My Maimonides


Maimonides 1135-1204

Most of us have a mentor, personal coach, counselor, or other person that we get advice or counseling from. If someone doesn’t have such a resource, they need to get one. Maybe several, depending on the type of question at hand. Some you pay for; some you don’t.

My “Maimonides” told me once that everyone wants two things, basically– to be respected, and to be successful. A pretty short list– easy to remember.

Have you ever been provoked by a comment from a friend or close associate and responded with contempt or ridicule? Generally, I am a laid-back, Type B person, but there have been at least three times in the past decade when I have answered in a way that was “less than perfectly phrased.” And when I have, it hasn’t helped me to “Win Friends and Influence People.” At least not in a way that helped the relationship. Better to count to ten, and respond with something like, “Hmm… I wonder what Joe would think…”

Have you ever thought a friend or associate was so off-base in an on-line comment that they made, that has gone to mutual contacts, where you responded with a flaming e-mail? Speaking for myself, I am guilty as charged! And for the few times I have, it still was never a good idea. A face-to-face meeting for 10 minutes would have worked a whole lot better.

First of all, cut yourself some slack– it is perfectly legitimate for you and me to want some respect and success, as it is for anyone else. There are times when it is totally appropriate to stand up for yourself, express some anger, and demand some respect. If we don’t stand up for ourselves, who will? But not with contempt and ridicule, these tools– these rituals– get us in trouble just like the schoolyard bullies that use them. Find a tool– a ritual– that uses respect and success.

Maimonides Memorial Córdoba, Spain

Maimonides Memorial Córdoba, Spain(10)

And while perfection may be our goal, mere excellence is certainly adequate– otherwise, we are all disqualified. We all have our own weirdness(6-9), our own peculiarities, tastes, even our own temperaments and what we put our “faith” in.  But all of us still simply want those two basic things– to be respected, and to be successful.

The next time I am tempted to use sarcasm, or otherwise stick my foot in my mouth, I will endeavor to– 1) pay close attention to the situation, and 2) remind folks that we all want mutual respect and our work together to succeed. If you try the same strategy, I suspect you will find that those occasional challenges in your relationships will go a whole lot smoother, too. And find your “Maimonides.”

More Info:

  1. wiki on the real Maimonides
  2. Maimonides at Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  3. wiki on The Guide for the Perplexed
  4. Online Edition of The Guide for the Perplexed
  5. Downloadable pdf of The Guide for the Perplexed
  6. Seth Godin blog post– We Are All Weird
  7. Seth Godin book– We Are All Weird
  8. Forbes– Being weird is a good thing
  9. Seth Godin Book Review– We Are All Weird
  10. The statue of Maimonides in Córdoba, Spain, is perhaps the only Judaic memorial in all of predominately Islamic Spain. This fact illustrates the degree of respect that he commands amongst the Arabic-speaking world. He wrote most of his works in Arabic, and was perhaps the most prolific writer in Jewish antiquity.

About jayhack2012

I help you find actionable insight.
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