Saturday, January 10, 2009

HOW STRESSED OUT ARE YOU?

While browsing today's issue of the Straits Times, I have found OSIM, a global leader in branded healthy lifestyle products, advertising their latest gadget, the uCrown Human Touch Acupressure Massage headgear.

But, more importantly, I have found that OSIM is now offering a free & quick 'Stress-O-Meter' reading. Here's a link.

The quick test is designed to help you evaluate how stressed out you are.

THE POWER OF CONFIDENCE

In the Foreword of his new book, entitled 'The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything', author & consultant Sir Ken Robinson, who is acknowledged as one of the world's leading thinkers in creativity & innovation, relates this wonderful story:

An elementary school teacher was giving a drawing class to a group of six-year-old children.

At the back of the classroom sat a little girl who normally didn't pay much attention in school. In the drawing class she did.

For more than twenty minutes, the girl sat with her arms curled around her paper, totally absorbed in what she was doing. The teacher found this fascinating.

Eventually, she asked the girl what she was drawing.

Without looking up, the girl said, “I'm drawing a picture of God.”

Surprised, the teacher said, “But nobody knows what God looks like.”

The girl said, “They will in a minute.”

SUCCESS DEFINED

Here's another beautiful definition of "success" which I have found while surfing the net

It has been attributed to Frank X Sowa, Chairman / CEO of The Xavier Group, a strategic management consultancy.

"The world strives for success. It is important to be seen as "successful." We assimilate success with happiness.

But, when we die, how will we be remembered? Will it be because of our great "success."

Bill Gates of Microsoft is a successful person. One-thousand years from now wil he, or his company, and the artifacts it created by cherished and remembered?

It is not success that makes a moment in history. It is significance!

It is not how successful someone has been that we remember for any length of time, it is how significant he was in altering the people and ideas of a time.

As a test of significance, if you were to die today, what sort of book about you would they write?

Or wouldn't they write books?

What sort of story then? If not a story, what sort of obituary paragraph?

If not a paragraph, then what sort of sentence for your tombstone?

If not a sentence, then what sort of kind words?

If no kind words, then how will you ever be remembered as being on this planet?

To gain anything, you need to strive for significance, not success."

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY IN THEIR HEADS

Do you play games in your head? My own answer is definitely in the affirmative.

I recall, way back into the fifties, when I was a young precocious kid, I often played games in my head during classroom sessions. Most of the time the games became so intense or rather I was so engrossed with them that I ended up as target practice for my only teacher.

[At that time, at least for the first few years, my school was a one-room shop house in Yong Peng, Johor, West Malaysia. There was only one teacher, a dark-skinned fatso guy, probably of Indian origins.]

He was fond of throwing projectiles - usually a chalk duster - in my direction, & he was pretty good at what he did, judging from the momentary pain on my forehead on many occasions. I could still remember his name, Mr Cherian, who later became the school principal.

To Mr Cherian, the many games I played in my head were apparently not to his liking, as he had obviously considered them a very bad habit among students, especially for not paying attention in class.

In short, it's "daydreaming", or "wandering in dreamland", as it is commonly known.

When I became a working professional in the late sixties, I started to understand the concept of thought formation inside our heads, especially after having read Dr Maxwell Maltz's 'Psycho-Cybernetics', among a few other good books.

In a nut shell, we are what we think: the outer aspect of our lives in the real world is a true reflection of how we see ourselves on the inside.

It seems to me that thought formation is an innate ability among the human species.

I in fact like to think of it as more of a "cradle to grave" phenomenon.

That's to say, even babies have instinctual thoughts - how to hook-wink the mother to get faster & better attention, besides to get a quick change, when wet for a change.

No wonder kids are so good in playing games when they grow up, irrespective of whether they are played inside their heads, or on those Nintendo &/or video arcade machines.

For all adults, playing games in their heads are part & parcel of life's pursuits. As they say, they come with the territory.

As I have mentioned earlier, Dr Deepak Chopra believes that we adults play games with our own thoughts at the rate of 50,000 thoughts on a daily basis. [On his corporate website under 'The Chopra Centre', a number 0f 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts on a daily basis has been quoted.]

Isn't that amazing?

Most astonishing is that about 95% of these thoughts are previous thoughts, according to Dr Chopra.

I have read that many psychologists believe that as much as 80% of our thoughts are of the negative category.

