Saturday, January 31, 2009

MAN'S ULTIMATE SEARCH FOR MEANING

Since the early nineties, followed by the ensuing years, two authors, through their published works, have influenced me very much with regard to my personal journey through mid-life transitions.

In fact, I have written extensively about their major influences as well as about my own personal experiences.

Their names:

- Richard Leider;

- Frederic Hudson (with Pamela Maclean);

Their works:

- 'The Power of Purpose: Creating Meaning in Your Life & Work';

- 'Life Skills: Taking Charge of Your Personal & Professional Growth' ;

- 'The Inventurers: Excursions In Life & Career Renewal';

- 'Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for the Rest of Your Life';

- 'The Adult Years: Mastering the Art of Self-Renewal';

- 'LifeLaunch: A Passionate Guide to the Rest of Your Life';

Naturally, over the years, I continue to follow 'what's happening?' in their respective organisations, so that I am always kept abreast of their good work & new offerings.

[Actually, there's a third guy, by the name of Richard Bolles, with his books, entitled 'What Colour is Your Parachute' & 'The Three Boxes of Life & How to Get Out of Them'. But, for some reasons, I don't follow him that closely.]

Their esteemed organisations:

- The Inventure Group;

- The Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara;

When I opened my email today, the Inventure Group gives me this great news:

"According to a new study by MetLife’s Mature Market Institute® & based on Richard Leider’s best-selling book, 'Repacking Your Bags', researchers found that those who have a sense of purpose are more likely to be content with their lives, are optimistic about their future and describe themselves as happy.

The study, entitled 'Discovering What Matters: Balancing Money, Medicine & Meaning', found that key characteristics of people who are living on purpose include a “focus on essential things and vision of the future they want to enjoy.”

Focusing on the four key components of Money, Medicine, Meaning & Place, the MMI study found that “people pursue a positive state of being, called the Good Life,” by choosing how to best prioritize allocation of their time between various activities that make up the components.

Results indicated that “three of the top five activities were Meaning-related, and all four component themes were represented in the top six activities.”

Readers can go this link to read about the lifestyle dimensions, download a copy of the study, as well as a corresponding workbook developed by Richard Leider.

Yesterday, I have received an email from the Hudson Institute, with this great information:

"The Six Adult Passions:

What you want for your life at forty is seldom what you wanted at twenty, and at sixty you have yet different passions and goals.

To a greater or lesser degree, your priorities change.

Yet six core values inevitably compete for our loyalty and passionate commitment throughout the life course and we often shift gears from familiar, accomplished passion areas to less familiar and more energizing values at new times.

The six areas include:

1) Personal Mastery: Know Thyself;

2) Achievement: Reach New Goals;

3) Intimacy: Love & Be Loved;

4) Play & Creativity: Follow Intuition;

5) Search for Meaning: Spiritual Integrity;

6) Compassion & Contribution: Legacy;"

What strikes me most is that their findings more or less resonate with the earlier findings of the MMI/Richard Leider's study, especially in the areas of meaning, relationship & contribution.

So, enjoy your reading, exploration & assimilation!

[Note: MetLife is a leading provider of insurance & other financial services in the United States.]

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What's changing in my world & what am I going to to about it?

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Sure, go with gut instinct, but temper it with patience."

~ Mike Wiluan, film maker & Managing Director of Infinite Frameworks, an award-winning visual effects & animation studio, & one of the bigger post-production houses in Singapore;

[Note: Mike is the son of Indonesian business tycoon Kris Wiluan, who also happens to be my Big Boss in my last job during the early nineties, just before I left the corporate world for good.]

Friday, January 30, 2009

DAME EDNA & MAC COSMETICS: WHAT'S THE CONNECTION?


The other day, I have picked up a fascinating quote from Dame Edna Everage while surfing the net.

After a quick search, I have learned that "she" is actually a "he", in the person of an Australian comedian by the name of Barry Humphries.

In other words, Dame Edna Everage is a fictional character, easily recognisable with her lilac-coloured hair style & over-the-top cat eye glasses.

Please refer to my earlier post.

While window shopping this afternoon with my wife at Ngee Ann City shopping mall on Orchard Road, I was surprised to see three large posters featuring Dame Edna at the MAC cosmetics boutique.

I didn't know about this elegant connection between MAC Cosmetics & Dame Edna.

Understandably, in the light of "her" dazzling persona, Dame Edna has been acknowledged as the muse behind their "Hallo Possums!" eponymous limited-edition colour collection.

So, in a way, Leonardo da vinci during the Renaissance era of history was absolutely right:

"Every thing is connected to every thing else."

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"The first rule of Close Combat is to attack the attacker. Action is faster than reaction. The same holds true for the future. You know the future is coming . . . Attack it before it attacks you!"

