Alternatives Are More Valuable Than Criticism

So one lesson of life that I have learned is about criticism. 


It’s easy to criticize, but tough to come up with real solutions. 


Criticizing someone else, does not usually provoke a good response. 


UNLESS, you can provide a bona fide better alternative in a loving way. 


It’s important to solve problems and not just create new ones. 


Criticizing without an alternative just causes anxiety and frustration in the other person. 


But when you says something isn’t right and why, and provide a better alternative, now the other person can see concretely what you are talking about, and they know they have options and that you are trying to help. 


No one wants to be told they are no good or their choices are no good. 


But people don’t mind and perhaps may even embrace being told that there is even something better for them out there.


Don’t criticize, instead give alternatives that are good for the other person. 


That’s real love without being a jerk. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Stretch Goals That Break The Band

So I learned some important lessons about stretch goals. 


You want to have stretch goals because they make your strive to do and be your best. 


When you have to stretch yourself above your normal then you can take yourself to whole new levels of performance and achievement. 


However, if the stretch goals are ridiculously unachievable than you simply set yourself up for frustration and failure. 


Goals need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. 


But too often they are DUMB goals: Directed by others, Unachievable, Made to fail, and Based on false assumptions. 


For example, if someone tells you to jump off that bridge into the whitewater beneath because they assume that somehow you can spread you bare arms and fly–guess what is going to happen to you?


Goals can help you get to new heights of accomplishment in life or they can pull you down in false condemnation and despair.

 

Like in fighting the good fight…be careful when you are sent to the front lines in trench warfare with heavily dug fortifications, machine guns, artillery placements aimed your way and yelled at with no rational strategy to “Advance!”

 

The only place that is going to take you is to an early grave.

 

Instead, fight smart and take the hill when the hill is takable–you save a lot of lives that way and you actually take the hill successfully. 😉

 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When It Turns In

A friend told me something interesting about anxiety and depression…

Depression is anxiety turned inward. 


When people feel anxious and that they don’t have control over their situation that make them feel in a sense helpless, and then the anxiety “has no where to go,” it becomes depression. 


I guess it make sense that if you feel that you can’t really do anything to make things better–and no matter how hard you try–then you feel somewhat helpless/hopeless and get depressed


Perhaps it’s almost like a frustration at your own inability to change things you feel you need to change. 


That is why a person’s feeling some sense of control over their environment and life is so important. 


When things are looking down, it helps to try and do something to take back control over what feels like spiraling uncontrollable events and circumstances.  


Of course, only G-d really has control over what ultimately happens. 


But we need to do our part to try to make things better. 


Just taking that first (and second and third) step is freeing. 


I’m pretty sure that an element of this is that you can tell yourself that you “did everything you could” so in effect there is a lifting of guilt about the situation, but at the same time there is also a genuine feeling that you are here for a purpose and perhaps have made a difference in this world. 


Some people feel big and important, but the reality is that we are all so small in a very big world and universe where suffering and loss can strike (G-d forbid) at any moment. 


Man is but a speck of dust in the realm of things. 


But at the same time, our speck is filled with a soul of the living G-d. 


So we must do what we can to be a good influence and impact. 


Whatever it is, it is what we can do. 


If everyone–7.6 billion of us out there—does their part that can make a difference. 


Don’t let life’s anxieties become your depression.


Look for what you can contribute–do it!–try your best to make a difference and make the world better.


It’s what you’re here for and what you can positively do.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Key Is Calm

Calm.jpeg

So what happens to most of us when we experience the stresses, disappointments, and conflicts in life?


We feel…


– Angst


– Anger


– Upset


– Frustrated


– Murderous at times


We even question, “Why me?”


But none of this helps.


In fact, it just makes things worse.


Because we compound our life challenges with more problems in how we react!


What should we do instead?


The key is to remain calm, cool, collected, and composed. 


Don’t get rattled, disjointed, and out of whack over anything or anybody. 


These are all tests in life.


They are all fleeting. 


G-d is watching us and seeing if we have faith in him.


When you remember the creator and sustainer of all life then you can rise above the adversity before you.


Go beyond the superficial.


Experience the world beyond the earthly bounds of time and space. 


See the larger picture.


Breath deeply…a sigh of relief. 


There is nothing to be upset about that G-d can’t make right for you. 


Face the challenges with a clear head, a brave heart, and follow your conscience.


Act with determination to speak out and right the wrongs you encounter. 


Remember, you are one with G-d and the universe, and all will be for the good. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Global Chaos But G-d Is On Watch

We are continuing to see the number 613 (a critical number representing G-d’s commandments to us in the Torah).


I wrote about this in my post last month (Nov 26).


Yesterday, I randomly looked up at this guy cleaning in front of one of the GW University buildings and there it is…613. 


On Sunday, we stopped for something to eat (see receipt total with the scrambled 613 in it)…$16.38.


The principle of divine intervention in everything we do in our lives is a paramount religious belief, and in Judaism, we learn that not a leaf falls from the tree without it coming from G-d. 


