January 7, 2019, Israel
יֵלְכוּ מֵחַיִל אֶל חָיִל יֵרָאֶה אֶל אֱלֹהִים בְּצִיּוֹן
תהלים פד, ח
"They go from strength to strength, everyone of them appears before God in Zion,"(Psalms, 84, 8)
Working on his strengths, King Ralph.
When wishing someone success, Jews will often say, You should go from strength to strength. This is based upon the verse from the book of Psalms which is referring to those going up to the Temple in Mount Zion (tragically occupied these days by a Muslim mosque), one group should greet another. The Hebrew word used here is Hayil, which means strength, but it also means a military force, or a large gathering of people. Thus in the original context I believe it means those going up to Mt Zion should form a large group and should meet other large groups. It is a blessing that there should be many pilgrims to Jerusalem.
Rabbi David Altschuler of Germany (1753) writes, "There should be so many pilgrims that each group should meet many other groups, all wanting to see God in Zion".
This phrase has taken on additional meanings and interpretations and has become part of our daily lives. You should go from strength to strength; you should go from one success to another, from one great achievement to another.
When I was teaching kids classes in Israel but was no longer able to be here on a steady basis as IKI was taking off and I was touring abroad a great deal, I was advised by a rabbi to let go of the kids groups. Over the years the groups were getting smaller as I was devoting more and more of my time to international obligations. The rabbi said, leave when it is still a success. Do not wait for the group to dwindle to nothing. Do not leave a job on a low note, leave when things are going well. Go from strength to strength.
This is similar to the business advice; it is easier to find a job when you are still employed and doing well. Seek another position while you still hold a good position. Go from strength to strength. Never negotiate from a position of weakness.
Never wait for a business to run its course, leave when the going is good. A ball player who is beginning to feel the aches and pains of the game, sees his batting average going down, this is the time to leave and find something else. Leave while you are still strong, still hitting 300, do not leave the game as a "has been". Go from strength to strength.
But there is more here. We can find wisdom in the common. In the film "King Ralph", John Goodman puts in an amazing performance as the new American king of England. However he knows nothing of English culture and custom and makes a bungling mess of everything.
He causes great harm to international business relationships and decides to quit. However, before he goes, he does something amazing. He goes from strength to strength, and herein lies a great lesson.
He apologizes to the people for failing them and causing economic harm, however, there was one world leader that he managed to connect with on a personal level, even though everything he did was "politically incorrect".
He hit it off with the black king of an certain African nation. During his departure speech he tells the people that he placed some phone calls to his friend in Africa. They set up some joint business ventures, cars will be produced, jobs for English people will be provided. King Ralph is leaving on a high note, he is going from Strength to Strength.
There is a business application here: Do not waste time chasing bad clients or business partners. They will drain you and whatever little profit will come from it will cost you dearly in mental health. Instead focus on the strong clients and partners. Focus on those who really want you. You are invited for a seminar, build on it, invest in this relationship. Rather then allow yourself to be trained by negotiations that are going nowhere, go from strength to strength, work with those who really want your product.
There is a Krav Maga application here as well. We believe self defense is for everyone. We do not view it as a sport, as a art, but as a means of survival. As such, no matter how simple we make it, there will be those who will be unable to fulfill the entire "curriculum of Krav Maga". Some techniques will simply be out of their range due to physical limitations, lack of coordination, or learning challenges. So what do we do?
We go from strength to strength. We work on our strengths. We do not make them practice techniques that they simply cannot master, we focus on their strengths. We take whatever they can do and we apply those techniques as much as possible, even if we have better techniques for those situations. That means if they can do something well, we will take that and use it as much as possible, even if we have a more preferred technique for a certain situation. We work on their strengths and not on their weakness.
This has a double positive effect: They are using what they can do well. It may not be the perfect technique for a given situation but it is the one they can do best in this circumstance. Second, by doing a technique well it increases their confidence. This added confidence will allow them to do better, to succeed.
If we focus on the "curriculum" and force them to do techniques which they simply cannot do, we are training them for failure. We are making them feel like failures, like losers. Either they will quit training altogether, or they will stick with but feel like losers.
If we drop what they cannot do, and find an alternative, though less than perfect, but one that they can handle, they will feel more confident. Confidence translates into success.
We must train our students to go from strength to strength, as great grandfather David (King David) wrote so many years ago, a great lesson from an old book.
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