Saturday, June 21, 2008

MAKING DISTINCTIONS: IGNORANT vs STUPID

I just realised this distinction:

ignorant = don't know;

stupid = know but don't do;

I have always held the view that stupidity is just the inability of the brain or any part of nature to accept useful information, learn from it & act intelligently on it.

IS HOME TUITION THE ULTIMATE ANSWER?

In recent months, there has been a big hoo haa in local newspaper reports, including complaints by parents in the Forum pages, about teachers intentionally "outsourcing" part of their teaching to home tuition teachers as well as motivational camps.

The last Sunday Times even had a feature story about top guns in the home tuition industry, with one guy earning some S$20,000 from students a month.

Also, I believe that motivational camps are probably doing roaring business, judging from the seemingly rapid frequency of their testimonial ads in the local newspapers, or is it necessitated by the prevailing competition intensity in the marketplace?

I must point out that there is nothing wrong with tuition teachers &/or motivational camps earning their keep.

They are definitely doing their jobs, otherwise they would not be earning big bucks.

Obviously, judging from the rampant testimonial advertising, really happy parents are testifying to the seemingly impeccable academic results of their children.

Interestingly, a recent straw poll revealed that, out of 100 students, 97 had some form of tuition, either at home or in a tuition centre.


It is sad to hear that our current school system has reached such a state of affairs.

Are our school teachers inundated with a curriculum overload & seemingly intensive class schedule imposed by the Ministry of Education to the extent that they have to do the "outsourcing"?

I recall, about fifteen years ago, an educator had once told me that a primary six student learned 3 times as much in terms of the amount of information as his grandfather.

I reckon this intensity level of information should have already increased tremendously in today's context.

My question: Are our school teachers still teaching their subjects or lessons in the same manner?
A better question: Are our students still learning their subjects or lessons in the same manner as their forefathers?

If the tuition teachers are making big bucks as reported, from the standpoint of tuition, then they must be doing something correct.

After all, as I understand, most parents have no qualms in paying the asking tuition fees.


Can't our school teachers learn something useful from the successful experiences of the tuition teachers?

I am familiar with the successful teaching methods of motivational camps. Their trainers or success coaches often demonstrate to participating students that learning is fun, & then teach them the techniques of how to learn, & also how to study different subjects, besides acing the exam, among other important stuff.

Can't our school teachers learn something good from the trainers of these motivational camps?

[to be continued in the Next Post]

BEST STRATEGY

I am just thinking aloud:

what is the best strategy in terms of the requisite skills one would need immediately to deal with a rapidly-changing, fast-paced business landscape?

My quick thoughts:

Best Strategy = Goal-orientedness + Creativity + Mental Flexibility + Critical Analysis + Decisiveness + Action-mindedness + Anticipatory Prowess

This will be something for me to write about in my next & subsequent posts.

EVERY THING HAPPENS FOR A REASON

According to psychotherapist, Mira Kirshenbaum, every thing happens to us for one or more of the following ten reasons:

1) to help us feel at home in the world;

2) to help us totally accept our self;

3) to show us that we can let go off fear;

4) to bring us to the place where we can feel forgiveness;

5) to help us uncover our true hidden talent;

6) to give us what we need to find true love;

7) to help us become stronger;

8) to help us discover the play in life;

9) to show us how to live with a sense of mission;

10) to help us become a truly good person;

[Source: 'Every Thing Happens for a Reason: Finding the True Meaning of the Events in Our Lives', by Mira Kirshenbaum.]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now."

(Joan Baez, an American folk singer & songwriter, known for her highly individual vocal style;)

IT'S MY CUP OF TEA AT YA KUN COFFEESHOP

Today is Saturday.

I took my wife for our usual window shopping at Jurong Point, located only one bus ride away - via Service 187 - from my apartment at Jurong West. The time was about 11.30am.

