Sometimes We Get Surprised

Sometimes we get surprised in life. 

Now of course, the surprise can be good or not so good. 

One person told me this funny story about how they were in the bathroom and they reached for the toothpaste.

They put it on their toothbrush and proceeded to brush their teeth.

All of a sudden though, they realized that something didn’t taste quite right.

Lo and behold, they see that they had accidentally put Desitin (diaper rash ointment) on their toothbrush.

Yikes, that was nasty indeed (at least no mouth sores after that)!

But surprises, even when not so good, can be a wake up call. 

In this case, you better be more careful what the heck in put in your mouth.

And more generally-speaking, we need to pay attention to what we’re doing–be deliberate, plan, and adjust accordingly. 

I remember early in my career, one supervisor telling me, “I don’t like surprises!”

Yeah, unless it’s winning the Powerball lottery jackpot or something like that, what surprises are usually all that great anyway? 

Sure, I like a my share of adventure, novelty, fun, and challenge in life, but also I’ll take a mouthful of tranquility mixed with some incremental progressive learning and growth over Desitin on my toothbrush any day of the week. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Begone With Daylight Savings Time

Daylight saving time is one of those ideas that should be relegated to the dustbin of history. 


It serves no functional purpose and is actually a negative for society overall. 


Originally devised to have longer daylight in the Summer months by moving the clock forward an hour, it was also thought to save electricity by having more daylight.


However, research on the energy savings have had at best mixed results and the extra hour of sunlight in the evening in Summer with sunset extending to after 9 pm is necessary why???


Let’s face it…it is stupid to move the clocks twice a year “springing forward” in the Spring and “falling back” in the Fall. 


Aside from the nonsense of actually having to move the clocks, it is disruptive and unhealthy to our sleep and other bodily patterns–was anyone else up too early for work this morning and hanging around until it was actually time to go in?


And it’s not only people’s bodily cycle that gets messed up, but animals too. One of my colleagues complained this morning about their dog needing to go out for their walk early this morning–apparently, the dog didn’t get the message about daylight savings time. 


Time is not something to mess with–it should be stable like the other natural cycles of good ‘ol Mother Nature–that we depend on as the “Laws of Nature!”


We don’t change the number of days in December from 31 to 32 (taking it from perhaps October, which we can easily cut back on to 30 or 29 days) to extend the joyous holiday and  the shopping season which is good for economy.


We also don’t mess with the number of days of the week–perhaps, for example, we should shorten the week from 7 to 6 days, so that we can have a more frequent rest cycle and rejuvenate our bodies and minds more frequently. Who wouldn’t vote to get rid of Mondays and just start the week with Tuesday instead. 


Change is a good thing when it actually has a net benefit to society and it is more than negligible, but continuing to move around the dials on the clock, just because someone woke up one day with another cockeyed idea is not something to keep repeating.


It’s time to recognize the bad idea for daylight savings time for what it is and restore stable time like a tick-tock that we can all set our watches consistently to. 😉


(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)

It Takes A Village

Village.jpeg

I wanted to share some good tidbits about effective management, collaboration, and engagement that I heard this week at a Partnership for Public Service event.


It Takes A Village – No I don’t mean the book by Hillary Clinton, but rather the idea that no one person is an island and no one can do everything themselves. Rather, we need the strengths and insights that others have to offer; we need teamwork; we need each other!


2-Way Communication – Traditionally, organizations communicate from the top-down or center to the periphery (depending how you look at it).  But that doesn’t build buy-in and ownership. To do that, we need to have 2-way communication, people’s active participation in the process, and genuine employee engagement.


Get Out Of The Way –  We (generally) don’t need to tell people how to do their jobs, but rather develop the vision for what success looks like and then get out of the way of your managers and people. “Make managers manage and let managers manage” and similarly, I would say, hold people accountable but let people work and breath!


Things Change – While it’s important to have consistency, momentum, and stay the course, you also need to be agile as the facts on the ground change.  “Disregard what’s not working, and embrace what is.” But you must stay open to new ideas and ways of doing things.


