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)

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)

The Folly of Bullies

So there is an issue with people not treating other people with respect and dignity in life and at work.


Today again, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Companies Wake Up To The Problem of Bullies at Work.”


This is leading some organizations to issue “Codes of Civility” for people to act like mensches and treat each other nicely. 


Adults are just so like children–with work bullies not all that different from schoolyard bullies.


Why do people need to elevate themselves on the backs of others? 


Isn’t it better to join hands and work together as brothers for the betterment of all.


Bullying anyone at work or at home doesn’t benefit anyone, including the bully!


I read today in Psalms 37: 35-36:

“I have seen the wicked in great power and spreading himself like a green tree. Yet he passed away, and behold, he was not; I sought him, but he could not be found

[But] Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright for the end of that man is peace.”

How can people forget that the true “big boss” is G-d Almighty in Heaven.


And He judges us for a good or not so good end. 


We are all just flesh and blood and we all answer to the One That Was, Is, and Will Always Be!


Isn’t it obvious that we’re here to learn to act with lovingkindness to one another.


All are imperfect, but treating each other well is how we get closer to G-dly perfection. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sometimes We Get Surprised

Sometimes we get surprised in life. 

Now of course, the surprise can be good or not so good. 

One person told me this funny story about how they were in the bathroom and they reached for the toothpaste.

They put it on their toothbrush and proceeded to brush their teeth.

All of a sudden though, they realized that something didn’t taste quite right.

Lo and behold, they see that they had accidentally put Desitin (diaper rash ointment) on their toothbrush.

Yikes, that was nasty indeed (at least no mouth sores after that)!

But surprises, even when not so good, can be a wake up call. 

In this case, you better be more careful what the heck in put in your mouth.

And more generally-speaking, we need to pay attention to what we’re doing–be deliberate, plan, and adjust accordingly. 

I remember early in my career, one supervisor telling me, “I don’t like surprises!”

Yeah, unless it’s winning the Powerball lottery jackpot or something like that, what surprises are usually all that great anyway? 

Sure, I like a my share of adventure, novelty, fun, and challenge in life, but also I’ll take a mouthful of tranquility mixed with some incremental progressive learning and growth over Desitin on my toothbrush any day of the week. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Character Building Day

Character Building.jpeg

So I really like this…


A friend told me that when they have a really tough day, they call it:

“A Character Building Day!”


I thought that was pretty astute. 


When people are up against the wall…


And they feel like they practically have their hands and legs tied…


And the world is spinning around them out of control…


And others are throwing tomatoes, darts, arrows, and all types of other sh*t their way…

– We can either just close our eyes, feel powerless, get upset and depressed, and basically give up

OR

– We can see the tough times as challenges–however great–to build our character.


Every situation is a learning and growth opportunity. 


Don’t give in–Get up and fight.


What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!


Yes, many days are character building days–it doesn’t always feel good–often it feels horrible–but we can approach it with the right attitude and help shape our character and soul for the better.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)