Tag Archives: decision making

Shrewd Advice About People Who Thwart Your Success

How to Deal With Nasty Coworkers

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Ki Sisa – Exodus 30:11-34:35

Without naming names, I'd prefer not to have worked with some of the chaplains in the navy. They caused me no end of career difficulties. I’ve joked that the UCMJ needs a new article called Conduct Unbecoming a Chaplain. But Parshas Ki Sisa gives shrewd advice for handling the situation:

“And Moses stood at the gate of the camp, and he said, whoever is for G-d come to me. And all the sons of Levi gathered to him.” (Shemos/Exodus 32:26)

Shrewd Advice About People Who Thwart Your Success

This Sabbath’s parsha gives the mitzvah of the half-shekel. Then it deals with the last few items for the Altar. Next, it discusses observing the Sabbath. The parsha ends with the story of the Golden Calf.

Two Mutineers’ Stories

The Torah emphasizes every single Levite came to Moses’s aid. Even Korach answered the call. This despite his deep envy of Moses and Aaron. His jealousy was so consuming it led him to mutiny against these leaders chosen by G-d.

Yet even though Korach hated him, Moses welcomed him into the fight for the Almighty’s honor. And he fulfilled his duty to the letter. Those responsible for the Golden Calf received their deserved punishment. Only later did Korach and his followers mutiny.

The same tactic didn’t work for Captain Bligh of the ill-fated HMAV Bounty. He asked his acting lieutenant, Fletcher Christian, to help him discipline a restless crew. Christian displayed little enthusiasm. He concluded Bligh’s honor, not that of King, country, or G-d was at stake. So Christian hastened the mutiny.

Both Korach and Christian felt persecuted by the man in command. Unable to blame G-d, Korach condemned Moses and Aaron for taking the position he coveted. He couldn’t content himself with being among the elite Levites. He had to be number 1.

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Despite his portrayal in popular culture, little evidence exists that Bligh mistreated his sailors. The disciplinary measures he used were common in their day. And his authority came from the King of England. Regardless of Bligh making him second in command, Christian felt abused. Unwilling to hold himself responsible, he blamed his unhappiness on Bligh.

Shrewd Advice Based on Two Great Leaders

Moses and Bligh displayed exemplary leadership. Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt to the border of the Promised Land. Bligh navigated a tiny boat through an open sea voyage of more than 4,000 miles. At first, both overlooked the errant tendencies of their restive subordinates.

In the end, as the mutiny leaders sowed, so they reaped. Unable to persuade the mutineers to abandon their cause, Moses had to ask G-d to destroy them. The ground opened up and they perished. Korach, who punished those responsible for the Golden Calf, received the same.

Christian seized the Bounty and set Bligh and most of those loyal to him adrift. Yet later, as the leader of the mutineers on Pitcairn Island, those unhappy with their lives murdered him.

During your job-hunt and on the job you’ll encounter people who will appear to be allies but later turn out to be mutineers. Such people are the exception, not the rule. Korachs and Fletcher Christians are rare. Best to follow Moses’s and Bligh’s example. Show them your good faith. Try to convince them to rejoin your cause.

But if such efforts fail, take heart in the lesson of Korach, Christian, and other mutineers in history. They get their rightful reward. Establish new relationships. And move on with your career.

Question – Is it appropriate to work with a bad or evil person on a worthwhile project?

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!

4 Things You Need to Do to Be Happier

3 minutes to read

Some days I feel bombarded. It seems like everyone needs me to make a decision. Can we get another dog? Can we go to Knott’s Berry Farm this weekend? Can we have pizza for dinner tomorrow night? May I go to my friend’s house? No, no, no, yes. That should keep them satisfied for a few minutes. But it will start again soon, you know what I mean?