After a quick brunch at Crystal Jade Restaurant - our favourite food joint - on the second floor, we popped into the Sports Link retail store located just next door.

My wife was very happy to find the Nike brand of lady sports shoes on sale. So, I bought one pair for her. My wife was also quick to spot one Nike sports shirt of sleeve-less design on sale too. In fact, it was the last piece, & fortunately it was also my size, XL. In black, my favourite colour, too. So, I bought it.

We spent the next hour or so walking around the shopping centre.

Jurong Point has also recently opened its new wing extension, located closer to the bus interchange. Unfortunately, for some strange reasons, the public walking area was not fully air-conditioned.

I spotted a coffee outlet under the Ya Kun brand, & since my wife loves toast with kaya, we decided to pop in to have a bite. The time was almost 2.00pm.

As we were sitting there enjoying the toast & kaya, plus tea with milk, I gazed round the surroundings & noted a framed up poster with what seemed to be an inspiring personality description of the founder, Loi Ah Koon. ('Ya Kun' is the hanyu pinyin version of this name.)

It was written in 2003 by a Jennifer Loi, whom I believe to be one of his descendants.

Here it goes:

Ya Kun Kaya Toast: Coffeeshop since 1944

Expression:

A man whose winsome smile warms every heart.

Personality:

Gentleness & kindness are his intrinsic qualities.

Natural:

Working hard is natural to one so hardworking.

Emotional:

Loves people compassionately & tender-heartedly.

Character:

One whose entire life is dedicated to serving others.

Physical:

An unassuming presence, neither towering nor intimidating.

Mental:

His mental dexterity intrigues others.

Motivation:

His pursuit of excellence places him a toast above the rest.

Jennifer Loi, 2003.

To me, Loi Ah Koon or Ya Kun represents one of our early pioneers in Singapore, who often came from China by boat, & in most instances, penniless, & then settled down on the island with menial jobs.

Through hardwork, determination, tenacity, thriftiness, & nimbleness, & coupled with their own entrepreneurial spirits, they gradually built up their meagre savings to start their own small businesses.

Can our younger generation emulate & embrace the entrerpeneurial spirits & personality traits of our early pioneers?

My Best Wishes to Ya Kun in all their future endeavours!

[The story of Ya Kun reminds me of United Motor Works (UMW) in Singapore, who was my employer from early 1981 to mid-1987.

The UMW Group in Singapore was founded by the late China-born Chia Yee Soh, who started his early life in 1902 as an young apprentice in a bicycle repair shop, & who then moved on to start his own automobile repair shop, under the name of 'Hup Soon', a precursor in Chinese to 'UMW' in English, in 1917.

Charlie Chia, Denis Chia & Datuk Eric Chia are his children. I had mentioned them in my earlier posts, & they were collectively my bosses during my tenure with the UMW Group.]

LESSONS FROM THE MOVIES: KUNG FU PANDA

The tagline from the movie preview was certainly enticing: PREPARE FOR AWESOMENESS!

So, on Thursday afternoon, my gym buddy & I decided to go & watch the latest movie from Dreamworks Animation, 'Kung Fu Panda', at Jurong Point.

It was a hilarious & yet heart-warming movie as the whole movie theatre was roaring with laughter from start to finish.

In fact, we were surrounded by many kids & their parents, as part of their June school holiday outings.

In a nut shell, the movie was all about the adventures (or misadventures?) of a young goofy Panda named Po (voiced by Jack Black) with big dreams of becoming a kung fu fighter in the village, known as the Valley of Peace.

By day, he was a lowly cook/waiter in the noodle restaurant of his father, Mr Ping, a goose (James Hong; this incomprehensible relationship wasn't explained in the movie) & by night he often fantasised as a side-kick to the formidable fighting quintet, known as the Furious Five, comprising Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Crane (David Cross), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) & Monkey (Jackie Chan). They happened to be his fondest idols.

