Falling On The Sword

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Sometimes things happen that we don’t agree with or like. 


We may even get blamed for them when we didn’t do anything wrong. 


At times like these, there comes up inside of us a strong visceral feeling to speak up and out–to right the wrongs!


There are times when we can, but there are also times when it may be better to hold our tongue for another day. 


In the olden times, people that spoke out, often had their tongue cut right out in front of them–no questions asked.


These days, thank G-d, most people may not be that cruel, but still people get punished for speaking truth to power–when the power is tone deaf or possibly even behaving more as brutal dictators than as benevolent leaders. 


The problem for the average Joe is that there is no point in losing your tongue or even your head by acting rashly or imprudently.


Better to wait and plan for the right moment to be effective and stand with integrity for your ideals and what you know in your heart is right. 


Maybe even at times, we have to fall on our swords until we can make a strong and convincing case and change both hearts and minds to betterment. 


The point is not only to do what’s right, but to make things right in the world around us.


Swords too often can come out swinging wildly, unless we carefully sharpen them and practice our lunges and cuts, and work to repair the wrongs in the world as soldiers of righteousness. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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North Korea and Iran–No Time For Nuke Time

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We are at a unbelievably critical moment in history. 


North Korea and Iran have nuclear weapons capability and are threatening and maniacal enough to use them. 


Negotiations, incentives, and phony deals have led to nothing but advancing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction with our enemies and their continued vows to kill us. 


As Iran vows to annihilate Israel and chants:

“Death to America”


North Korea vows a nuclear attack saying Washington will be:


“Engulfed in a sea of fire.”


The Talmud (Sanhedrin 72a) teaches the principle of self-defense:

“If someone rises up to kill you, kill him first.”


Preemption is justifiable if the threat is real and imminent. 


North Korea and Iranian threats are very real and getting ever more imminent as their capabilities increase–and if anything, they have been underestimated and underreported.


They have continued to build and test nukes and the missiles to deliver them to the U.S. and our allies, despite pleas as well as carrots and sticks to cease their menacing actions.


The prior administration’s position of “strategic patience” has meant nothing but indecision and a do nothing approach as things get worse and not better.


Now, we have the opportunity to destroy the deadly nuke sites before these despotic regimes hit us and our population of nearly 320 million people with a nuke first strategy!


We are a peaceful nation that believes deeply in freedom and human rights, but we cannot live under constant threat of nuclear attack on our cities and allies. 


A preemptive strike is a very, very serious decision, but we cannot wait indefinitely and let ourselves become victims of the most horrific weapons and their destructive capabilities and aftermath. 


What do we do if North Korea and Iran refuse their endless pursuit weapons of mass destruction and their threats to use them on us?


Perhaps, this is soon to be a rhetorical question if not the most dire of all decisions to make and the time to make them. 


May G-d have mercy  on us–if ever their was a time, now is the time to pray and mean it.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Revolving Door

Revolving Door

So work is a revolving door of people onboarding and offboarding.


New people are getting hired.


Old people are leaving.


Nothing is stable.


The relationships you made yesterday just left the revolving door today, and it’s time to make new ones.


One “ran from Dodge.”  Another retired.  A third left for the private sector.  Someone else is going just down the block.


On the inbound train are Summer interns. Contractors being hired on as regular staff.  Brand new people.  And even some people coming back after leaving for a short time.


People get antsy or have enough doing what they were doing, dealing with who they are dealing, or simply want a change and a challenge.


Others are shown the door under less fortunate circumstances.


Whether looking to pave new trails, find yourself a seat at the table, a leadership position, or a fatter paycheck–the eyes see, and the heart wants.


Some people are tethered to their job or even “retired in place (RIP)”–perhaps it’s truly a great job and fit or it’s like their life blood (their whole identity, their reason for being) or maybe, they just like collecting what they consider “easy money” for a job they know and love or can skate by on, or maybe they work with other great people they really like and every day is a fresh challenge and even fun. 


Recents studies indicate that retiring later in life actually increases longevity, but when is enough enough or are we leaving ourselves enough time to sit at the pool side and just enjoy life a little?


Millennials, famous for changing jobs often, now are at an average of 4 jobs by the time they hit 32.


And in Information Technology, job hopping is considered “the world’s biggest game of musical chairs.


Why the increase in the job hopping bug in people’s you know what?


Sure there is more opportunity for those that have the right skills, and people getting bored or stale is a bad thing, everyone wants to find a good fit for themselves and where they can have a real impact, and economic and social pressures push people to make the leap, perhaps there is also some foolishness involved–where the grass is always greener or not.


Sometimes though it really may be right for the person–and that’s for each to explore and decide for themselves. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to John Garghan)

Innovation Made Easy

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Innovation is not something that can be mandated to succeed like a quota system, but rather it needs to be nourished with collaboration, motivation, and giving people the organizational freedom to try new things.

While many organizations have played with the idea of giving employees “tinkering time”–from a few hours a week to 20% of their time–to explore their creativity and work on new ideas, according to the Wall Street Journal (18 January 2013), “it rarely works” or pays off.

