Category Archives: Ethics & Values

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?

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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!

You’re Responsible But It’s Not Your Fault

“Some people find fault like there is a reward for it” ∞ Zig Ziglar

Remember when you were a kid and broke your mom’s favorite vase or your dad’s golf club? Fear of discovery ate at you. When the deed was uncovered, the search for the culprit started and you had two choices: confess or lie. Usually, the second one only added to the guilt you felt and the punishment you received when the truth finally came to light. To this day I dread being told, “IT’S YOUR FAULT!” Don’t you?

You’re Responsible But It’s Not Your Fault

The Fear of Being Blamed

The shame of reproach negatively impacts children’s self-perception. And the humiliation they feel encourages them to lie or try to shift the blame to someone or something else. (How many guilt-evading children have wrongfully condemned the family dog?) The stigma remains when they get older. Often, they develop an aversion to any kind of criticism. They’re robbed of input that forms the basis for growth.

Parents have rightly stopped blaming their children for making mistakes. But many have also stopped holding their children accountable. Coupled with praising them for the most mundane acts, children grow into immature adults.

The Benefits of Being Responsible

Rather than blaming children when they make mistakes or act out, it’s better to hold them responsible for their behavior. The benefits are twofold:

  1. Being held responsible sounds a lot like being blamed. But children also can be told they’re responsible for the good things they do. In this way, they learn there is a positive side to exercising responsibility. Maturity comes in part from understanding this duality.
  2. There is no stigma to being responsible. The person responsible for good things, such as scoring a winning goal or discovering something that will benefit the world, receives acclaim. The person who accepts responsibility when things go wrong is respected for being honest. No matter how you feel about his policies, most people like the sign President Harry Truman had on his desk: “The Buck Stops Here!”
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Even Mature Adults Hate Being Blamed

Do you point your finger at your spouse? The blame game in a marriage causes permanent damage. But when spouses hold each other mutually responsible they incentivize themselves to work together to find solutions to the challenges they face.

Next time you’re tempted to find fault, consider the long-term effects. Will your children mature into responsible adults if they learn to loathe criticism and shift blame to avoid being stigmatized? Are you strengthening your bond with your spouse?

Forget finger pointing. Instead act responsibly and expect responsible behavior in return. Your family and friends will love you for it.

How do you hold your children or spouse responsible?

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

Is It Ever Right Not to Tell the Truth?

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vezos Haberachah – Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12

We teach our children to tell the truth. We decry the dishonesty of others. And yet in our heart of hearts, we know we don’t always live up to this standard. Are we being hypocritical? The reality is even G-d lied. Parshas Vezos Haberachah explains:

“And the sons of Israel bewailed Moses in the plains of Moab for 30 days…” (Deuteronomy/Devarim 34:8)

Is It Ever Right Not to Tell the Truth?

This week’s parsha, read on Simchas Torah, completes the cycle of readings for the year. In it, Moses blesses each of the tribes individually then the Children of Israel as a group. It ends with his death and praise for the unique quality of his Prophecy.

Moses Always Told the Truth

Great as Moses was, at the time of his death we find that like most people he was not the best at everything. When his brother Aaron died, the Torah says, “When the entire assembly saw that Aaron had perished, they wept for Aaron 30 days, the entire house of Israel.”

Note the distinction. The Israelite men mourned Moses. Men, women, and children, Jews and non-Jews, all mourned Aaron. If greatness is measured by how many people grieve over you, clearly, Aaron was the superior of his brother. How?

Above all things Moses valued truth. Certainly, this is a noble characteristic. But his inability to move out of this frame left him deficient in another important life skill. Moses struggled to connect with people. He commanded their respect as their teacher. But when they needed understanding or a compassionate ear to bridge a dispute, Moses fell short.

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Aaron excelled at bringing peace between spouses. He went to extraordinary lengths to resolve conflicts between people. Sometimes he would bend the truth slightly by telling both disputants that the other wanted to reconcile but just couldn’t make the first move. Aaron never doubted that people wanted to live harmoniously. So he felt justified in “telling the truth in advance.”

When G-d Withheld the Truth

The Almighty set the example. When Sarah laughs upon hearing she’ll have a child in her old age, she calls her husband old. But when G-d related the incident to Abraham He chose not to mention this in order to prevent disharmony between wife and husband.

Moses could never bring himself to compromise his integrity, even for such a noble cause. Reflecting at the end of his life he was struck by Aaron’s deep love for people. He realized his brother connected in a way he could not.

Should You Be Blunt or Caring

While I’m not encouraging you to lie, think about your purpose and mission in life. Will being completely candid help you create the kind of relationships you want and need? Perhaps withholding criticism is better than being starkly honest. Maybe saying a kind work that you don’t necessarily believe will improve a relationship when silence won’t.

It turns out 100% candor isn’t the best policy. You’ll have to decide when to deviate from bluntness. Start by considering how you can improve your connection with your family.

When do you think it’s okay to stray from the truth?

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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