Take Responsibility

I thought it was an interesting sign in the office.

Responsibility: At the end of the day, you are solely responsible for your success and your failure. And the sooner you realize that, you accept that, and integrate that into your work ethic, you will start to be successful.  As long as you blame others for the reason you aren’t where you want to be, you will always be a failure.  – Erin Cummins


While I agree that we have to take responsibility for our lives and do the work hard to achieve success, at the same time, we obviously aren’t in control of everything. 


We have to play the hand we’re dealt in life and make the very best of it.  Whatever challenges that we have, they are there for us to learn from, grow from, and become better human beings from. 


Also, success means different things to different people–for some it’s money, power and honer; for others it’s physical fitness and dashing good looks; still some care more about travel, experiences, partying, and having a good time; and yet for others it’s about G-d, family, country, and good deeds.


Whatever we want to achieve requires dedication and hard work from our end, but also a generous dose of prayer and good fortune for “the stars to align.”  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Missed The Shot But Someone Else Got It

So check out this sleek garbage for bottles and cans. 


Like many of these, it has a small opening hole at the top to convey that only bottles and cans (like it says on the side) should be put in for recycling–no garbage. 


When I was walking by quickly, I took the shot, attempting to throw in my bottle.


But it bounced off the rim and landed on the floor. 


Before I could even turn around to pick it up, I saw another gentleman behind me swoop in and pick up the garbage and put it in the can for me. 


I tell you that I was really quite amazed. 


He could have easily said, I missed the can and so I should just pick up my own trash off the floor and throw it out–that’s only right!


Instead, it was in his mind nothing to do this random act of kindness and he picked up my trash. 


I know it sounds like a nothing burger, but to me, it represented just a real decency from another human being. 


Not standing on ceremony.


Not being too hoity-toity to pick up the garbage.


Rather just saw something that needed to get done and doing it. 


I tell you that as much as some people disappoint me with their arrogance and evilness, others are genuinely good people. 


This is what it’s all about–the good people showing the bad people what kindness, generosity, and humanity is all about. 


To the evil f*ckers out there–who are arrogant, materialistic takers, haters, bullies, aggressors, and abusers–to h*ll with you!


To the good people–keep doing good and let the good win over the evil every single time. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

We’re A Bunch of Chemicals+

So it’s pretty well known that we are a combination of nature and nurture. 


Nature is our genetics and our hormones–it’s sort of the innate material that make up who we are. 


Nurture, of course, is all those external influencers, like parents, friends, teachers, religious figures, experiences, etc.–that shape us. 


In a way, it’s hard to think of ourselves as a product of nature and nature, because that sort of removes our conscious free choice in the whole matter of who we are and what we do. 


For example, if someone is a raging lunatic, sociopath, serial killer, because they have a brain or hormonal defect and grew up in a broken and abusive home(s), then the question is, well how can you really or fully blame them for their actions–is it really their actions? 


Don’t we have to ask ourselves how much control does a person have over themselves if they are physically and environmentally predisposed to be a certain way–even a very socially unacceptable and hurtful way?


This is where the courts and justice system come into play in looking at things such as whether the person is even competent to stand trial (e.g. the insanity defense) or are there mitigating circumstances to reduce the person’s culpability.


I would imagine it is quite difficult to exactly judge the level of self control that a person is or should be able to exert given their individual set of nature and nurture.  


And even if the person isn’t fully in control of themselves, does that help the victim or their families who are still left reeling from the harm and/or loss caused to them by the perpetrator?


Yet it is uncontested that people are driven by nature and nurture, and just in today’s Wall Street Journal, there was a discussion of the influence of a person’s hormone levels on their personality and behavior.


– Generally, more testosterone makes a person aggressive, while more estrogen makes them sensitive. 


– Similarly, dopamine makes people more energetic, while serotonin makes them more sociable. 


So there is nothing inherently “wrong” with you for being a certain way…that’s your makeup, but you are responsible for how you manage yourself given what you’ve got.   


In other words, where you have lemons, you’ve got to make lemonade!


In a nutshell, we are truly a combination of our genetic makeup, a bunch of chemicals, some environmental molding, and the exertion of our willpower, faith, and belief in what’s right and wrong. 


