Word of Wisdom: Avoid Azazel & Gain an Enthusiastic Business Team
עֲזָאזֵל – Azazel (az-aw-zale’)
‘Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there for ever, and cover his face that he may not see light. And on the day of the great judgement he shall be cast into the fire…. And the whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin.’
— 1 Enoch 10:4-9
Azazel is a cool sounding name, but you may want to avoid giving it to your son.
In the incredibly fascinating First Book of Enoch, Azazel was one of the fallen angels known as the Watchers. Chapter 6 of 1 Enoch explains that the Watchers “lusted after” the “beautiful and comely daughters” of men. So these angels left heaven, took the beautiful women as their wives, and corrupted people.
Azazel in particular was a corruptor:
And Azazel taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all colouring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways….
— 1 Enoch 8:1-3
It would seem from 1 Enoch that the Watchers were much to blame for things getting so bad God had to send a flood and press the reset button on humanity with Noah.
Blame is what brings us to what we’re talking about in this quarter’s Word of Wisdom.
The Hebrew word transliterated “azazel” appears in Leviticus of the Hebrew Bible. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible translates azazel as goat of departure or scapegoat.
Ooh, scapegoat. Now there’s a word with negative connotation. No wonder “Avoid Azazel” starts the subtitle of this Word of Wisdom. Not only does that Azazel character sound nasty, but no one wants to be a scapegoat.
A scapegoat is someone or something that undeservingly takes the blame belonging to others.
You know what else no one wants? A boss who scapegoats. If you’re a business owner or a leader in a business, there are few better ways to sabotage that business and your position in it than scapegoating.
Ah, finally, the Word of Wisdom gets to business.
Passing the blame for business failures or personal failures on things other than yourself, even on things that seem innocuous like the economy or weather, is a fast way to lose respect. Even worse is making an employee a scapegoat.
A company where people get scapegoated will quickly see the morale and loyalty of its staff drop off. Even if the staff is not being scapegoated, if employees see their boss blaming other things than himself or herself for failures at the company, respect falls along with productivity and personal responsibility from staff members. After all, a team will follow suit from its leader.
A good leader has to be able to make decisions, even tough ones, and then take responsibility for the good and bad results. President Truman was fond of the saying, “The buck stops here.” He even had a wooden sign on his desk displaying that phrase which reminded himself and others that the tough decisions had to be made by the president and he was responsible for their results.
If you’re president, CEO, owner, or a leader at your company, maybe you should get one of those signs for your desk and see what kind of difference it makes for your staff when you have a “the buck stops here” attitude.
For several years, I led a drama team for Oasis Youth. During one service, the team was supposed to perform a skit but was not ready to go. I stood up in front of the entire youth group and youth leaders at the service and let them know that there would be no skit from the drama team that day because I had failed to properly prepare them. It wasn’t my team’s fault they couldn’t perform. It was my fault. It was my job to prepare them for performances. I wasn’t going to blame circumstances or scapegoat anyone on the team. There would be no azazel, allowing the responsibility to move away from me.
While standing in front of everyone and confessing that I had failed was humbling and felt like a weakening of my leadership in the moment, it had the opposite result of weakening my leadership with the drama team. Afterward, they were willing to put in extra work at memorizing lines and preparing skits for performance while taking direction from me much more enthusiastically than they had before.
I believe that was a direct result of my being unwilling to scapegoat in that moment of failure.
Many of us are familiar with the word scapegoat, but are not familiar with the word’s origins.
In Leviticus 16, the scapegoat (or azazel) was part of the atonement process for Israel. The priest would confess the people’s sin over a goat, symbolically placing their sin on the goat’s head. The goat would then be released into the wilderness.
This blog has been built on the premise that one should avoid azazel. But there is a piece of the azazel process (if I can call it that) which really should not be avoided. That’s confessing failure. Instead of trying to cover up a mistake or blame something else for it, watch how much better your business will perform when you own up to mistakes and learn how not to repeat them.
Even though this blog didn’t talk about international shipping, we are a freight forwarder always ready to help you with your importing and exporting. (And this blog could apply as much to a shipping business as any other).