Saturday, May 30, 2009

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

How self-reliant am I & how much can I depend on my own skills & abilities to help me navigate a world of change?

TAKING A BREAK IN VIETNAM, AS WELL AS TO RECHARGE MY BATTERIES!

I am leaving for Ho Chi Minh city this afternoon by Tiger Airways.

Together with my wife & a small bunch of her young nieces/nephews, I am spending 8 days/7 nights on an upcountry tour in Vietnam.

We will take our own sweet time to travel with our own hired mini-bus, & will cover the beautiful beach resort of Nha Trang & the mountain resort of Dalat.

A Singapore couple (my Polytechnic buddy from the sixties, David, & his wife, Jenny) & their young daughter, will also join us in the self-planned upcountry tour.

For a change, I will not carry my laptop & hand-phone. In other words, I need the complete break so that I can recharge my batteries.

I will be back in Singapore on 13th June, while my wife will stay back for another two weeks.

As far as this weblog is concerned, I have already scheduled a preset upload of the daily dosage of 'Today's VIP (Very Important Pose) during my absence. That's all.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Life is the path you beat while you walk it. It's the walking that beats the path. It is not the path that makes the walk."

~ Antonio Machado, Spanish Poet;

Friday, May 29, 2009

DISCOVER YOUR GENIUS AT THE SINGAPORE BOOK FAIR 2009

I am very pleased to announce that the whole current range of 'The Braindancer Series' (set of four) as well as 'The InGenius Series' (set of four) of bookazines by Dilip Mukerjea is available for sale at the Singapore Book Fair 2009:

Venue: Suntec City Convention Hall #402-403, Level 4;

Opening Days/Hours: 29th May to 7th June 2009; 2pm to 10m on 29th May 2009; 10am to 10pm from 30th May to 7th June 2009;

Stand: #4M081, under the trade name of 'EMIT ASIA';

The book fair is reportedly the largest English & Chinese book fair in the region.

Also, Dilip Mukerjea's information-rich Braindancing Quintet, comprising 'Unleashing Genius', 'Building Brainpower', 'Brain Symphony', 'Surfing the Intellect', & 'Taleblazers' is also on display as well as for sale at the stand.

May your brain continue to blossom with all the 'Books of Brilliance' from Dilip Mukerjea!

As you go through them, you will automagically discover more and more of your genius within you!

KEEPING THE SOCIALISATION PROCESS ALIVE!

On last Friday evening, my social buddies, Jeffrey & Betty, invited me & my wife, for dinner at his home in the Hillview area, together with another couple, James & Sophia.

As I have mentioned before, we are all members of the informal Wednesday Club.

As his dining area was small, there were only six of us, plus their precocious but gifted grand-daughter, Gwen.

Jeffrey is an excellent cook, especially with Western cuisine, probably by virtue of his Hainanese upbringing, at least to a certain extent.

For the evening gathering, he cooked for us a simple & yet appetising meal of Italian spaghetti with soft baby sausages, Australian beef steak & local green salad.

Besides the sumptuous meal, we were also entertained by Gwen, playing her musical renditions on the piano. She also took time to show us all her own newly-completed artful paintings.

Jeffrey, a retired accountant, & Betty, a full-time housewife, stay with their second son & daughter-in-law, both of whom are busy executives caught up in Singapore's hard-pressed, hyper-competitive business landscape.

Accordingly, Jeffrey & Betty are, more or less by rotation, full-time baby-sitters to Gwen during the weekdays. On weekends, Jeffrey plays golf or hang-out with his wine buddies, while Betty prefers to swap mahjong pieces with her regular kakis (a colloquial Malay term for buddies).

I have known Jeffrey & Betty since the late eighties or so, when Catherine & I had met them during our holidays to Turkey.

They were the ones who had invited me & Catherine to join the informal Wednesday Club during the early nineties. That's was also how I had met James & Sophia, plus all the others.

The last time we had met all together with the others was, a couple of months ago, at the residence of James & Sophia, where my wife was visiting chef. I had mentioned that in an earlier post.

On Monday afternoon, my wife & I had also met up with an old Polytechnic buddy of mine, David & his wife, Jenny, for lunch at the Singapore Recreation Club. In fact, we had met up a week or so earlier at Din Tai Fung for the same purpose.

These apparently unplanned, spur-of-the moment - may seem deliberate, unconsciously - activities are just part of my personal endeavours to keep the socialisation process alive.

