Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why change is so difficult?

Looking back of what I have achieved over the years, I am indeed grateful to all the events that have occurred in my life. I believe now that all things that happen should not be simply categorised as good or bad but rather to be understood from the attaching meaning you have given to it. Sometimes making a misinformed decisions has it's advantage as the outcome can strengthened your character and conviction.

When I first started out in a blue collar job as a plant operator in an oil and gas refinery, I was receiving instruction from my superiors whom were very helpful and encouraging. I'd worked hard to gain more experience but somehow I felt a need to do more. I remembered telling myself that one day I would want to be a manager supervising people. The real motive was to increase my paycheck so I can drive and live in the kind of house my manager was privileged to then. The difference in salary according to the ranks was significant. Of course that dream seems very distance then but I knew that something must change in order to get there. And so, I decided to further my studies by taking distance learning. My other setback was my lack in communication skills in which I'd found the solution in toastmasters international organisation. To cut the story short, it was 9 years later that I have achieved my ambition. I finally got my manager rank but in another diverse industry.

We all know that change is a necessity , Isn't it ironic that how we have progress so far as civilisation we are still bounded to the law of the jungle which claims that only the fittest will survive. It is shape up or ship out drill to ensure that you still remain relevant. So companies decide to engage consultants to implement change in the organisation but only to flush hundreds of thousands away and not getting any real results. Some people fail to understand that change takes time. It is not as simply as changing your vision, changing your strategy or even changing your thinking. I recalled a book I have read about beliefs by Robert Dilts. He points out that in order for change to be effective and sustainable, three things must happen.

First, that you got to believe that it is possible to change (Belief system)
Second, you got to want to change ( Value congruency) and
Thirdly, you got to know how to change (Behavioural pattern).

If you ignore any of these three elements, that change which you are asking will not transpire. My experience have taught me that change must begin within each individual. Nowadays, change can be expedite through coaching and mentoring. In my case if I had a good mentor and role model earlier on, I would have shortened my journey towards my goal and probably achieve more in life. However , everything happens for a reason and I am grateful that I'd have reach this far in life.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The value of money

When I was growing up, my late dad had to work 2 jobs to provide for the family so that we can live more comfortably. Teaching in the day and working at my uncle's billiard shop in the night. The reason for working two jobs is because his teaching salary was low, unlike nowadays , it is comparatively high and with added allowances.

I can still remember my maternal grandpa Matthew, lived a simple life and was active in community service at the village. Despite not having much , his house is open to friends and strangers alike. He made people feel welcome ,even shared meal with them and strangely there was enough food to go around.

Nowadays it seems that the more you earn, the more you are in debts. It takes real discipline to practice delayed gratification and only spend on what is necessity.

I think one of the culprit is that we tend to spend on things that kills time example cable tv, video games, gambling, entertainment and so forth. Perhaps we can't stand the thought of not doing anything. We also spend on overindulging our senses. We want to feel good by buying expensive clothings, drive in a more comfortable car, getting those pampering body treatment.

If you think about it, we work to earn money and later ended up being indebted to finance institution because of credit cards, personal loan and morgages. All because we can't wait to save enough to own or enjoy the things we want debt free. We commit to the finance institution because we have this believe that our jobs are secured until the day comes when the economy turn against us. We start blaming the government, unfair business competition,the rising interest rates, corporate mismanagement , everything except ourselves. Yep... the hard truth is that we are not willing to take personal responsibility for our finances.

Quoting from personal experience, the answer is not earning more but rather to be critically conscious on where your money is going to. It is not about being shrewd but rather striving to get more value from each dollar you spend. Don't be fool by the marketing term " Value for money" it is sometimes a bait to further entrapment.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Change is .......

My recent book which I'd read was an eye opener for me, had a provoking title that will challenge any intellectual person to a debate. The book title read " The world is flat" authored by Thomas Friedman. He defended the concept based on real life observation and illustrate with examples how once the world was so divided, is now closely knitted though the advancement of communication technology.

He also describe change as a natural process". Interesting way to put it, instead of the old cliche phrase "change is constant". Yes... I do believe that change is a natural order in life to ensure the weakling is removed from the chain and the fittest remain so that it can future breed a more superior generations.

Thinking about it, when the head of the organisations trumpets out for the need to change , it is often followed by unfavourable consequences. The only way to survive this, is to ensure we are among the strong clan. Not necessarily to be the strongest and the fittest but just enough to outrun the weakess in the group.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A catchy phrase

Have you been to the library on a Monday night in the capital city Kota Kinabalu? It was my first time and not many people were around then. I'd made my way towards the section on self help and motivation, hoping to find an interesting book to occupy my time.

