Not So Indispensable

So I heard a story from a friend and colleague that I thought was important. 


It was about someone in their organization that was being fired. 


The person who was going to be let go went up the chain to complain and said “if I am fired then everything in my subject area is going to fall apart and it will be disastrous to the organization.


The person in charge responded and said, “Listen, even if I were fired, things wouldn’t fall apart; within 2 weeks no one would even remember that I worked here!”


Wow, that is a powerful lesson said that way. 


No one is so indispensable.


Everyone is replaceable.


Even the very top people!


The other important thing they said was:


“Don’t think all people are in it to advance the organization; many are in it to help themselves first! Everyone is talking about their salary!  Their stock options!  Their bonuses!”


I guess it’s not completely surprising right.  People do have to look after themselves and their families. But I suppose when you hear it so matter of factly, it sort of really makes you think about the functioning of our companies, agencies, and society.


How much are we getting from people for our organizations and missions vs. how much are people trying to “milk” the system for their benefit?


In the end, (almost) no one is irreplaceable on the job–except maybe a Steve Jobs-type–someone who is truly a one in a million leader. 


And if we see people aren’t contributing their fair share and are taking more than they are giving or they are real jerks and hurting others–then why the heck are they still in place? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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The Essence of Time Management

So here are some quickies on the essence of time management.


1. Urgency vs Importance:


Don’t sacrifice the important items for the urgent ones!


– Focus on the items that are important on the right side of the matrix–if they are urgent (upper-right), you need to do now; if they aren’t urgent, but they are important (lower-right), you need to make time for them. 


– Deemphasize the items that aren’t important on the left side of the matrix–if they are urgent and not important (upper-left), limit them or delegate them; if they aren’t urgent or important (lower-left), delete them. 


There are two potential areas of dissonance that can cause you tension, stress, and anxiety.


– When the urgent top row items and the lower-left life necessities get in the way of your focusing on the quality life items that are of long-term importance to you (the lower-left).  For example, work and errands can crowd out your personal, family, community, and spiritual time. 


– When you have too many items in the lower-right quality time area and these are in competition with each other for your time and attention, and you don’t know how to prioritize them and get it all done.  It’s like there is never enough time. For example, we ignore our spouse, the kids, or closeness with G-d, because we just can’t get to it all.


This is where our personal values and conscience come into play to drive what we do and how we spend our precious time in this world. 


We all only have 24 hours in a day, so our actions need to be purposeful and driven by our values!


2. Tasks vs Relationships


Imagine another matrix with focus on tasks on the vertical access and focus on relationships on the horizontal access. 


Again here, we want to ensure a healthy balance of focus on both task and relationships (upper-right corner). 


If we focus on tasks at the expense of relationships or relationships at the expense of tasks, we are going to have a problem.  Moreover, it makes no sense to focus on items that are neither task- nor relationship-focused (lower-left).  


We need to collaborate with others to accomplish great, complex tasks (we can only accomplish so much alone). 


Again, dissonance (tension, stress, anxiety) is caused when we are pulled off-balance to focus on work or people to the exclusion of the other.  


As they say,


“Mission first, people always!”


We’ve got to build meaningful relationships and work together to get the mission done and the mission can be helping people and building a better society in a variety of ways. 


In a sense, it’s people helping people. Love thy neighbor to help thy neighbor.  


Time is of the essence–we have so little of it–it is precious–we can’t get it back–it goes so fast–we need to manage it like gold. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Worth The Squeeze

I like this saying that I heard.

“The juice has to be worth the squeeze.”


It’s a little like the corollary to “If something is worth doing, then it’s worth doing right.”


Spending time and effort has to show commensurate results or why the heck are you doing it?


Probably always good to reevaluate where you’re getting the “most bang for the buck,” so you’re not “just spinning your wheels.”


With all the sayings about what we do and whether it’s really worth it, there is probably some good reason to be concerned about whether or not you spending your time productively or just acting insane, because: 

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”


Results matter–so make sure your achieving them or go do something else you enjoy and that’s ultimately worth the squeeze! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Bringing Down The House

I love this silver sculpture of Samson.


