Saturday, January 31, 2009

The meaning of Success

Ever since I stumble upon the concept of success, I was on the search for it's true meaning. It was like a search for the holy grail as there was no definitive answer. What one success is to one person may  not be to another. From the many books I' ve read, testimonials I have listen too and  videos I have seen, my conclusion is that successful people  define success as a personal one.

It is not fair to measure a person success merely by his or her wealth. Consider people like the late mother Theresa, many would see her as a successful woman because of a kind act  of sheltering and feeding the poor and forgotten people from the slumps . Many life's were transform from her deeds.

If we measure a person's success based on popularity, I think it is not really a good yardstick because how many celebrities that you know that are rich and famous have broken marriages, gone into drugs, depressions  and etc. They are bad influncer for the younger generation.

If we measure a success based on the influencing power he has, I think many people have suffered under another  tyranny.

A person who is already inherited  millions may look at himself as not successful. A person who finally landed himself a secure job  may consider himself successful especially when he comes from a disadvantage upbringing. 

I recall as I was climbing mount Kinabalu ( the highest official peak in south east asia), I would check with the porter every few minutes how far more to go. He would reply "Oh, not too far again" I gave up asking after I find myself still struggling with the climb. It was then 4 AM in the morning, the chilling wind and drizzle makes it even more difficult. We were actually groping in the dark for the guiding rope. During the climb, what i thought  was the peak was just another edge because the climb was quite steep and difficult to see the peak. The porter was encouraging me all the way and to ensure that I would not go off track.

Unlike the famous chinese  proverbs  puts it, I want to state that "The journey of the thousand steps begins with one guide " The journey is often on a long and winding climb.

That guide can be in form of a coach , mentor or someone you trust. It is so much easier than to make all the mistakes that you can avoid. 

Friday, January 30, 2009

Priming the Pump

In 1998, I made my first trip to the Philippines with my wife Liza, her 10 year old sister marylou, mum in law Lilia and late Lolok Fred(sadly pass away a few years back) to a province called Ilocos Sur located at the western coast of Northern Luzon . It was the hometown of Lilia which took 9 hours journey ride in a coach. Luckily it was an air conditioned bus with a video facilities. They were showing the local Tagalog film without sub titles which was pretty interesting for me to keep on figuring out what's the movie all about.
We stayed at Lilia's relative house and it was my first experience in learning to use a well water pump drawing water from ground below. At first I thought it was as easy as just pushing and pulling the handle in upward and downward motion. I used my strength a few times and nothing happen and I though it was spoilt. Someone told us then to raise the handle and pour in water into the pump nozzle and then do the upward and downward motion. After a few times we succeeded. Not easy for a first timer. The water effluent was refreshing and very cool.
The term Pump priming is now used to illustrate Government spending during recession in attempt to stimulate private spending and the expansion of business and industry. I can still remember back 1997, when the Asian financial tsunami hit the economy, the bankers starter to tighten the grip on it's financing which resulted in many business closing shops. After the government intervention in the central bank to loosen it's grip and many other measures taken, the economic machinery began to move and we were recovering at a much faster pace.
On personal level, I realise that to attain something we need to give first. If we want happiness, we need to make others happy before attaining it. If we want to be successful, we need to help other succeed first.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I will do it tomorrow

"Eat the frog" poster reminds me to tackle the difficult task first for the day.A concept learned from Brian Tracy shared by my exBoss Mr. Patrick Cheing who is now retired and enjoying his golf.

I usually find myself filing in my tax return on the last day. By then the queue will be long and I start to complain about the department's inefficiency. Looking at it now, many people like myself procrastinate. Yes... I am not alone. If I would have filed in earlier, I would have save myself the unnecessarily stress, the frustration but most importantly time to do something worthwhile. We all know our friend or foe Mr Procrastination.

"Every behaviour is useful in some context"

Procrastination is derived from the Latin word Procrastinatus:- Pro (forward) and crastinatus (tomorrow). I am not a psychologist and I would not go into the detail of explaining it. However I do know the practical approach to it.

I do know that putting off a non urgent but important matter until the last minute is stressful and causes a lot of anxiety. However most of the time , I would defend my behaviour ,that the stress would put me into a more productive mode. The urgency will drive me to complete the task. I observe that some jobs are living on the edge and procrastination can lead to disastrous outcome, such as emergency ward, news media, restaurants, customer service and so forth. I don't think I can fit it well, my stress tolerance is not too great.

By procrastinating, it somehow makes me feel important because I am needed to get the job done. I got datelines to meet but I guess this are all wrong perceptions. In the past I associate urgency with feeling important.
Procrastination is not at all bad. It is useful at times. Especially when I want to make a purchase. Nowadays with the persuasive marketing campaign, we may get sucked into the moment and make the purchase regardless we need it or not. Marketing is about convincing the customer to act NOW. Last November I was considering to purchase a notebook and so I have my own specification. After making trips to few computer shops and checking out the many attractive offers, I did not make any purchase. Something within me hesitate. So I began to probe within what could be possibly be the obstacles. I already have my company notebook which i use to carry around. My inner self was telling me that why waste the money, the money can be used for other things. So I did some more information seeking from the Internet and found the notebook with the specs that I wanted (Lenovo S10 series).So I made a firm decision of buying it in December, Which I did. The little voice was still bugging me but I overcame it by telling myself if I regret later it is a wrong decision made and that is all. I can learn from it. So far I am quite happy with the notebook. The little voice or a.k.a conscience wants to protect me from making mistakes. I think it is important that it should not paralyse you from taking action.

