Saturday, August 11, 2007

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What would make my life a greater success than I could possible imagined?

What would slow me down or threaten my present success?

What would possibly take place to change my life fundamentally?

PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST AGING WITH LIFESTYLE CHANGES

In the book, entitled 'Saving Your Brain: The Revolutionary Plan to Boost Brain Power, Improve Memory, & Protect Yourself against Aging & Alzheimer's, the author, Dr Jeff Victoroff, shares some interesting perspectives about aging.

The author is an associate professor of clinical neurology at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.

He argues that it is possible to slow the rate of brain aging by making certain lifestyle changes, as follows:

- care passionately about what you learn & apply it daily in a new challenging lifestyle;

- never retire your mind;

- go back to school;

- learn a game that you haven't mastered yet;

- create a new website;

- learn to speak a new language;

- take up a musical instrument you have always wanted to play;

- create those poems or paint those paintings;

- travel;

- compose;

- invent;

- teach others;

I fully concur with the author. We should always be seeking out & embracing new things.

Active, deliberate learning will always challenge our brain, especially if it is exciting enough, & enjoyable enough, to regularly & continually keep us motivated & engaged.

THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY MISERABLE PEOPLE

I am very sure that most readers are already familiar with - & probably, are already embracing, just like I do - the '7 Habits for Highly Effective People', as propounded by Stephen Covey during the early nineties.

Some readers may also have noted his description of the '7 habits of Highly Ineffective People'.

In contrast, are you familiar with the '7 Habits of Highly Miserable People'?.

I came across them recently in a book bearing the same title & written in a tongue-in-cheek way by Dr Mark Borup.

Here is the author's list:

- make yourself the centre of the known universe;

- concentrate on the things you can't control;

- accumulate & covet nice stuff;

- focus on fear;

- discover the inner victim in you;

- resent the unfairness;

- avoid the present moment;

I can only say this: MISERY IS DEFINITELY AN OPTION!

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO READ?

Here are some practical suggestions from Walter Ruggieri, the author of 'Personal Learning: The Key to Increasing Wisdom':

- read now;

- read in chunks;

- read faster;

- read a lot;

- read for depth;

- read for variety;

- read for fun;

- read actively;

- re-read;


For greater impact, reading should be accompanied with writing. That's what I often do when I read.

Here are some additional suggestions from the author:

- write now;

- write personally;

- write notes;

- write things out;

- write fast;

- write in chunks;

- write to remember;

- write for fun;

That's all, folks! HAPPY READING & WRITING!

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"It is a peculiarity of man that he can only live by looking to the future. And this is his salvation in the most difficult moments of his existence, although he sometimes has to force his mind to the task."

(Source: 'Success Through Quality: Support Guide for the Journey to Continuous Improvement', by Timothy Clark)

THE GREAT KNOWLEDGE IMPLOSION

I remember, it was during the late eighties or early nineties, that I had recorded these useful notes in my scratch pad:

- between 1750 to 1900, information doubled once every 150 years;

- between 1900 to 1950, it doubled once every 50 years;

- between 1950 to 1960, it doubled once every 10 years;

- between 1960 to 1967, it doubled once every 7 years;

- between 1967 to 1973, it doubled once every 6 years;

According to computer scientists Dr Jacques Vallee, information is now doubling every 18 months.

By the year 2012, we should have information doubling everyday, & later in the year, every hour, & then every second.

I could not recall the exact information source as well as how these findings were derived, but I know for sure that information today has imploded exponentially.

I also remember reading from somewhere that about 1,000 new business books were published every day in the West, & that about 10,000 new scientific journals were released every year.

I believed these statistics probably came about well before the advent of the internet.

Interestingly, I had also recorded this personal observation of Toyoo Gyohten, former Vice Minister, Japan's Ministry of Finance, in his book, with Paul Volcker, entitled 'Changing Fortunes: The World's Money & the Threat to the American Leadership' published during the early nineties:

"Recently, I was talking to one of Japan's best foreign exchange dealers, & asked him to name the factors considered in buying & selling. He said: 'Many factors, sometimes very short term, & some medium, & some long term.' I became very interested when he said he considered the long term & asked him what he meant by that time frame. He paaused a few seconds & replied with genuine seriousness. 'Probably ten minutes.' That's the way the market is moving these days."

I have often used the foregoing findings & observations to illustrate scenarios in the 21st Century & also to drive home the valid argument of Denis Waitley & Robert Tucker, in the their book, entitled 'Winning the Innovation Game', published in the late eighties:

"The world currency today is information. To survive & succeed in the 21st century, we must refine our ability to learn new things, to gather information quickly, to synthesise it, & then make a choice to respond."

For me, the important thing is not what or how much I read. Even with PhotoReading, I can't read all the books, newsletters & or journals I want to read.

