Tag Archives: success

How to Deal with Disrespectful Civilians

Do You Distinguish Direct from Offensive Communication?

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Bo – Exodus 10:1-13:16

Over the last decade, I’ve noticed a softening in the military. You don’t hear as much shouting. Repetitive “training” has replaced verbal correction. Special Forces still train tough. But regular units’ training has become more like what you see in the civilian world. Frustration has to be expressed gently…

How to Deal with Disrespectful Civilians

The Purpose of Being Offensive

Its more direct style of communication makes military life seems tougher. But the days of offending someone to test his mettle are long gone. Likewise, G-d rarely permits insulting behavior. One of the few cases, in Parshas Bo, has a special purpose:

…on the 10th of this month, they will take for themselves, each man, a lamb or a kid for the household… (Shemos/Exodus 12:3)

Prior to bringing the tenth plague, the Almighty commanded Moses to have each Israelite household prepare a sacrifice. Like all offerings, it had to be free from blemishes for the four days before its slaughter.

Usually, the purchaser of an animal could rely on the seller to examine it. But the owner of this offering, known as the Pesach or paschal lamb, had to tie it to his bed beginning on the 10th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan. Each householder inspected his own animal.

The Egyptians worshipped lambs and kids. So it aroused their curiosity seeing the Israelites tie their gods to a bed. When they asked for a reason, the Jews told them they would sacrifice the animals on the 14th of Nissan. Outrageous declared the Egyptians!

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But because the Almighty protected the Israelites, they couldn’t harm them.

Let G-d Teach the Lessons

You might think G-d wanted to exalt the Israelites by letting them sacrifice Egypt’s gods. In reality, He wanted Egypt to learn they worshipped false gods. If their slaves could slaughter lambs and kids with impunity, these animals had no power.

Simon and Levi killed the hated Shemites. Shechem had raped Dinah. He was liable to harsh punishment. But neither he nor his people denied G-d like Pharaoh did. So a death sentence on all of the people was wrong.

Pinchas killed Cozbi and his mistress for enticing the Israelites to worship the Ba’al. The Almighty rewarded him for sustaining His honor.

Aspects of civilian life may offend you. A civilian may push your buttons. But people don't do this with the intent of denying G-d. There’s no cause for offending them. When the urge to scold them strikes consider: Are you defending the Almighty’s honor or yourself…

How do you keep your cool when civilians do stupid things?

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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!

These Erroneous Beliefs Will Sabotage Your Job-Hunt

Are You Wasting Your Time Getting Certifications?

2-½ minutes to read

Certifications top most veterans’ list of important job qualifications. But recall you didn't have any when entered the military. Success came from your attitude. Recruits who absorbed the military ethos and gained expertise succeeded. Those who didn't washed out…

These Erroneous Beliefs Will Sabotage Your Job-Hunt

The Pivotal Factor for Reintegration

Two types of sailors come through WTP Sembach. You might think the divide follows one of these lines:

  • Active vs. reserve component
  • Enlisted vs. officer
  • Single vs. married

These divisions define the challenges they’ll face reintegrating. But none of them indicates whether a sailor makes a successful transition.

The Officer-in-Charge and I considered young vs. old as being the relevant distinction. But many redeployers in their mid-40s to early 50s soak up all we have to teach them. They report overcoming significant hurdles in the few days they spend with us.

The crusty old senior chief sitting in the back of the room didn’t seem to be paying attention. But when I asked him about his experience with sailors in grief his posture changed. For the rest of the workshop he sat up, his body tilted forward, engaged.

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That’s when the answer struck me. The actual division is open vs. closed. Sailors’ age, rate/rank, and marital status don't matter. Their openness to learning and growing is all that counts.

To Get Certifications or Not

Another conversation exposed a different barrier. The person indicated only certain licenses and degrees confer expertise. Otherwise, no matter how much experience someone has in a field, a smart person’s thoughts are as valuable.

In America, many people consider claiming expertise to be egotistical or undemocratic. Tom Nichols wrote about this issue in The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters. But if you have greater knowledge and experience in a field, saying so is a matter of fact. Having such expertise doesn't make you better than other people. It makes you more qualified to engage or lead in a field.

There aren’t certifications for most of what you learned and did in the military. If you don't recognize expertise without certifications backing it up, you have nothing to sell but your labor. As a commodity, labor is worth no more than about $45,000 a year. These days, for positions with the most income and growth potential, companies want demonstrated leadership ability and problem-solving expertise. Degrees don’t matter.

Companies don't fire older workers because they’re old. They get rid of them because younger workers can do the same job for less money. Older workers who throughout their careers increased their expertise and leadership ability have become more valuable to the company. Younger people can’t replace them because they haven't had enough time to achieve a similar level. Such older workers not only get retained, they continue to advance.

