Unlocking the 5 Locks that Block Us

June 11, 2013

by Benjamin RapaportSelfDiscovery-fullCover_resized

Scientists and mystics agree that we are each blessed with tremendous potential.

This means that we possess an awesome capacity for developing ourselves. At times, this awareness may be frustrating, knowing that we are so capable yet somehow stuck in a place that does not give us the satisfaction we are seeking.

In order to access our inner treasure, we need to recognize and release the five locks that keep this treasure confined.

Lock 1: Lack of clarity

Despite our natural strengths as our greatest resources, few of us are clear about the nature of the specific strengths that we possess. Considering that they are the paramount tools that we have been given to make our mark in this world, this is tragic. Rabbi Yerucham Levovitz (the spiritual leader of the Mir Yeshiva in Poland (1873-1936), expressed this when he said:

Woe unto he who does not know his weaknesses, but woe and woe unto he who does not know his strengths, for even the tools that he possesses to lift himself up with, he does not know.

Let us then attempt to identify our strengths.

There are four clues that can help us do this:

a) What pulls us? The 11th century Spanish philosopher Rabbi Bahya ibn Paquda (author of Duties of the Heart) taught that we each are blessed with a natural proclivity towards those things that are best suited to us. The Talmud likewise teaches that we should study what we are interested in, that which we desire to learn, because our interests will motivate us, thereby making our learning most successful. We need to tune into what pulls us.

b) What fills us? When we engage in an activity that matches who we are, there is a natural positive feedback loop, an inner feeling of “Yeah! That was great. I want to do that again sometime.” It is the sense of satisfaction that comes from doing a task that involved effort, concentration and some level of challenge. We need to notice which activities provide this kind of satisfaction.

c) What occupies us? When we find some activity that provides a good channel to release our natural resources, it will begin to occupy our minds. We suddenly find ourselves thinking about this activity from different angles, dreaming about it during the workday. Take notice of this because our brains are telling us something.

d) Where are our growth spots? Some activities nurture us better. When we find ourselves catching onto something quickly, deeply engaging in the activity and making adaptations naturally – recognize and embrace it. Areas in which we naturally experience a quicker pace of growth tell us a lot about where our potential lies.

Lock 2: Lack of planning

Without a plan we do not have a target to direct our strengths.  A good plan provides Read the rest of this entry »


Rabbi Benjamin Rapaport’s Speaking Tour

February 26, 2013

SelfDiscovery-fullCover_resizedCheck out The Jewish Art of Self Discovery author Rabbi Benjamin Rapaport’s  speaking tour!

Presentations can include:

• Life Lessons from the Exodus: How to Free Your Mind
and Soul from Limitations this Pesach
• Finding Your Passion and Leaving Egypt
• How to Recognize Your Strengths: Intellectually,
Emotionally, and Spiritually. A Torah Approach
• Seven Ways to Powerfully Enrich the Lives of Others
• Self Discovery and Personal Freedom

Contact Stuart Schnee PR at ami@stuartschnee.com, or 973-796-2753 to schedule an event!


How to Choose a Career

January 15, 2013

by Rabbi Benjamin Rapaport SelfDiscovery-fullCover_resized

Whatever career we choose determines how we spend a large part of our lives. Work that really fits us, that taps into our reservoir of potential and challenges us to become our best, can make all the difference in our quality of life.

It is encouraging to know that the struggle to find a good match between who we are and the work we do is not a new one. Bachye Ibn Pakudei, in his classic work entitled “Duties of the Heart,” written around the year 1040 in Zaragosa, Spain, deals with this issue and offers a brilliant, five-piece framework for finding a career that really fits. Here it is (Duties of the Heart, The Gate of Trust, Ch. 3):

  1. Does it pull you? Just like a cat is drawn to mice, and a hawk is attracted to birds, so too within each of us is a nature and a desire for a particular livelihood.
  2. Does it match your resources? A bird that captures fish possesses a long beak and extended thighs. A lion, that tears apart other animals for food, has powerful teeth and claws. So too, our physiology, and character is more suited for certain types of work than others.
  3. Are you willing to invest? Each profession has its hurdles to overcome, its entering price that needs to be paid before it can be practiced. Medicine requires many years of study. Professional sports require years of serious training. When considering what you want to do, ask yourself if you are willing to pay the price it takes.
  4. Do you have a desire in it? Passion may not always be there, but for you to love your work that level of vitality, of absorption, needs to be there at least some of the time.
  5. Emunah – translated loosely as faith. Keep the faith that once all the above line up and you have committed yourself to whatever path it is, that you will meet with success. Don’t get derailed the first time you get challenged, or even knocked down. Dig deep and stay the course.

If we want the pride of great work, we need to choose our path with these in mind. An easy way to remember these five pieces is Read the rest of this entry »