Saturday, April 5, 2008


'Dare to be 100' is actually the principal title of a book by Dr Walter Bortz, an expert on aging & geriatric care.

Its secondary title is '99 Steps to a Long, Healthy Life'.

With the help of the Google Reader, I have managed to take a quick browse of the book's contents.

According to his life-long research, a successful aging approach can be broken down into four categories, namely:

1) Diet;

2) Attitude;

3) Renewal;

4) Exercise.

I am not surprised by his categorisation.

I always believe that, in a nutshell, eating in moderation with a supplement of vital vitamins, having a positive mental attitude towards life, continually recharging yourself through planned participation in creative & fulfilling activities, & keeping fit through moderate physical workouts are the foundational keys to successful aging.


According to Dr Nathaniel Branden, an internationally recognized expert on self-esteem, a high level of self-esteem definitely helps one to achieve personal success in today's rapidly changing world.

He has specifically identified 7 practices for enhancing the development of one's self esteem:

1) Living in the present moment;

2) Self-acceptance;

3) Self-responsibility;

4) Self-assertiveness;

5) Living purposefully;

6) Personal integrity;

7) Love for own life;

[Dr Nathaniel Branden is also the author of 'The 6 Pillars of Self Esteem' & 'Self Esteem at Work'.]


Here is a link to the transcript of a great interview with Jay Abraham, the internationally claimed marketing whizkid, during which he shared his thoughts & experiences about living your passion.

His many revelations about passion were really insightful.

I reckon, most business professionals are already familiar with his legendary 'Strategy of Preeminence' as a cornerstone for business success. You can read more about it at this link.

I am also taking the liberty of highlighting Jay Abraham's Top 10 Strategy Picks, which include the 'Strategy of Preeminence'. I like most of his business enhancement ideas, because his principal premise is to always think strategically when deciding on a strategy, & always add lifetime value to the client relationships.

Here is the link.


"It isn't until you come to a spiritual understanding of who you are — not necessarily a religious feeling, but deep down, the spirit within — that you can begin to take control."

(Oprah Winfrey, television host of her own show)


This beautiful catchphrase comes from my good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, which he uses to promote his innovative iCAPsule program in his latest Brainaissance product & service catalog.

To be able to survive & thrive in the 21st Century, you must be skilled. To be precise, multi-skilled.

Otherwise, at the end of the road, you will bump into 'Extinction', instead of making a 'Distinction' for yourself.

Drawing on my own personal & professional experiences, I like to share with readers what are some of the most important skill sets to master.

1) MindMapping & other Visual Tools:

Even though Mindmapping has its own limitations, it is still a good skill to learn & master.

You can pick up the learning journey with books from Tony Buzan, Joyce Wycoff as well as Nancy Marguiles.

Of course, you can also go & attend one of the MindMapping workshops available in the marketplace.

Besides MindMapping, learn to explore other visual tools & graphic organisers.

If you are techno-savvy, MindManager &/or SmartDraw (excellent for creating rich pictures) &/or Inspiration (great for flow charts & concept mapping) are other available learning possibilities.

2) Creative Problem Solving:

The best skill set in this respect is the proven CPS methodology from Alex Osborne & Sidney Parnes.

You can learn more about it from the Creative Education Foundation as well as the Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI).

Several books have been written on this subject. One good one that quickly comes to my mind: Min Basadur's 'Simplex'. A recently released creativity book, 'Think Better', covering a slight variation of the original CPS method, by Tim Hurson is worth reading.

For the more adventurous explorers in problem solving, I reckon the Synectics approach is the real kingpin.

You can read about it from the classic works from the two masters (William Gordon & George Prince)', e.g. 'Synectics: The Development of Creative Capacity' & 'The Practice of Creativity', respectively.

Since the above two classics may be out of print, I would suggest reading 'Big Ideas: Putting the Zest into Creativity & Innovation at Work' by Jonne Ceserani &/or 'Creativity, Inc.,' by Jeff Mauz. Also get hold, if available, Vincent Nolan's 'The Innovator's Handbook'.

3) Lateral Thinking:

In the field of creativity, lateral thinking from Edward de bono stands out, undoubtedly.

I like lateral thinking because the techniques help to break your dominant patterns & enhance your perceptual sensitivity to the world.

The author's brilliant approach is to provoke &/or restructure insights, as opposed to the traditional approach of having sudden insights.

