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    New languages offer a new way of being


    “There’s this boy who recently moved to the United States from Latin America and he’s facing some challenges. I would like for you to meet his parents and offer some help”,  a good friend and preschool teacher told me the other day.
     “Tell me more…give me an example”, I replied. 
    “Well, we were speaking about bedtime and when I asked about his, he didn’t respond”, she told me concerned. I tried to explain to her why this boy might not know the significance of “bedtime”.
    “You see, in many Latin American countries, there is no such thing as a “bedtime” or “story time” or even “time out”. The boy might not really know what you are asking him, because he might just go to bed when he is tired, or whenever his parents believe the time is right”. I looked at her with a big smile, as I reflected on all the cultural differences I had to face when my family and I moved to the U.S. 15 years ago and learn a new language. Still, after 15 long years, cultural shocks are part of my daily routine. 
    Some of the things I had to adapt to were in many cases unexpected, and with them came new words which brought new meanings and overall, a new me. Here are just a few: 
              Being invited to supper at 5:00 p.m. Dinner is supposed to be at 9:00 p.m. or later…anything earlier is a “merienda” (snack time); or the word supper itself. I hadn’t heard the meaning to that word until moving to the U.S.
              Story time, time out, or bedtime… what do these things even mean? we didn’t have them in our family over there.
              Being told the time a party starts and the time a party ends. In the world I come from, that’s considered rude. Parties last until people feel like leaving…No set beginnings and no set endings. Just go with the flow
              Waving or nodding politely instead of kissing someone on the cheek when you greet them. In that world it is extremely rude, but in the U.S., it’s courteous! 
              Walking into a room and not being able to just interrupt any conversation with a hug, but waiting until I’m being noticed…
              Requesting from people not to bring birthday gifts and instead make a donation. I love giving and receiving  birthday gifts, why can’t I bring something?
              Teachers are not encouraged to hug their young students with passion or sometimes even sit them on their laps, while in my world that was a way of showing affection and expected from a teacher.
              Not opening gifts as soon as you get them on your birthday or opening all the gifts in front of everyone –  I was taught not to do any of those! you open the gift as soon as you get it in front of the person who gave it to you.
              Sending thank you notes – never!  Instead, giving a hug and thanking someone on the spot.
              Youth soccer leagues make everyone a winner no matter what the final score is. How are kids supposed to learn how to compete, if everyone always wins? 
              Not having your doctor available whenever you need them. Where I come from, the doctor can regularly come to your home! 
              Brunch on Sundays.
              … And the list can go on forever. My personal list grows as I learn of new things everyday. 
    So far, I’ve lived in seven different countries and I made each one my home.  My world is always expanding as I discover new words, those words are new customs and traditions. I’m still trying to invite my American friends to “pasear” with me which is common for me, but I can’t find the exact word in English, as people here don’t “pasear” (walk around for the pure sake of walking, visiting places just to visit.) While this is true in Spanish, English has no such thing. Instead, I must use a long sentence to express my desire to go on a walk and visit places just to visit. Likewise, I can’t find a Spanish translation for the words “accountability” or “fund-raising” unless, once again, I use a lengthy descriptive sentence. 
    Words and languages create cultures, and as you learn a new language, you unleash a new “way of being.” Often I see people who are multilingual showing different personalities depending the language they are speaking at the moment, as if each language carries a different personality  with it.
    While at the beginning I had no clue what a bedtime was, I have learned to incorporate it into my own life and even used it with my children sometimes. I’ve also learned how to eat dinner earlier and attend and even host Sunday brunches from time to time. There are things, however, that my American friends have learned not to expect from me, among them waiting to open my gifts or sending them a thank you note. On these occasions, my Israeli and Latin spontaneity are emphasized more than ever. 
    Bottom line:it’s crucial to understand where the other person is coming from in order to make sure we are really communicating. The words we speak reflect the realities we are parts of and each reality provides different meanings. “What time do you go to bed in general?” is a universal question, everyone sleeps. “What time is your bed-time” is cultural, not everyone goes to sleep at a pre-determined time. It’s something worth thinking about in order to cross boundaries when we talk to someone who comes from a different country or background.
    Learn a new language and your world is guaranteed to become boundless, as mine has become over the years. New words with new meanings become new habits, and that’s how you adapt and make every place home. It is like going to a new restaurant and trying a new dish. It’s a new flavour that you have discovered and has now become a new option you never knew before.

