Sunday, June 18, 2017

Stop hesitating!

Alibaba's Jack Ma got US$2.8billion richer in one day when stock price of Alibaba rose 13% to a record high as the company's forecast sales growth topped analysts' estimates. "We're Not Just a Company; We're an Economy," Jack Ma proclaimed.

Every master was once a beginner.

I learned a new word recently. Decidophobia. The fear of making decisions. It's a common disease for some. They convince themselves that ok, I can't do it now, but maybe tomorrow, in a month, or next year. Today is not the right time.

There are no perfect moments to start.

Most people dream about adventure, money, happiness but they don't dare actually say yes to these opportunities. I am not saying we should say yes to everything but do make thoughtful  decisions about opportunities of real value, because they never come back. We'll never be younger than we are in this moment. We'll never feel as we do in this moment.

You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. You have to do something. There has to be a beginning.

I recall some years back when I decided to get off the couch to have a healthier lifestyle. A little moderate exercise, fifteen minutes on the stationary bike. Got my heart rate up slightly, no big deal.

When I got up the next morning, did I feel better? Not really. That is, not noticeably. Hardly seems worth the effort. But I kept up doing it. I cycled through a few stiff muscles and missed my Netflix program. Hey is this all really worth it? Maybe not. But then, I kept doing it anyway. Eventually, these days I feel like a million bucks.

Looking back, did my life change on that first day after I cycled for fifteen minutes? Probably not. And if I didn't cycle that day, will my life start to fall apart? Of course not.

But successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do - even when it doesn't look like it makes any difference. And they do it long enough for the compounding effect to start to kick in.

Whether it's your health, your happiness, your knowledge, your skills, you diet, your relationships or your financial status, turn your one day into your Day One!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Trust begets trust

"Let's make June the the end of May!" The billboards read. Can a weakened Theresa May survive the inevitable storm following the remarkable British General Election? Her political gamble backfired dramatically in the surprise snap election which was unnecessary; her term in office ran until 2020.

Following the advice of Og Mandino...

...if I feel incompetent, I think of past success.
...if I become overconfident, I recall my failures.

We've all been programmed to think, believe and act the way we do. Our programming is a result of what we have been told by others, what we have told ourselves and all our life experiences.

Our programming can be changed at any time - to overcome fears and insecurities, or to reduce cockiness and narcissism.

As a leader, my role is to create confidence and momentum. I found out over time that the best way to get my team to trust me is to trust them. It isn't what we say, it's what we do that communicates trust - or the lack of it. I show trust by believing in their capabilities. I show trust by sharing the stage. I show trust by being real - admitting I don't have all the answers. I show trust by getting out of the way.

And if one of my team member screws up, I talk about it, help him learn and then move on. I show trust by letting it go.

Wasn't it Marshall Goldsmith who said, "The #1 skill of influencers is the sincere effort to make a person feel that he/she  is the most important person in the world. It's one of the skills that Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey used to become the best in their fields."

I will do this for every person I connect with!


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Why are we so busy?

When Real Madrid defended their Champions League trophy with a convincing 4-1 win over Juventus, the curtain came down on the 2016/2017 European football season. It had been a hectic season with Manchester United going through a punishing and grueling schedule and having only two to three days of rest between matches over a period of 2.5 months.

Does it ever seem that life just won't happen the way we planned? I keep calendars, I make appointments, I have daily, weekly plans. But many a times unexpected things crop up.

One of the strange and false ideas in today's world is that an important and successful person is always busy. Many people judge others, and are judged themselves, by how busy they are.

If you're killing yourself just for a salary raise or to impress the boss, you are not genuinely committed. Hard work will not make you an inspired performer more than practicing writing will earn you a Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

I used to think I was busy, but then I met a couple of people who were really busy. The thing I learned from these two people who truly did have an enormous amount of work and responsibility  is that they have order - they know their priorities and resist sacrificing their health and relationships.

When was the last time you said, "I don't have time!" to a person. What was it you didn't have time to do? For most people, it is spending time with the people they love and the people who loves them. For some others, it is taking time to look up an old friend.
In mid-life, lots of people reflected on their lives - and I was no different. I questioned how I was spending my time and what I really wanted to achieve. I'd stumbled through life believing that one day I will find the pace of life that will allow for optimum health, happiness, efficiency and contentment. 

I know now that it must be created. We must make it happen. We must take breaks and give ourselves space to be inspired and energized.

Don't work yourself to death; what's the point?


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Dealing with toxic people

Last week was a dark week for the world. It's been a week of terror with horrific events born out of violence in Manchester, Bangkok, Jakarta and Egypt.

There are also people in the office who thinks they are and behaves like kings/queens of their mountain, and they're simultaneously trying to protect them and take over bigger mountains. I'm sure you have known some people who don't root for you unless they know you're dying - and they've seen the lab reports. This is the real world. In this world, we're either the cook or the meat. Real world - no varnish.

Most people know right from wrong. Why don't they do the right thing?

