The Spitzer Center Helps Catholic Organizations Develop Three Essential Strengths

  1. The Ideal Culture. We show leaders how to measure and build their organization’s culture to create an environment marked by trust, a strong desire to contribute, and high achievement….Learn More >
  2. Practical Spirituality. We help organizations to integrate the work life and spiritual life of their people, making faith and the grace that flows from faith a practical source of unity and strength….Learn More >
  3. Confidence in the Faith. We build confidence and morale by demonstrating the harmony of faith and reason, and give people the tools they need to respond to contemporary denials of belief….Learn More >

 

“I give up, Lord. You take care of it.”

By Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D.
 

“I give up, Lord. You take care of it.” Sometimes life gets out of control. No matter how hard we try to obviate freefall or to figure ourselves out, life’s circumstances seem to get the better of us.
 
It is at these moments that I recommend the above prayer, which I have put to great use throughout my life. I recall my discovery of this prayer in Rome back in 1980. I had been sent to the Gregorian University to take all of my theology classes in Italian. I went to Italy two months early without any background in Italian to attain “fluency”.
 
Read More
 
 

I Don't Have Any Friends at Work

By Jim Berlucchi, M.T.S.
 
Q: I’ve been at my job for a few months now, and I haven’t made any friends yet. I feel like no one cares about me as a person. How can I make connections with people and turn my co-workers into friends?

A. It’s good that you want to feel connected to people at work. But, at the same time, be realistic about the nature of work and the nature of friendship.

Work is a place where we get things done, where we join our talents and efforts with other people to accomplish things — to produce goods or services. And we get paid to do so.
Read More
 

Am I Listening to God or the Other Guy? Three Rules for Discerning Spirits

 By Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D.
 
We make decisions every day that require good judgment and prudence, but some decisions are simply too large to be left to our judgment alone. Important life decisions – choices that set our direction in life – require spiritual discernment as well as prudence. The choice in question may involve a career path or a vocation; the person you marry or the role models you emulate; your daily habits or prayer life; or the principles and virtues you follow and practice. All of these choices affect our journey with God, and discernment is essential to ensure we are living the prayer,“Thy will be done.”

This raises the question, how do we know we are listening to God and doing His will?
 
Read More
 
 
 

How Can I Avoid Forced Overtime?

By Jim Berlucchi, M.T.S.
 
Q: I am regularly working more than 50 hours per week, even though I’m only supposed to be working 40. I don’t really care about the extra money – I’d rather have the time. Is there a way for me to avoid this forced overtime without losing my job?

A. Well, it’s nice to be wanted. And overtime is much better than undertime or no time at all. Because there are so many variables in every particular workplace, it’s hard to answer your question. But you imply that your job is at risk if you don’t take the hours. Which implies that overtime is mandatory.
 
Read More
 

The Cure for Superficial Faith

 By Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D.
 
It’s impossible to know God and to love God if you’re not really sure He exists. This radical uncertainty is a problem for many Catholics, and our culture often makes the problem worse by belittling faith as unscientific.  The result can be a faith so weakened by doubt it becomes “Pascalian” – a mere wager that God is real, as opposed to a deep conviction that He is at work in our lives.  I’ve discussed the risks that arise when faith gets stuck at this superficial level. Faith rooted in shallow soil bears little fruit.

So how does one get beyond superficial faith to build a real relationship with God? I think that there are three blocks that have to be removed to make way for spiritual growth.
 
Read More
 
 
 

Sick Day

 By Jim Berlucchi
 
I can hardly drag myself into work some mornings – is it OK for me to use sick time to take a ‘mental health’ day?

Unless your employer allows a creative interpretation of sick time – I’m sick of my job, my boss makes me sick, I’m sicking my dog on my co-worker – it’s not OK to skip work for mental health purposes. Lord knows, if that were the case, the no- show rate would be 50%.

