Saturday, November 7, 2009

RANDOM SPOTLIGHT: PLEASURE


Pleasure is desire fulfilled. It's certainly an apt & cogent definition, from both the literal & gastronomical standpoint.

THE ART OF CHOOSING A JOYFUL LIFE

Here's the link to an interesting excerpt, actually the first chapter, of the book, 'Lightposts for Living: The Art of Choosing a Joyful Life', by artist/painter Thomas Kinkade.

To me, it's beautifully conceived & self-contained on its own, as the author shares ten viable possibilities of enhancing your joy quotient. [The book actually covers a dozen of more elaborate core principles of joyful living.]

In a nut shell, here's the gist:

1) Choose Your Attitude;

2) Give Yourself a Perk;

3) Look for Surprises;

4) Keep a Glow Book;

5) Be a Blessing;

6) Pursue Your Passion or Put Passion in Your Pursuit;

7) Say NO to Nibblers;

8) Cultivate Mindful Routine(s);

9) Look for the Big Picture;

10) Appreciate the Life of Things;

JUST HOW MUCH DOES YOUR LIFE SUCK?

You can easily find out right now by taking the following 20-Question Quiz as outlined in the book, 'Get a Life that Doesn't Suck', by life coach Michelle DeAngelis.

The quiz has been designed to measure the "Gap" between your thoughts and your actions.

According to the author, the bigger the Gap, the more life sucks. And that Gap is very important: The sooner you understand and deal with your Gap, the better.

Here's the link to the quiz. Enjoy your exploration.

By the way, here's the link to her wonderful 10 Life-changing AhAs! - daily actions that can improve your joy quotient!

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

What if I were given an endless amount of joy to spend each day?

45 LIFE LESSONS

I have found the following lessons of life while surfing the net today.

To celebrate growing older, a wise woman named Regina Brett wrote down 45 lessons life has taught her over the years. She just turned 90 years old and is a writer for 'The Plain Dealer', the largest newspaper in Ohio.

Check it out:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone and everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.


[Source: 'Tools & Tips' from Michelleinc weblog of life coach Michelle DeAngelis, also author of 'Get a Life That Doesn's Suck'. Here's the link to her wonderful 10 Life-changing AhAs! - daily actions that can improve your joy quotient!]

DEFINING LEADERSHIP

Prof Preston Bottger, who teaches Organisational Behaviour at the IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland, has coined a simple definition that conveys the full dimension of leadership:

"Leaders do or cause to be done all that must be done & is now not being done to achieve what we say is important! They provide a sense of purpose, direction & focus. They build alignment & get commitment."

That's to say, leaders are action-oriented change agents; they don't just think & talk. They 'do or cause to be done...'

Leaders provide:

1) Sense of Purpose:

- why are we doing it?

- what are the benefits of a change in innovation?

- what are the penalties if we don't do it?

2) Sense of Direction:

- which way shall we go?

- what innovation model should we adopt?


3) Sense of Focus:

- what are our priorities?

- what should we concentrate our efforts?


[Source: 'Innovation Leaders: How Senior Executives Stimulate, Steer & Sustain Innovation', by Jean Philippe-Deschamps;]

DON'T PREPARE, JUST SHOW UP!

According to drama teacher Patricia Madson [28 years at Stanford University; founded the Stanford Improvisors in 1991], & writing in her inspiring book, 'Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up':

"Let’s face it: Life is something we all make up as we go along. No matter how carefully we formulate a 'script', it is bound to change when we interact with people with scripts of their own... If you are willing to be completely present, making full use of whatever happens, you will find goodness in any situation..."

She offers 13 maxims to help you to exercise freedom & walk a path toward a spiritually satisfying life:

1) Say Yes;

2) Don't prepare;

3) Just show up;

4) Start anywhere;

5) Be average;

6) Pay attention;

7) Face the facts;

8) Stay on course;

9) Wake up the gifts;

10) Make mistakes, please;

11) Act now;

12) Take care of each other;

13) Enjoy the ride;

My favourite is 'Pay Attention'.

