Saturday, July 26, 2008


I have said I'm the greatest. Ain't nobody ever heard me say I'm the smartest."
~ Muhammad Ali


Here's a link to a belated & yet worthwhile article to read in the Harvard Magazine.

You can read about psychologists & other experts, in conjunction with an earlier Positive Psychology Summit, including:

- Taj Ben Shahar;
- Nancy Etcoff;
- George Vaillant;
- Daniel Gilbert;
- Ellen Langer;

who share their pragmatic insights about what I like to call 'the Joy Factor'.

I like Daniel Gilbert's central focus on “prospection”—the ability to look into the future and discover what will make us happy.

According to him, "the bad news is that humans aren’t very skilled at such predictions; the good news is that we are much better than we realize at adapting to whatever life sends us."

I fully concur.


What does this poem from William Blake's 'Auguries of Innocence' mean?

"To see a World in a grain of Sand,
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour . . ."

[Readers can go to this link to see how this poem is beautifully expressed as a metaphorical globe by three Israeli artists.]

Friday, July 25, 2008


In essence, from the application perspective, the Ebenezer Effect boils down to a simple exercise in writing your own personal eulogy.

The term was coined by Matthew Cossolotto, a success coach, in his book, 'Habitforce: How to Kick the Habits of Failure & Adopt the Habits of Success'.

In an earlier post, I have mentioned about the author, with regard to his exposition of Failure Traps vs Success Tracks.

According to the author, "I recommend that you sit down & take stock of your life. It helps to project yourself into the future & imagine what people are likely to say about you after you're gone. Think of your written eulogy as a 'mission statement' for what you want to accomplish, what kind of person you aspire to be, & how you want to be remembered. It establishes what's most important to you & sets your life's course in the right direction . . . before it's too late.'

Apparently, the author has got his inspiration for the Ebenezer Effect from Charles Dickens classic novel, 'A Christmas Carol'.

Personally, I have not read the original novel, but have seen the movie of the same name, starring George C Scott, during the eighties or so.

In fact, I have also seen two spoof movie versions on cable television in recent months, including 'Scrooged' with Bill Murray as a TV station executive, & 'The Haunted Mansion' with Eddie Murphy as a real estate agent.

According to the story in the movie, Ebenezer Scrooge (George C Scott) was introduced as a hard-nosed, single-minded & uncaring businessman who hated Christmas in Victorian London.

After a day in which he was approached for donations to charities, invited to Christmas eve dinner by his nephew, & did a bit of business at the Exchange, he arrived home to see the image of his late business partner, Jacob Marley (Frank Finlay) on the door knocker.

Jacob's ghost soon visited him & announced the coming visit of three spirit: the Ghost of Christmas Past (Angela Pleasance), the Ghost of Christmas Present (Edward Woodward), & the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-come (Michael Carter).

The three spirits took Scrooge on a journey of discovering the true meaning of Christmas.

When the Ghost of Christmas yet-to-come transported him to a scene just after his own funeral, he endured the painful truth of what people really thought of him. Then he had a shocking rendezvous with his own morality when he saw his engraved name on his own tombstone. It was an alarming but valuable wake-up call for the curmudgeon.

Scrooge exclaimed to the spirit: "I'm not the man I was. I will not be that wretched creature any longer."

He was indeed transformed & woke up the next morning, Christmas Day, a changed man.

That's the power of the Ebenezer Effect.

The author urges all of us who want to jump start & sustain positive change in our lives to learn from Scrooge as a role model.

The author adds further:

“Remember, the eulogy you write today isn't etched in stone. And it probably won’t be delivered anytime soon.

You can always go back to the document periodically and make some edits, add new goals or even remove things that no longer apply. The key is to get something on paper that reflects your long-term goals, heartfelt values, and deepest principles. Those things shouldn't change very much over time. This exercise helps you get clear about your major priorities and values and keeps you on track.

Think of it as your personal mission statement. It gives you a sense of purpose by setting your life’s course in the direction you want it to take. Then it’s your job to make those things happen.”

Frankly, I had played a variation of the foregoing exercise before, during the nineties. I was given a line diagram showing a tombstone. I was then asked to write my own personal epitaph.

To paraphrase the author:

“Writing your own eulogy might strike some people as a bit morbid. But I think this exercise helps to focus the mind on long-term goals & on big questions about your life’s purpose. It’s much better to get a jump on this way ahead of time."


What if my mirror could speak?