You can learn more about lateral thinking from Edward de bono's earlier books, e.g. 'Uses of Lateral Thinking', 'Lateral Thinking for Management' & 'Serious Creativity'.

You can also attend one of his workshops available in the marketplace.

4) The 7 Habits:

The skill sets as embodied in the '7 Habits' from Stephen Covey are worth acquiring, especially the first three that pertains to securing a personal victory, i.e. 'Be Proactive', 'Having the End in Mind' & 'Think Win-Win'.

First of all, learn to understand the paradigm shifting perspectives as explained & illustrated by him in the book, '7 Habits of Highly Effective People'.

In a nut shell, & at the end analysis, the quest for excellence boils down to embracing powerful habits.

5) The 7 Levels of Change:

I like the painstaking way which Rolf Smith had taken in breaking down the personal change process in terms of specific actionable routines.

He uses the mountaineering expedition as a metaphor.

The skill sets as embodied in the author's book, entitled '7 Levels of Change' are worth acquiring.

6) Systems Thinking:

Peter Senge started the ball rolling with regard to his ground-breaking methodology, as originally embodied in his wonderful book, 'The Fifth Discipline'.

Besides understanding the systems thinking perspectives, I like the skill set under 'Personal Mastery', at least from the personal standpoint. I reckon the rest of them will fall nicely if you are in an organisational setting.

Nonetheless, for me, & to cut to the chase, personal mastery is the foundation of peak performance in any human endeavours.

It is pertinent for me to point out that the 'Fifth Discipline Fieldbook' gives more application possibilities.

7) Strategic Thinking:

Readers will concur with me that thinking critically & strategically are the hallmarks of an achiever in the 21st century.

In other words, strategic thinking gives you the future competitive edge.

In this respect, & from the personal perspective, I choose the brilliant work of Stuart Wells, who wrote 'Choosing the Future'.

In the business arena, there are a few excellent authors. William Rothschild is one of them.

8) Strategic Exploration:

To me, strategic exploration is simply moving out of the comfort zone & venturing into new territories &/or exploring uncharted territories.

Joel Arthur Barker has outlined four powerful tools for strategic exploration in his pioneering book, 'Discovering the Future: The Business of Paradigms'.

Obviously, his four tools resonate beautifully with the those coming under 'Creative Problem Solving', 'Lateral Thinking', & 'MindMapping'.

I like Joel Arthur Barker's brilliant insights:

i) The three critical challenges facing all of us are:

- anticipating the future;

- the pursuit of innovation at all levels;

- the quest for excellence in whatever we do;

ii) The way to going about the above challenges is to embrace paradigm pliancy. In simple language, adopt fresh, multiple perspectives & fluidity in our perception about the world.

Do you see the connection with Edward de bono's thinking?

9) Personal Strategic Planning:

Planning your life is the key to mastering yourself in the long run.

In this respect, there are many good books. I would single out George Morrisey as he has excellent planning stuff that applies to both personal ('Getting Your Act Together: Goal Setting for Fun, Health & Profit' &/or 'Creating Your Future: Personal Strategic Planning for Professionals') as well as organisational settings ('Morrisey on Planning Trilogy').

Paul Levesque's 'Breakaway Planning' is another good one from the corporate angle.

Another good one is the one written by Simon Wootton, especially pertaining to the use of a series of provoking questions to probe your thinking behind your planning.

10) Opportunity Discovery:

The 21st century is actually the 'Idea Economy' from the standpoint of physical manifestations.

In other words, it is the ideas that make the difference in most respects, personally, professionally & entrepreneurially.

The skill sets as embodied in Edward de bono's 'Opportunities' & Michel Robert's 'Innovation Formula' are definitely worth acquiring, as they provide the systematic methodologies to help you convert ideas into cash.

Don't forget to read Robert Tucker & Denis Waitley's 'Winning the Innovation Game' as they shared superb ideas on trend &/or opportunity spotting.

11) Critical Thinking:

With so much wishy washy & mumbo jumbo stuff out there in the world, one also really needs the ability to think critically, analyse emerging issues, & make appropriate value judgments at the end of the day.

In this respect, I admire the work of the 'Foundation of Critical Thinking' & find many of their published thoughtwares very useful for learning & mastering.

One quick way to understand critical thinking skill sets is to read Richard Paul & Linda Elder's wonderful book for a start.

It's entitled 'Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning & Your Life'.

