Tag Archives: positive habits

4 Steps to Quickly Profit from Mistakes

How God Guides You to Success

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayikra – Leviticus 1:1-5:26

Most people view sins as bad. Rather than quickly profit when they make mistakes, guilt consumes them. They refuse to try again. People who think G-d wants such a world amaze me. Parshas Vayikra shows the Almighty wants you to strive:

“When a ruler will sin, and does unintentionally one from all of his G-d’s commandments that you will not do, and becomes guilty.” (Vayikra/Leviticus 4:22)

4 Steps to Quickly Profit from Mistakes


This Sabbath’s parsha begins the third book of the Torah by the same name. Throughout it details the duties of the Kohanim or Priests. Hence, its other name, Leviticus, since the Kohanim are part of the tribe of Levi. The parsha gives the rules for bringing offerings on the altar. Notice in verse 2:13 the Priests must salt them. So we dip Sabbath bread in salt.

Success & Humility Go Hand in Hand

An individual, the community, and the king have to bring a chatas for an unintentional sin. Hence why it’s translated as sin offering. The Kohen Gadol (High Priest) was the spiritual head of the Israelites. Members of the Sanhendrin (supreme court) had lofty positions of leadership. Why single out the king and not other high officials?

As part of his holy service the Kohen Gadol had to examine his conduct daily. So did the Sanhendrin members. Unintentionality didn't apply to them. Every day, each went through the process of uncovering and atoning for his mistakes.

The king exercised temporal power. When he issued a command it happened. Such authority could cause him to feel infallible. While engaged in worldly affairs, his mind could stray from spiritual matters. Self-examination was not part of his everyday life.

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So unlike other community leaders, the king needed a reminder. Like the lowliest of his subjects, he had to take responsibility for his mistakes. Bringing a chatas made a public statement. The pre-eminent leader had to account to the Almighty. By making amends and learning his lessons, the king could continue his life free from guilt.

Quickly Profit Instead of Feeling Guilty

When you wield authority, take pleasure in assessing your behavior often. Engage with G-d every day. Acknowledge your errors to the Creator. Unlike humans, He always understands. But G-d doesn’t want you to stop there.

Admitting your mistakes begins the growth process. Accountability has nothing to do with feeling guilt or receiving punishment. Both hinder change. Instead, see negative results as the prod to improve and try again. Apply this approach to developing your health, profession, mind, and spirit. You’ll quickly profit form mistakes when you internalize this process.

As I mentioned above, Scripture translates chatas as sin offering. It often uses shorthand to define complex concepts. A sin means you fell short of G-d’s expectations. Consequences incentivize you to learn from your mistakes so you won’t suffer them again. Imagine an animal losing its life because you made an error. The crucial step, assessment, gives trying again tremendous power for improved performance.

Here is the root of deliberate practice that I wrote about last week. You can use this method only in real life situations. Or you can drill yourself. Wherever you make frequent errors, create a way to practice improving your performance. That way you won’t fall short at crucial moments. And if you do, you can quickly profit from this mistake by pivoting your practice to deal with it.

Examine the pain points in your life. Rather than avoiding them, take G-d’s prodding to focus on them. Build assessment into your life. Especially as a parent, model this behavior. Then you and your children will gain greater accomplishment and success together.

So what are you waiting for?

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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!

How to Use Your Strengths to Overcome Every Challenge

Do You Know You Have Gold Others Want?

2 minutes to read

What part of your life frustrates you? Are you exasperated about your marriage, job, children, or health? Or life seems okay, but you have a nagging feeling it could be better. Either can lead to unhappiness. Fortunately, you have the ability to change. This isn’t rah rah pep talk. Each of us possesses gold. What’s more, we can swap it while increasing our own supply. We call this amazing currency our strengths.

How to Use Your Strengths to Overcome Every Challenge

The Influence of Loved Ones

Jim Rohn said, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” If you look around, you see successful people associate with others at or above their level. You may think you’re immune from the influence of other people. But examine what you love and hate. They connect you to family and close friends. You share them in common. Or a loved one’s opposite view reinforces your love or hatred.

