Category Archives: Soul

Proof You Have Mastery in You

3 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Mikeitz – Genesis 44:1-44:17

In what area of your life do you seek mastery? Do you want to be a brilliant spouse or parent? Maybe you want to be a leader in your profession. Perhaps you aspire to a triumphant transition from military to civilian life, school to career, or profession to retirement. Each of these requires internalizing a set of skills. But true mastery means more than having the proper expertise. Joseph’s rise to power in Parshas Mekeitz shows mastery comes from within:

“So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have appointed you over the entire land of Egypt.” (Bereshis/Genesis 41:25)

Proof You Have Mastery in You

In this week’s parsha Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream and becomes Viceroy of Egypt. Next, the famine begins resulting in Jacob sending ten of his sons to Egypt to buy food. Joseph knows he must fulfill the prophecy that his brothers will bow down to him so he demands they bring Benjamin to Egypt. At first, Jacob will not consent but the lack of food becomes so severe he has no choice. Once they are all there, Joseph endeavors to find out if his brothers’ attitude has truly changed.

A Slave Becomes Viceroy?

With no previous leadership training or experience, Joseph becomes the ruler of Egypt. Not only that, Pharaoh appoints him after thirteen years of servitude. What qualified Joseph for such a high-ranking position?

Joseph was a shepherd before being sold as a slave in Egypt. Notwithstanding his dreams that his brothers and parents would bow down to him, there’s no indication Joseph knew he was destined to become the number two ruler of Egypt. Yet when the opportunity presented itself he seamlessly stepped into a lofty, powerful role.

Throughout his life, Joseph exhibited extraordinary self-control over his actions. While enslaved in Egypt, he maintained his own identity in the face of pressure to adopt the dominant culture and his master’s wife's attempt to seduce him. His self-mastery allowed him to withstand temptation and retain his dignity in the face of being falsely accused and imprisoned.

Where Mastery Comes From

Even though Joseph never trained to be a leader, he spent his whole life leading himself. When the opportunity arose to lead a nation, his internal compass was so strong and his self-confidence was so high he was prepared for the huge responsibility Pharaoh placed on him. He could learn to navigate the halls of power on the job. He could hire someone to oversee logistics. But without self-discipline, he couldn’t project an aura of mastery over Egypt.

You may not aspire to lead the most powerful country of its day, but achieving mastery in any endeavor begins with controlling yourself. While you may not exhibit model self-discipline in all areas of your life, undoubtedly you have one or more where you are the master. You have already internalized mastery. As you look toward the new year, think about how you can build on the foundation that already exists. What is the next aspect of your life into which you can expand your self-mastery? Add a few new skills and you’ll be unbeatable!

Question – Where do you exhibit the strongest self-discipline? Please leave a 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!

On a Mission . . .

Do you have a defining purpose to your life? Does it motivate you to enthusiastically get out of bed each morning looking forward to the day’s activities? When your time on earth is just about done will you feel your life was worthwhile because you pursued this mission?

On a Mission . . .

One of the great aspects of the military is that no matter what our rate or rank we begin our service by dedicating ourselves to a mission: To support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic . . . This statement gives purpose to everything we do. When we experience the searing heat on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea during combat ops or have to de-ice that same flight deck to conduct humanitarian assistance operations in the northern reaches of Japan, we have a reason to endure the harsh weather and the punishingly long hours.

Why Will You Do What You Do?

So too in your life and business, you need to have a mission. Non-profit organizations learned this long ago because they have to motivate their workers, especially volunteers, to commit to a purpose and devote time and money to its fulfillment. The United Way provides a good example.

For-profit businesses can reap tremendous benefits from the same clarity of purpose. The mission statement for my company is: to help veterans secure a share of the American dream they fought to preserve.

Notice that this is not a goal per se. While it is written down, there is no objective to reach or time limit by which it is to be reached. Once you have a mission for your life and/or business, it becomes the litmus test by which you decide whether a particular activity or goal is relevant and purposeful.

A mission statement should be an expression of your most important values because if the two are in conflict you will be working at cross-purposes. Yet, if you are unclear about your morals it may be difficult to create a compelling mission statement.

5 Steps to a Personal, Business, or Family Mission Statement

Here are the steps for writing a mission statement:

1. Make a list of your five most deeply held values

Be careful not to mistake political positions for values. Look at why you have a particular political belief to determine the values the underlie it. If you need some help getting started check out this list.

2. Write down your elevator pitch

This is a brief explanation of what you want to do with your life or what your business is and does.  So called because you can deliver it in the length of an elevator ride. Harvard Business School has a website to help you build one.