12) Decision Making & Potential Problem Analysis:

As Anthony Robbins once said: "It is in your moment of decision that you destiny is shaped."

Unfortunately, our success coach did not offer a methodology to go about it.

One of the best skill sets I have picked up in the early years of exploration to help me make better decisions in life & business is the well-known Kepner-Tregoe methodology.

The pioneering book, 'The Rational Manager' by the two founders is worth exploring, as it details the methodology with clarity for readers.

Better skill, you can also go & attend one of their many workshops available in the marketplace, & have the opportunity to test ride through some case studies.

Happy exploring & acquiring!


Here are a few tips for boosting the amount of books you can read:

1) Take up a speed reading course - I embraced accelerated learning techniques & took up PhotoReading in early 1992, & they have helped me tremendously in turbocharging my reading pursuits.

To draw an inspiration from Edwards Deming, before we can do our best in reading effectively, it will be useful to know what to do & what to work on first, & then, proceed to read effectively.;

2) Read with a pacer - I use a colour marker pen (fine tip on one end, for writing notes, & felt tip on the other, for highlighting). The purpose of the pacer is to sustain my eye tracking of the textual material, especially when I am doing a rapid read.

Due to our evolutionary design, our eye balls have the propensity to move erratically, known in science as saccadic movements.;

For the marker pen serves an addtional function: writing in the margins or making annotations.

3) Read with a purpose - My reading ties in very well with my personal vision, & of course all the ultimate goals in my life. With this mental umbrella, I can read much more purposefully, productively & meaningfully. In precise terms, I read only to satisfy my purpose in life.

Remember what I have said before, the brain follow the direction of your dominant thoughts. Your purpose sets your current thoughts in motion. They in turn always point north to satisfy your purpose.

For me, I always have a reading agenda with me to guide my reading pursuits. It is actually an evolving & dynamic agenda. I often use the bibliography or references of books (also, selected blogs that focus on strategy, leadership & productivity) I read, & the online reader as my idea guides in building my reading agenda.

4) Read what you need - I always have a pile of books on my work desk as well as on my bedside. Generally, I don't finish reading the entire book. I just read what I need, especially after I have done a quick survey of the book's contents.

Reading selectively is critical to personal success as a life-long learner.

5) Initiate a morning or bed-time ritual - My gym buddy reads first thing in the morning when he wakes up at 5am. He says his mind is the freshest at that point in time.

After that, he goes for a 1 to 1-1/2 hour walk. He always takes the walking opportunity to mull over what he has read.

At 8am, he meets me at our favourite neighbourhood teh tarik joint, prior to commencing our morning gym practice.

I often read before I go to bed. I also read in the afternoon, just before I start to check my email, blog &/or surf the net. As usual, my idea scratchpad is with me all the time when I read.

6) Carry a book or books with you - during the years when I was still active in the training circuit, I often carry one or two of my favourite books with me. I read them during my downtime.

When I visit clients, I do the same thing during waiting time.

7) Get audio books - From the early seventies to the early eighties, audio books were my personal favourites as I was often on the road. I believed I probably had acquired a thousand of them, mostly from Simon & Schuster & Nightingale Conant.

This was the 'Automobile University' concept at work from Zig Ziglar.

From time to time, I still listen to audio books, but not as much as I used to, since I am more a visual/kinesthetic learner.

In summing up this post, I wish to reiterate that writing in books or making annotations help to boost your reading.

In my personal case, I have an additional idea scratchpad to go with or rather to jot down or spark valuable ideas from my reading. I often use it to mull over & reflect what I have read.

For me, the most important thing is not what I have read, but what the initial & subsequent reading will eventually lead me to, particularly in terms of exploring new (& even uncharted) territories, & what redeeming value it has created or added ultimately to my life as a whole person.

Once you have adopted this habitual frame of mind in your system, reading fast - & reading more books - will become second nature to you!


What is the best thing I have learned recently that I can use today?

Friday, April 4, 2008


Today is my birthday day.

According to the Chinese zodiac, I have just completed the first cycle of 60 years. In that respect, today is also the begining of my second cycle.

My gym buddy has deliberately hosted a simple Chinese lunch for me at the Yunnan Restaurant inside the Fairway Country Club in Jurong.

He has also invited two of our mutual buddies, all of whom had already crossed the first cycle much earlier. They are Dr James Kwok, a research scientist, & W C Yu, a retired system integrator. Besides attending the lunch, each of them even presented me with an angpow (according to Chinese customs, this is a red packet for good luck), which caught me by surprise.