    It is None of Your Business…or Is It?

    During Memorial Day weekend, I had the opportunity to escort the Israeli Scouts (Tzofim) on their summer camp. This was my daughter’s first sleep away camp experience and I was not about to miss any of it.  I still remember the strange looks of other moms questioning my sanity and why I would put myself (voluntarily) on a bus with 40 loud kids for a 9 hour drive to Camp Ramah in Ojai, CA.  But for me, it was all about being there for my daughter and (subconsciously)protecting her from any harm that might happen to her while she was away from the safety of home.
    Remember the movie “Finding Nemo”? Remember how Marlon, Nemo’s father, wouldn’t let him out into the world out of fear? Well, I was the Marlon in this scenario.
    To make a long story short, I had noticed that my daughter was making efforts to become friends with a few girls that didn’t seem to want her friendship. While my role as a chaperone parent was very clear to me which was “only help when you are asked to” and “leave it all to the counselors”, I still couldn’t resist whispering in my daughter’s ear that maybe she should be re-directing her efforts in getting to know other girls who might have been nicer to her. 
    Day two, I kept on noticing that even though my daughter seemed to enjoy herself, she was, at times, by herself observing the others.  Again, I felt I should be advising her (and then later advising the counselors) that she needed to become more part of the group. It didn’t take too long for the other kids to notice that there was an overprotective mother there who simply couldn’t let go.  
    The next day, I was called for a serious conversation by my 10 year old daughter, who gave me a tough but much needed lesson. She said.. “Mom, I know you are trying to help me but you are being over-protective and I am really fine”. In other words…it was none of my business. With tears falling down my face…I kissed her and told her that she was right and that I would stay out of her way. The following day, I kept myself busy with hiking at beautiful Camp Ramah and finished reading a great book. When I decided to go and “check on the kids”, I saw my daughter happy with her team and surrounded by friends.
    Seeing your child hurting is a painful experience for any parent. Seeing your project at work (your “baby”) getting off track is painful too. At times, we are under the false impression that we have the power to fix the world. While “Tikun Olam” is precisely about fixing the world, we need to understand that there are situations where letting go is the right thing to do.  As managers, how many times are our employees are asking us to solve a problem, and we feel that only our intervention will get the problem solved? When we do that on a regular basis, we interfere with our employees’ ability to take care of business themselves. We increase their dependency on us, leading to a vicious cycle where we are always needed.
    What I learned in Camp Ramah was that “Growing pains” are not only physical but emotional too. Sometimes, the real growth and development comes from experiencing a challenge and overcoming it. People are by far better off solving their own problems and sticking to these solutions long term. Even when our guidance is being asked, sometimes a “it’s not my business – it’s yours” mindset is the right guidance for a team.
    So, who do you need to tell (kindly, of course) to mind their business? 

    The Chicken or the Egg


    So, which comes first: the money or the mission?  “Why, the mission of course” you answer ever so confidently.  


    But are you sure?


    Let’s think about this.  How many of you have had a really, really, really good idea for a new program, project or maybe even a whole new nonprofit organization?  I see a few hands going up back there in the audience.  Good for you: idea first.  And then what happened?


    Maybe you went to the Board of your JCC or Federation.  Maybe you went to the program chair, the executive director, your puppy.  And what was said to you in response to your really, really, really good idea?? (Woof does not count here)  Great idea! Go find the money and we will move right ahead with it.


    What happened next?  My guess is that you stuffed that really, really, really good idea right back into your brain and said something to yourself like “I will do that just as soon as I win the Lottery”.  And you might have even gone out and bought three lottery tickets to insure that you would be able to implement your really, really, good idea.


    I work with a lot of nonprofit organizations, both Jewish and non-Jewish.  And I hear a lot of really, really, really good ideas.  I teach classes on building and running nonprofit organizations and I hear a lot of really, really, really good ideas.  And I always say, “What a really, really, really good idea!  How are you going to pay for that?” Now I have many students who say to me “my idea is soooo good that G-d will provide” and we will be up and running very soon.


    And to them — and to everyone else — and to you, too — I say “NO MONEY – NO MISSION!”