When face with procrastination, there is always and underlying reasons that urge you to hold it off till tomorrow. Probe it until you find the answer. It could be a clash in personal values and beliefs.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

7 tips to zest up your day

One of the reasons that people get bored is because they relive and do the same thing everyday. It seems that we are automated by our internal programming to do so.
This reminds me of one of my favourite movie Groundhog days which I have watched at least 5 times. It is about a weatherman name Phil Connors (actor Bill Murray) who was covering a story of a town called Punxsutawney in Pennsylvania on their annual tradition where the groundhog forecast the length of the winter season. As he was covering this story for the fourth time now, he was bored and wanted to get it over quickly. Unfortunately they were unable to get out of the town due to the blizzard and had to check into a motel. Here, he woke up every morning at 6 AM to the same tune "I got you babe" over the radio and was trapped in an endless time loop. He was reliving the same event everyday until he learn to give up his selfishness and became a better person. Interesting and funny movie and has a powerful message. We all have our groundhog days. Personally, My insight to this movie is that by focusing on helping others, developing new skills and making every minute counts will make life become more meaningful.
I want to share 7 tips on how to zest up your day, TODAY. This tips has help me to break away from the monotony of life. It is about breaking the routine that we have grown accustom to.

Tip 1 Take a different route to work
I began to be more alert of the things along the journey. Sometimes new building seems to pop up because I was not aware of it earlier on.

Tip 2 Do something wacky
There are times when I just go to the market, buy some fresh chicken meat and seafood and go to the beach and have a barbecue. Unplanned and out of the spur of the moment. It is truly exciting.

Tip 3 Google and search for your dream vacation
This is dream possibility activity. it is an exhilarating experience to find out more about your dream vacation that you wanna take. Forget about the cost and any boundaries that you may have set in your mind. Just have fun exploring it with google map and website reference.

Tip 4 Tune in to a different kind of music
Being a musician myself, I find that different music conjure different feelings and emotions. Listen to other type of music just for today. If you are rock fan, perhaps tune in to the country beat.
Tip 5 Test drive a latest model of a brand new car
There is so much fun to test drive a brand new model. Walk up to the showroom and pretend to be a potential buyer. Ask the salesman about the car's uniqueness before taking it for a spin. It takes at least 3 years from the sketch on the drawing board to the car production. Not too forget hundred of millions spend for the research and development.

Tip 6 Try out new food

One of life's pleasure is to delight the palate with variety of food. If you haven't tried Italian cuisine make an appointment to savor authentic Italian food.

Tip 7 Tell 3 persons that you appreciate them
Making others feel appreciated can make your day.
Do you have any tips that works for you to zest up your day. Please share, I am interested to know.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lion dance

The sound of the drum and clashing cymbals from the distance have excited the children. With anticipation, they wait for the lion dance trouper to come to the house. We were fortunate it happen during my friend James open house visit. For many centuries, the lion dance is use to scare away the evil spirit and bad luck. In doing so wealth, health and prosperity will reside in the home. As a form of appreciation, we will hand the ang pow (money enclosed in small red envelope). There is no fix amount except when you request them for a special performance.

In good times , there will be up to 8 to 9 lion groups going round the town and housing area. This year I was informed that only 5 lion groups were making their rounds. This is one of the way the association, temples and even schools to raise fund. However it can be quite taxing if there are a lot of them going around. I remember when I was little, my dad would have set aside a certain number of ang pow to give away if the lion came to the house. If we ran out of it, we close the gate and pretended no one home.

As I began to do a little read up on the lion dance origin, I found out that the local Malaysian lion dance is following the southern Chinese tradition, The varying colour of the lion head an it's fur has different symbolic meaning to it. From my reading , the golden yellow represent liveliness, the red represents courage and green means friendship. This reminds me of a story.

A long time ago a strange creature appeared in China and horrified and ate men and animals. The fast and fierce creature was called 'nien' (or 'nian'), which sounds like the Chinese word for 'year'. Neither the fox nor the tiger could fight the 'nien' effectively and in despair the people asked the lion for help. The lion shook his mane, rushed towards the creature and wounded it. The nien hurried away with the tail between its legs. But it announced to return for taking revenge.A year later the nien did return. This time the lion couldn't help the people. He was too busy with guarding the emperor's gate. So the villagers decided to do the job themselves. Out of bamboo and cloth they produced an image of the lion. Two men crawled inside it and approached the nien. The 'lion' pranced and roared and the monster fled away again. This is the reason why on the eve of the Chinese New Year, lions always dance. They are frightening evil away for yet another year.

Chinese New Year eve dinner

My dad on the left (Freddy) and my dad in law on the right (Fred)

This year Chinese new year family dinner is a meaningful one. Instead of the usual of going to the Chinese restaurant for the dinner , I decided to have something different this year and had the dinner at my house. My mum, wife and I were the chef for the day. I cooked up the following dishes, Yellow prawns cook in Hoisin sauce, Steamed garoupa fish, Sauteed Scallops with broccoli,yellow and red capsicum, My mum whipped out sweet and sour pork (my mum's specialty), Steamed chicken with special sauce, a recipe which was handed down from my late grand mother and shark fin with crab meat soup. My lovely wife prepared the Japanese tofu with minced meat (beef).

Cooking the dish itself does not take a long time, however the preparation is the most time consuming. It is a process of deciding on the manner of cooking the dish, sourcing and selecting the raw food and it's ingredients at the local market, cutting, dicing and marinating the meat prior to cooking it. we also need to plan the sequence of dishes to be cooked as to optimise time and spaces in the kitchen. As it is an auspicious dinner, the choice of dishes needs to reflect prosperity and abundance. So I ensure that we spend a little extravagant on the food such as the shark fin and yellow prawns. Even the pig trotters was air flown from Sabah, well that was because of the local shortage.
I observed that Chinese restaurant set dinner would usually be priced at 388, 588 , 688 and so forth. The number 88 is important to the Chinese as it signifies prosperity and wealth. Having the dinner at the home is so much memorable and fun. My parents and my wife family came and made this evening dinner a memorable one. Though my siblings Robert, Simon and Vivian can't make it this year because they were having it with their respective in laws. Though a lot of effort and time is put into the preparation, it was worth it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Keeping the tradition alive

Chinese New Year is two days away. The atmosphere at the shopping mall is setting the pace and mood on the coming festivity with red coloured decoration on sales, a symbol of prosperity. In this few days, we want to believe that things are going to be better and hope the negative news surrounding us would not dampen the spirit of celebration.