4 Things You Need to Do to Be Happier

 The Connection Between Choice and Happiness

When someone asks me a question I feel obligated to give it due consideration before answering. Then there’s all the decision that I initiate. Some days I barely make it to bedtime before collapsing. Others, well let’s just say it’s not pretty when I hit decision fatigue before my day is over.

Barry Schwartz, in his eye-opening book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, puts his finger on one of the central challenges of life. For much of human history, lack of choice has made people miserable. So it would seem the more choices we have the happier we’ll be. Turns out that too many choices decrease happiness.

Professor Schwartz identifies two tendencies: maximizing and satisficing. Maximizers strive for the best. Satisficers seek to meet self-defined criteria. When they do, they make the decision.

Wanting the best becomes ever more elusive as the number of choices increases. When you have three of four options, deciding on the best one can be straightforward. But when you have twenty, fifty, or even a hundred, comparison becomes impossible. Still, you have to make a choice. Whatever you do choose will leave you unhappy since you’ll have the niggling feeling something better is out there.

Satisficers tend to be happier because when their criteria are met they can move on without regret.

Limiting Choice to Be Happier

Understanding how choice affects happiness will help you to be happier. By reducing the number of choices you have to make you’ll reduce decision fatigue and leave more time for activities that increase happiness. Counterintuitively,

You can make choices on four levels:

Ignore. Some areas just don’t need your attention at all. I used to vote the proxies for every stock I own. But rarely is an issue decided against what the board recommends. Now I ignore them. Try ignoring a trivial choice that takes up too much time relative to the benefit you get. Then ignore one more.

Habituate.   By creating good habits you’ll be happier. Your health is a prime candidate for developing good habits. Have a set bedtime and wake-up time. Schedule regular times and routines for exercising. Focus your diet on healthy foods. This will improve your nutrition while cutting down on the time and number of decisions you have to make when shopping. Set regular visits to the dentist and an annual checkup. Set reminders on your cellphone and when pinged just do them.

Satisfice. Learn to accept good enough as the standard in most areas of your life. Do you actually need the best cellphone? Must you have the best body or children? Heretical! I know, especially for a Californian. But wouldn’t you and your family be happier?

Maximize. You don’t have to give up maximizing altogether. Save it for one or two of your passions. I maximize in my work and relationships. I want the best relationships I can have with my wife and daughter. So I do my best not to insist they be the best. When we argue you can bet I’ve violated this principle.

Combine Ignore ← Habituate ← Satisfice ← Maximize with the Three Pillars of Fitness.

Physical Realm → Health ∞ Finances ∞ Play

Mental Realm → Intellectual Challenge ∞ Social Engagement ∞ Emotional Soundness

Spiritual Realm → Family ∞ Life Purpose ∞ G-d

For each domain within each realm, examine what you need to do. Then decide whether you’ll ignore, habituate, satisfice, or maximize in that area. If you think you satisfice, try habituating a choice. You may be surprised how much you maximize. Being aware of this tendency will help you control the urge.

Living intentionally doesn’t require your making hundreds of decisions.

If you want to be happier, focus on deciding when you’ll exercise choice. Bringing clarity to when you choose will ease decision fatigue and give you more time to spend with who and what you really love.

Where do you unnecessarily maximize?

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

4 Things You Need Besides Skills to Get a Job

3 minutes to read

You came out of the military with marketable skills. Or, you took the time to figure out how to use your military expertise in civilian life. You may have gotten a degree, even an advanced one. Then you earned additional certifications. Your resume describes every skill in detail. Yet application after application goes unanswered. And you received no or negative responses after the few interviews you’ve gotten. You’re committing job search sin #4: Believing it is or should be about having the right skills.