    Raising money, most folks say, is NOT EASY.  I think that is because those same folks are thinking “Let’s do a wallk/run” or “Let’s do a big gala” or my personal favorite “Let’s do a golf tournament”.  And believe you me, this is NOT the way to get that really, really, really good idea funded.  Special events fund raising is time consuming (how many of you have spent 21 ½ hours stuffing goodie bags?), volunteer draining (did you know it takes approximately 932 volunteers to run a run?), dependent on the weather (did I tell you the one about the monsoon over Virginia Beach during our Great Dig for Cystic Fibrosis?), your region’s calendar of special events (I know you checked to see what was happening in the Jewish world that day, but did you know that the Foodbank, Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics and the American Cancer Society were all holding events that day?  Didn’t think so.  Did you know that it is really, really, really hard to raise money for a special event if you have no major sponsors to cover the expenses and all of your participants are participating somewhere else? (But more about the raising of major sponsors in a later blog)


    It is really, really, really quite simple.  The best way to get your really, really, really good idea to become a reality is to begin at the beginning and start to build some really, really, really good relationships with the folks in your community who have three attributes: 1 – a philanthropic soul, 2 – the money to do something with that philanthropic soul and 3 – a wonderful group of friends/acquaintances/business buddies who love and trust them.  And that is where the money for your mission will best be found.


    So, next time you have a really, really, really good idea, read my blogs! Because over the next few months they are going to be full of ways to raise money without the worries, stress, aggravation or hassle, or as we would say in Yiddish, all the tsuris!


    Taking A Risk

    New Year’s Day 2013 approached and as usual I took a look back at 2012 and imagined what 2013 had in store for me. I still make new year’s resolutions but I’ve learned to refine them over the years. Gone are the days that I resolve to lose a ton of weight or just be a better person. Now my resolutions are concrete and a bit more measurable. This year, I had resolved to do 3 things: 1. Cook more, 2. Write more, and 3. Get out of my comfort zone more. Ok, so two were highly measurable and the third well not so much.
    It’s almost 6 months into 2013 and I can say I’ve managed to check off all 3. Cooking was easy especially after I announced this to my spouse who promptly held me accountable and used it to her advantage at dinner time. The other two were going to take some thought and diligence on my part.
    Several months ago, a poster arrived on my desk for approval. The poster was for an open casting call for a show called “Listen To Your Mother.” Listen To Your Mother is a national series of live readings by local writers in celebration of Mother’s Day in 24 cities across the country.  I promptly put my initials on it and hung it on our community board. Everyday, I walked past that sign and it would catch my attention. It stared at me, taunted me, and called to me. I tried to put it out of my mind but I couldn’t. For those of you following along on this blog you know that I don’t share my personal life all that often and this certainly would entail doing so. After a month of kicking the idea around, I decided to just try and write something and see where it went. I was sitting in my doctor’s office, whipped out my iPhone and started typing away. The story spewed out of me like hot lava. An hour later with tears streaming down my face (thankfully I was already brought back to a room) but I had written my story. That as I would later find out be the easy part.
    I sat on the story for over a month and not once did I say anything to anyone. Finally, the night before the deadline, I sent an email to the director. I pressed send with my eyes closed and my heart racing. Still not the scariest part! The director promptly emailed me back with a time slot, Sunday at 4pm. Somewhat relieved that I would be in Florida during the auditions and couldn’t make it. Oh well! It wasn’t meant to be! Not so fast, the director replied and said she had a few people that couldn’t make it that day and could I make it on Tuesday. Tuesday came and I auditioned for the show. I was nervous not necessarily about the audition but more because what if I actually got picked? A couple hours later, the phone call came, my story was picked to be one of fifteen stories to be shared on Mother’s Day.
    Rehearsals came and an amazing group of women formed a bond over sharing their very personal stories of being a mother or about their mother. This was way out of my comfort zone but every step of the way the cast, my co-workers and family all supported me in this very scary endeavor. The evening of the performance a weird calmness calm over me and all the nerves just disappeared. The show was a rollercoaster of emotional stories told from various points of view and from as diverse a group of women. The scariest part for me was facing the sold out audience (many whom I knew) after the show and after revealing a very personal story regarding my mother’s untimely death.
    Here’s what I learned from this experience:
    1. Support is all around but you have to be willing to ask for it and then accept it.
    2. Doing things that are scary is not only good for you but makes you stronger.
    3. Writing is a process. It takes patience, nurturing and commitment.
    4. Going outside your comfort zone can lead to amazing new friendships and an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime!
    Now I have 6 months to sit back and think about my resolutions for 2014. Challenge yourself to do something outside your comfort zone. I promise you won’t regret it.