This is the time of year where immediate family from near and afar make every effort to come together at the parents or eldest house to have a sumptuous dinner on the eve of new year. It is not so much different from the other festive such as Christmas, Hari Raya, Thanksgiving and etc.
This year we are welcoming the year of the Ox. Good bye Rat and Hello Ox. Since I am a sino kadazan and was not raise in a typical Chinese family, I still find the origin and the respective animal characteristic of the Chinese Zodiac fascinating to know. The Chinese has many tradition and taboos, depending on which Chinese ethnic you belong too. I remember my late grandmother would cautious us not to sweep the floor or wash anything on the first day of Chinese new year as it will chase away the prosperity and good luck. I am not a firm believer but I prefer to observe the taboo out of respect to the tradition.

What's the do and don't being practice in your area?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why breakdown in communication happens?

"The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said." - Peter F. Drucker.

One of the common frustration in communication is that the intended message is misinterpreted by the listener unintentionally. Here are some of the various reasons that may be the cause:

  1. The wrong manner of tone used in conveying the message

  2. The body language in congruence with the words being said

  3. The messenger's limited choice of words used to describe the experience

  4. The preconceived assumption by the listener

  5. The different sensory preference between messenger and listener use in interpreting experience.

  6. Lack of rapport between the two parties

  7. Different cultural background

  8. Different level of education
For what ever the reasons it may be, tension may appear in the relationship which can crack the trust between the two parties or all those involved.

I first became aware of the technology of NLP from the book "Awaken the Giant" authored by Anthony Robbins. I am a great admirer of his work which have helped many people to create sustainable change. Thats the reason , I took the course in NLP conducted by master trainer Dr. William Horton from NFNLP. One of the presuppositions that I'd learned is that the meaning of your communication is the response you get. How liberating that statement was for me. To me, it meant, if people was not responding in the manner that I wanted them to, I have conveyed the message ineffectively.

I felt a sense of empowerment because now, I began to take responsibility how to choose my response rather than reacting to the situation. Practicing flexibility in my approach has brought about a more positive outcome. It dawned on me then, my focus now is on the other person and not about wallowing in frustration. It has helped me a lot in communicating with my children. Just the other day, Ryan (eldest son) was folding his arms and fuming with frustration. When he displays this behaviour, it is difficult to get him to do anything else. I decided to create a rapport with him and so I too folded my arms make the sound of frustration. I pretended to look away from him and later at the corner of my eyes, I caught him making a little smile, from then on I began to talk to him,

Next time when you are faced with this frustrating situation especially with difficult people, focus on creating rapport first before saying anything. Don't just believe what I say, try it out and let me know the outcome.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Coffeshop talk

My flight to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah is another 30 mins away, I truly appreciate the wireless technology that is made available through MC Donald, airport outlet. Ordered myself a cup of hot coffee to get my idea juice flowing. A Cup of regular coffee in MC D cost RM3.20 while you can get a freshly brewed coffee in the usual coffeeshop for RM1.20. Well, I don't mind paying a little more for convenience.
In Malaysia, coffee shops can been seen everywhere regardless whether it is a small rural town or in the big metropolitan city.It is more concentrated in the Chinese populated area. However the coffee served in big cities are those branded with strong association to lifestyle, brands such as Starbucks, Gloria Jean, Coffee Bean and etc.
The conventional coffeeshop which I grew up with is more of a place to socialise than to be seen. The owner of the coffeeshop would be selling the drinks while renting out the available spaces in the shop to food vendors. It is common to see 2 to 4 food stalls offering varieties of food such as soup noodle , nasi lemak , economy rice and many other local Malaysian dishes.

Here the older generations gathered to talk about anything under the sun. It is not surprising to observe how one can sit and sip a cup of coffee for hours. In this informal setting, people put forward their opinions from politics, economy and current events. If you sit a little longer , you will notice people from all walks of life gathering regardless social status.

When I was managing an insurance agency force, the coffeeshop is the focal place where we bond on a more personal level. I must attest that sometimes, coffeeshop small talk do bring in business.

It is all about relationship, a meeting place where one can feel comfortable with each other and share about things. In any organisation, I feel it is important to have a common ritual where all staff gather to meet and talk openly. I recall reading about the former GE chairman Jack Welch implemented the Work Out strategy, how staff began to contribute workable ideas though the informal gathering.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Retirement age and Change

For those who worked on projects with dateline, we may understand the urgency of change. Many things may go wrong during the projects and unless it is address immediately it may cause financial loss. There are professions that requires continuous update especially in the line of IT, product development and marketing. Any delay in adapting to the changes may cost potential loss of opportunities and possibly incur heavy liabilities in terms of loss market share, shrinking customers retention, dwindling profit loss and etc.

