The Not So Civil Service

At one time, it was considered a great honor to work for the Federal government, and people fought for the jobs and to take the civil service exam. 


The Civil Service was not only a term, but also a reality filled with honor, dedication, and devotion to one’s country. 


Working for the Federal government meant interesting and exciting work opportunities not only defending our great nation, but in making it just and prosperous, and literally a beacon of freedom for the world. 


While no one became rich working for the government, you could make a stable living, build tenure over your service, and finally receive a pension upon retirement. 


Over the course of almost 20-years of my federal career, I have had the opportunity to serve in positions that I only could have dreamed about as a child, and to feel such pride in serving. 


But it seems like times have taken a turn for the worse either willfully or through neglect:


– From Capitol Hill to the Executive Department, we see the extremus of polarization and endless obstacles to getting anything done.  


– With each change in administration, aside from a change of leadership and direction at the top of each Department, the workforce is seemingly accused of subversion for the other side and turned on itself. 


– Just recently, we’ve seen the longest federal government shutdown lasting 35 days and with hundreds of thousands of Federal workers required to work without pay at the time. 


– We have also seen many years of pay freezes–with not even a meager cost of living adjustment (COLA), while the overall economy is booming!


– The pay for grades at the upper levels are hitting up against the Congressional limits with multiple pay steps being the same pay and no increase for career advancement or growth of responsibilities. 


– Employees have been forced to endure the A-76 outsourcings, threats of disbanding entire agencies, demands to reduce the size of government, and hiring freezes even while serving a larger population requiring ever more services. 


– There have been limitations on the power of employee unions, and an ongoing series of tightening of benefits from CERS to FERS and continuing thereafter requiring greater employee contributions and what feels like ever less benefit payouts. 


– Staff are threatened with firing in a short(er) period of time for making a small number of mistakes to a host of “conduct” issues that may or may not be true, and may at times be the outcome of poor leadership rather than problematic employees.


– The system for employment grievances and judging these has gone without a quorum for the longest period on the books and the backlog of cases continues to build. 


While no system is perfect, and there are bad apples on every side, there clearly seems to be a devolution of the federal service, and what this means for governing and for our defense and prosperity is yet to be fully felt. 


For me, serving the Federal government has been one of the greatest honors and has been many of the best years of my life. My wish is for others going forward to have a positive and productive experience as well. 


Perhaps with an appreciation and true respect for the millions of good men and women that serve our country–from the front lines to the back offices–we can once again create a system that is equitable, fair, and just and that inspires the world-class results we needs for our nation and our people. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Fight or Surrender!

This is why President Reagan was able to “tear down that wall” and win the Cold War. 


He was a true role model for leadership and what a President is. 


– Faith in G-d.


– A strength of convictions.


– The Integrity that touches hearts. 


– Courage to carry forward. 


– Pride in our nation.


– Judicious use of our might.


Go USA! 😉

Memorial Day Stars and Stripes

 

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Loved this lady’s sweater of the American Flag.


So cool with the stars on the sleeve like that. 


I thought this was especially nice for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.


As we remember those that have sacrificed so much, and the many that have fallen making the ultimate sacrifice, so that all we could be free. 


“In the olden days,” they used to say America was the “goldene medina”–the golden country–the land of opportunity!


But really, the gold itself is just fools gold, the real greatness of being here is the freedom to be who you are and to have the human rights and protections to pursue whatever your dreams are. 


Maybe that’s what the stars on the flag are really all about–we can all reach for the stars–whatever stars we want–and many will actually be able to achieve the impossible. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Greatest Failure of Leadership

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So perhaps the most damaging trait of failed leadership is hubris.

When a leaders exhibits arrogance–bullies and degrades others, especially underlings–then that absolutely destroys the moral fiber of and the employee engagement in the organization.

No, it’s not the salary and benefits, or recognition, or position title, or even the grandness of the mission of the organization itself–although they are all important–but rather, the key ingredient to employee satisfaction is the common sense fundamental of how we treat our people.

People rising or elevated in the organization frequently forget the humble beginnings from whence they and their families likely began.

They see their honor and fat pay check and power–and they start to perhaps think of themselves as (close to) G-d Almighty, Him/Herself.

But it is not their position that makes them in the image of G-d, but how they care for and treat others.

If they shepherd their flocks meekly and with empathy and kindness to all then they emulate G-d, the creator and sustainer.

But when it goes to their heads and they become fat and haughty with themselves and are above everyone and care not for the basic dignity and respect of each individual in their steward then G-d sees and G-d hears the cry of the oppressed, and the mighty will surely fall and hard.

As it says in Isaiah 13:11:

I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.

Those who are blessed by G-d with position, money, and power–their challenge is to be gracious and giving with it. 

When they “laud it” over others and when they think that they are truly “all that”–rest assured that G-d does not let any tree grow or tower (of Babel) build into the Heavens themselves. 


Empathy, kindness, graciousness, and generosity–that is true leadership–and that is when employee engagement, satisfaction, and productivity will bear the mark of the meek and the truly great person and leader. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Don’t Push The Button

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Thought this was a really funny quote about getting your buttons pushed: 


“Don’t push my buttons without reading the manual.”

– Gadgetmobile, Inspector Gadget

In terms of not pushing other people’s buttons:

“Remember, you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity.”

– Dale Carnegie

 (Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

How Great Are You?

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INDISPENSABLE?

      Sometime, when you’re feeling important,

      

      Sometime, when your ego’s in bloom,

      

      Sometime, when you take it for granted,

      

      You’re the best qualified in the room.

      

      Sometime when you feel that your going,

      

      Would leave an unfillable hole,

      

      Just follow these simple instructions,

      

      And see how it humbles your soul.

      

      Take a bucket and fill it with water.

      

      Put your hand in it, up to the wrist;

      

      Pull it out; and the hole that’s remaining, 

      

      Is a measure of how you’ll be missed.

      

      You may splash all you please when you enter,

      

      You can stir up the water galore,

      

      But stop, and you’ll find in a minute,

      

      That it looks quite the same as before.

      

      The moral in this quaint example,

      

      Is just do the best that you can,

      

      Be proud of yourself, but remember,

      

      There’s no indispensable man.

            

      – Saxon White Kessinger

(Thank you to my daughter, Minna Blumenthal, for sharing this)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)