    7 Lessons from My Plumbler


    “What did I learn today?” I ask myself every night before getting lost in a dream.  I try to set myself into a learning mode every single day, open to learn from everyone and everything, and to be aware of what I’m learning.  My latest lesson came from my plumber.
    On the first hour of the first day of what already promised to be a  hectic week, water was coming down from under the kitchen sink, flooding the house – well, that might be an exaggeration on my part, but there was definitely a big pond! It is exactly one of the last things you want to see when you wake up in the morning ready for a busy day. Desperate is how I felt.
    I tried to cut the water flow, without success, but thankfully my husband did.  We had no other choice than to call a plumber (for me and for many reasons it felt as painful as calling the dentist!) and I went ahead and canceled all my meetings for that day.
    Mr. Plumber arrived with a nice smile on his face and approached the area of disaster very calmly, almost ignoring my anxiety. As soon as I sensed his attitude, I realized that things were under control. From there on, everything turned into a lesson:
    1.  No matter how big the leak is, the attitude we bring into the issue matters! When we are faced with a crisis, we can become the first part of the solution or the problem. If the plumber had walked into my house with the same anxiety I was having, I wouldn’t have trusted his ability to solve the problem and he would have become part of the problem himself. As soon as I saw him and because of his attitude, I started to think with more clarity  
    2.   Any leak can be viewed differently: perspective, perspective, perspective! A flood to me was just a small incident for the plumber. The pond looked “terrible” to me – I was already imagining my house flooded and everything destroyed. In reality, the problem was small and easy to fix, just by replacing a tiny inexpensive part.
    3. A leak starts small before it turns into a pond, so pay attention to the first sign of “alarm” and take quick action! I must confess that I knew about a leak for a while, but I chose to ignore it and instead convinced myself that it was “nothing”.  Had I handled the problem as soon as it started, I wouldn’t have needed a plumber on such short notice. I could then have planned for it with enough time on my schedule, avoid canceling commitments, pay a more reasonable fee, and not experience this desperation.
    4. Be prepared to cut the water supply in case of a leak – know your stuff! This is true for the water but also metaphorically. Be prepared and courageous enough to stop a problem before it grows bigger.
    5. Water leaks require a plumber or handy man – expertise matters! It is ok not to know something, and to call the expert to provide his perspective and skills. Confession number 2: I put some ducting tape when I realized the leak was not stopping, and then hoped for the problem to be solved. What do I know about plumbing? Nothing!
    6. A leak can originate in many places, and the problem is not always what we think it is!  I kept looking at what I believed was the root cause of the leak, but because of that I didn’t pay attention to something else that could have been obvious too.
    7. A plumber can teach a coach life lessons. Identify your teachers and become one! The plumber came in, did his job and left. He didn’t think of himself as a teacher and yet he was giving me a life lesson. Next time, I will make sure I appreciate my “teacher”, and by doing that try to be a teacher and a learner myself.
    The week ended up being less hectic than expected, even after this incident…on Friday, there was a perfectly shaped rainbow in the sky. The rainbow taught me that where there is water there can also be sun and something beautiful can happen.
    As it turns out, we can always learn a lesson and make our lives a more interesting journey, even when it all starts with a tiny drop that becomes a pond.

    Lessons from a Visit at the Children’s Museum


    I’m writing this blog for all the people who have survived.


    Survived what? Survived whatever was difficult for you to handle.
    A couple of weeks ago I took my daughters to the new children’s museum in our town. We walked around and enjoyed a beautiful exhibition about George Washington. My daughter pointed out a quote on the wall by GW saying   “I had found bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me, and yet escaped unhurt.” General Washington wrote this in a letter to his brother after the battle in Pennsylvania.
    Has it ever occurred to you that no matter what you have faced in your life; the hardships, the difficulties, the setbacks, here you are alive reading my blog and realizing that you have survived – hopefully without permanent damage.
    As many of us take our daily vitamins to strengthen our bodies and immune system, we should take an opportunity each day to remember the events and experiences that have strengthened our spirits and have helped us become the people we are today.
    As we look back, here are a couple of questions to consider:
    1) What were the events in my life that had taught me the greatest lessons?
                As for me, thankfully I’ve never had bullets through my coat, but I sure had my share of heartbreak from broken promises, betrayal, as well as being rejected, failing and disappointing others. And yet, after each fall, I got back up equipped with a new lesson about people, life, and most importantly, about myself.
    2)  How come I’m still here? Why me?
                Often times when things don’t go the way we expect, we ask “why me?” or “why does this have to happen to me?” What if we ask these questions when the good things happen? “How did I get to be so lucky to have this career? This family? These relationships in my life?” I must have done something right. What is that “something right”? Let us be reminded by the special qualities we possess, the luck we’ve had and the blessings we have experienced.
    3)  What’s the bigger picture?
                It is so easy to get caught up with the little annoyances of life but the only thing that can sometimes get me through is looking at the bigger picture. What is the meaning behind all of this? How come I have escaped, unhurt? There must be a very good reason for me to have survived this…and this is where our purpose in life unveils itself. We each have one. Some have found it and others are still searching. George Washington knew that his purpose was to selflessly serve his country. My purpose is to help others be successful in personal life and career.  What is yours?