It is always fun to get together with one's social buddies once in a while. Besides to touch base with each other, talk shop, share "problems", exchange ideas, we can also draw upon each other's learning about the world out there.

For me, it's always great to be able to see the world from another person's point of view. There's much to learn, actually, as long as one is open to or mindful of new viewpoints.

From time to time, we are bound to run into some minor disagreements, but the most important point is, I reckon, we just got to learn to "agree to disagree". Sometimes, we just got to put that ego thing aside, for the sake of friendship.

With a little bit of hindsight, I reckon any active socialisation process always requires a handful of prerequisites.

First & foremost, is the sincere desire to meet up with people, follow by the willingness to get along with people.

I reckon chemistry plays a vital role.

For example, my wife, from Vietnam, had met Jenny, from China, for the first time about a month ago, & they could click with each other straight away.

The next factor is probably the attitude of wanting to make new friends. This requires, to a great extent, an openness to accommodating each other's human quirkiness idiosyncrasies.

No two persons are exactly alike. Each of us has positive traits as well as negative shortcomings. It all depends on what we want to focus on. From the standpoint of wanting to socialise with other people, then, it is necessary for both parties to look at the larger picture.

From my personal perspective, life is often too short for us to spend our valuable time on things that we simply can't change at all.

Of course, we can choose to seclude ourselves to our own home environment, but that's likely to spell some mental trouble in the long run for ourselves.

Loneliness engenders depressing thoughts, especially when one is always engrossed in one's own private world. Worst still, if left unchecked, it brings about suicidal tendencies.

I always believe that misery is also an option. So, in a way, it all boils down to our power of choice.

In fact, research studies have proven that an active socialisation process helps to ameliorate the aging process.

The third factor I reckon is having a listening ear. Every body has a story to tell. That's human nature. Sometimes, we just have to listen attentively, & hopefully shares some new ideas or ways of doing things to liven up the social conversation, which in turn, to strengthen the mutual relationship.

Be empathetic to others. That's the word.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Getting the balance right between intuitive experimentation and conscious deliberation is vital. Think too little and you may be stuck with bad habits. Think too much and you may become paralyzed with self consciousness."

~ Guy Claxton, 'Wise Up: the Challenge of Lifelong Learning: The Challenge of Lifelong Learning';

Thursday, May 28, 2009

HOW TO GET FRESH PERSPECTIVES

Just some rambling thoughts that come to mind:

1) Periodically, take a step back from your thinking routines, & go to some place where you can get to see an open view, say in a panoramic sense, preferably from an elevated point; feel the wide-angle perspective so to speak, allow it to soak into you; then, reflect on whatever that bugs you, from that new, invigorating perspective;

2) Whenever you visit a particular place, be it an office, a shopping mall or even a park, take the time to think about how you would change the space to make it a more attractive place in which to work, shop or hang out, or relax; then, connect it to what you have been thinking about all day long, & reflect on the connecting possibilities or enforcible relationships from that newly envisioned perspective;

What do you think?

NOTES FROM MY SCRATCHPAD: STEPS TO THINKING VISUALLY

1) Empathise: See the world as a child, with curiosity & wonder;

- Observe: Notice the little things that others miss or view the "invisible";

- Ask: Ask questions, even silly ones;

- Explore: Entertain your curiosity, by playing, tinkering & experimenting;

2) Memorise: Commit thoughts to memory, especially the salient points;

3) Analyse: Take a step back - figure it out by considering how it works or what makes it tick or tickle you;

4) Synthesise: Filter signal from noise - pull out what you can make use of or bring you to the next level;

5) Visualise: See it, draw or sketch it, then do it;

6) Materialise: Make it tangible; make it stick - by creating personal projects or applications in your work, your life, etc;

7) Document: Keep a good record of your observations, notes, sketches, maps, scribblings, musings, digital snapshots, & news clippings, if any;

[Source: David Armano, VP Experience Design, especially the first 6 steps; additional notes are mine.]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)



"The Samurai were fierce warriors. What is less known is how much of their thoughts were based on achieving victory by avoiding thoughts of victory. They knew that focusing on the outcome of a contest made defeat more likely... to achieve victory by becoming fully absorbed in the process that would lead them there."

~ Richard Farson & Ralph Keyes, 'Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins: The Paradox of Innovation';

CURIOSITY, A CATALYST FOR A FULFILLING LIFE

While ordering Dr Ellen Langer's new book, 'Counterclockwise' [already mentioned in an earlier post] on Amazon, I have come across a new book, 'Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life', by Dr Todd Kashdan, a clinical psychologist & professor of psychology at George Mason University.

