Category Archives: Soul

How to Reduce Mistakes During Your Transition

Do You Know Your Worst Enemy and Best Ally?

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayigash – Genesis 44:18-47:27

The military exemplifies a can-do environment. Many a shipmate’s desk has the slogan, “The difficult we do right away, the impossible may take a little longer.” For many veterans, this attitude carries over to civilian life, at least for a while. But job rejections can sap your determination. Error compounds error, causing you to think the private sector doesn't want you…

How to Reduce Mistakes During Your Transition

The Power of Belief

No prison is stronger than the one a person creates in his mind. You may have seen how others box themselves in with their worldview. Even someone on a lofty spiritual level can adopt a mistaken belief. Jacob fell prey in Parshas Vayigash:

“…but his heart rejected it, for he could not believe them.” (Bereshis/Genesis 45:26)

All Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to buy more food. They still thought he was Pharaoh’s viceroy. Joseph revealed his identity and they reconciled. Then, he convinced his brothers to bring their father Jacob and their families to Egypt. He gave them wagonloads of food and clothing to take with them. When the brothers arrived in Canaan, they told Jacob that Joseph was still alive.

They had sent Asher’s daughter Serach to prepare him for the startling news. Still, He didn’t believe them.

Jacob had seen Joseph’s torn bloody garment. He had concluded his son was dead. Now ten of his sons assured him Joseph was alive and brought ample proof. But Jacob clung to his mistake. His belief trumped reality.

Jacob had gotten comfortable with his erroneous worldview. He may have considered believing Joseph was alive. It would have removed a tremendous weight from his shoulders. But it didn't matter. Rather than risk getting hurt again, Jacob held on to his belief that Joseph was dead.

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In the end, the brothers gave Jacob a message only Joseph could have known. Finally, Jacob let go of his mistaken belief.

Your Enemy and Ally for Reducing Mistakes

Belief can be a powerful ally when it spurs you to go after what you want. But it is a sly enemy. Believe failure is inevitable. Almost for sure, you’ll get that outcome.

In even the best of situations, military people feel foreign to civilians. We talk and act more formally. They don't understand our jargon. We prize loyalty and camaraderie more than they do. Such differences can make a meeting to discuss a job uncomfortable.

Think civilians don't want to give you a job. No matter how you hide it, people can sense your attitude. They may not be aware of it. But they’ll pick up on certain subtleties. Negative beliefs compound an already uneasy situation.

Are you struggling to find a job? Does another aspect of your transition have you down? Follow Jacob’s example. Let go of mistaken beliefs. Many veterans like you struggled yet reintegrated to civilian life with jobs they love. You can too.

Question – What do you believe about transitioning to civilian life?

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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. 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 a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Make a Safer Transition by Taking Risks

Are You Ready to Do What You Haven’t Done Before?

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Mikeitz – Genesis 41:1-44:17

Even if transition assistance programs did their job, your reintegration into civilian life won't be smooth. You have things to learn. Much can't be taught in a classroom. Other aspects take time. Revising your identity and adapting to how our fellow citizens think doesn’t happen overnight. Civilian life makes another big demand…

How to Make a Safer Transition by Taking Risks

Accept You’ll Have a Bumpy Transition

You know the road to reintegration will have some bumps. You made sacrifices in the military. Civilian life has hard choices too. You’ll still face the tradeoff between time with your family and professional advancement.

Though well on in years, Jacob had to start a new life. In Parshas Mikeitz he faced a gut-wrenching decision:

“Take your brother, arise, and return to the man.”(Beresheis/Genesis 43:13)

A famine in Canaan was so bad Jacob sent ten of his sons to Egypt to buy food. There, they met their brother Joseph, who had become Viceroy of Egypt. But they didn’t recognize him. Joseph knew he had to fulfill the prophecy that his brothers would bow down to him. So Joseph demanded they bring their other brother Benjamin to Egypt.

When the brothers returned to their father they told him about the Viceroy’s demand. Not knowing Joseph was the Viceroy, Jacob wouldn’t consent. But soon he’d be out of food again.

Jacob didn't want to let go of his youngest son. He still adored his deceased wife, Rachel. With Joseph gone, Benjamin was the only child of his beloved wife. A stark choice stood before him. Allow his family to starve. Or let go of his precious Benjamin with no guarantee he’d see him again.

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Transitions demand operating outside of your comfort zone. Jacob put his faith in G-d. He took the risk. In doing so, he set in motion events that would raise his family to eminence.

Gaining Satisfaction Requires Taking Risks

What do you want from civilian life? Does a quiet existence after the rigors of the military sound good? Or do you crave a greater level of success than you’ve had so far? No matter which path you choose, you’ll face difficult decisions.