~ Gerald Celente, founder of the Trends Research Institute & a pioneer trends strategist; also a 2nd degree black belt Close Combat martial artist;

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

"If there are not stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions?"

~ Scott Adams, 52, creator of the famed 'Dilbert' comic strip;

SPOTLIGHT: 'GREAT FORTUNE IS MEANT TO BE SHARED'

This is a great ad poster.

I feel that, what's even greater is the subtle & yet timely message of 'Great fortune is meant to be shared', by happily sinking your teeth with members of your family into the newly introduced delicacy for the season:

'Ingot Crust Prosperity Pizza'.

Well done! Pizza Hut.

This digital snapshot was captured at the bus stop opposite the rear podium of the Ngee Ann City shopping mall on Orchard Road.

SPOTLIGHT: OXPICIOUS NIU YEAR


This fashion boutique at Ngee Ann City on Orchard Road certainly knows how to maximise on the ushering of the current Chinese Niu Year, with the deliberate visual display of this large oxpicious image on its shopfront.

[Note: 'Niu' is the Chinese (Mandarin) word for 'Ox'. It happens to rhyme with 'New'.]

SPOTLIGHT: VISUAL ILLUSION?

This ad poster, on the shopfront of the Zara fashion boutique at Ngee Ann City, looks like any other common poster, but something else keeps me intrigued.

As I stare at it for a while, I suddenly get this feeling of an illusory effect of my physical body being attracted into a window of seemingly nothingness.

Like a black hole, to another dimensional world, often depicted in sci-fi movies.

[By the way, do you watch a rerun of the 'Sliders' sci-fi adventure series on StarHub cable channel? It's about four people who found a gateway to another dimension, but they forgot one problem . . . how to get back!]

Or is it just my mind trying to play tricks with me? Or is it just a simple visual illusion concocted by a creative display artist. I really don't know.

All I do realise by then is that my wife has actually gone into the shop to browse the clothes.

Luckily, to my great delight, she has not been attracted to part her or more my money.

SPOTLIGHT: KENZO POWER


This is a digital snapshot of an ad poster on the wall of the air-conditioned underpass between Wisma Atria & Ngee Ann City on Orchard Road.

Does fragrance on a male body makes a real difference to the power status or equation?

I really don't know, because I am not into this illusory macho stuff.

All I know is that Crocodile Dundee from the Australian outback (played by Paul Hogan in the 3 movies) certainly appeared very powerful with his huge jungle knife, even though he had the cheeky grin on his face.

So did James Bond with his Walther PPK, plus his double-o licence to kill.

SPOTLIGHT: SEXY SALE

First of all, I just can't figure out what it means by "Sexy Sale" as advertised on the shopfront of a boutique in Wisma Atria shopping mall on Orchard Road.

All I know for sure is that the lady in the huge poster certainly looks seductive to me.

As for the other dresses put on display with the dummy models, I don't think they look sexy.

Smart casual, yes, but definitely not sexy.

Now, where does the 'Sexy Sale' comes in?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century."

~ Dame Edna Everage, a fictional character played by Barry Humphries, an Australian comedian, easily recognisable with her lilac-coloured hair & over-the-top cat eye glasses;

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

THE MEDICI EFFECT AT WORK

Most readers probably have come across & read the book, 'The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts, & Cultures ', by Frans Johansson, who has actually spent three years researching the intersectional effect of randomly combining ideas & igniting the explosion of ideas from different disciplines, cultures, & perspectives.

From the author's weblog, I have taken the liberty of fishing out the brief story about how Mercedes Benz has applied it in the design of one of their new babies, display its elegant "aerodynamic" form!

[Readers can pop into the weblog to watch a 8-minute YouTube video clip, during which the author was interviewed on ChannelNews Asia, when he visited Singapore last June.]

You can see the following pictures to get a good view of the Medici Effect at work, with Mother Nature as the best teacher.

In essence, it's biomimicry!

My good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, Learning Chef & Braindancer, has coined his own term for it:

'Junction Dynamics'







BOOK REVIEW: 'HOW TO BECOME AN EXPERT ON ANYTHING IN 2 HOURS', by Gregory Hartley & Maryann Karinch

I have actually bought this book together with Joe Navarro's 'What Every Body is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People', but for some reasons I have chosen to read the latter first. I have already reviewed it in an earlier post.

After reading this book, I must say that Joe Navarro's book is a much better book, in terms of audience relevancy & intellectual sophistication, even though both have focused on reading people.

Interestingly, the current author, Gregory Hartley, has equally good credentials as a military interrogator (US Army).

In some ways, I reckon this current book can still be used as supplementary reading to the earlier book by Joe Navarro.

First of all, as a counterpoint, I want to say that the title is somewhat of a misnomer.