3. Use your values to describe WHY your business does what it does

Write a paragraph with each sentence addressing how one of your values relates to your life or business. For example, if you are starting a plumbing company and one of your values is being thrifty, one sentence of your paragraph might be about providing the highest level of service at the lowest price.

4. Edit your paragraph to one or two sentences

Work on combining the essential idea of one sentence with that of another. Sometimes a single word can replace an entire sentence. For example, in my mission statement the value of “taking care of G-d’s children, especially my fellow service members” is expressed with one word: help.

5. Let it sit overnight then edit it

Once you have written your mission statement put it away until the next day then review it. Edit ruthlessly. Say it out loud. If it does not flow well keep working on it. Try using a thesaurus to find variations of words that express your thoughts more accurately. If you get stuck, set it aside overnight again. You may have to do this several times before you develop a compelling mission statement.

When you have completed your mission statement read it periodically, every morning before you begin work, or each evening when you plan your next day’s schedule. Even when you have it memorized, refer to it in written form. Its impact is greater.

Where are you stuck figuring out your personal and business mission?

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

What to Do When Another Sees Your Life More Clearly

2-1/2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Yayeishev – Genesis 37:1-40:23

As a staff officer, one of the most crucial jobs I have is making my commander aware of issues that have escaped his attention. You’ll often hear people say, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” It applies to life well beyond the battlefield as can be seen in Parshas Vayeishev:

“Joseph dreamt a dream which he told to his brothers.” (Bereshis/Genesis 37:5).

What to Do When Another Sees Your Life More Clearly

In this week’s parsha we learn about Joseph’s prophetic dreams. As a result, his brothers sell him to a caravan that takes him to Egypt where he becomes a slave. All the while Jacob thinks he is dead. In the midst of these travails is the story of Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar. Joseph rises to run Potiphar’s household but is jailed when Potihpar’s wife slanders him. The parsha ends with Joseph being the conduit for the interpreting the Chief of Butler’s and Chief of Baker’s dreams.

The stage is being set for the Israelite’s decent into Egyptian slavery.

Anger at Joseph’s Prophecy

When Joseph related his dreams to his brothers they became furious. How dare this pipsqueak daddy’s favorite suggest they will bow down to him? Their hatred flared. Even Jacob, normally even-tempered, scolded him though he did not go so far as to reject it out of hand.

These responses show a different awareness. Already jealous of Joseph, the brothers could not be sufficiently objective about their own lives. So their jealousy deepened. But the wiser Jacob realized events are in G-d’s hands and sometimes he reveals to others matters that remain hidden to people who will be affected.

Are You Seeing Your Life Clearly?

You need not have your outlook clouded by resentment to fail to clearly see where your life is headed. Gaining perspective when you are in the midst of events is difficult even without overwrought emotions. Inexperience or distraction can cause you to miss issues or opportunities that are obvious to an outsider.

That being the case, it’s crucial for you to get input from people who have the experience you lack. They can help you interpret events, identify options, and help you succeed.

Keep an open mind. When a friend or colleague offers you a perspective on your life don’t reject it out of hand. Take a few minutes to explore his rationale. Even if you conclude the insight is off-base, you’re well advised to follow Jacob’s example and keep the matter in mind.

Down life’s road, you may find someone else saw your life more clearly than you did. Now you know the person who can show you how to proceed.

Question – How do you manage to see your life clearly? Please leave a 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!

Fit to be an Entrepreneur

When I started my business in 1986 I was always on the look out for the secret to success. I don't remember who it was but somebody told me the key was to “stay in the game.” The person meant you should have enough money to last through the start up phase, but in the 26 years since I have found that staying in the game requires more than money. It requires being fit. Just like in the military, an entrepreneur must be physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy. I call this the Three Pillars of Fitness.

Fit to Be an Entrepreneur - 3 Pillars of Fitness

Think of it this way: if you are mentally and physically fit you are standing on two legs. That works fine during normal times, but if life gets very turbulent you will get knocked down. A two-legged structure is inherently unstable. Now think about a tripod. Once its three legs are properly spread it is extremely difficult to push it over. The platform supported by the legs may on occasion not be quite level, but its three legs are the utmost in stability. The same is true for us. Click on each heading for more about each leg.

Physical Fitness

As service members, we had to periodically pass a physical readiness test so staying physically fit was a part of our job. It may seem that once we are out of the military we need not worry about this anymore. But stamina is a crucial aspect of being successful in business. While we may not be going on long hikes or wearing body armor to do our work, we will be working long hours. Proper nutrition, exercise, and adequate sleep are the keys.