This is our world of work–our village–and either everyone helps and gets onboard the train or they risk getting run over by it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Talk To The Hand

Hand
So you know the saying “Talk to the hand, because the face ain’t home…”?



Well IPSoft has an artificial intelligence agent called Amelia that handles service requests. 



Instead of talking to a human customer service rep, you get to talk to a computer. 



The question is whether Amelia is like talking to a hand or is someone really home when using IA to adroitly address your service issues?



Now apparently, according to the Wall Street Journal, this computer is pretty smart and can ingest every single manual and prior service request and learn how to answer a myriad of questions from people. 



On one hand, maybe you’ll get better technical knowledge and more consistent responses by talking to a computerized service representative.



But on the other hand, if the interactive voice response systems with the dead end menus of call options, endless maze of “If you want to reach X, press Y now” along with all the disconnects after being on for 10 minutes already are any indication of what this, I am leery to say the least. 



The Telegraph does says that Amelia can service customers in 20 languages and after 2 months, can resolve 64% of “the most common queries” independently, so this is hopeful and maybe even inspiring of what is to come. 



These days, based on how much time we spend online in the virtual world, I think most people would actually prefer to talk to a knowledgeable computer than a smart alec human who doesn’t want to be handling annoying customer calls all day, anyway. 



The key to whether Amelia and her computerized brothers and sisters of the future will be successful is not only how quickly they can find the correct answer to a problem, but also how well they can understand and address new issues that haven’t necessarily come up the same way before, and how they handle the emotions of the customer on the line who wishes they didn’t have the problem needing this call to begin with. 😉



(Source Photo: here with attribution to Vernon Chen)

G-d, Thinking Of You

Praise G-d
I saw this on the side of a car and liked it–simple and to the point:



“Praise G-d”



My father used to tell me that “There are no atheists in a foxhole”–basically every one shits their pants when that tank rolls overhead.



There is a tendency to turn to G-d when we feel we need him–when times are bad–but then sort of forget about him when things are okay again, and we feel like we have it all under control.



Even when things are bleak, it can be easy to lose faith in anger and despair. 



So challenge #1 is to remember him in good times and bad–we are in his hands, always. 



In terms of how we praise G-d?



Some do it in prayer, others in deed.



That leads to challenge #2–to speak and act with consistency and sincerity. 😉 



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Needy And You Know It

Needy And You Know It

Some people are so needy–they are almost like children in adult’s clothing, while others are so distant they may as well be living on another planet–they are in there own world.

The Wall Street Journal (15 July 2013) asks why some people seem to demand so much?

It explains that there are three types of people:

1) Secure–these people were raised in a consistently caring and responsive manner and they become warm and loving people themselves able to form healthy balanced relationships–where they can be apart from and together with others and function well in both situations.

2) Avoidant/Dismissive–those who are raised in an environment where neediness was not tolerated and was seen as suffocating, and so they learn to minimize closeness to others–they are distant and detached.

3) Anxious/Needy–People raised in an inconsistent environment, where they got mixed messages about nurturing, and they end up constantly feeling insecure and needy, like they will get drawn in and then rejected again, so they smother other people with their neediness and don’t recognize and respect appropriate boundaries.

This third personality type, who is always needy and ends up pushing away other people, who feel suffocated, reminds me of a funny scene in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” where a couple visit the therapist, who asks each of them how often they have sex? The man says, “Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.” But then the woman when asked the same question says, “Constantly. I’d say three times a week.”

Just like people can’t really change their basic sexual needs (men apparently wanting physical intimacy more often then women), so too people can’t change the home life they were raised in–good, bad or indifferent.

Whether people are needy and clingy, aloof and dismissive, or plays between hot and cold, we need to figure out how to care about and love them for whoever they are.

Boundaries are key. Taking some personal space is healthy. Together time and intimacy is critical.

It’s all about finding a balance–where each person has the time and space to be who they are, and then come back to a warm and caring relationship to share, rejuvenate, and laugh and cry together. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)