The phenomenon of dragging oneself to work is not uncommon. Work is not a curse, but sometimes it feels like it. In fact work is a blessing. But the consequence of the fall made labor arduous, with sweat, toil, thorns, and thistles (Genesis 3).Read More
 

10 Short, Spontaneous Prayers That Really Work

 Adapted from Five Pillars of the Spiritual Life, By Fr. Robert Spitzer
 
Spontaneous prayers are short and effective vehicles for grace in daily life. They allow grace to come into our lives precisely at the moment we really need it with prayers that we can easily remember.  What follows are a number of spontaneous prayers that have been very important in my life.
 
1. “Help!”
 
Never underestimate for a moment how much God wants to hear that prayer. We often forget because we think it’s too easy or that God wouldn’t respond to something so simple. But Jesus taught us to call god Abba – my affectionate, caring father, or more colloquially, “Daddy.” He responds to our cries for help, just like parents respond to their children.
 
Read More
 

The Secret of All Progress

 By Jim Berlucchi
 

 
“The rest of you boys…thanks for trying out and enjoy the rest of your summer.” The broad-shouldered football coach was a kind man. He was giving us few stragglers the bad news. And it was official. We didn’t make the Immaculate Heart of Mary 5th grade football team. We could turn in our shoulder pads and go home.
 
I lowered my head, got on my bike and surveyed the 40 or so guys still practicing. Rats. I had really counted on making the team. But before I got home an idea occurred to me. Why not show up tomorrow for practice anyway?
 
Read More
 
 

The Web Conference from Hell

The following article is a popular reprint penned by the Spitzer Center’s inaugural editor, John Keenan.
 
 

Seven years ago, in the aftermath of a major corporate merger, I was asked to update a large, well-trafficked website. I had created the site and led the team that used it to communicate with employees. The bright software engineer who took two months to build the first version wasn’t available. Instead, I was given a small brigade of in-house IT professionals led by a suave and dapper Brit I’ll refer to as “Geoffrey.”

 
 

How should I prepare for a skype interview?

 
I have a job interview coming up on Skype. What are some tips for interviewing well in this medium?
 
1.   Pick an attractive and dignified setting. Find your best available room and make sure it’s visually appealing with nice lighting and background. It should look professional.

2.   Keep it quiet. Make absolutely sure there are no distracting sounds like barking dogs or auto traffic (unless you’re applying to the Humane Society or an auto dealership).
 
 

Hollywood's Greatest Tribute to Level 3

 
The following article is a popular reprint penned by the Spitzer Center’s inaugural editor, John Keenan.
 
When I was a kid, my siblings and I found it fashionable to mock It’s a Wonderful Life and regard it as one of those holiday chestnuts that TV stations roasted to death every Christmas. The running joke was that after Thanksgiving, the movie took over the tube and held it hostage. “Are there any movies on tonight besides It’s a Wonderful Life?” we’d ask each other.

I have to admit, as I got older the film really grew on me, so much so that I bought my own copy and made it a family tradition to watch it every season. I am not ashamed to admit that there are scenes I still can’t get through without moist eyes.
 
Read More

 

The Comparison Game - On Display at an Airport Near You

By Mike Christie
 If you’ve been through an airport recently, chances are you’ve seen a real-world display of the “Comparison Game”—that quicksand of Level Two ego-comparative competition. In fact, it seems the airlines have carefully engineered marketing programs that set up a Comparison Game competition every time they board a flight. Just imagine the familiar scene at the boarding area of a commercial flight.

As departure time nears, the seats at the gate are full, and many people are standing in the aisles. The gate agent speaks, “Folks, this will serve as your pre-board announcement. Please take a moment to locate the zone on your boarding pass.  Please remain seated until your zone is called. We’ll begin with our first-class cabin, then our premium flyers, followed by general boarding.”
 
Read More

 

The Biggest Barrier to Ultimate Happiness

By Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J. , Ph.D.
 
