Struggle

We often romanticize the idea of struggling. We believe that some struggle on the way to achieving any desired outcome is somehow noble or part of how our character is forged.

But to see anyone, especially a loved one, truly struggle, is heart wrenching.  When I say truly struggle, I mean in the strict definition of the word, “to make strenuous or violent efforts in the face of difficulties or opposition.”    …


Heroic

She drove almost 2,000 miles from Pennsylvania to Texas to deliver a truckload of eggs.  On the way back, her freight was 29,000 pounds of berries – among whose final destinations was a Philadelphia hospital.

On a normal week my sister’s driving comes with its own set of risks. She has lupus and being in a truck is not especially good for her health – even though she does split the driving with her husband.…


Essential

It is early, but my frontrunner for word of the year is “essential.”  We’ve heard it often lately in the context of “essential businesses.” But when life comes in a stripped down version it causes us all to re-evaluate what is essential for our own lives and what are the essential roles we play in the lives of others.

Two of my nephews work at a food distribution center and my sister hauls food across the country in an eighteen wheel truck. 


First Day Back

For many, today will be their first day back to work after a long holiday break. Perhaps you traveled, spent time with family, enjoyed some much needed rest and relaxation.

The tendency might be to rush back into work, making up for lost time by sending out a flurry of emails, reminding people of what they owe you, requesting meetings, and trying to get everything “back on track.”…


A Labor, then Love

In 1894, Labor Day became an official federal holiday.

The year before a different kind of labor inspired a 26-year-old nurse to become one of the most important social reformers the country has ever known.

Lillian Wald was teaching a homemaking class on the Lower East Side when a little girl burst in begging for someone to help her dying mother.  She had struggled in labor before giving birth but was now badly hemorrhaging blood.…


Do You Suffer from ERI?

If you’re like me, until recently you never even heard of ERI, let alone know if you suffer from it.

The term, coined by Johannes Siegrist, senior professor at the University of Dusseldorf, stands for Effort/Reward Imbalance.

The idea is that we all make a mental calculation when it comes to work. How does what I’m putting in compare to what I’m getting out of it?


You Can Do Hard Things

This is a phrase my wife has recently used several times with our children. When I first heard it, it immediately struck a chord.
 
As a child, most things seem a little hard at first – tying your shoes, getting your own breakfast, reading a book, riding a bike.
 
It is by only by doing these things ourselves, that we eventually master them and what at first seemed hard eventually becomes second nature.…


Check Your Shoes

When you are born on the bottom rung and now stand near the top, you ask,“How did I end up here?”

When you grow up in trailer parks and now live in a beautiful home, you wonder, “How did I end up here?”

When no one in your family went to college and you now teach at one, “How did I end up here?”
 
The typical answer to these questions is “Hard work.”

The Future of Work

This July 4th most Americans will have a vacation day – one “free” from work. But how free or independent does your work normally make you feel?

Technology was intended to be the great liberator – transforming our lives and ushering in the 15-hour workweek.  I’m not there yet are you?

The number of people working in blue-collar jobs has decreased since 1970 from 31% to less that 14% today. …


Great Jobs

Consider the following:

When we talk about our relationship with work, we often focus on our own satisfaction, work/life balance or lack of meaning in our jobs. In other words we talk about our unhealthy relationship with our own work.…


Why Do Racehorses Wear Blinders?

This is the question posed by legendary music producer Jimmy Iovine during the spectacular HBO docu-series, The Defiant Ones, chronicling the parallel journeys of his life and Dr. Dre’s and how together they made music history.
 
His answer to this question is “focus”.  Without blinders horses would look to their left and right distracting them from their pursuit of victory.
 
This six hours series is a testament to how focus and hard work can help overcome extraordinary life challenges.

A Present from Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Bill Belichick

One wears a hoodie and the other a robe. One rules from the bench, the other from the sideline.  But their success, in part, comes from a similar gift.

Recounting the challenges of attending law school as a wife and new mom, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made a bold declaration that it was only possible because of her ability to compartmentalize. In the morning before school she was strictly a wife and mom. …


Can You Do This Math?

Last week, Seth Godin wrote, “The difference between who you are now and who you were five years ago is largely due to how you’ve spent your time along the way.”
 
Serendipitously that same day, I watched, The Man Who Knew Infinity – a true story based on mathematicians trying to understand the world by discovering life’s underlying equations.  
 
With Seth’s words in mind, this amateur mathematician tried to develop a simple equation to capture how we become who we are.…


What Is The Soundtrack Of Your Life?

Music is seminal to our lives. From our first lullaby to our wedding dance to whatever dirge they may play at our funeral, songs mark both our most important moments and hum in the background of our daily lives.
 
(As I write this now, music ripples through my ear buds playing Springsteen’s Streets of Philadelphia – which perhaps subconsciously led to the inclusion of the funeral reference above).

Maybe You Could Be President Someday…

This phrase has probably been uttered to hundreds of millions of American children over our country’s 240 year history.

Yet during that time only 44 people have actually held that job.

It is no wonder that when we tell the stories of our Presidents we marvel at the individual efforts and the hard work that must have been required to ascend to our highest office. Yet consider how many other factors, like these, had to fall in place when you hear their extraordinary individual tales:

Money helps.…


Can You Feel The Wind At Your Back?

According to research from Shai Davidai and Thomas Gilovich, probablynot nearly as much as you can feel it in your face.
 
In one classroom exercise, Davidai asks students to google images for headwinds and tailwinds. For headwinds, there is a whole host of images of people being blown backwards and destroyed umbrellas.  For tailwinds, not so much (other than the occasional aeronautics diagram of planes.)
 
Images of headwinds are more available to us not just online but in our own minds.