I recommend having a fitness program to keep on track. I use The President’s Challenge, which is the latest program from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. If you are interested in joining my Three Pillars of Fitness group let me know. One of the benefits of the group is I will pay for the medals you earn.

Mental Fitness

Business is mentally and emotionally demanding. You will deal with a lot of new issues and challenges. Failure will become part of your everyday existence. But just like physical training gives us greater stamina, so too can we train for the mental rigors of entrepreneurship. When I was ten years old I started reading biographies of famous, successful people and I have continued to do so for over four decades. There are many fantastic motivational trainers such as Zig Ziglar and sales trainers such as Tommy Hopkins. Over twenty years ago at Tommy’s Boot Camp I learned one of his mantras that I developed as follows: I never see failure as failure, but as the information I need to go on to succeed.

Mental fitness requires that we continually seek out the information we need to achieve success. We must challenge our assumptions. Remember, the definition of insanity is to repeatedly try the same thing while expecting a different result. A friend of mine recently introduced me to Michael Hyatt and I have found his ideas to be very stimulating. The good news it that there are numerous resources, including podcasts and recorded books many of which are free, on the Internet to help us get and stay mentally fit.

Spiritual Fitness

When our physical stamina is running low and our mental toughness has taken its twenty-fifth hit that day, nothing will get us through except our spirit. For some of us we will look to religion, having faith that G-d will show us the way through. Others will use meditation or other physical techniques that have a profound impact on the spirit. Still, others will grab their iPods and plug into music that recharges their souls. My point is not to suggest that you must use any particular method, only that like with physical and mental fitness, you train your spirit for the demands of entrepreneurship. Just like we have to work out at least three times a week to stay in shape, we have to have a regular plan to exercise our spirits.

I will return to this topic periodically, expanding on a particular pillar and giving resources for its development. In the meantime let me know if you found this subject valuable and what your thoughts are about it.

How to Know When Your Spouse Isn’t Angry

3 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayishlach - Genesis 32:4-36:43

When Hannah and I have an argument the challenge is figuring out when to re-engage. If she is still angry, trying to reconcile is usually fruitless. Knowing when her anger has subsided is the key. Parshas Vayishlach gives the answer:

“Jacob became very frightened and distressed” (Bereshis/Genesis 32:8).

How to Know When Your Spouse Isn’t Angry

In this week’s parsha Jacob prepares to be attacked by Esau. He struggles with the Angel and is given the name Israel, then reconciles with Esau and settles in Shechem.

Next, in retaliation for Dina’s abduction, Simon and Levi deceive then massacre the Shechemites. Jacob travels to Bethel where G-d confirms Jacob’s new name and reaffirms that the land of Canaan will be given to his descendants. Benjamin is born and Rachel dies. After reuniting with Jacob, Isaac dies. The parsha ends with a listing of Ishmael’s family and his death, a listing of the lineage of Seir, and the chronology of the Edomite kings.

Was Esau Still Angry?

Why, in the verse quoted above, was Jacob scared as he approached Esau? During his sojourn in Laban’s household, G-d protected Jacob and made him prosperous. Though his life potentially was in danger, surely he had no reason to be both afraid and distressed.

Most commentators agree that Jacob was afraid that he would have to kill Esau and distressed that he might be killed. As righteous as he was, it is not surprising that he feared killing his brother more than being killed.

But, when his mother told him to leave home, Rebecca ordered him not return, “until your brother’s wrath subsides.” Jacob had to determine the right time. How was he to know Esau had had a change of heart when couldn’t see or hear him?

Your Heart is a Mirror

Proverbs 27:19 gives a clue: “As water reflects a face back to a face, so one’s heart is reflected back to him by another.” Just as a pond mirrors your physical image, your heart, the seat of your emotions, mirrors another person’s emotions.

As Jacob headed toward home, he thought he was no longer angry with Esau. But on learning Esau was approaching, thoughts of killing Esau entered his mind, showing him he still harbored ill will in his heart. Jacob realized since he was not fully reconciled, Esau probably wasn’t either.

When you’ve had an argument with your spouse reconciliation begins with clarifying and resolving your own emotions. You must be sure you’re no longer angry otherwise your seemingly friendly overture will be rebuffed. Consider these questions:

  1. Do you feel compassion over your spouse being upset?
  2. Are you truly seeking repair and reunion or just a de-escalation of hostilities?
  3. Have you accepted you are at least partly responsible for the issue?
  4. Can you respond lovingly no matter how your spouse acts?

With your heart filled with love and understanding and no lingering anger, the opportunity to re-engage is at hand. And you have created the greatest chance your spouse’s heart, reflecting your own, will be open to reconciliation.

Question – How do you pave the way to resolving conflict with your spouse? Please leave a 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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