Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Making Gratitude a Habit

As we approach Thanksgiving, it's time to think about, besides turkey, giving thanks. Although this is a special time for thanks, gratitude is something that should be a part of our everyday life. During the Friday night service last week, our Rabbi, Debra Orenstein, spoke about how to make gratitude a habit. One way that she suggested was to break your routine, which allows you to look at things in a different way. One example was traveling to another country -- it's so wonderful to be there, but once you get home how very wonderful your own bed, and familiar food, and familiar language is (check my blogs on visiting Japan to see how that works!) A closer to home example was to take a different route to work, giving you the opportunity to notice what is around you.

I work from my home office, which makes it hard to take a different route to work. However, most mornings, as I finish breakfast and go up to my second floor office, Charley, my two-year old rescue cat, follows me. He sits at the bottom of the stairs leading to my third floor bedroom and waits for me to notice (if I don't, he'll let out a small meow). At that point I'm expected to follow him upstairs, with him stopping to turn and look to make sure I'm behind him. Several head skritches and tummy rubs later, Charley's ready for his morning nap and I'm ready to go back to my computer. A chance to think about gratitude? Absolutely!

So, how are you going to make gratitude a habit?

Monday, November 15, 2010

R E S P E C T -- It's Not Just a Song

"R E S P E C T -- find out what it means to me," sang Aretha Franklin. The dictionary definition of respect is: to hold in high or special regard. Respect isn't something you just get, it's something you have to earn. And it is one of the most important aspects of your business. While it can be very hard to earn respect, it is very easy to lose it.

In Hebrew, gossip is called Lashon Hara, which is translated as "the evil tongue". A story tells about a Rabbi chiding a woman for spreading a tale about someone. He tells her to get a feather pillow, bring it to the town square, and then rip it open. Of course the wind blows the feathers all over. The Rabbi then tells the woman to gather up the feathers and remake the pillow. She tells him she can't, as the feathers have scattered and are impossible to collect. The Rabbi explains that is what happened with the tale she told, she can never "undo" what she said because the story scattered like the feathers. The same thing is true regarding respect -- once you do something that hurts your reputation, you can't easily undo it.

Recently a Washington Post sports columnist found out how easy it is to lose credibility and respect. The full story is here, in a column by the Post's ombudsman, Andrew Alexander. Here's a quick summary. Columnist Mike Wise discussed on his radio show that he was going to post a tweet with false news to see if it would be picked up without being fact-checked. He did and it was. The management at the Post was horrified and suspended Wise for a month. He apologized profusely and accepted the punishment. Some of his readers and listeners felt the punishment was too severe, after all this was just social media, not the newspaper. The end of the article explains it all. Alexander wrote, "But at its core, what Wise did isn't about social media. It's about fabrication, which is indefensible, even if done in jest. Our business is truth. A journalist's falsehood on Twitter is the same as a falsehood in the paper. . . . In his radio apology announcing his own suspension, Wise said 'Integrity, being right before being first, is the only thing genuine journalists have left in this world.' He correctly added that his own 'stupid, irresponsible experiment' had 'cost me a chunk of my own credibility.' And The Post's."

So remember, RESPECT is not just a song, it's a word to live by. Make sure you earn it and then don't do anything to lose it. Our methods of communications may be modern, but old-fashioned values like respect and credibility never go out of style.

[Yes, it's been a while since I've blogged, long story. In short, I thought I was switching to Word Press. It didn't happen. It's good to be back.]