So, I read what I need in respect of my life pursuits & personal priorities. In reality, it's also more about what I can take away from my reading that adds value to my own life. It applies also to my reading of web pages on the internet as well as other information-rich media.

Friday, August 10, 2007

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

Do I create work or does my work create me?

Am I relevant to the future or relegated to the past?

Am I a member of the Fortune 100 or the Misfortune 500?

If I knew that my job was to evaporate in a year, what should I be doing now that I have not yet started doing?

(adapted from Dilip Mukerjea, Learning Chef & Cerebral Brain Dancer)

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

(Dilip Mukerjea, Learning Chef & Cerebral Brain Dancer)

WHERE DO YOU POSITION YOURSELF ON THIS MATRIX?












In his book, entitled 'Brain Symphony', my good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, introduces an interesting matrix for personal change.

Take a brief inventory of yourself & determine where do you position yourself on the matrix.

Here are some questions to ponder, posed by the
author:

1) Are you yearning to create?

2) Are you learning as fast as the world is changing? or are you imprisoned in the status quo?

3) Is the quality of your intellectual capital a rapidly depreciating asset?


To paraphrase the author: "Imagination is the raw material; intelligence is the catalyst; creativity is the fuel; all ignited by passion. You already have it. But what are you doing with it?"

If you are still puzzled, please get hold of his book. It will be worth your while to read it carefully.

You can also visit his corporate website to browse some of his other creativity stuff as well to order his books.

[For the uninitiated, 'metagrobolised' means 'totally perplexed & mixed up'. Dilip & I share something in common: Both of us are trained as engineers. However, both of us are now full-time, dedicated students of change!]

CREATIVITY & AGING

In his book, entitled ‘The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life’, the author, Gene D. Cohen, wrote about the connection between creating & aging.

First of all, the author is a world-renowned gerontologist, psychiatrist, and the first director of the Centre on Aging, Health, & Humanities at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

To help explain what he has learned about creativity and aging during more than 30 years of working with older people, he has developed what he calls "the creativity equation."

The equation is C = ME2.

It states that creativity (c) is the result of our mass of knowledge (m) multiplied by the effects of our two dimensions of experience (e2).

The first dimension reflects psychological and emotional growth over the years, whereas the second dimension reflects accumulated knowledge of life and the wisdom resulting from it.

According to the author, there are four developmental phases: re-evaluation, liberation, summing-up, and encore that shape the way our creative energy grows and the way we express it in our later years.

He argues that it is a developmental mix of age, knowledge, and practical life experience, and the brain function that allows us to integrate those pieces to achieve insight, which we can then apply to a variety of life circumstances. That is why it is typically easier for an older adult to define problems and envision multiple strategies to deal with them.

In adulthood we can take advantage of this developmental impetus to energize our creativity and jump-start our efforts to explore new ideas or make changes.

Like so much of the human condition, the timing and duration of these phases are fluid. While they typically unfold in sequence, there can be significant variation. They can overlap, and precise ages at which they occur vary.

We all have the potential to experience each phase, but not every phase may be significantly expressed.

For example, little re-evaluation activity and little liberation activation may occur, but you might have strong summing-up action.

Each phase is defined by a combination of our chronological age, our history, and our circumstances.

1. Re-evaluation Phase

In this phase, from our 50s on, our creative expression is intensified by a sense of crisis or quest. Although "midlife crisis" is the term we so often hear, most adults are engaged in a search for ways to make their life and work more gratifying. The re-evaluation phase combines the capacity for insightful reflection with a powerful desire to create meaning in life.

2. Liberation Phase

In this phase, typically from a person's 60s to his or her 70s, creative endeavours are charged with the added energy of a new degree of personal freedom that comes psychologically from within us and situationally from retirement or from a change from full-time to part-time work.

People tend to feel comfortable about themselves by this stage, knowing that if they make a mistake it won't undo the image others have of them and, more important, won't undo their image of themselves.

Creative expression in this phase often includes translating a feeling of "if not now, when?" into action. This provides a new context for experimentation, which is liberating and adds to the richness of life.

3. Summing-Up Phase

In this phase, from our 70s on, we feel more urgently the desire to find a larger meaning in the story of our lives through a process of looking back, summing up, and giving back. We also begin to see ourselves as "keepers of the culture," and wish to contribute whatever we have gained in wisdom and wealth.

Creative expression in this phase often includes autobiography and personal storytelling, philanthropy, community activism, and volunteerism.

4. Encore Phase

This phase, in our 80s or older, reflects the energy of advancing age, in which creative expression is shaped by the desire to make yet further contributions on a personal or community level: to affirm life, to take care of unfinished business, and to celebrate one's place in family, community, and even in the spiritual realm.