Scanning quickly though the rows of book shelves, an ordinary looking book about personality trait caught my attention. Skimming through the pages, something happened, a phrase caught my attention which seems to leap out from the pages. The words were " Fearlessly confident".

Pondering for a moment what the word meant to me, it was actually what I wanted in my life right now. To be fearlessly confident in everything I do. Would not it be great if we just have that kind of "Just Do It" attitude. There are some people who could do just that and not worry about the consequences. Tackle the challenge as it comes.

However if you are a family man like me, the decisions we make will affect everyone in the family. So "fearlessly confident" must also be supported by Plan B and C if things don't work out the way it intended to be. But for now, I will keep hold to those words close at heart and mind until the day I do make that decision.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Moving Forward

The phrase is so often heard from lips of top management, so much so that it has become a cliché that does not often inspire people. What does it actually mean to move forward? Does it mean to progress together towards a common goal? Does it mean to advance with new strategies or does it mean to quickly do something as long as we are seen taking actions?

Perhaps another way to rephrase it is “taking it to the next level “. Gamers would know this terminology as it means battling it out with the villain until you meet the big boss at the end of the level. After you have subdued the big boss, you can proceed to the next level. The higher the level, the meaner the villain gets and the reward is more tempting.

However moving forward does not necessarily guarantee success. Just like in any video game, as the villains gets meaner the game plan has to change if you want to win. Based on my observation, failing is one of the factors that you must be prepared.

Darren Lacroix, the 1999 toastmaster champion winning speech message was, ‘if you were to fall, fall forward, at least you are still making progress” It was a huge insight for me, many a times when face with failure, we feel like giving up. It’s being human because it is our nature to protect ourselves from all kind of harm whether it is emotional or physical. Falling forward meant gaining ground advantage from each fall. As you fall you learn what does and does not work. Failing happens only when you decide to quit. If not, it is just another learning experience. So keep moving forward everyday in your life

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The power of words

Words can either make or break you. I do believe that the choice of words you use to describe an experience will consequent in the emotions that you will experience later.

I remembered during my speech competition back in 2009 , I was up against very seasonal speakers and the feeling inside me before the contest was an overwhelming one. Finding time to myself, I kept repeating "I have an important message for the audience and I am going to deliver it from my heart". After many repetitions my focus was now on delivering the message rather than winning the contest. It helped calm my nerve and I was gaining more and more confident. I sailed through the speech beaming with new confidence and the audience responded positively. It was a great feeling.

In another situation, when I'd receive a letter confirming of my new relocation to another branch , I was depress at first because the thought of being away from the family was truly a difficult one. The relocation was in another state . Composing myself, I reassured myself , "that everything that happen is neutral. It is neither good nor bad but the meaning I give to it". It did not happen once but whenever I find myself sinking to self pity, I use those phrase like a magical chant. This was 10 months ago and that road have taken me to a whole new experiences.

These experiences and many more has taught me that words do have power and being aware of it, is the beginning of the realization that I can control my emotions. The next time when you are feeling beaten down by negativity, keep guard of the choice of words you use to express yourself. It worked for me and I hope it will too for you.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Keeping your head cool

It was raining heavily as I reached the capital city kota kinabalu. The 3 hours ferry ride from the island Labuan started quite calm but ended up with the monsoon rain pouring ferousiosly. Unprotected from it, I stood soaking wet at the terminal while waiting for my transport,then I noticed the traffic jam had already begun. The narrow road in the city is not sufficient enough to cater the ever increasing number of new cars in the city.
My cousin picked me up in her little cute car and I was further soaked from running towards her car. Quickly maneuvering the car out of town was a challenge as the normal rush hour is worsen by the heavy rain. It is a true test of nerves. Keeping calm in situation like this requires a shift in paradigm. Listening to talk shows on the radio can ease the nerve at times as the DJ host picks a provoking topic concerning relationship between men and women and opinions on the latest hot happening.

Coming from a small island Labuan, Kota kinabalu traffic jam can be ridiculous at times.I have learned that listening to motivation talk and keeping a magazine handy in the car can be a great traffic buster. Fuming over something that is beyond your control is not productive at all, might as well make the best of it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A painful reminder