Happiness is the fulfillment of a desire, which is why the things we desire most in life define the happiness we pursue. When I talk about the Four Levels of Happiness®, people “get” the first three because nearly everyone has experienced them personally.

We certainly understand the immediate gratification of pleasure (Level 1), and we relish the ego boost that comes from winning, receiving praise, or feeling superior (Level 2). We also appreciate the deep and enduring satisfaction we get when we’ve made a real contribution to others around us (Level 3). But people often draw a blank when I talk about Level 4 happiness, or the transcendent joy that flows from sensing the truth, the beauty, the goodness, and love of God.
 
Read More

 

My Employee Can't Make a Decision

 
Q: WE RECENTLY HIRED someone who came highly recommended, but he seems unable to make a decision without asking me about every little detail. He seems to doubt himself and his abilities. How do I encourage my new employee?
 
A: Take stock in four factors and act accordingly.
 
1. Competence. Does he have the skills needed to fulfill his job requirements? He may have come highly recommended, but that doesn’t mean he has what it takes. Does he need training or mentoring in this new job? Has he had sufficient orientation? Has he demonstrated the needed competencies in past employment? Without competence, he can’t succeed. “In every thing a prudent man acts with knowledge.” (Proverbs 13:16)
 
Read More

 

The Perils of Making Managers Play the "Comparison Game" at Review Time

 

The following article is a popular reprint penned by the Spitzer Center’s inaugural editor, John Keenan.

Is it possible for a single, apparently sensible business decision to crush morale and poison relationships throughout an organization? I saw something along these lines occur in a company where I once worked, in the wake of an edict driven by Finance and ratified by HR. The company wanted tighter control of the budget allotted for salaries, and they sought to achieve this through tighter control of performance evaluations.
 
Read More
 

Should I look for a NEW JOB?

 
Q: Should I look for a NEW JOB? Am I still in the right job? How can I discern when it’s time to move on?
 
A: Try this checklist. Sprinkled with Scripture.
 
Set the stage
 
• Seize this thought: The Lord has perfect plans and timing for my job. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer 29:11)
 
• Reaffirm your resolve and excitement to do his will. “I delight to do your will O my God; your law is within my heart.” (Ps 40:8)
 
Read More
 
 
 

Seeing the Best in Others

The following article is a popular reprint penned by the Spitzer Center’s inaugural editor, John Keenan.
 
One of the things I valued about the Journey to Excellence program is that it offered me something akin to an MRI for my own behavior and those around me. Patterns I hadn’t diagnosed before became clear to me, revealing more often than not the disorders common to Level 2 guys in a Level 2 world.
 
My relationship with “Sam” was one such disorder. The two of us sat on the leadership team of an organization that numbered 3,000 people. It’s hard to remember how we started to get along so poorly, but once the pattern emerged it fed on itself for several years.
 
Read More

 

Lackluster Coworker

By Jim Berlucchi, M.T.S.
 
My coworker has been diagnosed with a nebulous-sounding ailment that seems to involve her taking a lot of time off and having a lot of extra breaks. I have been picking up a lot of the slack for the work she isn’t performing. How long is it reasonable for me to be doing one-and-a-half jobs for the price of one? Shouldn’t management be replacing her, or getting extra help?

You’ve already answered your own question. You’re unconvinced that her sickness is legit. You’re vexed with her underperformance. You’re tired of picking up the slack. And you’re frustrated with management’s response. Other than that, it sounds like you’re happy as a clam.
 
Read More

 

The Four Indispensible Tools

By Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J. , Ph.D.
 
The four cardinal virtues aren’t names for a bird, or a baseball team, or the men who elect the Pope.  The word “cardinal” comes from the Latin word, cardo, which means hinge.  So the cardinal virtues literally mean those virtues on which all moral behavior depends.  Practicing the four cardinal virtues:  prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude (courage) make it easier to do the right thing consistently.  Conversely, without them, it makes doing the right thing difficult.