[More information about the author & her book can be found at this link. Together with her husband, Patricia Madson now runs the California Centre for Constructive Living. Their ideas on constructive living are fascinating & yet sensible.]

RANDOM SPOTLIGHT: NEXT STOP, WANDERLAND


I reckon one good way to break away from our lifelong mundane routines is to alight at the next stop, wanderland, on the highway of life.

Basically, it's stepping on to unexplored & uncharted territory. Naturally, it takes some personal courage.

To go where no man has gone before... Remember, the spaceship USS Enterprise with Captain Kirk?.

It's the stretch zone... just outside the comfort one.

In a tactical perspective, it's the time & space for thinking differently, & doing new things.

Incidentally, as a side track, 'Next Stop, Wonderland' is a romantic comedy about life, its coincidences & the quest for love during the late 90's.

Nonetheless for me, the two words, 'wanderland' & 'wonderland', are rather synonymous, as far as opportunities for adventuring & exploring are concerned.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"I am alive, I am unique, & I am immutable, even as I grow & evolve. To truly live, however, I must express myself fully, & in this regard, I have much to give. But to do so, I need others, & am most productive with those who need me in return. To establish these relationships I must first be recognized for who I am, & it follows then that I will receive in accordance with what I give."

Laurence Ackerman, a leading authority on organisational & personal branding; also author of 'Identity is Destiny: Leadership & the Roots of Value Creation' & 'The Identity Code: The 8 Essential Questions for Finding Your Purpose & Place in the World';

IN ANY RELATIONSHIP, THE ESSENCE OF TRUST IS NOT IN ITS BIND, BUT IN ITS BOND

I have found this intriguing story offering a valuable lesson on human relationship on the net.

Once, a man named Joe and his little girl were crossing a wooden-bridge in Tarrytown, New York.

Joe was kind of scared so he asked his little daughter, "Sweetheart, please hold my hand so that you don't fall into the river."

The little girl said, "No, Dad. You hold my hand."

"What's the difference?" Asked the puzzled father.

"There's a big difference," replied the little girl.

"If I hold your hand and something happens to me, chances are that I may let your hand go. But if you hold my hand, I know for sure that no matter what happens, you will never let my hand go."

In any relationship, the essence of trust is not in its bind, but in its bond.

[Source: The Secret Truths weblog]

Friday, November 6, 2009

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS

"All of us perceive the world in terms of our own needs; none of us is capable of perceiving the world as it actually is. It will appear different to each of us because our specific needs from which all of us create our internal world are never the same, all we ever know of the real or external or outside world is the energy that comes from the world and strikes the sensory receptors of our perceptual system.

Everything else that we claim is the real world is in fact our own perceptions of that world, perceptions that we are constantly trying to change so that they coincide with the world in our
head."


~ Dr William Glasser, world-renowned psychatrist who lectures widely, writing in his book, 'Stations of the Mind: New Directions for Reality Therapy' (1981);

RANDOM SPOTLIGHT: FCUK



This well-known fashion brand brings back memory of a really funny encounter many many years ago.

I was queuing up & noticed a middle-aged, but well-dressed, svelte looking Chinese lady in white pants standing in front of me. She was wearing a white belt bearing all the four bold alphabets in black arranged in a seemingly continuous run around her waist.

At that time, I wasn't aware of the brand at all. So, for that moment I was thinking to myself that maybe the four distinct alphabets were deliberately arranged to be mispelt that way so as not to offend people. What an intelligently bold statement!

I have subequently found out that 'fcuk' is a short, sharp & witty name for 'French Connection United Kingdom', famous for their casualwear catered to people of all ages.

On hindsight, I reckon that the brand owner certainly knew how to be original & distinctive in a highly competitive marketplace.

RANDOM SPOTLIGHT: FOOD REPUBLIC


Indisputably & undoubtedly, eating out is one of Singaporeans' favourite past times. That's to say, food is often on their minds, among other things.

