Tag Archives: success

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?

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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!

Do You Know How to Ace a Meeting for a Job?

How to Get Hiring Managers on Your Side

2-½ minutes to read

Last week I took my redeployers (the people who come to WTP) to Koblenz. Before the Nazis came to power, 800 Jews lived there. Only twenty-two survived the war. I felt some trepidation as I walked the streets of the city. While window-shopping, I found a store with solid wood hangars at less than a Euro each. I went inside…

Do You Know How to Ace a Meeting for a Job_

Connecting Can Entail a Bit of Risk

The shopkeeper hovered over me as I looked around his shop. He spoke to me in German when I picked up a VW Beetle keychain. No sprechen sie Deutsch, I replied. When I settled in front of the hangars, he struggled to explain the price to me.

At the register, I bent forward to reach my wallet. That’s when he saw my yarmulke. Juden? he asked. I froze for a moment, unsure what to do. But what choice did I have? Ya, Juden, I said. A huge smile came over his face. Pointing to himself he declared, “Me Juden!” A wave of relief flooded over me.

For the next twenty-five minutes, we conversed. My new friend was from Italy. He spoke German, Italian, and some of French. I spoke English, ten words of German, a bit of French, and some Spanish. At times we pantomimed. Despite the language gap, Enrico and I understood each other.

Having connected, we weer glad to help each other. We covered substantive and trivial issues. He told me the best places to see the Rhein and the Moselle rivers. He let me know the safe places to travel in France. I helped him learn a little Hebrew. He seemed to draw confirmation of his identity from this Navy rabbi showing up in his store.

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All this grew out of our risking making a connection.

4 Four Ways to Create Rapport

You have the same primary task at a meeting for a job. Connect with the hiring manager. If you cannot do so, nothing else that happens will matter much. It can seem daunting to relate to someone so quickly. A few simple techniques will make it easier:

1. Starting Points. Geography, previous employment, alma maters, cultural touch points, life stages, and interests. All create connections. Are you from the same state or town? Were you both in the military? Did you go to the same school or were you crosstown rivals? Do you share the same religious denomination? Are your children similar in age?

2. Inside Contact. Ask your inside contact for some basic information about the hiring manager. After greeting each other and sitting down, bring up something that interests you in his background. The phrase, “I understand that…” is useful when asking for details. Say he rides a motorcycle. Try, “I understand you ride a motorcycle. What kind of bike do you have?”

3. LinkedIn and Online Biography. Check his profile on LinkedIn and the organization’s website. Look for information on schools, causes, and interest. Where do they intersect with yours?

4. Look for Connection Points in His Office. If you can't find any information in advance, give a quick glance around his office. What do you see that sparks your interest? Are there photographs of a fishing trip? Try this phrase. “Oh, I see you're into fishing. Where were these pictures taken?”

People like to talk about their passions. Make a connection by showing genuine interest. Once you’ve created some rapport, you stand a much better chance of having a successful meeting.

 

Do you have trouble breaking the ice at a meeting?

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What Do You Do When Someone Disrespects You?

How to Handle a Hostile Civilian

1-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Toldos – Genesis 25:19-28:9

The sailors who come to WTP Sembach agree that civilians appreciate our sacrifices. When they say, “Thank you for your service,” they mean it. But what do we make of the small numbers who attack us?

What Do You Do When Someone Disrespects You-

Fear Hinders Advancement

People who hate service members like to get into your face. Such disrespect shows can’t reason with them. But if you understand one of their motivations, you can learn to ignore them. Parshas Toldos explains:

“And Abimelech said to Isaac, ‘Go away from us for you have become much mightier than we!’” (Bereshis/Genesis 26:16)

A famine forced Isaac to go live in Abimelech’s kingdom in Gerar. There his wealth increased a hundredfold. He bought huge flocks of sheep and goats. He acquired many businesses. As a result, the Philistines chose to envy him.

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They didn't have to be jealous. They could have learned from Isaac. Had they adopted his practices or faith, G-d might have enriched them too. Fear caused them to overlook the path to a better life.

Fight Your Anger with Pity

Watching a movie or TV show that portrayed actual military life would bore most people to tears. So unless you’re in it, you don't know what it's like. Nonetheless, most civilians choose to treat us respectfully. They may be atoning for the way Vietnam veterans were treated. We still benefit.