Given such enormous impact, precede any change by examining who you spend the most time with. If they don’t exhibit the quality you want, you’ll have to create a new relationship. You can do this in two ways:

  1. Convince one of your current family members or friends to change with you. In doing so you’ll learn how dedicated a friend you have. Upgrading your lives together will build an even more solid friendship. You can hold each other accountable. But if the person proves unreliable you’ll have to…
  1. Search for a new friend. Find someone who embodies the strength you want to acquire. Look for ways to spend time with the person. Observe how he exhibits your desired quality or skill. Ask for mentorship. If the person isn’t interested, find someone else.
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If your current group of close associates isn’t growing you won’t either. You’ll have to break away to advance your life.

How to Use Your Strengths

Six months ago I decided to coach an acquaintance to run the L.A. Marathon. Since then, we ran 30 to 35 miles per week. Several Fridays I returned home soaked to the skin after running 20 miles in pouring rain. Fun did not factor into the training. I’m proud to say yesterday, despite throbbing knees, we finished the race in under six hours.

A great physical accomplishment you say? Sure. But its importance lies elsewhere.

I admire the character and work ethic of the man I coached, Moshe Cohen. He models excellence as a husband and father. His self-discipline is legendary among those who know him. Humility tops a long list of admirable qualities.

For me, training for a marathon wasn’t about physical endurance. Rather, I saw an opportunity to have a friend who would help me make positive change in important areas of my life. I haven’t asked him, but I hope he got the same benefit from my coaching.

The medals we got for finishing the marathon have nothing to do with running. Rather, they represent a friendship that will help both of us continue to improve our lives.

Your strengths are gifts you can give to people who will show you how to improve. Use them to overcome your weaknesses.

Which of your strengths will benefit others most?

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How to Perpetually Reach Greater Success

Make Growth in These Two Areas Your Obsession

2-½ minutes to read

Feeling bombarded with advice on becoming more successful? I’m hip. With Christmas and New Year over, ‘tis the season for personal development. And that’s fine. But so much of the guidance contradicts itself. These days you’re told to set goals rather than make New Year’s resolutions. But others say setting goals will demoralize you. Here’s my favorite dilemma. Should you focus on building up your strengths and overcoming your weaknesses? Allow me to cut through the static so you have simple, actionable steps to apply to your life now.

How to Perpetually Reach Greater Success

Distinguish Among the Realms of Your Life

Have you seen the movie Nuns on the Run? Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane play thieves masquerading as nuns to hide from a gang who wants to kill them. In one priceless scene, Coltrane tries to answer the question of how G-d can be One and also a Trinity. It’s like how you are one person embodying physical, mental, and spiritual domains.

As a runner, I’ve learned to achieve top performance by combining hard physical training with a determined attitude. At times, with mind and body integrated, I reach a spiritual connection to my surroundings. I remember the transcendent experience of a late summer run along Puget Sound. Running in the snow at Camp Fuji in the shadow of Japan’s highest mountain gave me a similar sense.

At the same time, there are different ways to train for physical and mental resilience.

You can increase your physical stamina without improving your mental focus. Think about the last time you did a boring activity like running on a treadmill. Likewise, you can create a distraction-free environment that will increase your focus. But it won’t increase your physical strength or endurance.

You could practice mindfulness while on the treadmill. But the need to be aware of not falling off tends to interrupt your focus. You could stand on a balance board while working at a standup desk. But staying balanced will intrude on your work.

Even though they’re not integrated, you will benefit from training that isolates the physical and mental domains.

Keep this principle in mind as we simplify personal development.

Perpetually Reach Greater Success

Perhaps as an offshoot of science, coaches seem to be looking for a unified theory of self-improvement. Some recommend you build only on your strengths. Others insist you work solely on overcoming your weaknesses. Each applies his theory to the physical, mental, and spiritual domains. By following either one, you sacrifice gains in one domain for no gains in another.