What happens when you mix these altogether, you get you and only you! 😉


(Source photo: here with attribution to skeeze)

What Is Wisdom?

Wisdom.jpeg

Some thoughts today on what is wisdom:


– Knowing you know nothing–and you can prove it (ah, humility)!


– Knowing when to ask–like the infamous directions when you’re lost or how to use the latest new technology.


– Learning from all others (everyone has something they can teach us).


– Wisdom = Knowledge + Experience (you’ve gotten an inkling about some truth out there, and you’ve had a chance to test it out). 


– Seeing that people’s outer bodies are just the superficial, material cover for their inner souls. 


– Realizing that doing for others is so much more rewarding than doing for ourselves. 


– Following the great truths of morality and responsibility.


– Keen awareness that we are not alone in the universe–G-d is everywhere.


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Guns Are American

American Joe Gun.jpeg

So we can argue who exactly should be allowed to have guns in America.


But we can’t argue that the 2nd Amendment generally guarantees people the right “to keep and bear arms.”


Sure background checks are an important safety and security check to ensure we aren’t putting guns in the hands of criminals, terrorists, abusers, or mentally incompetent individuals. 


At the same time, people should be able to responsibly own and use them for hobby or self-defense. 


Some guns are even a work of art and not just a killing machine. 


Pictured here is an American Joe with etchings of USA and wings representing freedom and of course, the painting of the American flag for strength and patriotism. 


Not quite the golden AK-47 that Saddam Hussein sported, but nevertheless a beautiful and deadly .45 caliber one. 


With over 300 million guns in the USA, there is just about one for everyone. 


In America, there is a grand tradition of the Old West, but it’s also important to balance that with responsibility and safety. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Dysfunction Is The Starting Point

family

A very smart speech today in synagogue by Rabbi Haim Ovadia. 


He connected to this week’s reading from Genesis in the Torah.


It was a commentary about our forefathers and mothers and what the stories in the Bible teach us. 


As we know, these people while righteous and holy, were not perfect people or families. 


Thinking about these, some examples that come to mind about the many tests, challenges, and tragedies in their lives:


– Adam and Eve eating the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden


– Noah getting drunk and his son, Ham, seeing his nakedness and telling his brothers


– Abraham and Sarah’s doubting (i.e. laughing) that G-d would give them a child


– Isaac lying to Avimelech about Rivkah being his sister (similar to what Abraham said about Sarah)


 – Jacob buying the birthright and stealing the blessing from Esau


– Shimon and Levi killing the people of Shechem for Hamor raping their sister


– Joseph’s brothers being jealous of him and throwing him in the pit and selling him into slavery


– Judah sleeping with Tamer, the wife of his firstborn 


And so on. 


Rabbi Ovadia said we should keep 4 things in mind about the Biblical figures and families to learn for our own:


1) Context – There is a context to what we do. We all have histories that involve difficulties, challenges, illness, abuse, PTSD, and so on.  The things we do and how we react later in life are anchored in this context. 


2) Dysfunction – Every family (and I would add person, organization, and institution) is dysfunctional.  There is no perfection out there (except G-d). Functional would mean like a computer, we input-process-output towards a certain function.  However, as people, we are not automatons, but instead work out our dysfunction through our striving to love, have relationships, learn and grow. 


3) Responsibility – Whatever our challenges and dysfunctions, we are responsible for what we do–our actions.  We can’t just blame history or others.  Our role is to face up to our lot in life and take responsibility for what we do.  It our life and circumstances to make or break us. 


4) Communication – In dealing with life and it’s challenges, communication is key to dealing with things. I would argue that communication is just a part of many critical success factors like trust, determination, hard work, emotional intelligence, being giving, integrity, etc.  But certainly, communication is a key aspect in how we work out our issues with others and try to build function from inherent dysfunction. 


The honestly of the Bible in telling us the flaws of it’s heroes and heroines–our ancestors–is one of the things that make it such a source of wisdom for us as well as demonstrating the truthfulness of it being G-d given to us.


The bible doesn’t sugarcoat who we are and what we have to deal with–it is the Book of G-d that is a roadmap for us to learn from and do good with in our own lives. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)