Just imagine the amount of negative programming or self-conditioning by the time an adult reaches his 40th birthday.

Correspondingly, in their book, 'It's All in Your Head', both authors Jean Stine & Camden Benares have revealed this interesting break-down of all the thoughts we pay attention to on a typical day:

- 33% concentrating on current activities;

- 25% thinking about others & interpersonal relationships;

- 6% active thinking focused on solving problems;

- 3% self-praise or self-criticism;

- 2% self-instruction;

- 1% thinking about violence;

- 26% widely scattered thoughts about a variety of subjects;

Contrastingly, according to clinical psychologist, Dr Eric Klinger, "half of our thoughts last 5 seconds or less, most others last less than a minute. Our average train of thoughts occupies a brief 15 seconds. We rarely stick with the same subject for as long as 5 consecutive minutes".

So, the crucial question here to many of us is: what am I thinking about all day long?

Actually, the way I see them, our thoughts are essentially our basic generalisations, positive as well as negative, of what's going on in the world around our lives. They eventually become our core beliefs.

It is pertinent to point out that some of these thoughts, positive as well as negative, come from the stories we often unwittingly keep telling or reminding ourselves. Psychologists call it self-talk programming.

In reality, this refers to the games we often play with ourselves, inside our heads of course.

With enough emotional intensity, they naturally become real, as our brains often can't tell the difference between a real experience & a reel (imagined) experience.

The irony is that the games we often play in our heads can affect the games we actually play in the real world.

Luckily, we adults have a way to countermand the generation of particularly negative thoughts, judging from what I have learned many years ago from Shakti Gawain.

For us, it's a new deliberate game to play. It's called "creative visualisation", coupled with making positive affirmations.

In the world of competitive sports, it has a fancy name: "mental rehearsal".

For all its intents & purposes, "creative visualisation" &/or "mental rehearsal" still require(s) deliberate practice as well as diligent efforts.

I must add that it's not a sure-fire antidote, but it works in most cases with diligent practice.

There is another deliberate practice which every one can also readily learn & use to deal with the massive generation of thoughts in our heads.

To me, it's a better game to play in our heads.

Dr Win Wenger, who wrote the classic, 'How to Increase Your Intelligence', calls it "image streaming".

It's a powerful technique for creative problem solving. You can read more about it from the link.

Actually, come to think of it, there is another powerful game technique, designated as "mental excursion" known mostly to practitioners of "synectics", as conceived by the original founders, William J J Gordon & George Prince, formerly from the Invention Design Group of Arthur D Little consulting outfit during the fifties/sixties.

Within the "mental excursion" approach, the fantasy analogy formation is the most exciting & fun.

The "thought experiment" as once described by physicist Albert Einstein during which he had imagined himself riding on a beam of light is a classic example of fantasy analogy.

Maverick inventor & engineer Nikola Tesla, who gave the world the alternating current system, had often imagined himself inside the machines he had constructed to test their operational reliability.

I recall vividly as I had progressed into the realm of general management during the eighties & nineties, I was introduced to a different kind of game to play in the head.

"Strategic thinking" is the most common term used in the corporate world to denote such a game play, suitable for individual play as well.

I believe business strategist Michel Robert is the one who has coined it & later popularised in the first place.

Internationally renowned academic as well as management thinker Prof. Henry Mintzberg once wrote about a new ball game: seven ways to "seeing" the corporate future, as part of the "strategic thinking" process.

The next level of the game play, but at a much higher order, so to speak, usually within the auspices of a group setting, came about in the form of "scenario building", popularised by the Shell Group of Companies at the height of the 70's oil crisis.

Incidentally, "scenario building" is well documented in Peter Schwartz' 'The Art of the Long View'.

In fairness, I reckon "playing with scenarios" is a more appropriate term to describe such a game play, as opposed to just playing with fancy or whimsical thoughts in the head.

Dr David Ingvar, a neurobiologist of Lund University in Sweden, mentioned in the book, 'The Living Company' by Arie de geus, once said that in "playing with scenarios" on an individual basis, the favourable-to-unfavourable ratio is about 60:40. Isn't that good news?

"Playing with scenarios" is a survival ability which we have learned as the human species from our caveman origins, according to Dr William Calvin's practical insights about our brains. He has actually used the term, "ballistic prowess", to describe it.

That unique ability gave our caveman fore-fathers the pathway to fashion weapons out of stones, & also the opportunity to become skilled hunter-gatherers, which eventually led to the formation of higher-order skills, like language.