There is an urgency for us especially people who are in their 30's to make changes. Time is ticking away as our opportunity to earn more reduces every year as younger generations are more competitive and our employ ability reduces. If you are 30 years old now and the retirement age is 55 years. It means you only have 25 years of generating income before retirement. Assuming that you have a job till retirement.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2004 report, the average life expectancy of a male in Malaysia is 69 while female is 74 years. The average between both sexes is 72. Lets take the example from the above for simple calculation purpose. At the current age of 30, assuming if we stop working at 55 years, we have 25 years more to work to save enough money to support ourselves for the next 17 years. If we keep to our simple living , and the cost to sustain us is RM1, 000 a month then we require RM204,000 cash saved up in our account.
In simple calculation, to save up RM204,000 we need to set aside RM680 a month from NOW. This is a simplistic approach to financial planning, however in reality you need to take into account the inflation rate, interest rate and currency strength and etc.

I am sure you can source for the many financial planning books that are made available in bookstores out there, that can give advice on the necessarily steps that you can take to improve your financial standing. Well , I only trust does who are managing their own finance well before getting their advice. Experience speaks louder than all the framed certificates.

Though I was involve in financial planning many years ago, I still believe that, what is important is knowledge. We need to keep on adding to our knowledge bank so that when the inevitable happens such as loss of job, we are able to quickly apply our knowledge in other industry or business to ensure the inflow of income does not stop. I firmly believe that applied knowledge is the key to continuous flow of money. Why a person is earning more than the other person boils down to 3 things, Knowledge, skills and Attitude.

If we have the right knowledge and the right skills and applied with the right attitude, who says that we need to stop getting income at 55 years. We should never let our income be at the mercy of someone else. If we can always have the sense of urgency everyday to change, life becomes a little bit more exciting.
What changes do you need to do today to make your tomorrow a little more secure?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Change your attitude ,Change your life

I like the phrase printed on this banner which read "Life favours those who see things differently". This reminds me of a saying by a business men, philanthropist, and author W.Clement Stone stated,

"There is little difference in people, but the little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative"

I began to cultivate the love of reading because my dad's simple gesture of driving us to the library every forth night and let us be for two hours. I found many adventures there and among my favourite readings, I especially loved Enid Blyton collection on "the famous five". I even had a crush on Annie, a fictional character in the book. Thanks Dad if I haven't mentioned it before.

Because I love to read, I have my own personal collection which I have been collecting though out the years since I started working. My first motivation book was The touch of Greatness by Frank Tilbolt. After reading the book, something within, stirred me up, I came to a realisation that life is about how you look at it. At that time, I had a low self esteem and do not understand why I think lowly of myself. From then on , I started collecting and absorbing ideas , thoughts on PMA (positive mental attitude).

Taking charge of my personal well being is truly an empowering and liberating feeling. The change did not happen magically. Of course, I had to work hard in overcoming my personal issues and working on my weak areas. Reading only open the mind doors of the possibility in life. It is committing to take action that is going to make transformation happen. I am still growing everyday as I continue learn from the success of others through various media tools and personal sharing.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Man who walks his talk

"Mr. Cheah want to see you" a school mate told me . I was in form two then (26 years go) and the disturbing message causes my heart to pound fast and hard against my fragile chest. I though to myself "what have I done wrong?" The late Constantine Cheah is the school disciplinary teacher and the vice principal. His dressing is his personal trademark. Dressed up in white collared short sleeve shirt and with long white pants, with a cane tucked under his arm. His presence can send shivers to every students as he was a tall, thin and stern looking man. As St Anthony was a missionary school in the earlier years, discipline and respect for others are important daily practices to be strictly observed. Silent befalls the room everytime he passes the classroom corridor.

Mustering up my courage , I knocked and entered his small but tidy office. "Good morning Sir" my tiny voice sounded. " He looked at me with a smile and said " Would you like to play the organ on Sunday? I was relieve of his question. I agreed and Mr Cheah reassured me that he would hand me the song hymms 2 weeks earlier so I have ample time to practice.

Then, I just started learning to play the keyboard a few months back from my good friend Januarius and an exceptionally talented musician name Joseph. My music talent is self taught with hours and hours of practice. I did not own a keyboard then and I practice in the church just beside the school during my break and sometimes I had to walk 3KM to church for practice from home. For me, it was a joy and passion.

Father John Var Der Salm (Left) with Constantine Cheah (Right)

I am truly grateful that during his lifetime he gave me the opportunity when no one did. Surprisingly the more I got to know him, I found him to be a kind, encouraging and supportive person. He was a pious man who lived a life of celibacy and he is very involved in the Blessed Sacrament Church administration. When I was 13 years old, he became my Godfather during my confirmation rites, someone I wanted to emulate. Unfortunately He died in 1989 after battling with cancer. He was only 47 years old. The church pews was filled till the church entrance as if there was a mass being said on that day. Everyone came to pay their last respect and what touches me the most, is the fact that he selected the readings, the song hymms , and wrote his parting words for his own funeral. He was prepared.

I can still recall the song that he selected " The Lord is my shepherd" His parting words expressed " I have not reached my goal but GOD has other plans for me ".
Constantine Cheah Teck Seng is but an exemplify of a servant leader who is dedicated to service above self and a person who walks his talk.

As I write this post, I am reminded that a good deed done however small to another person can make a difference in that person's life. What good deed have you done today that can make a difference?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I am watching

I caught little Ryanna, looking out of the window pane. This reminds me when I was little, I used to look out from my family two storey wooden house for anything interesting . Since the house I lived in, is surrounded by thick bushes on 3 corners, Only the backyard is facing my neighbour uncle Ah Lam. The north side of the house was overseeing a thick grown bushes with many tall trees. In the evening, flocks of pigeons would gather for a chat among each other. Sometimes quail could be seen walking cautiously towards the fence to peck on the grains of washed out rice from our kitchen drainage. It is common also to see a monitor lizard scanning the ground with it's long slithering tongue for food.