If I could ask my mirror anything, what would it be?

inspired by Chapter I of the book, 'The Imagination Challenge: Strategic Foresight & Innovation in the Global Economy', by Alexander Manu


"The single greatest reason why otherwise talented people get stuck in mid-career is because they believe that the same rules that applied for the first part of their careers still apply. They don't.

You have to master a much subtler set of rules. You'll need to learn how to acquire the global perspective your peers lack, when and how to deliver bad news, when to take a shot at your rivals and when to be gracious, and, most important, how to handle the many new influences on your [career] trajectory . . .

Intelligence, imagination, and cunning are all required here - but not underhandedness . . . I don't believe you need to be devious to succeed. In fact, I think being excessively political is a mistake."

from the book, 'Executive Warfare: 10 Rules of Engagement for Winning Your War for Success', by David D'Alessandro;

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Stephen Covey offers 4 dimensions of our nature that we need to consistently renew:


- exercise, nutrition, stress management;


- reading, writing, planning, visualisation;


- service to others, empathy, synergy, intrinsic security;


- value clarification & commitment, study, meditation;


- how am I doing in each area?

- am I spending enough time sharpening my saw in each area?

- what area needs more of my attention right now?


I have spotted this moving bus ad with the apt caption this morning along Jurong West Avenue I.


"I can honestly say that I was never affected by the question of the success of an undertaking. If I felt it
was the right thing to do I was for it regardless of the possible outcome."

(Golda Meir, 1898-1978, Israel's first woman Prime Minister & founder of the State of Israel;)


Here's a link to a belated article by Roger Pearman, author of 'Enhancing Leadership Effectiveness', in the website.

It's still relevant today, despite the transpiration of time, as he is talking about how to bounce back from challenging situations.

I like his idea of doing a perspective audit.


Vakogem is a term coined by Ted Ciuba, a maverick entrepreneur, who rewrote the original classic 'Think & Grow Rich' by Napoleon Hill, to bring the book up-to-date to the 21st century in terms of language, cases & other references.

He entitled it, 'The New Think & Grow Rich'. It is pertinent to point out that the book is not sanctioned by the Napoleon Hill Foundation.

The above term denotes the various sensory impressions, including visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory, gustatory, emotion & movement.

According to him, in order to empower your goals, when you are making affirmations or present tense visualisations, you should imagine them with the vakogem.

It makes sense, as the brain cannot the tell the difference between a real & a reel (or imagined) experience.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


"Most people give in to their baser instincts, thinking more of short-term pleasures & gains than the kind of sustained self-restraint required in order to practice what is good & reject what is bad."
attributed to former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad;


"Most people live lives of quiet desperation because they've never learned to manage their minds & emotions."

~ Omar Perius, peak performance coach;

I fully concur. That's why I have always been fascinated by the brain/mind paradigm.

Ever since the late sixties or maybe early seventies, I have been trying to learn & understand the intricacies as well as idiosyncrasies of the human mind.

Navigating the complexities of the human mind, through trials & errors, as applied to my own personal as well as professional life, so to speak.

My set up of a strategy consulting outfit, 'Optimum Performance Technologies', & a small retail store, 'The Brain Resource', (plus a newsletter, 'Left-Brain/Right-Brain Newsletter') during the early nineties has served as physical outgrowth of my planned learning journey.

For me, the most productive learning experiences came from the brain/mind models of Edward de bono, Roger Sperry, Paul MacLean, Karl Pribram, Marian Diamond, Richard Bandler & John Grinder, Kenneth & Rita Dunn, Howard Gardner, Katherine Benziger, Ned Herrmann, & Dudley Lynch, just to name the major influences.

From the perspective of understanding the emotional equation, I am grateful to Anthony Robbins for his brilliant writings about pain avoidance & pleasure acquisition, although I must also credit Daniel Coleman, too, for my understanding of the power of emotional intelligence.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


"The opportunity for innovation lies at the intersection of difference. Change happens at the verge where something & something different meet."

(Joel Arthur Barker, futurist)


"The telephone book is full of facts [or information], but it doesn't contain a single idea."

attributed to Mortimer J Adler, 1902-2001, professor, philosopher & educational theorist;


To change your life:

1) Start immediately;

2) Do it flamboyantly;

3) No exceptions;

~ William James


In his book, 'In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life', Robert Kegan, Professor of Adult Learning & Professional Development at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, shares some very interesting perspectives about how we observe the world.

From my personal perspective, I am intrigued by his exposition on subjective-objective orientations:

- how we see our world is our subjective perspective;

- what we look at though that subjective perspective is the object of that subjective perspective;

- can we make our current subjective perspective the object of a new perspective;

- can we step back & look at the current way we see the world?