Many learned experts tell me that since we can create thoughts in our heads, we should also be able to discreate or dissociate them.

Interestingly, I have learned that a thought can only be displaced by another thought.

In other words, you can't simply get rid of an unproductive thought in the head; you just got to think of a productive thought to replace that one.

So, in the end analysis, we as human beings have the power to choose, to choose what to think about, to choose what games we want to play in our heads, to choose the outcomes & results we really want.

My parting shot in this post: Choose wisely; if you want to continue to play games in your head, better choose to win. The choice is yours.

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What has been bugging me since last year?

What am I going to do about it this year?

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a
problem."

~Theodore Rubin, American psychiatrist, author of more than 25 works, & a long-time contributing columnist to the Ladies Home Journal;

Friday, January 9, 2009

SPOTLIGHT: SUCCESSORIES


This digital snapshot of two 'successories' posters was taken at my brother-in-law's office at the Rochor Centre, located just a short walking distance from Bugis Junction.

The one on the left read:

"Don't count the days, make the days count."

The one on the right read:

"The door to success is the one marked 'PUSH' (Persist Until Success Happens)."

SPOTLIGHT: WHAT'S IN A NAME?

I just thought that this ladies' clothes shop on the ground floor of the Bugis Junction had an intriguing brand name.

SPOTLIGHT: "MADE ME A STAR!"

The simple slogan on the top of a display board, just outside a ladies' clothes shop at the Bugis Junction shopping mall, had actually caught my personal attention:

Make me a star!

Gotta sing?

Gotta dance?

Gotta act?

No! Just gotta buy the dress!

What a subtle & yet effective selling message!

SPOTLIGHT: THE BEAUTY OF VISUAL LANGUAGE


This digital snapshot was taken at the Bugis Junction shopping mall.

Just thought that a small directional sign like this one could pack in so much information for the lost shopper.

That's the beauty of visual language.

It transcends many language boundaries.

SPOTLIGHT: NATURE'S WAY TO BEAUTIFUL

This digital snapshot was taken just outside the shopfront of 'The Body Shop' on the ground floor of Bugis Junction shopping mall.

Most people are probably aware of The Body Shop's social activism, particularly 'Protect Our Planet' as well as 'Trade Not Aid' initiatives with the objective of "creating trade to help people in the Third World utilise their resources to meet their own needs.

Its latest marketing slogan is 'Nature's Way to Beautiful'.

One thing I am very sure of:

Mother Nature definitely can't be wrong!

SPOTLIGHT: THE 3 MODELS


I didn't quite know why I had taken this digital snapshot of 3 models as part of the window display of a ladies' clothes shop in Bugis Junction shopping mall.

Maybe it was the pensive mood as depicted by the facial expressions of the 3 models.

It could also be the auspicious red coloured dresses they were wearing - to usher the coming of the 'Year of the Ox'.

Maybe I didn't have anything better to do. In fact, I was just waiting for my wife, who had gone to the ladies' toilet in the immediate vicinity.

Nevertheless, I was somehow intrigued by the 3 models.

SPOTLIGHT: BUGIS HERITAGE DISCOVERY POINTS



















This afternoon, I had gone window-shopping with my wife at the Bugis Junction shopping mall.

It's located in a large area sandwiched by Victoria Street, Rochor Road, North Bridge Road & Middle Road (Hotel Intercontinental).

Beneath the Bugis Junction lies the busy Bugis MRT Station.

I have read that the entire Bugis area, encompassing the Bugis Village, reportedly Singapore's largest street-corner shopping district, which is located on the other side of Victoria Street, opposite the Bugis Junction, has had an illustrious history.

The name of Bugis had originated from the early settlers who came by sea to trade with local merchants. Most people probably don’t know that the Bugis were sea-faring people from the Sulawesi province in Indonesia.

In fact, the Bugis people were famous as sailors, & had founded trade empires of their own. Their sail-boats, since three hundreds of years ago had sailed as far as the island of Madagascar near Africa, Australia, & a number of small islands in the Pacific Ocean.

They were known by others as being very fierce, war-hungry, but industrious. Honor, status, & rank were of great importance to the Bugis warriors.

This particular area of Singapore known as Bugis Junction/Bugis Village was exactly where the early influx of Bugis people had originally settled.

