Dysfunctional Breeds Dysfunction

A colleague was telling me a while back about a dysfunctional organization they were in and how it made them feel…well, dysfunctional. 


I told them:

Never let the organization define you!  You are who you are. 


Honestly, I could see how this situation wore on them.


Then we met up again, and it was like they were a new person. 


I asked them what happened and they said how they made a change in their life and sure enough in a healthy setting and culture, they felt great again!


It’s incredible the negative impact that a bad organizational culture can have on its people. 


But it’s up to you to find the right place for you, so you can be who you are!  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Pyramid of Emotional Intelligence

I really like this Pyramid of Emotional Intelligence (EI). 


It starts at the bottom with your own personal self-awareness–knowing who you are, including your beliefs, values, priorities, needs, and dreams, and being able to express this. 


Next level is your personal self-control–being able to manage your feelings, control your actions, and cope with challenges and adversity. 


Moving to the social level is then social awareness–having a consciousness and respect of others, their feelings, thoughts, motivations, needs, desires, and rights.


Finally, at the top is relationship management–the ability to actively listen and empathize, assert and influence, be patience and unconditionally accept differences, develop trust, give and take, collaborate, and manage conflict.


Most people work on developing these areas of the EI their whole life, and it is definitely a pyramid worthy of the climb. 😉


(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

An Introverted Extrovert

I thought this was an interesting phrase someone used the other day to describe their personality.


They called themselves an “Introverted Extrovert.”


I asked what they meant, and they explained as follows:


“I’m Introverted until I get to know someone then I am extroverted with them.”


This actually made a lot of sense to me.


We may be reticent at the beginning when meeting new people, but once we feel comfortable with others and start to trust them, then we naturally open up to them.


The truth is most people aren’t extroverted (social) or introverted (shy). 


Instead, people are on a continuum, which is generally a bell-shaped curve.  


In other words, most people are somewhere in the middle—either introverted extroverts or extroverted introverts. 


Well, what’s an extroverted introvert?


It’s someone who tends to be more comfortable and trusting and social with people, but they also need time alone to recharge, and perhaps they even get shy sometimes. 


Most people don’t exist on the extremes–that’s why they are called extremes!


So don’t be so quick to judge yourself as an introspective introvert or an outgoing extrovert or anything else for that matter. 


We are “this” AND “that”–sometimes maybe a little more this or that, but that’s all part of us and it’s okay to be us! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Tongue-Tied Silence

Sometimes in life, people are left tongue-tied. 


Too shocked, shamed, confused, or abused to speak or perhaps to even know what to say anymore. 


Maybe in the face of some horrible things that happen in life, there really are no words.


Instead, the vacant or crazed look in the eyes says it all.


People go through a lot–some of it is inhumane.


Sometimes, only tears can even begin to express what they are feeling. 


I think one thing that is important to do, even when we’re not sure what to say, is to acknowledge that it is okay. 


Silence is often golden. 


Listen more, watch more, feel more, learn more, reflect more. 


Ask more questions. 


Usually, I’m told to ask at least 5 times (i’d say at least 3) to decompose to what is really going on underneath the superficial covers. 

“Tell me more.”
“What else?”
“Can you elaborate?”


Sometimes, people have difficulty getting in touch with their true feelings or accurately diagnosing what’s bothering them.  


It’s more than okay to be thoughtful, be deliberative. 


Words are often cheap, but they shouldn’t be. 


Our words should be truthful, meaningful, insightful, even righteous. 


Take all the time you need, your words are worth it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Got The Call

ATM.jpeg

I got the call!


But not the one that I always wanted, which is to serve at the very highest echelons of government or/and industry for those values and things which I so hold dear. 


No, instead I got the call that my professor in college warned me about. 


He said:

“You will get a call one day from someone asking for a lot of cash–no questions asked! At that time, you will know who you’re real friends are.”


So I actually got this call (for real) and in the middle of my work day.


This person who contacts me is considered quite affluent and with an extensive network, and I know him/her for only a relatively short time


Person:

“You know you’re like family to me Andy…I need $2,000–in cash–by 7 pm. I’ll pay you back $500 on Friday and the rest by Monday.”


Me (Stunned):

“What–is this a joke or something?”


Person:

{Repeats again the request}


Me:

“OMG. What’s wrong–is everyone okay? Are you in any trouble?”


Person:

Uh, everyone’s fine…don’t ask me any questions–there’s no time for this now.”


Me {Reaching for some humor in this bizarre situation}:

“Oh, only $2,000–I thought maybe you needed $2 million–that’s no problem, of course.”


Person:

“Please don’t make jokes now Andy–this isn’t funny!”


