How Does It Feel At The Top

A colleague told me something interesting about what it feels like at the top.


He said:

The 360 degree view is good, but it get’s windy at times!


I thought this was pretty smart, and one reason that many people opt out of moving into senior and executive positions in their organizations. 


Yes, it’s great to be able to lead and have more visibility, influence, and impact. 


But at the same time, this does not come for free or without risks. 


At the top of the pyramid or corporate offices or whatever, there is opportunity. 


Yet, your dealing with other top honchos with strong personalities, egos, and often harsh ways of dealing with others and conflict can be perilous for many. 


My father used to tell me his philosophy:

Better a little less, but you know what you have. 


There is definitely wisdom in those words. 


Maybe as with most things in life, there is a time and place for everything. 


It is great to have the opportunity to lead.


It’s also not bad to have a time to follow and contribute in that way. 


What’s important is that whatever role your in at the time, that you do it with integrity and passion to do good. 


So how does it feel at the top–sure, it’s a nice view, but it can get very windy too. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Art In The Trees

Art in Tree

Today, just sharing a photo that I took and liked. 


This is art in the trees.


A Renaissance child in gorgeous red and gold robes on an expansive scroll in the lush green trees is marvelous to me. 


Also, the contrast of the heavenly creation of the world and nature alongside the man-made art affirms to me how we, ourselves, are made in the image of G-d, and can contribute to the beauty of the world we live in. 


I hope you this like it too! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Live A Good Life, Choose Right

Whether you’re Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or any other religion, I think this is a great music video on living an introspective life, choosing right from wrong, and replacing guilt with inspiration.

We are all confronted every day with situations that are tests of our moral fiber and courage to do what’s right–not necessarily what is easy,

We should choose carefully, consciously, and with a mind toward the master of the universe who watches over us.

While we don’t control everything that happens, we can definitely make a difference in the world by the way we conduct ourselves to our G-d and to each other.

Listening, caring, being sensitive to others, treating others with respect and dignity, trying to help wherever and whenever we can–we can all make a positive contribution.

Well done with the music video to remind us of what’s important–thank you Maccabeats!

Radiate Possibilities

Music_for_tuition

Today, I had the opportunity to see one of the best leadership videos I have ever seen, called “Leadership: An Art of Possibility.”

It features Ben Zander, an Orchestra Conductor who is not just a leader of making music, but of driving people to excellence.

Zander’s passion and energy bring out the best in people–and you can literally see them transformed as their playing comes alive, their faces shine, and they glow under coaching of this conductor extraordinaire.

His leadership principles are:

Speak possibility–create a shift in being (transformation) by seeing the possibility in everyone, and lead people by empowering, not commanding; help people get in touch with their inner passion, so they remember why they love what they do and why it is ultimately important.

Quiet the inner voices–communicate that everyone can get an A and everyone has value; assume the best of everyone, eliminate the fear of judgement, barriers, and mindset of “I can’t do it,” so people can genuinely perform.

Enroll every voice in the vision–make every person feel and realize that they can contribute and make a difference on our journey together; shift from a mindset of pure individuals to that of living in a connected world; like in a symphony– we create a “sounding together.”

Look for shining eyes and radiating faces–you know you are positively reaching people and impacting them when their eyes and face light up; and you need to ask yourself what you are missing, when you aren’t getting this guttural reaction.

Rule #6 (“the only rule”)–Don’t take yourself so %@&$! seriously; mistakes happen and life goes on; really feel the joy, relief, ease, spontaneity, and community around what we do.

The art of possibility is a paradigm shift where we move from having an external standard to live up to, and instead move to fulfilling the possibility we can live into.

In essence, Zander’s leadership philosophy is about removing the barriers that inhibit us and releasing our deep inner talents, so we can achieve our marvelous potentials–and self-actualize.

As Zander states: the conductor actually does not make a sound, yet by empowering people, he leads them to make the most beautiful music together.

