WTF? Elul????

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Maslow Hierarchy of Needs reference
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This is the beginning of my introspective season.  I have just 30 days until Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year).  This mini-holiday is also the anniversary of my mom’s death and the coming of age of my eldest daughter.  It’s the start of the academic year.  Plenty of reasons to wonder:  Am I where I want to be?  But, the questions I will pose today are ones we all need to examine each and every day….“How much do we really need?”

I’ll give you a hint: we don’t need much. We don’t need a fancy car, we don’t need that fancy house, we don’t need that new smartphone. We don’t need much, when you really get down to it.

Here’s what we do need to live a fantastic life: good food, good shelter (something that feels like home- it doesn’t have to be a mansion), fantastic relationships with people we love, work that sends us to the moon, and, most certainly, a sense of tikun olam (leaving the world a better place than when we arrived.) [Notice the subtitle to my blog and our company website- that’s the definition in vernacular!]

That’s it. We really don’t need anything else.  (We are not talking about wants, right now.)

This past week, the East Coast of the US was subjected to an earthquake (the one right where the powers-that-be said I was nuts when I complained [minor understatement] when they chose that same site for a nuclear power plant) and then Hurricane Irene.  What did you consider protecting?  What were your thoughts at 1:52pm when your building shook?  Many lost their houses, their computers, had no work… all they had was the clothes (or pj’s) on their backs.

If that was you- and it certainly could have been- what you have have left after all that destruction?

Your relationships and you.

Our relationships are vital.  I think they’re the most valuable things we have (besides ourselves). If we lost everything, we’d still have our relatives (real or simulated) and friends to fall back on should we  need a place to stay, or need some help financially. We’d still have valuable contacts in our network to get a job again. (OK, I know the economy sucks and that is easier said than done, but you know what I mean). And, most importantly, they’d be there to provide the love and support that we are going to need- big time!

And, you know what?  Your house was not destroyed (I hope).  The river didn’t just flood you out, nor did the earthquake destroy your belongings.  But your friends and family ARE there to provide you the love and support to nourish your life.

And, even with all the tchotchkes you have, the single most most valuable possession you have is you. You are the best thing you’ve got!  Not that Lincoln MKX, not that executive jet- or whatever other toy you are dreaming to own.

You must insure that YOU are the hero of your own life.  No matter what happens, you have the skills and experience to build yourself back up.  Trust me on that! Even when faced with losses, you can bounce back- as long as we leverage our relationships, our skills, and our experiences.

So, what is the takeaway here?  Act as if we have nothing.  We must insure that we maintain those relationships (not a tweet- a phone call, a visit, a bottle of wine.)  Maximize OUR human capital (now, there’s a REAL return on investment).  Invest in what we really need to maximize the returns on OUR lives.  Ditch the rest- in the end, they don’t provide the return we each seek or need.

Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.

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