One day, by a stroke of serendipity, & with accidental fireworks of course, he gate-crashed a village tournament organised by Master Shifu, a small mustachioed red panda (Dustin Hoffman) under the watchful eye of a aging but wise turtle named Oogway. The latter was apparently the Grand Master, who seemed to have a fondness for fortune-cookie aphorisms.

Their principal objective was to elect the Dragon Warrior to deal with impending havoc from a vengeful & treacherous snow leopard, Tai Lung (Ian McShane).

The latter was locked up - in fact, he was the only prisoner - in a maximum security monolithic prison, built like a fortress with imposing defence mechanisms & guarded by a large bunch of armoured rhinoes. Somehow, the Grand Master had this premonition that this menacing rascal would soon break out of prison.

Against the wishes of Master Shifu, as well as to the chagrin of the Furious Five, especially Tigress, who was the one most eligible for the title, & of course to his own bewilderment, Po was inadvertently elected by the Grand Master as the Dragon Warrior.

In the next part of the movie, Master Shifu & the Furious Five tried to make life extremely miserable for Po, hoping that he would quit.

They eventually had to make a reluctant turnaround to train him as the Dragon Warrior, after seeing that this big fat, easily distracted but perpetually hungry, young apprentice had some endearing value in him, especially for his genuine love just to be like the Furious Five.

To his great delight, Po was put through a rigorous crash course under the tutelage of Master Shifu, who found that dumplings was a powerful motivator for his new apprentice to get going.

It was real fun to watch the clumsy Po going through all the training manoeuvres with - as well as all the whacking by - Master Shifu.

The lightning-fast chopstick routines with the last dumpling in a bowl was a memorable classic.

I like the part when he finally grasped the last dumpling with his chopsticks, & instead of eating it, he threw it back to his master, & said "I'm not hungry". Wow! I could see the grin on Master Shifu's face, subtly acknowledging that the young disciple had finally made the grade.

In the remaining half of the movie, we saw the spectacular breakout from prison by Tai Lung, his ferocious battle with the Furious Five at the rope bridge, & his ruthless assault on Master Shifu, during which all the good guys were badly defeated.

In the last climatic scene, Po appeared suddenly & after some fancy footwork & playful routines, he eventually beat the hell out of the rogue fighter, who once had also the dream to become the Dragon Warrior.

According to the story, Tai Lung was brought up from a young puppy by Master Shifu with the hope of becoming the ultimate warrior. Unfortunately, because of his ulterior motives (lost to the dark side, so to speak), he was defeated & banished by the Grand Master to the mountain prison for twenty years. This explained why he was really sore about the whole affair.

To be frank, both my gym buddy & I were mesmerised by the well-choreographed, visually-stunning action sequences, against the backdrop of photo-realistically textured computer-generated imagery - vast, moody, misty landscapes, pastel sunsets, hazy mountain vistas, dewy flowering trees, fanciful interiors, & traditional Chinese colors (dominated by red & gold) - throughout the entire movie of almost ninety minutes' length.

I must say Kung Fu Panda is the best animation movie I have watched so far. Talent-wise, both Jack Black & Dustin Hoffman had brought life to the entire show with their characters' voices.

The most poignant scene was the part when the Grand Master handed the final baton, so to speak, to Master Shifu, & after that, he just evaporated gradually into the thin mountain air, amidst a delicate swirl of pink petals. Wow!

The last scene, just before the credit titles, was amusing & wonderful too, while both Master Shifu & Po were lying, in peace so to speak, with their backs on the temple steps, & Po suddenly asked: "Shall we go & get something to eat?"

More importantly, at least for me, there are many valuable lessons to be learned from the movie for young people, as follows, especially drawing from the witty dialogue:

1) "There are no accidents."

- Everything happens for a reason. We just have to learn to find the true meaning of the events in our lives. No matter what happens to us, not only does something valuable come out of it, but it may be just what we need.

2) "A real warrior never quits."

