Saturday, September 20, 2008

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What should I be doing that I am not doing now?

What problems now exist that must be resolved in order to accomplish my personal mission?

What potential problems may be encountered as action is taken to try to accomplish my personal mission?

~ inspired by the book, 'Finding The Priority Path', by Byrant Stringham & Jon Stephens;

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells."

~ Dr Seuss;

FROM ROCKETRY TO CREATIVITY

Today, I spent a few hours hanging out at the Kinokuniya Bookstore in Ngee Ann City, Orchard Road, completely on my own while my wife took time off to visit her friends in Bedok.

I have not been to the store for quite a while. For a change, I did not drive, but took an air-conditioned SBS Transit bus #502, which brought me all the way from Jurong West to Orchard Road.

Travelling took me about 45 minutes, compared to about 25 minutes by car. The ride was pleasant as the bus wasn't crowded, despite the fact that it was a Saturday morning.

[I took the same bus service back to home. I definitely saved quite a bundle, considering the high-cost of car parking charges on Orchard Road - not forgetting ERP & petrol.]

After sorting out & picking up my reserved books (ordered by online in advance) from Customer Service, I squatted at the 'Innovation' & 'Strategic Management' sections of the store to browse some of other books on display.

One book, entitled 'Return on Ideas: A Practical Guide to Making Innovation Pay', by David Nichols, piqued my immediate interest.

I understand that this book is connected to the series of books by David Taylor, namely, 'The BrandGym', 'Brand Stretch' & 'Brand Vision', as both authors have been business collaborators.

I like what I have read from a credit while browsing the book:

". . . innovation comes from a mix of romance & common sense, stirred up with a good deal of positive energy from the product itself . . ."

That's interesting!

More interestingly, the book embodies a beautiful analogy from rocketry as its principal premise for tackling corporate creativity & innovation.

The author argues that his 4-stage approach, designated as 'Rocketing' in his book, builds on & improves existing processes, rather than throwing them out, as opposed to the conventional 'Funnel' approach, whereby ideas are generated through stages & then whittled down to a handful for evaluation, with resources eventually deployed to concentrate only on the winning ones.

In a nut shell, 'Rocketing' involves:

1) Destination: being crystal clear about the outcome;

2) Combustion: generating large amount of ideas;

3) Nozzle: a swift prioritisation of ideas;

4) Expander: building ideas into prototypes;

Although not really ground-breaking, I reckon it's a viable perspective.

Nonetheless, the 'Rocketing' process is seemingly well expounded & beautifully illustrated in several chapters of the book.

From what I can gather from my quick browsing, 'Rocketing' does not replace the 'Funnel' approach totally, but gives the practitioners more possibilities for multiple ideas generation & efficient ideas management.

That's to say, every idea has usable value for building up to maximum impact at launch, with the apparent focus on continuous insight, rather than problem solving.

The book is unfortunately priced at S$97.32, which is a rather hefty price for a corporate creativity book.

Surprisingly, I notice that this time the cramped book shelves at Kinokuniya Bookstore are loaded with a myriad of new books on creativity & innovation. I am bewildered by the wide selection.

Suffice to say, creative tools & innovative approaches abound today.

A NEW IDEA IS JUST A VARIATION OF AN OLD IDEA

I always have this almost frenzied fascination for writing instruments, especially those that come with multiple colour ball points.

For example, I have the whole works - in 3 different configurations - from Rotring of West Germany. They are somewhat expensive because of their precision metal formation.

The only setback is that each has limited colours, either in black & red, or in blue & red, with or without an extra pencil (+ eraser). However, each has an unique feature not found elsewhere, an orange-colour high-lighter.

For the cheaper range, mainly of plastics, I have a few that has 6 colours in each: black, dark blue, light blue, orange, pink & red. They were bought from the 'No Brand' Japanese store at Seiyu in Bugis Junction.

I also have a few that has only 3 colours - black, blue & red - but comes with a locking mechanism so that it does not slip out of my pocket accidentally. The brand is uni HARD LOCK, also from Japan.

Recently, I bought a few more, & this time, with four colours - black, blue, red & green - plus a mechanical pencil. It comes with a spring loaded clip that is part of the pencil mechanism. The brand is Zebra Clip-On Multi, from Japan.

Body-wise, to my great delight, they come in assorted vibrant colours, which easily match the colours of my shirts.

As I can see, each of the writing instruments is just a variation of the others. Like I often like to say, ideas build on ideas!

Why do I buy so many of these stuff?

To be frank, I just like to buy whenever I see something new that comes into the market.

Novelty is the name of the game, I guess, but I reckon utility makes it more fun for me.

I like to use them to craft mind maps & write random notes in my scratchpads or &/pocket notebooks.

Different colours for different categories or aspects of ideas, for the fun of it.

A few days ago, I realised that one of each of my uni Hard Lock & Zebra Clipon multi has run out of their blue & black colours.

Upon inspection, I found that the refill for my uni is just short by 2mm than the one for multi. In other words, the one intended for my uni cannot be used for my multi & vice versa. What an annoyance?

I went down to Kinokuniya Bookstore at Ngee Ann City this morning as they have a large well-stocked stationary section.

To my pleasant delight, I found both refills. The shorter one for uni costs S$0.45, while the longer one for multi costs S$0.75.

Looks like a simple variation, at least for the end consumer, has its price differential!

By the way, the Rotring refills are a different ball game again.

Naturally, I do own a whole gamut of fountain pens as well as conventional ball points, e.g. Cross, Dupont, Lamy, Parker, Waterman, etc., but I hardly use them any more, especially after I have moved out of the corporate world.

I have read in a magazine that Pentel has come out with a 7-colour ball point, but I have yet to see one in the Singapore marketplace.

Stationary retailers here, sad to say, are really blur about this one!

BUYING BOOKS FROM AMAZON & KINOKUNIYA BOOKWEB

Amazon has been my regular book supplier from the United States since the mid-nineties. In terms of inventory, I reckon they have the widest & most comprehensive range.

Surfing their online catalog is fun & breezy, especially with the aid of their Online Reader.

Also, I get to read all the good, bad & ugly reviews.

Locally, Kinokuniya Bookweb is also my regular supplier, especially when I need the new books urgently. It's my only local preference since they have a free delivery service as long as the order exceeds S$50/-.

Unfortunately, their inventory scope is rather limited to suit my reading purpose.

Nonetheless, my basis of choosing Kinokuniya at the time of book requisition is greatly dependent on the price differential for the same book from Amazon.

For example, after comparison, I have today decided to pick up ten selected books, mostly on business, strategy & creativity, from Kinokuniya at Ngee Ann City, since they are offering a 20% discount for the period 18th to 20th September 2008. [The discount is only applicable to self-collection.]

