We’re Part of a Much Larger Script

I loved this explanation of the Book of Job by Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

G-d answers by showing Job the incredible elements of creation and the universe.

Why?

1) Complexity and Interrelationship of the Universe:

As isolated individuals, we might expect to be judged solely by our individual deeds of good and bad (2-dimensional), but also we are cogs in the larger universe (the 3rd dimension).

Therefore, what happens to us is not just a result of what we do, but also is a part of G-d’s larger overall plan for the world. 

Even small acts can have large impacts.

For example, you sneeze and somewhere down the line it causes a tsunami.

Similarly, like actors in a cosmic play of a billion pages, we may not see or understand why our individual role may be what it is, but if you would see and understand the context of the overall drama (what came before us, after us, and how it all interrelates) then from a G-d’s eye view, it makes sense.

Every act of destruction can lead to a higher divine purpose.

Like the grass that is mowed over and uprooted to plants crops or the wheat that is harvested and ground up to make bread.

So, we can have faith that there is a reason and purpose for everything even if it is a mystery or unanswered question to us.

And even in our suffering, G-d, the master of the Universe, is saying that “I’m here with you thru it all.” You are not alone!

2) By challenging us, G-d gives us the “tough gift” to cope, grow, and become better people. 

Even though things that happen may look bad to you, they can lead to good for you.

You don’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.

You have choice: you can be bitter, resentful, cynical, and angry or can look at life with hope, optimism and resilience.

Thus, suffering can be a vehicle of self-transformation and elevation. The challenges you face can help you become a different person–a greater person.

You can learn to feel not just your own pain and disappointment, but that of others.

You have the opportunity to grow yourself and the opportunity to help others.

(Thank you to Rebecca Ochayon for sending me this awesome video!)

Never Alone Or Meaningless

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Never Alone or Meaningless.”

  • We are never alone, because G-d is always right there with us, and in us!
  • And what we do is never meaningless, because everything we do affects the G-dliness of everything else–everything and everyone are wholly intertwined and connected.

Instead of feeling alone, aimless, and sad, we can delight in our oneness with G-d and the cosmos and in knowing the everything we do can have a positive impact on everything else.  😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Getting The Biggest Bang For The Buck

So I had the opportunity to sit in on a colleague teaching a class in Performance Improvement. 


One tool that I really liked from the class was the Impact-Effort Matrix. 


To determine project worth doing, the matrix has the:


Impacts (Vertical) – Improved customer satisfaction, quality, delivery time, etc.


Effort (Horizontal) – Money, Time, etc. 


The best bang for the buck are the projects in upper left (“Quick Wins”) that have a high impact or return for not a lot of effort. 


In contract, the projects that are the least desirable are in the lower right (“Thankless Tasks”) that have a low impact or return but come at a high cost or lot of effort. 


This is simple to do and understand and yet really helps to prioritize projects and find the best choices among them. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Hopefully, All’s Well That Ends Well

I liked this Hebrew sign that says (translated):

When the end is good, all is good. 


Or as we commonly say:

All’s well that end’s well. 


Lot of truth to this. 


And there are so many languages that talk to this.

I remember my father used to say it in German as well.


When things end well, it’s as if everything went well. And when things end badly, it’s as if everything was bad. 


The human mind seems to focus on the last thing (and forgets virtually everything leading up to it). 


Perhaps, we justify the means with the end (i.e. all the time and effort leading up to it). 


Or maybe we recap our lives as either a success or failure by how things ended up. 


In 20/20 hindsight, we can see the consequences of our actions.


– Was all the hard work worth it?


– Did we even focus on the right priorities and goals in life?


– Were the choices and decisions we made well-founded? 


– What was the impact on ourselves, our loved ones, and more broadly?


We look for meaning and purpose in our lives, and hopefully in the end when we look back, we are blessed to see that it was all for the good. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Don’t Get a Huge Hierarchy or a Big Fat Flat

So organizations are a funny thing.


Too hierarchical and you can get lost in the maze of corner offices.


Too flat, and there is no one to make a darn decision. 


Huge hierarchies can be costly and inefficient, but flat as a board organization are mob rule.


I think there has got to be a happy medium.


– One, where there is leadership, accountability, a reasonable span of control, and room for professional growth. 


– Two, where there is dignity and respect for everyone, and your tile and level doesn’t make any difference in terms of having your voice heard and being able to make a difference. 


Hierarchies that reach to the pompous sky and flat organizations where all the air is let out and nothing can get done are those that need to be hailed away in a big menacing orange wheel lock.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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)

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)