Whether food has kept our nation going since independence on August 9 1965 as one republic, as depicted in this fascinating ad of the Food Republic, an upmarket food court located on the upper level of the Wisma Atria shopping mall, is debatable.

Interestingly, just the other day during an evening gathering of professionals, John Mauro, an American with Singapore as his home for the last 18 years, had lamented that Singapore had the highest concentration of food bloggers in the world.

'Didn't they have other pursuits?' was seemingly bugging him.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

“Part of understanding the creative urge is understanding that it's primal. Wanting to change the world is not a noble calling, it's a primal calling.”

~ cartoonist & artist Hugh MacLeod, also author of 'How To Be Creative';

Thursday, November 5, 2009

LOCATION OR LUCK OR SOMETHING ELSE?

Last night, my wife & I met up with some of our social buddies from The Wednesday Club for a dinner outing.

James & Sophia, who had recently moved into "temporary residence" at the Valley Park condominium on River Valley Road, as their house on One Tree Hill has just started its massive renovation program, suggested the newly opened Cafe Le Chateau, located on the ground floor of the nearby Valley Point shopping mall, also located on River Valley Road.

Our group of seven, comprising James & Sophia, S T & Gek Wee, Jeffrey [his wife Betty couldn't make it, due to irrevocable baby-sitting obligations to their grand-daughter for the evening], plus my wife & myself, met at 7pm in the supposedly French restaurant. James & S T brought along their favourite wines.

While looking for a good deal, we finally opted for set dinner, at S$38++ per pax: rib-eye or salmon (main course), baked oysters Florentine or escargots (starter), soup of the day (potato soup - I must say they certainly made delicious soup!), tiramasu, coffee or tea.

The food was reasonably good, considering from the "value for money" angle. The restaurant ambiance was relatively nice & cosy with small candle lights, & customer service was "on the ball".

Best of all, there wasn't any no corkage charge, & so the eventual damage to our pockets came up to S$43 per pax.

In reality, our focus of the evening wasn't food. It was incidentally Wednesday again, & thus, it was the usual "bonding" time among fellow members of The Wednesday Club.

Our casual conversations followed the unintended course of "sashaying" from golfing & holidaying during winter times in China [Lijiang, Shangrila] & Japan [Hokkaido], to ghost stories, & personal encounters with weirdos, to even a brisk review of celebrity chef Jeff Chan & his failed ventures, as well as of the Glen Goei's new movie, 'The Blue Mansion'.

Getting quite close to 9.30pm, we decided to break pack. We then noticed that the restaurant was poorly patronised. Beside us, only another table was occupied.

As my wife & I walked back to the Valley Park condominium to pick up our car, we also noticed that the Italian restaurant, called La Forketta, at the other front end of Valley Point shopping mall, was also empty, except for one table, where a couple was eating.

Just imagine owning & running a relatively large restaurant with such low patronage level in the evening. Such an unpleasant scenario, if extended indefinitely, can really keep one awake all night long, notwithstanding the cash-flow nightmare.

As observed, the Valley Point shopping mall was more or less deserted, as shops were already closed, at that hour, except for the Cold Storage Supermarket.

Could it be a location problem? Not enough advertising & promotion?

Strange enough, the myriad of shop-house eating places just further down River Valley Road, towards Kim Seng Road, had their good share of eating crowd for the evening.

Was it timing, as the current economic prospects are seemingly not the best in shape, to say the least.

Too much competitive choices for the foodie?

Or was it the geomancy factor or luck, so to speak, then?

Chinese owners are often very adamant in consulting geomancers for their restaurant locations & openings, to ensure "natural harmony of wind & water". More explicitly, to ensure that their "entrepreneurial aspirations resonate with their life charts".

How much weight does that carry actually?