To my great delight, I have saved slightly more than S$100/- for my smart endeavour.

Gee Whiz! S$100/- is a lot of money.

Friday, September 19, 2008

NAVIGATING THE COMPLEXITIES OF THE MIND IV

One of my driving forces, so to speak, as far as my fascination for the brain-mind paradigm is concerned, is my ardent desire to understand the intricacies & idiosyncrasies of the brain or mind over the years.

My primary interest is just to unravel the brain's or mind's complexities with the view of using the insights to develop & sustain my own peak performance.

Optimum brain performance, to be precise.

I have many shifu (master teachers) to thank for in this respect, stretching from the early seventies all the way through the eighties & nineties, & right up to today.

I have mentioned about a lot of them in my earlier posts, mostly through their published works (books, audios, videos, newsletters, journal articles, pod casts, web casts, etc.,) &/or their workshops & seminars, &/or public conferences I have attended.

In this post, as part of the continuation of my 3 earlier posts, I want to share with readers about my own understanding of the various aspects involved in perceptual information processing.

In this instance, I like to call the model, simply an interaction model with the world.

From this model, you will get a good picture how one can interact productively with the external world.

Let's assume a horizontal continuum, flowing from left to right.

On the immediate left, let's delineate a position just a short distance away from the start-point, & mark it as "FOCUSED PERCEPTION".

Please refer to the simple diagram in this post.

"Focused perception" refers to when we are mentally focused on something in the environment.

That's to say we are fully aware of what we are looking at or fully attuned to what we paying attention to.

It is dependent on our five physical senses to pick up the environmental cues.

It is pertinent to point out that when we are under "focused perception", we can only handle 7 plus/minus 2 chunks of information at any one time.

Naturally, our "focused perception" is heavily influenced by our prejudices, biases, hopes, expectations, fears, frustrations, etc.

From personal experience, a relaxed mind state, attained through disciplined relaxation sequences, always enhances the "focused perception".

Now, let's mark off the next position, "PERIPHERAL PERCEPTION".

"Peripheral perception" refers to our perception when something catches our immediate attention from the corner of our eyes, unlike "focused perception", where information enters through our focal vision.

When we are talking to someone even eye-to-eye, which is itself an example of "focused perception", our eyes can take in all other information from the immediate surroundings.

Interestingly, I have learned that our "peripheral perception" is extremely sensitive to environmental cues involving unusual movements or novel actions in the surroundings.

This readily explains why oftentimes we can spot dangers in the open environment very quickly, like crossing a busy street. This probably has to do with evolutionary pressures in connection with our survival instincts.

Likewise, "peripheral perception" is dependent on our physical senses.

I understand that enhancing our "peripheral perception" can readily expand our personal capacity for observing the world.

It is strongly believed that 90% of our conscious awareness during waking hours about our immediate surroundings comes from our "peripheral perception".

A case in point is reading. When we make full use of our "peripheral perception" in the reading process, we can read or take in large chunks of printed information at one go. This is always one of the requisite techniques in fast reading.

Now, let's mark off the next position, "SUBLIMINAL PERCEPTION".

"Subliminal perception" refers to our perception just below the threshold of conscious awareness.

For example, when we are sitting at our work station working on the computer or laptop, we are fully aware of what's going on as we tap on the keyboard, but we may not be consciously aware that we are sitting on a chair, until we bring on conscious attention to it. That's what it means.

"Subliminal perception" is still dependent on our physical senses.

Playing music in the background is one good example of "subliminal perception".

I often like to play 'Relax with the Classics' from the Lind Institute in the background when I read or blog.

Crafty marketers &/or slick advertisers certainly know how to use the power of "subliminal perception".

So is Big Nanny.

At this junction, I would like to point out that as we move along the continuum towards the right, we are gradually entering into what I like to call the "unconscious" realm.

What we have passed through so far is the "conscious" realm, so to speak.

That is, to repeat, we are dependent on our physical senses. Also, in a way, all the environmental cues are externally generated.

Now, let's mark off the next position, "ACCELERATED LOGIC". I have picked up this term from NLP practitioners.

"Accelerated logic" depends on minimal cues from the environment.

It refers to the instantaneous processing of our lifetime inventory of knowledge & experiences with which we can tap or draw upon to interact with the external world.

Let me illustrate this aspect with a life example from my own personal experience.

Many years ago, I had engaged an Indonesian maid to look after my late mother-in-law (my Catherine's mother). One day, she complained that the common toilet in my apartment could not drain off.

Upon a quick inspection, & as an engineer by training, I just instinctively put my hand into the smelly & overflowing toilet bowl, & managed to dislodge what was a sanitary pad. She got a good scolding from me.

In tactical terms, I can safely say that "accelerated logic" is like the "collective wisdom" or "aggregated expertise" of people we often call experts, or even geniuses for that matter.

In other words, experts & geniuses have a very large, broad & deep repertoire of knowledge & experiences for instant processing on demand.

To some extent, I would say it is internally generated, in terms of interaction with the environment.

Just think of having "accelerated logic" as embracing the 'Law of Requisite Variety'.

Now, let's mark the last position, "INTUITIVE SENSING".

We are now deep inside the "unconscious" zone. Some may like to call it, the "psychic" territory.

I often like to describe "intuitive sensing" as an ability when we just know something, & yet we can't seem to be able to explain it rationally to other people.

We all have it, especially young kids & women. I am often told, just don't think about it; follow your nose, that's all.

Interestingly, "intuitive sensing" is not dependent on any external cues or our physical senses.

It is more internally generated as far as our interaction with the world is concerned.

It is pertinent to point out, however, that all information from the environment can often flow into our mind without us realising it i.e. unconsciously, or should I say intuitively.

The third eye, so to speak, comes to my mind as I write.

I like to take this opportunity to share a brilliant insight from Fred Smith, founder of FedEx:

"Really, intuition is not so much intuition as the amalgamation of a lot of stuff from a lot of different places, which leads you to say, "OK, it's a safe bet. It's not a fool's bet."

He calls it "kaleidoscopic thinking".

We just got to learn to trust our own instincts. Our gut feel, so to speak.

If we want to innovate, we have to be capable of making inuitive judgments.

I trust this interaction model makes sense to readers.

HOW THE MIND FORGETS & REMEMBERS

According to the book, 'The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets & Remembers', by Daniel Schacter, chairman of the Psychology Department at Harvard University, our memory system can malfunction neatly into seven categories of miscues, as follows:

1) transience (the weakening of memory over time);

2) absent-mindedness;

3) blocking (the inability to recall a familiar name or fact);

4) mis-attribution (in which one assigns an item of memory to the wrong source);

5) suggestibility (the implanting of memories through leading questions);

6) bias (the unconscious reshaping of a memory under the influence of later events or opinions):

7) persistence (the repeated recall of disturbing information or events that one would prefer to forget);

Frankly, I haven't read the book, but judging from what the author has identified so brilliantly, I reckon I can now be a little bit more forgiving about my senior moments.