Two main areas will impact your professional success:

  1. Skills, knowledge, and experience
  2. Character

The first one is obvious. The second one includes issues such as punctuality, relationship building, and maintaining your reputation.

Unless you have a glaring omission in your skills, knowledge, or experience, focus on building your strengths. The job market pays a premium for expertise. Strive for top-level ability in what you’re best at now. This will benefit you more than middle-level ability in more skills.

With character, usually shortcomings are what hold back your career progression. If you have trouble getting to work on time or you procrastinate you need to overcome these weaknesses to succeed. Conquer them with action-taking and learning to network well.

Become obsessed with growing your professional strengths and overcoming character weaknesses. Your success will spiral ever higher each time you make ground with one or the other.

Which do struggle more to deal with - Growing your professional strengths or overcoming character weaknesses?

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10 Things that will Boost Your Transition

How to Reintegrate to Civilian Life Quickly and Smoothly

2-½ minutes to read

You don’t know what you don’t know. Wouldn’t you love to have a dollar for every time you heard that during your military career? And its corollary → You can’t fix it if you don’t know what’s wrong. Both are true. And they apply to your transition to civilian life. It doesn’t matter if you’re already in civilian life or getting out next year. Knowing the most common pitfalls veterans fall into will help you avoid them.

10 Things that will Boost Your Transition

3 Areas Where Veterans Struggle

The three areas may not surprise you. But give yourself an honest appraisal of the specific issues within each one:

  • Skills
    • Poor job search skills
    • Cannot translate military skills and experience to the private sector
  • Support
    • Lack of camaraderie
    • Lack of proper mentorship
    • Unable to communicate effectively with civilians
  • Mindset
    • Rigidity
    • Lack of structure
    • Lack of confidence
    • Bad attitude toward civilians
    • Lack of preparation and follow-up
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My series on the 8 Deadly Sins of Job-Hunting shows you how to avoid the most common mistakes veterans make when looking for a job. You can learn to properly assess your skills using the four steps I outline here. Let me know what questions you still have. Look me up on the mobile phone app Carrot.FM if you want to do a quick one-on-one.

Create Momentum in Your Transition

With any long-term task, some early wins will motivate you through the inevitable setbacks. If you’ve been struggling for a while you know how a lack of positive momentum hurts your efforts.

Start by ensuring your job-hunting skills are up to speed. Be clear about you private sector value proposition. Know the outcome you want. Because you control these issues they’re the easiest to deal with.

Now you can overcome the bigger hurdles of support and mindset.

Support seems like a straightforward issue. But surrounding yourself with people who can and will encourage your aspirations can be difficult. Do you miss the closeness of relationships in the military? You may have to give up some friendships and create new ones. Be intentional when deciding whom you’ll befriend.

Not everyone who wants to mentor you can. Find one who has:

  1. Already succeeded in civilian life.
  2. Knows military life and culture well.
  3. Has the time to help you.

If any one of these is lacking you won’t get the support you need. A person can’t teach you to communicate in a realm he doesn’t know.

Most coaches will tell you mindset conquers all. Actually, your attitude and ability to market yourself mutually support each other.

Adapting to civilian life requires flexibility. Paraphrasing Helmut Van Moltke:

You have thoughts about how reintegration will work. You have dreams for what civilian life will be like. Fine. Just know reality won’t match what’s in your mind.

Despite all my experience and contacts in the civilian world, very little of my transition matched my post-navy plans. Some things turned out better. Others worse. That’s life.

At the same time, you must be self-disciplined enough to overcome the loss of military structure. Have a set wake up time and bedtime. Keep up an exercise regimen. If you’re looking for a job, work the same hours as you would on the job.

People get a gut feeling about your confidence level. If you have a negative dialog going on in your head here’s how to change it. Have your mentor on call to give you confidence boosts when you need them.

Check out Job-Hunting Deadly Sins #3 and #8 to handle a bad attitude toward civilians and follow up. I’ll talk about preparation in a future post.