To the English & Dutch settlers in this part of the world during those days, the Bugis people were the most feared pirates of the seas, & would send chills into the souls of the English & Dutch sailors.

So feared were the Bugis that the expression, "Beware of the Bugis-man" was coined, later becoming the dreaded "Boogieman" of our childhood nightmares.

During the late fifties to the early eighties or so, the old Bugis area was a regular hangout of flamboyantly dressed transvestites, who often attracted thousands of foreign gawkies, fueled by numerous food peddlers & sleazy bars.

[I recall a Peter Bogdanovich's movie, 'Saint Jack', starring Ben Gazzara & Denholm Elliot as two American hustlers trying to make a fortune in 1970s Singapore during the Vietnam war era, was made in Singapore with the old Bugis joints as a backdrop, which somehow ran foul with the Singapore authorities upon the public release of the movie. The movie did not give Singapore a very good image internationally.]

The 8 digital snapshots in this post, from my Nokia N93 handphone camera, have been taken this afternoon at the Bugis Junction. They represent 'One in a Series of Bugis Heritage Discovery Points', as follows:

1) Trade Year & Trade Routes: Power of the Monsoon;

2) The Bugis People: Nomads of the Wind & Sea;

3) World's Largest Sailing Fleet;

4) Bugis Prahu Padewakeng: The Last of the Great Cargo Sailing Ships;

5) New Settlements;

6) To Singapore: Traders of a New Colony;

7) Inspiration of the islands: Traditional Arts;

8) Chroniclers of the Southern Seas: Written Language;

CHANGE AS OPPORTUNITY

Out of curiosity, I just look out for the synonyms of the word 'Change', & these are what I have found so far, with the help of dictionary resources on the net:

First, 'Change' is defined as "something made different".

- Adapt;
- Adopt;
- Adjust;
- Alternate;
- Commute;
- Convert;
- Develop;
- Differentiate;
- Distort;
- Diverge;
- Exchange;
- Evolve;
- Interchange;
- Modify;
- Mutate;
- Reconstruct;
- Recreate;
- Redo;
- Refine;
- Reform;
- Regenerate;
- Remodel;
- Remove;
- Renovate;
- Reorganise;
- Replace;
- Reset;
- Restyle;
- Reverse;
- Revise;
- Revolutionise;
- Shift;
- Substitute;
- Switch;
- Temper;
- Trade;
- Transform;
- Translate;
- Transpose;
- Turn;
- Vary;

On the same note, these are the antonyms I have found:

- Abide;
- Continue;
- Hold;
- Keep;
- Persist;
- Remain;
- Stay;

Come to think of it, with just a little bit of creative ingenuity, each of these words is a powerful action verb which we can use to manifest change in our personal circumstances.

For example:

- Convert our passive television time to active learning time;
- Reorganise our work desk;
- Replace unhealthy food with healthy alternatives;
- Remain flexible in our approach, but stay focused;
- Transform our personal insights &/hobbies into entrepreneurial pursuits;
- Turn every adversity into a learning experience;
- Translate every sentence or passage in your book into a question as you read, using the journalist's questions;
- Transform useful ideas into actionable sequences for immediate implementation;

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Try a thing you haven't done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time, to figure out whether you like it or not."

~ Virgil Garnett Thomson, 1896 - 1989; American composer & critic; He was instrumental in the development of the "American Sound" in classical music;

Thursday, January 8, 2009

SUCCESS DEFINED

What follows is a really beautiful definition of success, according to African-American community activist & MacArthur Foundation fellow Bill Strickland, writing in his remarkable book, 'Make the Impossible Possible: One Man's Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger & Achieve the Extraordinary', which I have taken the liberty to "compose" by extracting passages from pages 117 to 119 of the book:

". . . I'm convinced that no genius success occurs except as a natural expression of the human heart's search for meaning . . .

. . . Real success, genuine success, can't be chosen or chased down. You assemble it, moment by moment, out of the dreams you choose to follow & the values & passion you share. It's not something you have a choice in - its a process that occurs, whether we pay attention or not. When we focus on anything other than the things that have real meaning in our life, our life becomes shaped by the random circumstances of the world around us.

. . . Meaning is not something you can add to your life in limited amounts, or defer to a time in your life after you "made it". Meaning is your life, it's who you are. It's all you'll ever have, & in my experience it's the only practical foundation worth living. No genius success - in your personal & professional life - is possible until you trust the power of the values & experiences that matter to you most.