I reckon, using 'Advanced Rapport Building Technology in Your Life & Business', would have been more appropriate, since the book's principal premise is riding on the seemingly popular neuro-linguistic programming (or NLP for short) approach, with a view to share "a skill set for someone who wants to manage people effectively, as well as anyone who needs to forge strong relationships quickly".

I feel that "How to Become an Expert" in the title is just a marketing ploy to attract attention, even though the two authors have taken the trouble to outline some workable strategies to "present yourself as an expert", "through the process of grasping essentials about human nature, identifying different types of people, assessing to what extent you must plan & prepare for those different types of people" by using timely "information to establish common ground".

It's still expertise building in a nut shell, but not exactly in the true sense of the word, I must add, as the two authors are just touching on the peripherals. Surface scratching, so to speak.

Some areas of the book are reasonably well done, especially pertaining to observing body language, but others are poorly executed, for example, when they talk about eye movements within the context of cognitive thought in the frontal lobe. I don't think they did a good job.

At least from the standpoint of takeaways for me, I as a reader & reviewer, however, particularly like 'Chapter 2: Developing Your Skepticism', which I thought is an excellent work; followed by

- 'Chapter 4: Driving Forces';

- 'Chapter 5: Models of Expertise';

- 'Chapter 6: The Role & Shape of Research', &;

- 'Chapter 7: Packaging Information';

The principal author's dominant background as a military interrogator certainly permeates throughout the book. That naturally throws in some added credibility in favour of the principal author, but for me, the military arena is always a different ball game, especially when it comes to dealing with common folks on a level field.

That's why I didn't quite like his on the fly analogy about Hamas in Chapter 4 (page 80 to be precise).

For hundreds of years, the Israelis, with their superb military intelligence, still haven't yet figure out how to deal with Hamas or Palestinians as a whole.

With this note in mind, I would suggest reading the book with an open mind.

There are some really good stuff, as I have illustrated, but you have to read it to fish or flush them out.

On the whole, & to end my review, I have enjoyed reading the book to some extent, in spite of the mentioned "distractions". At least, I got some more ideas about making a human connection to build trust, solidify relationships & get ideas across.

As a side track, & for business as well as personal applications, I would strongly recommend reading David Maisters' 'The Trusted Advisor' as well as 'True Professionalism: The Courage to Care about Your People, Your Clients & Your Career'.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however."

~ Richard Bach, who is widely known as the author of the 1970s best-sellers 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull', 'Illusions: The Adventures Of A Reluctant Messiah', & others. His books espouse his philosophy that our apparent physical limits & mortality are merely "seems" & "appearances". He is noted for his love of flying, & for writing his books with a metaphorical connection to flying;

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS

What is true professionalism?

For me, the best answer comes from David Maister, author of 'True Professionalism: The Courage to Care about Your People, Your Clients & Your Career', as well as 'The Trusted Advisor':

"It's believing passionately in what you do, never compromising your standards & values, & caring about your clients, your people and your own career.

More importantly, it's a strict adherence to doing the right thing.

Professionalism is not a set of competencies, but predominantly an attitude. A real professional is a technician who cares.

To emphasize the importance of true values in our chaotic marketplace, we learn that the noble path does win, but only if we are prepared to make the investment to act professionally over a long period of time. This is a challenge in today's short-term view of most aspects of business activity."

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What would be the benefits if my clients trusted me more?

What do great trusted advisors all seem to do?

What are the dynamics of trusting & being trusted, within the context of client relationships?


How do I ensure that my advice is listened to by my clients?

What are the principles of building strong client relationships?


What attitudes must I have to be more effective?

Do I really have to care for my clients?

~ inspired by the work of David Maister, the author of 'The Trusted Advisor';

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CHANGE IS INEVITABLE; GROWTH IS OPTIONAL

Here's a link to a great article by David Bush of Action Coach.

He also shares some excellent pointers from the book, 'Taking the Fear Out of Change', by clinical psychologist Dr Dennis O'Grady. I had read the book during the early nineties.

In fact, I also like to share two additional pointers from the book:

12) Take personal responsibility for your own happiness;

13) Learn to appreciate who you are;

By the way, here's also a link to a belated, but still relevant, newspaper article, in which Dr Dennis O'Grady had shared some practical thoughts on managing the stress of change.

WHAT'S YOUR COMMUNICATOR TYPE?

I have stumbled upon this simple survey questionnaire:

Are you a sensitive or an insensitive communicator?

while surfing the net this morning. Here's the link.

It has been designed by clinical psychologist, specializing in communication strategies & dealing with change, Dr Dennis O'Grady. He is also the author of 'Taking the Fear Out of Changing', which I had read during the early nineties.

Take a minute to take the this quick survey & find out your type or the type of those you love.