I really don't know or rather I am unable to explain it rationally, but one thing I am very sure of, drawing from my own personal & professional experience of running a small business for some fifteen years, luck & timing are essential prerequisites to busines success, no matter how you look at it.

Interestingly, I also had my fair share of geomancy readings during my entrepreneurial forays in the 90s.

DARE TO BE DIFFERENT

Dare to be different.
Dare to think big and work hard.
Dare to aspire to accomplish the impossible and defy the odds.
Dare to be unique and deal with whatever criticism follows.
Dare to stand proud even when everybody is mocking you.
Dare to exceed the status quo and reach for the stars.
Dare to make stumbling blocks your stepping stones.
Dare to believe in yourself and your talents even when you are the only one.
Dare to be great and break the barriers that society places.
Dare to stand in the face of adversity and laugh.
Dare to hope, to dream, to aspire and then to achieve.

And I guarantee you - your life will never be the same."

~ from the book, 'Daring to be Different: 25 Tips for A Life of Success', by Darrell Bennett Jr.;

The 25 Tips for a Life of Success are as follows:

1) Demand excellence of yourself;

2) Pick your company;

3) Cherish your friendships;

4) The Haters;

5) Never let them see you sweat;

6) It's OK to envy; it's jealousy that's the problem;

7) Ignorance is not bliss, but it's contagious;

8) Don't boast;

9) Keep your opinion to yourself unless asked;

10) It's both what you say & how you say it;

11) Don't wait for validation;

12) Accept full responsibility for your actions;

13) Your life is not a garbage can;

14) Age is nothing but a number; take advantage of your youth;

15) Have a sense of humour;

16) Make yourself known & respected;

17) Dealing with the reputation;

18) Do things that you enjoy;

19) Plan for the future;

20) Learn from others' example;

21) Think big;

22) Avoid the appearance of wrongdoing;

23) Practise the art of giving;

24) Exhibit self discipline;

25) Keep the faith & stay the course;

ARE YOU FEELING TRAPPED WITHIN THE BOX OF UNCOMFORTABLE CONFORMITY?

Consider the story about the managing monk who transfers into a new monastery and finds that the monks are hand scripting their books from the latest copy and not the original version. He points out that if an error were made in transcription, the subsequent copies would be similarly flawed for eternity. When he tries to change the process he meets organizational resistance because the procedure in that monastery had been in place for generatons.

To prove his point, he announces that he is going to conduct a quality assurance review of the latest copy by comparing it to the original stores in the cellar. The monks are outraged, but when he does not return in a few hours, one of the more compassionate monks becomes concerned and goes looking for the new manager.

He finds him weeping uncontrollably in the corner of the cellar. "What's wrong?" he asks. The managing monk can hardly speak, but after a few moments he looks up and sighs, "The word is celebrate."

~ from the book, 'Daring To Be Different: A Manager's Ascent to Leadership', by James Hatherley;

PRAGMATIC INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS

"Executive coaching matters because there is a lot at stake; because we all have blind spots, and those blind spots can kill possibility; because we all need some degree of awakening; because the executive needs to learn what he or she needs to learn in order to optimize success; because it is always worthwhile to have a trusted confidant; and, last but not least, the quality of one’s life matters, too. If there is a more certain and beneficial offering for an executive, I cannot imagine what it could be."

~ from strategy consultant & executive coach Miles Kierson, writing in his article "Why Executive Coaching Matters';

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"Life moves in one direction only – and each day we are faced with an actual set of circumstances, not with what might have been, not with what we might have done, but with what is, and with where we are now - and from this point we must proceed; not from where we were, not from where we wish we were - but from where we are."

~ Richard Evans (1906-1971); author, broadcaster ('Music and the Spoken Word' from 1930-1971), & church elder;

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

TODAY'S Q2P (QUESTIONS TO PONDER)

1. What do I want?

2. What are my choices?

3. What assumptions am I making?

4. What am I responsible for?

5. How else can I think about this?

6. What is the other person thinking, feeling, needing, and wanting?

7. What am I missing or avoiding?

8. What can I learn?

...from this person or situation?