For a minority of civilians, the unknown creates fear. They know what we do is hard. Sometimes it’s dangerous. They can’t do what we do. Rather than learning about our work, they treat us like Abimelech treated Isaac. “Go away!” Without saying we’re mightier than them, they expose their weakness. Their attacks have nothing to do with us. They’re an expression of self-doubt.

Instead of getting angry, consider how sad these people are. Too afraid to learn something new, they lash out. We’ve never hurt them. But they seek to demean us and our service. We should pity them. Like the Philistines, fear has caused them to overlook the path to a better life. From that perspective, you can ignore them.

Has a civilian accosted 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. 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!

Do You Improve Resilience with Every Task?

How Botched Undertakings Lead to Success

4 minutes to read

Guten tag. You may not have heard. But a couple of weeks ago the Navy deployed me to the Warrior Transition Program in Sembach, Germany. My last active duty time was two years ago. A funny thing happened on the way to reintegrating to military life…

Do You Improve Resilience with Every Task-

My Bungled Cross-Country Run

Reservists and individual augmentees who have been in AFRICOM and CENTCOM come to WTP on their way home. The Navy calls our program a Third Location Decompression point. Sailors can catch up on sleep, learn about the transition process, and make plans for the future.

Among other duties, I go with the participants on trips off base. One trip takes place on Saturday, for me the Sabbath. So I can’t ride the bus there. I also can't ride a bike or horse. In other words, I have to walk.

Kaiserslautern is 13 kilometers from the base. Now I often run 8 miles. So last Tuesday I decided to make a test run there. I printed out a map and hit the road. The weather was great – cool with the sun shining. After three miles I had run through the villages of Sembach and Melighen. The trouble began.

German roads aren't marked. So I had no idea that when I hit the outskirts of Melighen I was already off course. A short time later, the road turned into a wide dirt path. Crops and paddocks of horses lined both sides. Rain the night before meant concentrating on avoiding huge mud puddles.

At the six-mile mark, I came to a crossroads. Realizing I was off my mapped course, I decided to ask for directions. Then I realized my German was limited to what I learned watching Hogan’s Heroes.

I came up with a plan. I’d interrupt a hiker with bitte (please). Then I’d name my destination and point in a direction. If the person responded yah, that’s the direction I’d go. If he said nein, I’d point toward the other one and repeat, “Kaiserslautern?” Soon a lady came walking toward me.

Me: “Bitte, Kaiserslautern?” pointing the way she had come. A quizzical look came over her face.
Her: “Yah, Kaiserslautern,” pointing behind her. Bingo, I was on the right track.
Me: “Danke!” (Thank you!) Off I ran confidently.

Two more crossroads necessitated further exercises of my limited German. The third was with a man walking four big dogs that eyed me hungrily and barked so loud we could hardly hear each other. He appeared perplexed as he tried to figure out how to direct me. Finally, he pointed me down the road at what I realized was a town.

Since my Fitbit showed eight miles, I thought this had to be Kaiserslautern. But I wondered at his confusion. Once there, I realized it was too small to be Kaiserslautern. Half a mile down the road, back on a main highway, I came to a sign that read, “Kaiserslautern 11 km.” It pointed to a leaf-covered dirt path blocked by a heavy chain. Discretion got the better of valor. I headed back to the town I had just passed.

Soon, I realized where I was. I had made a huge circular run through the countryside and was back in Melighen. Essentially, I was back to where I’d started.

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It hit me then. I was living the transition nightmare.

4 Takeaways to Apply to Your Transition

My two and a quarter hour run showed me:

1. Get the most precise map available. I’m still not sure where I got off course. The map I downloaded didn't give me enough detail to know. When you travel through new territory you can make a wrong turn without realizing it. You have to get pretty far down the road before you realize your mistake. With lots of waypoints marked on your map, you’ll have a better chance of catching an error sooner.

2. Make sure you can communicate with the people you ask for help. None of the people I asked for directions misled me. After all, I found the road to Kaiserslautern. But I couldn't ask them how far it was or if a pedestrian could traverse the road. A couple of phrases like “How far to Kaiserslautern?” and “Is there a footpath to Kaiserslautern?” would have helped me. Make sure you learn some “civilian” or find a veteran who can translate for you.