Your plans may include a modest private sector job. Or you may aim for entrepreneurial greatness. Either way, you want something you haven’t had before. So you’ll have to do something you’ve haven’t done before. You may have to give up a part of yourself you hold dear. You may have to break through barriers to creating new professional relationships.

When an unappealing job seems like the safest option, consider whether you can hang on after six or twelve months doing work you hate. If you avoid confronting your current limitations, you're choosing not to succeed.

Jacob faced enormous hurdles during his life. Some he handled well, other less so. That he let Benjamin go shows he remained willing to face the reality of life. You’ll have to take a risk or two to get something you haven’t had before.

Settling isn't risk-free. It only postpones the day of reckoning. Commit to shouldering the new demands civilian life places on you. And keep the faith.

Question – What unreasonable demand has civilian life placed on you?

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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. 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 a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Make Your Dreams Come True

Do You Know the 2 Steps to Fulfilling Your Dream?

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Yayeishev – Genesis 37:1-40:23

When you decided to leave military service did you dream of a better life? Did your vision include a great job or starting a business? Most veterans dream of having more family time. Vacations and unfettered pursuit of a hobby are on most people’s agendas. But setbacks cause many veterans to give up. They conclude their dreams won’t come true…

How to Make Your Dreams Come True

Dreams Don't Look Inevitable Until They Come True

Scientists don’t have a good understanding of the images, ideas, emotions, and sensations we experience when dreaming. They know they occur mainly during the REM stage of sleep. But like with many phenomena, they can't explain why dreams happen or what they mean.

The dreams we create for ourselves have a similar murkiness. We can base them on a strong why. We can attach importance to that purpose. But they only look inevitable in retrospect.

Joseph’s dreams in Parshas Vayeishev are among the most famous in history:

“Joseph dreamed a dream…” (Beresheis/Genesis 37:5)

In fact, Joseph dreamed two dreams. He and his brothers were binding sheaves of wheat in the first one. At one point his brothers’ sheaves bowed down to his sheaf. In the second, the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him.

The sun and moon represented his parents, Jacob and Rachel. The eleven stars his brothers, who already hated him because he was their father’s favorite. Now they hated him even more. Even Jacob evinced skepticism about Joseph’s presumption to greatness.

We know years later Joseph became Viceroy of Egypt. His father and brothers had to bow down to him. Thus, his dreams came true. But before these events, no certainty existed.

Between his dreams and their fulfillment, his brothers tried to kill him. They settled for selling him into slavery. He rose to prominence in Potiphar’s house. But then he was imprisoned.

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The path appears clear after the fact. But in the lead-up, Joseph had to be in doubt about his eventual fate. He must have struggled to maintain his belief that his dreams would come true.

Two Steps to Making Dreams Come True

G-d actualized Joseph’s dreams because he took the two steps to success:

  1. Belief. Engage your faith. It puts power into the why of your goal. Belief gives you direction. And, your conviction convinces people to help you.
  2. Action. Show the Almighty your commitment. Make and execute a plan. Acting gives a positive outlet for your energy. And, it allows the Creator to bring success to you through natural means rather than through an open miracle.

Setbacks are hard to take. A string of them can be demoralizing. Stories are legion about how successful people struggled. You are no different than the greatest among them. Take heart from Joseph’s life. Put the power of belief and action behind your dreams.

Have you become disheartened by too many disappointments?

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!

Has Searching for Employment Made You Angry?

How to Stay Calm Throughout Your Job-Hunt

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayishlach - Genesis 32:4-36:43

No one I’ve met has had a hassle-free transition. Plans fall apart. People who said they’d help don't come through. Sometimes even the simplest task seems impossible to complete. You start to feel abused. Irritation soars. Some veterans redline. Unable to tough it out any longer, they explode…

How to Stay Calm Throughout Your Job-Hunt

When Frustration Boils Over

People can appreciate the frustration that comes from transitioning to civilian life. Whereas, they may not know the specific issues you face. They’ve been vexed by their own. But Parshas Vayishlach shows they’re less likely to forgive an angry outburst:

“And they [Simeon and Levi] said, ‘Should he treat our sister like a harlot?’” (Bereshis/Genesis 34:31)

Shechem abducted and raped Jacob’s daughter Dinah. Then he begged Jacob to marry her. Jacob agreed on the condition that all the men of the city get circumcised. Debilitated by the operation, Simeon and Levi took revenge by killing them.

On learning of the massacre, Jacob pointed out the danger they put the family in. The brothers responded that they had to defend their sister’s honor.