Your comprehensive results will come back to you by e-mail in just a minute.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSSE)

"A sailor must keep his eyes trained to the rocks & sands as well as the North Star. One should learn to sail in all winds."

~ An Italian Proverb:

POWER VOCABULARY: APPLIED CHUTZPAH

The following interesting term has been coined by Ron Schultz, executive director of The Center for Social Profit Leadership & the Legacy XXI Institute.

I have extracted it from an article he has written:

Applied Chutzpah:

~ a willingness to step forward into audacious action even though one may have no idea how one will either pull it off, or where it will ultimately lead.

According to the author, the only real knowing at the moment of Applied Chutzpah is an intuitive feeling that if some audacious action were not initiated, nothing would get done.

Monday, January 26, 2009

UNDERSTANDING THE LAW OF LARGE NUMBERS

My name is on the mailing list of Nightingale-Conant, often acknowledged as a World Leader in Personal Development Since 1961.

The latest email from them, introducing Dr Gary Goodman's 'The Law of Large Numbers' audio package caught my immediate attention.

This is the teaser, which reads:

"There is a magnificent law, discovered almost three centuries ago, that holds the key to your success and happiness today.

When applied correctly, this law is an antidote to fear, feelings of helplessness, lack of control, and inconsistent achievement. Yet, despite its great relevance to your life, it is very possible you have never heard of this law.

It's called The Law of Large Numbers.

This law was first publicly made known by Jacob Bernoulli, a noted Swiss mathematician, in the early 1700s.

The law states, that:

"In any chance event, when the event happens repeatedly, the actual results will tend to be the calculated, or planned, results."

In essence, this means that repeated actions, over time, will, almost without exception, produce the results we seek.

While the law of large numbers has been applied to fields such as math and science for several decades, its power has just recently begun to be applied to the fields of business and personal growth.

Today, people from all walks of life are using the law of large numbers to achieve their highest objectives, with great confidence and complete peace of mind.

Now, award-winning speaker and personal performance expert Dr. Gary Goodman has created a full-scale program showing you how to apply this incredible law to every area of your life.

After exhaustive research and years of personal experience, Gary shares with you the amazing power this simple philosophy has brought to his life and the hundreds of people he has consulted with.

According to Dr Gary Goodman:

"If you stand second in line in enough lines, sooner or later, even by sheer luck, you are bound to reach the top in at least one, if not several of those lines, over time."

For me, this law is certainly interesting to ponder about.

I haven't yet acquired the audio package, & I don't quite know what Dr Gary Goodman has put in it, in terms of strategies, but my first reaction to the teaser is that 'The Law of Large Numbers' make sense, especially when one is determined to:

- make BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) in one's pursuit;

[For the uninitiated, BHAGs are action-oriented, crystal clear (who, what, where, by when), compelling & gripping ~ you "get it" right away, & bold, bordering on hubris & the unattainable.

They have been originally coined by James Collins & Jerry Porras in their classic, 'Built to Last'.]

- undertake massive & consistent action to make them work;

[from Anthony Robbins]

Also, for me, this law resonates with the 'Law of Requisite Variety', which I have mentioned in earlier posts.

REMINISCENCES OF GREAT SPY MOVIES FROM THE SIXTIES II

[continue from the Last Post]

"My name is Bond, James Bond."

This is still the most classic self-introductory salutation from the world's most extraordinary gentleman spy - even though it's fiction, from the mind of Ian Fleming - in the first James Bond movie, 'Dr No', during the early sixties.

I recall vividly when the movie was first released in my hometown, Yong Peng, Johor, West Malaysia, I had actually watched it twice in the movie theatre on the same day. I was then a young teenager with an unquenchable penchant for movie-going.

Imagine my most mesmerising impressions of a British spy entrusted with a double-o licence, which means he is licensed by Her Majesty's Secret Service to kill when he chooses, where he chooses & whom he chooses.

Best of all, with his new but deadly Walter PPK semi-automatic.

In a way, as the way I saw it, 'Dr No' became the precursor of a whole gamut of movie productions about super spies from Europe, mainly UK, France, Italy, Spain & even Germany, & also not forgetting the United States, throughout the sixties.

For me, as I had mentioned earlier, the sixties represented the best of times in terms of movie entertainment.

In fact, the sixties were the most productive - I read from somewhere that between 1964-1969, almost 400 spy or better known as Eurospy movies were made.

As a matter of fact, most of them were spoofs of James Bond movies, & they often ended up, to my chagrin, as madcap comedies.

To my great delight, 'Dr No' was followed later by 'From Russia with Love', 'Goldfinger', 'Thunderball', 'You Only Live Twice', 'Casino Royale' (with David Niven as Sir James Bond, & Peter Sellers), 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' (with George Lazenby from Down Under in the lead role for a change), 'You Only Live Twice' & 'Diamonds are Forever'.