When these virtues are directed at Love and placed in the service of others, they provide the essential means for living an ethical Level 3 life.  The virtues form our character, and character matters because it becomes our destiny.  We see the necessity of character play out in media reports of famous people whose virtue waned leading to bad decisions.  The focus on an athlete’s or famous person’s character indirectly challenges everyone, especially leaders, to take a look at our own practice of virtue so that we can lead well. 
 
Read More

 

Handling Employee Theft

By Jim Berlucchi, M.T.S.
 
One of the employees I manage stole some office supplies from the company. I talked to him about it, and he returned them. I don’t want to get him fired, but am I obligated to fill out an official report?

You handled the first step well. But your question reveals three points of confusion.

First, you acknowledge that he returned the supplies. What else would he do? Offer to split the booty with you? Be not confused about his character. He stole and it’s probably not the first time. Is this the kind of person you can trust and count on to be a credit to your company?
 
Read More
 

Teams and Four Quality Objectives

By Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J. , Ph.D.
 
Recent newsletter issues highlighted having a noble vision with teamwork, specifically, cross-functional teamwork.  What do these teams do?
 
Teams seek to improve the four quality parameters pursuant to any kind of business, non-profit organization, or government that address the Three P’s:  Product (or Service), Process, and People. 
 
Read More
 
 

Not in My Job Description

By Jim Berlucchi, M.T.S.
 
My boss asked me to pick up lunch for a meeting recently. This is not in my job description, and I let him know I didn’t appreciate being tagged for menial work such as errands and coffee. He told me to get with the program or be fired. Is this just?

At the Spitzer Center, we employ a diagnostic tool which measures workplace behaviors and attitudes, either constructive or defensive. Constructive cultures foster high achievement, innovation and trust. Defensive cultures are fearful, forceful and lower performing.
 
Read More
 

Cross-Functional Teamwork Success

By Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D.
 
Building healthy, vibrant teams is a natural function that follows the creation and articulation of a noble vision.  Once this kind of Level 3 cultural vision, Level 3 view of success, Level 3 view of people, and Level 3 view of ethics is established, you don’t have to worry.  People will naturally enter into teams, and cross-functional teaming (teams of people with different functional/technical expertise) is today’s reality.
 
 

I Can't Manage When My Boss Undermines Me

By Jim Berlucchi, M.T.S.
 
My boss criticizes me in front of my subordinates, which makes it harder for me to have credibility in my management of them. How can I get him to stop?
 
Suggest to him some proverbs from the Solomon School of Management:
 
·        He who belittles his neighbor (or employee) lacks sense. (Proverbs 11:12)
·        A gracious tongue multiplies courtesies. (Sirach 6:5)
·        The vexation of a fool is known at once. (Proverbs 12:16)  
 
Well, maybe hold back on that recommendation for now. Rather, tell him precisely what you’ve insightfully stated here. His public criticism undermines his credibility as much as yours. How do managers succeed? Through the success of those they supervise – which in turn depends on the success of their subordinates. And so on down the line … 
 
Read More

 

Five Commitments for Constructive Cultures

By Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D. from the Spirit of Leadership
 

I have identified five commitments made to individuals within a constructive culture that can transform teams almost immediately into high performance, highly communicative, synergistic, quality-driven unities of trust and work.

 

Read More
 

Does my Right to Free Speech end at my Workplace?

By Jim Berlucchi, M.T.S.
 
Our employer has told us that we are not to voice our political opinions at work – no literature on our desks, no bumper stickers on our cars in the parking lot! I feel as if my right to free speech is being abrogated – can they get away with this?
 
No bumper stickers?! Seriously?
 
There are fine lines to be drawn in workplace expression, but this approach, if not illegal, is certainly extreme. I would first try to understand your employer’s rationale. Is he just paranoid about politics? Is this prompted by some horrible past incident? Is your work environment politically polarized?
 