...from this mistake or failure?

...from this success?

9. What questions should I ask (myself or others?)

10. What action steps make the most sense?

11. How can I turn this into a win-win?

12. What is possible?


[The foregoing 12 powerful questions have been drawn from the 'Question Thinking Model' based on the work of consultant Marilee Adams, also author of 'Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 7 Powerful Tools for Life & Work'. She is also the founder of the Inquiry Institute.]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"I am in the present. I cannot know what tomorrow will bring forth. I can know only what the truth is for me today. That is what I am called to serve, & I serve it in all lucidity."

~ Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), Russian composer, pianist & conductor; widely acknowledged as one of the most influential composers of 20th century music;

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

RANDOM SPOTLIGHT: FANCY TRADE NAMES

Generally, I reckon from the standpoint of strategic fit, one should always choose a trade name that somehow resonates with one's business aspirations.

I am nonetheless very intrigued by the tradenames chosen in the following instances, captured by my digital snapshots at the Suntec City shopping mall.

To be frank, I still don't see the connections.

Will somebody or maybe the boutique owners like to throw some light?

Or are they deliberate attempts to challenge consumers' established assumptions or plain marketing gimmicks to catch eyeballs?


RANDOM SPOTLIGHT: Join the flock, or stand out, or dare to go beyond?

Life is a series of crucial moments. But beause of fear or timidity or insecuirty, we often let the moment slip by. We do nothing. We miss our moment, & then we regret it, because we know deep down that special moment is gone forever.

Seize the moment.

Join the flock, like birds of the same feathers...


... or get bold, be bright & stand out...


... or dare to go beyond.


The moment of destiny is yours to pick.

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)


"Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can."

~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama;

Monday, November 2, 2009

EACH SUCCESS OR FAILURE IS AN EPIC POEM COMPOSED BY ACCUMULATING SEEMINGLY LITTLE THINGS IN EVERYDAY LIFE

Being late for an appointment is a little thing if it is a one-time incident. Failing to greet or listen to someone would not be a big problem if it just happened only once.

However, what do you think will happen if you are always late, make no greetings, and take a rude attitude toward other people? Though each behavior may seem to be insignificant, the accumulation of choices you make on whether to go right or left will make a significant difference in the outcome.

We should be aware of the law that, whether it is a success or failure, the result of our attempt ultimately depends on the accumulation of our small, ordinary, and insignificant doings. Each of our successes and failures is something like an epic poem composed by accumulating seemingly little things we do in our everyday life. This law also applies to corporate management.

"No matter how trivial the job appears to be, it is a part of a big project. If the job is not done successfully, the whole project cannot be completed."

These are the words by Eiichi Shibusawa ("Rongo to Soroban (The Analects and Abacus)"), who is known as the "father of the modern ]apanese business world" because he played a role in the establishment of more than 500 companies around the start of Japanese capitalism.

Recently, I have found interesting that Tadashi Yanai, the founder of UNIQLO, was saying a similar thing as follows:

"What is common to successful companies is that they have been doing the right, small, and fundamental things thoroughly. Many companies fail to do these things although they may seem to be doing it on the surface.

To do the fundamental things, small things and things that are 100% right thoroughly and continuously. Once you decide to do so, you have to stick to it. This steady implementation is very important. Even a gap of 0.001 meter or 1 millimeter gets bigger and bigger as time advances.

Things will eventually work out if you focus on the basics every day. You won't be able to go to the next stage otherwise.

The key to success is to keep doing the fundamental things every day, to do them so many times that you get fed up."

("Kyusho Ippai (One Victory and Nine Defeats)" by Shinchosha Publishing Co.).

The truth is the same throughout the ages.

It is gratifying that the overall level of Japanese people's academic career has increased. At the same time, however, it is sad that more and more people have gotten the wrong idea that knowledge from books can be used as is in the real world.

