Posts tagged " work "

Work So You Can Work

December 6th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 4 comments

You do it.  I do it.  We all do it. We find ways to avoid doing those tasks in our lives that will really make a difference.  They might be unpleasant, hard, boring, perhaps even frightening.  Often, they are the very ones we have to identify and tackle.

There’s the aspiring sales professional who does almost everything except the one task that will make most difference in his life—completing his quota of calls every single day.

There are the parents whose toddler is getting out of control.  The time is overdue to introduce him to the wonderful world of discipline.  They’ve let things go for a bit too long and now every attempt to introduce boundaries and insist on appropriate behavior is met with tantrums.  The parents focus on good nutrition and creative play times—anything in fact, in order to avoid doing the one great task that will make the most difference in their lives and that of their child.

There’s the student who dreams of playing at Carnegie Hall. She needs to sit down, play the same piece repeatedly, and start the cycle again with a more difficult piece.

The Lord’s language has a word for an activity which might be staggeringly difficult to confront but which also might be the single most important assignment for any given moment of our lives.

That word is AVoDaH and one revealing example of its usage is this:

And they (the Egyptians) embittered their (the Israelites) lives with hard work,
with mortar and bricks, and with all
work in the field;
all their
work at which they worked them was with harshness.
(Exodus 1:14)

Every instance of the word ‘work’ in that verse, employs the Hebrew word AVoDaH. It suggests subjugation and servitude and certainly doesn’t sound like a positive word. It actually sounds like something you desperately want to avoid.

Don’t be too quick to jump to that conclusion. Let’s learn another Hebrew word for work – MeLaCHaH. Understanding it will make all the difference.

We find both words for work combined in the Fourth Commandment, instructing us to remember the Sabbath day.

Six days shall you work(AVoDaH) and do all your work (MeLaCHaH)…
Exodus 20:9

Why do we need both words? God is giving us a tremendously significant message. MeLaCHaH is the creative work that transforms our world and uplifts our lives, while AVoDaH is work that lacks that exciting element. Yet we do not get to do MeLaCHaH if we don’t first do our AVoDaH.

Life in Egypt was tough precisely because slaves have only AVoDaH with no possibility of MeLaCHaHIf you have AVoDaH without hope of it leading to anything greater, any form of MeLaCHaH,  it can indeed be an arduous ordeal. But don’t dream that you can enjoy MeLaCHaH without Avodah. Integrating the two types of work makes everything possible.

There is little as exciting as seeing one’s toddler blossom into a responsible youth and thriving adult with whom you share a close relationship. Achieving that requires many hours of consistent and sometimes unpleasant parenting (along with much prayer and blessing).

Making the big sale is thrilling. Hours of application, hard work, disappointment and dedication precede the excitement. Playing to a full house is thrilling, but years of perseverance lead to that moment.

Fortunately, we don’t need to wait years for the fulfillment of MeLaCHaH. Each of our days—and as the Fourth Commandment reveals, our weeks—holds both types of work. However, we do best knowing that the way the world really works, we should tackle the mundane and difficult with zest, for without it we will never achieve MeLaCHaH. We should rejoice in AVoDaH rather than resenting it.

One way to turn the ‘daily grind’ into the ‘daily greatness’ is to get a true appreciation of the nobility, dignity and opportunity of work. Our Income Abundance Set, which includes two best-selling hardcover books and two CD programs, will encourage you to do just that while providing practical direction for increasing your income. (Check out this week’s special sale price.) Turn the struggle to make a living into a thrilling, satisfying and successful quest.

reprinted from January 2013

I Want to Switch Jobs

November 22nd, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 14 comments

Question:

I enjoyed your book Thou Shall Prosper. I am looking for any suggestions regarding the frustrations I am having with getting a job. My degree is in engineering and I have worked several jobs as both a sales engineer and technical support person. I don’t like engineering! My family coaxed me to do engineering. 

I have also owned two businesses in landscape design and supply. Both of which I sold. I recently tried two technical sales support positions and I did not enjoy either one. I enjoy customer support but no longer enjoy the technical side. Any suggestions?

Cori Z.

Answer: 

Dear Cori,

We had to laugh reading your question because, it could have been written by me! (Rabbi Daniel, not Susan) I also went into engineering after being encouraged to do so by my family. I guess they hoped there might be a redeeming economic value to the mischievous and disruptive contraptions I engineered that got me thrown out of several schools.

While I do have an aptitude for engineering, I was miserable working in that field because I was working with things rather than with people.

I had also started and sold a business, in my case a boat-building company. In other words, I feel your pain.

Then I went into sales. And I loved it! Every encounter was another opportunity to get to know another person.  Winning a customer was just another way of helping another human.

It sounds that, like me, you prefer working with people to working with things.  Like me, you have probably also discovered that once you have learned how to sell and are comfortable doing so, it is relatively easy to change what you are selling or for whom you are selling it.

(Both of us again)  Any company should be interested in someone who walks through the door and announces, “I will bring in more sales revenue for less than it will cost you to hire me.”  If you are good at sales, a commission based income is better than a salary. While you may need to start out with much less than you hope to earn, increasing your income is in your own hands.