Yes, that was the good all days where we can see the wonder of nature. Now I don't pay much notice of the things happening around my housing, everyone seems to be busy with their own activites. I can still recall seeing my grandmother chatting with the neighbour over the wire mesh fence, a rare sight nowadays.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Something Fishy

It's Saturday morning, I woke early and decided to go to the market to search for something to cook. Usually, I would have a look and then decide on the menu for the day.The fish market was rather quiet as many of the fish mongers tables were empty. The weather for this past three weeks were a choppy one. Many fishermen did not manage to go far out to the sea to have a good catch. However I manage to buy myself a red snapper fish head weighing 1.2 KG.

I was trill to try out new ways to cook it. Yes, I love cooking especially when it comes to learning and trying out new recipes. I have cooked fish curry before, steaming it, frying it .... hmmm what else. As usual the magic of googling it. Found an interesting recipe on claypot fish head. And so I decided to give it a try.
I have like to try out new things as I will tend to acquire new knowledge and also it broadens my idea bank.

If you want to know how the claypot fish head turn out. There are some room for improvement as I have not got the right balance of the ingredient to the taste I wanted. Well like they say "practice, practise and more practice makes it perfect.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Rock of Ages

I have lived by the seaside from the age of 7 to 15 years. Some evenings, I would stroll along the beach with my brothers Robert and Simon collecting shell, poking at little crabs and be fascinated by starfish. Along the coastline there is huge 15ft limestone wall which divided the beach and makes an interesting beach landscape.

Based on my limited knowledge about rocks, Limestone is made of shells and dead sea creatures that collect at the bottom of the ocean. They get buried by other sediment and, after millions of years
of being under pressure, the particles get cemented together to form solid rock. Limestone is a very strong rock and is often cut into large blocks and used in the construction of buildings and skyscrapers.
Looking at the limestone now, I wondered what if I was a limestone, what would I have observed through out the ages? I am sure I would have watch and stand witness to many wonderful, peculiar or unfortunate events that took place on the beach front.
I remembered some of the events. Aside from the weekend family picnics and the daily commuting of the ferry and cargo ships crossing, I have witness the annual 5.4 KM cross channel swimming, the fatal crashed of the caribou plane in 1995 , 2 water twisters formation and the 2 stranded cargo ships which was laid to waste away.
It would be interesting to keep a journal of all the sweet and bitter events as to remind ourselves of the journey we have taken in our life. I can imagine now sitting with my grand children by the beach listening to the stories of my life.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The two brothers

Looking at my watch, it was only 7 .00 AM. It is still very early to go to the office. I have just sent Raynald (my youngest son) to school and decided to take a walk along the beach at the sea sport complex. Two trees stood side by side that caught my attention.

Though I am not an expert on trees, I began to ponder on some of the possibilities why there is a distinct variation between the trees. Both of the trees are of the same height but one look undernourished though it is just a few feet apart. The tropical climate here is sunshine all year round and rain mostly towards the year end till early of the year. So the climate is not the reason why the tree is losing it's figs because both receive the same amount of sunshine and water, furthermore it's close proximity to each other. Perhaps the other trees is sapping up the nutrients from the ground away from the other tree. Maybe it is able to do so due to it's better root network.

In my biology studies , I have learned some tree will grow it's root as wide and deep for it to extract nutrients and water from the ground. Aside from this, it holds the tree down firmly against the treacherous weather.

Our belief is our part of our root. What we believe will determine the outcome in our life. In my NLP studies, most of the time we believe something to be true however it is sometimes not based on real facts. I remembered when I was 7 years old, my late grandmother told me not to point at the rainbow or else my finger will be crooked. Later in life , I discovered that the belief has no basis. I am sure that the origin of the belief was for a good reason.

Is your current beliefs holding you back or opening doors of opportunities?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Employment for Life

I recently met up with an old acquaintance George, who has recently retired from 30 over years of service with a reputable oil and gas company. Through that window of 30 minutes we talk about his retirement plan. He told me that he can live a comfortable life style for the next 20 years without relying on others, including taking annual holiday.

There are not many people who have the opportunity to have work with such a strong and stable company.In today's competitive environment, there are many companies that may not even pass the 20 years mark. The recent investment scandal, the crash of the sub prime market in U.S, sudden rise and fall of commodities prices can shortened the future of any companies.

I had the opportunities to have met few business people who is generating income from multiple sources. I think it is very important that we do not put all our security in just one basket. Leveraging on other people time (OPT) and other people money (OPT) is one way to catapult ourselves to success in a shorter time. However, in order to be able to manage OPT and OPM requires the right knowledge, right timing and knowing the right people.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Life's Pressure cooker

Yesterday as I glance through the pages of the newspaper, I came across a rather worrying headline which read "Overwork the silent killer in Japan" . People were actually working themselves to death. In Japan, they call it the "Karoshi" whic is translate as death by overwork. Since my schooling days, I have heard tragic stories about the alarming rate of students committing suicide because they were not be able to cope up with their studies and peer pressure. It is known that Japanese are very competitive people and have strong commitment to work. it seems that the more advance the society evolved, the more it relive the law of the jungle. it is simply means only the fittest and strongest will survive.

With the ailing economy, the need to be competitive, and to care for our family, drives people to work 70 hours week. This will lead to high stress level, possibly plunge into depression and may also develop heart related diseases. Then we are going to use all the money that meant to be saved for medical treatment. There must be a better way.

My intention here is not to highlight about the negative news but I feel that there is more to life than just being driven by external factors to make a living. Yes, it is true that life can be hard at times. However this should not prevent us from the ability to choose how we respond to the situation. the day we have decided that we have no choice, we have already loss the will to live.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Freedom to choose

I have been a fan of Dr. Steven Covey, who authored the highly acclaimed book "The 7th Habits of highly Effective People" which was published in 1989. Though the content has been written more than 20 years ago, the principles taught is timeless and still very much applicable. One of the liberating lessons which I learned is about the freedom to choose our responses. The following is extracted from his book.

