Saturday, July 12, 2008


"What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think.

This rule, equally arduous in actual and intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness.

It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.

It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great person is one who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."

(Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882, American author, poet & philosopher; his writings have certainly changed the lives of millions of people throughout the world;)


I just thought that the following 5 questions from a peak performance expert would help jog your thinking muscle from a different perspective:

1. What is great about this problem?

2. What is not perfect yet?

3. What am I willing to do to make it the way I want it?

4. What am I willing to no longer do to make it the way I want it?

5. How can I enjoy the process while I do what is necessary to make it the way I want it?

[Source: 'Notes from a Friend: A Quick and Simple Guide to Taking Control of Your Life', by Anthony Robbins]


While surfing the net, I stumbled on to this book with an intriguing title:

'10.5 Reasons Why Even Top-Notch Executives Fail . . . And How to Make Sure It Doesn't Happen to You'.

The author is David Herdlinger, a success coach. His company, Herdlinger Associates, provides personal and team coaching services for individuals and organizations worldwide.

Here are the 10.5 reasons:

1. Absence Of A Clear Strategic Direction;

2. Failure To Create A Sense Of Ownership;

3. Absence Of A Comprehensive Goals Program;

4. Failure To Align The Goals Of Every Individual, Team, And Department To The Strategic Direction;

5. Using An Inadequate Definition Of Leadership;

6. Inability Or Unwillingness To Hear Bad News, Especially About Oneself;

7. Failure To Develop And Use Measurements;

8. Failure To Hire Or Retain The Right People;

9. Failure To Facilitate Two-Way Communication;

10. Failure To Empower Others;

10.5. Unwillingness To Ask For Help;


"Take responsibility for your attitude today, & begin moving toward the ultimate you, one day at a time."

I came across this meaningful catchphrase from a success product purveyor on the net recently - unfortunately I have forgotten to jot down the name of the purveyor.

Interestingly, it's already a known (or rather, proven) fact that for everything we do in life, it all starts with attitude.

When faced with an event or situation, it's always our attitude that will prompt us to act or behave in a certain manner.

In other words, our attitude will determine the ultimate results.

As the adage goes: "It's our attitude, not our aptitude, that determines our altitude!"

Attitudes & results are directly related, just as causes & effects.

Putting them in another way, we all know that attitudes have a major influence on the goals & objectives we set out in the first place & our ability to achieve them eventually.

In more specific terms, attitudes will directly determine, in many cases, whether we can:

- turn a problem into an opportunity, or succumb to it;

- look for continuous improvement diligently, or remain satisfied with the status quo;

To ensure improved results in our environments, it is necessary that we begin by developing more positive thoughts & proactive attitudes.

Frankly, attitudes are essentially habits of thought, & as such, they can readily be modified & improved like any other habit.

Regardless of our past conditioning & current environments, we can overcome, with the aid of strategy & discipline, most of our negative attitudes & bad habits.

William James, the father of American psychology, summed up my personal sentiments best:

"The greatest discovery of our generations is that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives."

Personally, the most productive learning experience in my life about the power of attitude is reading Napoleon Hill/W Clement Stone's classic, 'Success through Positive Mental Attitude', during the late sixties or early seventies.

This was followed by my personal attendance in the 30-hour 'Adventures in Attitude' workshop during the late seventies.

I have already mentioned about them in my earlier posts, in conjunction with my relentless search for personal mastery.

I have come to the conclusion that, whether we like it or not, attitude is actually everything in the field of all human endeavours!

In the next two new posts, I am going to share with readers two interesting strategic models to help us build sustainable capacity to improve performance results in our business as well as our personal life.

[to be continued in the Next Post]

Friday, July 11, 2008


These are the employability skills, which have been identified by Singapore's Workplace Development Agency (WDA):

1) workplace literacy & numeracy;

2) information communication technology;

3) problem solving & decision making;

4) initiative & enterprise;

5) communication & relationship management;

6) lifelong learning;

7) global mindset;

8) self management;

9) workplace related life skills;

10) health & workplace safety;

Frankly, looking at the above ten skill sets, I reckon #6, #7 & #8 would form the principal core to everything you need to advance your career in the 21st century.