    There Once was a Little Old Lady


    There once was a little old lady from Minsk…or was it Pinsk…or Krakow or Lodz or Timisoara…and I took her picture.
    But wait a minute…let me back up and tell you the story.  Once upon a time I travelled a lot…and all of my travel was to visit the Jews of Eastern Europe…what so many of you called the “remnants of the Holocaust.”   I was very blessed in that I had the opportunity to travel with either the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) or with the Jewish Federations of North America (then called UJA or the United Jewish Communities depending on just how far back we are going here).  The other night when I was sitting at a very, very boring speaker I was trying to count just how many of these places I actually visited. (OK, I smiled at the speaker and looked focused and engaged, honest.)  I came up with something like twenty to twenty five visits… seven of those were just one four day trip to Romania with my husband and Zvi Feine of the JDC where we stopped to meet with the “Jewish Community Leadership Board” in each and every shtetlach from Timisoara up to Bucharest. 
    And everywhere I went, I took pictures of the beautiful people that I met.  Now some of you are too young to remember the days of something called “film”.  It was this stuff that was in your camera (another foreign concept to many of you) and when you filled up a “roll” of this stuff, you took it to a magical place where the round roll was turned into pictures on paper, and they were almost always in duplicate.  Then you took these pictures home and, if you were as well organized as I was, you tossed them into a drawer.  And if you travelled as much as I did and you took as many pictures as I did and you got duplicate copies as I did and you ended up with lots and lots of drawers of lots and lots of pictures!  Get the picture?
    All of this was just fine, unless one day you are asked to write an article about your years of work with the JDC and the Jewish Federations of North America.  And of course since we all know that the facts of our stories from these visits are really best represented by the faces of the people we have met, you need a picture.
    And that is where my trouble began.  I opened the first drawer and there were pictures, lots of pictures, all with no names, dates, and worse of all NO PLACES.  I went to the second drawer.  Same thing.  And the third drawer…again…no identifying information.  And everyone looked the same!!  Grey hair ever so neatly combed, lovely small smile, sparkling eyes.   I panicked….how was I going to tell my story without a picture???  And I couldn’t possibly write the first word of my article until I had overcome this miserable feeling of panic.
    So, I did what I often do in times of crises?  Yelled at myself, cried, threw things.  And then went for a long walk.   And since the weather was a perfect sunny 60 degrees, within one block I had my epiphany: it absolutely did not matter that I could not tell one face from the other…that I had no idea which lovely woman was from which shtetl, because the point of the story was not that one specific woman, but the fact that she existed at all and that we, the organized world Jewish community, had made her life in this, the 21st Century not only possible, but filled with joy.
    And so I went back to my computer and began to type away, telling the story of the amazing Jewish communities of Romania, Hungary, Poland, what was once Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, the Former Soviet Union.  I wrote about how each town has (no matter how teeny tiny that town might be) a cultural center, education programs, Gans, Chesed Avrahams (the JDC version of Jewish Family Service), young leadership programs.  All of the things that make up a Jewish community, even the politics and the grown ups telling the young folks “you can’t do that — we tried it and it didn’t work”  Honest, I heard it for myself from the Young Adult Division of the Warsaw Jewish Community!!!. And while I am on that topic, a Young Adult Division of the Warsaw Jewish Community??  Who would have believed that would ever, ever, ever be possible back a mere twenty years ago?
    And I scanned a picture into the article.  It was a picture of a woman, grey hair ever so neatly combed, lovely small smile, sparkling eyes, and I typed “The Beginning” and hit send.