I really value the friendship of my gym buddy & as well as my two other buddies.

We have had many good times together, & we will continue to have many good times together for a long time.


"The joy in learning comes not so much from what is learned, but from learning."

(W Edwards Deming, 1900-1993, who was often known as the father of the Japanese post-war industrial revival, & was regarded by many as the leading quality guru in the United States;)

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Since the eighties or maybe slightly earlier, I have decided to dedicate myself to be a life-long, self-directed learner.

My small but unique retail store, aptly called 'The Brain Resource', in the Central Business District, was promptly started as part of my life-long learning project during the early nineties. It fueled & bankrolled my learning pursuits.

In conjunction with my strategy consulting & training development work, I have also designated myself officially as a 'Knowledge Adventurer & Technology Explorer'.

One of the very first few books that spurred me initially & tremendously in my learning pursuits was actually Mortimer Adler's 'How to Read a Book'.

This was followed by Ronald Gross' 'Peak Learning'. [I had also read his two earlier books, 'The Lifelong Learner' & 'The Independent Scholar's Handbook', but it was his 'Peak Learning' book which was pivotal in sustaining the ball rolling.] He gave me the wonderful concept of the 'Invisible University', in which the world at large with its abundant opportunities became my virtually unbounded classroom.

[Other books probably included Colin Rose's 'Accelerated Learning' & Charles Hayes' 'Self University'.]

Another wonderful & useful concept in terms of life-long learning came from Zig Ziglar's 'Automobile University' - using audios as avenues for ancillary learning during commuting &/or down time.

So, following my own real-life experimentation in the last two decades, I have synthesised a good number of workable ideas & practical strategies to share with readers on how to go about pursuing a life-long learning project.

Here we go:

1) Keep Reading;

- invest & maintain a good personal library;

- include reading stuff outside your sphere of expertise & interest;

[I don't use the public libraries, because I love to scribble & annotate on books I read.]

- include also reading stuff from the fringes (as exciting innovations often occur at the edges);

- read selectively, & make reading a daily learning routine;

2) Keep Talking;

- dialoging is a very learning useful process;

- having a buddy who shares your personal interests certainly helps a lot as we can talk shop & compare notes all the time;

- oftentimes, I find that thinking aloud with a buddy helps to clarify my mind (clear the cobwebs, as my buddy likes to put it that way) & of course, fine-tune my learning pursuits;

3) Keep Socialising:

- attend seminars & workshops selectively;

- having a network of associates & friends (masterminding?) provides added & lasting benefits to the learning pursuits;

- meeting them regularly allows you to cross-reference your learning pursuits;

- for me, in addition to my gym buddy, I have my strategic partner; my many previous customers, local as well as overseas, who eventually became my good friends; my drinking buddies ('The Wednesday Club'), & my Polytechnic classmates;

- best of all, we meet up quite regularly;

- additionally, I have also my newly found friends from all walks of life on the net through my book reviews on Amazon & my personal blogging, where I communicate with them through email [In fact, a few of them still continue to pop into Singapore & spend some time with me for lunch or dinner.];

4) Keep Journaling:

- having a learning journal allows you to constantly review what you have learned or are learning, especially in terms of what works & what didn't work;

- for me, I don't actually keep a learning journal, but I use what I call a daily 'scratchpad', in which I record practically everything that happens to me from all my learning endeavours;

- I have already collated a sizable collection of 'idea scratchpads' over the years, & I often spend time browsing through them, just to reflect on them & fire my spark plugs;

5) Keep Drawing/Sketching:

- I love to doodle in my 'scratchpad', in addition to making rough sketches of idea formations;

- I use the MindManager Pro & SmartDraw softwares too, as part of my more disciplined visual thinking pursuits;

- I often find that these supportive learning processes enhance my learning pursuits as they help me to 'see' the relationships more clearly as a whole or system;

6) Keep Teaching Others:

- teaching others, across all levels, is another interesting as well as useful learning process;

- in fact, I have learned a lot - more real world stuff - from my business clients &/or participants of my consultancy &/or training projects;

- I always like to describe this type of learning as 'hard knocks of learning', especially when one teaches others something that one has just learned, which is not yet truly refined or fully developed;

7) Keep Planning Your Learning;

- it's good to have a longer term learning plan in writing & at hand to give you a big picture of your learning preferences, directions & destinations;

- this longer-term learning plan is usually a work-in-progress endeavour;


"Real learning gets at the heart of what it means to be human. Through learning we recreate ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we were never
able to do. Through learning we re-perceive the world & our relationship to it.”