The military works the same way. At the E5/E6 level, technical knowledge growth has peaked. Going forward, the ability to train, mentor, and lead is what counts. Service members who don't move beyond technical mastery face high-year tenure.

Do you believe you can succeed in civilian life even as you resist change? Do you think only certifications prove expertise? These two beliefs will prevent you're getting a high-paying job you’ll love.

Change them, and your ideal job awaits you…

In what area does your knowledge exceed most people’s?

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How to Read God’s Clues for Improving Your Life

Do You Feel Like You’re Being Punished by Your Problems?

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Va’eira – Exodus 6:2-9:35

When things go wrong, why do they hit our most vulnerable spots? Wouldn't it be nice if once in a while life threw a softball? We never have too much time to transition. Nor do we get to choose between two private sector jobs with higher than expected salaries. It’s like we’re getting punished…

How to Read G-d’s Clues for Improving Your Life

G-d Doesn't Punish People

Reintegrating to civilian life is chaotic. Many people want to help but don't know how. Others couldn't care less about you. After a while, it seems you're beset by plagues. Now, you're no Pharaoh. But the way G-d dealt with him in Parshas Va’eira will clue you into what’s going on:

“…behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the waters that are in the river, and they will change to blood.” (Shemos/Exodus 7:17)

Pharaoh failed to heed Moses's message to let the Children of Israel leave Egypt. So the Almighty brought plagues to get him to change his mind. And so they went: Blood, frogs, lice, wild beasts, pestilence, boils, and hail.

Each looks like a harsh punishment of Pharaoh and his people. Living through them must have been torture. But despite their appearance, G-d sent the plagues so the Egyptians would take certain lessons to heart.

In the first plague, the Almighty turned all the water in Egypt to blood. Pharaoh had proclaimed himself a god. But a deity doesn’t need to perform bodily functions. To keep his people from finding out he was human, he waded into the Nile River to relieve himself.

When the river turned to blood, Pharaoh could no longer hide. He should have learned humility when his people realized he wasn’t a god. But he didn’t.

The first plague also sent the people a message. The Nile was the key to Egypt’s economic life. When it turned to blood, they couldn’t water their crops. Their king-god had no power to prevent their financial ruin.

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If they had learned this lesson, they would have lost some money. But they would have avoided a great deal of suffering from future plagues.

Make Sure You're Solving the Right Problem

Because they enslaved the Israelites, the Egyptians deserved punishment. G-d could have justified destroying them. Instead, He sent the plagues so they would examine specific aspects of their behavior. Had the Egyptians learned mercy and humility, the Almighty wouldn’t have sent more plagues.

The things that go wrong in your life or transition are messages from G-d. He wants you to focus your attention on an issue or behavior. Before solving a problem, consider:

1. Why. What is the reason this particular thing happened? You may come up with several reasons. Chose the one that relates to your weakest spot.

2. Clues. What signs has the Almighty given you about how he wants you to handle the challenge? They may not be obvious. But G-d never gives you a problem you’re not equipped to handle.

3. Solve. Choose a course of action that aligns with the reason you received the challenge. If you’re struggling to find a job, the solution may have nothing to do with finding work. Changing job-hunt tactics (especially if you're using my 5 Steps to a High-Paying Job) won't solve your problem. That’s why the first two steps are crucial to moving forward in a productive way.

You're not deserving of punishment like Pharaoh and the Egyptians. But their downfall can help you. When bad things happen, search for G-d’s message about how you need to change.

What problem have you had trouble figuring out?

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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 Handle the Demands of Transitioning

Have You Reached the Moment of Truth?

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Shemos – Exodus 1:1-6:1

Back on active duty, I get those annoying emails. The training officer sends reminders of some online course that we have to complete. Again. The Navy means well. It wants us to know how to handle an active shooter and records with PII. But having done the exact same training for years makes it just a check in the box. You can tell what counts with the Navy because it has the rigor that leads to change…

How to Handle the Demands of Transitioning

Make an Affirmative Decision to Confront Change

During Officer Indoctrination School we crawled through sand with broken glass in it. Rubbing sand in cuts thoroughly drives a lesson home. I hope I never have to scrabble on the ground while someone is shooting at me. But I’ll remember to keep my backside down. Parshas Shemos describes a bigger lesson in change:

“Moses said, ‘I will turn from my course and see this great sight - why does the bush not burn?’” (Shemos/Exodus 3:3)

Moses encountered a bush that was on fire but didn't burn up. He knew from the moment he spotted the bush that something supernatural was at work. He had two choices: engage with the phenomenon or move on. If he got involved with the bush he knew his life would never be the same. G-d saw Moses’s deep conflict. He could stay the course and continue a life of ease. Stopping meant committing to the struggle leading to change.