Now you know the key issues supporting a successful transition. Examine each one in light of your own situation. If it applies to you deal with it as soon as possible. None of them are insurmountable. Put on your Kevlar and push through the obstacles.

Which issue is disrupting your transition?

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How to Be Proactive Hunting for a Job

3 minutes to read

With all the time and effort you spent writing your resume how come your phone doesn’t ring off the hook? Maybe you paid a professional resume writer to review or edit it. You posted it dozens, even hundreds, of times on Indeed.com, CareerBuilder.com, and every company website you could find. Still no luck. After months of searching, you’re ready to give up. You’re committing job search sin #6: Thinking all you have to do is post your resume on job boards.

How to Be Proactive Hunting for a Job 

How the Internet Makes Getting a Job Harder

It seems the Internet has made searching for employment easier. You can get information on thousands of jobs while sitting in front of your computer. Job boards give you the ability to search all kinds of parameters so you can find exactly what you want. Then you can submit your paperwork online. And there you have it. The requests to have you interview should roll in.

While this sounds logical, it ignores one basic issue. Hunting for a job used to be a local matter. This limited the applicant pool to people who lived reasonably close to the company. The Internet turned almost every employee search into a national one. Before your competition was the town or city. Now it’s the entire United States.

Since 2008 between 118 and 250 people have applied for each job. The cost to apply for a job seems low. Just fill out an application and submit it with your resume. With so many applicants, employers have to efficiently sift out the best. They turned to automated Applicant Tracking System, which screen resumes to eliminate up to 50% before a human will look at them. As many as 20% of those not ruled out will get an interview. But often only three to six people get called. Of these, at least one or two will usually be internal referrals.

So a lot more people are applying. You and the employer are passive participants in the beginning of such a job hunt. Unless you can consistently convey your unique qualities to a machine you’ll be overlooked. Those on the inside have a bigger advantage than ever before because they circumvent the automated screening.

Can you say deck stacked against you? Only 4% to 10% of people who use the post and pray method exclusively get a job that way. One expert says it’s closer to 0.4%.

Adopt Proactive Hunting

Can we agree you should stop spamming job boards with your resume? Then you’ll have plenty of time to do what does work:

  1. Focus on LinkedIn. In 2014, 94% of recruiters were active on LinkedIn but only 36% of job seekers were. On Facebook, 65% of recruiters are active but 83% of job seekers are there. LinkedIn is designed to showcase your professional credentials. Which gives you the better odds?
  2. Optimize your profile. Don’t think of LinkedIn as on online resume. Listing the billets you had is useless. Start with the summary. What value can you deliver to an employer? What does your target job look like? When describing your military service emphasize your accomplishments. How did you help the command meet its mission? What improvements did you make to personnel and processes? Quantify them.  Use Matthew Fritz's guide, Leveraging Your LinkedIn Profile for Success.
  3. Provide evidence. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, video’s worth a million. Do you have a two-minute clip of you doing the kind of work you’d do for an employer? Post it. Have you written an article that got published? Post it. Likewise with whatever you have that demonstrates your expertise. If you don’t have anything, create it.
  4. Endorsements. Post excerpts from your performance evaluations (FITREPs, evals, etc.). Get testimonials from the highest-ranking people you can. Civilians equate generals and admirals to CEOs. Include impressive job titles like Wing Commander or Commanding Officer. Have your endorsers focus on achievements related to specific skills.
  5. Make strategic connections. Find the thought leaders for the business or industry you want to work in. Connect with them. Build relationships. Read my six posts on cultivating relationships starting with How to Go from Contact to Relationship.

Besides decreasing the time it takes you to get a job, following these steps will improve your career progression.

Posting resumes to job boards fits the rigidity of the military mindset. But it doesn’t work in the open-ended, ad hoc, civilian world. The longer you wait to alter your plan of attack, the more your enthusiasm will wane.

Relationships will deliver the job you want. Next week I’ll talk about how.

What prevents you from being proactive in your job search? Please comment below.

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