Listen Better, Empathize More

So I am working on myself to improve and be a better person.


Recently, I had a number of experiences with people telling me of some very trying circumstances.


And at first, I found myself listening and talking to them about it, but then my mind started to get distracted by other things going on and other problems in my life that I needed to deal with.


So after we finished speaking about their respective family, work, and even health problems, I felt that I may have cut off some of these conversations too early or without enough empathy. 


After clearing my head, I thought to myself, I really want to listen better and empathize more. 


And so I went back and did just that. 


I found each person (in person, by phone, or email), and I said that I felt sorry for what they were going through, and I asked more questions and tried to really just be in the moment and there for them.


They seemed to each really appreciate me taking the time and effort to come speak with them and that I cared. 


I know that I am human and make mistakes, but I want to continually grow and do better in life. 


In this case, listening better and empathizing more–it felt great and I learned to listen to my conscience and do more when I think it’s right! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Failing Forward

There were 2 inspirational student speakers today at my daughter’s graduation from American University.


One spoke about how he got sick soon after starting college with a serious vascular disease, but despite numerous hopsitalizations, treatments, and falling behind his peers, he persevered and was graduating today and in very good spirits. 


Another women spoke about her many failures leading up to the success today of her graduation. She described how her father used to ask her: 

“What did you fail at this week?”


Why?


Because even though we don’t like to admit it, most people have many, many more failures in life than successes.  


Even Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb is said to have failed 1,000 times before getting it right.


This women explained how failure is actually something to celebrate–does that sound crazy?.


But it’s really not, and here’s why?

“To fail is to learn.
To learn is to grow.
To fail is to grow forward.”

Now, I had heard about failing up, but never failing forward. 


Many who fail still manage to advance themselves in the process. 


But failing forward is different. 


It’s not taking advantage of the failure, but legitimately learning from the experience so that you can grow yourself, and advance yourself, by becoming a smarter, stronger, and more capable person from it. 


Sure, it hurts to fail. 


Who would normally want to celebrate failure?


But if we understand life as a journey and not a specific destination, then we enjoy every blessed moment that we have to become better today and tomorrow than we were yesterday. 


In this case, failure is not the opposite of success, but rather is part and parcel of achieving it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Slow Build – Rapid Demise

It takes time to build in life. 


Or as they say:

“Rome wasn’t built in a day.”


But it’s not always easy to have patience. 


We all have to start somewhere and usually it’s at the bottom.


And then we have to claw our way up (like Rocky).


Unless of course, you’re one of those people born with a “silver spoon” in your mouth. 


The funny thing about building and climbing is that it can all be destroyed in a split second. 


One silly mistake, one stupid word, one indiscretion, one lackadaisical moment, a turn of bad luck…or a series thereof. 


It takes so much time and effort to build as we lay one brick of success upon another. 


And it takes just a split second to destroy it all. 


So watch-watch-watch your steps, because they can so easily turn into a rapid, spiraling, and even most deadly a fall.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Wherever You Go

So my father used to say this idea about dealing with life’s challenges:

“Wherever you go, that’s where you are!”

If you think about it for a moment, it really is very profound. 


Some people think that they can run away from their problems.


Move here, there, everywhere. 


Change schools, jobs, spouses, whatever. 


But you can’t run away from yourself. 


Wherever you run, you’re still you!


So you need to fix yourself, your problems, your life. 


Yes, sometimes your in a place is bad, a bad fit, the people are bad, the chemistry is bad, the circumstances are bad. 


And then change can certainly be a welcome and good thing.


But when you change the external, the internal has to keep developing and changing as well, so that we learn and grow to be better people.  


Change your place is not a substitute for changing and growing yourself–that is the only constant with change. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

It’s About The People

The older (not that old) that I get, the more I realize that life and success is all about the people. 


Whether it’s our families, friends, and colleagues–it’s how we treat people and the relationships we form that count–and that enable us to achieve success together!


Many people just count their money instead of counting their blessings of hearts and souls. 


But while we certainly need a certain amount of $$$ to live, we really need ❤ to thrive. 


Today, before the Thanksgiving holiday, I just took a little time to walk around and talk with people here, thank them for their good work and friendships, and wish them a good holiday. 


It was such a little thing, but honestly I felt so good doing it. 


I am thankful for so many things this year, including all the wonderful people in my life who do so much to make my life joyous and fulfilling, but I am also grateful to G-d for continuing to open my eyes to what and who(s) that really count. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Invasion of Dinosaur

So what’s with the invasion of dinosaurs. 


First one is standing next to the checkout line in Whole Foods in Maryland.


Second one is actually on someone’s terrace overlooking the beach in Fort Lauderdale.


Third one is the real McCoy from the Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. 


Certainly, dinosaurs aren’t cute and cuddly–even the plush ones from Whole Foods–they’d eat you and I for dinner if they could!


So why do we gravitate to relics from the Ice Age past?


Perhaps, just like looking forward to Aliens from outer space, the dinosaurs represent an important historical link for us, and thus anchor us in a much larger perspective of time and space. 


In a way, it all points to the dichotomy between us as humans with great–almost endless–potential, and yet at the same time, how small we are relative to the enormous dinosaurs that roamed the earth of yesteryear as well as the distinct possibility of mighty extraterrestrials that we may someday (soon) encounter from outer space. 


From this context, I guess what’s really amazing is that we, as a people, are still here!


Despite our bad habits and unsustainable living, we continue to innovate our way out of own messes of greed, conflict, contagion, pollution, and resource depletion, and create a future far beyond what destroyed our predecessors or even what may come from current or potential future foes. 


Like the economy, we think we can grow ourselves out of all our troubles–and who knows, maybe we can if we can continue to stay at least one or two steps ahead of all the challenges and threats–but, at the back (or front) of our minds is what if we can’t or don’t?  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Future Beyond Fear

This is my spin on a Jack Canfield saying, but I like it this way:

“The future is on the other side of fear.”

Sometimes we feel hemmed in or torn down by life.


And there is plenty of fear of failure and not being able to do what we need to do. 


But the only way to get there is to get past the fear!


You need to look straight ahead into the future of what you want. 


And you need to overcome your worst fear…that you’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, you’re not strong enough, and you’re not beautiful enough.


…and the gnawing feeling inside that you can’t do it.


This is precisely when you need to center yourself, strengthen yourself, and pray for G-d’s help.


Whether to get over it, under it, or through it. 


The future–your future–is on the other side of that fear–that fear that is holding you back.


No, you’re not stupid, ugly, weak, or unworthy.


Yes, you’re a child of the G-d on the most high. 


So you can reach deep and reach high to accomplish your mission in life. 


You can truly leap over mountains and even reach for the stars. 


No, it’s not beyond you.


It’s right in front of you.


Take that deep breath, clench your fist, gird you sword, and ready yourself in every way.


The fear holding you back is yours to conquer. 


And the future is yours to be had. 😉


(Inspired by my wife, Dannielle Blumenthal)


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)