Friday, 18 December 2009

Does it take a lot to give words of encouragement to people you love even though you might not fully understand or accept them?

Yes, I guess it does for most people. It applies to me as well. I am definitely not at a very comfortable level of giving complements, supports and encouragements to people easily. But I really desire to be much better. I want to be able to do it so easily like I am breathing each day.

I envision one day, my children will look up to me and able to say “My mom is always there to support me even though nobody does.”

The caveat - I know I will not be able to fully understand my children. Times will change everything around us, some generation gaps will appear. I also know at many times in the future, I really think they are doing the wrong things; their actions may even conflict with my principles. I may not be able to believe in their dreams, not able to accepts their friends, partners and lifestyle.

But I want to stay true to one function (among all others) as their mother who loves them tremendously – TO ENCOURAGE and SUPPORT THEM, even when the rest of the world scorn at them, as long as they are not making the world an evil place.

I recently watched “Philadelphia”, a movie produced in 1993 and played by Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington (both actors made a lot of great movies) . Tom played a gay lawyer infected with AIDS, who was fired from his law firm due to the discrimination. So, he engaged another good lawyer (Denzel) to help him sue his previous employer and to fight for his right even though he was nearing the deathbed. It is a touching movie, one that makes you question on how different people perceive each others, perceive what is right and wrong – which there is no absolute right and wrong, except on where you stand to look at it. (In fact, a lot of touching movies do that on different levels – for e.g., another good movie is Crash (2004)).

One scene that really swarms me with emotions and wet my eyes is when Tom Hanks’s family pledge their supports to him, in a way that is so extraordinarily beautiful.

Andy (played by Tom Hanks):
There will be things said at the trial that are hard for you to hear...about me and my personal life.
And there's gonna be publicity. I want to make sure it's okay with everybody.

His brother:
I think it's great that you're asking, Andy…but this is really your call.

All right. Thank you, brother.

His brother:
Hey, you're my kid brother.
That's all that matters.

To be honest, I'm worried about Mommy and Daddy.
They've been through so much already.
And it's possible there are going to be some very tough times ahead.

(Even though the sister was not pledging her support, but notice that she said "I'm worried" not, "You should worry" (sharing what she feels, rather than telling you what you should feel). And she also said "it's possible" because she has no way to know what is going to happen and it is not right for her to judge. See? Small words like these portray a lot of sensitivities.)

Andy, the way that you've handled this whole thing...
you and Miguel...(Miguel is Andy’s gay partner)
with so much courage...

I don't believe there's anything..
that anyone could say that would...make us feel anything but incredibly proud of you.

Well, I didn't raise my kids to sit in the back of the bus.
You get in there and you fight for your rights, okay?

Gee, I love you guys.

Incredible, isn't it? Their parents were saying they are proud of their gay son, who contracted AIDS due to his choice of sexuality and probably his own carelessness; the same guy who worked so hard for his company despite his illness, putting himself in danger, only to be fired by the company and now he want to sue the company and putting his whole family in the spotlight and probably embarrassment, as well as putting more stress to himself while he is dying. This story may have been made up but it is definitely a great inspiration.

And, when it comes to inspiration on simple encouragement from the parent, I could almost recite the words from a scene in Pursuit of Happyness (2006) – an meaningful exchange between father and son

Father: Hey. Don't ever let somebody tell you... You can't do something. Not even me. All right?

Son: All right.

Father: You got a dream... You gotta protect it. People can't do something themselves, they wanna tell you you can't do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.

I do not think it takes a lot for the speakers to say those words, but the one who receive that, the very same one that may be in difficult situations or greatly discouraged – it means a WHOLE WORLD to them.

But, ask ourselves this - what we usually tend to do in those situations? The answer: We act the exact opposite. We tell our loved one off. We reject them. We shun their ideas. We label them with different names – selfish, stupid, silly, crazy, inconsiderate, etc. And most of all, we want to force our ideas and what we think into them. So that maybe, some where, sometimes in the future, when they realize their mistakes, they would recall what we have told them and we get the satisfaction out of telling them “I told you so but you did not want to follow!”

The irony is – sometimes, when we "fervently warn" the people we love of what we perceive to be mistakes, in some hidden parts in our hearts, we unconsciously wish for them making the exact mistakes that we have warned them, this so to prove ourselves right, whereas our loves for them consciously wish them to be happy and successful – both situations are contradictory like the sun and the rain.

Finally, 10 Rules to remind ourselves on how we should treat them (our loved ones):

1. Remember this - our faith and beliefs can move mountains. So believe and have faith in them because we will help them to move their mountains.

2. When we find them deciding or acting on things that are probably going to be some sort of mistakes, do NOT find 10 things out of the situation to prove we are right, find just 1 thing to prove we can be wrong and stick to that only.

3. Prepare to support and give them a shoulder to cry on when they really fail. Do not feel it is right to retract that because they have not follow our advices.

4. If we feel the urge to say something that sound like “I told you so…” – bite our tongues and just keep that to ourselves. FOREVER.

5. Don’t force our opinion and judgment on them most of the times. We have the right to say what we feel and think but those are just our feelings and opinions, NOT theirs.

6. Remember this – even though we are the more experienced, older and/or smarter people, accept that we may also be wrong sometimes. To Err Is Human.

7. Remember what Peter Drucker said “If You Keep Doing What Worked in the Past You’re Going to Fail” – so do not expect others (especially our children) to follow what we have done last times even though we have proven records of success.

8. Always stand by them, even though when they are wrong sometimes. They need us to be their loved one, NOT the judge, NOT the police officer, NOT the priest and NOT the executor. Everyone will be judged by God eventually.

9. Remember that our loved ones have their other loved ones as well – for e.g. our partner has other loved ones like parents, siblings, friends, relatives, mentors, etc; our parent has other loved ones like their parents, their other children and grand children. It is a very complex relationship. Be understanding and do not demand and measure amount of love and attention among each others and do not criticize and reject the loved ones of our loved ones (sound complex, I know).

10. Love them for who they are, not who we want them to be.

Warning: Do not overdo this, else we will be too pampering, which create another set of problems.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Re-engineering myself to be more assertive

My poorly designed assertiveness engine is failing me. It needs re-engineering, but it is going to be an arduous challenges ahead.

I remember I used to reminisce a lot about an incident with my old friends. Two of us were having an intense arguments with my other friend. I did not remember now what it was all about, but I do remember 2 of us spent a long time explaining to our opponent why our choice is better. Our opponent sat calmly across us, listening to our arguments. Our spirits were strong, our stands undeterred, almost hostile. After we were finished with our arguments in what seemed like a long time, our dear friend just said one thing in an unperturbed manner. "I still think my choice is better". As much as we were amazed by her answer, we felt the strong urge to reach over and strangle her. All throughout the argument, we were certain she was going to agree with us. Our argument was very logical and it was 2 against 1. Even the pitch of our voice and enthusiasm were on much grander scale. But, I daresay, we ended up losing big time to her. We wasted our time, our energy and even our ego to persuade her into joining our beliefs. Not only she was not persuaded, she also never disagreed with us or spent as much energy to argue back.

She is, as I realize it now, the Master of Assertiveness.

I used to misunderstand assertiveness as being able to prove your point or invalidate other people's points of views. I also thought speaking assertively means having a certain elegant air and tone to your voice that make you sound like when you are giving public speech to thousands of people. Indeed, as I begin to learn more, assertiveness means more than that.