I always believe that once you have gained personal victory in getting the right mindset & core skills, the rest of the skills as outlined can gradually fall in place.


"I will avoid confrontation . . . calm down a bit & view the issue objectively. Life's too short to fret over things."
(Tony Leung Chin Wai, when asked how he would sort out any squabbles with Carina Lau, as both of them have been Hong Kong's most closely watched showbiz couple for 19 years - it's a surprise that they would marry this year;)

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I have always considered Wee Cho Yaw, Chairman of United Overseas Bank (UOB) group, a rather conservative banker.

Also, to me, he is one veteran banker who believes very strong in timing & intuition.

So what he has said recently at the commencement ceremony for NUS's graduating class of 2008 jolts me a little.

"The worst of US credit crisis is not over," says the elderly banker.

He adds:

"Further write downs can be expected . . . this is what frightens me most - no one can tell me how much more will be written off . . . I hope I am wrong, but my view is that this crisis will take one or two years to stabilise."


"In 3 words, I can sum up everything I've learned about life. It goes on."
(Robert Frost, 1874 – 1963, an American poet, whose work is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of the rural life & his command of American colloquial speech; was honored during his lifetime with 4 Pulitzer Prizes;)


I have just learned the above new term from James Hefferman, who wrote 'Cultivating Picturacy: Visual Art & Verbal Intervention'.

He has suggested the new term as a visual counterpart to the term "literacy".


Last night, I watched part of the award-winning Ellen deGeneres talk show on StarHub cable television.

One of the guests was Kathy Preston, author of the new book, 'Quantum Wellness: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to Health & Happiness'.

Her principal premise seemed interesting: Our wellbeing can be achieved by focusing on small steps in our everyday life.

I took a quick peek of the book on the website & here's are my notes:

According to the author, these are The Eight Pillars of Wellness:

1) Meditation:

- more quiet time, become really still, look inside yourself;

2) Visualization:

- mother of all achievements?

3) Fun activities:

- definitely!

4) Conscious eating:

- be aware of where your food comes from - that's interesting!;

5) Exercise:

- spend 1/2-hour to move your body daily

6) Self-work:

- educate yourself: "means going inside & learning where you're stuck and pushing yourself past what's comfortable."

7) Spiritual practice:

- be compassionate, being aware of the suffering that's all around;

8) Service: reach out, help others;

Am I going to get the book to read? I don't think so.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


According to the book, published by the Centre for Creative Leadership, 'Reaching Your Development Goals', & written by Cynthia McCauley & Jennifer Martineau:

There are three strategies that must be employed if you are to develop most fully as a manager - more precisely, in any intentional effort to grow:

1) taking on challenging assignments;

2) training for targeted skills; &

3) using developmental relationships;

Here's a one page executive summary of the three strategies from the publisher.


If I am not for myself, who will be [for me]?

And when I am for myself, what am 'I'?

And if not now, when?"

inspired by Hillel the Elder, [born Babylon traditionally c.110BCE-10CE in Jerusalem], a famous Jewish religious leader & one of the most important figures in Jewish history;


"I have a simple philosophy: fill what's empty; empty what's full; & scratch when it itches."

(Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth, 1884-1980, unconventional oldest & outspoken daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt;)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I think the following 'compare/contrast analysis' is interesting.

Tactically, it boils down to recognising & eliminating negative habits in your system so as to avoid falling into 'Failure Traps', as follows:

1. Finger Pointing;
2. Aligning with Turkeys;
3. Idle Talk (No Action);
4. Lacking Passion;
5. Undermining Yourself;
6. Reactive Mindset;
7. Embracing the Darkside;

So, move your butt quickly & start developing positive habits in your system so as to ride on 'Success Tracks', as follows:

1. Shoulder Responsibility;
2. Uniting with Eagles;
3. Carpe Diem (Seize the Day);
4. Cultivate Enthusiasm;
5. Empower Yourself;
6. Set Your Course;
7. Sow Optimism;

Just note the acrostics in the above. They spell 'FAILURE' & 'SUCCESS' respectively.

