Tag Archives: spiritual resiliency

How to Get Others, Even G-d, to Help You

Is Your Faith in a Successful Job-Hunt Unshakable?

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Beshalach - Exodus13:17-17:16

Not all the redeployers coming through Sembach are looking forward to going home. Some like the fast op tempo on deployment. Others face divorces and other personal turmoil. But most dread returning to a job they hate or no job at all…

How to Get Others, Even G-d, to Help You

A Passionate Bad Decision Is Better than Indecision

Deployment provides a sharp contrast for those with private sector employment problems. Working as much as 16 hours a day, seven days a week takes commitment. They lived their purpose and had a mission while deployed. But they have no comparable commitment to their civilian job.

For those without a job, often their search is lackluster. They don't know what they want to do. They don't understand the job-hunt process. When you don't feel it, how do you project confidence?

Having left Egypt, the Children of Israel faced a similar problem at the Reed Sea. (The usual translation, “Red Sea,” is incorrect.) Caught between the horror of Egyptian slavery and an unknown existence in the desert, they faltered. Parshas Beshalach picks up the narrative:

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea . . .” (Shemos/Exodus 14:21)

The Israelites saw no way across the Reed Sea. Pharaoh had changed his mind about letting them go. He gathered his chariots and chased after them. With nowhere to run, G-d split the sea for the Children of Israel. At least that’s how it worked in the movie.

When Moses stretched out his hand over the water, a tsunami-like wind blew from the east. Moses may have caused the water to split and the wind dried the seabed. Or the wind caused the water to split so the miracle would not be obvious.

Whichever is the case, the Torah alludes to an act of deep faith. Nachshon ben Aminadav, leader of the kingly tribe of Judah, plunged into the water. He kept walking forward until it reached his neck. Only when Nachshon was in so deep he would drown did the Almighty split the waters.

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Nachshon believed, indeed knew, G-d would save the Israelites. With the Egyptians intent on destroying them, only one direction remained. Forward into the unknown, Nachshon trusted G-d would fulfill his promise of salvation.

Bust a Gut for Yourself and People Will Help You

When you can take a familiar path, but you know it’s wrong, reject it out of hand. Although it challenges your faith, commit to moving forward in a new direction. G-d will show you the way through unknown territory.

Your action must precede the Almighty’s help. He knows what’s best for you. But growth isn’t pain-free.

  1. First, plumb the depths of your soul. What will give your life meaning?
  2. Next, decide on the direction your life will take.
  3. Finally, dedicate yourself to it.

Your commitment will inspire people to help you. They’ll fill in the blanks of your knowledge. Time and again I’ve seen it. When you hit a dead end, someone will open a door that lets you move forward.

Resist the temptation to pray for a smooth ride over the rough road of life. Move straight and tall into uncharted territory. When you commit heart and soul, G-d’s help will appear.

Have you committed 100% to your job or job-hunt?

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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.

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

How to Enjoy Your Job-Hunt and Career

Do You Want Passion in a Career?

3 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Balak – Numbers 22:2-25:9

Most job-hunting tasks aren’t fun. And, many private sector careers don't provide the enjoyment that we found in the military. So when employment experts talk about finding your passion in a civilian career, I see lots of veterans’ eyes glaze over.

How to Enjoy Your Job-Hunt and Career

Many of our parents taught us to believe work has nothing to do with fun. For them, work meant survival. Enjoyment was beside the point. Today, we see two powerful forces colliding. Most of us still have to work to afford to live. In this respect, nothing has changed.

But the rapidity at which industries and jobs evolve has surged in the last decade. Keeping a job requires constant upgrading of your knowledge and skills. Maintaining your motivation to stay abreast of new developments presents a challenge. All the same, you’ll have to meet it or lose your income.

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Twenty years ago, people used time after work for leisure. Now, they use it to stay competitive in their jobs. If you don't like what you do, how will you stay motivated?

The Difference Between Passion and Lust

In his superb book, No Fears, No Excuses, Larry Smith makes an irresistible case for passion being an essential part of the work you choose to do. He doesn’t define what passion means, so let’s unpack it ourselves. No surprise, it has ancient roots.

Pharaoh had passion for Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Such lust seems to be the image that comes to mind at the word passion. But this type is too easily sated to have relevance to a lifelong career.

We see another kind of passion in the story of Abraham and the near-sacrifice of his son, Isaac. He rises early in the morning to saddle his donkey. Then he rouses Isaac and his two young men. The four leave on their fateful journey. This story counterpoints another tale of passion in this week’s parsha, Balak:

And Balaam arose early in the morning and saddled his she-donkey… (Numbers/Bamidbar 22:21)

Balaam was a great prophet. The Moabite king, Balak, wanted him to curse the Israelites so he could defeat them in battle. But G-d refused to let Balaam go. Finally, seeing Balaam’s yearning to help Balak, the Almighty relents. Balaam wants to get an early start. So he doesn't bother to call a servant to saddle his she-donkey.