So now, these are the re-engineering programs that I need to put back to my assertiveness engine:

1. I refuse to be pushed or manipulated by other people.

At one time, my HR manager handed me a legal document and asked me to sign and give back to him on the same day because he was pressed by the Global HR Manager from the head office. I knew briefly about what the document is about beforehand, but not the detailed terms and conditions. I obliged and it was a huge mistake, one that came back to haunt me many times. Later, I found out that it is actually illegal for people to pressure me to sign legal documents without sufficient times for me to think about it. Also, I should have consulted people who knew the legality matters more than me. I should have stand by my right, to say I would not sign the document on that day itself, insist to take back the document and to hell with what the local or global HR manager think of me.

Several other times, people would say something that make me feel either guilty or scared to lose what I am having. These are to make me do things for them, against my will. For example, things like "You will be mean to do things like this. ", "You have changed. You used to be very obliging and helpful", "I am in trouble. How you cannot understand my situation and help me?", "If you do not improve, I would give this chance to others. ", "Things are always been done this way." and "If you really want your money back, I would do anything to get it for you, even borrowing from illegal parties."
These are all pushing and manipulation.

I am done with being pushed around or manipulated anymore. It is time for me to say NO and stick to it.

2. I have my rights to my own judgment and opinion.
If what I have done or think is wrong, it really does not matter to anyone other than myself as long as I do not hurt other people. I have the right to voice my opinion and judgment. I do not need to care whether people think I am wrong or stupid or selfish. It really does not matter unless the person who think I am wrong are person who are dear to me.

3. I can accept criticism without getting crushed.

I would respond well and accept criticism. I do not need to argue with people criticizing me, even if it is not true. Other people have their rights to their views also. If they say the grass is blue, maybe someone has sprayed some blue paints over their grass or maybe they are wearing blue-tinted glasses. Or even maybe there are actually blue grass growing somewhere near the northern Atlantic where no people live (yes, grass instead of ice) . From what I see and where I have seen it, the grass has always been green to me. I do not need to argue that with them.

Actually, so what if some people think I am not a NICE person. I just get a bit fed up of being a nice person. A person that shout at you in anger may not be NICE, but a person that gossip about you behind your back is EVIL.

On the other end, if you say my fart is aromatic, I would say "Thank you for telling me that. I shall let you smell it more often then."

4. I do not need to have reasons or excuses to justify my behavior.

I always feel the urge to give reasons or excuses when people tell me my behavior is such-and-such, which is unacceptable. While I usually do not lie, I find that coming up with the reasons and excuses, while it is not always difficult, is actually detrimental to my well-being. It also makes me defensive most of the times.

For e.g., if you reprimand me for forgetting to turn off the light, I would say, hey, I did turn off the light 99.9% of the time. This is just one time I forget, more or less. And we were in such a hurry that I forgot. Cannot blame me. Also, why it is always have to be me who need to turn off the light when we leave? Anyway, how much money we can lose leaving the lights on for few hours?
Okay, in this case, "Yes, I forgot to turn off the light." will suffice. If there are more arguments, here is how I would respond:

A: Why you are so silly to forget to turn off the light?
Me: Yes, I am so silly to forget to turn off the light.
A: Have you no brain at all?
Me: Yes, I have brain, but I guess I do not have enough brain to turn off the light.
A: Do you know how much money we lose every month because you do not turn off the light?
Me: I do not know, but I guess it will be quite an amount.

Being assertive does not mean I cannot admit my mistake or say something bad about myself. Just say it without justifying with reasons or excuses.

On a lot times, people will disagree with your view points. Then you say, of course, I am saying this happens under such and such circumstances, not all the time. Or, something like you say people need to be firm. But someone say, you cannot do that. You need to be soft on people with terminal illness. So, you start by saying, people need to be firm unless dealing with people with terminal illness, kids under 1 year old, mentally retarded people, etc. The list will never end.

I have this problem too- trying to explain but I find by saying "Yes, I understand" when people say things to contradict you is good enough. And yes, there are always exceptions and you cannot cover it ALL.

5. I do not need to put myself in other people's shoes all the time.

So what if my HR manager get scolded if I did not sign and submit my document at the same day? Why do I have to care about his ass getting screw while I screw my own ass by signing that document in haste?

Remember the story at the beginning of the "7 Habits of Effective People"? It describes a situation about a man and his bunch of kids making noises and irritating all people at the place. Then, the author found out that the man had just lost his wife and the kids, their mother. So, he was too distraught to discipline his kids. I always remember that story. The moral of the story is to empathize with people. Sometimes, it may not be what it seems at first. Put yourself on other people shoes.

But, what I find also is there are also a lot of annoying people with no care for other people in this world. So, if someone is making a hell of your world, it does not necessarily means their wife or dog have just died and they are too helpless.

Sometimes, I believe I am too soft on people, especially on my subordinates last time because I always give them excuses when they fail themselves or me. I give myself excuses to fail too. This is bad, so being assertive should help.

Let's say, someone cut the queue to buy cinema tickets.

Me: Miss, you are cutting the queue. Please line up.
Q: Oh, is it? I am sorry. I am in a hurry.
Me: I am in a hurry too. Will you queue up please?
Q: Really, I need to get these tickets as soon as possible.
Me: Really, I think you should queue up.
Q: No, you don't understand.
Me: Yes, I do not understand. I still think you should queue up.
Q: But, I have cancer and going to die. I need to get this ticket now to watch this movie.
Me: (Amazed) I really think you should queue up even if you are dying tomorrow. Everyone is going to die too. At least you still have today and you need to queue up too.
Q: No, I am dying in about an hour, probably while watching this movie. But I really wish to watch this movie before I die.
Me: (Caught by surprise) In that case, I really think you should get your ticket right now. In fact, you can have my tickets too. Or, even you can buy the whole lot of tickets so that you have the cinema by yourself.

Again, being assertive does not mean that I need to be right till the end. Empathizing with other people is important too. (Ooppps, I am doing it again, explaining the exceptional case that can invalidate my views. But if I do not do this, I probably get a comment saying that I need to be more empathizing, of which I already know empathy is good and need to be practiced, but just NOT at ALL TIME.)

Photo courtesy of

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Our Monkeys-Hamsters

Sometimes, small things in life can really brighten up your day and lighten your heart, like a baby smiling at you, a small child greeting you with smiles, a shy little boy glancing at you, and of course, to watch monkey tricks from the cute little hamsters.

Thus, I can't resist to upload the videos of these monkeys to share with you all.

Warning: Do not try this at home. These hamsters receive special training! (Though I am not really sure where they get their trainings.)

Monkey 1

Monkey 2

Monkey 2 (Continued)

Saturday, 29 August 2009

When we really love someone

When we really love someone, we always strive to give the very best to them. We even willingly sacrifice ourselves or give up on things. Most of the time, we love them based on what we perceive how they want to be loved. But, is that really how they want to be loved? I guess, maybe not.

I read somewhere about this a while ago. Tests were performed on couples where they need to choose which furniture design they think their partners might like. The result is intriguing - most of them were wrong. When asked what make them choose the design - it is because they like it, so they assume their partners like it too. The conclusion of the test is most of us think our partners like what we like. Or, our partners are very much like us.

I remember clearly about a story I saw in a movie many years ago. The story is set in the early time in China.

Chang is a high-ranking government officer, a judge in court. But he is corrupted and much-hated in his community where he services. He takes every bribes offered by the riches and easily twists the justice in court. However, despite all that, beneath him is a very kind man who just want to be a "normal" officer as non-corrupted officers are very rare back then and can easily be out of the job due to political reasons (somehow, it maybe quite the same now) . In fact, behind the scene, he secretly help people and becomes the masked hero to the people. No one suspects he is the masked hero - to everyone, he is very far from being a hero.