3 minutes to read You came out of the military with marketable skills. Or, you took the time to figure out how to use your military expertise in civilian life. You may have gotten a degree, even an advanced one. Then you earned additional certifications. Your resume describes every skill in detail. Yet application after application goes unanswered. And you received no or negative responses after the few interviews you’ve gotten. You’re committing job search sin #4: Believing it is or should be about having the right skills. Meritocracy Isn’t What You Think Coming out of the military environment, it seems like the person with the best skills should get the job. After all, if a company’s employees have the top aptitude it will be the best in its market. But consider. How many times did you have a colleague who was a genius at what it took to get the job done but was a pain in the neck to deal with? Maybe he was lazy, uncooperative, or had a bad attitude. Did you want to work with him day after day? Who would you rather have on your rifle team? An expert marksman who only thinks about himself or a sharpshooter 100% dedicated to the team? The military and businesses talk about merit. But they don’t mean a system where the person with the best skills gets the job. Both want the people who will most effectively help them meet their missions. Without solid skills, you’ll get nowhere. But at best your expertise gets your foot in the door. Beyond Skills You Need Less Tangible Qualities Besides technical mastery, employers look for four key traits: 1. Dedication to the organization’s mission and values. Given that you’ll have many civilian jobs and even careers, this may seem strange. Why should employers seek loyalty they don’t give? Notice I said to its mission and values, not to the organization itself. You’re right that you won’t stay there your whole career. The company knows that too. But while you work at an organization it wants your buy-in and commitment to its goals and how it pursues them. 2. Cultural fit. The military has a distinct culture. Indeed each branch has its own traditions, jargon, and way of doing things. The same goes for civilian businesses. Until 30 or 40 years ago the two overlapped. But as the World War II Generation moved out of the workforce, business culture changed. Today, unless an industry employs a high percentage of veterans, the culture will seem foreign. You need to learn something about a company’s way of doing things and customs before you apply there. And if you have a meeting to discuss a job you’ll have to show you fit in. 3. Commitment to teamwork. Though you may decide to be a solotreperneur, success will depend on your being a team player. Nothing lucrative happens without interaction with others. Coming from the military this shouldn’t surprise you. Even the sniper has a team backing him up and setting the stage for his success. Do prospective employers know how well you work with others? Or do you leave them guessing? 4. Understanding wealth comes from value delivered. Civilian companies don’t carry dead weight. Every employee must deliver value. You have to know how the company serves its clients. Then you need to articulate how you can improve that service when you get the job. You can learn the details once you get hired. But to get hired you must show you understand the concept and how it applies at the organization’s strategic level. Wealth comes from value delivered ↔ For the company and you. It takes time to research a company’s mission, values, and culture. You’ll have to make the investment if you want the job. We’ll confront this issue again in sin #6. Keep in mind, companies can train their employees in new or better skills. Changing their employee’s mindset is difficult at best. When a hiring manager sees you have these four traits, you put yourself far above the competition. Which mindset issue hinders your job hunt? Please comment below. 

Meritocracy Isn’t What You Think

Coming out of the military environment, it seems like the person with the best skills should get the job. After all, if a company’s employees have the top aptitude it will be the best in its market.

But consider. How many times did you have a colleague who was a genius at what it took to get the job done but was a pain in the neck to deal with? Maybe he was lazy, uncooperative, or had a bad attitude. Did you want to work with him day after day?

Who would you rather have on your rifle team? An expert marksman who only thinks about himself or a sharpshooter 100% dedicated to the team?

The military and businesses talk about merit. But they don’t mean a system where the person with the best skills gets the job. Both want the people who will most effectively help them meet their missions. Without solid skills, you’ll get nowhere. But at best your expertise gets your foot in the door.