For me, I always acknowledge Sean Connery playing James Bond as the best of all the Bond actors, especially with that cool, ruthless killer look, on top of his suave, flamboyant demeanour.

Nevertheless, I must admit that Daniel Craig does come up close with his portrayal in the two recent Bond movies, 'Quantum of Solace' & 'Casino Royale'.

[In 'Dr No', after shooting the crooked doctor, Prof Dent, with his Walter PPK, he continued to pump two more bullets into the dead body. That really showed his ruthlessness.]

During those years of growing up with so many super spy movies to choose from, I was very fascinated by the double-o insignia like 007. I often wondered why super spies need fancy insignias.

For example, there was this exciting dubbed-in-English Italian spy movie, 'Passport to Hell' starring Georgio Ardisson, as a CIA agent, Walter Ross. He carried the insignia, '3S3', which according to the story, was a designation meaning secret agent number 3 of the 3rd Special Division.

What that really meant, nobody knew. I reckon it gave an aura of mystery.

Then, the French production houses came up with their own version of super spy, holding the insignia 'OSS117'. In fact, the guy was some sort of a French aristocrat, with a long name like Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath.

A number of reasonably exciting movies of the spy genre was made, namely:

- 'OSS117' (with Kerwin Matthews);
- 'OSS117 Panic in Bangkok' (with Kerwin Matthews);
- 'OSS117 Mission for a Killer' (with Frederick Stafford);
- 'OSS117 From Tokyo with Love' (with Frederick Stafford);
- 'OSS117 Double Agent' (with John Gavin);

The French also had another super spy, Francis Coplan, with the insignia 'FX18', as shown in two better quality movies - in terms of viable story plot & pulsating action sequences - which I can recall today, namely:

- 'Secret Agent FX18' (with Ken Clark);
- 'Super Spy FX18' (with Richard Wyler);

In a nut shell, I love watching spy movies.

For me, one of the most intriguing aspect of watching spy movies is learning how super spies can out-think &/or out-smart their worthy adversaries, as well as how they can out-manoeuvre themselves from dicey & precarious situations.

Irrespective of whether they are purely fictional or true-life accounts, they are always entertaining & fun to watch, at least from my personal perspective.

[to be continued in the Next Post, in which I will talk about my other favourite Eurospy & American spy movies, including television series, in which the super spies were not entrusted with fancy insignias, during the sixties.]

MY FAVOURITE QUOTATIONS FROM LAO TZU

"To see things in the seed, that is genius."

"Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing."

"Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power."


"The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world."


"To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders."


"He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough."


"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."


"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished."


"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

"If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve."

"Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you."

"Wise men don't need to prove their point. Men who need to prove their point aren't wise."


"Those who know do not talk. Those who talk do not know."

"To lead people walk behind them."

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves."

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

"Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires."

THE SUCCESS FORMULA, according to Bob Burg

According to success coach & accomplished author, Bob Burg, & drawing from the 'Wisdom of the Ages', there are three timeless & yet simple principles that can turbocharge your success & dramatically improve your life.

He calls it, simply, 'The Success Formula'.

It comprises the following vital components:

PRELUDE

It All Begins With Desire . . . Match Your Desire With The Success Formula

Principle #1:

Seek Out and Find the Information - Follow “The System”

The author defines a “system” as:

The process of predictably achieving a goal based on a logical and specific set of how-to principles.

More importantly, why is having a system so crucial to your success? Because, to paraphrase Michael Gerber, entrepreneurial business strategist & author of 'The E-Myth':

"Systems permit ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results, predictably. However, without a system, even extraordinary people find it difficult to predictably achieve even ordinary results."

Principle #2:

Apply the Information Immediately . . . Knowledge Without Action Is the Same As
Having No Knowledge At All

Once you’ve found The System that will work for you, it’s imperative that you apply it—and right away.

In order to “move your world,” your current reality, from where it is today to where you want it to be, it’s imperative that you act upon your knowledge.

Otherwise, you could fall victim to “The Law of Diminishing Intent,” which states:

"The longer you wait to do something you know you should do now, the greater the chances are you’ll never actually do it."

Begin now! Action doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be something.

So, work on yourself continually. Know that success is an inside job.

Principle #3:

Be Persistent . . . Outlast the Negatives!

According to the author, those who’ve made it to the top levels of their chosen fields & earn tremendous incomes have simply gone through the process of doing what’s necessary, more times, with more people & in more situations, than those who have not yet succeeded.

They’ve fallen down more times and been told “no” more times—& thus they’ve gotten more “yeses.”

In summing up, Sir Winston Churchill said it best"

"Never give in! Never give in! Never, never, never, never—in nothing great or small, large or petty: Never give in, except to convictions of honor & good sense."