. . . that true fulfillment isn't about chasing some narrow definition of achievement or wealth, it's about trusting the value of your passions & principles & using them as a base to build a life.

Play out your drams . . . There is no second chance. You either choose to impact your environment or your environment will define you."

Isn't that awesome?

RENEW, REFRESH, REWIRE, NOT RETIRE!

During my recent visit to the Singapore General Hospital, as featured in my earlier post, I happened to browse one of their recent newsletters.

The newsletter had this catchy tag line on the front page:

"RENEW, REFRESH, REWIRE, NOT RETIRE"

Actually, this is the ethos of SingHealth, the governing body of all public hospitals in Singapore, pertaining to its age-friendly practices to proactively engage their matured staff to stay employable.

SingHealth employs some 15,000 people, with 15% of them aged 50 years & above.

After a quick reflection, the same ethos can also apply to each & every one of us as part of our life span approach to leading productive lives.

To me these are great action verbs:

Renew.
Refresh.
Rewire.

Just think about them in all areas of our lives:

- physical;
- emotional:
- social;
- intellectual;
- sex;
- communication;
- money & time;
- personal growth;
- spiritual growth;
- personal interests;
- travel;

They can apply readily in developing as well as sustaining our minds, bodies & spirits in top-gears.

I reckon the most important thing is to stay flexible, but keep learning. The next thing is of course to keep monitoring what we are doing so that we can anticipate what might happen that could shake up our lives.

For example, a quick one for just thinking aloud:

Particularly for me, & just looking at the physical aspect, I will RENEW my gym visit experiences by incorporating new activities, e.g. step ladder, rowing the boat, to broaden & enhance my current repertoire of working only on the treadmill, riding the elliptical machine & stationary bike.

By the way, I need to RENEW my as well as my wife's gym membership at the Jurong East Sports Centre, which happens to expire on 24th of this month.

For the intellectual aspect, I plan to REFRESH my past memories of good books which I had read years ago, by going through or rather re-reading many selected old books in my personal library.

In any case, any attempt to refresh our past memories will certainly REFRESH our synaptic connections, which are good for optimum brain performance.

For the social aspect, I plan to REWIRE my current networks for more effective relationship building, particularly from the standpoint of familial, business, professional & social categorisation.

By the way, any planned new & novel activities incorporated into our lifestyles will automatically REWIRE our brains, through the formation of new synapses.

SPOTLIGHT: Singapore General Hospital

Out of curiosity, I just took some digital snapshots of a handful of ad panels with catchy &/or fancy tag lines on Block 7 of the Singapore General Hospital during my recent visit. [Please read my earlier post.]

The hospital is apparently advertising its occupational therapy practices.



TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."

~ Bill Cosby, comedian, actor & television producer; starred in the television series, 'The Bill Cosby Show' & 'I Spy' in the sixties; 'The Cosby Show' in the eighties, & 'Cosby' in the late nineties; also, he was one of the major characters on the children's television show, 'The Electric Company', & had created the humorous educational cartoon series, 'Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids' about a group of young friends growing up in the city; he had also acted in numerous films; his good-natured, fatherly image has made him a popular personality, & had also garnered him the nickname of "America's Dad";

LIFE'S OCCASIONAL IRONIC MOMENTS

On Tuesday morning, my wife had complained to me about a small irritating lump inside her throat. She had also felt some sort of pain following drinking or eating.

She had recalled that, while we were eating steamed crabs at home a week or so earlier, she had felt a relatively painful sensation at her throat. She had thought it was just a momentary phase, & didn't think too much about it after that incident. In fact, a day or two later, we also had some fried fish at home.

She had even suspected that an embedded fish-bone might have been the probable cause of the throat problem.

We had gone to visit our friendly neighbourhood doctor, Dr Ong. Since he could not see the problem spot inside the throat area, & after verifying various details from us, he suggested that we visit the Accident & Emergency Department at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) as a precautionary measure.

At SGH, the waiting time was about 2 hours 30 minutes. While sitting in the waiting area, there was a television set mounted on the ceiling, with an ongoing episode of Makansutra local food spree with fun guy Seetoh.

In that episode, Seetoh was happily chewing his way through chilly crabs & BBQ fish (flying tilapia) at a popular restaurant.

What an irony, I thought to myself.