[If readers are interested to read more about creativity & aging, please refer to the author's wonderful book or his original article, entitled ‘Creativity at Any Age’ at The Cool Grandma Online Community website.]

Thursday, August 9, 2007

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Those people blessed with the most talent don’t necessarily outperform everyone else. It’s the people with follow-through who excel."

(Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics)

MY FAVOURITE QUOTATIONS: IDEAS

I love to collect insightful as well as interesting quotations from my readings & observations.

In fact, when I was running The Brain Resource, from early 1992 to mid-2005, my office walls were completely spruced up with quotations, which had been specially laminated and framed up in a multitude of A2, A3 and even A4 sized prints, in addition to other visual paraphernalia.

Here are some of my personal favourites on 'Ideas':

“In an economy increasingly based on information and technology, ideas and creativity embody most of the company’s wealth.”

(TIME MAGAZINE)

“All achievements, all earned riches, have their beginnings in an idea.”

(NAPOLEON HILL, THINK & GROW RICH)

“All business are built around ideas. Entrepreneurs build their organisations on a central idea. The central idea forms the organising principle within the organisation.”

(NOEL TICHY, THE LEADERSHIP ENGINE)

“Business begins with an idea. Its growth, stability and ultimate success depend upon innovation and a constant flow of imaginative ideas. The most urgent business of business is ideas.”

(JERRY HIRSHBERG, THE CREATIVE PRIORITY)

“Money never starts an idea. It is the idea that starts the money.”

(W J CAMERON)

“Think about it. Business at its essence, is two things. Ideas and action. Thinking and doing. Having a dream and making it happen.”

(JAMES BANDROWSKI, CORPORATE IMAGINATION PLUS)

“You are here where your ideas have brought you. You will be tomorrow where your ideas take you.

(MARSH FISHER, IDEAFISHER)

“A company is only as good as its last good idea. The rest that goes on in the company is only housekeeping.”

(MARSH FISHER, IDEAFISHER)

“Opportunity has gone up! And the only limits will be the size of your ideas and the degree of your dedication.”

(DONALD BLOHOWIAK, MAVERICKS)

“Because its purpose is to create a customer, the business has two, and only two, basic functions: Marketing and Innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results. All the rest are costs.”

(PETER DRUCKER, INNOVATION & ENTREPRENEURSHIP)

“It’s what in your head that determine what’s in your hands. Money is only an idea. If you want more money, simply change your thinking.”

(ROBERT KIYOSAKI, RICHDAD POORDAD)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

How aware am I of my feelings?

Are my feelings serving me in attracting what I want into my life?

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"If you give people tools, & they use their natural abilities & their curiosity, they will develop things in ways that will surprise you very much beyond what you might have expected."

(Bill Gates)

KEEP YOUR BRAIN YOUNG

I was recently invited to my gym buddy's home for dinner. While waiting, I was simply browsing some of his books lying on the coffee table. My buddy had recently rekindled his interest in reading, especially books about maintaining & sustaining healthy lifestyles.

One of his books entitled 'Keep Your Brain Young' by Dr Guy McKhann (of John Hopkins) & Dr Marilyn Albert (of Harvard Medical School) struck me immediately.

As usual, I browsed through the book very quickly. I started from the back of the book to read the book's summary.

These were some of the important findings by the two authors, based on a research study on 1,200 individuals between the ages of 70 & 80 years. These individuals had performed in the top third of the population of the age group. The performance of these individuals was tracked for the next ten years.

According to the two authors, some individuals at the end of that time had preserved excellent mental functioning , while others had not.

The authors were struck by the fact that those who preserved their mental functioning were doing three things, the others were not:

- they were more physically active;
- they were more mentally active;
- they maintained a sense of effectiveness in the world around them, meaning that they continued to maintain a sense of control over their lives, felt that they were contributing to their family or the society & generally felt good about themselves.

The following suggestions on how to keep your brain young were given in the book:

Exercise:

Exercise doesn't have to be brutal. Walking or swimming are excellent, as is lifting light weights at home or riding a stationary bike.

Be mentally active:

Challenge your brain! Different people will come up with their own individual solutions. The important thing is to make your brain do some work.

Feel good about yourself, keep control of your life:

Maintaining these attitudes may be the most important thing you can do. Part of this attitude involves recognising the stresses in your life, seeking help from others, & maintaining supportive relationships.

To me, these findings & suggestions resonate very well with those of Dr Marian Diamond, whose research work had already been amply covered in my earlier posts.

So, attention all readers, this is imperative: USE IT OR LOSE IT!

BUILDING BRAINPOWER IN OUR CHILDREN

In my earlier post, I have drawn some practical insights from the research findings of one of my favourite neuro-scientists, Dr Marian Diamond, with regard to maintaining & sustaining our healthy brains during our later years.