POSTSCRIPT

. . . And Just One More Thing—Belief!

If you don’t believe in yourself, you’ll never allow yourself to prosper. And that would be a shame indeed, for to so prosper is your birthright.

Here's the link to the complete write-up on 'The Success Formula' by Bob Burg.

MOO-VING IN

To the Chinese, today is actually the first day of the Year of the Ox.

After such a difficult & volatile Year of the Rat, I reckon the world could do with a bit of respite & calm under the steady & dependable influence of the Ox.

Here's the link to an interesting article on the role of the ox in Chinese folk history.

According to a fengshui expert, "Reading the Chinese zodiac animals for fun, but we shouldn't whole-heartedly believe in them!"

THE CREATIVE SEQUENCE

Let's take a quick look at how the creative process has evolved over the years.

In a nut shell, the creative process is generally viewed as a logical patterned sequence of steps or stages through which we move on to define, clarify & work on a problem, & then produce a solution to that problem.

Way back to the 1920s, I remember that psychologist Graham Wallas had formally pinned down the process to 4 primary steps or stages, as follows:

1) Preparation - defining the issue, observing & studying;

2) Incubation - laying the issue aside;

3) Illumination - the moment when a new idea finally emerges;

4) Verification - checking it out;

Then, in the 1950s, advertising executive Alex Osborn, who coined "brainstorming", expanded the process to 7 steps or stages:

1) Orientation - pointing out the problem;

2) Preparation - getting pertinent data;

3) Analysis - breaking down the relevant material;

4) Ideation - piling up alternatives by way of ideas;

5) Incubation - letting up, inviting illumination;

6) Synthesis - putting the pieces together;

7) Evaluation - judging resulting ideas;

Towards the early seventies, Alex Osborn apparently teamed up with educator Sidney Parnes to found the Creative Education Foundation, which then systematised the process as follows, which eventually evolved as the well-known CPS process:

1) Objective Finding - identifying goal, wish or challenge;

2) Fact Finding - gathering data;

3) Problem Finding - clarifying problem;

4) Idea Finding - generating ideas;

5) Solution Finding - selecting & strengthening solutions;

6) Acceptance Finding - planning activities;

Since then, I have learned that many creativity researchers as well as creativity consultants have come out with their own variations, but it seems that the basic CPS methodology has always remain intact.

One good example is Min Basadur, who wrote 'Simplex: A Flight to Creativity', among other books. He has outlined his complete methodology under four phases:

1) Generation (of new problems and opportunities);

2) Conceptualization (defining & understanding the challenges, & creating new, potentially useful ideas);

3) Optimization (of practical solutions);

4) Implementation (of the new solutions);

even though it still adheres to the principal steps of the original CPS methodology.

The breakdown of steps looks like this:

1) Initial scan - problem finding;

2) Gathering facts - fact finding;

3) Defining problem -problem defining;

4) Generate solutions - idea finding;

5) Evaluate solutions - evaluating & selecting;

6) Plan action - action planning;

7) Gain acceptance - gaining acceptance from stakeholders;

8) Take action - taking action steps;

9) Evaluate action - monitoring progress & evaluating results;

Another example is Paul Plsek, who wrote 'Creativity, Innovation & Quality', with his synthesis model, designated as 'Directed Creativity', comprising also four phases:

1) Preparation:

2) Imagination:

3) Development:

4) Action:

which in turn is broken down into the follow steps as he describes it:

"We live everyday in the same world as everyone else, but creative thinking begins with careful observation of that world coupled with thoughtful analysis of how things work and fail. These mental processes create a store of concepts in our memories. Using this store, we generate novel ideas to meet specific needs by actively searching for associations among concepts. Seeking the balance between satisficing and premature judgment, we then harvest and further enhance our ideas before we subject them to a final, practical evaluation. But, it is not enough just to have creative thoughts; ideas have no value until we put in the work to implement them. Every new idea that is put into practice (that is, every innovation) changes the world we live in, which re-starts the cycle of observation and analysis."

In reality, I have observed that all the subsequent methodologies in use today or in most ongoing creativity training programs still more or less resonate with the original model as conceived by Graham Wallas.

One thing we should all be very clear about is that the creative process begins with deliberate preparation & ends with critical evaluation, prior to planned implementation.

The complete cycle therefore reaffirms that both creative, imaginative & analytical, logical thinking processes are needed.

More importantly, the total creative process requires a drive to action & the implementation of ideas.

We must do more than simply imagine new ideas, we must work consistently to make them concrete realities.

My good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, Learning Chef & Braindancer, writing in a recent subscription issue of his iCAPITALISM Bookazines, shares his version of the creative sequence, with a little twist:

Step 1: INTAKE

Use Nature's attributes to get started. Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. Observe the workings of Nature, & study the behaviour of plants & animals: they lead to ideas & to breakthrough solutions.