Balak knew of Balaam’s deep passion for wealth and honor. He catered to it by sending ever-higher officials to plead with Balaam. Though he pooh-poohed the huge sums of money offered him, Balaam’s desire for it almost leads him to his death. His passion for wealth and honor evinces lifelong self-interest.

Abraham also has a lifelong passion. His legendary hospitality to family, friends, and strangers shows he sought meaning from serving others. On this path, he never wavered. He lived for the next opportunity to take care of the Almighty’s children.

How to Find What You’ll Enjoy

Two men’s passions motivated them to rise early and saddle their donkeys. Both had many servants who could have done this work. Balaam had passion for self-aggrandizement. Abraham had passion for service.

Follow Abraham’s model. You’ve already started along this path in the military. You defended the Constitution, and hence your fellow citizens, against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Build on this legacy in civilian life. Consider these questions:

  1. How can your leadership ability better help people meet life’s challenges?
  2. What team building skills do you have that can help an organization meet its mission?
  3. Where can you bring the unifying spirit of the military to bridge divides in our society?
  4. How can you use the idea of mission command to help a private sector company operate better?
  5. What organization can benefit from your ability to inculcate a sense of purpose in its people, the way your service branch did for you?

These represent a few ways to find passion in your civilian work. Too often, I see veterans grab at the first opportunity. Later, they regret it only to take other, passionless jobs. Not motivated to go the extra mile to develop themselves, their civilian prospects get dimmer each year.

Take the time to find a field of rich interest. Ponder the questions above. Come up with others that help you probe what you'll enjoy. Talk to veterans who found passion in their work. How did they do it? Make the investment in finding a field that captures your interest. It will pay huge dividends over the coming decades.

What prevents you from having work you’ll enjoy?

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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 Rally Your Spirits When Job-Hunting

Will You Burn a Cow to Get a High-Paying Job?

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Chukas – Numbers 19:1-22:1

Veteran reintegration mystifies people, even big supporters of the military. Last week, a civilian told me PTSD is the biggest reason we struggle to find a job. He didn’t know that PTSD affects 11% to 20% of OIF and OEF veterans each year. That’s double the rate for civilians. But it doesn't represent a majority of veterans who find transitioning difficult.

How to Rally Your Spirits When Job-Hunting

Another told me it’s a simple matter of setting up a website that matches a veteran’s skills to an employer’s needs. But such job boards have existed for years. If it were that easy, veteran unemployment would never have risen above the civilian rate.

The real problem is less obvious and more complex to solve. Not having engaged in a civilian job-hunt before, a lot of veterans don’t know what to do. TAP instructors say write a resume and network. But veterans don't know how.

Borrow a Page from the Military Playbook

Civilians also find the military’s culture of risk avoidance surprising. Many don't realize the penalties for mistakes can be huge. The military reduces the passivity this might create through training. No such process exists for veterans transitioning to civilian life. You have to learn to job-hunt by doing it.

Meet fear of making mistakes with faith that you will overcome obstacles. But how do you proceed with confidence when the process remains a mystery? The Israelites in Parshas Chukas faced the same dilemma:

The one who gathered the ash of the cow will immerse his clothing and remain spiritually contaminated until morning. (Numbers/Bamidbar 19:10)

A kohen (priest) burns a completely red calf with cedarwood, hyssop, and a crimson thread. The ash that remains will purify the spirit of someone who touches a human corpse. That being the case, why does the kohen who gathers the ash become spiritually impure? The parsha's name, Chukas, explains. A chuk is a rule beyond human comprehension. G-d wants the Israelites to follow the process despite not understanding how it works. He intends that it be mysterious.

The transition process shouldn't be mysterious. But the military doesn’t have the knowledge base to train civilian job-hunting skills. You have to handle the vagaries of civilian job-hunting on your own. Take two actions:

Action 1: Get training from somewhere other than the military. This will help. But you’ll still need to put it into practice

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Action 2: Use faith to move forward with your job-hunt.

Inaction Is Riskier than Initiative

Like military training, quality civilian job-hunting training will give you procedures to follow. You’ll gain the tools to create contingencies for when your plan goes awry. Having drilled in these new skills, you can proceed with confidence.

No matter how good the training, you’ll suffer setbacks. Some hiring managers are jerks. A few may dislike veterans. Even so, they can’t stop you from getting a high-paying job doing meaningful work. But you can. Let your faith slip and you’ll stop taking action. Once you give up your hunt, the game’s over.