The Joy of Knowing my Proper Place

By Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D.
 
The fifty-day Easter season reminds us of the hope and joy that comes from knowing our proper place in the grand scheme of life.  Knowing my proper place entails replacing myself as the center of my interior universe with God who properly belongs there, and then finding a coequal place around the center with my neighbors (who are the image of God). I am but one coequal member of that invaluably dignified community.  My purpose in life is to enhance and be co-responsible for whatever part of the community that God might want me to help.
Read More

 

Church and the New Evangelization:

A Bridge to Jesus Christ

By Renee Allerheiligen
 
Perhaps the most universal principle of leadership in both classical and contemporary literature is the visionary quality of great leaders.  Too much has been made of personality tests that constrain people to a particular mode of thinking – “you are a big picture thinker,” or “you are a great analyst and detail person,” or “you are a great people person – you can read a person a mile away,” or “you are a very practical person – you sure know how to fix a car and even a dishwasher.” 
 
There is some wisdom to these categorizations of personality and thought, but they should not be used to restrict visionary and opportunity seeking ability.
Read More

 

The Visionary Leader: Belief in a Great and Noble Future

By Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D.
 
Perhaps the most universal principle of leadership in both classical and contemporary literature is the visionary quality of great leaders.  Too much has been made of personality tests that constrain people to a particular mode of thinking – “you are a big picture thinker,” or “you are a great analyst and detail person,” or “you are a great people person – you can read a person a mile away,” or “you are a very practical person – you sure know how to fix a car and even a dishwasher.” 
 
There is some wisdom to these categorizations of personality and thought, but they should not be used to restrict visionary and opportunity seeking ability.
Read More

 

Getting Less Dumb

By Jim Berlucchi, M.T.S.

 
I was recently speaking with Ted, a retired Jewish dentist who “works out” at the gym we both frequent. Ted is a fascinating, intelligent man whose socializing exceeds his exercising. Though not buff, he’s nonetheless wildly popular among even the most fit.  He simply never fails to entertain with a good joke – often religious in nature.
 
“Jim, did you know what Jesus told the apostles at the Last Supper?” “Well I kind of do know Ted, but probably not the line you’re going to deliver.” He proceeds with a winsome grin: “Fellas, if you want to be in the picture, you’ve got to sit on my side of the table.”

 

 

The Holy Spirit Working through the Church

By Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D.
 
In last month’s article we looked at how the Holy Spirit can help us to strengthen others with words of inspiration and insight. This is a promise we can count on because we need divine inspiration when we are doing the Lord’s work.
 
Another way in which the Holy Spirit works is by confirming the truths of the faith to us in the context of the body of Christ. The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, Lumen Gentium declares:
 
For by this sense of faith which is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, God’s People accepts not the word of men but the very word of God (cf. I Th 2:13).
 
 

How can I get my boss to stop looking over my shoulder?

By Jim Berlucchi, M.T.S.
 
Q. My boss is a complete micromanager – I feel as if I might as well not even be there, since she rewrites all my letters, and is constantly looking over my shoulder. Is there any way to get her to stop?

A. Don’t count on it. When subordinatesfeel harassed and diminished, they get defensive – either passively or aggressively. The boss becomes a fixation, a target. You can’t change her. But you can shrewdly manage yourself in a bad situation.

 

The Inspiration of the Holy Spirit

By Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D.
 
In last month’s article we looked at how the Holy Spirit gives us peace in times of suffering or when we might be experiencing some form of persecution for our faith. We began with the Jesus’ wonderful promise of assurance from the gospel of John – “Do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you… through the Holy Spirit.”
 
It is important to note that the Holy Spirit “gives words” not only in times of persecution, but also for the building of the Kingdom and the edification of listeners.
 
 

My Blood Boiling Colleague

By Jim Berlucchi, M.T.S.
 