In fact, for me, what is most comforting to learn from the author, based on what I could figure out from the synopses & reviews, is that the foregoing aberrations serve a useful function:

They protect against information overload, helping the memory "to retain information that is most likely to be needed in the environment in which it operates."

PREDICTING THE FUTURE

I have stumbled upon another interesting "scoop" from the net:

- what distinguishes us as human beings from other animals is our ability to predict the future -or rather, our interest in predicting the future;

- We spend a great deal of our waking life imagining what it would be like to be this way or that way, or to do this or that, or taste or buy or experience some state or feeling or thing;

- We do all that for good reasons: it is what allows us to shape our life;

- And it is by trying to exert some control over our futures that we attempt to be happy;

- But by any objective measure, we are really bad at that predictive function;

- We're terrible at knowing how we will feel a day or a month or year from now, & even worse at knowing what will & will not bring us that cherished happiness;

These seemingly interesting stuff comes from a new book, 'Stumbling on Happiness', by professor of psychology Daniel Gilbert at Harvard University.

The author has set out to figure why we are so terrible at something that would seem to be so extraordinarily important.

I am even more intrigued by his claims:

- we are ill-equipped to properly preview the future, let alone control it;

- Neither our personal experience nor cultural wisdom can readily compensate for the the shortcomings of our imagination;

The author has apparently concluded with the provocative recommendation that, rather than imagination, we should rely on others as surrogates for our future experience.

I don't think I like that.

As mentioned before in earlier posts, a lot of other experts have already asserted our predictive abilility, or more specifically, our ability to think strategically.

The outcome may be somewhat similar, but this author has obviously taken a different path.

Looks like I need to get hold of the book to read as I am always fascinated by this phenomenon.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

BORN TO WIN, BUT CONDITIONED TO FAIL

Readers who fancy watching StarHub Cable Television's brand-new 24/7 channel, AXN Beyond - bringing the best of sci-fi, fantasy, horror & suspense - would probably have seen their occasional preview showing the buzzing bee in the glass bottle.

That particular bee is caught in a glass bottle lying horizontally on the table, with its opening facing the left. There is a small pot with an apparently fresh flower on the right.

The bee, seemingly attracted by the flower, is thus blocked by a glass wall, formed by the bottom end of the bottle. Naturally, it is struggling to fly out in order to reach the flower.

However, it doesn't realise that the opening to freedom is just located at the opposite end.

Later on, the bottle is removed, but the bee keeps flying only up to the imaginary point, where the glass bottle was originally placed. It just somehow refuses to fly further, beyond that imaginary point - the point of conditioned response.

I thought it is an apt & yet funny way for StarHub to introduce their new television channel (Channel 100), with pure entertainment beyond your widest imagination.

In fact, the whole episode reminds me of the proverbial baby elephant tied to a wooden shaft pushed into the ground.

In reality, it offers an interesting lesson about life.

I am talking about self-imposed limitations.

Are you familiar with the spermatozoa analogy?

Let's go back to the nine months just before we were born.

Each & every one of us was already a champion.

Against tremendous odds & confronted with a limited time frame for survival, we had to compete with millions of other healthy entities while swimming to reach our predetermined goal, all confined within & along a seemingly long & narrow channel of fluids.

Come to think of it, the first one to reach the egg wasn't the winner.

It was the wise guy who persisted in piling itself tenaciously through the membrane that was considered the ultimate champion.

Who was that wise guy? You & Me.

As we entered into the world of life, & with time flowing, we encountered words of encouragement as well as discouragement from our parents at home.

When we started our schooling, & if we just happened to be unlucky, we got bombarded with endless opinions & comments, most of which were, sad to say, negative, from our teachers.

The moment we stepped into the working world, a new ball game ensued.

Organisational norm or culture is one thing, but when we were confronted with unreasonable bosses with their killer phrases, & worst still, obnoxious colleagues who revelled in politicking, our working life became a nightmare.

In a nut shell, we got conditioned with tens of thousands of hours of unsolicited & unchallenged opinions about what others believed we could or couldn't do with our life.

According to psychologists, at least 77% of these opinions were negative opinions, designed to keep us trapped in the prison of our past conditioning.

To our dismay or delight, depending on how you look at them, we also have to contend with incessant subliminal messages from crafty advertisers or marketers.

To crown them all, we also have to deal with Big Nanny watching all of us, at least in Singapore, with her subtle messages, like "more babies, more bonuses", "retire at 62, but make sure you have sufficient savings", "you can paint your hair blue, green & purple, but come National Service, please cut your hair!", etc.

For the few smart aces, especially those who could realise their full potential, they could survive & thrive at the end, but for the majority of us, getting out of past conditioning is an uphill task.

You know something? The hell hole sometimes doesn't end there.

Most of us may even start to resign to helplessness & pessimism, & coupled with fear looming from within, then get to sink even further, especially when we start to tell ourselves the same stories we like to hear.

To put it bluntly, we were born to win, but we are conditioning ourselves to fail.

[to be continued in the Next Post]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"I am very satisfied with my life now as I have done everything I want to do & I want to continue to do better . . . If I have the chance to live my life again, I will not change a thing because I have a good life now. It will be fun to live it again so that I don't make the same mistakes any more."

~ Mark Henry, 1999 Olympian in weighlifting & now a champion wrestler [he is featured in today's Life Page of the 'Straits Times'];

100 FUN SITES TO JAZZ UP YOUR BRAIN

Here's the link to all those fun brain fitness sites!

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

If I were to consider the book that had the greatest impact on me, whether it was political, philosophical, business, travel or pure pleasure, what would it be?

HAPPINESS IS BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF

As I begin to write this post, I can't help recalling a fun commercial ad I once saw on television featuring Heineken Beer.

At the end of that great ad was this caption, with the sound bite from the guy holding the beer bottle:

"Always be true to yourself."

For me, "be true to yourself" means know who you are & be who you are. Of course, you can be who you want to be, but don't be a duplicate of someone else.

I reckon it is analogous to the adage from the great philosopher, Socrates:

"Know Thyself".

You are not being true to yourself, if you readily succumb to other people's expectations or opinions because you feel guilty.

I always believe that happiness is being true to yourself.

I know my strengths & capabilities, & I constantly look out for opportunities to build on & amplify my personal assets.

I also know my weaknesses & shortcomings, & I constantly explore ways & means to reduce their impact on my progress in life, & also to improve on them wherever possible.