3) "One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it."

- This certainly resonates very well with what William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), well-known US Congressman, once said: “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.”

Many of our trials & heartaches are not designed to make us bitter but better in life. The fact is, troubles do not always last, but tough people do.

The only people I know with no trials, troubles & challenges are those in the graveyard.

4) "To make something special, you just have to believe that it is."

- If you believe in yourself, you can do anything, including creating miracles;

5) "You are too concerned with 'what was' & 'what will'. Yesterday was history; tomorrow is a mystery, & today is a gift; that's why it's called a present."

- Don't waste time. Seize the day!

6) "The mark of a true hero is humility."

- Definitely, well said.

7) "You have to let go off your illusion of control."

- This was the vital message from the Grand Master to Master Shifu, as the latter struggled incessantly to understand the ultimate decision to train Po as the chosen one;

Likewise, sometimes in life, we tend to want to control everything that goes around us, which often cause us to lose touch with the greater picture or larger reality of our life;

8) "There are no good news or bad news; just news."

- It's not what had happened to us, it's what we choose to think & do with what had happened;

9) "There isn't any secret ingredient."

- It's already in each & every one of us. This was reflected in the movie, when Po found out that there wasn't anything written - it was actually blank, with a reflective surface - in the Dragon Scroll, which was believed to grant limitless power.

Likewise, when he found out, to his dismay, from his father that there wasn't anything special in the noodles, either.

10) "The true path to victory is to find your opponent's weaknesses & make him suffer for it."

- In the movie, Master Shifu grudgingly realised that Po had this natural propensity to hunt for food & would go to great length, with physical prowess, to attain it. So Master Shifu exploited it as powerful motivator for Po to pay attention to his training.

As a matter of fact, Po also unwittingly realised that his greatest weaknesses - cheeky playfulness, roly poly belly & bouncing butt of fat & fuzz - turned out to be his greatest strengths, when fighting Tai Lung, who was terribly cynical of his opponent. Naturally, his physical prowess following the exhaustive training under Master Shifu helped, too.

11) It's OK to say 'I don't know'.

- In the movie, both the Grand Master & Master Shifu demonstrated that.

When Master Shifu confronted the Grand Master: "But who? Who is worthy to be trusted with the secret to limitless power to become the Dragon Warrior?", the latter responded: "I don't know."

In the same vein, when Po challenged Master Shifu: "How are you gonna change me into the Dragon Warrior? How?", the latter retorted: "I don't know".

In the real world, we often don't like to admit this, for fear of being ridiculed or of looking stupid among our peers.

12) A master can only show the path or the way. It is up to the student to reclaim or rediscover the greatness within.

That's how Po rediscovered his own gift - his renewed self-confidence, courage, determination, perseverance, tenacity against impossible odds, & of course, his genuine love of kung fu.

13) Last, but not least: "There's no charge for awesomeness or attractiveness."

- It's very true. It's already inside all of us, in whoever we are & whatever we do.

Mums & Dads, please go & watch this wonderful movie quickly with your kids & use the movie to share vital life lessons.

[Readers can go to this link to visit the Official Website of Kung Fu Panda. It's definitely a treasure trove as far as understanding the story behind the story of Kung Fu Panda is concerned.

Alternatively, you go to this link to watch the movie in its entirety!]

ADOPTING A DIFFERENCE-ORIENTED ATTITUDE

Dustin Wax, a contributing editor & project manager at lifehack website, recently wrote an impressive piece about "how to make yourself indispensable".

These are my quick takeaways as to "adopting a difference-oriented attitude", which is the essence of his written piece:

1) network & stay in the loop;

2) be a caring person in all relationships;

3) continually seek excellence in whatever we do;

4) innovate & create things of value to people;

5) always make people feel good & important;

6) share & teach what we know;

Here's the link to his original piece.

