Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

Blame Storming Session


Earlier in the year the national weather service indicated that this year’s hurricane season was to be potentially severe, and that prediction has certainly come to fruition. There is also another storm progressing that continues to be quite severe, and always ready to create havoc in our lives. That is hurricane “Blame”. I am not sure if it is a category 5, yet, but it appears to be gaining strength as each day goes by, and the destruction could be devastating. As “Blame” becomes stronger, and the role of personal accountability becomes less and less of a barometer in evaluating the health of our society, the need for social values and principles deteriorate into irrelevancy. Eventually our society has the potential to capsize. We have already seen the destructive nature of “Blame” in our schools, corporations, government and more. Why do we need honesty and integrity when it is someone else’s fault for our failings? We don’t! “It was my dysfunctional family.” “I did not have an adequate role model growing up.” “These are reasons I had to lie.” Really? Why are manners and respectful behavior necessary when it is the fault of the Internet, television and peer pressure for a child’s misbehavior, and not the child themselves? Why do we need to be fiscally responsible with our own finances when we can fault the government for being irresponsible with the nation’s finances? Why do we need to be professionally responsible for our work performance when it is my manager’s fault for not listening to me? Why do we need to be personally responsible in our daily lives when it is the fault of society and the media for sensationalizing totally irresponsible behavior? The way the winds of thought are blowing presently, if I falter, there must be something or someone I can blame. Excuses are the hidden undercurrents that fuel the storm.

Every time we blame, whine and/or complain what do we give up? We relinquish control. We give control to some other entity. How could you possibly be content and fulfilled when you believe it is up to someone or something else to be responsible for your life? Wait just a minute, isn’t it someone else’s responsibility, my place of work, the government, my place of worship, my community, society, to make me happy and fulfilled? Granted, they all may play a role, but the reality is that you and I, from the moment we wake up in the morning, to the time we put our heads on that pillow at night, it is our choices and our decisions every day that structure what we become, and eventually determine how happy we are. It is the personal example we set everyday by our actions, and taking personal responsibility for those actions that determine how easily we get caught in the hurricane’s path. Once again, those choices and decisions stem from an understanding of what it is we stand for and believe, i.e. our core values. The resulting consequences from just whining about hurricane “Blame”, and not taking the actions to prepare for and minimize its impact, will be disastrous.

As mentioned in previous discussions, we set an example everyday to those around us. I encourage everyone who may read this column to no longer put up with the whiners, blamers and excuse makers. That we hold strong to becoming “No Excuse!” people and understand that we set an example of personal accountability to ourselves, our children and those we influence. We cannot let hurricane “Blame” get the best of us.

Earning Success In The Kitchen


Several years ago, upon returning home from a week of sharing the “No Excuse” message, Noni, my beautiful wife of many years, quickly introduced me to a realty check. During the course of that week, I guess I had become quite enamored with my apparent excellent speaking abilities, the response, praise and appreciation from my audiences, and of course the added ego boost of signing copies of my book for the adoring crowds. As a result, I intrinsically developed a small attitude, which revolved around the belief that I was quite “the man”. As I walked into the kitchen of my home, our dog, Adidas, hurried to greet me with that unconditional love only a dog can display. However, her instincts kicked in, as she sensed something was not quite copasetic. Her unconditional encounter with me was quite brief and she scurried away, as my wife approached. My wife, having a somewhat different set of instincts, but still extremely effective, also sensed that something was amiss. Cognitive of the attitude, she understood the potential for subsequent destructive behaviors that might follow as a result of my “the man” mindset. Seeing me with my head a little bigger than the width of the door, and causing her to be somewhat miffed, Noni immediately notified me of her excellent awareness of my “the man” attitude by stating, “Honey, just remember one thing, just because you’re a hero at work, doesn’t mean you’re automatically a hero at home.” As my inflated ego exploded like the famous zeppelin, Hindenburg, I was quickly brought down to earth with that powerful, candid, and quite unnerving statement.

The truth is, Noni is correct. Each and every day we are out there in the working world earning it. We are earning our reputation, our income, our status in the community, our attainment of success, our sense of belonging, and our sense of self. The point is, when we walk through the front doors of our home at night, guess what, we have to earn it there also. If we want to receive the same recognition at home as we do at work, we are going to have to earn it. Isn’t it amazing how we can be “all that and a bag of chips” for people we do not even know, and then go home and not nearly be as considerate to the people who love us? How does that work? I have been there and done that.

There have been many times where I have been more patient, respectful, kind, considerate, professional, and empathetic to my clients and even people I do not know, then I have been to my own family when I have returned home. This is a destructive behavior that I have corrected, and continue to remind myself of, as the days, weeks, months and years go by. The primary reason for that constant reflection is, when all is said and done who truly defines whether or not you have been successful? I can assure you that it will not necessarily be my clients, and the people who I do not know; but rather my wife, my children, my friends and those who love me. They are the ones who truly know the character of the person standing in the kitchen.

One of my favorite quotes is, “You teach best in life what you want to learn the most.” If you love something in life, one of your greatest joys is to share it with others. I have always had a passion for life and a deep interest in what brings success and happiness to people’s lives. As I have grown in my life and my profession, I have come to realize the many successes I have had, and yet more importantly, the many mistakes I have made. As a result, my greatest joy is to share with others what I have learned from those mistakes, and give credit to those who have supported me in the successes. My experiences have taught me that the result of any endeavor is usually equal to the efforts put in to it. Efforts dedicated to the earning of our resulting successes at work should be as important as the efforts dedicated to the earning of our successful family life at home. Have fun in the kitchen.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

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