I hold certain values & beliefs close to my heart, & I always strive to be better than myself. I also pursue a very simple philosophy in life: I will not take advantage of other people, & will not ride on other people's miseries or misfortunes.

Learning or modeling the patterns of excellence from others is good, but don't follow blindly, & get stuck with one single model. Or worst still, get indoctrinated by one single guru.

Oftentimes, people get carried away during the learning process, especially when it is choreographed with dramatic "hoo-haa" & sensitive "touchy-feely" experiences. These people unwittingly try to replicate themselves by following the so-called guru in a dogmatic manner.

As a result, they also invariably adopt all the airs & hype by talking & acting like monkeys.

I have met many of them, real people, & since I know some of them personally, I can quickly sense what they say & do, regrettable to say, is ostensibly inconsistent or incongruent with who they are. That's to say, they don't walk their talk.

The irony is this: Haven't even fully mastered &/or practised the newly-acquired skills in their own lives, a lot of these people often masquerade themselves as motivational trainers & success coaches, because that is the easiest & most convenient route to embark on.

I once met a guy, an oil futures broker turned trainer, who was so broke - he tried to borrow money from me - & yet he went round offering "millionaire mind" training.

I often wonder how these unscrupulous people can get to sleep at night.

I sleep very soundly at night, because I always stay true to myself. I always live life true to myself & also to its fullest.

For example, my voice is very loud when I speak, even when I am on the phone. My wife often complains that people around me will know all my "secrets".

I always tell her that I don't have any "secrets", let alone anything to hide.

I am who I am. My voice has been loud since day 1 - probably due to the fact that I come from a large family with 13 siblings.

Talking about gurus, I want to share a personal experience. When I first encountered 'mind-mapping' from reading Tony Buzan's books, I thought it was great stuff.

Then, I stumbled on to 'clustering' techniques from Gabriele Rico & 'mind-scaping' routines from Nancy Marguilies.

Naturally, I started to explore further, & found a whole gamut of other visual tools & graphic organisers out there, e.g. Vee diagrams, causal loop diagramming, fish-bone frameworks, rapid viz, etc.

To my great delight, I am awakened to the fact that 'mind-mapping' isn't that great after all.

Suffice to say, 'mind-mapping' is not the only tool. It is one of the good tools one can readily use, depending on the situation that warrants it.

Unlike all the followers of Tony Buzan who still doggedly believes that every issue in life or business has to radiated from a central viewpoint, I have moved on.

Being true to myself, & with a tool-box, I have now expanded my mental flexibility & operational versatility to deal with a rapidly changing world. I am not stuck with one single model.

Just imagine that you have only a hammer or a screw driver in your tool-box. Everything will look like a nail or a screw to you - right in your face!

To be frank, I am still learning, growing & exploring. So, I have actually a tool-box that is evolving, packed with a smorgasbord of visual tools to deal with complexity.

I like to leave this wonderful quote from Bruce Lee, the man whose lightning-fast, stealthy 'Jeet Kune Do' fists shook the martial word, & to whom I am still a raving fan:


"Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out & look for a successful personality & duplicate it."

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Something in human nature causes us to start slacking off at our moment of accomplishment. As you become successful, you will need a great deal of self-discipline not to lose your sense of balance, humility, & commitment."

~ H Ross Perot, an American businessman, who founded Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in 1962; sold the company to General Motors in 1984, & founded Perot Systems in 1988; his true adventurous exploit in rescuing two EDS top employees from prison during the 1979 Iranian Revolution, with the help of retired US Army Special Forces Colonel 'Bull' Simons, is legendary, culminating into the action movie, 'On Wings of Eagles' (starring Richard Crenna, as Perot, & Burt Lancaster);

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS

"Lucky people generate their own good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating & noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, & adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good."

~ Dr Richard Wiseman, psychologist & author of 'The Luck Factor';

[For more information, visit the author's corporate website or read his original article at this link.]

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

CHANGE YOUR STRATEGY

I have found this interesting anecdote from marketing guru Michael Port's Amazon blog.

He is the author of 'The Contrarian Effect: Why It Pays (Big) to Take Typical Sales Advice & Do the Opposite'.

"One day, there was a blind man sitting on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet & a sign that read:

'I am blind, please help.'

A marketer was walking by & stopped to observe. He saw that the blind man had only a few coins in his hat. He dropped in more coins & without asking for permission, took the sign & rewrote it.

He returned the sign to the blind man & left.

That afternoon the marketer returned to the blind man & noticed that his hat was full of bills and coins.

The blind man recognized his footsteps & asked if it was he who had rewritten his sign & wanted to know what he had written on it.

The marketer responded:

"Nothing that was not true. I just wrote the message a little differently."

He smiled & went on his way.

The new sign read:

'Today is Spring & I cannot see it.'

Sometimes we need to change our strategy. If we always do what we've always done, we'll always get what we've always gotten."

Come to think of it, I reckon this assertion by Michael Port is analogous to the concept of insanity as defined by Albert Einstein, "doing the same thing over & over again & expecting different results."

Well, it's time to change strategy when things are not working!

Interestingly, peak performance coach Anthony Robbins has incorporated the same idea when he formulated his 'ultimate success formula' as follows:

1) determine & decide on your preferred outcome;

2) figure out your plan;

3) execute your plan;

4) stay focused but remain flexible in your approach: notice what's working/what's not working, & adjust your actions as needed in order to get the results you want;

[More information about Michael Port & his other books can be found at this link.]

POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS: I AM . . .

Further to my earlier post, here is a quick sampling of possibilities for making positive affirmations from A to Z pertaining to "I am . . .":

active; adventurous; authentic; awesome; beautiful; bold; brave; capable; caring; confident; courageous; curious; dependable; determined; distinct; dynamic; energetic; enthusiastic; exceptional; fascinating; feisty; fun; gutsy; happy; hardworking; healthy; helpful; honest; imaginative; important; interesting; intelligent; joyful; kind; likable; lively; loyal; magical; motivated; memorable; myself; natural; nice; noticeable; open-minded; optimistic; original; persistent; positive; precious; proud; quirky; real; reliable; reliable; resourceful; responsible; sharp; spiritual; surprising; sympathetic; thoughtful; tolerant; trustworthy; unique; unselfish; upbeat; valuable; versatile; vigorous; warm; wise; wonderful; young; extra-special; fleXible; zany;

EVERY SECOND COUNTS

I have just learned while surfing the net today that 'Every Second Counts' happens to be the apt title of world champion cyclist Lance Armstrong's second book, after 'It's not about the Bike'.

Frankly, I haven't read both books.

I understand there are some sort of memoirs documenting his personal trials & tribulations as well as professional victories of racing & winning the tortuous Tour de France.

I believe he is a 7 times winner.