Friday, June 20, 2008

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"The overwhelmingly largest determinant of success today for both the individual & the organisation is the speed with which they can accept, learn, & work with technological change . . . Prosperity belongs to those who learn new things the fastest."

(Paul Zane Pilzer, economist, entrepreneur & college professor; also author of 'Unlimited Wealth';)

NOTES FROM MY SCRATCHPAD: SENSORY ACUITY

Sensory acuity is a skill set that enables us to make finer & more useful distinctions in the information we receive via our senses.

It is important for us to be aware of:

- feedback or information that indicates the extension to which we are on or off target in achieving our desired outcomes;

- other people's actions & reactions to certain situations;

- how we are reacting to certain situations;

Putting it in another way, sensory acuity refers to the degree to which we are sensitive to the feedback cues & other non-verbal signals that another person is sending to us.

Generally, people with high emotional literacy tend to have high sensory acuity. They are good at reading the subtle, non-verbal cues of others.

Just ask yourself: am I consciously aware of what's going on around myself or inside of myself?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

How can I increase my awareness of the moment so that I maybe more responsive to situations that happen to me?

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"I can give you a six word formula for success: Think things through, then follow through."

(Edward Rickenbacker, 1890 – 1973; an American fighter ace in World War I; also a race car driver & automotive designer;)

RAPID RECAP: ASSESSING MY PARADIGMS

Ever since I had read Joel Arthur Barker's 'The Business of Paradigms: Discovering the Future' & also watch his follow-up training video during the late eighties, I have been fascinated by the urgency of paradigm shifting as well as the significance of paradigm pliancy.

In his book & video, the author explains how paradigms help us make order out of the world as we screen & filter information. As a result, they also limit our perspectives.

He suggests that it is important for all of us to become aware of our paradigms as a first step in becoming more open to new perspectives.

What follows is a set of pertinent questions for assessing one's paradigms, which I have recorded in my scratchpad for quite a while.

In fact, I have always thought about the values, habits, processes, policies & rules that direct my business as well my personal activities. According to the author, they are my prevailing paradigms.

1) what paradigms do I want to keep?

2) what paradigms do I want to reject?

3) what paradigms are changing or shifting in the landscape?

4) what paradigms have been challenged unsuccessfully?

5) what new paradigms do I predict will develop in the next few years?

6) what is possible today but if it could be done would fundamentally change the way I deal with issues of strategy, organisationally as well as personally?

7) what are the implications of the answers to these question for my work or my business &/or my life?

ULTIMATE SUCCESS FORMULA (USF)

In building a firm foundation for SUCCESS, here are a few stones to remember:

1. The wisdom of preparation.

2. The value of confidence.

3. The worth of honesty.

4. The privilege of working.

5. The discipline of struggle.

6. The magnetism of character.

7. The radiance of health.

8. The forcefulness of simplicity.

9. The winsomeness of courtesy.

10. The attractiveness of modesty.

11. The inspiration of cleanliness.

12. The satisfaction of serving.

13. The power of suggestion.

14. The buoyancy of enthusiasm.

15. The advantage of initiative.

16. The virtue of patience.

17. The rewards of co-operation.

18. The fruitfulness of perseverance.

19. The sportsmanship of losing.

20. The joy of winning.

[Source: Rollo C. Hester]

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"The amount of action you can produce does not rely on skill or knowledge, but on you investing your two most
valuable resources, your time & your mind, in a dedicated & constructive manner ."

from 'A Course in Action: How to Transform Your Ideas into Reality', by Deon Du Plessis;

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

Today is a brand new day that brings an exciting array of possibilities & challenges.

What can I bring into existence in my life today?

POW WOW: JOGGING THE BRAIN

I always enjoy my regular pow wow sessions with my gym buddy after our gym practice in the morning from Mondays to Fridays.

Our usual venue includes the Yu Hua Village Market at Jurong East & the neighbourhood cafe near my apartment block in Jurong West. Sometimes, we may pop into the multi-storey food court/market at Taman Jurong, near the old Jurong cinema.