About two hours later, my wife's turn came up. The attending doctor - he also couldn't see the problem area either - referred us immediately to the Ear Nose Throat (ENT) Centre.

I was told that there would be another hour of waiting for the ENT specialist to attend to my wife.

While waiting, my wife met up with a young but obviously well-to-do Vietnamese couple with a 3-year old child. The child apparently had some hearing problems since birth, & his parents had specifically brought him to Singapore again to seek medical assistance. The child was in fact wearing a pair of spectacles specially fitted with some kind of audio sensing device to allow him to hear his parents.

Naturally, I had thought to myself that a child so young already had such a major problem with his beginning stage of life.

My wife's turn came up again about an hour later as expected. The specialist doctor conducted a fibre-optic endoscopy after an X-ray examination. He could see - so could we - from the probe screen that the left part of my wife's throat was slightly swollen, & there was some kind of whitish foreign material in the problem area.

To our dismay, the suspected fish bone unfortunately wasn't in sight.

A digital snapshot was taken, with a copy to us as memento.

The specialist doctor meanwhile had managed to extract some very small samples of the whitish stuff, but couldn't figure out what it was. Somehow, he didn't think it was remnants of fish-bone fragments, but suggested that my wife be warded to allow the hospital to conduct a deeper probe - I forgot the proper medical term for it - under anaesthetic conditions.

After signing up all the relevant hospital admission papers, the wife was warded after about an hour's wait.

The non-invasive surgical process was scheduled that night or latest the next morning, subject to the emergency operating theatre queue.

The attending medical stuff outlined for me 3 possible scenarios:

- a non-surgical "deeper probe" to see & reach the problem area more clearly;

- with it, to try to go beneath the whitish material & extract the suspected fish-bone fragments hidden beneath if any; if not feasible, a surgical operation might be needed to extract them;

- also, to cut a tissue sample from the problem area of the throat to ascertain that it wasn't a potential abnormal growth issue;

That night we were told that, because of the busy operating theatre queue, my wife's operation would be scheduled for first thing early next morning.

At about 9pm that night, I rushed home by taxi to take a bath, & also to ensure that I was more appropriately attired - I was then wearing only my polo shirt & Bermuda shorts - for the rather cold hospital environment, thermostatically speaking.

In the taxi on the way home, the elderly but seemingly jovial driver had struck a casual conversation with me. After hearing my reason for being in the hospital, he wanted to share a fascinating "grandmother tale" with me.

According to Chinese folklore, just by drawing a picture of a cat on the throat would probably have resolved such a fish-bone problem.

I didn't buy his tale, but shared with him my personal experience involving some fish-bones on two separate occasions in a Chinese restaurant. To resolve the problem, I just ordered two cans of Coke, & drank them slowly. The suspected fish bone was dislodged in each occasion.

I had actually read about it before in a magazine article. The taxi driver thought that the Coke had made more sense to him. By the way, Coke contains phosphoric acid.

Nonetheless, both of us had a good laugh.

After a quick bath, I rushed back to the hospital by taxi again so that I could keep my wife company.

Naturally, I was very concerned, considering the fact that I had lost my first wife, Catherine, in the National University Hospital seven years ago.

Surprisingly, my wife was quite a tough cookie, probably attributed to her having been brought up during the harsh post-war years in Ho Chi Minh city.

Overnight, I had hung out in the hospital reception area, but the friendly nursing staff was kind enough to allow me to visit her in the ward from time to time after visiting hours, as she couldn't sleep well.

I had actually stayed awake the whole night, & had made use of the seemingly long spare time to write some random ideational stuff - just to keep myself sane - in my pocket notebook.

In fact, I had also collected a whole stack of free Z:Cards+ from the reception area to scribble names of experts from whom I had learned a lot of good stuff over the years, one name for each card, with notes on the flipside.

Frankly, I had scribbled on more than 200 Z:Cards+. That really had kept me going sane for the long night endeavour.

Nonetheless, I plan to write about my scribbling experiences in subsequent posts. I will probably designate them as 'Learning from the Sifu (Master)'.

Upon early next morning i.e. Wednesday, after a brief chit chat, my wife was wheeled into the operating theatre.

She returned to the ward about two hours or so later, & to my great delight, in a conscious state, with some good news from the medical team:

No fish-bone fragments; only an ulcer in the problem area, probably caused by fish bones or crab shells; also, a tissue sample was extracted & sent for lab tests;

To my great relief, the prognosis was really good, but the medical team wanted to keep my wife under close observation in the ward for one more day.