[Source: 'Habitforce: How to Kick the Habits of Failure & Adopt the Habits of Success', by Matthew Cossolotto. For more information, please visit his corporate website.]


"Be who you have to be so that you can do what you have to do in order to have what you want to have."

This is certainly a valid statement. I can't recall who made this statement, but it resonates very well with what Zig Ziglar once said:

"You've got to be before you can do & do before you can have . . . In short, you have to be a person of character & do the right things, & then you can have the things you really want."

In fact, Zig Ziglar has once offered a simple exercise to make the "be, do & have" theory valid, by looking at some examples in our own life. Go to this link to work on the exercise.

Monday, July 7, 2008


The following fun suggestions come from my good friend, Dilip Mukerjea:

1) Inject variety into your life:

- listen to a different radio channel;
- visit an art gallery or a museum;
- take a different route to work;
- get to know more about a subject you hate;
- phone a stranger & develop a conversation with him/her;
- visit an orphanage;
- take up jazz dancing;
- close your eyes & get to really know your way around your home;

2) Practise imagineering:

- imagine having a conversation with one of your role models from up to a thousand years ago;
- imagine using your computer skills in the year 500BC;
- visualise yourself flying through the cosmos;
- see yourself accomplishing 3 major successes in areas you consider impossible;

3) Conduct verbal stimulation:

- build your vocabulary: learn at least 3 new words a day;
- do a crossword puzzle every day;
- play scrabble;
- develop your general knowledge & apply it to the game 'Pictionary';
- cultivate a conversation with a total stranger: aim for 3 a week;

4) Excavate & piggy-back ideas:

- present a challenge facing you to (i) a child, (ii) taxi driver, (iii)a pensioner;
- establish an Ideas Piggy bank & aim to hit specific target every week;
- ask a member of the opposite sex to offer suggestions concerning your problem;

5) Act outrageous:

- give your enemy a present (not a Trojan Horse);
- spontaneously buy flowers for someone you like;
- invite a bunch of kids to your office & show them around; get them to brainstorm a major situation facing your company;
- set up an alfresco Ideas Station in the centre of town, & ask pedestrians to give you ideas; jot these down on a flip chart set up for them to see;

6) Have the time of your life:

- set aside 15 minutes a day to be totally alone in your own space;
- spend at least 30 minutes a day reading a book;
- when waiting in queues. sketch the people or scene around you;
- develop your intuition & endeavour to wake up just before your alarm clock does;

7) Become sensational:

- change the normal colour-scheme of your clothes;
- listen to music from another culture;
- touch someone with a gesture of kindness;
- use aromatherapy essences to liven up your environment;
- try a new cuisine;
- use colours in your notes;
- draw as often as possible;

8) Challenge your dominances:

- use your non-dominant hand for writing & drawing;
- throw a ball with you non-dominant hand; learn to juggle;
- write a problem down with your dominant hand, & the answers with your non-dominant hand;
- when you know something for sure, check again, & again, to see if there is something more that you could add to your knowing;

[Dilip Mukerjea is the founder, owner, MD & Learning Chef of Brain Dancing International as well as Buzan Centre Singapore. He is the author of 'Unleashing Genius', 'Building Brainpower', 'Brain Symphony' & 'Surfing the Intellect'.

He has written 3 earlier books, 'Braindancing', 'Brainfinity' & 'Superbrain', which I believe are now out-of-print. He is expected to release his new book, 'Brainaissance', in the not-too-distant future.]


I have just finished watching an old but touching movie, 'Ghosts of Mississippi', on StarHub cable television a short while ago.

In a nut shell, the movie captured the agonising trials & emotional tribulations of the widow (Whoopi Goldberg) of murdered Black American civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, & eventually a very determined assistant district attorney (Alex Baldwin) to finally bring the racist murderer (James Woods) to justice, after some thirty years of uphill struggle from 1963 to 1994.

A memorable quote by the widow, Myrlie Evers, referring to what her late husband had taught her, struck a chord with me:

"When you hate, the only one that suffers is you, because most of the people you hate don't know it, & the rest don't care."


"Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love & believe in, & it will come naturally."

