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)

Broken Mirror Reflections D.C.

Smashed Mirror.jpeg.jpg

So I took this photo of a smashed mirror hanging out of a corner trash can in downtown D.C.

Half is reflecting the garbage in the can and half is reflecting the buildings and trees outside. 

Such a metaphor for the society we live in these days. 

Where we are broken, and society is broken, and certainly lots of government is broken. 

And the shards of glass reflect on the both the garbage of what has piled up inside us and the system, but also the possibilities on the outside for development, growth, and change. 

The broken mirror with the sharp glass shards is dangerous, but perhaps by seeing the mess we are in, we can finally step up and do something to fix it. 

No more circling the wagons, infighting or deflecting from the issues; no more blaming the past or demonizing the opposition; no more excuses for stagnation, incompetence, or impotence; no more whitewashing and red tape; no more firefighting, shoddy quick fixes or waiting for another break/fix; no more whirlwind spin around the dazed and confused; no more sugar-coating, backpedaling, or dressing up or down the facts; no more playing politics or deceiving ourselves and others–is that even possible any longer?

Instead, we change to a model of acknowledging that which is broken and teaming together to fix it–doing something positive, and constructive for ourselves and the world–oh, fix it Dear Henry, please fix it.  😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Don’t Just Hire Another You

Donkey
So the corporate cat is out of the bag…



The New York Times confirms that “more than 80% of employers worldwide named cultural fit as a top hiring priority,” where cultural fit is a sugarcoated synonym for hiring others like themselves!



Your resume influences whether you get an interview, but then “chemistry”–personality (“not qualifications”) takes over–“like you were on a date.”



Often cited reasons for hiring someone:



– Someone you would enjoy “hanging out” with, and “developing close relationships with.”



– Those with “shared experiences,” alma maters, and pedigrees–including “hobbies, hometowns, and biographies…and even “those who played the same sport.”



What about diversity?



Well apparently, it’s still an “old boys network” out there, even though diversity has been found especially important for “jobs involving complex decisions and creativity,”  and so as not to become “overconfident, ignore vital information, and make poor (and even unethical) decisions.”



No doubt, personality and values can also be important in getting along with others in the group–even a few jerks on the team, can create plenty of havoc, discord, and dysfunction. 



Maybe after meeting the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) requirements, one of the litmus tests should be not whether the person is the same as us, but whether they are moral and decent human beings that can act appropriately with others.  



Not an easy thing to judge from some interviews, testing, or even reference checking–even when these are done well, there are still quite a number of hiring surprises that happen.



Or as they say about marriage, you don’t really know the person until you wake up with them in the morning. 



There are also more extensive background checking that can help vet employees, such as in the Federal system, where many sensitive positions require an in-depth security clearance review process that looks at everything from criminal background, financial responsibility, psychological stability, national loyalties, and more. 



We need to know who we are dealing with, not intrusively, but responsibly for good hiring decisions. 



Honestly, you don’t just want to hire the candidate that just looks good, like the pretty girl with no personality or a hideous disposition. 



To be clear, there should never be ANY hiring biases in the workplace–conscious or unconscious. 



Hiring mangers should make sure the person they are hiring is excellent in terms of the KSAs, has a broad set of terrific references, and can reasonably act like a mensch under a broad set of circumstances–the last one is the hardest one to ensure. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)