Even his soon-to-be wife, Jen, a demure and very likable girl in the neighborhood, is kept in the dark. But, somehow, Jen does see something beyond what other people see - the kindness in him that she knows one day will be shown to the people. So, she stands by him no matter how many people oppose him and question her why she wants be with a man like Chang. She hopes, one day, Chang can change his corrupted ways and turn into a respected man.

But soon, with so many things against them, things turn more nasty and they eventually break up. Despite that, their love still remain. The once strong waves that they have been through suddenly become calm. Everything is calm but also lifeless.

One day, they bump into each other again on the street and decide to have dinner together at their old favorite stall. And their favourite order is a bowl of wanton dumplings noodles for each. When the bowls of fresh hot soup noodles arrive, out of habit, Jen begins to take out 4 wanton dumplings out of 6 from her bowl to pass to Chang's. But before she reaches, she paused momentarily, in awkward realization that she should not be doing that anymore. Chang catches her act, and smile awkwardly too. Jen then takes back her dumplings and they begin on their meals.

Either it is to break the silence or the awkwardness of the situation, Jen reveals to Chang how she actually like to eat the wanton dumplings. Due to her love for him, she wants to sacrifice her favorites to give the best to him. Chang is so shocked by the revelation, that he pauses for a moment, and then burst out laughing. Now, it is Jen's turn to be shocked. Chang quickly reveals that he actually does not really like the wanton dumplings and prefer the noodles and the flavour of the soups. He thought that Jen must have feel the same and want to get rid of her wanton dumplings. All those whiles, by eating all the dumplings, he always becomes very full and it sometimes make his stomach uneasy. He has always wondered why Jen never bother to ask the waiters to reduce the dumplings during orders if she does not really like them.

Though it is ironic to learn that after such a long time being together, but both are very relieved to know these in the ends. They both wonder why they never share these little simple preferences when they were together and just assume that the other person feels and like the same things. Though this is just an misunderstanding on a very small thing, but it is also an indication on how they can wrongly perceive each others' love and sacrifices at times.

Making sacrifices and doing something that we do not really like doings for our loved ones are very admirable and important in a relationship. So are the basic things like hugging, kissing and intimacy. But, on top of that, are these challenges:
1) to find out and understand how our other halves really want to be loved.
2) sometimes, all it takes is ASK.
3) accepts the fact that they are different from us or even different from other people we know
4) accepts there are nothing wrong with them being different from us
5) do things for them which they really like.
6) let them do things that they like even though you do not like

Sometimes, it requires you to not be "yourself". Sometimes, it requires you to get out of your comfort zone. These are all very unique in each relationship and for different couples - means it is totally different situations with your ex and with your current.

The finding and understanding part is the most challenging. And often than not, it takes a long period of observation and probably have to go through a lot of misunderstandings to finally come to the right understanding. Then, it comes to the equally important part - accepting who they are and being able to compromise.

Photo Credit : Stock.xchng

In the story just now, Chang and Jen reunite in the end after they go through a whole cycle of learning how differences they are and yet how similar they are in misunderstanding each other.
Chang also becomes the true hero in this community when his honorable deeds are finally revealed. A fairy-tale story but there are things to learn from too - when you really love someone, just loving them may not be enough - love them the ways they want to be loved.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Hindsight: When I did not realize I could choose my friends

Thirty is a good age to start to reflect on things that have happened for the past 10-15 years and try to see them in a different light. In most cases, I ask myself what I could have done differently back then when I have my current level of wisdom and maturity .

No, it does not have to be thirty for you to have the hindsight, although it is for me. You can actually start right now even if you are 25 or 35, or even 45. But I find there should be 3 things that should happen first.

1. First, you need to have major changes in any different areas of your life: Career, love, financial, friends, or family. Or all of them.

2. Second, in these areas, somethings are lost and somethings are found. In most cases, the first and second means some crisis that you have been through. In the aftermath, you discover something that would not have come to you if you have not lost anything at all.

3. And third, which happen later, is that you have slowed down on a lot of things. After sometimes, you have cleared out the clutters in your life and you are starting to get things back in order with whatever you have found in the process.

All those three things happened. And THEN, "it" comes naturally like someone turn on a pipe and the water flows out swiftly.

All the past major events start flowing back to you. It is not any events like attending a wedding or even your graduation. The events are those moments that have signaled something to you that you cannot understand or pick up back then. Until Now. It is like replaying a DVD again. Only this time, you knew the ending already. You already knew who are the heroes and who are not. So this time, you monitor each of them carefully to find the telling signs when you have missed it previously.

Since I have many of those reflections, I actually have problems knowing where to start and what to share. (yes, my blog posts are not coming so frequent nowadays)

So, I have to do the obvious. I can only start one by one. And, for this post, I choose this event that happened almost 12 years ago, which was during my college time. It was a time when I have lost a friend who was smart, matured and helpful. 12 years later, I realize that kind of friends is someone who I can learn many things from and may even inspire me to do something great.

Most of the people in the class called him 'Sifu', that means a Guru because of his outstanding intelligence and willingness to help people. I got to work with him in a project in a funny incident. The project was actually our first group assignment in the college. The lecturer asked us to form groups of 4 persons each. At the end of the class, I found myself without group as I barely knew anyone in the class. There are another 2 guys who were in the same predicament, one of them is Sifu. So, we decided to form a group of 3, whereas every other groups have 4 members. At first,it was very awkward for us to work together as we did not know each others' strengths and weaknesses yet. So, when the lecturer asked us to elect a team leader, Sifu was the obvious choice, because he is the oldest among us. Soon, we found that Sifu was actually very smart and knowledgable. The other guy (whom I call him 'Funky' later in the years because it rhymes well with his name) was not bad either. And of course, though I was not so knowledgeable in Computer subjects back then, I am always an avid and fast learner. Thus, each of us contributed our work, but Sifu was the one who compiled, corrected and enhanced the work after we submitted to him. When the assignment result was announced, we were at the top, even though we were short of one pair of hands and brain. Everyone in the class was very surprised. We were too, but were very elated and proud as well.

On the other hand, I started to get real close with a girl in the class who sat 2 seat away from me. We were almost inseparable in and outside the class. She became my best friend in college. I introduced her to my team members. After sometimes, we were like part of a larger group around 10-15 people. We all would hang out after class sometimes and we went on several trips together. There were many happy moments.

Soon after, feelings developed between Sifu and my girl friend. Funny part was there were also rumors between me and Sifu, which honestly speaking, although we worked well together, it was just friendship between us. Anyway, the relationship between them turned wishy-washy. At one point, one would drop hint that he or she want to be together as couple while the other would not respond or even try to avoid. At another point, the same thing repeated but with reversed characters. Since I am closest to both of them, I tried to encourage both of them to start the relationship if they really have feelings for each other.

Finally one day, both of them decided to talk it out openly between themselves whether they should be together or not. Unfortunately, I was pulled along in the discussion as well, which clearly, I shouldn't be there at all- my first mistake. I should have insisted not to take part and just walked away eventhough my best friend requested me to be there.