The Almighty found tremendous merit in Moses’s desire to change. So He called out, “Moses, Moses.” And Moses began his rise to leadership of the Israelites.

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Moses chose to stop and confront his fear of the unknown. G-d understood Moses’s gut-wrenching choice to live a demanding life. Such courage made him worthy to lead the Children of Israel out of slavery.

Your Real Transition Begins with a Moment of Truth

Under any circumstances, change is a daunting process. It's hardest when you don't expect it. As right as my decision was to leave active duty, I felt unsettled. Even though I had prepared, I knew hard times were ahead. I wasn’t disappointed. But the struggle was worth it.

More preparation time helps. Servicemembers who start their transition 18 to 24 months before leaving active duty have the smoothest time.

But there will come the moment when you’ll feel a lump in your throat. At that moment, your faith can compel you to begin the journey despite your apprehension. You may not yet see the miracle that will forge a better you. G-d may not show you a burning bush. But He will find great merit in your willingness to confront new challenges.

Let the rigor of adjusting to civilian life help you make the necessary changes.

Do you regret leaving the military or think you might regret it?

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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 Use Pain to Overcome Transition Hurdles

Do You Make Pain Your Reintegration Ally?

2-½ minutes to read

As many as a hundred and fifty sailors come through WTP Sembach each week. Few had an easy time during deployment. The heat and austere operating environment challenged them. Sometimes they had to toughen themselves to substandard leadership. You can quit a civilian job. But you can't quit deployment. At least not without leaving the military on bad terms. Such physical and emotional pain exposes weaknesses…

How to Use Pain to Overcome Transition Hurdles

The Power of Pain

The Navy deploys many sailors to Bahrain, home of the U.S. 5th Fleet. Those who go to Manama live in high-quality hotels, eat good food, and have access to lots of amenities.

But the sailors assigned to Isa Air Base live a Spartan existence. The heat is often unbearable. A few weeks ago, the air conditioning in working dog’s kennel broke. When discovered three hours later, the animal was close to death. With no veterinarian on base, a human medical team responded. Despite valiant efforts, the dog died.

Though it may sound trivial, the loss of this canine hit people hard. It traumatized more than one of the medical team. It desolated a young woman who visited the dogs to maintain her resilience. Bureaucracy moves slowly. But policy for checking on military dogs changed overnight as a result of this incident.

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Pain has enormous power to drive change. It also has the ability to freeze a person as he is.

4 Steps to Using Pain for Gain

When in a painful situation, you can respond in two ways. Most people seek to free themselves from pain. The sooner they get relief the better. In doing so, they fail to take advantage of pain’s ability to help them.

Athletes know how to benefit from pain. They create training plans that push beyond their limits. Increasing strength and endurance requires suffering sore muscles and joints. In the crucible of intentional discomfort, they progress toward their goals.

Pain can strengthen your mind and spirit too. Such changes usually come through random events. But you can create a training regimen to adapt your identity, build up mental acuity, and toughen your spirit.

If a basketball player chokes when throwing free throws, he’ll practice them until it hurts. He’ll analyze every movement of his body. With painstaking precision, he’ll determine where he’s failing. Then he’ll drill himself to correct these flaws.

Life transitions are filled with mental and spiritual challenges. Train to overcome them like an athlete would:

1. Pinpoint Your Shortcomings. Is your identity holding you back? Do you get tongue-tied when asking the hiring manager for the job? When you get too many rejections in a day does your spirit let you stop job-hunting? Find your weaknesses by asking hiring managers who didn't give you a job. Talk with a transition coach.

2. Own Them. You won't endure the pain of change if you convince yourself everything is okay. Don't beat yourself up. Acknowledge where you need to grow.

3. Make a Training Plan. Develop a blueprint to strengthen your weak points. It's best in a controlled situation. Partner with another veteran. Brainstorm ways to overcome your obstacles. Practice them. Get feedback. Work with a coach. If necessary, use actual meetings to train. Some meetings for a job don't go well. Use them as exercises to build your abilities. Have a couple of strategies ready to try and see how it goes. What have you got to lose?

4. Push to the Pain Point. Make sure your plan takes you beyond your comfort zone. Don't injure your mind or spirit. But use pain as a tool to embed change.

Competition in the private sector is fierce. We win in combat by out training the enemy. Adapt the same strategy for reintegrating to civilian life. Use pain to gain.

Who can you partner with to train for your transition?

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