    Split Personality: Are you different at work vs at home?

    I stood in front of the mirror sweating in a 105 degree Yoga studio. It’s the same spot I stand in everyday but today I noticed something different about this spot. The mirror split my body right down the center. I had stood their countless other times but today for some reason I noticed it and it struck me as odd. I’m not sure if the heat was getting to me or the Buddhist motivation the teacher was dishing out but either way I became very philosophical at that moment. My body was split and I realized that I often feel like two different people.
    My personality like so many others is split between home and work.  Work Donna and Home Donna are complete opposites as my spouse often reminds me. Work Donna is decisive, outgoing, a multitasker, budget conscious, a tireless go-getter and extremely private. Home Donna is quiet, wishy-washy and for lack of a better term often lazy. The two never meet except on a very rare occasion and everyone notices it quickly. My spouse first recognizes the voice. Apparently, work Donna’s voice is much different than home Donna. My co-workers notice it when I’m indecisive or share some personal anecdote from home. Both my colleagues and my spouse are quick to point out when the other half of me shows up in the wrong place for good or bad.
    After doing a bit of research, I’ve found that I’m not alone (phew!)  Many people feel their personalities are completely different at work and home. There seems to be multiple reasons for this phenomenon.  For those people in a high powered or stressful job, they may need to recharge when they get home. The same is true if you are an extrovert at work.  Even the most extroverted people, need some downtime. Sometimes, the reason we get a job or are successful in a career is because of our personality characteristic.  For those of us, that work in a non-profit, we know that multitasking is a trait that has to be honed and sharpened and without it we would fail miserably at our jobs.  We are no longer specialists in one area but a jack-of-all-trades in many. Although there is a lot to do at home, my to-do list is more of a checklist than a barrage of people coming at me with needs and wants.  I recognize I don’t have children and I’m sure every mom reading this is shaking her head.
    Take a test like the Myers Brigg two times, once in the frame of reference as you are at home and once as you are at work.  Take a look at the differences and examine what the differences are and ask yourself are they working for you at this time in your life and career?  If you’re really daring, take it to your colleagues and family and see if they agree with how you see yourself.  There’s a lot to be learned from what each of them say.  
    My goal next week when I stand in front of that mirror in the Yoga studio is to not see a body divided but to see different parts of me that work together to make a better human being.
    Are you different at work and at home?  Let me know in the comments below.

    How to Execute a “Go-Around” When At First You Don’t Succeed

    The wheels went down. There I was, ready for landing. The approach was smooth, on a clear blue North Carolina day.  It was an exhausting long trip, 13 hours since I left Buenos Aires. I was sad, coming back from saying a last goodbye to my beloved mother in law. As we were coming down I was contemplating the familiar landscape, with the uncertainty of how I would cope with this loss in the family, and the unfamiliar sense of emptiness.
    Touchdown was only seconds away. Suddenly the aircraft went from a gentle descent to a rapid and sharp climb. Then we heard a calm and reassuring voice: “Folks, we had to abort our approach and we are making a second attempt. The tower just alerted us that we were coming down too steep. We should be on the ground in about 15 minutes” – the captain said.
    Immediately, my head started spinning, always needing to give meaning to everything. I noticed that the pilot had just made me realize that I was coming down “too steep” with my emotions — I was about to crash with my pain! His calm voice, instead, gave me a new chance to control my emotions and try a new approach.
    Of course, I had to share my story with my husband, and he explained that “the maneuver is called go-around, and it represents a routine safety procedure to keep planes out of trouble. It is a precautionary option”, he said. Just as in our personal lives, sometimes we need to make a decision, execute a safe go-around, and choose wisely before we crash!
    Not an ideal situation, but a go-around is meant to be a preventive measure. For pilots, executing this maneuver is quite straightforward, but it requires making a quick decision and focus 100% on the task at hand. It is intense. They have practiced hundreds of these. They are trained to do it safely.
    In life, like in flying, we don’t always make perfect approaches and landings. But think about it, how often do you even consider the option to go-around, embrace the concept of “let’s start over” or “let’s start fresh”?
    When should we execute a go-around? To me, the answer is anytime we feel uncomfortable with any aspect of what we are saying, thinking, doing or delivering. Yes, it might mean starting over, changing gears, trying something new, telling ourselves a different story. During the go-around you are in control, but the alternative is crashing, and it might take a while to recover if you are lucky.
    My flight back home taught me that no matter how close we are, how familiar the landscape is, how big our emotions are or how quickly we want to be done with something, there is always a go-around option that can put us back on track. The earlier we perform a go-around the better, but it is never too late.

