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How to Achieve a High Holiday Breakthrough

September 23, 2014 | by Rabbi Shraga Simmons

You are the CEO of your life. It’s time to start acting like it.

Every human being possesses unlimited potential for greatness and a unique ability to impact the world for good.

So why isn’t life a constantly pulsating, runaway success?

Because to some extent we don't take life seriously. We get distracted, lulled into a game of how many Facebook likes and retweets we score.

Taking life seriously means justifying each moment on Earth.

Brand CEO

In today's social media world, our posts paint a self-portrait. Our lives are broadcast for everyone to see – how we spend our time, what arouses our attention, and what values we hold dear.

As such, each of us represents a unique "brand."

The CEO of your brand is, naturally, you.

As CEO, you have bottom-line responsibility for your life.

It starts with defining your unique purpose and contribution to humanity. You can do this by asking key questions:

• What is my unique skill set and circumstances?
• What are my core values?
• What fuels my passion?
• At the end of my life, how will this all add up?

Once you've determined a unique mission and goal, the next step is to devise a strategic plan to achieve that goal incrementally over a lifetime.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Because until you accept full  responsibility as CEO, the idea of a life mission remains theoretical.

No Blaming, No Excuses

When I was a kid, my dream was to become Vice President of the United States – second-in-command.

Why didn’t I dream of becoming President?

Rabbi Weinberg always said: "When I’m gone, you'll grow up."

There's a certain comfort in knowing that "the buck doesn't stop here." It's easier to let others make the difficult decisions. Plus our egos crave approval and we don't want to stick our necks out.

So we avoid taking full responsibility.

Rabbi Noah Weinberg zt"l, the founder of Aish HaTorah, always said: "When I’m gone, you'll grow up."

Growing up means abandoning self-soothing behaviors we use to avoid taking full responsibility:

Making excuses as a way to "justify" our shortcomings, for example: "I'm too fill in blank" (tired, hungry, old, young, slow, poor, etc.)


Blaming others with recriminations, and claiming to be a victim of fill in blank (circumstances, imperfect parents, bad luck, etc.).

To the extent that we make excuses and blame others, is the extent we relinquish the power of our choices to create our reality. This has serious consequences, in that "not taking responsibility" means we have abrogated some of life's most important decisions.

In settling for comfort, that's the price we pay.

6 Life Essentials

During the High Holidays we are "judged" for another year of life, determining what resources, strengths and limitations our year will entail.

In other words, the New Year begins with zero-based budgeting, affording us no presumptive status.

On Rosh Hashanah, we stand before God – the Big CEO – and present a convincing case that we are serious about taking responsibility for our own life.

When the shofar blows, it's an auspicious time to gain clarity on these life essentials:

  1. Prioritize: I have defined my mission and set clear, achievable goals.
  2. Focus: I am grounded, organized and free of distractions.
  3. Discipline: I maximize use of my time, to consistently act toward my goal.
  4. Objectivity: I have a system to ensure that my actions are straight, balanced and free of bias.
  5. Patience: I take pleasure in my achievements, calm in the knowledge that everything is a process.
  6. Integrity: Perhaps most important of all, I live with the credo that no gain is worthwhile if it comes at the expense of my core values.

The High Holidays are the time to push out of our comfort zones, to stand up and declare: "I accept full responsibility for my life." Shana tova.

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