Face The Fear

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I have to give my wife credit. 


She said something to me the other day that was really profound and had a deep impact on me. 


Something bad had happened and honestly, it was a truly frightening situation.


At first, it seemed like one of those negative surprises in life that brings bad news and you are at first sort of shocked. 


As things progress though and the news unfortunately doesn’t get better, but in fact gets worse, the shock turns to fear and maybe even panic. 


Oh shit, what do I do now?


Turn this way..no good. 


Turn that way…no good.


Retreat…not an option.


So I speak to my wife, and at first she says:

“Just look away.”

But I can’t look away…I can’t ignore a problem…my instinct is that I have to plan for it, deal with it, solve it. 


I go back to my wife, and she says to me:

“Face the fear, and walk through it.”

And I had to stop in my tracks at that. 


She was right–there is no use being fearful or worrying–I would face it and walk through it, and come out the other side better for it. 


That was some of the best advice anyone I think has ever given to me. 


Got to be strong, have courage, face the challenges in life, and “walk through it!” 


What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. 


Have to have emunah (faith), and realize it’s just a test. 


And the Almighty G-d is my shield and protector. 


It’s a test, but I can pass it with G-d’s help, and everything will be alright. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Panera Bread and The Disabled Man

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So how many of you have seen the ABC show “What Would You Do?” hosted by John Quinones.
The show is a little like “Candid Camera,” which ran for over 5 decades, in which a practical joke was played out on people with a hidden camera capturing their reactions. Then when the joke was over, the people would be told “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera.”The new show “What Would You Do?” is similar in that a scenario is played out with a hidden camera, but rather than a joke, people are tested with illegal or unjust situations to see what they would do and whether they would speak up for the victim? It is a test of character and conviction. And at the end of the scenario, Quinones and the cameras are revealed.

I was reminded of this show yesterday, when I was in at Panera Bread and at the table next to me was a disabled man in a scooter–hunched over and not looking too well.

At one point, the disabled man leaves the table for a moment to get something to eat or go to the bathroom, perhaps.

In the meantime, another man comes over and takes his table. When the disabled man in the scooter returns and asks for his table back, the other man simply ignores him (intentionally) and keeps eating as if the diasabled man wasn’t even there.

The kicker here was that the disabled man could not really sit anymore else as this particular table had the extra room around it that he needed to get his scooter in at.

The disabled man put his head down and just shook his head in disbelief that the other man wouldn’t let him sit back at the table.
The man eating his sandwich finally says, “No one was here–this is my table!”

At this point, I couldn’t stand seeing this poor man suffer anymore, and I said “He was sitting there, the whole time, and just left for a moment.” To which, I thought this whole “misunderstanding” between the men would be resolved.

But I was wrong!

The man eating his sandwich at the table then shakes his head and nods his shoulders indicating that he just didn’t care and too bad on the disabled man.

In turn, I offered the disabled man our table and that we would move instead, but he refused and just waited for the other man to do the right thing.

At this point both myself and my wife and the people sitting on the other side of the man try to intervene and ask that he please give the disabled man his table back, where he had been sitting, so he could finish his meal.

Then, the man at the table slams his fist down and starts cursing us all out, loudly.

My wife got up to get the store manager, and while she does this the man finally moves to another table pushing an empty chair at us.

I couldn’t help thinking how this was like the show “What Would You Do?”–but this was real life and this horrible man was no actor!

And John Quinones did not appear to interview everyone after and have a few laughs. Instead, we were saddened by how some people can be so cruel to others and I was reminded by something I had read from Voltaire that stated that “every person is guilty of all the good he didn’t do.”

My hope is that whatever hurt this person had in their life that would cause them to treat others this way is healed and that they can find in their heart to have mercy on others and help them rather than get angry and spiteful–there are more tables to eat at and the food is just as good over there. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s The Right Thing To Do

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In election season, there is a lot of confusing messaging and as citizens, we are left trying to figure out where to go with our country’s leadership next.

 

The rhetoric is heating upas each side tries to outdo the other on why they are right and the other side is wrong on the issues and who will be better at leading us into the future.

 

– But where is the negotiation, balance, compromise, and win-win for all the people?

 

Then of course, there is the blame gamethat seems to go on too, with politicians saying things aren’t getting done because of partisanship or this administration or that’s mistakes–this is the finger-pointing.

 

– What ever happened to the buck stops here?

 

Related, we have others that won’t even admit what they’ve said or where they standon the issues–first, they may just try to deny it and say they never said it, and perhaps later, they admit they said it, but they didn’t mean it quite that way–like, it’s a sound bit taken out of context.

 

– Is this conviction or just playing to the audience?

 

Finally, what are candidates even trying to sell us when they are electioneering–slogans, potshots, sleight-of-hands, political publicists or genuine directionfor how to make this country great.

 

– Is it a person, a party, or a platform that we are even voting for and how does race, ethnicity, sex, religion and so forth factor in to the votes?

 

Some commentators, like Peggy Noonan, have rightfully said (Wall Street Journal, 18-19 June 2012) that candidates must find a theme that people can sensibly grasp unto–something that gives a “sense of meaning” for their run.

 

Ultimately, we need to know who the candidates are as human beings–what is in their soul–what do they really think–and most important, what will they actually do, if they have the power.

 

A few weeks ago the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial called “Four Words that Moved The World: ‘Tear Down This Wall'”–those where the words uttered by then President Ronald Reagan on June 12, 1987 in a speech in front of the Berlin Wall.

 

Reagan told his deputy chief of staff that even though some would be mad at him for saying it, “it’s the right thing to do.”

 

Those six words are even more powerful than the four in his speech, because, especially as a leader, doing–not just saying–the right thing, is everything!

 

The hard part, as voters, is figuring out who will dowhat the right thing when they are called on.

 

(Source Photo: herewith attribution to Randy Robertson)

 

>Know What’s Right, Do What’s Right

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In a conversation with a good friend recently, we got to talking about integrity–the meaning and of course, the importance.

And at one point, he says straight-out, integrity takes two things:

1) Know what’s right

2) Do what’s right

And I’m loving it!

Straight-forward and simple–know and do what’s right.

Then he tells me about Gus Lee, a nationally recognized ethicist (and Chair of Character Development at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point) who wrote this book Courage: The Backbone of Leadership.

I was inspired by what I heard and since went back to learn more about his philosophy on the subject.

Lee believes that “leadership is grounded in high character” and that “we think we are looking for managers, but in fact, we need principled leaders.”

To drive our “moral courage”, Lee says we have 3 powerful resources:

1) Conscience–“that moral, inner voice.”

2) Discernment–this is where you work to discern “the higher right” getting past “fear, feelings, and wishful thinking” and of course, our own self interests.

3) Discerning Advisors–we seek the counsel of “the most courageous, high integrity, high character, and principled person or people” you know.

And I would add a fourth important resource, which is religious teachings that can be a steadfast guidepost (especially when coupled with the others as a personal litmus test of whether you are applying them correctly).

Finally, I like Lee’s observation that there are three type of individuals when it comes to issues of integrity:

1) Egotists–those who are self-serving.

2) Pragmatists–those who “serve results” or what I would call serving a specified cause.

3) People of Courage–those who “act in the right regardless.”

Doing the right thing is not easy (it means putting aside your own interests)!

That’s why it takes tremendous courage to be the type of moral person that we all ultimately admire and respect.

Those leaders who act with moral rectitude, these to me are the few and the amazing!