We are both engineers by training - he is in electrical, & I am in mechanical. We are also both avid readers.

Our friendship goes back to the mid-sixties, when we were school mates at Sekolah Menengah Teknik (Technical Institute) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His hometown was Malacca, while mine was Yong Peng, Johor, both located on the Malaysian peninsula.

Interestingly, we were remote office colleagues during the mid-seventies, when we had worked for the same German trading & engineering group, Behn Meyer & Co., but he was based first in Penang, then Kuala Lumpur, while I was all the time in Singapore.

We then lost touch & went separate ways as far employment was concerned.

Somehow, during the early eighties, we met again by chance while applying for the same job in the United Motor Works (UMW) Group.

To our pleasant surprise, we were both recruited as the company had decided to create two positions. However, he left the group after about two years, while I was transferred to the group's Bangkok operations in Thailand.

Nonetheless, we had remained in touch since then.

In the early nineties, I then left the corporate world to start my own strategy consulting business, while he had also meanwhile began his own electrical licensing & consulting business.

In a nut shell, & in terms of theory & practice, both of us have common personal interests in physical health, nutrition, & longevity.

Hence, the regular topics of our pow wow sessions are often related to these areas. He has also other personal interests, which include strength training, social dancing, & karaoke.

On my own, I also meet up with my other silver-haired buddies in the Wednesday Club (we meet up every Wednesday night, mostly at the NUSS Guild House at Kent Ridge).

Besides enjoying an evening of live music & drinks together once a week, the topics in my pow wow sessions with them are more general in nature, ranging from everyday local happenings to world geo-political events, & from globe-trotting to entertainment revolving mostly around food.
Most of my buddies in this particular group are either travel bugs &/or food or wine connoisseurs.

Interestingly from the business perspective, I had three intensive pow wow sessions, each lasting 3 to 4hours, & stretching over 3 days, at my home last week, with my good friend, Dilip Mukerjea.

Previously, we had often met at the ground floor cafe of the National Library Board Building on North Bridge Road.

Likewise, Dilip is also engineer by training. He is into marine. Likewise, we are both knowledge explorers in the field of creativity & innovation. He is also an avid reader as well as an Aikido martial arts practitioner.

Although Dilip has been trained by Tony Buzan in mind mapping techniques, he has transcended beyond the master, & has since then developed his own proprietary splash maps, conceptual symbols & life-scaping techniques, among many other stuff.

He is extremely creative, & often likes to gives a new spin or twist to old ideas, e.g. he uses 4 interlocking circles to represent the traditional SWOT analysis with a quadrant.

Dilip has recently secured a preliminary training workshop contract with a large German chemical group & wanted to tap my brain.

From my side, I had shared with him my advanced techniques in graphic facilitation, as applied to strategic thinking & planning.

We had a great time together, running through the ramifications of our collaborative insights, & fine-tuning them jointly for his group presentation. Frankly, I had really enjoyed the pow wow with him.

In my end analysis, I find pow wow great for pushing & jogging the brain. It's physically taxing, but intellectually stimulating. I can really feel my brain firing on all six cylinders.

I also find that pow wow really proves that two or more brains are better than one.

What we see around us trigger our mental associations, which in turn become awakened insights, from which we can then draw possible ideas for actions, with the aid of SCAMPER, if necessary.

From the ideas for actions, we can then use the preference grid to narrow down the options, & figure out the specific strategies. That's the flow of idea generation in reality.

Best of all, we also expand each other's perspectives about a lot of stuff that goes into the training & coaching of managers & professionals in Singapore.

At the end of it all, knowledge shared is power squared, as the adage goes.

POWER VOCABULARY: FRAZZING

"Frazzing" is a term coined by psychiatrist Edward Hallowell to describe the experience of people who are unwittingly caught with work-induced attention deficit disorder in today's corporate world.