(David Frost, Grammy award winning TV host on both sides of the Atlantic from 1969-1972; famous for his series of political interviews;)


I got the following wonderful gem from Success Magazine.

It entitled, '13 Key Habits To Help You "Seize the Day"', by Paul J Meyer, founder of Success Motivation Institute.

"I believe there are certain habits that will enable us to live life to its fullest, making the most of every opportunity. These habits are not personality traits! They are little choices that we internalize into habits.

Here are 13 of my favorite habits that help me seize each day:

1. Be an inverted paranoid: I believe the whole world is conspiring to do only good things to me.

2. Be a quick forgiver: I don’t have time to waste in unforgiveness.

3. Be optimistic: Believing the best of people and circumstances is a sure way to find the best.

4. Be thankful: I always give thanks, keep my eyes on God as my provider, and keep a smile on my face.

5. Be an encourager: Encouragers make me feel better, stronger, and more capable of accomplishing my dreams. I want to do the same for others.

6. Be spontaneous: I have a sense of urgency and a do-it-now attitude.

7. Be a giver: My greatest joy is giving!

8. Be positive: Being positive has the potential of turning the worst situations into victories.

9. Smile a lot and laugh at life: Adversity is a steppingstone, not a roadblock. Why not laugh in the midst of the challenges?

10. Live life with enthusiasm: I will only live once, so why not give it my all?

11. Enjoy life: I truly enjoy life.

12. Find a hobby you enjoy: No matter where I am, I have something I like to do.

13. Look for people to help: I get up every morning excited about the person I might help that day."


Here's is one interesting perspective about the philosophy of excellence. It lies in the seven C's, as follows:

1) A conception of what we want;

2) A confidence to see us through;

3) A concentration on what it takes;

4) A consistency in what we do;

5) A commitment of emotion;

6) A character of high quality;

7) A capacity to enjoy;

[Source: 'True Success: A New Philosophy of Excellence', by Tom Morris;]


According to the classic book, 'The Oz Principle: Getting Results through Individual & Organizational Accountability', by 3 wonderful authors, namely, Craig Hickman, Tom Smith & Roger Connors, personal accountability can be achieved through 4 basic steps, drawing on their core concept of 'Above the Line/Below the Line':

1) See It:

- Recognize & acknowledge the full reality of a situation;

- Muster the courage to own it;

2) Own It:

- Accept full responsibility for one's current experiences & realities as well as others';

- Find the heart to own it;

3) Solve It:

- Change those realities by finding & implementing solutions to problems (often solutions not previously considered) while avoiding the "trap" of dropping back 'Below the Line' when obstacles present themselves;

- Obtain the wisdom to solve it;

4) Do It:

- Summon the commitment & courage to follow through with the solutions identified, especially when there is great risk in doing so;

- Exercise the means to do it;

I fully concur with the 3 authors that, once each & every one of us learns to take personal accountability for our thoughts, feelings, actions, & results, we can make use of the Oz Principle to enhance our own self leadership, in addition to leadership of others in an organisational setting.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


"I have vision, & the rest of the world wears bifocals."

(Butch Cassidy, played by Paul Newman, opposite the character of Robert Redford, in the Oscar-winning western adventure movie, 'Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid' during the late sixties;)


"You can't always get what you want,
You can't always get what you want,
You can't always get what you want,
But if you try sometimes you might find
you get what you need."

('The Rolling Stones', the English classic rock band, with Mick Jagger, most notable for their assimilation of various music genres - blues, country, folk, reggae, dance, world music - into their recording & performance; often considered as 'The Greatest Rock & Roll Band in the World', even with their unkempt & surly image;)


I have picked up this little gem from cognitive strategist & leadership coach Marcia Conner's 'Live Laugh Learn Lead' weblog:

It is said Winston Churchill developed this audit to help see the world more clearly:

1) Why didn’t I know?

2) Why didn’t my advisors know?

3) Why wasn’t I told?

4) Why didn’t I ask?

Incidentally, if you are interested to know more about:

"What you see may be only a fraction of what’s there. To learn more, look beyond what you expect"

I recommend reading her great article, entitled 'The Seeing/Believing Gap'.