There are things that we can teach and learn. On the other hand, there are things that we cannot teach or learn and we, therefore, have to find the keys to them by ourselves. It is important to separate these two things clearly.

Knowledge can be taught and learned, but wisdom cannot be taught or learned. For example, the theories of business administration can be taught and learned, but corporate management itself cannot be taught or learned.

The know-how for management can hardly be explained by words, so we have to obtain it on our own. To do so, we have to sweat and labour at actual work and continue our efforts so that we can catch or feel it through our experience.

After that, we just need to improve it. That is, the only way to find the know-how for management is to continue efforts and accumulate various experiences in everyday life.

A person who has learned the science and theories of business administration and also acquired the knack of management from experience is as mighty as an "ogre with an iron club."

The fact is, however, there are not many such people in the real world. If we can't have both, it is of course better to acquire the knack of management through real-life experience than learning book knowledge.

As a matter of fact, a person who has not acquired the knack of management but has just learned from textbooks often fails in real management or is even at risk of leading a company to bankruptcy because of his or her wrong management.

There is no shortage of such examples. One of the most well-known examples is that of a famous business scholar who embarked on the actual management of several companies but ended up in bankrupting all of them.

Experience real management and then analyze the experience academically so that you can apply the theories more appropriately. This is the way to achieve a greater success. Reversing the order of these two things often leads to failure.

[Source: Japan Close Up, October 2009; The foregoing article has originally been written by Katsuhiko Eguchi, President, The PHP Institute;]

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"You can't force simplicity; but you can invite it in by finding as much richness as possible in the few things at hand. Simplicity doesn't mean meagerness but rather a certain kind of richness, the fullness that appears when we stop stuffing the world with things."

~ Thomas Moore, writer, lecturer & author of 'The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life';

TRANSFORMING PERSONAL LIVES... WITH INTENTION, PRESENCE, SAGACITY & MINDFULNESS

Last night, in fact well past midnight & just before visiting my slumberland, I read the book, 'Facilitating Transformation: 12 Steps for Creating Extraordinary Breakthroughs with Groups', by Douglas O'Loughlin, in earnest & all in one sitting.

The author is a globe-trotting organisational development/change management consultant, currently based in Singapore & Bangkok, where he is pursuing his PhD, in addition to transforming personal lives & shaping organisational destinies along the way. He is considered a veteran in the world of facilitation, at least in this part of the globe.

To be frank, I have not read any book on facilitation in recent years.

I recall the last time I had done it in similar fashion was reading & reviewing - 'Effective Facilitation: Achieving Results with Groups', by the graphic facilitation guru David Sibbet of Grove Consultants, at least five or more years ago.

Doug's debut book is apparently targeted primarily at facilitators, teachers, lecturers, trainers, coaches, consultants, & those who work with groups.


However, the book is not about techniques or methodologies on facilitation, which one can easily find in many other books.

Doug's book is essentially all about the philosophy of taking responsibility of being alive, being sagacious, being mindful, so to speak, while leading personal transformations in an organisational or group setting - in a nut shell, drawing out the best in people.

While most people, including yours truly, may hold the notional image of the "caterpillar to butterfly" metamorphosis, I reckon the essence of 'facilitating transformation' is best captured by what the author has written beautifully in the preamble:

"... individual or groups leave the sessions fundamentally different than they arrived, with expanded way of thinking & doing... we can consciously do a number of things that increase the chances for breakthroughs, both in the session & beyond... ";

as well as what Dr Sandra Janoff, co-director of the Future Search Network, has written in her Foreword to the book:

"...while we are often called upon to be at the centre of the action, we remain astute observers & hold the bigger picture. While we invest ourselves emotionally in our clients, we remain objective & respectful of the work they have to do for themselves. While we plan carefully, we learn to trust our intuition as to when to deviate from our plan... we want to enable people to make discoveries, learn new ways of working & move closer to the futures to which they aspire... "