Its principal premise: What is essential to creating a fulfilling life?

The answer seems interesting, according to the book's synopsis:

- Being curious;

- Being open to new experiences;

- Being able to effectively manage ambiguity and uncertainty;

- Being able to adapt to the demands required of different situations (what I call “psychological flexibility”);

- Discovering our strengths, deepest values, and what it is we are passionate about;

- Strengthening connections to these values and passionate pursuits so that we can pursue a life aligned with them;


Well, it has certainly piqued my personal interest. As I am curious to find out more, I have also ordered it from Amazon.

My requisition decision has also partly being influenced by the book, 'Personal Brilliance: Mastering the Everyday Habits That Create a Lifetime of Success' by executive coach Jim Canterucci, which I have already reviewed in an earlier post.

According to the book, 'Curiosity' is one of four catalysts for attaining personal mastery. The other three are: 'Awareness', 'Focus', & 'Initiative'.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"AGE IS MIND OVER MATTER; If you don't mind, it don't matter."

Here's a link to a fascinating revelation in a Newsweek report (actually, a brief book review) about how by changing the way we perceive the aging phenomenon can bring about dramatic benefits to our physical health.

It is based on the research findings of Harvard psychologist Dr Ellen Langer, who has put them down in her new book, 'Counterclockwise: Mindful Health & the Power of Possibility'.

According to the news report, she has:

"argued that we are all victims of our own stereotypes about aging and health. We mindlessly accept negative cultural cues about disease and old age, and these cues shape our self-concepts and our behavior. If we can shake loose from the negative clichés that dominate our thinking about health, we can "mindfully" open ourselves to possibilities for more productive lives even into old age."

To me, that's certainly something productive we should all do consistently as we enter the Third Age.

Although Dr Langer is talking about the essence of mindfulness, I couldn't help recalling what, one of the greatest boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali, has once said:

"Age is mind over matter; if you don't mind, it don't matter."

Nonetheless, I am looking out for the new book to read shortly, as the author's two earlier books, 'Mindfulness' & 'The Power of Mindful Learning', have impressed me very much.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

". . . I don't believe in the future. What you want to do, it must be now."

~ Thomas Yeo, 73, award-winning artist;

[Source: 'The Monday Interview' of the Straits Times]

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS

"Courage isn't lack of fear, after all, it's the ability to carry on despite the fear.

General Omar Bradley called courage the 'capacity to carry on properly even when scared half to death.'

Genuine risk takers not only have the guts to act in face of harrowing apprehension, they know how to harness fear's energy. . .

Fearing failure is not necessarily a bad thing. Excitement is the flip side of fear.


Any ten year old on a skateboard knows that exhilaration is primarily fear transformed. . .

Fear begins as a negative sensation but can end on a positive note in the form of excitement, elation, exhilaration, euphoria, even ecstasy.

Enthusiasm is close cousin. So are intensity and concentration."

~ Richard Farson & Ralph Keyes, 'Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins: The Paradox of Innovation';

WHAT DOES CREATIVITY MEAN?

I find the following study findings interesting.

Every one suggests creativity is key for a 21st century workforce, but educators & business executives differ on what specific skills are most important, according to a 2007 survey of 155 school superintendents & 89 employers.


Ranking by Business Employers:

1. Problem Identification or articulation;

2. Ability to identify new patterns of behaviour or new combinations of actions;

3. Integration of knowledge across different disciplines;

4. Ability to originate new ideas;

5. Comfort with notion of 'no right answer';

6. Fundamental curiosity;

7. Originality & inventiveness in work;

8. Problem solving;

9(t). Ability to take risks;

9(t). Tolerance of ambiguity;

11. Ability to communicate new ideas to others


Ranking by School Superintendents:

1. Problem solving;

2. Integration of knowledge across different disciplines;

3. Ability to identify new patterns of behaviour or new combinations of actions;;

4. Originality & inventiveness in work;

5. Ability to communicate new ideas to others

6. Ability to originate new ideas;

7. Tolerance of ambiguity;

8. Ability to take risks;

9. Problem Identification or articulation;

10. Fundamental curiosity;

11. Comfort with notion of 'no right answer';


Ranking determined by % of respondents selecting skill. Respondents allowed to select 3 skills.