    How to Stand up to Bullies at Work (Even if the Bully is your Boss!)




    Growing up in Israel, I recall standing silently and watching a kid in my class whose skin color was darker, being teased by other kids for being “stinky”. Yes, in Israel, the country where thousands of Jews from all over the world who endured the Holocaust and anti-semitic horror and were called “dirty” “evil” and “pigs”, were now having their grandchildren face a similar feeling of being outcasts in the Promised Land.
    They say that kids can be cruel…but unfortunately, these kids also grow up. Those who don’t learn these critical life lessons later enter the workforce with the same mindset that it is ok to treat others poorly.
    I am not proud of being silent in my early school days but I have learned a great deal about standing up to bullies whenever I meet them, and teach my children to do the same…even if the stakes are high.
    I am inspired by Elie Wiesel who said “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
    So who is a bully? Anyone who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.
    In the workforce, most bullies don’t consider themselves bullies. They may call themselves “very passionate” or “results-oriented at all costs” or “my way or the highway” type managers. In reality they manage by fear, creating a work environment where people have to first look at the boss’s face in the morning, in order to know what kind of day they are about to have…
    Bullies are not just the bosses, they can be our customers too. An outrageously upset customer ready to bite our heads off for a mistake that is out of our control and threaten that if we don’t fix it immediately they will have us fired. They can be our colleagues who send a nasty email and cc the entire office just to humiliate us, or post a comment on Facebook that makes us look bad.
    They can be affluent board members with great intentions but poor people skills and they can also be our employees who hold a grudge over a decision we’ve made and want us to feel their pain in any possible way.
    Let me be clear. Complaining is not the problem (on the contrary: constructive criticism helps us improve our performance). Being results-focused is not the problem either (after all we are a business),  It is how we talk to others and how we release frustration might be the border line to being a bully. Just like we teach our children: if you keep quiet, hoping this will go away by itself or over time, the bullies win!
    So here are a few ideas that you might want to try out, the next time you are facing a situation where you feel you or others have been mistreated by a workplace bully:
    1)  Face your fear. You are not a child anymore and are able to protect yourself and others.  You are stronger than you think and a person of character. Like Viktor Frankl said “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” So the very first thing to do is..choose to act!
    2)  Face the beast. I believe that we should always try first to deal with the situation one on one. Have a chat with the bully and tell him/her how their behavior impacts you or others. Yes..even if that person is your boss. Often times, they are unaware of the impact they have over people. Always use specific behaviors and be detailed. For example “At the meeting yesterday, when you called me a loser in front of everyone — this is a behavior I will not tolerate..and frankly I don’t think you would either…”  or “I thought Sally was deeply hurt when you raised your voice in an unprofessional way and yelled at her for not doing her job right. I must admit to you this behavior made you look as if you are losing control”.
    3)  Focus on resolutions. Find out what are the triggers that make the bully blow off steam and plan a strategy for dealing with them.
    4)  Find resources. Should the above not help, make sure to keep records of the bullying, document time and events and report it to the HR corporate offices.  Most companies will take your complaint very seriously and will deal with the bully immediately. I’ve known luxury hotels who have asked paying customers to leave property because of bad temper or treating their own staff unprofessionally.
    5)  Have compassion. Understand that some bullies were themselves victims of being treated poorly by their own families, environment or previous bosses. If you choose to act from a compassionate place, they might respond back positively.
    6)  Understand that others might simply be mean.They were mean back at school, and they are mean now in the workplace…often times these people are highly insecure about themselves. Praise yourself for seeing through that and appreciate the good foundation and confidence that you received from your own family and upbringing.
    7) Take a deep breath. A really deep breath. All the way down to your core to allow some time     before you act. Be strategic about your plan: two negatives don’t make a positive.
    8) Find another job. If you have tried everything and nothing seems to help (ex. when the owner or founder is the bully and refuses to change), then know that you’ve done your best and there is no reason for you to spend the rest of your career putting up with this. There are plenty other places that would welcome you and treat you professionally.
    Lastly, remember this “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” by Elie Wiesel.
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