Category Archives: Ethics & Values

Being Brutally Honest Makes You a Liar

2-½ minutes to read

Authenticity is the rage in personal development. Everywhere you turn writers (me included) encourage you to be genuine. With so many exhortations you would think everybody goes around wearing masks and deceiving other people. The constraints have been lifted. Be brutally honest. Remember your authenticity is at stake. You don’t want to commit the sin of phoniness!

Being Brutally Honest Makes You a Liar

Act How You Feel

If you’re mad at a coworker, rip him with profanity. If your kid irritates you for the hundredth time, scream at her to stop. Spew invective on Facebook. Tweet 140 character assaults. Being authentic means you can say and do whatever you want without penalty.

Or does it?

What will happen to your job if you give a colleague a verbal dressing down? Gone, right?

How will you child respond to your bellowing? Alienation?

Why would someone hire you when your social media attacks people and ideas they may agree with?

Do you want to be an unemployed misanthrope?

Perhaps you’ll have to refrain from expressing brutally honest emotions. After all, we teach children to stop throwing temper tantrums. Oh well, it’s only a small compromise of your authenticity.

Who You Are Going to Be

You’re probably frustrated about not having something in your life. Maybe it’s more money or a solid marriage. It could be the time and resources to travel or pursue a hobby you love. Will being brutally honest do anything to get you what you lack?

Is your deepest need to express yourself uninhibitedly? You’ll never get to without suffering consequences.

Or is your frustration actually about something else? If this is the case, being brutally honest with people will make it even more difficult to get what you want since the only way to fill your needs is by helping others fill theirs.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can mistreat people under the guise of being authentic. Genuineness comes from behaving in a way that fulfills your deepest aspirations. Indulging the childish side of your nature bespeaks immaturity. Staying true to the best image you have for yourself is true authenticity.

Venting your frustration, verbally or through social media, may make you feel good. But it’s only authentic if your goal in life is to alienate as many people as possible. You know from your own experience, the success you’ve had thus far in life has come from cordial interactions with others.

So stop lying to yourself that being brutally honest expresses the true you. Let your actual authenticity shine through in being the person you wish to be.

How do you stay focused on being your ideal person? Please comment below.

How to Raise Your Confidence When Others Have More

3 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Terumah – Exodus 25:1-27:19

Despite a lack of designer clothing, what people wore during Biblical times conferred status and sometimes caused jealousy. Case in point, Jacob makes a multicolored tunic for Joseph. The gift ignites the envy of his other sons. When you get jealous and start wondering why don’t you have such nice things it undermines your confidence. Parsha Tetzaveh has the cure:

“And they will make the ephod of gold, blue, purple and crimson wool, and twisted fine linen…” (Shemos/Exodus 27:20).

How to Raise Your Confidence When Others Have More

This Sabbath’s parsha explains the mitzvah of the Ner Tamid (continually lit lamp), how to make the vestments for the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and the Kohanim, and how to inaugurate them, the mitzvah of the korban tamid (continual offering) and how to build and use the incense alter, the Holy of Holies.

Garments Specifically for the Priests

Not long ago my daughter asked why we’re not allowed to have cloths made from a mixture of wool and linen. She was referring to a verse in the Torah, Deuteronomy/Devarim 22:11, that prohibits wearing such a mixture. I answered her since G-d doesn’t want us to, we don’t in order to show our love for Him. She didn’t seem convinced.

Then I explained to her that garments made from wool and linen mixed together may only be worn by the Kohanim. She accepted this because she knows they have a special relationship with the Almighty but also huge responsibilities. The tradeoff made sense to her.

Contingent Confidence Is Actually Self-Doubt

I doubt you envy the Kohanim. In Biblical times, only Korah and his followers coveted the priesthood and there’s no indications it was because of their vestments. But you may be jealous of a neighbor who has a nice car or takes fantastic vacations. One of the pitfalls of financial success is a heightened awareness of what you have compa. Feeling you don’t measure up often weakens your confidence.

Tying your self-assurance to things or other people means anytime relative wealth changes so does you confidence. When someone gets more, your self-esteem drops. Combating such feelings can be difficult. The lesson of wool and linen garments is one among many that will help you:

  1. Some people have vast responsibilities, ones you don’t want, that enable them to earn huge incomes or unique privileges.
  2. Some people come from wealthy families. Their starting point is different than yours. Comparisons don’t apply.
  3. Some people have suffered a great deal. Though they might gladly give it, all their wealth can’t relieve their pain. Do you really want to trade places?
  4. Some people sacrificed their youth to develop talents that paid off later in life. Even if you are willing to make such a trade off now, it’s impossible. But it doesn’t mean the other person is better than you. Incidentally, he may live with the burden of hating his childhood.