Hurtful people don't go to hell; they are already in hell. That is why they behave as they do. Ultimately no one gets away with anything. Resenting people only allows others to live in our head rent-free.

The point? However it may appear in the short term or on the surface, what goes around always comes around. It doesn't always come back in the same form, or even from the same person. Whether or not one believes in divine justice, the world is a mirror - it reflects, or gives them back, what they put out.

There is a Chinese that describes the way humans operate: before hitting a dog, first identify the owner. If the dog belongs to a wealthy and powerful family, beating such a dog would be unwise. Understanding this concept is vitally important.

Fight fire with...less fire. If Mr or Ms Testosterone try to control the action with their bang-bang play, let them. Or let them think they are. Let them mistake your silence for weakness.

No, I'm not going soft. It's just that I have made some mistakes by fighting fire with fire, and I have paid for them. Now I let karma sort it out. I hope you can learn from my mistakes and avoid the same land mines that I had the misfortune to step on.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Accept reality

Disney's relive-action remake of Beauty and the Beast has become the highest-grossing live-action movie musical in history, and taking more than $1.2 billion around the world, making it 2017's highest-grossing film worldwide to date.

Now think of some part of your life that you don't like, can't accept, wish were otherwise.    According to this tale—we must learn to love this very thing we currently hate. Until we do, we are trapped in this prison cell of not accepting our life as it is.  It is only through this kind of acceptance, that we come to appreciate our issues as the gifts they are. 

You see, the source of almost all anger, depression, sadness is a discrepancy between our preferences/desires and our reality. We want something to be one way, but it turns out a different way. We get frustrated. We get upset. 

Maybe you wanted a salary increment. But they decide not to give you one. Maybe you wanted a job. But they decided to give it to another candidate.

Who are we to act so entitled?

It has taken me a few years to learn to catch myself fighting against the reality of the moment, and instead accept reality for what it is, and ultimately be able to be happy and "feel good" without depending on anything - or anyone - to do so.

Perspective is the only thing that can dramatically change the results without changing any of the facts. We can choose how we see things. Without proper perspective, it can lead to cynicism and hopelessness.

Anthony Robbins went so far as to say, "Trade your expectations for appreciation and the world changes instantly." It means to challenge ourselves to find the beauty in the beasts in our lives.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Are you making progress?

Futurist Peter Schwartz described Singapore as the "Apple of Nations," favorably comparing Singapore to Apple Inc, famous for its innovation, noting the transformation from the days of unwanted independence into the modern metropolis today.

Am I making progress? Am I a better person today than I was a year ago? Am I happier? More fulfilled? Am I a better parent? child? employee? leader? teammate? colleague? friend? Am I healthier? Am I more financially independent than I was a year ago? Is my work becoming more satisfying?

In my mind, progress is change, however small,  for the better.

For every person, progress would be different. Many people I know feel trapped. Trapped in a job that rarely challenges or constantly frustrates them. Trapped in relationships that are stagnant, if not destructive. Trapped in the consequences of choices made earlier.

Any honest look back will recall things we wish we would have done differently. I have learned to come to terms with them, accepting them as markers from which I learn something valuable for the future.

I used to behave how I feel. Nowadays, I embrace the thought that I can always choose how I act, despite how I feel. I can choose to be offended. I can choose not to be offended. It really is that simple. Not necessarily easy. Simple. I can choose to be upset, hold a grudge and ruin life-long relationships because of that choice. Or I can choose to grow up, laugh, shrug, forget it, and move on. I can choose not to allow the actions of someone else to dictate mine.

The biggest mistake I made in the first half of my life is not taking enough time on the things that are really important. So going forward, I constantly remind myself to make sure I don't repeat that mistake.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

The sandwich years

Three colleagues of mine - Jan, Clarice and ShirleyW - decided to have a child. They'd decided to give up quiet evenings, lazy weekends and intimate meals. They'd decided to turn their sofas into trampolines.

ACE turned 18 yesterday!  My "little boy" is not so little anymore.

Young adults are old enough that their parents are no longer looking over their shoulders daily, but young enough that many choices are still open for them to explore. They live in the now and don't think about aging or mortality.

Later in life, they'll start taking on responsibilities  - making a living, finding a life partner, perhaps raising children. Their children will remind them of their own pasts, what they used to do and think at the same age.

Life becomes more complicated when we're in our 30s and 40s, as decisions made earlier in life now becomes more concrete and less open to changes than before.

Having turned 50, my life task is to generate. I influence the next generation of colleagues, either through mentoring or by example. At 52, I am between past and future. I'm particularly aware of time passing as I watch ACE grow. Having elderly parents, I am particularly aware of my parents' time passing.

This is also a time of developing a sense of mastery over weaknesses and character strengths to grow. Though still very stressed at work, I handle it better.

Albert Einstein puts it this way: “Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive. Intelligent people ignore.” 

Kids have a way of humbling us. They reveal our weaknesses. This may be hard for us, as adults, to accept, but absorbing the parenthood experience is about accepting the daily situations when our kids shape us. What ACE does so easily at 18, I am cultivating now at 52.