How can we extend this knowledge of enriched environment to help our children in their growing years?

Dr Diamond offers the following recipe in building & sustaining young healthy brains:

1) provide a steady source of positive emotional support - love, encouragement, warmth & caring;

2) provide a nutritious diet with enough protein, vitamins, minerals & calories.;

3) stimulate all the senses, but not necessarily all at once;

4) provide an atmosphere free of undue pressure & stress but suffused with a degree of pleasurable intensity;

5) present a series of novel challenges that are neither too easy nor too difficult for the child at his or her stage of development;

6) allow for social interaction for a significant percentage of activities; there is no doubt peers are intrigued with & enjoy each other;

7) promote the development of a broad range of skills & interests that are mental, physical, aesthetic, social & emotional;

8) give the child an opportunity to choose many of his or her own activities;

9) give the child a chance to assess the results of his or her efforts & to modify them; for example, as he builds sand castles on the beach and admires his construction before a wave destroys them & he need to earn to start over & resculpt;

10) provide an enjoyable atmosphere that promotes exploration & the fun of learning;

11) allow the child to be an active participant rather than a passive observer; a healthy body will have the energy to become involved;

12) above all, recognise the importance of supporting creativity with imaginative toys, fantasy friends, a rich language environment, the value of music & art, & the value of a mentor who cares & listens;

SUCCESSFUL AGING OF THE HEALTHY BRAIN

I am often fascinated by the research findings of neuro-scientists, or scientists who study the human brain, especially when I can draw a lot of practical insights for immediate application in my own life.

One of these scientists is Dr Marian Diamond. She is considered one of the world's foremost experts on experience-dependent structural changes in the brain. In other words, how the environment influences neural growth. She has conducted pioneering research on the effects of environmental enrichment on brain development.

Her many research findings offer these practical insights:

- the anatomy of the brain can be changed by the environment;

- a positively nurturing & stimulating environment encourage interactions & responses, thus providing the prime conditions for developing the more complex neural networks in the brain;

- the environment, experience, learning & emotions provide ongoing influences on our neural equipment throughout life - for better or for worse;

- passive observation is not enough; one must interact with the environment. One way to be certain of continued enrichment is to stimulate & maintain curiosity throughout a lifetime.;

In fact, one of her personal observations, in her book, 'Magic Trees of the Mind', which I had read during the late nineties, has always been deeply imprinted in my mind:

"It doesn't take money to create a climate for enchanted minds to grow. It just take information, imagination, motivation & effort. Once the habit of active involvement is entrained, experience will take over & those stimulated minds will do the rest for themselves in surprising & delightful ways."

In the early nineties, she contributed a wonderful paper entitled 'Successful Aging for the Healthy Brain' to the 1st Conference of the American Society on Aging & The National Council on the Aging in Los Angeles. In the paper, she shared a lot of very interesting pointers, which are still very relevant today & which I would like to reproduce a few here:

- Number one, & in my mind the most important, is DIET. What we feed this brain is a significant factor in its well-being.

- Two, is daily EXERCISE, & that applies to the brain as well as the body. Exercising the total body serves to maintain a healthy brain.

- Three, we must CHALLENGE the brain. It gets bored; we know that well.

- Four, we need NEWNESS, new pursuits, new ideas, new activities in our life.

- And five, last but definitely not least, we must nurture ourselves & each other: call it sharing basic HUMAN LOVE;

In a nut shell, 'Diet', 'Exercise', 'Challenge', 'Newness' or 'Novelty', & 'Love' are the vital keys to sustaining a healthy brain.

Incidentally, she doesn't like the term 'retired' - she prefers 'redirected'. Cool!

If you are interested to read the entire paper, about 18 pages long, please proceed to the New Horizons for Learning website.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

THE CREATIVITY EQUATION: C = (ME)∞

In his wonderful book, ‘Surfing the Intellect: Building Intellectual Capital for the Knowledge Economy’, my good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, has created a wonderful equation to express what true creativity is all about:

C = (ME)∞

C = Creativity;

M = mass of data, information, knowledge & wisdom acquired over our lifetime;

E = sum of experiences, enlightenment gained; whereby they serve to energise our life;

ME = the synergy of M & E; together, they identify who we are;

(ME)∞ = the infinite capacity that resides within all of us, which is the essence of creativity;

‘Surfing the Intellect’ is among the author’s quadruplet of brain skills books, known as ‘The Creative Brain Series’, which include ‘Unleashing Genius’, ‘Building Brainpower’ & ‘Brain Symphony’. They are available for purchase from his corporate website.