Between stimulus and response is a space. in that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and our happiness. No matter what has happened, there is a space between those events and our responses to them. If there is even a fraction of a second between stimulus and response, that space represents our power to choose our response to any situation. The key is to enlarge our "Freedom to choose" space.

On the 27th December, I was asked to be the MC for my brother in law's wedding dinner. In the past I have seen many unexpected things can happen and so I have decided to stay calm regardless what might happen. True enough something did go wrong, the food which was scheduled to come out at 8.00 PM, was delayed till 8.30 PM. I decided to keep my head cool and inserted other programs in-between. Though it was stressful, taking hold of my ability to choose my response has helped me to use my creativity to save the day.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Power of Validation

I read Alex Mandossian's blog which talk about the power of validation. I am excited about the concept shared in his blog. He also posted the link to youtube about a 16mins funny and inspiring story which has a powerful message. These movie will only take 16 mins of your life and you have nothing to lose. I have also inserted Alex's blog so you can read his insight about this wonderful movie.

Click below to view Alex's Blog

Click below to view movie.

It is good to form the habit of validating people every single day as this will send out more and more positive vibes into the world. Something we need to balance of the negative news in the world today. We can begin with our family members. Tell them

“What I appreciate most about you today is … [Fill in a specific, observable behavior you want to validate]"

e.g What I appreciate most about you is your smile. It brightens my day.

Lets, together try it out on 3 person everyday for a week and see what happen. I will share my personal findings next week.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A test on Self Esteem

On the plane flying to Kota Kinabalu, I came across an interesting test on Self Esteem. Going through the test, I find it enlightening and you may find it helpful to check whether you have a healthy self esteem.

1.) I accept myself fully just as I am.

2.) I believe others behave as they do for good reasons.

3.) My opinion of myself is more important than others' opinion of me.

4.) If I recall the past, I concentrate only on pleasant memories.

5.) I forgive myself for my mistakes.

6.) I do not punish myself regardless of how others feel.

7.) I am not afraid of failure or defeat.

8.) I do not compare myself unfavourably with others.

9.) I do not allow anyone to persuade me to do the things against my will.

10.) I regard problems as opportunities to improvw my life.

11.) I do not insist others adopt my standards and ideals.

12.) I do not punish myself by feeling bad.

13.) I encourage others to grow and mature rather than to depend on me.

14.) I do not look up or down on anyone.

For those areas that you have check as NO, it is good to take time to examine the underlying reason why you behave it that manner. It is even more helpful if you could discuss this matter with a certified life coach that may assist you in clarfying unresolve issues and concerns.It is said that the number 1 roadblock in most people in not achieving their goals is low self esteem.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The meaning of TIME

When I was little, I use to watch my late grandmother winding an old wooden grandfather clock with a white clock face every few days. It can be mesmerising at times to just sit and watch the pendulum swinging from left to right to left. When I recall that clock, I can still hear the sound it my head.. tick tock tick tock tick tock. Since the clock is in my grandmother's room, she would look at it before leaving the room.

Before my grandmother winds the clock up, she would first stop the clock's pendulum and proceed with inserting a special key into a small little hole and start turning it anti clock wise. I not sure how many turns she made but I can hear the clicking mechanism made. Once she have done so, she will swing the pendulum and clock resumes it's movement.

Clock is an instrument that shows the passing of time. We all have heard the phrase" Time waits for no one" Indeed it is true. I realise that we all give different meaning to time. Especially in the city time seems to fly past us quickly. We are so often busy with chores and events, we are not aware of the passing of time. However if we are sick and lying in bed, the clock seems to tick away slowly and painfully. We become very conscious of the minute hand.

When I was visiting my auntie in the Kampung (countryside) back in the 80's, Time seems to stood still. There was no TV only the music being played from the radio, Some houses between each other is nearly a mile apart. In the night, I would sit in the veranda enjoying the cool night breeze and listening to my mother exchanging stories with my aunt. Though it is pitch dark with minimal lighting in the area, I can hear the neighbours talking even though the house way down the gravel road. Today, all this have change, they have installed cable TV which show 24 hours television. There goes the peaceful and tranquil environment.

I want to share this poem taken from a passage in the bible.

To Everything There is a Season

To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under Heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die

A time to plant and a time to pluck what is planted

A time to kill and a time to heal

A time to break down and a time to build up

A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones

A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing

A time to gain and a time to lose

A time to keep and a time to cast away

A time to tear and a time to sew

A time to keep silence and a time to speak

A time of love and a time of hate

A time of war and a time of peace

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

This poem is meaningful to me, because it reminds me that there is time for everything.The most precious gift a man has, is time. We can never get it back because the clock keeps on ticking. Tick- Tock, Tick -Tock ,Tick Tock.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Baby Steps

My daughter is now 11 months old and she is strong enough to stand unaided. Looking at her , I feel so proud and rejoice to see her progressing in her physical growth. Now she is trying to walk.

In the evening, when I do get home early; I would take her for a walk in the garden. Holding her right hand,she would walk wobbly, while balancing with her left hand. Though she has not perfected her sense of balance, she takes one step at a time. Many times she would lose her balance and fall, causing her to cry. After comforting her she would forget the whole ordeal and start standing up again. She is falling less and less now. Isn't that amazing. Never giving up and learning from the fall.

How I wish, as adult we are able to emulate a little child in picking themselves up after each fall. Learning from the fall and trying again and without the fear of the pain paralysing them from making another attempt.