Beyond Skills You Need Less Tangible Qualities

Besides technical mastery, employers look for four key traits:

  1. Dedication to the organization’s mission and values. Given that you’ll have many civilian jobs and even careers, this may seem strange. Why should employers seek loyalty they don’t give? Notice I said to its mission and values, not to the organization itself. You’re right that you won’t stay there your whole career. The company knows that too. But while you work at an organization it wants your buy-in and commitment to its goals and how it pursues them.
  2. Cultural fit. The military has a distinct culture. Indeed each branch has its own traditions, jargon, and way of doing things. The same goes for civilian businesses. Until 30 or 40 years ago the two overlapped. But as the World War II Generation moved out of the workforce, business culture changed. Today, unless an industry employs a high percentage of veterans, the culture will seem foreign. You need to learn something about a company’s way of doing things and customs before you apply there. And if you have a meeting to discuss a job you’ll have to show you fit in.
  3. Commitment to teamwork. Though you may decide to be a solotreperneur, success will depend on your being a team player. Nothing lucrative happens without interaction with others. Coming from the military this shouldn’t surprise you. Even the sniper has a team backing him up and setting the stage for his success. Do prospective employers know how well you work with others? Or do you leave them guessing?
  4. Understanding wealth comes from value delivered. Civilian companies don’t carry dead weight. Every employee must deliver value. You have to know how the company serves its clients. Then you need to articulate how you can improve that service when you get the job. You can learn the details once you get hired. But to get hired you must show you understand the concept and how it applies at the organization’s strategic level. Wealth comes from value delivered ↔ For the company and you.

It takes time to research a company’s mission, values, and culture. You’ll have to make the investment if you want the job. We’ll confront this issue again in sin #6.

Keep in mind, companies can train their employees in new or better skills. Changing an employee's mindset is difficult at best. When a hiring manager sees you have these four traits, you put yourself far above the competition.

Which mindset issue hinders your job hunt? Please comment below.

Are You Committing Any of the 8 Deadly Sins of Job Hunting?

3 minutes to read

I’ve spent the last four years helping veterans reintegrate into civilian life. Despite all the resources the military has put into transition assistance programs, half of veterans struggle. You may know what I mean. It’s not just disabled vets or those with PTS who have a hard time. The unemployment rate for veterans remains higher than civilians. Young male vets fare the worse. As well, veterans report being underemployed at double the rate of non-veterans. So many who get a job feel lucky. And in fact, often it was just dumb luck. As a result, you don’t want to leave a job for fear you won’t get lucky a second time. Civilian life was supposed to be great. But when you’re stuck doing work you hate it isn’t. While you got solid skills in the military, you didn’t learn to take advantage of them.

Are You Committing Any of the 8 Deadly Sins of Job Hunting?

Transition Assistance Programs Don’t Work

The programs go by many names, as if updating nomenclature modernizes content. But the classes remain outdated or counterproductive. They emphasize resume writing. In order of importance, this skill ranks no higher than 8th in priority. Training dealing with social media profiles leaves out the most important issues. Alternative career paths such as entrepreneurship are hardly mentioned.

You’re told to apply for a disability rating even if you’re perfectly healthy. Had I taken this advice, joining the reserves would have been difficult to impossible. And to boot, I would have lost out on the best health insurance plan out there.

The military has its hands full turning civilians into warriors. It has neither the resources nor the ability to turn warriors back into civilians. Although your fellow citizens will help you, you must take the initiative.

Through training and coaching over 1,600 veterans, I noticed eight ways they shoot themselves in the foot when job hunting. Several relate to mindset. None are dealt with in transition programs.

Job Hunting Deadly Sins

Veterans who smoothly reintegrated didn’t make these mistakes:

  • Thinking you’re entitled to a job and its corollary that your job search is all about you.
  • Not having clear objectives for your search.
  • Treating civilians as liars when they say they support veterans.
  • Believing it is or should be about having the right skills.
  • Considering what you post on social media to be off limits from employers.
  • Thinking all you have to do is post your resume on job boards.
  • Applying for a job at a company where you don’t have an internal advocate.
  • Not asking for the job if you want it and not following up properly or at all.

Take sin #1. Contrary to popular belief, America doesn’t owe you anything. You volunteered to serve our country. You were paid, fed, housed, given healthcare, and trained. If you were in the enlisted ranks you were clothed, at least partially.