With the aid of the Amazon Online Reader, I manage to jot down some notes & also ponder over what I have jotted down.

From my personal standpoint, "Every Second Counts" is analogous to "Carpe Diem" or "Seize the Day".

These are my notes:

- consider each day as an opportunity for excellence;

- make the most of every breath of life;

- see every day as a challenge to live richly well, no matter what hardship may come;

- get every single drop of enjoyment & excitement out of life;

- embrace the indomitable spirit of survivors everywhere;

- celebrate all the things that make life good;

I am intrigued by a few quotations & questions from the book:

- "Personal comfort is not the only thing worth seeking . . . comfort only takes us to a point that is known."

- "Generally, one of the hardest things in the world to do is (to do) something twice."

- "The experience of suffering is like the experience of exploring, of finding something unexpected & revelatory. When you find the outermost thresholds of pain, or fear, or uncertainty, what you experience afterward is an expansive feeling, a widening of your capabilities."

- "If you lead a largely unexamined life, you will eventually hit a wall . . . The key, then, is to investigate the wall inside yourself, so you can go beyond it. The only way to do that is to ask yourself painful questions . . ."

- "Now that I know I'm not going to die, what will I do?"

- "What's the highest & best use of my self?"

Gee whiz, a lot of provoking stuff, I must say. Well, I am always ambivalent about personal memoirs. So, I am not too sure whether I am going to get one of the books to read.

Nevertheless, here are my personal thoughts.

I reckon it is human nature that, when things around us are no longer challenging the way they used to be, we tend to rest on our laurels & stop expanding our inner capacities.

When such a phenomenon occurs, we become the victim at the mercy of circumstances.

Luckily, as human beings, we also have the freedom to choose. More precisely, the power to choose, as I have talked about in an earlier post.

We can choose to win, even in the face of adversity, as exemplified by the inspiring feats of Lance Armstrong.

Make every second counts. Seize the Day! Go out there & kick some butt!

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"I live for what I do. I have no rules. Well may be one. I try to remain true to my heart. Wherever it may lead me, it's always open. I live for the day, but I still have big dreams."

~ Bar Rafaeli, acclaimed international model;

[I have spotted this apt quotation on the glass panel of the shop-front of the FOX retail shop in the IMM Shopping Mall in Jurong East today.]

WINDOW SHOPPING: IT'S A BREEZE ON A WEEKDAY!

My wife & I love to go window shopping, especially on a weekday, just after our regular gym practice. We do it at least once a week.

We consider the planned loafing experiences as part of casual unwinding for the week, on top of our disciplined gym routines.

Our favourite joints are the IMM Shopping Mall in Jurong East & Jurong Point. Occasionally, we may pop into VIVO City or even Orchard Road. We went down to Orchard Road last week.

Window shopping on a weekday is always a breeze! Today, we visited the IMM Shopping Mall in Jurong East.



Car park lots abound. No long queues, & better still, no tempers rising! We can even park the car just next to the lift lobby.

The big stores like Giant or Best SuperStore, & the smaller boutiques, plus all the adjacent 'mum & pop' retail outlets, are relatively light with consumers. That's how we like it.

We can take our own sweet time to browse things on the shelves or admire stuff on display in the shop windows.

Oftentimes, we find that store staff are generally helpful, & pay greater attention to browsing customers on a weekday.

Of course, they are some bad hats who like to yak on their hand-phones or polish their finger nails or even gawk at themselves in the mirror, totally oblivious to the presence of customers.

That's to say, heavy human traffic is practically non-existent on a weekday.

Going to the restaurants &/or food courts is also a breeze, as there won't be any long queues at the cashiers. More importantly, the food servers & cashiers are not too grouchy!

Also, to our pleasant delight, no unruly kids are running around.

Frankly, we just don't like any competition from those brats. No offence intended!

Walking through the long narrow aisle spaces in Giant is fun & breezy. That's to say, there are no rampant shopping carts fighting for pedestrian space.

Particularly for me, I find window shopping a good & stress-free way to expose myself to the world at large.

To see what's good & new in the marketspace.

To feel the pulse of the world at leisure.

To observe human behaviour at work. Particularly, consumer behavioural patterns.

To sense people's moods as they hang out in open-space social settings.

For my wife, it's always a jolly good time to scout for those enticing offers!

Over time, if one is observant, particularly when one can discern the human patterns, our readings of the real world are even better than those economists or forecasters squatting in ivory towers.

To expose to myriad of random stimuli. From the creativity standpoint, this is great time to spur some ideas. Writing this post is a case in point.

Best of all, to appreciate Singapore as a blessed city.
My hand-phone camera & my pocket notebook are always ready to capture what fancy me.

In this post as well as subsequent posts, you can enjoy some of my snapshots.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"People who have attained things worth having in this world have worked while others have idled, have perservered while others gave up in despair, & have practiced early in life the valuable habits of self-denial, industry, & singleness of purpose. As a result, they enjoy in later life the success often erroneously attributed to good luck."

~ Grenville Kleiser, 1868-1953, American author, with a long list of inspirational books & guides to oratorical success & personal development;

THE POWER OF POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS: A NEW PERSPECTIVE

While surfing through the Amazon online, I happen to stumble upon a book, entitled 'The Laws of Thinking', by Bishop Bernard Jordan.

I reckon the book has been written specifically from a spiritual perspective.

With the aid of the Amazon Online Reader, I manage to go through the book, & am intrigued by one particular long passage that goes like this:

"God is not a noun.

A noun is a person, place of thing, & God is all of the above, but above all, God is a Force, a Mind, an Intellect, & a Spirit.

That spirit exists for one reason above all others: to manifest change in the world.

So, if you take that idea to its logical conclusion, you come to this:

GOD IS A VERB.

God is an action word. Remember, God states that his name is "I am".

"I am" is an action phrase that stems from the verb "to be".

So to be God - which is what you are - is to be.

When you come into your "I am" awareness, you are in action as God. God is action.

God in you is a force to take action to create change in this physical reality.

God is the action itself. Once you are in a "I am" state of being, you are the action itself.

What does this mean?

It means that once you declare your "I am", you claim both the power & the responsibility to act on your becoming."

As a free thinker, I find this particular passage very interesting & intriguing.

Notwithstanding the spiritual implications of the author's writing & also his religious credentials, I am just trying to figure out whether the essence of the foregoing passage could explain the potency of positive affirmations, especially when they are expressed in the present tense.

When I say "I am . . .[***]", I know very well that I am taking charge of my becoming, & in a way, I am also putting myself on the offensive.

Frankly, with the empowering belief in place, my brain actually can't tell the difference between real & reel.

That's another good angle to look at positive affirmations, at least from the scientific standpoint. Neurologically, brain cells fire likewise in both scenarios.

