Some Personal Insights
The three pillars
In Jewish rabbinical teaching (they’ve even made a song of it), it says: “Al shlosha devarim ha olam omed,” which in translation means: “The world is built on three pillars.”
Al ha avoda: on work;
Al ha Tora: on the book of rules;
Ve al gemul hasadim: and on acts of kindness to others.
Now let’s try to classify these three pillars in the (PAEI) code.
Work is (P);
the book of rules (Torah) is (A);
and acts of kindness to others would be (I).
What is missing? (E).
One possible explanation that comes to my mind is that we, the Jews, have more than enough (E) already, so there’s no need to make a pillar of it. Anyone else have a theory?
How to solve a chronic problem
During dinner with a friend of mine, the Israeli professor Michael Perry, I was complaining about how difficult it is for me to manage. I love to write and lecture and consult – but not to operationally manage an organization. I told him that I feel like I’m trapped in a prison of my own creation. How strange this is, I mused, because I have dedicated my professional life to free others from the same prison I am in, yet I cannot help myself. He smiled and quoted a book of Jewish wisdom, Pirkey Avot: “Ein Ha asir metir atzmo me asurav,” which is translated as, “No prisoner frees himself of his chains.”
This could be the slogan for psychotherapists and all other healers, no?
We try to free ourselves from our chains and cannot do it. But we can free each other.
This reminds me of an analogy I heard somewhere: What is the difference between hell and heaven?
A man dies and goes to the other world. There he is judged to have committed sins and good deeds in equal measure, and he is told he may visit both hell and heaven and then choose between them. He goes to hell and finds people sitting around a big cauldron trying to eat soup. Each person has a three-feet-long spoon and cannot feed himself. All look hungry and are suffering. He then goes to heaven, where people sit around an identical cauldron with the same soup, and each one is holding the same three-foot-long spoon – but here, they are feeding each other. And guess what? They all look happy.
Chronic problems are like chains. Somehow, we all get entangled in some chains in life, like bad habits, or a self-destructive style. Or we get angry easily because we live in constant fear of rejection, etc.
It is easy to pick up one chain or another in life. Those chains are chronic problem; in spite of continually trying to solve them they are still a reality we face. And most of us feel guilty and disempowered for being chained and not being able to free ourselves. As we are stuck, we deny those chains exist or get very angry if someone points them out to us.
What to do? “No prisoner frees himself of his chains.” Stop living in hell. Get someone else to free you, and then you can free someone else too. The chains you help someone else to escape maybe are the same ones that recently had you hopelessly ensnared…
In my lectures I say that change creates problems. To solve them, we must first decide what to do; and then implement that decision.
Strategic decisions that deal with change need a complementary team to make that decision, and that, by definition, will cause conflict: because different people think differently, we do not process information the same way. To implement a decision, we need all those who are necessary for efficient implementation to share common interests. That also means conflict, because common interest is a rare phenomenon. It is not natural and automatic, and even when it exists, time and change will eventually threaten it.
Now, since change is life (only with death comes the stasis of no change) and change is conflict, it follows that life itself is conflict. And what is conflict? Pain. In other words, get real. Life is pain, an ongoing process that causes pain and pain again.
Watching the movie Princess Bride (which I have watched at least a dozen times because I love it with all my heart), I am always gratified when the farm boy says: “Life is pain, and anybody saying differently is trying to sell you something.”
Peace and legend
During the Jewish High Holidays, I had some insights while reading the prayer book.
There is a relationship between the words and thus the concepts of “holy,” “whole,” and “peace.” Let us start with the Hebrew words.
“Peace” is shalom and “whole” is shalem. Their common root is SHL. And the insight? You are at peace when you are whole. When you are one. When you are not fighting yourself.
Now, in English, “whole” and “holy” seem related. Who is holy? One who is so whole that she is not just at peace with herself, but at peace and whole, or (I)ntegrated, with the world, with space, with God. When a person is fully, totally at peace, he or she is holy. Such people are sometimes said to have an aura around their heads. Why? Because when you are totally at peace, you are not having any “internal marketing,” or what I now call “internal disintegration.” Thus, all your energy is available to be used outside yourself; nothing is wasted inside. So it’s no surprise that such a person outwardly emits energy, and that is the aura people see.
Why is that holy? Because that person can be a healer, by giving his energy to others. Jesus, then, was so much at peace with himself, so whole, and thus holy, that he could heal a child who had died, performing the miracle of bringing him back to life. He gave the child energy.
Here is another insight from the prayer book:
The words in Hebrew for “union” and for “legend” come from the same root: agd. “Union” is agudah and “legend” is agada. My insight: to facilitate a union, to get people to become united is not easy and natural. It requires work which, when done, is material for a legend.
I do not know where I saw this adage, but I instantly loved it. It definitely supports the rule in Adizes methodology of waiting for your turn to speak. Here it is:
Many people think that courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. But courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
That is it for now. I have more short ones like these, but since their source is different, I will keep them for another column.
We are putting all the Insights on our blog – www.adizes.com/blog – so your reactions can be seen and reacted to by others. And personally, I love reading what you think. And please forward these insights to your friends. So far I noticed that only about 500 people read it. I wish we could spread the message further.
Ichak Kalderon Adizes
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