(Peter Senge)


If I knew everything about tomorrow, what would I do differently today?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


I reckon, at the end of the day, the most fundamental aspect of extracting gold from my reading is actually, what I can take away & what I can add onto my life as a result.

In most specific terms, I am talking about the applicability of specific ideas, tools & methods, & also their relevance & immediate utility in all areas of my life &/or my business.

Of course, I also look for the novelty value & freshness of perspectives from the author.

Naturally, the writing style of the author & the readability in terms of brevity, clarity, conciseness, comprehensibility, material composition & overall presentation facilitate my extraction process.

Any real-life case studies, checklists, web-links & other reader friendly content e.g. glossary, in the book I read are additional plus features to aid in my intellectual extraction.

Over the years, I have in fact adopted a rather simple but yet effective reading philosophy in conjunction with my extraction process:

- absorb what is useful;

- reject what is useless;

- research my own experience & experiment with the new ideas, tools & methods acquired in real-life situations;

- add what is specifically my own to what eventually works for me;

In a way, to express as some sort of a methodology, I like to call my first two foregoing "tasks" as my "initial response" (IR) to reading.

The third "task", my "reflective response" (RR).

The final & fourth "task", my "assimilative response" (AR).

Hence, to put in the form of an equation, AR = IR + RR.

In summing up this & all the preceding posts, the ultimate test of extracting gold from your reading lies in the reflective & assimilative responses of the reader.


1) Am I looking for something but not sure what?

2) Am I feeling stuck & yearning for a change?

3) How do I describe myself? my life?


"The real purpose of books is to trap the mind into doing its own thinking."

(Christopher Morley, 1890-1957, American journalist, novelist & poet; he was one of the founders & long-time contributing editor of the Saturday Review of Literature;)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


For some strange reasons, I have not read any of the books written by Dr Shad Helmstetter, although I have come across his name in the course of my search for personal mastery.

I believed he has written at least 13 books covering the field of personal growth, including the ground-breaking classic, according to my friends, 'What to Say When You Talk to Yourself'.

According to one of his latest books, entitled 'The Gift: The 12 Greatest Tools of Personal Growth', which I had browsed on the amazon website, Dr Shad Helmstetter has singled out the 12 best tools as follows, not in any order of priority:

1) The Gift of Surrounding Yourself with Success;

2) The Gift of Choice;

3) The Gift of Helping Other People Grow

4) The Gift of Believing in Yourself;

5) The Gift of Changing Your "Self-Talk";

6) The Gift of Exceptional Attitude;

7) The Gift of Finding Your "Focus";

8) The Gift of Setting Great Goals;

9) The Gift of Taking Control of Your Time and Your Life;

10) The Gift of Putting Yourself Into Action;

11) The Gift of Never Giving Up;

12) The Gift of Doing Something You Love;

Frankly speaking, I cannot default him for his choices of the best tools.

If I were to rate them in order of priority, I would put 'Exceptional Attitude' (naturally encompassing 'Belief in Yourself') as #1, to be followed by 'Finding your Focus', 'Setting Great Goals', 'Taking Control of Your Time & Your Life' & 'Putting Yourself into Action'.

For me, at the end of the day, all these intended sequences as outlined above - culminating to exercising the power of 'Choice' - must boil down to 'Doing Something You Love'.

Nonetheless, I am a staunch believer of the philosophy:

"It's your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude."


Are all my habits, actions & behaviours congruent with the vision I have for my life?


"I measure my success in life by how many times I smile each day, & by how many moments I feel joy in my heart."

(Dr Shad Helmstetter, best selling author of 13 books in the field of personal growth; his ground-breaking book, 'What to Say When You Talk to Yourself' literally revolutionises the field of personal growth & motivational psychology;)


In recent weeks, my gym buddy has been fascinated by a new book written by a husband-&-wife team, Allan Pease & Barbara Pease, from Down Under.

The book is entitled, 'Why Men Don't Listen & Women Can't Read Maps'.

I am already well aware, at least from the brain-based point of view, that man & woman are hard-wired differently, leading to different innate abilities & interests.