Although there is seemingly a disparity in the prioritisation exercise, I reckon at least there is an apparently common acceptance of what creativity truly entails. That's to say, creativity is essentially a multi-faceted phenomenon in the real world.

[Source: 'Ready to Innovate', a report sponsored by The Conference Board, as illustrated in a news report by The Christian Science Monitor.]

ULTIMATE SUCCESS FORMULA, according to Joe Montana

According to, Joe Montana, widely considered the best NFL quarterback of all time & now retired, Joe Montana, & writing in his book, 'The Winning Spirit: 16 Timeless Principles That Drive Performance Excellence' (with performance coach Tom Mitchell), the key to winning the inner game is all about:

• Knowing What You Want: First, identify goals, then turn clarity into action;

• Striving for Excellence: Surpass expectations & reach new heights;

• Failing Fast & Moving On: Take chances, learn from mistakes, & keep pressing forward – don’t let fear or regret take you out of the game;

• Remembering the “I” in Team: Make yourself the priority – because intense preparation is the individual responsibility of each member of the team;


• Welcoming Pressure: Want to be the best? Work with or compete against the best!


• Walking Like a Champ: Your life is not just about achieving success, but also about having a purpose & creating significance;

Not surprisingly, 'knowing what you want' is always the first key!

VITAMIN D BOOSTS BRAINPOWER!

I often enjoy walking under the sun - for a short while of course - after my regular morning gym practice, & along the pathway between my apartment block & the Jurong East Sports Centre. Part of the distance is shaded by trees.

In contrast, & understandably, my wife will carry her umbrella.

I choose to do it partly because I spend a lot of time in the air-conditioned comfort of my home when I read, work, watch television & sleep.

Hence, I find it fascinating to learn that, according to a recent research finding at the University of Manchester, as reported in the Journal of neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, a dosage of say 10-15 minutes daily exposure may be great for increased brainpower, on account of the higher levels of Vitamin D synthesised in the skin after exposed to the sun.

Vitamin D is also found in oily fish. The report indicates that Vitamin D induces faster information processing in the brain, & the impact seems more significant in test subjects aged 60 & above.

Interestingly, I also read that a separate 2008 study in Amsterdam revealed that a lack of Vitamin D could increase the risk of depression or other psychiatric problems among older people.

Am I intuitively on the right track? I think so.

Do the silver-haired needs to spend some time outdoors & under the sun on a regular basis? I believe so, especially when it is coupled with disciplined physical activities & active socialisation endeavours.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Courage, of course, like risk, is absolutely relative. What is courageous to one person may be faint-hearted to another. Risk is whatever scares you."
~ Gregg Levoy, author of 'Callings: Finding & Following an Authentic Life';

Monday, May 25, 2009

THE TOP 10 REASONS BUSINESSES FAIL

I have found this rather belated snippet of information - & yet still relevant - on the net.

"The Top Ten Reasons Companies That Should Make It ... Don't" from a bankruptcy lawyer, Bobby Guy.

10. Over-expansion. The need to get there first or to demonstrate revenue growth to anxious investors leads businesses to grow too fast;

9. Poor Capital Structure. Companies take on too much debt....Enough said!

8. Failure to Control the Controllable Costs. Businesses spend down the initial cash before it is flowing in at a positive rate;

7. Failure to Prepare for Volatility of Uncontrollable Costs. For example, energy, materials, labor, or insurance;

6. Add New Products or Divisions that Drag Down the Profitable Ones;

5. Poor Internal Controls and Execution -- customer service, accounting controls, theft, fraud;

4. Poorly Designed Business Model;

3. Reliance on Critical Financing that Dries Up;

2. Failure to Adapt to a Changing Market;


AND THE #1 REASON? Management in Complete Denial...

Definitely something worth paying attention to if you are thinking about setting up a new business or even running your business.

[Source: 'The Entrepreneurial Mind' weblog of Dr Jeff Cornwall from the Center of Entrepreneurship, Belmont University.]