Long story short, in an already messy situations prior to starting the relationship, let just say, the girl laid out the terms and conditions to the relationship, the guy could not bite it and the girl refused to relent. So, that was end of it, the doom of their relationship even from the very beginning. To make matter worse, Sifu made this clear- since they came to this stage and cannot become a couple, there is no point for them to continue become friends as well. I think that is because his pride and hope were destroyed by a somewhat, unjust demand from the other party. One of the demand, was that the boyfriend must accept that his girlfriend who will always put friends on top of him in terms of priority. You can very well imagine the reaction on a guy if he is so unfortunate to hears that kind of thing. Though at that time, I was also very surprised and knew the demand was a bit illogical, but I chose to let it pass my judgment. I let myself think Sifu was at greater fault because even though relationship did not work out (who can guarantee it always can anyway?), he should at least be graceful and try to maintain friendship. That was my second mistake. Though my best friend also obviously did wrongs that day, I did not scold her or anything, which I should. I should be more impartial.

After that day, Sifu never talked to us anymore. Over the time, the group also split because some of us would continue our second year in other location/branch under the same college. So, we seldom cross each others' paths. I also lost touch with the other group who studied in the different location, also partly because they are closer to Sifu. I guess that was my final mistake, as I have done nothing to salvage the friendship between Sifu and me. I could not remember whether Sifu clearly stated that he could not even be friend with me because of what happened that day, but I did think, we maybe still can be friends if I have taken the initiative and show my impartiality. But I also did what I did because I did not want to hurt my best friend, who was already angry at Sifu for how he just wiped off the friendship like that.

Few years later, I heard that he started a cybercafe business with some of our college mates last time. At that time, I was still very much an employee. I had not the slightest idea on how to start anything on my own yet, even though I always know during college time, that I want to do that sometimes maybe after 5 years of working. When I think back now, it would be good if I can still be part of that group that is obviously entrepreneurial. Maybe I can learn something from them or even join in the venture.

Photo Credit : Stock.xchng

My biggest mistakes in this story when I reflect back is not my inaction or my lack of initiative to right the wrongs. It is this -- I did not realize that I CAN and actually SHOULD CHOOSE MY FRIENDS. It was a very grave mistake that I continued for more than 10 years. What I did is just tagged along with any groups I got close with. I stood by and helped a lot of them whenever they needed me. I wanted to be a loyal and helpful friend to others. And I think now, I have done too much, but too little for myself. It is mainly due to my fear of being criticized and not being accepted by people. I want to follow the gang. I want to be nice to everybody.

Following are some of the good advices that I should have taken long ago:

1. You cannot choose your family but you can choose your friends.

2. Choose your friend wisely, carefully, and by their characters.

3. Hang out with people who are smarter and more successful than you.

4. Stay away from negative people, complainers, and losers.

5. You become like the people you hang out with.

6. (And even in Bible - Proverbs 12:26) The righteous should choose friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.

7. We should also pick the people we work with.

I have too many stories about friends (some good and bad things) that I feel like writing about. Sometimes, I fear that people will attack me when all I tell is how bad people are, like stories about my ex. (Actually, I did get started on the book. It has almost 30 pages now). It takes times to conquer the fear - but for now, what the heck on what people think!!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

A man who has been through a lot of hardship

When a thirty-years-old man share with you part of his life stories with tears in his eyes, some part of you will just melt down together with him, touched by how some people really have a hard life compared to you.

An Indian Muslim, Naz is a bankruptcy with eleven mouths to feed, which includes a wife and 9 kids. A entrepreneur himself, he ventured into several business and failed, mostly due to working with the wrong people. Now, he is still in a business but struggling with limited capitals and resources.

As a newcomer to our business-sharing group, he was telling us his stories with great self-containment from the embarrassment and the fear of being laughed at or treated with disrespect. But in our group led by Jeff, laughing at people's plight and acting disrespectful are not condoned at all.

Naz told us the times where he had delivered excellent performance in most of his jobs. In one of his jobs, we managed to sell all the bricks which has been in the company inventories for more than 1 year and he had managed to sell it all in less than 3 months. From 3 lorries to transport the bricks, he made it into 16 lorries in that 3 months. Despite his outstanding performance, he realized he would not be given any chances to move up the corporate ladder. That is because the boss and majority of the people in the company are of different races, and having another race to head them with be unacceptable. Such is the world. Thus, he talked to his boss and decided to give up the job, taking with him, approximately RM 68,000 as the commission and pay for the short 3 months. With that money, he started his own business.

Unfortunately he did not make it. Soon, another acquantaince asked him to help him in his business as a partner. He worked day and night, clocking in at 7 am until 12 midnight almost everyday. Soon, he grew the company into a lucrative business in a relatively short term of times. Because he is a bankruptcy, during the start of his work, he was not able to formalize any documentation to declare his ownership on part of the company shares, a major mistake that would soon caused him to lose everything he had achieved in the company. When he approached his so-called business partner to request to put his wife name in the company share, he was terminated the very next day. Since then, he had been in a legal lawsuit with that company, seeking the help of the worker union. That was 3 years ago. But many were lost and he had not been able to recovered for years. However, by fate, it was that lawsuit that brought him to us after 3 years. Though a broken and tired man, he was ready to be 'mold' and transformed.

He said each day, he have to pretend to be happy even though he have a lot of things to worry about to keep his family afloat. Just imagine someone trying to kick and swim with water just under his nose for years, pulling 10 others with him. Naz's eldest son, a 15-year-old, have to work on the weekend despite a major PMR exam coming soon. His family eat happily at every meals even though that usually consisted of just rice and eggs.

Though facing tremendous hardship and on the verge of giving up, I feel Naz is desperate for a break in life now and he will put all his life to make it for the maybe one last time. Not only he is answerable to himself, he has to face 9 little faces and the woman he love, whose future are unknown, but who have never leave him despite the hardship.

By good chance, he met a good person in the worker union who is not only helpful to him, but who also believe in his capabilities and potential. That person in the worker union is a long buddy of Jeff and who is also in the business group. So, that is how we met Naz.

I want to share this story because I learn that most people who achieve great things in life, are the same people who at one times, are so broken and fail so many times that they may not even be able to go through life without the help from some good samaritans, who respect them despite their failures and willing to lift them up. But, of course, eventually, it also depends on abilities to work through the hardship and their persistences.

Previously, in my 29 years before I met Jeff, I rarely meet people has been through great hardship in life, except maybe my parents. But since one year ago, I found myself meeting and learning from a lot of people who have great misfortunes in their life. All of them would tell their stories with glimpses of tears in their eyes and some even broke down and really cry. Sadly, not all those people are able to change or break through from repeating their mistakes. But I learn the turning point is when a person is willing and ready for a 180 degree change. They may need to learn something that are so foreign to them that they may have a sense of feeling that they are learning from an alien. Of course, this is not easy and it is not something that can be achieved in months, but it is usually in years. All one needs is the opportunity to be trained, able to accept new things and persistently make changes or adjustment.

I ponder on this question:

If Naz is to know in 4 years ago that he will go through these 4 years of hardship when he starts to venture out in his own business, taking a big turn in his career, will he reconsider not to do that?


But, what if, in his next 1 or 2 years, he not only can recover from his lost, but he can have a chance to be a really successful business man and financially free?

That, we all do not know what his future will look like.

But I think he can make it because he has already shown a lot of courage and persistence for a man to first move into his own business and has not given up until now. And that is what I respect and admire in people, not the status or how rich he is, but this -
though sometimes weakened, but an undying spirit in a man (or woman) to excel in life.

Monday, 9 March 2009

How ordinary people become monsters ... or heroes

"The world is always filled with goods and evil."