According to him, these people "complained that they were more irritable than they wanted to be. Their productivity was declining & they couldn't get organised".

Worst still, adult attention deficit disorder took hold "when we get so overloaded with incoming messages and competing tasks that we are unable to prioritize", he suggested.

As he put it further: "Frantic, ineffective multi-tasking, typically with the delusion that you are getting a lot done. The quality of the work, however, is poor."

WRITER'S BLOCK

Frankly, when I first started publishing & editing my own newsletter during the early nineties, I did not truly understand the phenomenon of writer's block.

Of course, I have a basic textual understanding of it, but not the experiential understanding, so to speak.

There were specific times at the later stage that I just simply did not feel writing the newsletter - originally envisaged with ten issues a year. I had the pen in my hand, & with the note book - packed with notes - in front of me, but my fingers were not doing the walking.

Rather, my brain was not working. To my chagrin, that was actually writer's block.

I had actually enjoyed writing my newsletter. It was a labour of love, but unfortunately, writer's block existed & was real.

In fact, I was often behind production schedule during the second half of the second year of publication. The pressure to meet the deadline was mounting, partly compounded by the urgent need to get my new businesses, strategy consulting & retail store, running at full steam.

Finally, I had to cease publication of my newsletter during the beginning of the third year, about early 1994, to the great disappointment of my newsletter readers.

During about the same period, I also wrote & contributed a number of articles to the Straits Times & Business Times, plus a few other publications.

For me, it was quite fun doing that, but after a short staccato burst of writing, I just stopped, due to writer's block again.

Then, I started writing book reviews on the Amazon.com website.

For me as a reviewer, some months were great, but most months were bad, especially when I just did not feel like writing, even though had enjoyed my review writing. In fact, I had all my hand-written notes (in my scratchpad) right in front of me.

Sometimes, ideas just came & flowed like the Kallang River while I was writing. Naturally, I felt great.

At other times, I realised that nothing seemed to flow out of my brain. Feeling stuck - that's the feeling I had.

In reality, writer's block was really a real thing.

Last year, I started my personal weblog as a disciplined routine to keep myself intellectually stimulated, with three other ancillary weblogs. Frankly, it has been fun along the way.

So far so good. I have just celebrated my first anniversary.

However, I can feel that my writer's block is again in the air.

Sometimes, I just realise that jotting down notes in my pocket note-book &/or scratchpad is easy, but thinking & writing on the keyboard is another ball game.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

TOP TEN TIPS FOR LIFE, FROM SYLVESTER STALLONE

Sylvester Stallone is one of my favourite action stars in the movies. I have seen most of his action movies, starting with 'Rocky' during the mid-seventies.

I have recently stumbled on the following interesting stuff attributed to him, while surfing the net:

Top Ten Tips for Life:

10) Believe it! Truly, it can be done & it will.

9) Every day - every few hours - see your vision materializing.

8) Don't discuss your dreams. Pursue Them!

7) If other people can steal your ideal, most likely they will.

6) Don't be afraid of embarrassment while pursuing your goal. It's all part of being committed.

5) Being naive is business & in understanding human nature is a recipe for disaster.

4) Study people's success stories hard. Study their failures even harder.

3) Enthusiasm is like a wonderful disease - keep spreading it until everyone's infected.

2) Only choose a goal that - if you had to - you'd gladly pursue for free. In order to achieve success, you've got to follow your passion.

1) Most Important: If it's not broken, break it. That's how new discoveries are made. That's why everything that changes life is called a breakthrough.

[Source: 'Sly Moves: My Proven Program to Lose Weight, Build Strength, Gain Will Power & Live Your Dreams', by Sylvester Stallone]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

“What did I really enjoy seeing up on the big screen? I enjoyed heroism, I enjoyed great love. I enjoyed stories of dignity, of courage, of man’s ability to rise above his station & take life by the throat & not let go until he succeeded.”