NOTES FROM MY SCRATCHPAD: LEARNING

It's really interesting to know that true learning has many important facets:

Learning to know:

- combining broad, general knowledge with in dept study of a small number of subjects; learning to learn;

Learning to do:

- the acquisition of occupational skills and competencies such as adaptability and collaboration;

Learning to live together:

- understanding others; appreciating interdependence; managing conflict; working together with respect and mutual understanding;

Learning to be:

- to develop personality and autonomy, judgment and personal responsibility; education must not disregard any aspect of a person's potential;

[Source: 'Learning: The Treasure Within', published by UNESCO The International Commission on Education for the 21st Century, chaired by former EU President, Jacques Delors]

TOP TEN CEO CHALLENGES

1. Excellence in execution;

2. Sustained & steady top-line growth;

3. Consistent execution of stratgey by top management;

4. Profit growth;

5. Finding qualified managerial talent;

6. Customer loyalty & retention;

7. Speed, flexibility, adaptability to change;

8. Corporate reputation;

9. Stimulating innovation/creativity/enabling entrepreneurship;

10. Speed to market;

Not surprisingly, 'getting things done' is the #1 challenge!

[Source: The Conference Board, October 2007, as illustrated in the book, 'Putting Our Differences to Work', by Debbe Kennedy, which I am now reading.]

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What is the greatest single factor in success & achievement?

What is it that really separates good from great, & great from mastery?

What is it that ignites a vision that can't be stopped?

~ from Jim Norman, President of Tony Jeary International, in the Foreword of the book, 'Strategic Acceleration: Succeeding at the Speed of Life', by executive coach Tony Jeary, which I am now reading;

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Present-moment living, getting in touch with your 'now', is at the heart of effective living. When you think about it, there really is no other moment you can live. Now is all there is, and the future is just another present moment to live when it arrives. One thing is certain, you cannot live it until it does appear."

~Wayne Dyer, 69, popular American self-help advocate & author; his 'Your Erroneous Zones' (1976) is said to have brought humanistic ideas to the masses;

Sunday, May 24, 2009

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What has changed my life for the better during the past ten years?

What has diminished my lifestyle & human prospect during the past ten years?


Whom do I know who seems to thrive on the changes taking place in his or her life today?

What are the specific qualities that make this so?

Are these qualities I want to pursue in my own life?

This particular time in our world seems filled with more uncertainty than ever, what tools & skills might I want to cultivate in order to help myself traverse these times?

[Adapted from the work of The Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara]

SPOTLIGHT: MENU OF OPTIONS


The other day, my wife & I had lunch with my Polytechnic buddy & his wife at the Din Tai Fung restaurant located in the basement of Raffles City shopping mall. The restaurant is famous for its steamed buns (xiaolongbao).

While waiting, I just took a quick snapshot of the restaurant menu, which offers some 50 options, from dumplings, soups, noodles, to rice, meat, vegetables, in assorted concoctions.

As I looked at the relatively large colourful multi-fold menu, I couldn't help thinking that it resembled real life, with the unfolding sequences set in motion by our chosen option, resulting in sometimes unintended consequences, following our executed actions.

Of course, in a restaurant, the outcome of our options is more predictable, as we would know exactly what we have ordered. In other words, what follows from the kitchen is exactly what we have ordered from the menu.

Picking out the menu of options in life is a totally different ball game. There are many variables out there beyond our control, but still we can always improve & fine-tune our choice-making process. Over time, we can also sharpen our anticipatory skills.

No wonder, most people have considered life as a game.

Maybe, that's why life can be so exciting & challenging. I reckon, at the end of the day, it's how we have played the game.

One thing I have learned, the hard way, in the game of life: there are no winners or losers; only learners!

WAYS OF THE 21ST CENTURY SAMURAI

About two years ago, I had reviewed an interesting book, entitled, '21st Century Samurai: The Secret Path to Success & Fulfillment', by Seymour Rifkind, in an earlier post.

It's a personal story about the Bushido Code, within the context of success principles, which one can easily apply in one's life.

For me, I have found that the book reads more like an inspiring businessman's version of Napolean Hill's 'Think & Grow Rich/Law of Success'!

Nonetheless, the Samurai has long intrigued the world’s as well as my personal imagination.

During my younger days, ever since I had first been mesmerised by the legendary Japanese movie director Akira Kurosawa' cult classic, 'Seven Samurai', starring also the legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune, my favourite action movies, among many others, often included most of the Japanese action movies that had the hero with the long sword.

Others included the Japanese 'Blind Swordsman' series, as well as 'The Samura' series (dubbed in English & produced in Australia) on television.

In the later years, they included other action movies starring my new favourites, Sonny Chiba & Sho Kosugi.

Whether they were samurais, ronins or ninjas, all these action movies were always entertaining to watch.

When I had started working with the United Motor Works (UMW) Group during the eighties, legendary Japanese combat strategist of the 16th century Miyamoto Musashi's 'Book of Five Rings' became one of my mandatory readings, besides a few other titles, in order to understand how the Japanese would formulate their business strategies.

