Lucky Cat

Lucky Cat.jpeg

So a retail establishment opened in the area.


They had all these cat symbols hung inside. 


I asked the owner what it said, and she told me:

“Lucky Cat”


Why a cat symbolizes luck I don’t really know.


But the bigger question is whether there is any such thing as luck in the first place.


We constantly wish people good luck on any and every aspect of their lives: from birth to bar/bat mitzvahs, engagements, weddings, graduations, new jobs, journeys, and basically anything we embark on. 


That’s what Mazel Tov means–good luck!


But I thought we believe in G-d and not luck?


We strive through prayer, charity, repentance, and all sort of good deeds to try and move the scale of justice in our favor. 


With the Jewish high holidays approaching next month–Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur–we do everything to atone for our sins and commit to being better in the future. 


We seek G-d’s mercy and his blessings. 


There is no arbitrary luck or fortune. 


Life is what we make out of it. 


What about the Massachusetts women who won $758 million in Powerball last week or the person that gets cancer or some other horrible tragedy–did they deserve it?


I suppose it’s impossible for us to judge why some people have amazing fortune and others have schlimazel (misfortune).


As it says in Genesis (18:25):

“Shall not the judge of all the Earth do justly?”


Surely, G-d has the bigger picture and the omniscience to know what is good for us and what is not. 


How he tests us and tries us and to what ends…that is a matter of faith and conviction–and we believe that it is all ultimately for our best. 


The judge of all Earth…please have mercy on us and bestow your blessings on us, your faithful children. 


As to the lucky cat–wave us some good vibes–all long as we realize that we all need G-d’s grace! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Yom Kippur, When The Masks Come Off

Mask

This mask does not mean that Jews have horns–that is a crappy and evil stereotype, so cut it out. 


Masks are dress-up and pretend, like the way most people behave day-in and day-out. 


People imagine and feign to be what they would like to be or what they want others to believe they are. 


Like when someone is gearing up for a fight, they extend their arms, raise their voices, bob up and down to make themselves appear bigger and more formidable than they really are. 


It’s a fake out–but perception is (often) reality. 


Similarly, people may wear clothes, drive cars, or live in big fancy homes that make them look well-to-do, but really it’s a great act and all bought on extensive credit (ever hear of 0% down!). 


Others may dream of being seen as smart and the go-to guy for answers, the subject matter expert, or the generally wise person for advice and guidance, but are they really smarter than everyone else or do the degrees plastering the wall like wallpaper or titles like doctor, lawyer, accountant, entrepreneur, professor, and Rabbi simply often invoke credentials and an air rather than the smarts that should accompany them.


Even parents may pose for loving pictures with their children, seem to dote on them, and act the helicopter parents, but still when it comes to their own busy schedules, they have no real time or attention left for the little ones–because the parents put themselves first. 


It happens all the time, every which way, the authority figure who really abuses their authority rather than lives up to it. 


People are human, weak, fallible–and the show is often a lot better than the characters behind it. 


But that doesn’t mean we stop trying to be inside what we know we really should be–more loving, caring, giving, and good people. 


This is the essence of Yom Kippur to me, the Day of Atonement–the day when we shed all our phony masks–and instead we bear out our sins, bend our heads with shame, are sorry for what we have done wrong, and commit to doing better in the future.


Yom Kippur is the day when all the masks are off–we cannot hide from G-d Almighty, the all seeing and all knowing.  


On Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgement we are inscribed, and on Yom Kippur the book is sealed. 


In Judgement, we may enter the court of heaven with heads still held up high, with the same act that we try to show every day, but on Yom Kippur we leave the court with our heads down and our hands humbly clasped, the sentence meted out for who we really are–based not on pretense, but on our underlying behavior.


A mask covers what is, when the mask is off we are left with who we are–naked before our maker, where all is revealed, and we must account for our actions–good, bad, or even just plain indifferent. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Taking Back Control

Superman

Ok, I’ve had mobility issues for over 2 years now that started with a broken foot and ended in 3 surgeries and 2 hip replacements.


Over this time, I have had enormous pain walking and doing other activities. 


And unfortunately, I have put on some extra weight, which I am unhappy about. 


Today though this changes, please G-d.  


I am taking back my life!


I want to lose the weight and be what I know I can be. 


Time to stop the excuses.


It’s Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) next week, and this is a good time to reflect, be introspective, self-critical, and aim high. 


G-d, please help me to be strong, to resist temptation, and shut my mouth from eating the wrong foods. 


I am determined, but G-d I need your help to be successful. 


We’ve accomplished so much together–let’s do this! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Rosh Hashanah iPhone Greeting Card

Rosh Hashanah
I had to share this wonderful Rosh Hashanah greeting.



This was developed using Apple’s iPhone icons.



It is one great technology way to usher in the Jewish New Year of 5775.



Please G-d, let it be a wonderful year full of blessings! 😉



(Source Photo: Sarah Herbsman from Pamela)

The Measure Of A Person

The Measure Of A Person

Another candidate for picture of the week.

This guy is wearing “tape measure” suspenders.

Oh, how fashionable!

While the true measure of a person is their good deeds and relationships (to man and G-d), perhaps the suspenders is a reminder that we should take the time to stop and measure ourselves both quantitatively and qualitatively in our lives.

As we approach the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, a time of introspection and judgement, it is a good opportunity to take measure.

Performance management is not just for work–we can look at ourselves both personally and professionally and commit to do better.

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Live A Good Life, Choose Right

Whether you’re Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or any other religion, I think this is a great music video on living an introspective life, choosing right from wrong, and replacing guilt with inspiration.