With these philosophical underpinnings & pragmatic approaches, Doug's book really stands out, as he also draws upon his three decades of varied experiences as a global facilitator & life coach to offer his "tapestry of possibilities" in a "buffet spread" of 12 strategy steps, as follows:

1) be intentional;
2) be present with presence;
3) go for 100%;
4) tune-in & engage;
5) design for transformation;
6) design the environment;
7) mind your language;
8) breakthrough with teams;
9) be a transformer;
10) be global & local;
11) seek & celebrate feedback;
12) bring your whole self to work;
(the golden thread that holds all the other 11 strategy steps);

Although Doug has put in writing that "this book does not necessarily have to be read from cover to cover", personally I feel that the first four strategy steps must be kept in mind at all times - sequentially - at the onset.

While each strategy step is covered by a specific chapter, what I also like most from the book are the well-crafted reflective questions, leading to the actions-to-take from insights at the end of each chapter.

By the way, I also like to single out 'Chapter 7: Mind Your Language', which talks about the use of C.L.E.A.R. language, as one of my personal favourites. [Interestingly, C.L.E.A.R. stands for Clarity, Leverage Wisdom, Expand Possibilities, Avoid Generalisations, Reality.]

In the same vein, I feel that, with no disrespect to the author, a little bit more concerted effort from the publisher, like tighter editing, would have made all the illustrative stories in the book smoother to read.

As a visual thinker, naturally I would have loved to see graphic illustrations in the book.

After all, today we are living in a world of images. More importantly, as much as 90% of what we learn in a lifetime comes to us in the form of visual cues.

If only the author had gone "the extra mile" to put in a "graphic recording" of the salient aspects of each chapter, the book would have been a great piece of work.

As he has rightly pointed out: "... graphic recording, is a relatively new concept in facilitation, one that provides transformational impact... "

However, I am not going to allow the foregoing "shortcomings" to diminish the value of the book &/or Doug's principal message to all the facilitators out there.

On the whole, & in the end analysis, I must emphasise that Doug has written the book with candour, succinctness & warmth. For me, it has been an entertaining & enriching read.

Highly recommended, for all those who facilitate workshops, teach classes, or coach & lead people.

[Disclosure: Book came personally from the author, whom I have known since the early nineties. Payment: FREE]

HELLO! DOUG, LONG TIME NO SEE...

Yesterday evening, at 6pm, I finally got the opportunity to catch up with an old American friend, Douglas O'Loughlin, at the soft launch of his debut book in a cosy place, 'The Book Cafe', on Mohd Sultan Road.

I met Doug way back into the early nineties, when I had started my pet projects, 'Optimum Performance Technologies' & 'The Brain Resource', (in addition to the 'Left-Brain/Right-Brain Newsletter), & he had also just started his, 'Joy of Learning Consultants'. He was then a customer as well as a participant in one of my experimental seminars.

Somehow, we have more or less lost touch with each other for more than a decade. We have only managed to hook up with each other in recent months through a mutual friend, Dilip Mukerjea.

[Dilip couldn't turn up at the launch because he had suffered a very bad backache in the morning. He often spends long hours working incessantly with his girl friend, a Mac Pro. Like Einstein, he is always thinking about new ideas.]



Today, Doug is a globe-trotting Organisational Development/Change Management consultant, currently based in Singapore as well as Bangkok, where he is pursuing his PhD, besides transforming personal lives & shaping organisational destinies along the way. Doug is considered a veteran in the world of facilitation, at least in this part of the globe.

His debut book is 'Facilitating Transformation: 12 Strategies for Creating Extraordinary Breakthroughs with Groups'.

I also met his Singaporean wife, Christy Lee-O'Loughlin, who has earlier released her own book for kids, 'Drax the Dragon'.

Among the small crowd, comprising mostly Doug's associates from the Facilitators Network Singapore, was a luminary from the United States, in the person of Dr Sandra Janoff.