The times we are living in is certainly not normal with terror and war on nearly every horizon (ISIS, Iran, Russia, North Korea, and China to name just a few around the globe), a growing threat from WMD, the economy in shambles, government debt exploding, energy, mining, and other commodities in free-fall, and global warming continuing to heat things up


Further, with immense conflict and political dysfunction in how to deal with these challenges, and amazingly little to no resolve to seemingly even address many of them at all, the views and positions are moving toward extremes and the people’s emotions seem to range from generalized frustration to genuine fury.


The story isn’t over on all these fronts for America or the rest of the world, but I believe even if leadership’s heart is hardened and progress seems almost completely stymied in the face of emerging global chaos, G-d is watching and guiding things very closely at this historic time. 😉


(Source Photos: Andy and Dossy Blumenthal)

Poli-trick-ians, No Way!

Barn

So periodically, I like to take a quick pulse of America.


So I find a way to ask someone(s) what they are seeing and experiencing, and what they think about what’s going on in Washington, D.C.


So this time, I asked someone about whether they watched the State Of The Union this week. 


The answer?


No way!


Why not?


They said (as if they heard this little mnemonic from others before), “because, they are all ‘POLI-TRICK-IANS!'”


I said, well that’s cute, but what do you mean?


This is what they said (paraphrasing):


– They don’t speak the truth.

– They just say what they think people want to hear. 


– It’s all just fighting between the (political) parties. 


– It’s not really about the people. 


– It’s not about making a difference, anymore [just about being in and keeping power].


Wow, this was pretty powerful. 


I could sense the anger and frustration. 


Also, the disillusionment. 


Checking in on the ratings, this seemed to jive with CNN (and other news media) saying, “State of the Union was President’s Lowest-Rated Yet.”


According to Nielsen only 31.7 million people tuned in…that’s out of a current U.S. population of 324 million!


On the positive side, the number of tweets was way up to 2.6 million during the hour-long address–how sweet those tweets.


Seriously though, we are here to serve the people…how do we get back their respect?


I suspect that the answer revolves around the following:


– We need to turn from fighting each other to fighting our real enemies like the threat from Islamist Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. 


– We need to break the gridlock and get something done (lot’s of things done)!


– We need to stop the political cliches and talk from the heart to the heart. 


– We need to stop thinking about ourselves and focus on the people–all the people (not the middle-class versus the rich, not main street from wall street, not the color or race that you are or aren’t)!


– We need to tackle the many big problems we are facing–the national debt, national defense (including cybersecurity), environmental sustainability, raising the level of housing, food, medical care, and education for all, and of course, everything technology and innovation!


We need to go from a perception of poli-trick-ians to genuine representatives and leaders of the people for the people. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Shout, Let It All Out or Shut Up and Take 10

Shout, Let It All Out or Shut Up and Take 10

I like this photo…”I don’t know what we’re yelling about!!”

On one hand, some people may yell out of frustration or anger–because they feel terribly wronged or even abused by someone else (i.e. they feel a “righteous anger”).

On the other hand, others may yell because they are mentally unstable or just can’t handle their sh*t (i.e. “they are losing it”).

Some may yell like in martial arts training to scare the other person and get them to back off. I remember someone telling me back in NYC that if you’re about to be attacked, start to talk to yourself, act crazy, foam at the mouth, and yell…this way maybe they will leave you alone (i.e. “they’ll look for an easier target”).

While some studies are saying that yelling is becoming less of a problem, the sheer number of articles on this topic tell a different story. From yelling at your children to yelling at your employees, the yelling phenomenon is alive and well.

Parents are yelling more, maybe to avoid spanking, which is now more a social taboo. Studies show that 75% of parents scream at their kids about once a month–this includes shouting, cursing, calling them “lazy,” “stupid,” or otherwise belittling and blaming them. The problem is that yelling only makes the kids depressed, angrier, and creates more behavioral problems, not less.

In this way, shouting at children is no different than physically abusing them (e.g. hitting, pushing, etc.)

Similarly, when superiors or customers scream at employees, the workers feel they are in an out of control situation where they are powerless. There are numerous negative impacts that this has on them, including problems with memory, reduced creativity, worse performance, and higher turnover rates.

While some people may not resort to actual yelling in the workplace, they instead do “silent yelling–sending flaming emails, making faces or otherwise denigrating employees or simply marginalizing them. In other words, they don’t yell, but rather are silent and deadly, nonetheless.

Businessweek quotes Rahm Emanuel about how he motivates people, “Sometimes–I don’t want to say scream at them–but you have to be…forceful.”

Rather than yell or scream, the common advice is to bring it down–way down–using measures from taking a deep breath to meditating, counting to ten or waiting 24 hours before responding, describing how you feel to focusing on problem-solving.

The key is to calm down, act with your brains not your brawn, and figure out how to get to the root cause of the problem and solve it.

People may raise their voice to vent or make a point, in the heat of the moment, or if they are being personally attacked, but in general, as it says in Ethics of Our Fathers, “Who is strong? One who overpowers his inclinations.” 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Soukup)