BOOK REVIEW: 'WIDE-ANGLE VISION - BEAT YOUR COMPETITION BY FOCUSING ON FRINGE COMPETITORS, LOST CUSTOMERS & ROGUE EMPLOYEES,' by Wayne Burkan

My personal recommendation:

Please read this book jointly with Joel Arthur Barker's 'Future Edge'. It will be an excellent companion. It will also serve as a very pragmatic & useful guide to dealing with & implementing change.

Wayne Burkan, a consultant/trainer, has been a collaborator of Joel Arthur Barker (in the ‘Paradigm Prism’ video production).

In this book, filled with excellent real-world business examples, the author introduces some more interesting concepts to the paradigm phenomenon.

The author offers a refreshing contrarian viewpoint by using the term, ‘THE EDGE’ to illustrate his innovative ideas. More specifically, he argues that companies should exercise ‘wide-angle vision’ to see the bigger picture & look toward to the ‘the edge’ of their businesses, for possible innovative ideas from their insignificant, “little guy” competitors, former &/or disgruntled customers, & rebel or maverick employees.

This is a radical break from conventional wisdom, which says “stay close to your best customers, watch your biggest competitors, & reward your model employees.”

On the other hand, most business books postulating the concept of strategic advantage sometimes get too conceptual or even too vague in the approach. This is one book that shows you the tactical and yet practical approaches to gaining a strategic advantage in your business.

One of the best learning tools I got out of this book is the power of observation, or environmental scanning, through the application of peripheral vision. The author calls it "splatter vision" or "wide angle vision" which he uses as the book's main title.

I understand from my American friends that this is an age-old technique practised by native North American Indians. Henceforth, it is now practised by nature observers, bird watchers and animal trackers.

In the book, the author relates an analogy of how Secret Service agents apply "splatter vision" in the field to visually screen out, read the signals quickly - & anticipate - any potential threats against the President.

In the business world, I fully agree "splatter vision" is a useful & powerful anticipation tool, with which you can apply to constantly scan the entire business landscape in sweeping motions in order to avoid missing ‘unexpected gaps’ which could be potential threats &/or possible opportunities.

In reality, you are:

- unfocusing your eyes;
- maximising your peripheral vision;
- sustaining a soft focus;
- increasing your view of the landscape with an almost 180 degree-field-of-vision;

in order to avoid becoming so focused that you expect your challenge to come from a specific direction!

In other words, ‘splatter vision’ can help you to avoid the perils of tunnel vision by broadening your perspective to the edges of what’s happening in the mainstream, & also to seek out breakthrough solutions to difficult problems by searching outside your field of expertise.

Another book that can be read in conjunction with these two books, is 'The Whack-A-Mole Theory: Creating Breakthrough and Transformation in Organizations' by Lindsay E. Collier.

You will certainly note a common & yet powerful theme throughout these three books.

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

How can I think outside the box?

How can I make my box bigger?

How can I change my box?

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."
(Dilip Mukerjea, Learning Chef & Cerebral Brain Dancer)

Monday, August 6, 2007

CHASING MY DREAMS

Although I was born in Singapore, I was brought up in Yong Peng, Johor, located on the southern end of the Malaysian peninsula.

[In the early years, from the fifties to the sixties, well before the North-South Highway was built, trucks & other vehicles to & fro Singapore had to pass through Yong Peng. There was also an interesting historical aspect of the town. Actually, it was more a village by classification.

The nearby jungles were the notorious battle-ground between British security forces & communist insurgents during the fifties/early sixties. I remember very well the daily curfews as well as food rationing during those tough days. I had to queue up for the weekly rice ration for the whole family. My third elder brother had even served in the local Home Guards, which worked with the British forces.]

My late father had brought me & the family into Malaysia when I was about six or seven years old. He was a rubber trader as well as a supplier of rubber plantation equipment, including building materials.

I studied at the Yong Peng English School, which was a missionary school, located just next to a church. I remember for the first two years or so, the school, which had only one morning class, operated out of a shop-house near the school site.

My father’s house was located on a small hillock, about half an hour walk from the school. The house compound, which was fenced up with barbed wire mesh, was relatively huge - about the size of a football field - as there was also a warehouse at one end. The compound was also shared with a repair & parking garage at another end, mainly for Daimler Benz & Bedford trucks belonging to the Yong Peng Transport Company. My father was a shareholder in the transport company. My father's shop was located at the main thoroughfare, which was also about half an hour walk from the house.

Every afternoon after school, besides catching & playing with spiders, as well as with small granite marbles, I would spend my spare time watching the mechanics (or grease monkeys as they were often called) working in the repair garage. Sometimes, the mechanics allowed me to join them in washing the crankshafts & pistons. I also got the opportunity to help them cut the gaskets & other mundane tasks. I really enjoyed doing that very much. The only thing that they didn’t allow me to get involved was grinding the crankshafts by hand.