So keep trying new methods. If one tactic doesn't work, figure out another. Try it. If that one bombs too, go on to the next one. No matter what, don't do what most job-hunters do: hunt for an hour a day and watch television the rest of the time.

If you feel your faith start to waiver, try something outlandish. What have you got to loose? Cleanse your spirit with the ashes of a cow burnt with some fragrant wood, herbs, and red string. (Metaphorically of course) Who cares that there’s no logical reason it will work? Use it to replenish your faith. Then move forward once more.

Have you lost faith that you’ll find a high-paying job doing meaningful work?

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!

Why It Seems God Is Not Always With You

Why It Seems God Is Not Always With You

Life isn't any more dangerous for sailors than for you.  But being out on the vast ocean, especially during a storm, brings home how tenuous life can be.

No matter where you are or how hazardous your circumstances, if you are with God, the Almighty will be with you.

How to Make Your Own Luck

4 minutes to read

You can’t deny that successful people are luckier than everyone else. Things just seem to fall in place for them. As Charlemagne said in Pippin, “it’s smarter to be lucky than it’s lucky to be smart.” Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew their secret?

How to Make Your Own Luck

Luck Made Me $6000 in 3 Days

Back when I was in the real estate business I had the chance to make $6000 for about 24 hours of work appraising a golf course. I told the client I knew nothing about the assignment but he wanted me to do it anyway. There was one hitch: I had three days to get it done.

After visiting the course (I could have played it for free but didn’t have the time) I started my research. My first call was to American Golf, at the time the largest owner of golf courses in the country. I told the receptionist I had been assigned a golf course appraisal and was hoping someone at her firm could help me. She transferred me to investor services. I repeated why I called to the investor relation’s person. Our conversation:

IR person: Do you have a pencil?

Me: Yes.

IR person: Do you have some paper?

Me (mystified by his questions but going along): Yes.

IR person: Okay, here’s what you need to do.

He spent the next 45 minutes explaining how to underwrite a golf course. Then he told me I needed to get copies of a golf course trade magazine.

I spent the next hour calling libraries looking for the magazines. No dice. Now this was pre-Internet so I couldn’t just go online and research the publisher. Fortunately one of the librarians had heard of it. I got the publisher’s phone number from her.

My next call was to the publisher. The woman who answered the phone didn’t sound too friendly but I gave her my pitch:

Me: Hi, I’m doing a golf course appraisal and I’ve been told your magazine is a crucial data source. I’d like to get some back issues. Can you help me?

Publisher: A subscription costs $600. You’ll get your first issue in 8 to 12 weeks.

Me: I guess I didn’t explain myself well. I don’t want new issues. I want back issues. And I need them right away because my report is due in two days.

Publisher: A subscription costs $600. You’ll get your first issue in 8 to 12 weeks.

Me: I appreciate that you want to sell a subscription. I’ll pay for back issues.

Publisher: You don’t listen very well. A subscription costs $600. You’ll get your first issue in 8 to 12 weeks.

I gave up and got to work with what I had.

The next day, thinking I had nothing to lose, I called the publisher back. Someone else answered the phone. I explained what I wanted.

Publisher: Sure, I’m happy to help. How many back issues do you want?

Me: Gosh, six month’s worth would be fine.

Publisher: Where should I send them?

Me: You’re being so helpful, may I trouble you to Fedex them? I’ll give you my account number.

Publisher: Oh, we have a Fedex account, no problem. Do you want it for morning delivery?

Me: Yes, I need them as soon as possible.

Publisher: Do you have a fax machine? I can fax you an issue or two.

Me: That would be FANTASTIC! You’re being so helpful, would you give me the name of your supervisor? I want to write a letter about what a great employee you are.

Publisher: Thank you, but it’s not necessary.

Me: Still, I’d really like to.

Publisher: It’s not necessary. I’m a temp. I won’t be here tomorrow.

I received the back issues and finished the assignment on time.

How I Got Lucky

My luck came from two things:

  1. Asking for help. I was honest about what I needed and used the word “help.” People want to help you. But you have to let them know what you need and why. If you’re legit they will help. I once had a business manager give me confidential details about his client’s sale of a winery when I asked for his help. I’ve always thought his client wouldn’t have liked what he did. But perhaps they were too busy drinking wine to care.
  2. Being persistent. I found a librarian who could help me after to speaking to five or six. The first person at the publisher wasn’t helpful. But if I hadn’t called back I would never have hit the jackpot with the second one.

You can do both of these. You can make your own luck!

What do you do to get lucky? Please comment below.

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