There are many times as conveyed in many of my previous postings, I wonder at how good people can turn bad, how and why people condone evilness, how we sometimes struggle within ourselves to want to be good or bad when our life goes off-course, and whether to forgive people who did evil things to us.

It is always fascinating to me to explore the subject of goods and evil. My INFP personality describe me as the following:

An INFP describes the inner conflict as not good versus bad, but on a grand scale, Good vs. Evil. Luke Skywalker in Star Wars depicts this conflict in his struggle between the two sides of "The Force." Although the dark side must be reckoned with, the INFP believes that good ultimately triumphs.

Thus, when I recently stumbled across the talk by Philip Zimbardo in TED, the author of the book "Lucifer Effect - understanding how good people turn evil", I am very much excited to continue on the subject. Click on this link to watch the interesting talk.

Here are the summary of the talk:

1. When our most favourite angel, Lucifer turned into devil, it shows that ordinary people can transform into perpetrators of Evil.

2. Evil is the exercise of power to intentionally harm (psychologically), hurt (physically) , and/or Destroy (mortally) and commit crimes against humanity.

3. There are 8 social processes that grease the slippery slope of evil (there are a lot of similarities with the points I tried to make in my posting Human Crime Today, so I show it here side-by-side) :

(1) mindlessly taking the first smallstep.

(2) dehumanization of Others

(3) De-individuation of Self (anonymity)

(4) Diffucation of Personal Responsiblity. - DON’T THINK OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR ACTIONS.

(5) Blind Obedience to Authority - FOLLOW THE CROWD. FOLLOW THE AUTHORITY.


(7) Passive tolerance of evil through Inaction, of indifferent.

(8) In new or unfamiliar situations.

4. Give people power without oversight can cause evilness.

5. We should refocus away from Evil to understanding heroes- most heroes are everyday people, who emerge as heroes only in particular situations. - For e.g. Joe Darby , who stopped the Abu Ghraib abuses by exposing the photos to a senior officer. HE DID THE RIGHT THING WHEN OTHERS WERE DOING THE WRONG THING.

6. Situations have power to do 3 things:

(1) The very same situation that can inflame the hostile imagination , in those who become perpetrators, of evil can also inspire the
(2) Heroic imagination in others of us, or
(3) render most people passive bystanders and guilty of The Evil of Inaction. (they follow momma's advice: don't get inolved and mid your own business!
But momma humanity is my business.)

So, we can choose to be a Perpetrator of Evil, Guilty of inaction or Be a hero!.

7. We should encourage children to develop the heroic imagination and talents - Hero-in-Waiting.

8. You have to know how to be a deviant to be a hero. Act when other people are passive, be social-centric not ego-centric.

9. A true Hero said "I did what anyone could do, and waht everyone OUGHT to do".

I also learned from the Nuremberg Trials, why the Nazi leaders can commit evilness on such a grand scale to the Jewish under the influence of just one man - Adolf Hitler. There are 2 main reasons which I could not have agreed more. There are: 1) the lack of empathy for other people and 2) the culture to follow the authority without questioning.

Let's put on our halos and fight for the goodness in the world!

Friday, 6 March 2009

Desire and Faith – 2 things we need to achieve great things in life (Part 2)

In part 1, I talked about how desires and faith get me my first job. Of course, desire and faith are not the only things we need to achieve what we want but it is rather a beginning of great achievements, where plans, opportunities or even the new shift of paradigm will come along.

So, in the next 2 years from the time I got my first job, I threw myself into work so much that I really could count with my fingers how often I went to cinema or shopping. There were a good stretch of periods where I went home after 12 midnight everyday during weekdays and worked full day on Saturday and Sunday. I enjoyed the overtime though because those were the times where the office was so peaceful and I could fully concentrate on what I was doing. Also, I learned more when I did more on my job. On top of that, I got paid allowance of roughly RM10 per hour (after 8 p.m. on weekdays, though) and additionally RM10 for travel allowance after 12 midnight. So, on the many nights I risked my safety and got back home at 12 plus midnight, I actually earned RM50 extra for that day! In fact, I was not really thinking about my safety at all. With my overtime allowance of RM1,000 exceeds in average each month, I managed to pay my college fees and all my living expenses without needing a single cent from my parents, though they helped me pay my car installment.

Two years later, I earned first class honours for my Degree. My final year project supervisor was amazed by the programs I demonstrated, a stock broking application, which 70 percent of the coding was actually taken from my job. I got some good increments and also year-end bonus. Bonus was good at that time too; best performers got 4 to 5 months of their salary. Ironically, it was my first and the last time I ever received bonus from any companies since. Anyway, it was a great plan, wasn’t it; to study and work at the same time? And, most of all, I earned my independence and both rewards and recognition for my hard work.

So, I still believe desires and faith are the beginnings of great things. Posting my story here actually help me remember and renew my desires and faith for things ahead of me. Things usually get more difficult and complicated the longer we are in a career or life. Perhaps, we are laden with too much worries and responsibilities. Or maybe, there have been so much grieves and pains we have gone through; that ALL make us forget to nurture our desires and faith, to see the Child in Us even though the world and things looks so gloomy sometimes.

And maybe these:

1. We should communicate our desire more and not fear whether people will make fun of us or our dreams.

2. We should think everything is possible to be achieved. We should not think negatively so that we can console ourselves when failed by saying somethings like “already know it is hard or impossible” and “most likely is going to fail anyway.”

3. We should convey our confidence in achieving what we want even if it seems impossible. We should not be afraid to have people call us liars or boastful, especially when we fail sometimes as there will be a lot of failures before we have success.

4. We should persist with our desire and faith when things fail because we know these are just temporary defeats but success is just an inch away.

5. We should also have more faith on other people, especially those who are knowledgeable, positive and more matured than we are; those who has helped us; and those who are kind and helpful to us or to other people.

The conclusion:
It is most important for us to always know and communicate about our desires and faith instead of our concerns, our worries, and our incapability. Yes, we can complain like a wife complain to her husband and vice versa, but we also need to convey a large dose of positiveness.
And definitely, we want to be associated with positive people, and get as far away as possible from negative people.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Desire and Faith – 2 things we need to achieve great things in life (Part 1)

In my 9 years experience of working and climbing the corporate ladder as well as more than 3 years experience of managing people, I decide it comes down to two things to find people who I want to work FOR me or who I want to work WITH. That is, DESIRE and FAITH. Unfortunately, more than 80% of the people I encountered do not have both and they usually portray a kind of negativity that make it seems impossible to achieve anything at all in life.

So, I want to share my own experience and my explanation on what I come to value most in people, especially if I am considering them to fight a war with me – their desire and their faith.

I start with Part 1 which is my story and Part 2 which I explain more on desire and faith, especially when people show me the opposite of them.

My story:

In 1999, when I went to the interview for my first job, I did not do the normal preparation like going through some common interview questions and rehearsing how to answer them well. It was not because I was very confident to get the job. On the contrary, I was just a Diploma holder and during that time, the 1997 recession caused the job opportunities to be scarce, especially for fresh graduates. And this job, which I heard, was paying quite well, around three hundreds more than other jobs I have tried and what my other college mates were getting.

I wanted the job very much, not just the additional three hundreds, though at that time, it made a lot of differences to me. The three hundreds can give me all the food I need in a month. (At that time, I remembered my heart aching over a 5-or-10-ringgit meal, which I only indulged once in a while. My meal is usually 3 ringgit, 4 ringgit if I ordered drinks). I needed this job because it was a key step for my plan to pursue my Degree on part-time basis. My parents had offered to let me do Degree full-time using their hard-earned money, which my course fees and living expenses will be equivalent to the salary of my father, if not more. Knowing all that, I insisted on pursuing my education on part-time basis. I had a definite plan and knew very well what I wanted to achieve, which included to get to work as soon as possible so that I could get as much working experience as possible. I figured working experience is more valuable than a piece of certificate.

