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Success Without the Tsuris: Waltzing With Bashert

Success Without the Tsuris: Waltzing With Bashert

This is not my first time writing for the Jewish Week. In fact, I am a prize-winning writer for this very publication, with 31 words that changed my life.

12 years ago, just three months post-breakup with a long-term boyfriend, I mustered my confidence, creativity and chocolate to pen a personal ad to run in Jewish Week’s print edition. The paper declared my 31 words as the Ad of the Week (“…This week’s winner of a gift certificate for dinner for two at Mendy’s”!), meaning that my public appeal for a partner would be reinforced by superior visibility and free kosher meat.


Meanwhile in Forest Hills, a handsome single Jewish guy named Michael (who just happened to meet every qualification in my ad), picked up a copy of the Jewish Week and flipped to the personals for the first time. Bottom line: 48 people responded to my ad and I called one person back – Michael. One year later we got married, and every member of our wedding party got a mug with my Jewish Week personal ad printed on it, with the word FOUND stamped in red.


Fast forward 12 years: Editor Gary Rosenblatt asks if I’d be interested in writing a coaching column for the Jewish Week, and I jump at the chance while barely managing my goose bumps. As if the personal prize of my husband Michael (and by extension, our prized twins Jacob and Sophie), weren’t enough, now the Jewish week was offering me a professional prize as well.

Bashert! Bashert? Bashert, and…

Yes, I believe in bashert, that all-purpose Yiddish word that laypeople such as me roughly translate to mean meant to be, fate or destiny. It gives both language and credibility to the satisfaction and sparkle we feel when something works out just right in a way that we can’t explain. It also provides us some small comfort when we’re suffering from a disappointment too new or too sore to process. As a coach, I hear my Jewish clients share their personal and professional victories with bashert: “I’ve wanted to work in publishing my whole life, so when this job opened up, it was bashert!” And of course, my clients divorce themselves from the pain of loss by pinning partial fault on bashert, from “I guess he wasn’t my bashert” to “I’m sure it was bashert that this apartment fell through – I just have to wait for the right one.”

But bashert doesn’t work alone. Bashert has three concrete, earthbound partners we need to identify and develop to help us create a future that looks different from our past or present.

Partner 1: Opportunity

When I was looking for my future husband, I had an opportunity to advertise for free in the Jewish Week, and I took advantage of it. I was approached about writing for the Jewish Week because there was an opportunity to create new online content, and I took advantage of it. Opportunity is the opening in the universe we need to see and seize in order to create new possibilities.

To uncover your opportunities, ask yourself:

· What are the hidden opportunities underlying my current challenge?
· What opportunity that I’ve said “no” to in the past will I say “yes” to now?
· What opportunity will I create or take advantage of in the next 24 hours?

Partner 2: Motivation

Wallowing over my broken heart while chugging melted pints of Ben & Jerry’s got old fast (and fattening even faster) which amped up my motivation to get back out in the dating market because I wanted to be partnered. And, despite having a full time job as a coach and another full time job as a wife and mom, I was extremely motivated to write this column for the Jewish Week because I wanted to reach a wider audience. Motivation is the engine that drives our actions, either in reverse or forward.

To tap into your motivation, ask yourself:

· What do I really want? What’s important to me about this?
· What small or radical change will it take to jumpstart things?
· What belief needs to shift for me to create the next step?

Partner 3: Ability

Despite another break-up (yes, this was one of many), I knew that I had the relationship skills to be in it for the long haul with the right person. I also knew that I had the writing skills to draft a personal ad that would garner some attention, and evidently, dinner. In terms of this gig, it was a combination of my networking skills and my writing skills that got me the column. Ability is the combination of competence and confidence that we need to get the job done.

To know what you know and what you need, ask yourself:

· What abilities do I have that I can develop more fully?
· Where am I already at the top of my game? How do I know?
· How might skill development or support make the difference?

Magical? Hardly. Mystical? Not so much. Practical? Very. While we wait for the warm hand of bashert to guide us, we also need to capitalize on our opportunities, tap into our motivations, and identify and grow our abilities, so that we become active partners in turning “what is” into “what could be” for our personal and professional lives. (And if you need a little help in making bashert happen, email me for my 31-word personal ad!)

Deborah Grayson Riegel is a certified coach, speaker and trainer who helps individuals, teams and organizations achieve personal and professional success through her high-energy workshops, presentations and one-on-one coaching. Visit her online at or

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