Step 2: COGITATE

Use Nature's infinite stimuli, think about possibilities. Suspend judgement. Let your mind play with the concepts of making strange familiar, & the familiar, strange.

Step 3: GENERATE

Having prepared your mind, start generating ideas. Go for quantity; quality will emerge from quantity. Don't analyse or priorities. Just let the dam burst! Capture your ideas in hard copy by writing & drawing.

Step 4: DEBATE

Dialogue & debate your outpourings with colleagues, friends, family & diverse members of society. Agree to disagree, wherever relevant. The divergent outbursts from Step 3 could now converge to help you focus on probabilities.

Step 5: INCUBATE

Sleep on it! Do not hard focus on your ideas. Let your subconscious play with possibilities. Your analysis through debate in the preceding step, will metamorphose into a synthesis for concepts to emerge in fuller form.

Ste 6: CREATE

This is where ideas become inventions: the pathway from concept to creation.

Step 7: ACTIVATE

Prototype your creations, fine tune them via experimentation, then let them loose in accordance with your well-designed business model!

Step 8: CELEBRATE

Rejoice! You have now conquered the challenge of having moved from concept to cash! Innovation is ablaze!

It is pertinent to point out that the first two steps are preparatory steps for the mind to open to new ideas & fresh insights, by making analogies, with Mother Nature as our best teacher!

Here's a lifescape of the creative sequence created by Dilip Mukerjea.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Perspective is in the quiet of a walk, the wisdom of a book, or the harmony of your favourite music. I find it sometimes in the slow peace of fishing."

~ Michael Jordan, 46, retired professional basketball player & businessman; often acknowledged as the greatest basketball player of all time;

Sunday, January 25, 2009

WHAT TO DO WHEN FACED WITH THE UNEXPECTED PAIN OF CHANGE?

With a little bit of wisdom on hindsight, I reckon the best way to do with the unexpected pain of change is to deal with it it as it comes.

In dealing with it, one needs the personal courage to acknowledge & accept the pain in the first place, & then, at the same time, the determination to seek the pleasure of finding solutions in dealing with it.

Once the acknowledgement, acceptance & determination are sought out, that's to say, the problem is isolated or dissociated, the mind is then clear to think of what to do.

I can't say it better: Clarity is Power!

It's definitely not easy, especially from the thinking & execution point of view, amidst all the attendant emotional turbulences, but the outcomes &/or rewards, which often take a while to take shape, are always worth the intentions & the efforts.

Looking back at my own personal journey on the highway of life, stretching six decades of learning, exploration, do-it-myself, trial-error experimentation, & interaction with other people, I have been unwittingly bombarded by four profound changes at the personal level.

To say that they were painful experiences would have been an understatement.

The first painful bombardment came during the very late seventies or maybe early eighties. I was then in my early thirties; I was also newly promoted as a Divisional Manager in a German trading firm during that time.

I had known Catherine for more than a decade by then. In fact, we were already engaged to be married.

One evening after work, Catherine told me in her home, in the presence of my parents in-laws, & also in no uncertain terms, that she could not stay on with me, & wanted to break the engagement. She returned my engagement ring, & also asked me not to contact her.

Catherine might have been a petite & dainty lady with exquisite tastes, but I knew from my personal association with her that she often did not mince her soft-spoken words whenever she had made her mind on something.

Her explicit reasons were that I was very impatient, impulsive, insensitive as well as hot-tempered, characteristics of mine which I didn't not deny.

No third party, whatsoever, was involved.

Catherine was my first love, & I was hers likewise. I met her during my first job as a mechanical draftsman. She was a stenographer on a part-time assignment. We were both nineteen years old.

This interesting part of my life has already been mentioned in an earlier post.

To my utter disappointment, I knew that my dreams of marrying Catherine were completely shattered.

I remember vividly after the meeting I had driven my car around the whole island aimlessly for some two hours. No kidding!

I also recall that I had skipped my dinner that night, & went straight home after the meaningless drive to sleep without even a change of clothes.

The next morning, I went back to work as usual, but rather reluctantly. Feeling very down-hearted, of course.

The first thing I did was to brief many of my colleagues & subordinates, who also knew Catherine very well from many company gatherings.

Out of concern, they had encouraged me to make an attempt to patch back with Catherine. I told them that I was prepared to accept my personal loss of Catherine's life-long companionship for good.

Then, I moved on to concentrate on my office work & executive responsibility as a Divisional Manager.

I had often stayed back in the office until very late, as late as 10pm. When I reached home after dinner, I could then plonk into bed like a log.

Weekends were the toughest to pass, even though I had occasionally spent some time with my social buddies.

