Friday, February 10, 2012

Choose Capable People

Yitro was Moses Father-in-Law and a member of royalty or a well known priest, depending on how you translate the text and understand history. In either case, Yitro was considered a wise and smart man. And so it was he came to visit his family and sees Moses trapped by mounds of red tape, petty arguments and meetings and questions of serious legal matters. I know they are roaming in the desert so how many problems could there be? Ever work in a cubicle farm? You get the idea.

Yitro says to Moses in 18:21:
You shall also seek out from among all the people capable men who fear God, trustworthy men who spurn ill-gotten gain. Set these over them as chiefs of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens
Moses being the good Son-in-Law thinks it over and says that make sense. BUT Moses tweaked that advice a little bit as you can see in 18:25:
Moses chose capable men out of all Israel, and appointed them heads over the people — chiefs of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens;
Yes, you could argue in 18:21 capable men are explained and in 18:25 the term capable men is used simply. But this begs the question of what if such trustworthy men could not be found? Ones who didn't take bribes? Again you may ask yourself, bribes? In the desert? Don't forget they left Egypt with as much money and jewelry and objects as they could carry that they received from their Egyptian owners.

Comparing this to modern politics is too easy so not going to bother. Instead I want to focus on the idea that here was Moses a man, 80 years old, grew up as royalty, run out of town, a speech impediment and one of the last people to speak to God in person according to the Jewish religion and he takes advice from his Father-in-Law who is perhaps either really old or much younger than Moses, a priest of some other religion.

Amazing when you think about it.

And Yitro's advice is good too. Moses was not adverse to learning form others. He posted his times on his tent and the people would come and ask of him to resolve issues. But no one brought him solutions until Yitro. Why didn't Moses think of this and set up a management structure? Because he had founder syndrome. It's his world, his flock, his people so he needs to micromanage them. Or so Moses thought.

So were Aaron and Miriam, Joshua and Caleb just yes-men and yes-woman? Not likely but the aura around the leadership, just like a CEO or similar executive, sometimes prevents people from making suggestions. You could say Yitro, being his Father-in-Law was just giving his 2 cents but you could also see it as Yitro wanted to see Moses, and his family and daughter, have a better life and accomplish more than what he was doing today. Seek out the best people you can fill open roles with and make your every day life that much easier.

When you go work or see a client and think there is a better way, don't be afraid to let them know about it. They will not usually fire you for providing good advice or even bad advice, as long as you don't act on the bad advice.

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Parsha Yitro in the book of Shemot Exodus 18:1 - 20:23

It is said that the Torah or Bible could be interpreted in over 70 ways. More likely these days 100's of ways. In light of this idea, I am writing some posts that bring a business sense to what we can learn on a weekly basis. Enjoy, Shabbat Shalom