Excellence Vs. Mediocrity

So we all know how hard it can be to get ahead.  


The long hours, hard work, and grueling repetition to try to reach near-perfection. 


Even then, of course, we need G-d’s mercy and blessings and a measure of good luck to succeed. 


Also, by definition, not everyone can be “the best” at everything. 


I suppose the expectation for most people is that they try at least to excel at the things that they need to do or are most important to them, as well as maintain work-life balance. 


In this light, it was interesting to hear a story recently about mediocrity (and not excellence). 


When asked to step up on the job, one person responded in the negative saying:

C’s get degrees (too)!


Of course, this must have sounded pretty shocking and off-putting. 


In other words, they weren’t going for the “A” or even a “B”.  A “C” grade was fine for them–as long as they didn’t completely fail with a big “F”.


Who knows what circumstances may have led this person to settle for mediocrity–just wanting to pass.


Perhaps they had serious personal or family issues–and had good reason to be taking a step back (for a while). 


But I think there could also be more tactful ways to say it too–like explaining if there were mitigating or challenging circumstances in their life right now. 

If there really wasn’t mitigating circumstances and the person was just “slacking off” or didn’t care, one has to wonder why–are they just “milking the system” or is there something more fundamentally wrong?


C’s get degrees, but to me the real question is: Are you doing your best given your particular life circumstances?  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

How Some People Cope With Stress

Thought this was incredible. 


Someone opened up a “Rage Room” in Maryland. 


I know the atmosphere in D.C. is polarized and sort of toxic lately, and there is lot’s of identity politics, obstruction, and even people hating on each other, but this really shows how things have degenerated.


And let’s face it, it’s not just the politics that people are stressed out about–how about stress from family, work, and bills.  We’re on 24/7 these days and a lot of stress can build up in people that way. 


But now, people can actually pay money to go to into a room, wrap themselves in safety clothing, and spend their time smashing things. 


Almost like when they put crazy people in a padded room in a straight jacket and let them hit their heads against the wall for a while. 


In the Rage Room:


You can break 10 glass items for just $25!


Or throw in a medium printer in the starter pack and it’s $35. 


You can even BYOB (Bring Your Own Breakables) and have at it for $15.


Group packages and even gift cards are available. 


Fun maybe, a little crazy for sure. 😉

Lunch And A Call

This just seemed like a funny photo to me.


In the cafeteria, someone was checking out at the register. 


And on their lunch/food tray, they had, of course, their lunch. 


But also, they had a big black telephone.


Talking about a working lunch!


Wow, is that customer service or what? lol


This reminded me also of the BIG red phone on some top officials’ desks –always ready for that critical call in case of near world catastrophe.


So here we go Joe… 


I will eat my lunch and am ready for your call at any time. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Longing For The Slow and Happy Bungalow Days

So I used to hear from my wife about when she was young and went to the bungalow colony in the Catskill Mountains.


And today, I heard from a wonderful young Ukrainian woman whose family does the equivalent in the mountains there in the summer. 


When I listen to the stories, it sounds so good to get away with your family and friends for the summer to the countryside. 


Just live simply in a cabin, stay up late by the campfire singing songs, get up lazily in the morning, and during the day play sports, go fishing, and swim in the lake. 


I can’t imagine talking 3 months a year and actually being able to do this…so natural, so carefree, so back to living!


Yes as kids, we went to camp, but it’s not the same as living communally like this in such freedom and fun. 


Honestly, listening to the stories about this, left me amazingly jealous!


Perhaps, it’s a lesson about life these days…we’re adults, we’re responsible, we have to earn a living and take care of the bills and all of life’s responsibilities. 


But maybe, just maybe, there is something–a lot–to be said for letting loose a little, and just being with your loved ones, and living, really living again. 


Why do we have to wait until we’re old…too old to work anymore…and maybe too old to appreciate life as life was meant to be.  


We can’t run from our responsibilities but isn’t it worth looking for ways in life to enjoy more than a long weekend or a week vacation.


Life is too short to let it get away from us. 


Balancing the contributions of our hard labor with the enjoyment of family, friends, and fun…those are the memories that last a lifetime and beyond. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Mechanisms for Coping With Stress

Just reflecting on the day off today on helpful ways for being resilient and coping with day-to-day stress. 


1. Teamwork – Remember you’re not alone and you can rely on your colleagues/teammates at work and your family/friends at home to work with you, help you, and also be a support. Together, when you distribute the weight, the load is lighter and more manageable for everyone doing the lifting! 


2. Work-Life Balance – Listen, all work and no play is good for no one. When you create a healthy balance in your own life–professional, emotional, intellectual, social, physical, and spiritual–then you will be more balanced, holistic, and better able to manage the ups and downs in any one or more areas of your life. The whole of you is larger than the sum of the parts!


3. Perspective – You’ve got to maintain a healthy perspective and attitude in life. All is not doom and gloom. Not every setback is catastrophic. There is good and bad in everything. And we need to use the challenges in life as learning and growth opportunities. Also, remember that there are many others in even worse shoes than us and their fortitude and seeing it through can be an inspiration to us. At the end of the day, look at the bright side–we all have so much to be grateful for, and every moment of life is a blessing!