In other words, man & woman are very different in the way they think, feel, act & react.

To be precise, these differences are the inevitable consequences of our biology, as far as the hormones pulsing through our bodies are concerned.

My gym buddy is seemingly trying to use the findings in the book to explain why man goes astray &/or embraces the philosophy of 'Variety is the Spice of Life'.

Here are some of the findings from the book, apparently drawing analogies from the animal kingdom, he has shared with me:

1) A rooster is a very randy male bird, which can copulate with hens almost incessantly, more than 60 times in a given mating. He cannot, however, mate with the same hen more than 5 times in one day.

By the sixth time, he completely loses interest & cannot ‘get it up’ but, if he is presented with a new hen, he can mount her with the same enthusiasm he did with the first.

This is known as the ‘Rooster Effect’.

2) A bull will lose interest after copulating 7 times with the same cow, but can be fired up again by the introduction of a new one. By the time he reaches the tenth new cow, he is still giving an impressive performance.

3) A ram will not mount the same ewe more than 5 times, but can continue to mount new ewes with tremendous zeal.

Even when the ram’s former sexual partners are disguised with perfume or bags over their heads, the ram still cannot perform. You just cannot fool them.

This is nature’s way of ensuring that the male’s seed is spread as widely as possible in order to achieve the highest number of conceptions & ensure the survival of that species.

4) A healthy young man can also go around 3 times with the same woman on a good day but will usually fail to give a fourth encore.

Introduce a new female however, &, like roosters & bulls, his interest (along with the vital part of his anatomy) can rapidly rise.

I have yet to read the book, but I already find the foregoing findings rather illuminating & yet hilarious, to say the least.


Once I have understood the perspective &/or view point, explanation, elaboration, anecdotes & examples, questions & exercises, from the author, the final reading stuff I normally go after in a given book are the following:

i) bibliography & references;

ii) weblinks to other resources, if any;

iii) recommended readings;

iv) marginal notations & footnotes, if any;

I love to read through an author's bibliography &/or references, as I always believe that they can often lead me to further exploration about a given subject or other related subjects.

For example, when I first came across Dudley Lynch's masterpieces, entitled 'Your High Performance Business Brain', followed by 'Strategy of the Dolphin', during the early eighties or so, I became very fascinated by his published thoughtwares.

To be frank, I actually took all the trouble to trace & acquire almost all the books & resources listed in the bibliography & references of the author in both books.

In fact, the marginal notations & footnotes in most of his books, besides those mentioned above, were gold mines of information nuggets.

The best thing to have happened for me was that they eventually led me to many other interesting fields of discipline, as well as other wonderful authors. One of them was Paul Kordis, who also happened to be his co-author of their joint masterpiece, entitled 'Code of the Monarch'.

Talking about marginal notations, Richard Saul Wurman's masterpiece, entitled 'Information Anxiety' comes quickly to mind.

Matthew May's 'Elegant Solution' is another great example.

On their own, I have found that they were worth my reading pursuit, as they also offered many different perspectives to the content.

I generally favour authors who had made painstaking efforts to share their recommended readings & resources in their books.

Examples of such great authors include Joel Arthur Barker, Peter Schwartz & Ronald Gross, just to name a few.

At this juncture, I like to single out one particular author who does not share his bibliography & references to the world at large: Edward de bono.

I reckon the reason is only best known to himself. Nevertheless, I always enjoy reading his books, as he always offers plenty of stories, anecdotes & examples to illustrate his key insights. Depending on his mood, he may from time to time throw in some of his fancy diagrams & rough sketches to enliven his thoughtwares.

Monday, March 31, 2008


Here is a link to an interesting article on mental toughness training by Sean Hyson in the Men Fitness magazine.

In a nut shell, this is my summary of the author's key points:

1) Be proactive - exercise your personal initiative;

2) Condition yourself into a resourceful state;

3) Be positive in your disposition;

4) Talk to yourself positively & affirmatively;

5) Have an end-minded perspective - visualise your outcome;

6) Practise relaxations sequences;

7) Get uncomfortable with the status quo & routine;

8) Be anticipative - be prepared for contingencies;


The following traits are what I have been able to glean from the book, entitled '177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class', by Steve Siebold, an internationally recognized expert in the field of mental toughness training & founder of the Mental Toughness University:

Steve Siebold prefer to use the term 'mental toughness' to describe the mindset of champions.