That night I went home at 8pm, & slept soundly after one earlier sleepless night.

The next morning i.e. this morning, I was glad to hear from the medical team that my wife would be discharged as she had more or less fully recovered from her ordeal.

After settling the hospital bills - the damage to my pockets temporarily came up to about S$2,800/-, which I would have to claim from our medical insurance policy - we went home by taxi immediately.

Again in the taxi, the driver struck up a casual conversation with both of us, knowing very well that his pickup point had been the hospital taxi stand.

Oh No! Not another "grandmother tale", I thought to myself.

Luckily for me, the casual conversation had unwittingly strayed into the high costs of medical services in Singapore, & also the importance of keeping ourselves healthy throughout life.

In retrospect, I was also thinking:

What a hefty price to have paid for the sea-food meals in our case, so to speak, but at least the sober experience had invariably brought us the requisite peace of mind, knowing that everything was actually OK at the end. We had only needed medical science to prove it, & it came with a heavy price tag.

It is fair to say at this juncture that my other personal gratification from the sober experienve was that SingHealth, the governing body of all the public hospitals in Singapore, had indeed extended excellent nursing care while my wife was one of their latest short-term patients.

From another perspective as I view it, maybe the whole experience was a "tap on the shoulder". A reminder from the Great Spirit.

Also, with a little bit of wisdom on hindsight, or maybe in more realistic terms, our grandmothers were absolutely right in their relentless exhortation when we were kids:

CHEW YOUR FOOD PROPERLY!

Could it be that we may have long forgotten the valuable lessons we were taught in school - digestion in reality begins in the mouth?

Our hard-pressed busy life-styles, coupled with the incessant quick-fix, fast-relief &/or instant gratification syndrome, plus the modern convenience of fast-foods nowadays, are probably to be blamed, to some extent.

I reckon the slow deliberate chewing actions while we are eating our daily meals, as suggested by our grandmothers, could most probably have nullified the damaging effect of any fish-bones, or any bones for that matter.

According to nutrition experts, the process of chewing is a vital component of the digestive activities that occur in the mouth, inextricably linked to good digestion, & therefore, good health.

This is certainly a valuable lesson for me & my wife.

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What fascinates me the most, & why?

Who are the people I admire the most, & why?

What would I do if I had more time or knew I coundn't fail?

~ inspired by Mitchell Ditkoff, author of 'Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an Uphill World)';

[Readers can visit him at his corporate website, under 'Idea Champions', a creativity & innovation consulting/training outfit, where he serves as its President as well as being the co-founder. Here's the link.]

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS

"Innovation, as I've said before, is an inside job. It begins with the individual. Organizations don't innovate. People do. And if people are ruled by past experiences, old assumptions, and limiting concepts of what's possible, nothing much will ever change."

~ Mitchell Ditkoff, co-founder & President of Idea Champions, a creativity & innovation consulting/training outfit, & author of 'Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an Uphill World)';

I certainly like what he said, because it resonates very well with what Stephen Covey has asserted a very long time ago: Personal victory must always come first before any public victory, among other important things like paradigm pliancy. That to me, is putting first thing first!

Writing in his corporate weblog, 'The Heart of Innovation', Mitchell Ditkoff also offers 'The Top 100 Lamest Excuses for Not Innovating in 2009', plus '10 Reasons to Design a Better Corporate Culture'.

Here's the link to the two interesting articles. Anyway, his weblog & websites are goldmines!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

MENTAL TIME TRAVEL: LOOKING BEFORE YOU GO LEAPING INTO THE FUTURE

I have stumbled on this fascinating article, 'Mental Time Travel', by Dr Oliver Markley, Principal, Inward Bound & Emeritus Professor of Human Sciences & Studies of the Future, University of Houston-Clear Lake, via Paul Schumann's blog.

Interestingly, he was a principal investigator and consultant at the Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) where he led the "Changing Images of Man" project with Willis Harman, Joseph Campbell, Duane Elgin & others. Dr. Markley currently maintains a part-time research & consulting practice. His career began as a design engineer, but quickly shifted to social psychology & futures research, eventually specializing in visioning methods.

According to his article, 'Mental Time Travel' uses guided imagination in the "theatre of the mind" to intuitively visualize & explore contingent future patterns to deal with 'just-in time' business environments.