Sometimes our education gets in way, we think too much until we fear of failing. At times it is the people around us telling all the reasons why it may fail in the name of being realistic. I believe between education, people's pessimism , the greatest influence is the way we are brought up. If we were told over and over again not to take risk, stick to security, play it safe and etc, we may never dare to venture out of our comfort zone. If we never venture out, we will never fully discover our full potential. If we never discover our full potential, then we will never know how to live life to the fullest and worst of all it affects the future generation. The decision we make today will affect our children's children.

Imagine what would it be like if you make a decision today to migrate to another country or to start a new business venture. The outcome will change the course of our life and the lives of our future generation. It is interesting to watch a documentary about ancient china, the people then use to live life for the future generation even to the point of making personal sacrifice. However in today's context it is most often about me, me and me.

Personally, we need to strike a balance between achieving our dreams and our responsibility for the future generation. In the media, we witness so many super stars breaking up because they were too busy pursuing their dreams and neglecting the people they love. After a while cracks begin to appear in the relationship which later leads to the failure in the marriage if not address sooner.

What if you can travel back in TIME?

Last night I was busy scanning photographs of the birth of my son Ryan and Raynald and some younger days pictures of my wife, myself and the family. Still lots more to go. Those days, picture taking was a luxury or at least for me. Firstly you need to purchase the rolls of film either in 12, 24 or 36 and not to mention expensive. Unlike today, with the convenience of the digital camera we can snap till you drop. If you are like me , with the trigger happy attitude of taking pictures, I am facing problem with storage and filling them accordingly. Well this, I consider a good problem.

As I was scanning the older photographs of me , it brought back many wonderful memories of the event. firstly I look so much younger then and looking at that younger me , I somehow wonder what if I could go back in time, what kind of advice I can give to him? If time travel was possible, what would I say to him? These are advice that I can think of right now.

1.) Don't put off what you can do today. Many opportunities is lost due to procrastination.

2.) Focus on taking action today to move closer to the goal however small it may seem. Have the "little by little, everyday" attitude.

3.) Always look on the bright side of things however difficult.

4.) Save more money and invest for financial freedom. Create value with money.

5.) Don't expect anything in return when doing something for others. At least you will not be disappointed.

6.) Don't do things out of greed, you will surely lose

7.) Build multiple source of income so you are not put in a spot when you lose your job.

8.) Be confident in what you do.
What would you say to your younger self? Please feel free to share your advice.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lost and Found

Trickles of rain tapping on my office window pane. It has been raining lightly since early morning, a good sign for me. Strangely enough, the sound of the falling rain from above makes me feel at peace and sharpened my focus. I am truly happy today and I will tell you why.

On the 2nd of January, I lost my set of keys which opens to my home and office. I Searched frantically though out my whole house, my cars but to no avail. I tried backtracking my activities since my realization and search thereon. Still cannot find it. I enquired at the coffee-shop which I regularly have my breakfast, the hotel which I stayed on new years eve, my office, the bar I patronise and still no keys.

I then remembered my personal saint whom I usually turn to for help. I said a prayer to Saint Anthony last night and hope for the best. In the past miraculously, after saying a prayer, most of the time ,I would be able to recover my ring, my keys, documents and etc. Yes.. I have lost my key before. My christian confirmation name was named after him during the confirmation rites. It is also my grandfather's name. I carry the name with pride as it means a lot to me. This morning, I had a strong instinct to search my car once again, particularly under the front passenger seat which I have earlier look through. True enough the keys was hidden way behind a can drink holder which was under the seat too. 4 days of unsettling feeling have come to an end. In a way , I am glad that I went though this experience because posting it reminded me of my saint, my grandfather whom I never got a chance to meet. My dad told me that grandfather passed away when he was only few months old. I will light a candle in my home later as a remembrance.
Thank you Saint Anthony, my patron saint.

Monday, January 5, 2009

How to be happy?

One of the key concept being taught in the book " The law of Attraction" is to be grateful with what you have. It is a challenge at first to name 10 things to be grateful for. If you are like me raise in an average low middle income family, I did not get to have the luxury like my friends had such as keeping up with the latest trend. I remember how my friend's show off their new digital watch they have (the new technology then) and I did not have anything to show. Only very much later, I did get my first digital watch which was given free if you buy the cooking oil. I think the brand was "Reagent". Nevertheless I felt so proud of it. Despite not able to keep up with my friend's new toys and latest clothing wear, I did not complain about my situation but rather accepted what I had.

I find it is easier to be grateful if we focus on what we are not lacking or not have. Here is my GRATEFUL list for today.


1.) I am grateful that the facilities in my home is sufficient, hot water to shower in the morning, electricity to light up the house and powered up my washing machine and etc.

2.) I am grateful that I have a three beautiful children and a loving wife who really care for the family and my companion.

3.) I am grateful for Sr Francisca, Gerard , Late Constantine Cheah whom guided me when I first started out in my early adult life. There are more names to fill up many pages. I will aknowledge them as I continue my posting.

4.) I am grateful for my father and mother, who made sure that we were brought up proper and never lacking in basic neccesity. My father had to work 2 jobs to support the family.

5.) I am grateful that I always have enough to continue support my family

6.) I am grateful for having such a good team at work. Their individual uniquesness truly make life interesting.

7.) I am grateful for having the chance to travel to overseas and learn first hand about people's aspiration and their culture. Actually they are more commonality between us rather than differences.

8.) I am grateful for the communication technology made available today. Now, it so much easier to keep track of all my friends.

9.) I am grateful that my parents brought me to the library every fortnightly. This is how the love for reading is cultivated.

10.) I am grateful for being healthy and able to use all my body motor skills to go places, to do things and to connect with other people.