I believe this was how I got started to be interested in mechanical things. I often dreamed about dismantling & reassembling them, especially the engines of trucks. Now, I know why my visualisation skills are so good.

In fact, besides trucks, I was also fascinated by automobiles. I remember vividly my dream automobile was the Opel Commodore. I had seen one belonging to somebody who had often visited the repair garage. I didn’t know why, but I just knew that I loved its design, shape & colours. [My father owned an Austin Cambridge at that time. Incidentally, from mid-1992 to early 2001, I owned an Opel Vectra.]

I also remember that, besides English & Science, drawing was my favourite subject in school. I often liked to draw all kinds of mechanical objects, in addition to the cartoon characters from the comics I had read.

Somehow, I was struck by this dream that I wanted to be an automobile engineer when I grew up. I reckon, my many afternoons spent as a part-time grease monkey after school had been a major motivating factor.

When I had just completed my Form III, the highest level available at the school, i.e. nine years of education, I came across an advertisement on the school notice board, regarding a two-year full-time course on mechanical craft practice. It was posted by a boarding school known as Sekolah Menengah Teknik (Technical Institute) located at Jalan Maxwell, off Jalan Ipoh, in Kuala Lumpur. I told my father that I wanted to go there to pursue my dream. My father was very reluctant at first, but he finally relented.

I completed the two years course during the mid-sixties, during which I had learned about surveying, drafting, sheet metal work, soldering, welding, & machining. I had many sweet memories of the boarding school. [My regular gym buddy today happens to be one of my school-mates as well as room- mates at the boarding school.] I also took the Senior Cambridge examination, equivalent to today’s ‘O’ Levels, & scored a Distinction in Technical Drawing.

During that time, Singapore was already at loggerheads with Malaysia. So, I decided to return immediately to Singapore to join the Singapore Polytechnic at Prince Edward Road to continue my studies.

I was very eager to put my newly acquired mechanical craft skills to work. I eventually enrolled in a day-release diploma course on mechanical engineering, while I worked as a mechanical draftsman in the day time. My first employer was Buhler Brother Engineering Works from Switzerland, which operated a Design & Drafting office in Singapore at the factory premises of Diethelm & Co., on Alexandra Road. My Swiss boss was generous to release me one full-day plus three evenings from work to pursue my course at the polytechnic every week.

The rest was history.

I often like to share this part of my life with kids & teenagers, especially when I am talking about the significance of having aspirations in life & chasing your dreams.

BOOK REVIEW: 'FUTURE EDGE - DISCOVERING THE NEW PARADIGMS OF SUCCESS', by Joel Arthur Barker

Actually, this book is a sort of brief update of the author's earlier book, entitled ‘Discovering the Future: The Business of Paradigms’, which was self-published in the mid-80s.

[The video tape, bearing the same title as the book, was released a few years later. It became a best-selling business video in history.]

I must add that, despite the transpiration of more than two decades, this book still remains a commendable work of business strategy.

In a nut shell, the author helps all of us to understand how paradigms influence our perceptions of the world around us. He also challenges all of us to look for new possibilities and see opportunities that we have never seen before.

Drawing essentially from the pioneering work of Thomas Kuhn, who wrote the classic, ‘The Theory of Scientific Revolutions’ in the 70's, this author has very artfully expounded the concept of paradigm shift & paradigm pliancy in the world of business, in contrast to the scientific community. In fact, he was the first person to popularise the concept for the corporate world.

From a strategic exploration viewpoint, this is an excellent guide book.

Understanding and mastering your paradigms is one important thing for making progress in life and in business, but I personally feel that the real essence of this book is succinctly captured by the author in the five strategic exploration tools outlined in the book.

- Influence understanding: to understand what influences your perceptions;
- Divergent thinking: thinking skills to discover more than one answer;
- Convergent thinking: thinking skills to focus integrated data and prioritized choices;
- Mapping: draw pathways to get from present to future;
- Imaging: to picture words or drawings or models of the future as found in exploration;

They are the real gems of the book.

[Bear in mind that the author is a process futurist, unlike most other futurists who write books & who are primarily content futurists. The five specific tools mentioned in the book are the exact process tools to aid & enhance your strategic exploration. Do not get carried away by the content part of the book pertaining to some perceived trends illustrated by the author.]

In addition, the author defines the concept of paradigm very well & also elaborates at length on its key characteristics & effects, with illuminating examples, as well as enlightening comparison/contrast of paradigm pliancy vs. paradigm paralysis.

He highlights the importance of paradigm shift, paradigm pliancy & the skill of anticipation. I particularly enjoyed exploring the two specific thought-provoking questions posed by the author:

(1) What do I believe is impossible to do in my field, but, if it could be done, would fundamentally change my business?