Jacob withheld further comment on the matter until close to death. When he finally took them to task, he criticized their anger. He may not have liked their actions. But he recognized their justice. As a legacy, Jacob wanted his sons to learn that situations charged with emotion must be handled calmly.

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Blowing up can delegitimize even the most righteous act.

5 Steps to Keeping Your Cool

Have you ever lost your temper and missed an opportunity as a result? If so, you know that raises your frustration level. But keeping your cool isn't easy. Preparing for setbacks and practicing mindfulness can help. Still, you need to have a plan for when an explosion is imminent:

1. Triggers. Identify issues or events that shoot your anger through the roof. The more specific you get the better.

2. Record. Summarize these triggers on a 3 x 5 card or in a memo on your smartphone. Order them from the most difficult to the easiest to control.

3. Frame. At the top of the card or memo write “I will be calm when…”

4. Practice. Each morning read your card or memo. Stand. Put conviction in your voice. Make a commitment. Repeat this during the day before any event where your patience may be challenged.

5. Assess. At the end of the day, read your card or memo again. This time, begin with, “I was calm when…” and list the triggers you controlled. For the ones that got away from you, say, “Tomorrow I will improve by remaining calm when…”

This process may seem a little silly at first. But you have to indoctrinate yourself to change your behavior. By following the same kind of training regimen your service branch used to make you a Soldier, Marine, Sailor, or Airman, you’re using a process that works.

We want nothing to do with people who are angry at the military. Like I wrote a couple of weeks ago, we should pity them. In truth, we can't expect the same from civilians. They shut down when we get angry with them. Keep communication open by ensuring you keep your cool.

Has getting angry caused you to lose out on a job?

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!

How to Get Trapped Doing Work You Hate

Do You Think You Deserve a Great Job?

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayeitzei – Genesis 28:10-32:3

You never have to negotiate your military salary. For that matter, all the terms of employment are set. In the private sector, almost everything is open for discussion. Many veterans get fooled into thinking if they get a great compensation package, civilian life will be outstanding. Others take the first job offered them out of desperation. Then reality hits…

 How to Get Trapped by Work You Hate

Employers Will Entice You

The “if they pay me enough I can put up with anything” attitude is seductive. Even the wisest people have taken the first job offered them. In Parshas Vayeitzei, Jacob falls into this trap:

“And he [Laban] said, specify your wage to me and I will give it.” (Beresheis/Genesis 30:28)

After working seven years so he could marry Rachel, Jacob found Laban had tricked him. The morning after his wedding he woke up with Leah. Still hopelessly in love with Rachel, he agreed to work another seven years to earn her. You would think that would have been all the proof he needed to leave his father-in-law’s employ.

But when Laban told Jacob to name his price, he took the bait. The next six years required constant vigilance so he didn't get cheated. Finally, he couldn’t take any more. He gathered up his wives and children and fled.

Continuing to work for Laban may have seemed like the smart or easy play. Why take the risk of having to find another employer or going out on his own? Maybe his wives pressured him. After all, what could be more secure than having their husband work for daddy?

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But after 20 years, Jacob had had it. And when Laban confronted him, he exploded with indignation.

Rationalizing Taking a Crummy Job

Let’s be honest, money can buy happiness. Or at least you can get enough stuff so you overlook being miserable. But money can't buy a sense of purpose, mission, or fulfillment. If your job pays well but offers nothing else, you’re in a test of wills with your employer. How much will you put up with before you can’t stand another minute and quit?

Taking the first post-military job offered may seem like the right move. But half of veterans quit their job during the first year. They feel no sense of mission, especially compared to the military. Is it any wonder they hate what they’re doing?

Do you still have lots of time before you leave active duty? Are you struggling after leaving your first civilian job? Or are you somewhere between? The stage of your transition doesn't matter.

Consider…

  1. How important is finding meaningful employment?
  2. What kind of work fits with your revised purpose and mission as you enter the private sector?
  3. How do your answers to the first two questions impact your thinking about compensation?

If decide to maximize your income at the expense of meaning:

  1. How much will you need to earn to put up with the drudgery and maltreatment?

Jacob thought he had good reasons for working for Laban. It’s true he got to marry the woman he adored. But he never had a good relationship with Leah. Numerous stories attest to the contentiousness of his later life. Jacob had to learn how to outwit Laban instead of engaging in more satisfying pursuits.

You don't need to work for an unscrupulous employer doing mind-numbing work. Take the time to think through your responses to these four questions. Have the patience to figure out your Unique Value Proposition that will lead you to a job you love.

Are you doing work you hate for a supervisor who’s a jerk?

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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