And one of my favorite stories and Biblical characters. 


Samson was dedicated to G-d from birth and was an enormous warrior. 


Even when he was betrayed, blinded, and bound, he maintained his ultimate faith in G-d.


He prayed that he be given the strength one more time to bring justice to G-d’s enemies. 


And that’s when he pushed against the pillars and brought the house down on them.


On one hand, a tragic figure that trusted and was fooled by the beautiful Delilah, but a completely heroic man of great integrity, who believed in G-d and in vanquishing his enemies.


Look to the Heavens for your strength and G-d can grant you the ultimate strength to achieve your mission in life and even in death. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Drive The Tractor

Thank you so much to Rabbi Schneur Kaplan for his wonderful speech today in Downtown Jewish Center Chabad synagogue, Fort Lauderdale.


He told the story about the boy who grew up in Israel as a chasid, but later left chasidism to work the land–he drove a tractor!


Years later, the young man rediscovers his religion and goes back to yeshiva to study, and he is excellent and surpasses many of his peers.


Eventually, he ends up in a one-on-one with the Rebbe–and he waits with baited breath for what the great Rebbe will tell him that will guide his life–will he become a great scholar, Rabbi, shaliach, or head of a Yeshiva.


Then the Rebbe speaks, and says:

“You will be a tractor driver”


The young man is shocked and goes back to studying Torah with even more determination and harder than ever.


Once again, he comes before the Rebbe, and he is anticipating what he will say.


Again, the Rebbe looks deep into his soul and says:

“You will drive a tractor!”


Sure enough, the man now understanding that he has to meet his particular fate head on, goes back to working the Holy Land and driving the tractor.


But in so doing he is able to do outreach to tens of thousands of people who otherwise would have never had the opportunity to be brought close to Hashem through Chasidism.


The message was that we are not all destined to be clones, robots, or do the same thing in life.


The Torah is our guide to serve Hashem and do what is right.


But each of us has our own mission in serving Him and we can achieve greatness and Holiness even when we drive a tractor or do whatever we do.


I am not a Rabbi, but in my own way, I try to raise my family–be a good husband, father, and prior a good son–and also to serve with integrity and a good example in my professional and educational endeavors.


It’s okay that I’m not a Chabad Rabbi doing outreach–that’s not me–although I did meet someone today from my elementary school, Manhattan Day School, that did become just that and we had a nice kiddish lunch with him and caught up together after services.


I am me–and I am okay with me.


I don’t have to be someone else–anyone else.


I can do good being me–and that is what I will try to do with each and every breath of every day.


Whether I drive a tractor (or this cool VW van with a big smiley face), we all serve our Maker.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When Life Has Meaning

Meaning.jpeg

What makes meaning in life?


Faith.


Family.


Friends.


Love.


Giving.


Integrity. 


Purpose.


Learning. 


Growth.


Struggle. 


Hope.


Meaning is crucial to personal happiness and wellbeing. 


Without meaning there is worthlessness, helplessness, and hopelessness.


Seek meaning to prolong your life and make it a life truly worth living. 😉


(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

Born Or Forged To Lead

Born Leader.jpeg

So are we born to lead or are we forged to greatness through adversity and lots of hard work?


Some people definitely seem to have innate leadership characteristics:


– Charisma


– Integrity


– Decisiveness


– Passion


– Determination


– Agility


– Intelligence


– Inspirational


– Confident


– Articulate


Other people maybe weren’t born with it, but they learn to become great leaders through:


– Hard Work


– Willingness to learn


– Continuous improvement 


– Motivation to advance


– Finding a meaningful mission 


– Belief that they can make a difference


– Faith that G-d is guiding them


Like with most things in our life, it’s a combination of nature and nurture. 


Good raw material starts us off on the right track and then forging it with fire and a hammer and polishing it off into a great sword with hardness, strength, flexibility, and balance. 


As Joanna Coles, Chief Content Officer at Hearst Magazine says:

“I’m an overnight sensation 30 years in the making.”


Birth is just the beginning… 😉


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)