(2) Who, outside my field, might be interested in my unsolved problems?


By thinking about & answering these two challenging questions on your own, & against your own background, you will begin to understand & appreciate the essence of the author's proposition. This will be the beginning of your own paradigm shift, as it has happened in my own life design for the second half.

I would recommend readers to buy and read this book jointly with Wayne Burkan's ‘Wide-Angle Vision’. Wayne Burkan has been a collaborator of Joel Barker, and he introduces some more new ideas to the paradigm phenomenon.

Better still, view also and learn more from the videos (in which both authors are the lead facilitators), ‘The Paradigm Prism’ and ‘The Implications Wheel’, which bring the whole paradigm concept to life and which showcase some more real-world business examples.

If you want to explore your future, read this book!

As the author puts it, before you can create your future, you must first explore it. You must create and shape your future, otherwise someone else will!

[Please note that the paperback version of ‘Future Edge’ is 'Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future.' The videos are available from http://www.atsmedia.com/.]

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What have I learned today?

How do I feel?

How can I apply what I have learned to my work? my life?

What can I do to ensure that what I have learned today will stick in my mind?

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"If you wish to be successful study success. If you wish to be happy, study happiness. If you wish to make more money, study the acquisition of wealth. Those who achieve things don't do it by accident. It's a matter of studying first & practicing second."

(Jim Rohn)

Sunday, August 5, 2007

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What are my dreams?

Am I living my dreams?

If not, why not?

MY FAVOURITE QUOTATIONS: IMAGINATION

I love to collect insightful as well as interesting quotations from my readings & observations.

In fact, when I was running The Brain Resource, from early 1992 to mid-2005, my office walls were completely spruced up with quotations, which had been specially laminated & framed up in a multitude of A2, A3 & even A4 sized prints, in addition to other visual paraphernalia.

Here are some of my personal favourites on 'Imagination':

'Microsoft's only factory asset is the human imagination."

(The New York Times)

"Imagination rules the world."

(Napoleon Bonaparte)

"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."

(Mark Twain)

"Imagination is everything. It is your preview of life's coming attractions."

(Albert Einstein)

"You have only to work up imagination to the state of vision & the thing is done."

(William Blake)

"The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless."

(Jean Jacques Rousseau)

"The man who has no imagination, has no wings."

(Muhammed Ali)

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."

(Albert Einstein)

"Logic works within boundaries. Imagination plays with boundaries."

(Source Unknown)

"Imagination is intelligence with an erection."

(Victor Hugo)

"To invent, you need a good imagination & a pile of junk."

(Thomas Edison)

"Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning."

(Gloria Steinem)

"...that ideas, which are born & developed in our imagination, are the beginning points of all fortunes."

(Napoleon Hill)

"The faster things change, the less you can use facts & the more you need imagination."

(Stan Davis)

"The greatest threat to any organisation is not the lack of ability or resources, but the failure of imagination."

(David Meier)

"The best way to look at future possibilities is to use our imagination."

(Thomas Saaty)

"The real source of wealth & capital in this new era is not material things. It is the human mind, the human spirit, the human imagination, & our faith in the future."

(Steve Forbes)

"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire; you will what you imagine; & at last you create what you will."

(George Bernard Shaw)

"All the works of man have their origin in creative fantasy. What right have we then to depreciate imagination."

(Carl Jung)

PORTABLE COMPUTER

All of us own a portable computer, since the day we were born.

It is specifically designed with a neck-top configuration.

It comes with three CPUs, & an active, self-organising operating system, with multi-modal, multi-path, parallel networking processing capability.

It has also a virtually unlimited memory.

All necessary softwares are completely factory-installed & ready to run.

It fits perfectly into a small compartment between our two ears & never has to be taken out for cleaning or recharging.

It weighs about 1.5 kg, but has no weight limit during shipping.

It requires no special carrying case.

It cannot be lost in transit & always arrives when you do.

It has its own built-in bio-electro-chemical power supply & requires no additional batteries, extension cords, adaptors & spare bulbs.

You pay no additional shipping charges.

There is also no extra expense for handling.

You do not have to consign it to the baggage section.

You do not have to place it under the seat or in the overhead compartment.

You can use it day & night, on land, sea & in the air.

It has an added advantage: It will not interfere with any navigational systems on board.

You can take it into any country without a special customs permit.

As long as you stay in good working order, & unless you subject it to abuse, it will remain functional throughout your life span.

Nevertheless, it has a low component reliability, but high system dependability, with design life of up to 70 years.

Although it does not come with a factory warranty, many end-users, including Albert Einstein & Gary Kasparov, have confirmed that the more they use it, the better (& more powerful) they become!

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"It doesn't matter so much what you do, it is WHY you are doing it that is important."