These mundane, zombie-like routines went on for several months, until I had decided on one one particular day to quit my job, after having attained eleven years of working in the German trading firm.

My departure from the company, after serving the normal three months' notice, was mutually amicable. In fact, my German Managing Director gave me an unprecedented two-page testimonial. I still own it in my personal files.

I must add that Catherine wasn't the real deciding factor, although deep down in my heart, I had really missed her.

Probably, I was longing for - or was it the right timing for - some radical change in my career path, although I was already struck by painful change from the emotional angle.

In fact, I had quit without a job in hand. It was unthinkable, but I had thought that some quiet periods of introspection would be helpful for me to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.

In retrospect, the so-called or self-imposed "sabbatical" was really good for me. I had sorted out what I wanted to do.

More importantly, following an honest appraisal of my personal inventory, & a deliberate assessment of my future prospects & options, I had renewed or reengineered myself, so to speak, to move forward.

Two months later, around the early eighties or so, & with the help of a British head-hunter, I managed to get a job as a marketing manager with the Singapore trading arm of a large Malaysian conglomerate.

Then one day - about a few months down the road, & about 1-1/2 years from the break-up point - out of the blue & beyond all my wildest expectations , I received a call from Catherine. She just asked how I was doing. The rest was history.

On 19th January 1984, I had my happiest moment of my entire life - I married Catherine at the registry, followed by a dinner at the old Cathay Restaurant.

We then went off to Europe on a 3-1/2 week honeymoon, starting from Athens with the last stop in London.

[to be continued in the Next Post]

WHAT I AM STILL CONTEMPLATING TO BUY FOR MY PERSONAL LIBRARY

Further to my earlier post, I have just added 6 more books to my shopping cart with Amazon:

22) 'Becoming a Resonant Leader: Develop Your Emotional Intelligence, Renew Your Relationships, Sustain Your Effectiveness', by Richard Boyatzis;

23) 'Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself & Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, & Compassion', by Richard Boyatzis;

24) 'The Leadership Wheel: Five Steps for Achieving Individual & Organizational Greatness', by Clinton Sidle;

25) 'The Virtuous Organization: Insights from Some of the World's Leading Management Thinkers', by Charles Manz;

26) 'Leading with Wisdom: Spiritual-Based Leadership in Business', by Peter Pruzan;

27) 'The Leader of OZ: Revealing the 101 Secrets of Marvelous Leadership for the 21st Century', by Kevin D Gazzara;

I have picked up the books while surfing the net.

Along the way, I have also picked up this pertinent quotation - which may have influenced me - from Nobel laureate Vaclav Havel:

"The salvation of this world lies nowhere else but in the human heart . . . Without a global revolution of consciousness nothing will change for the better, & the catastrophe towards which this world is headed will be unavoidable."

WELCOMING THE OX-PICIOUS & HAPPY LUNAR NIU YEAR!

Tonight is the eve of the Lunar Niu Year.

My wife & I will be having our reunion dinner with Catherine's 96-year-old granny & her only daughter, Veronica, both living in the Clementi area.

As usual, my auntie Veronica will cook the simple meal, with the aid of an Indonesia maid, but I have ordered a roasted duck from my neighbourhood food court for the reunion.

Ever since Catherine had gone away in 2001, I have continued to maintain this annual get-together routine with my Granny-in-law. Despite her very advanced age, she always remember Catherine very fondly, as she has been Catherine's nanny during the early years.

For me, it's very gratifying to note that my granny-in-law now enjoys good company with my current wife, as she can speak a smattering of Cantonese.

So, for the reunion, there will only be five of us, including the maid.

Then, on the second day of the Lunar Niu Year, my wife & I will join my own family siblings for a reunion lunch at my second eldest sister's place in the Kembangan area.

My second sister, now in her seventies, loves to cook. Naturally, she will be assisted by her hubby & also stay-in eldest daughter-in-law. Her two sons, working in China, will always be back for the reunion.

For me, the reunion dinner & lunch as scheduled are always the traditional ox-picious occasions to touch base with my family members.

Besides my second eldest sister & her hubby, the other siblings include my second eldest brother & wife, fourth eldest brother & wife, third eldest sister, fourth eldest sister, & third eldest sister-in-law as well as my youngest sister & her hubby from Malaysia will be present.

Hence, there is always a huge crowd, especially when the children of all the siblings hang out together at the place.

To be frank, I simply can't remember all the children's faces if I were to meet them in the streets.

Anyway, we are all there for the traditional reunion to welcome the ox-picious & happy lunar niu year!

[Note: "niu" = Chinese word for "ox", & it so happens to rhyme with "new".]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Yesterday is but a dream, tomorrow but a vison. But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, & every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore, to this day."

~ an Indian proverb;