We are all confronted every day with situations that are tests of our moral fiber and courage to do what’s right–not necessarily what is easy,

We should choose carefully, consciously, and with a mind toward the master of the universe who watches over us.

While we don’t control everything that happens, we can definitely make a difference in the world by the way we conduct ourselves to our G-d and to each other.

Listening, caring, being sensitive to others, treating others with respect and dignity, trying to help wherever and whenever we can–we can all make a positive contribution.

Well done with the music video to remind us of what’s important–thank you Maccabeats!

Dealing With Change Resistance

In leadership class, I learned that in performance management, there are two major types of issues–conduct and performance.

In conduct issues–people willfully do not follow the rules of the workplace. Conduct issues are those of “won’t.”

However, with performance problems–people cannot meet the expectations for quantity and/or quality. Performance problems are issues of “can’t.”

On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, I wonder whether these same types of performance management issues apply to our lives as human beings and as children of G-d.

– Some people just won’t do the right thing, instead willfully choosing to lie, cheat, steal, and mistreat others. They prefer the monetary or egotistical rewards of doing the wrong thing over the spiritual and relationship hardships and challenges to do the right thing.

– Other people can’t do the right thing–they are too scarred by hurt, abandonment, loneliness, being told they are not good enough and can’t compete, and so on. For these people, sometimes, no matter how hard they try, they feel that they cannot meet expectations.

Of course, willfully doing something wrong is worse than not being able to do something right.

That is why for the first type of people–those with conduct problems–there is disciplinary action.

For the second type of people–those who have performance issues–we recognize their commitment and try to help them through things like coaching, mentoring, training, and counseling.

Performance issues may be linked to change resistance to change–and there are 3 dimensions of this:

1) Cognitive–“I don’t get it”–the person doesn’t fully understand and therefore agree with the rules.

2) Emotional–“I don’t like it”–a person emotionally rejects the rules of change, because they are afraid of the loss it will cause to them, personally and/or professionally.

3) Interpersonal–“I don’t like you”–when people are not resisting an idea, but rather they are resisting you, personally.

Great leadership is the ability to sense when any of these dimensions are off and help to course-correct them:

– When people don’t get it–we can inform, create awareness, and educate.

– When they don’t like it–we can listen to them and show empathy, get them involved in the process, and maybe show them the “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM).

– And when they don’t like you (the most difficult one)–we can try to win people over by taking responsibility for the things we have done wrong, demonstrating over time that we are trustworthy, spending time together to better get to know each other and build the relationship, and maybe even give in on some issues, where appropriate.

Like on Rosh Hashanah, where we seek G-d’s mercy on us and ask that he work with us, so too, we can learn to work with others to try and help them, where possible.

(Source Photo: Minna Blumenthal)

The Shofar: We Can All Improve

Shofar

The Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) is tonight, and it is a time of introspection and commitment to do better in the future.

On Rosh Hashanah, we blow the Shofar (traditionally made from a ram’s horn) in synagogue.

My sister-in-law, Sara Herbsman, told me a beautiful learning about the three types of blasts on the Shofar that correspond to 3 types of people that think they may be beyond repair, but who can still improve their lives:

1) Tekiah–tekiah means rooted and is one long blast–a person is never too stuck, stubborn, or set in their ways to change.

2) Shevarim–shevar means broken and the sound is 3 short broken blasts–that is a person is never to broken to fix.

3) Teruah–comes from the word Ra which means bad and is 9 rapid very short alarm blasts–that is a person is never too bad or evil to repent.

For those who have heard the Shofar blast, it is a moving experience–as if your very soul is stirred to introspection and fear of heaven.

I remember learning in Jewish Day School that our prayers would ascend to G-d in heaven on the blast of the Shofar.

But what I always like the best was the story of the one little boy in synagogue who did not know how to pray, but instead just cried–and his tears, full of sincerity, ascended beyond all the other prayers all the way to throne of the Almighty.

May G-d bless us with a happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful New Year.

Andy

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Elias Punch)

I Want To Be Possible

I_want_to_be_possible

On Rosh Hashanah, The Jewish New Year, which is a time of personal reflection, the Rabbi told us a story (which I made into the attached cartoon) about the person, who when asked what he wanted to be–when he grew up–said “I want to be possible!” That’s the serious part.

 

And when asked “why possible? The person replies humorously because his mother always told him how impossible he is. 🙂

 

The short parable struck me as pretty profound and worth sharing.

 

Because everyday, each of us has to wake up and look ourselves in the mirror, and ask–are we happy with ourselves…who we are…what we have become?  And is it really what we want to be, when we, proverbially, grow up?

 

In the movie Reckless, when they ask the teen growing up in the working class town what he wants out of life–he replies short and to point, “More!”

 

What more do we want out of our lives?  More money, more honor, more things…at the end, that’s all sort of besides the point–isn’t it?

 

What is important is making more possibilities in life–for ourselves and for others by creating a better world.

 

In other words, it’s not about the material (although we all need to take basic care for ourselves and our loved ones–that’s just being responsible), but fundamentally, it’s about the opportunity to make the impossible, possible!

 

For each of us, the challenges are unique and all too often (G-d protect us!), life’s trials and tribulations test us to our very core–so overcoming impossibilities has a distinct meaning for all of us.

 

But as a strategist, a futurist, and an enterprise architect, I know deep down that the art of the possible is in looking forward and not backwards, and working tirelessly to sacrifice and serve.

 

I pray for the new year that G-d gives us the strength and the wisdom to overcome our personal and societal weaknesses, limitations, and selfish inclinations to help and “repair the world”–creating new opportunities for peace, health, and prosperity for all!

 

(Cartoon created in BitStrips)