3. Learn from not reaching your goal. Though I didn't reach Kaiserslautern, the run was useful. I realized that by car the trip was 13 km. But by foot, it was much longer, even without getting lost. And, I would have to travel on a road with no sidewalk. I won’t meet my goal of walking to Kaiserslautern on the Sabbath. But that’s okay.

4. Be open to new possibilities. My commanding officer got a big laugh at my adventure. She gave me a good-natured “I told you so.” But she respected that I put the program first and made the effort. In the end, since some people don't go on the trip, I’ll spend time with those who stay behind. I’m living one of my most cherished aphorisms.

No doubt they’ll be more amusing lessons coming from the next ten months in Germany. You can be sure I’ll pass them on for your benefit. I’ll also write a few posts about the places I visit. In the meantime, if you're struggling with any of the issues above, or a different one, get in touch. I may not know my way around Germany. But I can help you navigate the transition from military to civilian life.

Where are you stuck or think you’ll get stuck in your transition?
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Do You See Yourself as Just a Veteran?

How to Use Spiritual Power to Drive Your Transition

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Lech Lecha – Genesis 12:1-17:27

Earlier this evening a shipmate asked me why veterans cling so tightly to their military identity. He’s known too many who couldn’t see the potential for enriching it in civilian life. Year after year they struggle to connect with non-military people. And their job prospects go nowhere.

Do You See Yourself as Just a Veteran

 

A Limited Self-Image Subjects You to Defeat

A large part of my work involves helping veterans see themselves in a new light as they reintegrate to civilian life. The process is age-old. Parshas Lech Lecha shows it's priceless:

“…his initiates who had been born in his house – 318 – and [Abraham] gave chase as far as Dan.” (Bereshis/Genesis 14:14)

Abram, later renamed Abraham, won a war against the armies of four kings. They’re the same ones who had defeated the armies of five kings. Yet Abram had just 318 soldiers. He had no tanks, jets, or other overwhelming firepower. Such a victory seems impossible.

At 75 years old, Abram took his wife Sarai, who was 65, and Lot to a strange land. You would expect the local inhabitants to overrun them. Yet they prospered.

As a small group, Abram and his family went to Egypt. Pharoah desired Sarai. How difficult would it have been for Pharaoh to kill Abram and take his wife? Instead, they leave Egypt with greater wealth than they brought there.

After that, Abram defeated four of the most powerful kings in the world.

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Do you see a pattern to these events? If you focus only on the physical dimension it would seem the stronger side would have had to win.

The Power of a Revised Identity

The four kings saw themselves as great warriors. They confused their enemy’s greater corruption with their own strength. So they thought they could take Lot captive and break Abram’s spirit. Had they had Abram’s, or even Pharaoh’s, perceptiveness they would have realized such an endeavor had to fail.

Pharaoh identified himself as a deified monarch. But at least he had more insight than the four kings. Since G-d afflicted his household, he knew he could not defeat Abram. So he let him go.

In all Abram’s trials, the moral and spiritual dimensions dominated. By following G-d’s commandment to leave his home, Abram enlarged his identity. Over time he gained deep clarity about his reshaped persona. The Almighty recognized his development by rewarding his effort and amending his name to Abraham.

Put spiritual power behind your transition to civilian life. Find a quiet place to think about these two questions. Play some music that will inspire introspection. Write out your answers. Longhand will produce a greater impact than typing.

1. Who are you now? You’re already more than a veteran. You may have the roles of spouse, parent, child, and sibling. You may have a passion that makes up a part of your current identity. Write them down. Develop a hierarchy among the various facets.

2. Who do you need to be? As you approach or navigate civilian life, determine the components to add to your identity. Broaden your professional dimension. Consider facets to discard in favor in new ones that will help you better reintegrate. Review and alter your hierarchy as necessary.

Gain clarity on your reshaped persona. Doing so will focus your spiritual energy on reaching your transition objectives. You’ll communicate better with people who can help you. And you’ll show the Almighty you’ve done the hard work worthy of reward.

Have you been in a situation where the spiritual factor meant triumph rather than defeat?

Please 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. 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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