(Marie Griffith)

BOOK REVIEW: PERSONAL CHANGE MANAGEMENT II

‘SAVE YOURSELF! SIX PATHWAYS TO ACHIEVEMENT IN THE AGE OF CHANGE’
by Robert Gilbreath

Among the many early books I own on personal change management, I like this book the most.

I had bought it at about the time I had started to explore new options for my mid-life transition in the late 80's/early 90's.

During that period, the book gave me interesting insights about six critical pathways to personal achievement in the Age of Rapid Change.

First, let me outline the various chapters of the book to give readers a sense of how the book is structured:

- Introduction: Welcome to Crunch Time;
- Chapter 1 Break the Sound Barrier (The Listen Pathway);
- Chapter 2 Break the Code to Problems (The Prospect Pathway);
- Chapter 3 Break Away from Convention (The Innovate Pathway);
- Chapter 4 Break the Speed Limit (The Respond Pathway);
- Chapter 5 Break into the Future (The Adapt Pathway);
- Chapter 6: Break out in Front (The Lead Pathway);

In a nutshell, these were the intended results of the six pathways:

LISTEN pathway: discovering ways to tune in to what's out there;
PROSPECT pathway: finding out what you can do about them...by working smart...exploring purposefully...;
INNOVATE pathway: getting what you want with what you have;
RESPOND pathway: moving in new directions & taking short cuts to the payoffs...breaking rules...;
ADAPT pathway: reshaping yourself to suit external environmental conditions & learning to grow...;
LEAD pathway: pulling others with you in the pursuit of excellence...taking charge...;

Even till today, I always find the pathways still very relevant in today's context, despite the fact that almost two decades had already transpired since it was first published.

In the book, the author also offered some thirty FAST FORWARD techniques to help in expediting the journey along the pathways.

At the end of each chapter, the author obviously took pains to incorporate some fascinating picto-games to help in understanding possible barriers along the pathways. In fact, within each chapter there are one or two graphic symbols &/or illustrations to highlight key points of the particular chapter. I really enjoy reading books that are graphically illustrated as such, which makes reading a breeze!

Overall, I found the book entertaining, humourous & funny at times, but best of all, it had given me excellent perspectives to deal with a constantly changing world.

I would enthusiastically recommend this book to all busy professionals, particularly those still working in quiet desperation!.

BOOK REVIEW: PERSONAL CHANGE MANAGEMENT I

'WHO MOVED MY CHEESE? – AN AMAZING WAY TO DEAL WITH CHANGE IN YOUR WORK & IN YOUR LIFE'
by Spenser Johnson

When I first came across this little book many years ago, I did not read it as I generally do not like to read 'fictional stories' in a non-fiction business book. Also, I thought that the book was too simplistic.

When I was asked, surprisingly without my prior knowledge, to facilitate a movie bearing the same title during a teen boot camp, I took up the challenge readily & proceeded to dissect the movie's message, together with the participants after watching it. I thoroughly enjoyed the endeavour & at the same time, learned something from the movie.

Subsequently, I returned to read this book.

In a nut shell, the story took place in a maze. Four beings lived in that maze: 'Sniff' & 'Scurry' were mice - they just wanted cheese & were willing to do whatever it took to get it. 'Hem' & 'Haw' were "little people" who had an entirely different relationship with cheese. It was not just sustenance to them; it was their self-image. Their lives & belief systems were built around the cheese they've found. One day, somebody moved the cheese & the rest of the movie carried the central philosophy of the story.

Most of us reading the story (or watching the movie) will see the cheese as something related to our livelihoods - our jobs, our career paths, our physical health, our spiritual being - although it can stand for anything.

The point of the story is that we have to be alert to changes in the cheese, & be prepared to go running off in search of new sources of cheese when the cheese we have runs out.

For me, the story sums up as follows:

Things change. They always have changed & always will change. Change occurs whether a person is ready or not. In order to survive in a constantly changing landscape, we must learn to anticipate - & embrace - change, & to adjust our attitude by letting go of the old, & do what we would do if we were not afraid. For things to change, first we must change!

While there's no single way to deal with change, the consequence of pretending change won't happen is always the same: The cheese runs out.

In real terms, the book, as well as the movie, although inspiring, did not offer specific strategies or tools to deal with change. Readers as well as listeners watching the movie are still left with some questions about making his or her own specific personal changes.

Nevertheless, this book, as well as the movie, (although in retrospect, the movie was much more fun to watch!) will certainly jump start your pursuit of understanding - & anticipating - the need for personal change, when things change or are changing around you.

I would recommend readers to read 'Save Yourself! Six Pathways to Achievement in the Age of Change' by Robert Gibreath. It offers more specific strategies & tools to deal with change. It is among my first few books I have owned on personal change management.