The important thing is to sell a product or service in which you truly believe and that you are passionate about. We are not saying you should seek only fields for which you have enthusiasm and passion.  We are saying find the right people and product to work with or for and then devote yourself to developing passion for what you are selling.

In this area, we don’t know a better teacher than our dear, departed friend, the late Zig Ziglar, who work is carried on so ably by his son, Tom. Buy their training resources and absorb them into your very bloodstream.

If you are working for a company, you should make sure that you agree with the company’s core values and are confident the relationship will be one of integrity. For us, we began sharing ancient Jewish wisdom, first with Jews who had not been exposed to it and later with Christians who had lost that part of their heritage. That has been our passion for many years now.

We hope you can follow a similar path by finding the intersection of a need that your fellow human beings have and your passion to cater to that need. As a bonus, please be assured that understanding how the physical world works through the lens of engineering will really be useful in other areas of your life.

Finally, we want to suggest gently that for the young person you sound like, the six positions you have already worked at is a few too many. (Unless we’re wrong and you are describing a sixty year career!) Please, commit yourself soon to a job and don’t even consider quitting until you’ve been successful at it. We think that by that time, you will be enjoying it immensely.

Wishing you success,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

I’m Burnt Out

October 13th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 9 comments

Question:

After a few years of over-working and ignoring the warning signs, I may have reached a “burnout” stage. What used to be easy at work is now difficult; the drive I used to have feels like it has been sapped; and I have noticed a negative change in my attitude. 

Does ancient Jewish wisdom provide any useful information for recovering from “burnout” and metaphorically get back in the saddle?

Justin A.

Answer:

Dear Justin,

Congratulations on recognizing that ignoring your warning signs resulted in a small problem growing into a larger one. We hope that your words serve as a warning to others not to turn a blind eye to warning signs. (Then there are those people who magnify a bad stretch and put flashing red lights on normal feelings—the opposite of what you did which leads to a different but equally serious problem.)

Imagine if you had physical symptoms that suggested that you were pre-diabetic. At that point, certain lifestyle changes might keep the symptoms from worsening and a full-fledged case developing. However, once your health was severely compromised, it would be much harder to fix.

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What Fool Am I?

September 1st, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 24 comments

The caller to the radio show made a logical, coherent argument. The host had been extolling the virtue of work, and she countered his words by explaining that he was actually a fool. After all, he got up early every morning to prepare for his show, spent time driving in traffic to the radio station, and then spent a few hours delivering entertaining value so that people would want to listen to his show and companies would want to advertise on it. The next day he repeated his actions, earning a measly few weeks of vacation time each year.

In contrast, she said, she got up whenever she wanted to and, unless she felt like it, did nothing more strenuous than moving to her couch, watching TV, and smoking pot. Taxes taken from his salary, she opined, allowed her to take it easy. She challenged him, “Which of them was making a more intelligent choice?”

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Should my priority be career or marriage?

September 1st, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 3 comments

Question:

I am a Christian and a divorced mother (not by my own choice). I have been divorced for four years and have two teenage children still in the home. I am currently reading your book Thou Shall Prosper and am learning quite a lot that will help me provide better for my family. Although I have a BS degree and am diligently working to expand my career opportunities, my heart’s desire has always been to simply be a wife and mother.

My question is should I be investing a lot of time into furthering a career that I really don’t love, or instead, spend some time and resources seeking opportunities to attract a husband? I feel this idea is discouraged by most but no matter how hard I try I just can’t seem to change my heart’s desire. I am confused as to what would be the wisest and most fulfilling path for me.

Answer:

Dear friend,

While the question you are asking is complicated by the fact that you are divorced with two teenagers, in its most basic form, the work/family dilemma affects most of us. At many stages of life, we need to make choices that we hope will allow us to merge a successful financial life with a successful family life. (more…)

No Work This Monday

July 7th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Got a project that you’re proud of at work? Better hurry up and get it done because all work is soon coming to an end. Machines are taking over; it’s the end of work. Some greet the news with dismay, What will people do with all that leisure? Others eagerly anticipate a world of all play and no work. Some say humans will no longer have to work. Others say humans will no longer get to work. But all agree this major change is on the horizon.

For those of you eager to hear that you can sleep late this Monday morning, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that work is not coming to an end. The good news is the same. This provocative and puerile prediction has been a staple of everyone from foolish social scientists to bogus futurists for a long time. (more…)

My Husband Has Been Out of Work for a Year

April 16th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

My husband was laid off 12 months ago. He has been searching diligently as well as studying fervently in order to get a new job. He recently had an interview for a company that would be the top of the top for his field. 

He did extremely well on the interview, but was told a few days later they would not continue on.  My husband is flabbergasted and devastated. He keeps running over and over the interview trying to find out what he did wrong. I told him maybe God closed the door with this company. He said God doesn’t close doors. My question is two-fold:

  1. How long should he obsess over trying to figure out what he did wrong to not get the job – what would be the better thing for him to do in order to get the most from this?
  2. Does God open and close doors?

I would love to know what ancient Jewish wisdom has to say on this.

Thank you,

∼ Paula

Answer:

Dear Paula,

Ouch. Being out of work for a year is a horribly painful experience for a man. Being married to someone who is out of work for a year is painful as well. We can only imagine your husband’s devastation when it seemed as if there was finally a breakthrough and then he faced disappointment.

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