By recalling these truths, you will detach yourself from what other people do or have. Then you can tie your self-confidence to your own personal development. Ridding yourself of envy will make you an unqualified success.

What do you do to be happy about other people’s success? Please comment below.


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Get the Income You Deserve

3-½ minutes to read

On the ad I run promoting my Facebook Group where veterans talk about how to get a six-figure income, someone posted he wants a seven-figure income. I like his moxie. He has a goal. But what is he willing to do to reach it?

About 30% of families have incomes of $100,000 or more per year. Before you think they’re all doctors and lawyers, consider these two professions together make up less than 2% of workers. People who make six-figure incomes know something you don’t.

How to Get the Income You Deserve

What Your Skills Will Buy You

In today’s competitive marketplace, skills alone won’t get you a six-figure income. In most cases your abilities are worth $40,000 to $60,000 a year. The global marketplace has commoditized many jobs. Technology has replaced expertise, simplifying many other jobs.

There are a few exceptions. Nursing will pay in the high five-figures and in some cases more. But the work is taxing, creating a high burnout rate. As you work up the scale from mid five-figures based on skills alone, most of the time a higher income will come from working longer hours, having higher stress, or both.

So what are the 28% of six-figures earners doing besides practicing medicine and law?

No One Will Hand You the Income You Deserve

No matter what their job, six-figure earners’ work includes marketing and sales. Stick with me for another minute. I’m not saying you have to have a job marketing or selling. But no HR person or client has the time to discover your unique value proposition. You have to develop it and communicate it clearly in order to get the income you deserve. Here are the steps:

  1. Inventory your skills, knowledge, and experience. This is your foundation. Most people stop here so by moving beyond this point you are already separating yourself from the pack.
  2. Establish expertise in an area where your skills can command a premium. If someone tells you how to apply your skills you’re going to be stuck in mid five-figures. But if you couple knowledge of the problems a business or an industry faces with the expertise to solve them you’ve taken a big step toward doubling your income potential.
  3. Create your case for scarcity. As long as there are lot of people conversant with the challenges of a market and the ability to overcome them you’re still a commodity. What makes you unique or a cut above the competition? You must be able to articulate why you’re the best in precise terms. Statements such as, “I have ten year of leadership experience” mean nothing. (I had that by the time I was 18 because I held leadership positions in my Cub Scout Pack and Boy Scout Troop.) What specific, relevant problems did you solve as a leader? Why didn’t anyone else solve them?
  4. Convey your value proposition in language the interviewer understands. What is the jargon of the industry? You can tell someone you know the business. Or you can demonstrate industry knowledge by speaking like an expert. Which makes the stronger case for your uniqueness?

Notice nowhere in this process are you saying things that are untrue or using high pressure or other tactics associated with the sleazy aspects of sales and marketing. You are presenting the case for your value backed up by your expertise.

People want results. Your skills and experience are important only as indicators you can deliver. Package them in a way that distinguishes you from the competition. Then watch six-figures come rolling in.

How can you separate yourself from the flock? Please comment below.

Preventing Others’ Failure Doesn’t Make You a Success

2-½ minutes to read

Last month I finished a master of library and information science degree. One of the notable aspects of the program is the grading scale:

  • 97-100      A
  • 94-96       A-
  • 91-93       B+
  • 88-90       B
  • 85-87       B-
  • 82-84       C+
  • 79-81       C
  • 76-78       C-
  • 73-75       D+
  • 70-72       D
  • 67-69       D-
  • Below 67 F

When I was a high school student and an undergraduate in college, you only had to get a 90 for an A- and a 70 would get you a C-. At first I thought the grading scale indicated a more rigorous evaluation of a student’s work. Later I found it was a response to professors grading too leniently. Whether because they were buying good student ratings or were overwhelmed by compassion, the result was students who didn’t write well and often lacked the resilience to deal with the workload.

Preventing Others’ Failure Doesn’t Make You a Success

Lower Expectations Leads to Less Quality

Academia isn’t the only place where failure essentially has been eradicated. Command Master Chiefs and Career Counselors, among others in the navy, ensure sailors succeed. This policy is justified by the cost to train a sailor, as high as $1 million for one who will work on a nuclear reactor. From leading petty officers (foremen in civilian life) to the officers in command, sailor retention and advancement is a key indicator of performance.