Sylvester Stallone, talking about his motivations behind all the action movies in which he played Rocky Balboa & John Rambo - both characters epitomised the "never-say-die" attitude & "the eye of the tiger" focus in dealing with obstacles;

ABOUT SUCCESS: FACT OR FICTION?

I was intrigued to read about what Michael Neill, a success coach in UK, had written in the Genius Catalyst website with regard to the following story, while promoting his 'The 7 Myths of Success' CDs:

"An amusing case in point is the famous 'Class of 1953 study at Yale University' which followed the lives of a graduating class of Yale University over a twenty year period. At the end of that time, the 3% of graduates who had clear, written goals had out-earned the other 97% of the class combined.

An impressive statistic - if it were actually true.

In researching an earlier project, I discovered that there is no record of the study ever having been done at Yale, Princeton, or any other Ivy League university.


Tony Robbins reported he had first heard the story from Zig Ziglar; Zig Ziglar couldn't remember where he'd first heard it, but he thought it was from... wait for it... Tony Robbins!"

The author even posed an equally intriguing question:

What if everything you have learned about success was wrong?

Is the whole thing a marketing gimmick on the part of the author to attract attention & generate curiosity about his product? I really don't know.

Monday, June 16, 2008

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What if I could have tomorrow's Straits Times today & I could foretell events, what would I do?

inspired by the sci-fi fantasy television series, Early Edition, on AXN Channel

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly."

(Julie Andrews, British actress, who is still best-known for her roles as Mary Poppins in the film of that name & Maria von Trapp in 'The Sound of Music', during the sixties;)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

HOW TO BE ACTION-MINDED

To my pleasant surprise, I have found this exclusive free e-course, stretching for a total of 7 days, & spending only about half an hour a day, entitled 'A Course of Action: How to Transform Your Ideas into Reality'.

It comes from The Self-Improvement Gym, & the brain behind it is Deon Du Plessis.

Personally, I have already experimented with the lessons. I must point out that they have been very well-crafted for self-growth & development.

The following key aspects, which essentially drive all our behaviours pertaining to action-orientation, are systematically covered in the 7 lessons:

- Decisions;
- Beliefs;
- Values;
- Fear of Failure;
- Motivation;
- Persistence;
- Commitment to Just Do It;


Here's the link to sign up for the e-course. It will definitely be worth your while.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you've never been to, perhaps
more homesick than for familiar ground."

(Judith Thurman, a literary critic & biographer; also, a longtime staff writer for The New Yorker; author of 'The Hand of Distance';)

RAPID RECAP: RAZOR-BLADE READING & CLUE MANAGEMENT

The most productive learning experience I got out of the following classic book:

'Trigger Points: How to Make Decision 3 Times Faster, Innovate Smarter, & Beat Your Competition by 10% (It ain't easy!), by Michael Kami, a former business strategist with Big Blue;

is the understanding & application of one of the action tools recommended by the author:

'Razor Blade Reading & Clue Management';

Till today, this has been an integral part of my life as an knowledge adventurer & technology explorer.

In a nut shell, this action tool entails

- quick scanning (before going to bed, sitting on the toilet bowl, waiting in line, commuting to work on the MRT, or traveling in the plane);

- fast clipping (with a pocket razor blade!) interesting articles from business/industry/consumer magazines or even newspapers; &

- deliberate reviewing them periodically (also, exchanging ideas with collegues or customers over drinks on the subject matter);

by asking:

- can it affect my business?

- what problem may it create?

- what opportunity may it create?

This action also includes:

- filing the articles in appropriate folders (to create a chronological series of data, information & clues on the particular subject); &

- reviewing each folder once a month for trends, gaps or revelations;

A final word from the author:

'Razor Blade Reading & Clue Management' is useless unless it leads to a firm decision & affirmative action.

This is the final test of the real value of the whole process.