitment of resources can and probably will be a complete throw-away.  


We’ve got to do the investment in the upfront work, really make a good data-driven (and inspired) decision, and give it an opportunity to blossom. 


Yes, we need to remain agile and change as we sincerely need to, but too much change and for the wrong reasons leads to going nowhere fast.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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)

Interfaith Movie Today

This afternoon, we attended the interfaith movie screening of “The Judge.

The movie is about a Palestinian woman who becomes “the first woman judge in a Shari’a ‘family law’ court.”

Let’s just say it wasn’t easy for her to break into this male-dominated profession within institutionalized religion in the Middle East.

Thinking in an interfaith way, I guess it’s maybe not so dissimilar to women breaking into the profession of the Rabbinate.

Another similarity between the religions was that there were many Islamic religious leaders that were very conservative and dead set against women in the Shari’a courts, while others stood up against the tide and inspired change — I think we have similar disagreements in Judaism between the ultra-orthodox who want to stick with the “old” historical ways of doing things, and the more liberal Jews that seek the freedom to alter those ways.

During the movie, there were some interesting take-aways like under Shariah law, men are allowed up to 4 wives!

Another funny line in the movie was when one of the men said that the men never make trouble for the women (i.e. it’s all the women’s fault).

In the court cases filmed, there seemed to be a lot of cases of domestic violence and of divorce, and in one case in particular the wife was actually stabbed to death in the court house by her husband who she was trying to get a divorce from.

Overall, it felt good to attend the event and try to be a part of the healing process between people.

The event was sponsored by the Jewish-Islamic Dialogue Society (JIDS) of Washington, D.C.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

You Can’t See Yourself

So this donut-shaped art at the Outlets in Clarksburg is metallic and reflective. 


But what is really interesting to me is that when you stand in front of it (like I was literally doing here), you can’t see yourself. 


It made me wonder how you can look at yourself and yet not see yourself. 


And I thought of this as being a bigger lesson in life. 


When we are looking at ourself and there is a big donut whole in the mirror of ourselves then we are left blind to what should be reflecting back at us.  


No matter how hard we try to see ourselves and what we are doing right and wrong, it’s like a ghost out there–we are blind to it. 


To really see ourselves, our heart and mind have to be receptive to seeing the full picture. 


That means looking at ourselves as we really are, even when there seems to be a piece missing to the puzzle, and we have trouble being honest about what we see. 


To change, learn, grow–to become a better person, we need to look full on and be willing to see what we will see.  


You can’t see yourself until you can.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Birthing An IT System

Managing IT projects is no easy task.


You’ve got to get the requirements right. 


Technical issues need to be resolved. 


Dependencies have to be lined up. 


Integrations need to work. 


Design should be user-friendly and intuitive. 


Change management takes real leadership. 


And so much more. 


A lot needs to go right for the project to be a success. 


While of course, just one or two bad apples in the project equation can quickly make for a failure if not controlled for. 


But you can’t let it…the show must go on, progress is waiting to be made, and the systems need to be delivered for the benefit of the organization. 


This is where real strength and determination by so many good people come in. 


Keep moving things forward–one step at a time–don’t stop!!!—another step and another–heave ho, heave, ho–until one day soon a beautiful and efficient IT system is born. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Life Is Like A Sailboat

Planning is a critical aspect of making progress toward your goals.


As they say;

If you fail to plan, plan to fail. 


However, planning is subject to life–and life happens!


One colleague of mine compared it to a sailboat, and our dialogue went something like this:

You set out on a course. But the wind and ocean current takes you here and there. Even as you try to steer the boat with the sails and rudder, sometimes you land on Gilligan’s Island!


Hence, life is like a sailboat.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)