Food for thought?

[*** Please refer to the Next Post]

JUST MAKE A MARK & SEE WHERE IT TAKES YOU!

Almost on a daily basis, I just love to surf the net, after my gym practice, in addition to reading as well as writing daily posts on my weblog.

However, I always surf with a purpose. My purpose is to find out & learn more about what's really out there, & more importantly, what I can make use of to improve my knowledge & experience.

At the back of my head, I have a few important things I am always looking out for, in addition to my Google Alerts.

Stuff like strategic anticipation or anticipatory management or strategic agility, strategic foresight, strategic thinking &/or planning, mental flexibility, personal mastery, successful aging, brain fitness, etc., generally come under my immediate personal purview.

In some respects, serendipity is often my surfing companion. That's to say, I like to stumble upon stuff that comes my way. I am always prepared for that to happen.

"Chance favours the prepared mind", as the old adage goes.

I have stumbled upon 'The Dot', a fun book by Peter Reynolds, who teach readers about developing artistic mastery.

His principal premise is very simple: Just make a mark & see what happens. I like that.

In life, making the first step to do anything, especially from the standpoint of enhancing one's own peak performance, is always difficult.

People tend to sit on the fence. Waiting for others to make the first move. Procrastinating.

Oftentimes, wavering in random thoughts.

No wonder, the old adage stays true: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step".

In an earlier post, I have mentioned about a newly stumbled-upon book, entitled 'Smarts: Are We Hard-wired for Success', by business strategist Chuck Martin, supported by two psychologists.

The author has identified 12 executive skills already hard-wired from birth, but not fully developed until we have reached adulthood.

One of the skills is 'Task Initiation' - the ability to begin a task without undue procrastination in a timely fashion.

Despite the author's contention that one cannot excel in every defined skill, & worst still, if we are found to be weak in one or two of them, there's nothing we can do about them as they cannot be improved further.

I don't agree.

In fact, I strongly believe, at least from the result perspective, that 'Task Initiation' is the most critical component to personal & professional success.

From the way I see it, nothing changes or moves until initial action takes place. This is Newton's First Law.

I have also stumbled upon another book, entitled 'No Mind Left Behind: Understanding & Fostering Executive Control', by Adam Cox, a psychologist & peak performance expert, as well as another one, entitled 'Executive Skills in Children & Adolescents', by two psychologists, Peg Dawson & Richard Guare, who also worked with Chuck Martin.

All three of them have argued very eloquently that there are 8 executive control skills - Adam Cox calls them 'Factor Ex' - every kid needs to embrace in order to thrive in the 21st century.

One of the skill sets is, not surprisingly, 'Task Initiation' - the ability to organise thoughts to get started on a task.

I fully concur with their findings & arguments.

Incidentally, the 8 designated executive skills - or their variations thereof - are often taught through group games & interactive exercises in residential motivational camps for kids & teens.

We all know about goal setting. However, without initiating any tasks to pursue the goals, it becomes daydreaming.

That's why it's important to start even with small steps, as over time, they easily build up the momentum to keep going.

Momentum is energy. It is never lost; it's transformed into action!

'Just do it!' from NIKE comes to mind. That's the spirit we must embrace.

BAD MOON RISING: PART II?

Yesterday morning, when I woke up to read my newspaper, The Straits Times, I became fascinated by Dr Tony Tan's comments at the Global Strategic Review 2008, while sketching a sombre economic scenario:

"Future may be either robust or rough, depending on how issues are handled."

He added that there was a growing potential for more "severe economic dislocations" that could lead to stress & conflicts.

This morning when I woke up, this was the headline on the front page of Straits Times:

"Lehman (Brothers) collapse sends global shockwaves."

"Merrill Lynch (the world's #1 brokerage firm) sold in a sudden takeover."

Mr Wilbur Ross, a respected US billionaire financier has predicted that as many as a thousand banks may fall in the months ahead.

In other news that follow:

AIA/AIG seems to be in trouble, too. My car is insured with AIG. No big deal!

Gee Whiz? What's happening?

Worst of all, what's the impact on Singaporeans?

'Bad Moon Rising' from CCR is not that amusing after all!

HOW DO YOU DEFINE A GREAT MIND MAP?

The Mindmapping Softwareblog (from Chuck Frey, founder of Innovation Tools, the largest, most extensive website focused on business innovation, creativity & brainstorming) poses a relevant question recently, & I have given my humble response.

What are the defining characteristics of an excellent software-produced mind map?

Here's the link, & I have expanded my original response as follows, for this particular post:

For me, I reckon the most important characteristic in a mind map (or an idea map) is where it will lead you to, in terms of exploring further & beyond what you have already captured in it in the first place.

A mind map (or idea map) is a good starting point for capturing & organising the disparate information in a systematic manner for quick review.

Its real value [I call it ROI2 (return on information & ideas!)] will come only when it triggers spontaneous or even delayed reactions or responses from the interactions (or maybe, intersections) of your own knowledge & experiences with what you already captured on paper & on your computer.

That’s to say, what comes to your mind after reviewing or reflecting on the mind map (or idea map).

Or, what’s next? . . . what else is there? what's possible for me to do?

Or, so what? . . . in which case, it’s time for you to evaluate & assess what’s good & new from your jottings in the mind map (or idea map).

Or, what if . . .? . . . in which case, this becomes a springboard!

In reality, a good mind map or idea map, in order to serve its true purpose, must spur the mapper to action!

To move on with the information captured & the new ideas generated, so that the mapper can assimilate them into new definitive actions & useful real-world experiences.

Albert Einstein said it so eloquently:

"Knowledge is experience. Everything else is just information."

Capturing information with all the fancy colours & wonderful icon graphics or rich pictures on a map look good only on the surface, but as a mind mapper (or idea mapper), you are actually going no where, sorry to say that, until you can systematically derive new ideas or novel responses from it, to go to the next level.

Suffice to say, your competition out there can replicate exactly what you do in a map, maybe even better than you.

However, it’s your creative ingenuity & virtually limitless imagination in terms of sparking or getting new ideas or novel responses from the mental associations or juxtapositions that are triggered off from your subsequent readings or reflections from the map that ultimately make the difference. That’s your defining moment with a mind map or idea map.

The moment of truth, so to speak.

In reality, a mind map or idea map is absolutely useless, unless it can add value to your thinking exploration, & your thinking must start the moment you have finished drawing it up.

From what I have read, Leonardo da vinci, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison & other geniuses had often used their visual jottings to spur new thinking . . . new ideas . . . new actions!