The reason–most employees have “enough to do already” and most tinkerers are free thinkers and amateur experimenters–and “they aren’t the kinds of employees most big companies like adding to the payroll in the first place.”

The WSJ suggests “better ways to spark innovation” through:

– External partnerships that can “inject the verve of a promising startup into a big company.”

– Public-private partnerships that can leverage government-funded research and development.

– Providing a profit motive for tinkerers to be successful by allowing them “to profit more from their innovations.” For example, tinkerers may “own the rights to anything they develop,” while the company retains “the right of first refusal to invest” in it.

Harvard Business Review (15 January 2013) has a compact guide on “Nine Rules for Stifling Innovation” by Rosabeth Moss Kanter.

These are the absolute don’ts when it comes to innovation:

1) “Be suspicious” of–or I would say competitive with–“any new idea from below”; everyone in the organization can have good ideas, not just the wise owls at the top!

2) “Invoke history”–such as we tried that already and it didn’t work or do you think you’re the first person to think of that? Just because something didn’t work previously under one set of circumstances, doesn’t mean the idea is doomed forever–timing may be everything.

3) “Keep people really busy”–I would call that “make work”–where we treat people so that if they have time and effort to question the status quo, then they have too much free time on their hands. Or as was written by the Nazis on the sign at the entrance to the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp: “Arbeit Macht Frei”–[brutal harsh enslaving] work will set you free.

4)  “Encourage cut-throat competition”–organizational innovation is not about critiquing others to death or creating win-lose scenarios among your staff, but rather about sharing ideas, refining them, and collaborating to make something great from the combined talents and skills of the team.

5) “Stress predictability”–innovation while encouraged with best practices is not something you predict like the weather, but rather is based on trial and error–lot’s of effort–patience, and even a measure of good luck.

6) “Confine discussion…to a small circle of trusted advisors”–I would say that strategy is top-down and bottom-up–everyone can provide valuable input. Almost like agile development, strategy gets refined as more information becomes available.

7) “Punish failures”–while we generally celebrate success (and not failure), we must still give people an opportunity to fail and learn. That doesn’t mean incompetence or laziness is given a free pass, but rather that hard work based on good common sense is acknowledged and rewarded.

8) “Blame problems”–while the blame game can just make heads spin or fall, it is far better to hold people accountable in a fair and unbiased way and coach, counsel, mentor, and train professional learning and growth.

9) Be arrogant–we all started somewhere–I served frozen yogurt in a health food store as a teen…we all go through the cycle of life–and everyone has their time.

I would add a tenth, don’t

10) Mistreat your greatest asset, your people–Treat people, as you would want to be treated: listen, at least, twice as much as you speak, empathize with others, and try to treat people ethically and with heart.

So can innovation really be made easy?

It’s never easy to do something new, we all have to crawl before we can walk–but we can foster an organizational environment that promotes innovation, sharing, collaboration, transparency, and teamwork rather than one based on fear, bullying, intimidation, and punishment. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal with attribution of the beautiful “Dream” art to Romero Britto)

Being Yourself Is a Full-Time Job

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There is a saying that “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

But over time and a level of professional maturity, I’ve learned that rather than act, there are times when the more prudent thing is too hold your tongue and your will to take immediate action.

In the Revolutionary War, they said, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.”

Back then, the strategy was employed to conserve ammunition, and today, similarly, it is way to preserve relationships and manage conflicts.

Indeed, sometimes, it’s harder to do nothing than to do something–when we are charged up in the moment, it takes a strong leader to keep their head–and hold back the troops and the potential ensuing fire–and instead focus on keeping the peace and finding a genuine resolution to tough and perhaps persistent problems.

An important exception is when ethics and social justice is involved then everyone must find their inner voice and speak up for what is right–that is not the time for a wait and see approach.

The lesson for me is that while it can be challenging to at times hold your fire, and at other times to find your inner voice and speak out–this is where sound judgment and willpower come into play.

In this light, I said to my daughter that “It is sometimes hard just to be yourself.” To which she replied wisely, “yeah, and it’s a full-time job too.” 😉

She’s right–we have to be ourselves and follow our conscience all the time–whether it means taking the shot or holding our fire.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Oh Candy)

“G-d Said No”

A friend sent this to me and I wanted to share it with others who can benefit.

Hope you enjoy!

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I asked G-d to make my handicapped child whole.

G-d said, No.

His spirit is whole, his body is only temporary.

 

I asked G-d to grant me patience.

G-d said, No.

Patience is a byproduct of tribulations;

it isn’t granted, it is learned.

 

I asked G-d to give me happiness.

G-d said, No.

I give you blessings; Happiness is up to you.

 

I asked G-d to spare me pain.

G-d said, No.

Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares

and brings you closer to me.

 

I asked G-d to make my spirit grow.

G-d said, No.

You must grow on your own! ,

but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

 

I asked G-d for all things that I might enjoy life.

G-d said, No.

I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all things.

 

I asked G-d to help me LOVE others, as much as He loves me.

G-d said…Ahhhh, finally you have the idea.