I feel so much better now . Why not give it a try and see whether it helps you too.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Mentor - The hand that guided me

20 years ago , my younger me then was very active in the youth movement in the catholic church. I was the chairman of the youth movement and organised many events for the youth. The social concerns and issues then were very much milder when compare with today's concerns. Our role in the youth movement was to raise awareness of the problems such as the preservation of our faith, danger of alcoholism and smoking and organise character and faith building seminars. Today's issues can be seen in the news media about the rise in single parenting due to unprotected premarital sex, divorce rate has gone up which lead to broken families, pornographic material easily available through the net and etc.

As the social problem is on the rise, we need more and more people to come forward to be the guiding hand. Parents need to take quality time to teach strong moral values to their children. As a parent myself, I cannot continue to give excuse that I do not have time reason being, work commitment. Isn't it ironic, we have all the inventions in the world to help us save time and yet we have less time.

I was glad then , I had a counselor, a friend and a mentor who offeed guidance in my late teens and early adult life. A person whom I can openly talk too and consult with when I was facing difficult times. Today , I want to say thank you to Sr. Francisca for taking the time to listen and provide guidance. She is a good listener and gifted in asking soul searching questions , very much focus on my personal feelings towards the issues. As I try to answer the questions myself, the solution gradually become clearer for me. I have lost contact with her since then as the Franciscan sister tend to be posted to serve in different convents on a rotational basis. I am making it my goal to locate her and give her a thank you note.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Follow you Passion, Follow your Heart

This youtube is about a man Randy Pausch, that have inspired many people about finding personal passion in life. He was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer and was predicted 3 to 6 months to live. Instead of letting the illness beat him, he fought back and decided to inspire others. He passed away on Jully 25th 2008.

When you given a short leased in in life, people may experience a paradigm shift about life. May you be inspired as I have.

Blogging for beginners

This is a free ebook that you can download and you are on your way to the world of blogging .

FREE'>">FREE: Discover The Time Tested And Proven Roadmap To Blogging Success…

Let me know whether you find it useful.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Valuable Lessons I'd learned in 2008

Reflecting back on the year 2008, I have gain some important lessons from the experiences I went through.

Lesson 1- Always expect the unexpected and focus on taking action.
Life sometimes throw you a lot of challenges at you , and sometimes at the worst possible moments. If we are watching a movie and it does not have any twist to it, the movie will be dull and a waste of time to watch.
My company is undergoing a merger and there is an uncertainty that surrounds the organisation. No one want to talk about it, hoping that it will just go away . Murmurs and rumours spreading like contagious virus spreading though the grapevine about the possible unemployment. I have decided that worrying about it will not elevate me from the pain but rather confronting it and taking concrete action. It is like they say "Taking hold the bull by it's horn". Life is more that just a job and perhaps this can be a blessing in disguise.

Lesson 2 - Invest in personal development
In 2008 , I have invested few thousand of my savings in attending seminars. It seems painful at first to depart from my savings, unsure whether it is the right choice.Unlike the tangible products, the value is the change in thinking, attitude and new found friendship that I have gained from the course. It was money well invested. Added knowledge expand my horizon and open doors to many new opportunities.

Lesson 3.- Keep your phonebook updated
In my handphone , I have close to 800 names, and be frank some of the names I have forgotten where i have met this person and there are names that are the same especially common names like Andy, Michael and so forth but refering to different persons. I am going to make it a point to update and keep in touch with all this people as who knows abundance blessings can be waiting at the doorsteps.

Lesson 4 - Focus on understanding the other's person map first before communicating.
Many conflict can be resolve , if we just listen and make effort to understand the frame of mind of the other person. I learned this from my son ryan who is having down syndrome. When I shifted my attention to him first and attend to his needs, I found it is so much easier to get him to do what I want.

Lesson 5 - Don't take life too seriously, Look for the FUN element.
People tell me that I am a serious pool player. Whenever I play , I tend to be totally absorb into the game and often put on a serious face. I have learned that it is not about winning the game but how much fun I had in playing the game. Of course winning makes it even more sweeter.

Lesson 6 - Spend consciously
Before spending the money on things that you think you need and later not using it. I find that delaying my purchase helps to rethink whether it is necessarily. Shopping with a list worked well with me as I am focus on what is needed rather than distracted by the ongoing promotion.

Lesson 7- Focus on what is within control
In the past I often get worked up when the unexpected happen. After reading the book "The seven habits of highlt effective people", I decided to put into practice what I have read. Separate the things that is within control from the things that is beyond control. this simple concept helps me to keep calm and focus what is actionable. It is truly amazing how some ideas can liberate you from stress.

Whats your insight for 2008?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A new beginning 2009

On new year eve, My family and I spend the night at the beautiful Labuan Tiara resort. The resort stands on a slope overlooking the beautiful beach front. My room balcony has a fantastic view of the blue swimming pool.
New year day, woke up 7.30 in morning and took a drive round town to buy breakfast for my family who were still sleeping. They partied late night with the uncles, aunties and cousins. I on the other hand, slept early just after the count down as I was a little tipsy from the beer I have taken earlier. It was pouring cats and dogs just after midnight. Glad I was not caught in any traffic jam but on the comfort of my hotel bed. I though to myself would 't it be great to wake up everyday like this. A peaceful and comfortable environment. I must put this as my goal for the year. Well, according to the law of attraction from "the Secret", whatever the mind focus on whether positive or negative, it will come to reality.

As I was planning and setting my 2009 goals, I have decided to do something differently this year. Instead of focusing on everything I wanted to have and achieve, it is my desire to help 3 people to succeed as one of my goal. I will considered it accomplished, if these 3 people will live a better quality life after I have helped them. This is not a new concept as it was make popular in the movie "Pay it forward". Intresting movie to watch.

So what's your Goal for the year?