Sure, sometimes life was hard. You spent a lot of time away from your family. If you were in combat, you faced danger and may have taken human life. Most civilians don’t do anything like this. But if you joined post-9/11, you knew what you were getting into.

How do you feel about working with people who have a chip on their shoulder? Annoying to say the least, right? Why would a civilian employer want to hire you if you have an entitlement attitude?

Your job search isn’t about you alone. You need to focus on finding an organization that can benefit from what you bring to the table. When an employer sees the value you deliver he’ll hire you. Embed this mutuality into your mindset.

If you feel entitled, you need to examine your attitude. Realize how you damage your relationships with others and yourself. The cure comes from gratitude and service. Write a list of the things to be grateful for. Read your list every day. Add new items. Keep building it. If you cannot think of anything, have a friend with a positive outlook give you some ideas.

Go help some people less fortunate than yourself. A man sits out in front of my synagogue almost every day asking for money. From what he collects he puts money in the charity box. He understands service. You can do the as well or better.

Over the next seven weeks, I’ll go through the other deadly sins and how to deal with them. By learning to avoid them, you’ll set yourself up for success.

Which of these is preventing you from getting the job you want? Please comment below.

When You Decide is the Most Important Thing

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Shelach – Numbers 13:1-15:41

As a kid, my weekly allowance was 5¢. It took months to save up a dollar. That’s $7.41 today. I was so excited by my immense wealth I went right out and spent it on a bat kite. I could never get it to fly and within two days it was ruined. My mother told me money burned a hole in my pocket. Plunged back into poverty, I could have used the lesson in Parshas Shelach:

Send forth men, for you…. (Numbers/Bamidbar 13:1)

 When You Decide Is the Most Important Thing

This Sabbath’s parsha tells the story of the infamous twelve spies. They slandered the Land. So G-d decreed the Israelites would wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Next it details the meal and libation offerings that are brought with animal sacrifices. Then it covers the penalty for desecrating the Sabbath. It ends with the commandment to wear tzitzis, fringes, on the corners of a garment.

Distraction Leads to Disaster

The Israelites came to Moses and told him they wanted to spy out the land. Despite G-d’s promise that it was a land flowing with milk and honey, they wanted an eyewitness report. Moses presented the idea to the Almighty, who told Moses to decide. The rest as they say is history…

In last week’s parsha, Moses complained about the burden of leadership. The Almighty tells him, “Gather to me 70 men from the elders of Israel…” In contrast, here He tells Moses to, “Send forth the spies for YOU…” Clearly G-d did not like the idea. Nonetheless He deferred to Moses. The Almighty wants us to have free will. But why did Moses agree to the plan? As the leader he should have dissuaded the people.

The Midrash tells us Moses lacked his usual clarity of mind because he was still upset about his sister contracting tzaraas. (Tzaraas is the physical result of making a spiritual mistake.) His lapse of focus led to disaster since the generation that left Egypt would die in the wilderness.

First Decide if It’s the Right Time to Make a Decision

One of my favorite military axioms says, “Thought before action, if there’s time.” It sums up the first step of any decision. Is right now the best time to decide? Often the correct answer is no.

Do you have enough information to make a decision? Notice I didn’t say do you have all the information you need. Paralysis by analysis is as bad as deciding too quickly.

Will circumstances change between now and when you act on your decision? Delay may make more sense.

Are you in the right frame of mind to decide? If when you ask yourself this question you immediately answer yes, you’re in the wrong frame of mind. The inability to take a few moments for reflection indicates you’re gripped by anger, fear, or another strong emotion. Think about the last time you committed to something in the midst of an argument. Or maybe, like Moses, you declined to dispute a decision because you were preoccupied. Did you regret it?

As you know, I believe decisiveness and taking action are good. But good decisions start with your being fit to decide. Make a quick assessment of your frame of mind. When you have mental clarity be decisive. Then act!

What indicators tell you not to make a decision? 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 a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

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