So, I was very determined to get a job. Not just any job, but a job that allow me to pay my courses as well as my living expenses. Also, a job that allow me to learn new things and also maybe help me in my Degree final year project. Since I was in Computer Science course, my final year project involved creating a workable application by going through a well-documented software development cycle. What would be better than to take from something I would be learning at work?

I was lucky also as I had a senior working in the same company and the interviewer, also my potential superior, was my senior’s superior. So, he was able to put in some good words for me to get me the interview opportunity. But, job is a job; I still need to prove myself to the interviewer to get hired.

Amazingly, I just know how to convince the interviewer to give me the job. And that did not require me to answer the common interview questions well, except how to describe myself. I already have some sort of plan in life – my desire to excel in life, to get ahead of most people and my faith that I am able to achieve anything I desire, even without knowing exactly how to get there. Thus, despite my lack of working experience, which was none – what I just needed to do in the interview was to show myself by conveying my desires and faith.

So, I sat through the interview, without much preparation per Se, as I already prepared for the life ahead of me.

I talked about my keen interest in programming and what the job can offer to me, especially learning to work in real environment and building software that are really being used by people in real business life.

I talked about my plan to pursue my Degree on part-time basis. I know I can use my working experience to do better in my Degree study.

I highlighted my great track record of excellent academic result; I was mostly top of my class, sometimes even the whole batch of students in the same year; that means I was ahead of more than 300 others. It showed I was consistently working hard to achieve great results.

I convinced the interviewer that I could handle both my work and studies without compromising the work performance. In fact, I have every intention to excel in both my work and studies.

At the end of the interview, which I remembered vividly even now, I looked at the interviewer earnestly and said to him I am a very hardworking person. I said it with full conviction and sincerity. I remembered the interviewer smiled at me in response, maybe because of surprise or because of awkwardness of my unsolicited remark, but I knew he believed what I have just said and that would have made an impact.

Yes, I got the job, with a starting paid of RM1500, a good rate for a Diploma holder at that time. The offer for Degree holder from my company was RM1800. In the next seven years, in 2006, a degree holder freshmen can get up to RM 2,500 for starting paid; some can get even higher than that from a minority of great companies. However, I also knew some other graduates were still getting RM1800 in 2006. So, when people ask me what is the market price for fresh graduates in software engineering field, I usually answer, it is largely determined by what the applicants are asking for and how they ‘carry’ themselves. By carry, I really mean how strong are their desire and faith and whether they show it during the interview.

To many, this story of mine cannot be considered a great achievement. But for a girl with no working experience, came out from hometown to study in the big city 2 years before, the same girl who traveled more than 80 km to class each time by bus (I lived in a housing estate in Klang with my aunt’s family, traveled to KL Central for classes by 2 buses per trip –one air-conditioned and one without), sometimes had to get out from house as early as 5 am, walked through a sport field (badminton, jogging) when the morning was still dark to wait for bus if there were early morning classes; this achievement is a great mark in my life; that all the sweats, persistence, the fear of unknown or danger were well justified. I had proven to myself and to those who invested in me, especially my parents. Because for the 2 years of studies, when most of my classmates have settled down comfortably at home, probably after some nice baths and dinners and were probably watching their favorite TV drama, I was usually still on a bus on my way home. On top of that, I even worked as the college librarian to earn extra bucks. So, I spent longer hours in college than most people.

The fact is I still have a long way to go, to achieve my ultimate dreams. But it will be very soon that I will get there. Then, I will start telling another story of my desires and faith that get me there.

Till then, wait for Part 2 where I will continue on desires and faith. Or maybe, drop me an email at to share your story of desire and faith.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
Photo courtesy of

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Three most touching movies that I watched (and rewatched) in 2008

This may seems a little bit late to be nostalgic about 2008. But by chance, I happened to see 3 old but inspiring movies that I might otherwise missed, if not for the best of fate - definitely must-see movies!

There is one common theme about all the three movies - the realm of possibilities. They tell us about people who achieve things that may at many times seems impossible to them and everybody else. They are not scared to try every ways to make their dreams come true. They do not give up when things are at their very worst.

And these are the most remarkable thing in life - the simple love, the faith ,the pursuit of happiness and changing the world by helping others.

Movie 1: I Am Sam (2001)

Movie 2: Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Movie 3: Pay It Forward (2000)

Let us be Passionate about Life cause Life is ever so Beautiful!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

I can’t wait to see this movie. After all, I have literally lived that kind of life for more than 6 years in my past relationship, trying to figure out what were wrong in our relationship, when the answer is so obvious. It was my first relationship, anyway, so I did not know any better. I wish I had known earlier.

I start to read the book too. It makes me wonder why women can be so dumb sometimes. Unfortunately that includes me!

I think this is a very good education book for women. So, I would like to share the catching introduction here.

Introduction by Liz

It started out just like any other day. We were all working in the writers’ room of Sex and the City,
talking, pitching ideas, our personal love lives weaving in and out of the fictional lives we were creating in the room. And just like on any other day, one of the women on staff asked for feedback on a the behavior of a man whom she liked. He was giving her mixed messages—she was confused. We were happy to pitch in and pick apart all the signs and signals of his actions. And just like on any other day, after much analysis and debate, we concluded that she was fabulous, he must be scared, he’s never met a woman as great as her, he is intimidated, and she should just give him time. But on this day, we had a male consultant in the room—someone who comes in a couple of times a week to give feedback on story lines and gives a great straight-male perspective: Greg Behrendt. On this day, Greg listened intently to the story and our reactions, and then said to the woman in question, “Listen, it sounds like he’s just not
that into you.”

We were shocked, appalled, amused, horrified, and above all, intrigued. We sensed immediately that this man might be speaking the truth. A truth that we, in our combined hundred years of dating experience, had never considered, and definitely never considered saying out loud. “Okay, he might have a point,” we reluctantly agreed. “But Greg couldn’t possibly understand my very busy and complicated possible future husband.” Soon we went around the room, Greg, the all-knowing Buddha, listening to story after mixed-message story. We had excuses for all these men, from broken dialing fingers to difficult childhoods. In the end, one by one, they were shot down by Greg’s powerful silver bullet. Greg made us see, after an enormous amount of effort, that if a (sane) guy really likes you, there ain’t nothing that’s
going to get in his way. And if he’s not sane, why would you want him? He could back it up too: He had years of playing the field, being the bad boy, being the good boy, and then finally falling in love and marrying a really fantastic woman.

A collective epiphany burst forth in the room, and for me in particular. All these years I’d been

complaining about men and their mixed messages; now I saw they weren’t mixed messages at all. I was the one that was mixed up. Because the fact was, these men had simply not been that into me. Now, at first glance it seems that this should have been demoralizing to us, it should have sent us all into a tailspin. Yet the opposite was true. Knowledge is power, and more importantly, knowledge saves us time. I realized that from that day forward I would be spared hours and hours of waiting by the phone, hours and hours of obsessing with my girlfriends, hours and hours of just hoping his mixed messages really meant “I’m in love with you and want to be with you.” Greg reminded us that we were all beautiful, smart, funny women, and we shouldn’t be wasting our time figuring out why a guy isn’t calling us. As Greg put it, we shouldn’t waste the pretty.