Dr Janoff is the keynote speaker at the Singapore Facilitators Conference 2009, organised by the Facilitators Network Singapore, with the theme, 'Rhythm of Facilitation', scheduled from 5 - 6 Nov 2009 at the Orchid Country Club.

Incidentally, Dr Janoff is co-director of the Future Search Network, an international non-profit outfit dedicated to community services, colleagueship & learning.

Together with Marvin Weisbord, she wrote the now classic, 'Future Search: An Action Guide to Finding Common Ground in Organisations & Communities' (3rd edition in the works), followed by 'Don't Just Do Something, Stand There!' (2007).

I will be reviewing Doug's book separately in this weblog, as well as Dr Janoff's book when I lay my hands on it.

After an appetising a la carte meal, a good chat with Sandra, Doug, Christy & some of his associates, I left the gathering early.

Naturally, I also took away mementos: Doug's autographed debut book, Christie's book for kids, a pocket journal, & some inspirational cards specifically designed by Doug & Christy, aptly called 'ConnectVersations'.

My parting message to Doug: Let's not wait another ten years to touch base with each other.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

FUN WITH WORDLE

I have stumbled upon this creative toy called 'Wordle' which allows one to generate so-called 'word clouds' from any given text.

In a nut shell, the 'word clouds' give greater prominence to all the words that appear more frequently in the source text.

One can also easily tweak the 'word clouds' with different fonts, layouts & colour schemes.

So, for the fun of it & with 'Wordle', I have created the following 'word clouds' from my five personal weblogs, starting with 'Optimum Performance Technologies', 'Braindancing Smorgasbord' to 'The Brain Resource', The Study Smart Smorgasbord' & 'Amay Clay Flowers'.






20 QUESTIONS FOR LEADERS TO ASK


Here's the link to a wonderful presentation '20 Questions for Leaders to Ask' by Gary Cohen, author of 'Just Ask Leadership', on BusinessWeek Magazine online.

I will review the book shortly.

BEING ALIVE AS A LIFELONG STRATEGY

Yesterday afternoon, as part of my monthly visit to the Mandai Columbarium to change fresh flowers at the niche for my beloved first wife, Catherine, I popped into Ang Mo Kio to visit my fourth sister-in-law, together with my wife, Amay.

My fourth sister-in-law, now close to the seventies, became a widow after my fourth elder brother had passed away a few months ago. Currently, she stays with her 8-year old grandson, whose father is based in Kuala Lumpur.

As usual, all of us adjourned to the neighbourhood coffee shop for tea, as well as a large plate of Hokkien mee noodles to share.

During the course of conversation, among other mundane stuff, I have shared with her the 7 important factors to be considered of "being alive", drawing from the research findings of people who lead long, rich & happy lives, which she has dutifully jotted down in a notebook. She is a biologist by training.

To recap, here they are:

1) Keeping your mind intellectually alive, by learning new things, finding new ways to do old things, etc.;

2) Keeping your body physically active, e.g. exercise, walking in the neighbourhood, doing chores at home, window shopping;

3) Keeping your heart emotionally engaged, e.g. be empathetic towards self as well as others, maintaining healthy relationships with loved ones, friends, colleagues, associates, neighbours, & others;

4) Keeping your sleep & rest in check i.e. making sure you have adequate sleep & rest everyday; this is in fact one good way to ensure that you have a resourceful mind state during waking hours;

5) Keeping your socialisation process active, by keeping in close touch with old friends, & if possible, making new friends; in fact, regular social conversations among good friends help to keep your brain cells firing!;

6) Keeping to a well balanced diet by eating in moderation;

7) Keeping your soul spiritually enriched, by living good as well as doing good e.g. believing in the Great Spirit, helping the needy or less fortunate, donating to charity, practising volunteering, involving in community work, etc;

TODAY'S VIP (VERY IMPORTANT POSE)

"It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you're doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about."

~ master motivator Dale Carnegie (1888-1955), & also, author of many self-improvement books, including the now classic, 'How to Win Friends & Influence People';