Me {Trying once again to get some more–any–information}:

“Can you just explain to me what’s going on–I really want to understand, so I can help you.”


Person:

“Do you have the cash or not?”


Me: 

“To be frank no. I don’t keep any cash around. {Inquiring to learn more…} Could you take a check or something else?”


Person:

“No. Listen, can you go to the ATM now?”


Me {frustrated by the abruptness, lack of sensical communication, and pushiness, as well as more than a little suspicious at how this is all going down}:

“Well the ATMs have a cash limit. Also, I would really need to check with my {lovely} wife first,”


Person {seeing they weren’t getting what they wanted when they wanted it}:

“Okay, well if you can’t help, I’ll just call someone else–thanks {hanging up on me}!” 


WOW!


Despite having trusted this person and feeling very hurt by all this, I still called the person back later that evening to follow up and because I truly cared, and they were still not any more forthcoming with me, and in fact, were quite attacking that they were sorry to have called me.


But I wasn’t sorry…my college professor was right on, thank G-d–I do know who my friends are!


Whether its a lunch date, LinkedIn/Facebook contact, or social invitation, be discerning about the motives of people–outside of any sane and normal context–that are seeking to “friend” you. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Thank You Chaplain Berning

Spiritual Communication Board.jpg

I read about this amazing “Spiritual Communications Board” that Chaplain Joel Nightingale Berning invented for New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. 


The board allows hospital patients who are intubated or otherwise can’t talk to communicate their spiritual health and needs. 


The top part allows the person to say what religion they are. 


The bottom left, are choices for how they feel from afraid and lonely, to nervous, helpless, and hopeless, and even to identify on a scale of 0 to 10, the level of their spiritual pain. 


And on the bottom right, they can point to ask for spiritual help… from a prayer, song, or blessing to talk with me, sit with me, get my family or hold my hand. 


While hospitals have traditionally been focused on getting a person, with G-d’s help, physically healthy again, it is wonderful to see people, like Chaplain Berning looking after the spiritual side of patients wellness and health as well. 


To heal, people don’t just need surgeries and medicines, but they need to deal with all the emotions and pain surrounding their condition and their challenging life situations, and this is something that spiritual caregivers can make a huge difference with. 


The health of the soul and the body are linked in more ways than one. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Chaplain Berning)

Dysfunction Is The Starting Point

family

A very smart speech today in synagogue by Rabbi Haim Ovadia. 


He connected to this week’s reading from Genesis in the Torah.


It was a commentary about our forefathers and mothers and what the stories in the Bible teach us. 


As we know, these people while righteous and holy, were not perfect people or families. 


Thinking about these, some examples that come to mind about the many tests, challenges, and tragedies in their lives:


– Adam and Eve eating the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden


– Noah getting drunk and his son, Ham, seeing his nakedness and telling his brothers


– Abraham and Sarah’s doubting (i.e. laughing) that G-d would give them a child


– Isaac lying to Avimelech about Rivkah being his sister (similar to what Abraham said about Sarah)


 – Jacob buying the birthright and stealing the blessing from Esau


– Shimon and Levi killing the people of Shechem for Hamor raping their sister


– Joseph’s brothers being jealous of him and throwing him in the pit and selling him into slavery


– Judah sleeping with Tamer, the wife of his firstborn 


And so on. 


Rabbi Ovadia said we should keep 4 things in mind about the Biblical figures and families to learn for our own:


1) Context – There is a context to what we do. We all have histories that involve difficulties, challenges, illness, abuse, PTSD, and so on.  The things we do and how we react later in life are anchored in this context. 


2) Dysfunction – Every family (and I would add person, organization, and institution) is dysfunctional.  There is no perfection out there (except G-d). Functional would mean like a computer, we input-process-output towards a certain function.  However, as people, we are not automatons, but instead work out our dysfunction through our striving to love, have relationships, learn and grow. 


3) Responsibility – Whatever our challenges and dysfunctions, we are responsible for what we do–our actions.  We can’t just blame history or others.  Our role is to face up to our lot in life and take responsibility for what we do.  It our life and circumstances to make or break us. 


4) Communication – In dealing with life and it’s challenges, communication is key to dealing with things. I would argue that communication is just a part of many critical success factors like trust, determination, hard work, emotional intelligence, being giving, integrity, etc.  But certainly, communication is a key aspect in how we work out our issues with others and try to build function from inherent dysfunction. 


The honestly of the Bible in telling us the flaws of it’s heroes and heroines–our ancestors–is one of the things that make it such a source of wisdom for us as well as demonstrating the truthfulness of it being G-d given to us.


The bible doesn’t sugarcoat who we are and what we have to deal with–it is the Book of G-d that is a roadmap for us to learn from and do good with in our own lives. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)