Monday, September 15, 2008

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"We will not be denied, because we refuse to live within the limits of man-made labels & libels. We will not accept a mediocre life & we will not disappear quietly into the middle. We gladly accept the proverb, 'Those who hear not the music think the dancer's mad.' We hear the music, it's in our heart & soul, & we must dance."

~ from the book, 'Accept No Mediocre Life: Living Beyond Labels, Libels, & Limitations', by David Foster, a pastor & radio talk show host, who writes pep talks for "those who refuse to accept mediocre as the standard by which they live their lives."; to break out of the everyday rut, he asks for four commitments: excel at being who you are (each person is unique), where you are ("perfect conditions do not exist"), with what you have, while you can;

AN EVOLVING FIELD GUIDE: EXPERIENTIAL AXIOM #5

[continue from the Last Post]

Reading about - & digesting - various stuff on "unleashing the power within" is one thing. It's just textual knowledge.

It's "word understanding", as one transformation guru, Harry Palmer, puts it.

Putting it to work in one's life, & following it through - as well as living through it all - is something else.

It's real knowledge, or "world understanding" as Harry Palmer puts it.

So, the next experiential axiom I want to talk about is:

I have the power within me to turn the dreams I once had into reality. By tapping into this power, I can change anything in my life in a matter of moments. All I must do is to unleash it.

That's was what woke me up when I was attending a 16-day residential boot-camp for entrepreneurs, managers, & professionals in the United States during the early nineties - May 1991, to be precise.

Upon my return to Singapore, in less than 3 months, I finally decided to leave the corporate world for good, after having spent twenty-fours of my prime life working in quiet desperation.

Like what I have said earlier, & with a small dose of hind-sight, realising that power within me is relatively simple, but putting it to work involves a lot of other personal variables, plus sheer determination & consistent hard work, to get going.

This is my own personal story to share the learning experiences, so that the experiential axiom I am talking about will make pragmatic sense.

The first variable is CLARITY.

I am referring to the clarity of outcome as well as the clarity of purpose.

At that time, I knew that I had wanted very much to pursue my own personal freedom - the absolute freedom to decide & to do what I want with my life, especially in the second half. That was my primary intent.

With my passionate love for books & technologies, & having read so much about the "ideas or knowledge economy", I thought it was timely & worthwhile for me to put some of my own creative ideas to work as part of my life pursuits.

A small retail outlet, aptly called 'The Brain Resource', followed by a strategy consulting outfit & a subscription newsletter, were some of those early ideas.

I had also thought that having a retail outlet would easily bank-roll my own reading pursuits, & help provide some bread & butter to keep me going with other relevant pursuits. It turned out very well to my great delight.

With the initial clarity of outcome as well as purpose in place, I was then able to focus on all my priorities & objectives.

With clarity of focus as a result, it was so much easier to see the big picture, so as not to get lost in the details. More importantly, I could change the path I had in mind. In fact, I eventually took several different paths, & yet I could stay in focus of the preferred outcome.

For example, my original plan was to promote seminars & workshops from the United States.

'PhotoReading' seminars from Learning Strategies Corporation took off very well, but not the others e.g. 'Strategy of the Dolphin' from Brain Technologies, 'Intuition Training' with Stephen Schwartz, 'Guerrilla Selling', just to name a few.

Then it daunted on me that I should start to devise my own workshops.

The second variable is COURAGE.

The courage to pursue one's dreams. Relentlessly.

I knew I was venturing into an unknown terrain. Starting out on my own was quite intimidating in many respects, to say the least.

Worst still, I didn't have any experience at all running a retail outlet, let alone starting it from scratch.

All I had was my training as an engineer & my professional experiences as a manager with diverse portfolios.

On the other hand, I had this yearning inside me, driving me me to experiment with "moving out of the comfort zone & pushing myself into the stretch zone".

Come to think of it, courage is actually making a stand or standing on your own two feet.

Frankly, I had a choice then: staying in the corporate world till my retirement - looking good, but going no where - or going out on my own & creating my own world.

[I certainly recall the classic story about Steve Jobs offering John Scully from Pepsi Cola Company an offer to join Apple Computers: Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar-coated water or change the world?]

The third variable is CURIOSITY.

Frankly, I was very curious to find out how one could change course in mid-life. Also, curious to find out what was available at the other end of the tunnel, so to speak.

The video presentation about transitions in the cycle of life from Dr Layne Longfellow I had watched at the boot-camp continued to reverberate in my mind.

In reality, curiosity implies moving forward, opening new doors, & doing new things. More precisely, going into & exploring the unknown.

Retrospectively, I now realised that it has been my own curiosity streak about "what is probable out there" & "what is possible for me to do", especially when one has no inkling as to what is ahead, that had kept me going during the early years.

In fact, my curiosity led me to many new paths.

Designing my own curriculum & conducting my own workshops came about from my curiosity exploits.

The fourth variable is CREATIVE INGENUITY.

Looking back, one of the most creative act of ingenuity on my part was to sit down with a local forwarding company (I must say thanks to Sinwako Express at Changi Airport for a wonderful client relationship) to explore what was the most cost-effective way to import stuff from the United States for a small operator like me.

The idea of a freight consolidator at Los Angeles Airport came up during our preliminary discussions. We ran a few initial shipments from the United States with the view to streamline some administrative bottlenecks & cost variables, & the rest was history.

With the freight consolidator, I was able to import a lot of stuff with expediency as well as low cost. To the suppliers in United States, I was perceived as a big operator, & that perception suited me fine.

Again, my creative ingenuity went to work at full speeds when I explored equitable collaborations with other purveyors, & also initiated purchase deals with corporate libraries, which helped to boost my store business tremendously.

Not only that, I had to scratch my head all the time on how to make my training curriculum for both adults & kids exciting & valuable.

My focus was not to teach people how to be creative - we are all born creative - but to show how they can build on or amplify their innate skills to create a better life, to master new skill sets that are readily available, in the real world or in school, so as to be ready for the 21st century.

The fifth variable is COMMITMENT.

One can plan & execute, but without personal commitment, nothing will work at the end.

When I had started out at the beginning, I was already mentally prepared to stake out on my own without pay or income for three years. I knew it would take me about three years to make a breakthrough. That was more of a gut feel than anything else, to be frank.

I had some meagre savings, plus 3 months performance bonus & 1 month Christmas bonus from my last corporate pay to keep me in reality check.

Catherine wasn't supportive at the beginning stage, although she knew I was dead serious about pursing my dreams. Fortunately, she relented & with her full support, I was 100% committed to making them work at all costs.

In retrospect, commitment calls for a tremendous amount of self-discipline. As an engineer, I already had that in my system.

Next, it requires persistence & perseverance.

So, for the first three years, it was hell of a ride, financially speaking.

Luck - or was it my persistent hard work had finally paid off ? - came more or less during the fourth year.