But there’s no free lunch. The price has to be paid somewhere.

Stress on chief petty officers (supervisors in civilian life) burns them out more quickly and reduces their quality of life. Job satisfaction at all levels is lower. Instead of failing and self-selecting to follow another path, sailors advance despite not liking their work. But the real cost is borne when they finally leave the navy.

Preventing Failure as an Indicator of Success

Chief petty officers and commanding officer take pride in saying none of their sailors failed. But like college professors, their success comes at a price someone else pays. Once out in the civilian job market, where being told no, you don’t qualify, and receiving rejection can be a daily experience, sailors are baffled by their lack of success. Studies show that a veteran who does not build up resilience to such treatment in the first six months after leaving the military is far less likely to ever transition successfully.

Reintegration is made more difficult by having spent longer in the military. They are more set in the military mindset. Making the changes necessary to succeed in civilian life can be hopeless.

People have to be allowed to fail. Denying them this opportunity means taking from them the chance to grow. Rather than basing success on preventing failure, you’re better off showing people, whether your children or employees, how to bounce back from defeat.

While the short-term benefits may be high, in the long term preventing others from failing will lead to their downfall. In the end, if your children and colleagues don’t succeed have you?

Where do you see preventing failure is necessary? Please comment below.

Beauty is Deeper than Skin

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Lech Lecha – Genesis 12:1-17:27

Do you struggle with handling how your daughter perceives her physical appearance? Zig Ziglar recommended that children be complimented for their behavior or clothing rather than their attractiveness. Numerous people have told my daughter how pretty she is. As a result, when I complement her character often she’s disappointed. Delving into Parshas Lech Lecha resolved my dilemna:

“…see now, I have known you are a woman of beautiful appearance.” (Genesis/Bereishis 12:11)

Beauty is Deeper than Skin

In this Sabbath’s parsha G-d tells Abram (later Abraham) to leave his land and relatives to go to Canaan. Next, Abram sojourns in Egypt then returns to Canaan. Abram and his nephew Lot part ways. Then G-d promises to give the Land of Canaan to Abram and his descendants. Abram wins a war, rescues Lot, then turns down the booty that normally goes to the victor.

Next G-d reiterates His promise to give Canaan to Abram and his descendants. Sarai (later Sarah) gives Abram Hagar for a wife. Then G-d and Abram make the covenant of circumcision. Finally, Sarai and Abram are given new names and are promised a son to be named Isaac.

Does the Torah Say Beauty Is Important?

In this and next weeks parshas, we find that Sarah’s beauty is so great Abraham fears Pharaoh and Abimelech will kill him to get her. Noted scholars have debated Sarah’s beauty. In true Jewish fashion, they concluded it was inferior, the same, and greater than Eve’s.

Eve, being a pure reflection of the Divine image, would have aroused greater rage in the Evil Queen than Snow White did. The Magic Mirror would have declared Eve’s beauty without equal in the history of humanity.

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Perhaps this Biblical beauty contest should be moved to Atlantic City so we can crown Miss (well maybe Mrs.) Old Testament. In any case, apparently, the Torah focuses on beauty.

Beauty as a Metaphor for Character

Hold off planning the talent and swimsuit competitions. The Torah doesn’t involve itself in frivolities. Eve’s unparalleled beauty reflected the purity of her character before eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This sin tarnished her soul and outward appearance. Throughout Eve’s life, her physical appearance reflected the state of her connection to the Creator.

Sarah lacked Eve’s primal connection to the Almighty but committed no comparable sin. By turns, she compares disfavorably and favorably with Eve. Throughout her life, Sarah’s beauty never diminished because her righteousness never waned. No ugliness emanated from her soul to mar her physical appearance.

Daddy, Do You Think I’m Pretty?

Understood as a mirror image of a person’s character, the Torah’s focus on beauty gains context. When my daughter asks me if I think she’s cute, without hesitating I tell her, “yes, you are beautiful, a true reflection of your wonderful heart and soul.”

Until you know someone’s character, you are blind to her beauty. While her physical appearance may be stunning, this may disguise an unattractive soul. Once you know her heart, she may not be pretty any longer. Likewise, someone may strike you as unappealing at first glance. But her warmth of spirit and emanation of love may make her more beautiful than Venus De Milo.

Were Eve and Sarah gorgeous? In the end, their physical appearance is unimportant. What counts is the manifestations of their characters. Viewed from this perspective, beauty is deeper than skin. As character flourishes, loveliness intensifies.

Question – How do you determine whether to be involved with someone?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

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