While working for the UMW Group, I had learned from first hand involvement how Komatsu of Japan had given Caterpillar from the United States a run for their money in my part of the world.

During the late eighties, I had also read about how the Japanese had outranked, volume & profit wise, the Swiss in making watches for the masses during the early seventies.

Interestingly, in the field of creativity & innovation, I had even taken the trouble to acquire & 'Created in Japan: From Imitators to World-Class Innovators', by Sheridan Tatsuno, during the early nineties.

Well, today the world has changed radically, but my old habits die hard.

Recently, I have come across an interesting article on the net, entitled 'Ways of the 21st Century Samurai', drawing obvious inspiration from the Bushido Code.

It has been written as a simple guide to the art of winning in life, with almost a dozen strategies. I particularly like the first two, 'know what you want', & 'get the right tools'.

From my personal experience, without these two first, nothing will work!

Here's the link to the article.

[Please also refer to my earlier post, entitled 'My Early Influences from Japanese Culture'.]

UNDERSTANDING CATAGENESIS

I have learned about the term, 'catagenesis', recently from the work of Thomas Homer-Dixon, Director of the Trudeau Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies as well as Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science of the University of Toronto, Canada.

He is also the author of several books, including 'The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, & the Renewal of Civilization', which I have yet to read.

[I had read one of his earlier works, 'The Ingenuity Gap: Facing the Economic, Environmental, & Other Challenges of an Increasingly Complex & Unpredictable Future', many years ago.]

According to him, when a complex system is subject to change, it's not always able to adapt smoothly.

Instead, it undergoes a three stage process referred to as 'catagenesis':

- breakdown;
- reorganisation;
- renewal;

[In Greek, cata = down; genesis = birth]

More interestingly, he argues that the collapse or breakdown leads to genesis, to the birth of "something new, unexpected, & potentially good". I like that.

Essentially, at the personal level, I can see that he is talking about resilience, because it's all about being able to make creative use of moments of breakdown so as to turn them into processes of renewal, rather than sliding into outright collapse.

So, looking at it more deeply, it certainly boils down to making choices. That's to say, we can make a choice to go for a positive outcome from any serious peril.

Somehow, as I am fascinated by 'catagenesis', I can't help myself associating it with another concept I have learned during the nineties: 'The Theory of Dissipative Structures'.

The theory was coined by a Russian-born Belgian scientist, Ilya Prigogine (1917–2003), who eventually secured a Nobel Prize for his work in the seventies.

[The brilliant scientist had visited Singapore during the early nineties under the auspices of the Lee Kuan Yew Distinguished Speakers Program at the NUS, during which he gave an insightful evening lecture, which I had attended with a bunch of like-minded professionals.]

From what I have understood, a dissipative structure is any open living system that continuously exchanges energy with the environment. A seed or a plant is a good example. Our brain is another good example.

That's to say, all living systems are basically dissipative structures, but not all dissipative systems are living systems. A school or a factory is a good example.

In a nut shell, & according to the theory, when an open living system is subject to external change, & the pressure is kept increasing, it goes through a discontinuous process of agitation & turbulence, which the scientist has coined as 'perturbation', following which it will reach a 'bifurcation point', a sort of a fork point.

The system then has a choice, it can either run down into entropy, or it can spiral to a higher order.

Putting the theory into the personal perspective, & since our brain is also a dissipative structure, we as human beings can actually shift into higher levels of organisation as well as complexity, by our personal choice, whenever we are perturbed by increasing external forces.

Come to think of it, if our brain is constantly pushed into a state of disharmony or disorder - according to experts, this state is really 'de-structuring' rather than 'destructive' - we can get to be so good at knowing what really works for us, such that old ideas or paradigms can get a good shake-up, to allow new ones to come into us.

Tactically as in doing so, & as I see it, we are actually building up our existing repertoire of possible responses - or control variety -, which in turn allows us to anticipate & deal with the future onslaught of external interventions - or disturbance variety - from the environment.

Isn't that fascinating?

[By the way, Dr Ilya Progogine had actually written a book about his stuff, entitled 'Order Out of Chaos: Man's New Dialogue with Nature'. I must admit, it was a difficult read.]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"An essential part of seeing clearly is finding the willingness to look closely & to go beyond our own ideas."

~ Cheri Huber, Zen teacher, & author of more than a dozen books, including 'Making a Change for Good: A Guide to Compassionate Self-Discipline';