My phone alarm rang ... Ahhh I thought to myself, must be something important I have scheduled for the day much earlier. Looking at my blackberry, it was a reminder of my Dad's birthday. Somehow my phone still gave out the anniversary reminder despite my dad's passing a year ago. It was a momentary flashback and I stood there appreciating the thought of him.
Though it has been a year , the painful experience of loss still lingers. The pain is because of the miss opportunities I have NOT taken to mend the relationship between us. I'd often took things for granted and never got round to doing it. I know, I had to learn to let go but somehow the reminder often keeps him close to me. I have learn to forgive him but most importantly I am slowly learning to forgive myself for those miss opportunities.
How often we read the daily paper and sometimes come across the obituary section of someone we knew. If you find yourself saying... it's only just last week I 'd met him, why? Perhaps it is time to seriously set aside some time to call our long forgotten friends and most importantly family members which we seldom keep in touch.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Breaking out from my comfort zone

Six months ago I was posted to an existing branch in a rural town called keningau located at the heart of interior Sabah. It is also the central for all the government agencies through out the interior of Sabah. The roads are good and it is connected to the other smaller rural town. If you are driving from the capital city kota kinabalu, it is only 1.5 hour drive but be warned of the steep terrain as it passes over the crocker range.Depending on the time of day, You will be greeted by the thick clouds and cool refreshing breeze along the crocker range, something that I truly enjoy especially coming from a hot sunny climate.

I have not imagine myself working here before but the lateral transfer was a whole new thing for me. It is both enriching in experience and opportunity to make new friends. I am glad that my new office colleagues are warm and friendly which made my move so much bearable. Despite my move, I have decided against moving my family here as this would be a temporally thing for me. This meant that every weekend I would take a 3 hours journey by car and ferry to my hometown island Labuan. Weekend have never seemed so exciting and meaningful till now.

View Labuan in a larger map

Accepting the transfer gave me the opportunity to learn new things. Honestly, I did not accept it immediately, the move was more of a job necessity rather than by choice. It is common to see nowadays, companies restructuring and downsizing as means to business survival. People become jobless and at times no VSS was offered. Either you take the transfer or leave, Period. This is inevitable and the faster we learn to accept the fact , the easier it is to prepare ourselves for the unpredictable future. Getting out of my comfort zone has put a stretch in my financial budget and also my family. I kept reminding myself, that I had to be mentally tough to weather this challenges and I quickly learn to adapt to my new surrounding and make the best in any given situation.

If you ever get caught in this kind of situation, I can only advice you that mental toughness is critical to your sanity, keep your emotions at bay and have a clear forward plan of what you want to achieve and move on.

Sometimes we plan so many things in life, but life has it's ways of offering new twist in our plan. Every decision you make is never wrong but only bring you to a different conclusion.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Different types of Friendship

When you are feeling down, do you have a friend who is willing to walk that rocky path with you? A friend who patiently listen to your every bit of complain and frustration until you feel better. A friend who would be willing to stand by you when you are being isolated from others.

Through my years in my adult life, I have had many types of friends. My daily workmates, Friends who parties with you, Friends who helped out in voluntary project, Friends who trade secret cooking recipes and etc.

Last year, When my father suffered from stroke and diagnosed of fourth stage lung cancer in the hospital, that was one of my most trying moments in life. I felt helpless and had a lot unresolved issues that I could not clear with my dad. He lost his speech and loss part of his logical thinking faculty. I felt lonely not because no one came and comforted me but no one to share my inner thoughts with. To share deep secret opens oneself to vulnerability. Opening oneself to the wrong person could subject of manipulation and other ill intention.

I believe that one of the principles operating in our lives is the law of reciprocity. Some may call it as KARMA. If you do good to others , good will happen to you. If you are mean and revengeful to others, you will receive the same in return. So.... to have good and loyal friends , we must be one. So base on this concept , I asked myself what is the criteria in order to be one. Looking back in the past,I do know that there must be an element of trust, the ability to keep secrets and the patient to listen without offering advice. I think out of this three value trust, secrecy and listening, the most difficult to upkeep is the ability to keep secrets. The reason is that keeping secrets requires strong character.

I do admit I am not really good at keeping secrets as I am kind of an extrovert in nature.However I did not openly share my unresolved emotions about my dad .He is now gone for nearly a year but I still think about him and sometimes I find myself confiding in him silently. Well, I am not sure whether he can listen to my thoughts but I would like to believe that he is.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thinking Big

My very first positive thinking book "The touch of greatness" by Frank Tibolt made such a positive impact in my life. It opened up my mind to a world where dreams do come true if only you can dream it up. Dream beyond what seems unimaginable right now. However that can be quite a challenge because as we begin to dream it, there is a part of us pulling us downwards and reminds us of our responsibilities, our commitments, our shortcomings and blah blah blah.

Sometimes we got to learn to shut out that part of us that is so eager to protect us from failing. Learning from the great people in history, accepting failure and disappointments are what we need to change our status quo in life. Are you willing to take that steps? cause nothing ever happens until you do something different.