The sixth variable is CONTINUOUS LEARNING.

Venturing out on one's own is always an unrelenting process of continuous learning. Of course, for me, there were some mistakes & failures along the way, but that was part & parcel of the process of learning.

What has worked? What didn't work? What corrections do I need to do? What's next? That's how learning takes place.

Building up my store repertoire from scratch, with assorted books, audios, videos, tool-kits, construction kits, posters, games, toys, etc., took continuous learning, experimentation, adjustments, & fine-tuning.

Frankly, I learned hell a lot from my own small entrepreneurial ventures when compared to the twenty four years I had spent in the corporate world.

I truly understand the "world experience" of "baptism by fire".

The last, but not least, variable is CONSTANT INNOVATION.

From Day I of my own ventures, my real-life business companion was constant innovation.

Finding new ways to do or implementing ideas to generate the sales revenue, so as to pay my bills, & to more bring value to my store customers & consulting clients, so as to keep me going &/or staying in business.

I had started off with workshops for entrepreneurs, managers & professionals & later extended them to young kids & students.

From one day seminars, I had expanded to 5-1/2 seminars, covering a broad spectrum of building 21st century learning skills.

I had competitors coming to replicate my stuff, but I was always one step ahead, with innovation.

That's how I came to the conclusion that your competition can have access to the same information, but it's your ingenuity & innovation that can make the big difference.

To sum up my post, "unleashing the power within" necessitates Clarity, Courage, Curiosity, Creative Ingenuity, Commitment, Continuous Learning & Constant Innovation to make it work.

[to be continued in the Next Post]

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

How can I possibly try to make sense of the future when the present is so profoundly perplexing?

~ inspired by the book, 'Powerful Times: Rising to the Challenge of Our Uncertain World', by Eamonn Kelly, CEO & President of Global Business Network, the renowned future-oriented networking & consulting outfit;

Sunday, September 14, 2008

ARE WE HARD-WIRED FOR SUCCESS?

I may have stumbled upon this book, entitled 'Smarts: Are We Hard-wired for Success', by business strategist Chuck Martin last year, but it didn't sort of catch my fancy immediately. The author is also the Chairman & CEO of NFI Research, a top management research firm.

[According to a worldwide survey of 214 senior executives & managers by NFI, 72% of them say that when it comes to what sets high performing individuals & others apart, 'attitude' & 'ability to prioritise' top the list.]

He has apparently written the book with the close collaboration of two psychologists.

I have stumbled upon the book once again recently, & after reading it on the Amazon website, I became fascinated by some of the research stuff.

According to the author, 12 core executive skills are already built in to every individual & they are fully developed & unchangeable by adulthood. That's interesting!

Every one of us has these skills but to varying degrees.

Interestingly, each of us has 2 or 3 of the strongest & another 2 or 3 of the weakest executive skills. This probably explains why we often gravitate to certain tasks & struggle with others.

According to the author, it is extremely usual for a person to be strong in all 12 executive skills.

Real opportunities lie in playing to our strengths, i.e. embracing them can help us achieve excellence, & not trying to improve our shortcomings.

That, to me, is quite weird to say the least!

The BusinessWeek Online has extracted the 12 'Executive Skills Profile' from the book to give readers an opportunity to assess where you stand.

Here's the link.

By the way, here are the 12 core skills:

1) Self-Restraint;
2) Working Memory;
3) Emotion Control;
4) Focus;
5) Task Initiation;
6) Planning/Prioritisation;
7) Organisation;
8) Time Management;
9) Defining & Achieving Goals;
10) Flexibility;
11) Observation;
12) Stress Tolerance;

I can well understand the pursuit of strengths (this certainly reminds me of Marcus Buckingham's 'Go Put Your Strengths to Work' & 'Now, Discover Your Strengths, a few years ago), but asking us to avoid wasting time on our weaknesses is something to think about, notwithstanding the author's contention that weaknesses can never be improved.

Nonetheless, a copy of the book is now in my shopping basket with Amazon.

[More information about the author & his foregoing book can be found at this link.]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"I truly understand that there is a lesson in everything that happens to us. So I tried not to spend my time asking "Why did this happen to me?" but trying to figure out why I had chosen this."

~ Oprah Winfrey, television host of her own popular show;

AN EVOLVING FIELD GUIDE: EXPERIENTIAL AXIOM #4

[continue from the Last Post]

The next axiom I want to talk about is:

I have the power to choose & I choose to win.

What it means is that I have the ability to decide what I want to do with my life.

To take charge. To control my own destiny.

To be a producer of results in every aspect of my life - actions, lifestyles, relationships, attitudes, & priorities.

I believe each & every one of us is seemingly bestowed at birth with this wonderful power - the power to choose.

In fact, one philosopher once said that the most defining defining factor in anyone's life is the power to choose.

With this power to choose, we can choose to respond to whatever comes our way & to change our personal trajectory.

Interestingly, life is all about making choices, whether we like it or not.

Invariably, smart choices lead to a good & better life, while unwise choices can bring headaches, ruin & even death.

Having a life without choices is not good for anyone, as it means some one else is deciding how we spend our time each day, like what we do & when we do it.

Making our own choices about the life we want & the things we do is very important because it gives our life meaning.

Come to think of it, with the exception of death there is absolutely nothing that happens in our day to day existence that doesn't happen based on a choice that was made.

Even in the case of death, we are still given a choice as to how we choose to feel about it.

Learning to make our own choices = having self-empowerment & taking charge of our own life.

Since I have the power to choose, naturally I choose to win.

To truly understand that we have the power to choose, let me use a simple exercise to demonstrate.

Take a piece of blank paper. With a pencil or pen, draw a dot.

Now, tell me what do you see?

Of course, a dot, you may argue with me. What happens then? Your logic sensor starts to kick in. Probably, that's all you see.

When I play the same exercise with kids, I get a whole gamut of interesting answers:

- a spy's microdot; a hole in my tooth; a beetle sleeping at night; mummy's nipple; Phua Chu Kang's mole; a hole in the ozone . . .

In a nut shell, this is the power to choose at work!

Naturally, our culture, education, conditioning from the environment, needs & drives, prejudices & biases, hopes & fears, expectations & frustrations will impact our power to choose.

Let's try again. Now, draw a circle around the earlier dot.

What do you see?

I am sure you can do much better this time round because I have already awakened you.

At this juncture, I like to share a very profound insight from Stephen Covey, writing in his classic, '7 Habits of Highly Effective People':

Between stimulus & response, there is a space.

In that space lies our freedom & our power to choose our response.

In our response lies our growth & happiness.

So, to end my post, my question to readers is this:

How do you start to make things happen?

[to be continued in the Next Post]

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What am I doing that makes me feel good about my life?