If you get a chance to watch this video, I believe it is extremely valuable because the passion, love, and energy that Zander demonstrates turns every face into a presence radiating their own joy and excellence–it is truly leadership unleashed.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Reason We Are Given Is To Give

Make_things_better

There is a famous slogan about “the gift that keeps on giving” that has been used for promoting various products from appliances to flowers.

 

But to me, it is more appropriately used to inspire people to make a donation or give of themselves, because of how fulfilling it can be and how it makes usbetter people.

 

There is no more beautiful story about the act of giving then the one by O’Henry called The Gift of The Magi.

 

In the story, a husband and wife, Jim and Della, want to give each other holiday gifts, but they are poor.

 

Della has beautiful long hair, but no combs for it, and Jim has a gold watch passed down from his father and grandfather, but no chain for it.

 

Each sacrifices for the other and in a tragic irony–Della sells her long, flowing hair to buy a gold chain for Jim, and Jim sells the prized gold watch to purchase a set of special combs for Della.

 

They could’ve been selfishly focused on what each individually was lacking, but instead they rose above it and were superbly generous–giving away their own prized possessions to try and make the other whole.

 

They found the wisdom of the ages in terms of loving, giving, and sharing being of the greatest joys one can have.

 

I love this story for it’s simplicity in teaching about giving and sacrifice and channeling whatever our challenges in life are into opportunities for betterment.

 

Maybe as individuals, we can’t change the whole world in one fell swoop, but with each positive contribution and act of giving, we can leave it a little better than the way we found it.

 

I was so proud earlier today when I heard one of my teenage daughters say: “the reason we are given things is in order to give to others.”

 

I don’t think my daughter ever heard of this O’Henry story, but I see how she is learning and living it, and what more can any parent want from their children.

 

(Source Photo: herewith attribution to OpenSourceWay)

 

Playing For The Good Of The Team

Good Morning America”s Play of the Day is called “Man Plays Baseball With Himself.”

In this incredible video a Japanese Astronaut on the International Space Station throws a ball, runs and picks up a bat and hits the ball he just threw, and then jumps up and catches the ball he just hit.

An impossibility in Earth environment, but a possibility in the low gravity of space.

One lesson then is that nothing is really impossible–given the right circumstances, the impossible becomes possible, so have faith in your abilities and understand that your limitations are not insurmountable.

A second lesson is that while this astronaut shows what’s it’s like to be literally a one-man team and to succeed; in the real world, there are no one man teams–we depend on each other, whether to play a game of ball or to accomplish things from major projects to minor tasks.

On Thanksgiving, a favorite pastime is watching football and the NFL has been playing on Thanksgiving since at least 1920. In general, there is a huge appreciation of team sports in America whether football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and more.

People on sports teams and in organizational settings who get ahead understand the importance of team and that collaboration and strategy is the key to success and to “winning”. Those that can’t get alone, end up on the sidelines of the game and of life.

Playing alone, especially in space, may make a great video, but working through a difficult problem with others is even a bigger challenge and feat accomplished.

Getting alone is something we try to instill in people in our society from the earliest of ages, but it does not come easy for everyone. That why we describe people in the organization who don’t get alone with others as “not playing nice in the sandbox.”

Perhaps, this Thanksgiving, we can appreciate the ability of those who are team players as well as those who may be more individualist, as long as everyone is playing for the good of team.

(Source Photo: here)

New Beginnings

Next week I am excited to begin a new journey as a Division Chief at the U.S. Department of State.
I just wanted to take a minute to thank the ATF for the opportunity to serve there as the Chief Technology Officer these last few years.
There are no finer or more dedicated law enforcement agents than those that work for our federal government, and I am so proud that the ATF chose me to support their vital mission of protecting our country.
I also greatly appreciate the opportunity to have worked and learned with such talented and dedicated professionals in the Office of Science and Technology. 
Some people have asked me to comment on my tenure from the perspective of what’s going on in the news. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to do that, but I do want to recognize and thank people for caring so passionately about our great country.
It’s a new chapter in my life and I’m ready to roll up my sleeves, learn, and contribute as well. 
I am grateful for the wonderful opportunity–ready, set, go!