It is pertinent to take note that mental toughness applies not only in the field of competitive sports, but also in the field of business as well as in all areas of life pursuits.

Accordingly, champions:

1) Operate from Objective Reality;

2) Begin With critical Thinking;

3) Have An Immense Capacity for Sustained Concentration;

4) Are Driven By Emotional Motivators;

5) Separate Truth from Fact;

6) Lead Through Facilitated Introspection;

7) Know They Are Unaware;

8) Develop Empowering Beliefs Long Before They Become Champions;

9) Embrace Relativity;

10) Compartmentalize Their Emotions;

11) Connect To The Source Through Gratitude;

12) Accept Adversity as The Catalyst Of Mental Toughness;

13) Do It All With Class;

14) Make ‘Do It or Die’ Commitments;

15) Are Consistently Great in whatever they do;

16) Understand Logic vs. Emotion;

17) Are Willing To Suspend Their Disbelief;

18) Ferociously Competitive;

19) Are Curious;

20) Possess Supreme Confidence;

21) Champions Love To Compete;

22) Remember Their Family Roots;

23) Never Bow To Criticism;

24) Believe In Choices;

25) Embrace Metacognition;

26) Don’t Require Immediate Compensation;

27) Embrace Conflict For Growth;

28) Are Comeback Artists;

29) Masters Of Their Work/Rest Cycles;

30) Are Coachable;

31) Are Mentally Engaged In The Creative Process;

32) Operate With A Clear Conscience;

33) Believe Common Sense Is The Foundation Of High Performance;

34) Always Strive For Greater Competence;

35) Develop Bravery In The Battle For Their Dream;

36) Hold Strong Convictions;

37) Know The Power Of Conversation;

38) Are Decisive;

39) Choose Discipline Over Pleasure;

40) Are Determined To Win;

41) Dedicate Their Lives To Greatness;

42) Are Driven By An Empowering Belief System;

43) Have Great Expectations;

44) Are The Most Enthusiastic People Alive;

45) Love What They Do;

46) Create A Winning Environment;

47) Make Exercise A Priority;

48) Are Professional Failures;

49) Have Tremendous Faith;

50) Handle Fear Like A Snake Charmer;

51) Evolve From Fear to Love Based Motivation;

52) Understand The Limits Of Money;

53) Are Future-Oriented;

54) Challenge The Facts;

55) Are Driven By Fun;

56) Learn To Forgive;

57) Know Why They Are Fighting;

58) Know Very Good is Bad;

59) Embrace Free Enterprise;

60) Believe In Global Citizenship;

61) Don’t Give Back . . . They Just Give;

62) Are Obsessed With Their Goals;

63) Believe They Cannot Fail . . . They Can Only Learn & Grow;

64) Are First-Class Communicators;

65) Are Products Of Their Habits;

66) Understand The Power Of Humility;

67) Achieve Happiness From Being & Becoming, Not Acquiring & Possessing;

68) Believe In Honesty;

69) Know Great Ideas Are The Solution To Success;

70) Are Products Of Their Own Imagination;

71) Don’t Let Feelings Get In Their Way;

72) Operate From Love And Abundance;

73) Are Willing To Get Fired Everyday;

74) Don’t Care Who Gets The Credit;

75) Are Zealots For Change;

76) Operate With Integrity;

77) Are Bold;

78) Are Interdependent;

79) Know The Leader’s Primary Role;

80) Understand Attitude Leads To Happiness;

81) Seek Balance;

82) Are Professional Listeners;

83) Are Masters Of Momentum;

84) Understand Achievement Requires Teamwork;

85) Evolve From Proving Themselves to Expressing Themselves;

86) Are Proactive Managers & See Themselves As Change Agents;

87) See Mistakes As Intellectual Capital;

88) Only Negotiate Win-Win Deals;

89) Build & Nurture An International Network of Contacts;

90) Embrace continual learning;

[More information about mental toughness training can be found at the author's corporate website or personal weblog.]


"I have always believed, & I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning & transform it into something of value."

(Hermann Hesse, 1877-1962, Novelist & Poet)


1) What am I willing to fight for?

2) What values do I hold dearest to my heart?

3) What values would I be willing to die for?

4) If I could achieve a single thing, what would make all my hard work worth the struggle?

5) If I had thirty seconds left to live, what would I tell my children are the three most important things I learned about how to live a happy life?