Here's the link.

He actually talks about what is commonly known as guided imagination as applied to business forecasting.

In a nut shell, I reckon it's a great approach to developing strategic foresight, professionally as well as personally.

By the way, here's a link to a great resource for guided imagination.

Additionally, the above author has two further fascinating aricles, one is 'Visionary Futures: Guided Cognitive Imagery in Teaching & learning about the Future' (Here's the link); the other is 'Using Depth Intuition In Creative Problem Solving & Strategic Innovation' (here's the link).

I am very glad to note that what has started as fringe stuff like guided imagination has already gathered hot steam in the mainstream of the corporate world.

HOT JOBS OF THE FUTURE

I have just read from Paul Scumann's blog that personal-finance adviser Kiplinger.com has reported that the career choices likely to remain hot over the next few years include:

- Health care (e.g., pharmacists, physical therapists);

- Education (especially math, science, & bilingual education);

- Security (police officers, detectives, private security guards);

- Environmental science (hydrologists, environmental chemists, geoscientists);

Monday, January 5, 2009

DO WHAT YOU LOVE & LOVE WHAT YOU DO

I am not exactly a fan of the moustached singer/songwriter/actor George Lam from Hongkong, even though he has been in the industry for more than 30 years.

I had seen him crooning a couple of times on television, & had also watched him in several Hongkong-made movies, particularly the madcap comedy, 'All the Wrong Spies', during the eighties.

I certainly remember him for his minor misdemeanour at one of the major airports in the United States.

What has caught my personal attention is actually his interview with today's issue of the Straits Times' Life Page, during which he remarked as follows:

"I just do what I enjoy, which is to express myself through performances in music & movies. I never deliberately wanted to make a career out of it.

If you become like a product, then things can go any which way. But if it's something you love & you put your heart & soul into it every time you perform, every time you write something, every time you create something, then people will know it.

When I get on stage & I sing a song, even though I have sung that song for more than 30 years, you cannot just go through the motions of doing something. It has to be you.

You have to deliver the feelings of what that song is about through the music & the lyrics so that your audience can feel it. That's very important.

You can do that only if you have a love for it."

That candid expression, coming from a man who enjoys his music & who remains happily in love with the ever popular Hongkong songstress Sally Yeh, certainly reflects his passion for doing what he loves most & loving what he does best.

Also, I like his parting shot: He considers himself a very lucky man!

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What quality systems & processes do I have in place right now to make sure that I am guiding my thoughts & feelings to be as positive as possibly can be expected on a daily basis, every day?

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift & the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant & has forgotten the gift."

~ Albert Einstein;

Sunday, January 4, 2009

MAKING THE MOST OF THE DAY

This is definitely a great poem, which I have taken the liberty to extract from 'The Champion Series' website.

It was reportedly found in the legendary football coach Paul 'Bear' Byrant's wallet.

"This is the beginning of a new day.
God has given me this day to use as I will.
I can waste it or use it for good.
What I do today is very important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.
When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever,
Leaving something in its place I have traded for it.
I want it to be a gain, not loss - good, not evil.
Success, not failure, in order that I shall not forget the price I paid for it."

[Paul 'Bear' Byrant is featured in his definitive biography, 'Coach: The Life of Paul "Bear" Bryant', by journalist Keith Dunnavant].

LEARNING FROM THE SIFU (MASTER)

"You see, we are all ordinary. But a master, rather than condemning himself for his “ordinariness,” will embrace & use it as a foundation for building the extraordinary. Rather than using it as an excuse for inactivity, he will use it as a vehicle for correcting, which is essential in the process of attaining mastery. You must be able to correct yourself without invalidating or condemning yourself, to accept results & improve upon them. Correct, don’t protect. Correction is essential to power & mastery."

~ Stewart Emery; he is considered one of the fathers of the 'Human Potential Movement'; he served as the first CEO of est, co-founded Actualizations, led seminars in dozens of countries, & has coached over 12,000 people in the last three decades; he is the bestselling author of the books 'Actualizations: You Don’t Have to Rehearse to Be Yourself' & 'The Owner’s Manual For Your Life'; he is also co-author with Jerry Porras & Mark Thompson in 'Success Built to Last: Creating a Life that Matters'; reportedly, as a consultant, he asked the questions that led MasterCard to its legendary “Priceless” campaign;

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

Am I a creature of circumstances or a creator of circumstances?