It’s hard. We’re taught that in life, we should try to look on the bright side, to be optimistic. Not in this
case. In this case, look on the dark side. Assume rejection first. Assume you’re the rule, not the exception. It’s intoxicatingly liberating. But we also know it’s not an easy concept. Because this is what we do: We go out with someone, we get excited about them, and then they do something that mildly disappoints us. Then they keep doing a lot more things that disappoint us. Then we go into hyper-excuse mode for weeks or possibly months, because the last thing we want to think is that this great man that we are so excited about is in the process of turning into a creep. We try to come up with some explanation for why they’re behaving that way, any explanation, no matter how ridiculous, than the one explanation that’s the truth: He’s just not that into me.

That’s why we’ve included questions from women taken from real situations. They represent the basic
excuses we all use that keep us in situations far longer than we should be. So read, enjoy, and hopefully learn from other women’s confusion. And above all, if the guy you’re dating doesn’t seem to be completely into you, or you feel the need to start “figuring him out,” please consider the glorious thought that he might just not be that into you. And then free yourself to go find the one that is.

Introduction by Greg

So I’m sitting in the writers’ room at Sex and the City pondering my good fortune to be the only straight male on the predominantly female writing staff (actually I’m just eating a cookie), when the writers begin talking about guys they’re seeing. This is a common occurrence, as it is part of the writing process for a show that explores romantic relationships. It is endlessly fascinating. I know that sounds sarcastic, but I’m being for real.

So on this particular day, one of the ladies pipes up with, “Greg, you’re a guy.” She is very observant,
this one, for I am indeed a guy. Then she says, “So I’ve been seeing this guy…. Well, I think I have.” I know the answer. “See, we went to a movie and it was great. I mean he didn’t hold my hand, but that’s cool. I don’t like to hold hands.” Still know the answer. “But afterward he kissed me in the parking lot. So I asked if he wanted to come over, but he had a really important meeting in the morning so he didn’t come over.” C’mon. Are you kidding me? Know it!

So I asked, “Have you heard from him?”

“Well, that’s the thing. This was like a week ago”—now you should know the answer—“and then today
he e-mails me and is like, ‘Why haven’t I heard from you?’ ”

I stared at her for a moment while the answer was bursting out of my eyeballs. (Oh, ladies, you make me
so mad sometimes!) Here is this beautiful, talented, super-smart girl, who is a writer on an awardwinning TV show, a show known for its incisive observations about men, who you would think could have her pick of just about any dude around. This superstar of a woman is confused about a situation that to me is so clear. Actually, confused is the wrong word, because she’s too smart for that. She’s hopeful, not confused. But the situation is hopeless, so I broke the news to her: “He’s just not that into you.”

And let me tell you, that’s the good news, because wasting time with the wrong person is just time wasted. And when you do move on and find your right person, believe me, you’re not going to wish you had gotten to spend more time with Stinky the Time-Waster or Freddy Can’t-Remember-to-Call.

Look, I am not a doctor, neither real nor imagined. But I am an expert that should be listened to because
of one very important thing: I’m a guy—a guy that has had his fair share of relationships and is willing to come clean about his behavior in them. Because I’m a guy, I know how a guy thinks, feels, and acts, and it’s my responsibility to tell you who we really are. I’m tired of seeing great women in bullshit relationships.

When a guy is into you, he let’s you know it. He calls, he shows up, he wants to meet your friends, he
can’t keep his eyes or hands off of you, and when it’s time to have sex, he’s more than overjoyed to oblige. I don’t care if he’s starting his new job as the president of the United States the next morning at 0400 (that’s 4 A.M. ladies!). He’s coming up!

Men are not complicated, although we’d like you to think we are, as in “Things are really crazy right now. I’ve just got a ton of shit going on.” We are driven by sex, although we’d like to pretend otherwise: “What? No, I was totally listening.” And sadly (and most embarrassingly), we would rather lose an arm out a city bus window than tell you simply, “You’re not the one.” We are quite sure you will kill us or yourself or both—or even worse, cry and yell at us. We are pathetic. But the fact remains, even though we may not be saying it we are absolutely showing you all the time. If a dude isn’t calling you when he says he will, or making sure you know that he’s dating you, then you already have your answer. Stop
making excuses for him, his actions are screaming the truth: He’s just not that into you.

Move on, sister! Cut your losses and don’t waste your time. Why stay in some weird dating limbo when
you can move on to what will surely be better territory? Don’t want to hear it? Fine. Here’s the answer you’re looking for: “Hang in there, baby. He’s not the loser everybody’s telling you he is. If you wait and keep your mouth shut and call at exactly the right time and anticipate his moods and have no expectations about communication or your own sexual needs, you can have him!” But please don’t be surprised when he dumps you or continues to drag you through a completely unsatisfying relationship.

We’ve heard it and you’re sick of it. That’s probably why you’re in possession of this book now. You
know you deserve to have a great relationship. We agree. So grab a highlighter and get started. Liz told you I was going to say it: Don’t waste the pretty!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

When we get more from the household appliance than we expect

Jeff and I bought a thermal pot few weeks ago. So now, we can make our instant coffee, Milo, and tea very quickly without the hassle of filling the water into the kettle, boiling it and waiting for it to get boiled. And we can drink warm water instead of room-temperature water anytime of the day. I think it is an excellent product, a great innovation from kettle and thermos.

I gather it would save me at least 1 minute each day for making one hot drink a day. So, if I live for 40 years more from now, it would save me a total of 10 days. 10 days is astoundingly small compared to number of days I spend on doing nothing but daydreaming all these years. But the most worthy thing is that, in 40 years, it saves millions of my brain cell from having to remember to make my drinks after the water is boiled. In result, I can use the same brain cells for other things and save me a lot of headache. Maybe this theory is as laughable as the myth that human only use 10% of our brains – a theory started in eighties and have many people believed that they can still function if 90% of their brains are removed, so to speak.

There is another interesting theory too – that is regarding WHEN to refill the thermal pot. Let’s explore it based on a conversation between Jeff and me.

J: Why am I always the one who refill the thermal pot?

S: Because you always manage to do it before I do.

J: Why don’t you do it before me then?

S: Because you always refill it before it is less than half the water. And I want to wait until it almost reaches the minimum level for refill. I gather it will save more electricity that way.

J: Say you wait until the water level almost reaches the minimum. Then, you start pouring out the water until it is below the minimum. And you are blithely unaware of it and you forget to refill. How’s that?

S: (Silence…. Sigh! I can’t argue that since I have bad track records of forgetting things.)

J: What if our kids next time pour water from the pot. You expect them to refill each time it reaches below minimum?

S: (Still silence…..Since we do not have kids right now and we still have to wait 5 to 7 years before they can start using the thermal pot, nevertheless, this is a undeniable point – when it comes to safety of children)

J: Why do you always have to wait for things to reach its critical point, then only you want to react? Then, if you miss it, troubles come. Isn’t it you blog about sense of urgency a while ago?

S: Yeah, I did. 2 posts actually (Sense of urgency – Critical Asset in Life and Human Crime Today). I guess it is because I am a procrastinator. It is like a curse or something – keep me from doing right things sometimes.

J: You want to use that as an excuse to fail in life?

S: (Short silence - then) No.

J: There, you get me!

This is not actually the exact conversation because most of the expressions in regards to the sense of urgency happened several times to other topic of discussions. Nevertheless, since last week, I have refilled the thermal pot more than 3 times. The water levels never get below half of the pot.