Q. I work on a lot of projects in a group. One of my colleagues is always late with her part, and often doesn’t do it correctly at all. This reflects badly on all of us, which is making my blood boil. What can I do?

A. You could handle this directly with her, the team or your boss. One might consider Solomon and Co.’s advice for the first option. Proverbs 18:9 states, “One who is slack in his work is a brother to one who destroys.” Your colleague’s shoddy work is beyond aggravating. It’s a cancer for your team and unjust to your employer. Her failures diminish your personal and collective reputations and can even jeopardize your professional future.

 

The Peace that Passes Understanding

By Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D.
 
The Lord has given us a most remarkable gift:  the gift of His Spirit who is filled with peace, love, protection, unity, inspiration, truth, and life.  Jesus told us He would send the Paraclete who would remind us of everything He said and would give us a wisdom that would confound our enemies.  St. Paul tells us that the Spirit will enable us to cry out “Abba, and will bestow a peace beyond all understanding.  As we try to live out our lives as Catholics/Christians, we need to be aware of how our greatest advocate, consoler, protector, inspirer, transformer, and guide works in our lives and how we might be able to work in tandem with His wisdom and love.

 

I am the Victim of Office Gossip

What can I do about the co-worker who started the rumor?

By Jim Berlucchi, M.T.S.

Q. Although One of my co-workers is always gossiping, and it borders on slander. She told a number of people in the office that I was in trouble because she saw me come out of my boss’ office crying. In reality, I was telling him about a serious health issue. Is there something I can do about her?

A. Your colleague didn’t just border on slandering you; she slandered you. Slander is making a false spoken statement damaging a person’s reputation.  Depending on how noble and energetic you feel, there are three courses – each one more difficult and honorable than the previous.
Read More

 

 

Thank God for Pope Francis

By Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D.
 
As I reflect upon the election of the new Pope, I cannot help but believe that it was in every respect, divinely inspired. Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the perfect man for the contemporary Papacy. His concern for the poor and marginalized, his manifest love of people, and his authentic life of poverty and simplicity have already begun to restore credibility to a Church injured by scandal. Through his loving and faith-filled presence, people can see the Holy Spirit alive in the Church and they express their excitement about him openly. Virtually every homily and statement he makes includes a reference to the unconditional mercy and love of God – so central to his own spiritual life. I think the Church’s’ image and reality will begin to shine through this open, friendly, transparent, humble, loving presence who does not shy away from the press or the outside world.

 

Read More

 

Workplace Smoke

By Jim Berlucchi

Although the state mandates smoke-free workplaces, several of my co-workers smoke just outside the building entrance, causing a toxic cloud for anyone approaching the building. This really aggravates my asthma – is there something I can do about getting them to stop?

Here are five options in descending order of seriousness.

CUT AND RUN

My dad worked in an era where workplaces were virtual smoking lounges. He hated it so much he devised a clever method to reduce second-hand smoke. With a quick snip of scissors he would deftly cut off the burning ends of unattended cigarettes parked in ash trays. He was a supervisor on a factory floor and never got caught. But since your co-workers are holding their smokes, this strategy is dubious.

Read More

 

Lance Armstrong and Lessons on Happiness

By Jim Berlucchi
 
Twenty eight million viewers from 130 nations recently watched Lance Armstrong go to confession to Oprah Winfrey. He spoke about his moral failures – chronic cheating and lying in the process of winning seven consecutive Tour de France titles.
 
But why? What pursuit of happiness caused this phenomenal athlete to dope his body for years and lie with impunity?
 

Read More

 

Annoucing New Spitzer Website

 
Sacred and Secular. Prophet and Profit, Faith and Business – the Spitzer Center has them all.
 
After years of navigating between the faith and business spheres, the Spitzer Center has brought its’ faith-based and business umbrellas under one big Spitzer tent. As of February 5, our website directs users from the main Spitzer Center landing page to two distinct websites – Spitzer Center in Faith and Spitzer Center in Business.

Read More