[Inspired by Steve Siebold, an internationally recognized expert in the field of mental toughness training & Founder of Mental Toughness University;)

Sunday, March 30, 2008


1. What are my 3 most important values in life right now?

2. What are the 3 things in life that are most important to me?

3. What are my 3 best qualities as a person?

4. What 3 personal accomplishments am I the most proud of?

5. What 3 skills or abilities am I the best at?

6. What have been the 3 biggest successes in my life so far?

7. What are the 3 best projects I have ever had?

8. What 3 activities give me the greatest joy, peace & satisfaction?

9. What are the 3 most important lessons that I have learned in life so far?

10. Who are the 3 or more people I care about the most?

[inspired by Brian Tracy]


"Dare to be naive."

(R Buckminster Fuller)


Recently, a small group of business school students from the National University of Singapore, as part of their study tour in the United States, had a surprise opportunity to have lunch with the world's richest investor, Warren Buffet, in his home town of Omaha.

The lunch was held at his favourite restaurant, a steak house called Piccolo Pete's.

The students had a great time with him, posing for photographs among other things, & were very impressed by his down-to-earth humility & outright frankness, as they were specifically invited to ask him any questions, including personal ones, under the sun.

The students' visit & their spontaneous interview with him were well reported in a recent issue of the New Paper.

I reckon that the greatest lesson, at least from my point of view, from their visit was this observation from the legendary investor:

"If a company has a share of the mind, then market share will follow - if a company can occupy a place in your mind, it will likely be one that lasts."
This probably explains why Warren Buffet loves Coca Cola as a company.

[Warren Buffett is the Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway & arguably the greatest investor of all time. His wealth fluctuates with the performance of the market but as of 2008 his net worth has been estimated at US$62 billion, making him the richest man in the world.

He is considered a value investor. His company, Berkshire Hathaway, is basically a holding company for his investments. Major holdings he has had at some point include Coca-Cola, American Express & Gillette. Critics predicted an end to his success when his conservative investing style meant missing out on the dotcom bull market. Of course, he had the last laugh after the dotcom crash because, once again, Buffett's time tested strategy proved successful.

Here is a link to an interesting article, entitled 'Think Like Warren Buffett' by Glenn Curtis, an equity analyst, in the Investopedia (a Forbes Media Company) website.]


[continue from the Last Post]

I always hold the standpoint that, while anecdotes & examples given by the author can readily help the reader to create personal relevancy in the process of reading, questions & exercises, if added further by the author in his book, will often enhance the relationship as well as interaction between author & reader.

For me, any probing questions & practical exercises included in books when I read - & when I play with them - often allow me to internalise &/or to test ride the many concepts & ideas of the author.

More importantly, the probing questions & hands-on exercises often help me to create immediate utility of the tools & methods, if any, that go with the concepts & ideas.

In the arena of strategic planning, as an example in my case, the author, Paul Levesque, has included in his wonderful book, entitled 'Breakaway Planning: 8 Big Questions for Achieving Organisational Change', a whole gamut of practical exercises to allow the reader to put the introduced concepts & methodologies to work in a real-world business environment smoothly & immediately.

That's why I have rated this piece of work very highly on the amazon website as part of my review several years ago.

In the same vein, two other authors, Simon Wootton & Terry Horne, have provided the same reader friendly textual aid in their wonderful book, entitled 'Strategic Thinking: A Step-By-Step Approach to Strategy'.

The latter book has a lighter treatment of the subject in comparison with the earlier book, but still serves the purpose of guiding the reader in terms of overall applicability.

In fact, I also like to highlight an additional reader friendly feature of both books: 'Probing Questions'.

The authors of both books have organised a structured series of progressive questions that readily help the reader to probe their understanding & to contextualise their application of the material.

In my reading experiences, questions, especially the open-ended ones, often help to elicit the vast prior knowledge & varied past experiences of the reader, as well as to guide the direction of the reader's current thoughts.

As a matter of fact, the probing questions often set the tone of the hands-on exercises, as in the case of strategic thinking & planning.

For me, as a consultant & trainer, I can also adapt the questions & exercises very quickly for use in my work.

[to be continued in the Next Post]


I reckon this picture had probably originated somewhere in Africa. (No offence intended!) I had found it on the net.

It displayed a pair of footwear, fashioned out of two crushed plastic water bottles & support braces made from pieces of cloth tied together.

To me, this is real creativity at work in an hostile environment.