I do not know why I want to blog this. But then, since I deal a lot with household stuffs when I have become the home-based consultant, I guess it is naturally a big part of my life that I need to talk about. Even my old classmates ask me teasingly every times they see me- so, what food/dish have you learn to cook nowadays?

Thursday, 5 February 2009

TEAM - Are you a hare, owl, turtle or squirrel?

I just picked up The One Minute Millionaire by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen and found it to be very enlightening.

I like the "Multiple Streams of Income" and "Together Everyone Accomplishes Miracles - TEAM" concept.

For team concept, to create wealth - one must first build a diverse team as success is not a solo project. The diverse team consisted of four different categories of workers, known as the Hares, the Owls, the Tortoise, and the Squirrels. Each one has own strengths to leverage on to make the team successful.

Hare - Creative Types, but bad at follow-through.
Owls - Planners and go-getters.
Turtles - Cautious Types who point out issues.
Squirrels - Details oriented person who get the job done.

The one-minute millionaire site offer a survey to determine which type of worker you are. I found out to be a Hare, which I had guessed right. Here is the link to take the survey:

Below are the explanations of the roles of Hare, Squirrel and Hare/Owl (a combination of role). If you have result of Owl or Tortoise or other combination, maybe you can post it here in the comment section. It is interesting to know more about the other types of people that we have to work with, and most importantly since we all have to deal with each differences and also improve ourselves. For e.g. I learn that I need to be more detailed like a Squirrel, plan more like an Owl and be able to anticipate problems like a Tortoise.

A Hare Role

APPROACH: Conceptual/Spontaneous

DESCRIPTION: The Hare generates the concepts and ideas. They like to reframe the problem and look for solutions that may be unusual, unique,and/or outside the boundaries of traditional thought. Hares are good at exploring alternatives and perceiving the "big picture".
Hares want freedom from constraint, and when a rule exists they may break it. They may act impulsively, letting their feelings guide them. They derive satisfaction from the process of creating,discussing concepts and ideas,and overcoming obstacles.
When everything is in its place,the Hare may become restless,get impatient,and have a tendency to move from one subject to another.

CONTRIBUTION: Fresh, original concepts that go beyond the obvious,and are not constrained by fear of failure.

WEAKNESESS: Because the Hare enjoys generating ideas, they may move from one idea to another without stopping to evaluate the consequences.
If left alone to refine concepts, they will solve the problem within the problem within the problem, and eventually lose sight of the objective.

INSTINCT: Reframing problems to achieve breakthrough solutions, moving in new directions, examining possibilities without regard to risk.

A Squirrel Role

APPROACH: Methodical/Practical

DESCRIPTION: The Squirrel, more interested in protecting the system than being in the meeting, follows-up on team objectives, and implements ideas and solutions. They focus on ensuring the implementation process runs in an orderly manner, and achieving high quality outcomes.
Squirrels prefer proven, familiar ideas over the novel and untried. They pay attention to details, and see that plans follow an orderly process.
The Squirrel is comfortable being methodical. They tend to be cautious in trying out a new approach, and prefer to think things over carefully before acting.

CONTRIBUTION: The details. Spotting easily overlooked problems before they occur, and minimizing inefficiencies and errors during implementation.

WEAKNESESS: If working without clear and focused objectives or guidelines, the Squirrel may lose sight of the goal and pursue irrelevant strategies.

INSTINCT: To finish what they start,and do things right.

A Hare/Owl Role

APPROACH: Conceptual/Spontaneous/Practical

DESCRIPTION: The Hare/Owl is an idea generator who is also a true entrepreneur. They are good at exploring alternatives and concepts, and they are also more comfortable with an insightful plan. The Hare/Owl is able to generate ideas and develop a plan, based on past experience, to promote those ideas successfully.
The Hare/Owl derives satisfaction from identifying good ideas and developing solutions and strategies to overcome obstacles to implementation. They enjoy working on multiple tasks and like to be involved with the creation and advancement of ideas.
When everything is in its place, the Hare/Owl may get impatient, ready for the next challenge.

CONTRIBUTION: Development of new concepts and ideas that can be advanced within a known process or structure.

WEAKNESESS: The Hare/Owl may become frustrated with the details of an orderly implementation plan, and may pay little attention to the danger signs and barriers associated with implementation.

INSTINCT: Creating new ideas and advancing them in pursuit of team objectives.

No Result for Tortoise and Owl. Please post it if you have.

There are other types of personality test if you are interested. One of them is Meyer-Briggs personality test.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Are you and your partner Auditory, Visual or Kinesthetic?

While I was reading to improve on my communication, I learn that I need to recognize which senses other people rely on to experience the world and then I need to use this information to deal with them.

It seems like people can be categorized into 3 types, depending on how they filter their world by their senses. They can be:

1) Visual – They see the world; inspired by what they see externally, or internally in their eyes as an image or a vision.

2) Auditory – They hear the world; inspired by something they hear either externally or emanating from that little voice inside.

3) Kinesthetic – They feel the world; inspired by something they feel or touch.

Usually, combinations of these 3 senses are used, but for each people, one of these tends to dominate the other two. If we want to relate better to people, win their hearts, impress them or just to make them understand us more, recognizing Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic people based on their primary senses and communicating to them on their wavelength can be very invaluable.

As with every couple, Jeffrey and I have our fair shares of miscommunications and misunderstanding. So, when I read about the 3 different senses, I went “Wow !! This can be a lifesaver”. Lo and behold, I am Visual while Jeffrey is Auditory. To make it clear to you, these are how we usually communicate:

Listen to me.
You are not listening.
I do not hear you.

What I am saying is ….

I like to play my music loud.
You need to speak up. I cannot hear you.

Anything you want to say to me?

I do not see what you mean.
I cannot picture that.

I like daydreaming.

You need to write that down for me.

I print that out for you to read.

Isn’t it obvious? Mind you, it is not until I understand about the 3 types of senses and how these sensory preferences impact our day-to-day communication. When Jeffrey asked me “Can you hear what I said?”; the truth is I cannot, at least not at the beginning. It is because since it is auditory, my brain has to take the extra step to translate his language into something I can relate to. If he say “Do you see what I mean?”, it will register immediately.

Conversely, I usually say “I am trying to see that” when he is talking to me and sometimes I look away from him because I am trying to picture the things he is saying in my head or I am trying to refer to the materials on screen/printed materials that he is talking about. I bet he thinks I am rude because I am looking away when he is talking or looking distantly (when I am trying to picture things in my head, my eyes will sort of look up and away from the speaker). The fact is I am just opposite from him in our primary senses. But I know now that if I want to connect directly to his sensibilities, I should say “I am listening.” Or “I hear what you said.”

These seem so simple to apply, yet extraordinarily effective. Try it on your partner. A quick tip:
Visuals usually talk very fast.
Kinesthetics tend to talk slowly.
Auditories fall somewhere in between.

So, Jeffrey and I are opposite each other in our chart, because we are both secondary in kinesthetic as we tell how we feel about things, but auditory is last on my senses while visual is last on his. It is also important that we bond in the middle; the kinesthetic; that always get us through the rough times and add sparkle to the good times. So, we can really understand each other when we discuss on we feel about things in our life. The good news for us is that in one of the research, relationships that have endured more than 20 years have sensory preferences that are complete opposite.

I guess that is why people always say “The opposite attracts”.

My review and reflection for The Garden of Words

I just watched this short animation work from Makoto Shinkai. I had previously watched his grand hit 'Your Name' and absolutely fel...