4. Sense of Humor – When all else fails, a sense of humor can sometimes be the savings grace of the moment. When you’re looking out over the abyss and you are seeing things dark and maybe quite ugly…perhaps, you can find in yourself, in others, or from a moment in time, something ridiculous or absurdly funny to think back on and laugh to yourself a good, strong, and healthy laugh!


5. Faith – No matter what…G-d is always there for you. Always watching. Always guiding. Always caring and loving you. You can have faith that whatever He does for you is ultimately for your best. The G-d of your forefathers/mothers, the G-d who created you, the G-d who sustains you every moment of every day will not abandon you in your time of need. If you have faith, He will protect and save you and after your amazing life’s journey eventually comes to an end, He will bring you home to reunite with Him!


On my Bar-Mitzvah, now many years ago, my father gave a speech and he said to me from the prayers, be strong and remember:


“The L-rd is with me, I will not fear!” (or in Hebrew “Adonai li v’lo ira”)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Wide Load @McDonald’s

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I took this photo passing a McDonald’s. 


It just seemed so perfect.


With this SUV parked right between the McDonald’s arches.


And on the SUV are two red warning flags sticking out from the sides with a sign on top that says: 

“Wide Load” 

And in the McDonald’s window is a smiley face and a $2.99 Happy Meal special. 


With the “fast food” unhealthy eating culture that McDonald’s has so long represented, what is there really to smile about except the cheap fixings. 


If you eat at McDonald’s too much or too long then like Morgan Spurlock in the documentary “Super Size Me,” who ate nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days and gained almost 25 pounds and felt crappy…unfortunately the sign “Wide Load” may be descriptive of what can happen.   


This isn’t a dig at McDonald’s per se (there are many fast food joints and things that we know aren’t necessarily good for us)…moderation in life is really key. 


Healthy eating, exercise, mindfulness, work-life balance, and generally taking good care of yourself is not just a nice to have, but important to our well-being.


Genetics aside, it’s the “Battle of the Bulge,” and it’s a lifelong pursuit to be healthy 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Can You Do No Right?

Criticism.jpeg

Do you ever feel like you can do no right?


That whatever you do or choose, you are opening yourself up to criticism by others or more importantly from yourself.


That’s because in life every moment is a choice and each selection of what you do with your time and efforts means by definition that you are not doing something else important then.


– Take the mother or father who chooses to spend time raising their children, but then are not focused as much on their career.


– Take the student who is working really hard on getting those good grades and SAT scores, but then are not doing as much or well with extracurricular activities like sports or socializing. 


– Take the spiritual or religious person or clergy who chooses to focuses their life studying and performing holy speech and deeds but not so much other earthly and material matters. 


– Take the athlete who works out and eats right focusing on toning and honing their body and physical skills but doesn’t spend as much time and effort on intellectual interests or more standard career pursuits. 


– Take the extrovert who focuses on building and maintaining relationships and networks–family, friends, community, colleagues, others–but are not putting the same time and attention to enhancing their other knowledge, skills, and abilities. 


So you say, but why can’t we just do everything we’re supposed to do, and simply balance?


Well, that is what we all try to do in our own way, but still each time and every moment you are doing one thing, you are not at that moment doing something else or being somewhere else. 


So that causes tension, perhaps a tug-of-war within ourselves, stress, and even guilt. 


The impact is that we often run from one thing to another or we get distracted in what we are doing–“Honey can you answer the phone?”


Some classic examples are when we race home from the office to pick the kids up from school or while playing with sweet little Johny or Suzie, the phone rings and and we have to pick up that call from the boss at work. 


As they say, you can’t be–physically or mentally–in two places at the same time!


Hence, now the movement for mindfulness, being in the moment and focused.


But as the demands in life forever ask more of us–even amidst ever greater technology and automation to assist us–somehow we can never do enough because of course, the bar gets raised for ourselves and the competition gets tougher from those who make choices to focus on specific areas that we are not as much. 


So say that you are splitting your time between work and family, but someone else is single or doesn’t have kids and they are full in with work, staying late, going in weekends, getting those extra credentials, and just putting in every extra effort there…well, how do you think you will stack up?


Yes, some of us recognize the importance of work-life balance and even focusing incrementally across the many important areas of our life: physically, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and socially.


Never-the-less every moment, in a time- and space-bound world, we are forced to choose this or that. 


There is no one right answer for everyone!


And every choice in every moment is the opportunity for you to criticize yourself or for others to criticize you that you weren’t paying attention, focused, doing your best, etc.


But who cares–it’s our life to live and we can live it as we want?


True, however as inevitably important things or relationships break down or fail, have mistakes or errors, or aren’t going as we would ultimately want or dream they should–we ask ourselves, could we have done things differently or somehow managed our time, efforts, and focus better.


(Source Photo: Online Advertisement provided by Dannielle Blumenthal)