"The entrepreneur in us sees opportunities everywhere we look, but many people see only problems everywhere they look.

The entrepreneur in us is more concerned with discriminating between opportunities than he or she is with failing to see the opportunity."

Michael Gerber, a consultant who has spent his professional life understanding & improving the world of the entrepreneur. This passion led to the founding of 'E-Myth' worldwide in 1977 to transform the way that small business owners do the work of growing their companies.

He is the author of 'The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don't Work & What to do about It';

What he is talking about is essentially the importance of enhancing our perceptual sensitivity to the world around us.

Monday, July 21, 2008


According to the latest RealAge: Live Life to the Youngest's newsletter, a brisk walk can help to maintain your mental edge.

More specifically, it's a simple way to slash your risk of vascular dementia - the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's - by 73 %.

It seems that exercise - even mild exercise like walking - increases cerebral blood flow.

For the last 3 or 4 years, I have enjoyed walking. I walk - it takes about 20-25 minutes - to the gym everyday from Monday to Friday with my wife. We then walk back - that's another 20-25 minutes - after the gym practice.

After dinner, we often walk around the neighbourhood of our apartment block in Jurong West.

During the last twelve days, we did not go to the gym.

My wife's relatives from Ho Chi Minh city were in town, & we became their unofficial tourist guides for the period.

Together, we walked through several major tourist attractions, including the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, Haw Par Villa, the Esplanade (Theatres on the Bay) & Merlion Park, Singapore Science Centre, Chinatown, & the Bugis Village/Bencoolen Street areas.

For shopping, we walked through IMM Jurong East, Jurong Point, Ngee Ann City & Vivo City, plus Jurong East Central. We went to these places by MRT/Bus.

As a matter of fact, I have had some control problems with my right leg prior to my walking regimen. These were attributed to the damage to the longitudinal motor nerves in my right leg, caused by my second slipped disc or disc prolapse during the early nineties.

Ever since I have started my walking regimen - plus the physical workout in the gym - 3 to 4 years ago, I have now regained control of my right leg. Well, that's my side benefit of walking.

Interestingly, according to the RealAge newsletter, exercising regularly can make my RealAge - that's the biological age of my body, based on how well I've maintained it - as much as 9 years younger.

Come to think of it, that's certainly comforting to know.

If you like to ascertain your RealAge, please go to this link to register.

By the way, Dr John Ratey, Harvard psychiatrist, argues in his new book, 'Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise & the Brain', that a fast-paced workout can also improve memory & condition the brain.

According to him, regular physical activities makes the brain function better. Boosts the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, he says.

May increase the production of cells in the hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in learning & memory, he adds further.

[Readers interested in finding out more about Singapore's tourist attractions & other fun places in the beautiful city can visit the Uniquely Singapore website.]


When I look back five years from now, where will the really big opportunities have come from?

What are the things I'm going to look at & wish I had done?

inspired by Jim McCann, founder of in Westbury, New York


This signboard with the apt caption at the North Entrance to the Jurong East Sports Centre was captured by my digital camera this morning.


"You've got to think about big things while you're doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction."

(Alvin Toffler, American futurist; he has also been described in the Financial Times as the "world's most famous futurologist"; his published work includes 'Future Shock', 'The Third Wave', 'Powershift', & 'Revolutionary Wealth';)


"Leadership is the energetic process of getting people fully & willingly committed to a new & sustainable course of action, to meet commonly agreed objectives whilst having commonly held values."

Source: Mick (Yates)'s Leadership Blog


I am always fascinated by the subject of "developing change readiness".

I have stumbled on to a belated article, entitled 'Mastering Change: The New Realities', by Mark Sanborn, in which he discussed some ways how to think about change. The stuff he talked about is still relevant today despite the transpiration of time.

Mark Sanborn owns & runs Sanborn & Associates, an idea lab dedicated to developing leaders in business & life.

His published work includes the 3-volume video program, 'High Impact Leadership' (my personal favourite) & the book, 'You Don't Need a Title to be a Leader'.

His new book, 'The Encore Effect', is expected to be released in September this year.

Here's the link to his article [just don't forget to ponder over the questions he had set at the end as takeaways], originally published in the Leader Values website. The latter is also a goldmine of information on leadership.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I have spotted this large signboard with the apt caption at the Departure Hall of Changi International Airport Terminal I this morning.


Creativity expert Charles 'Chic' Thompson, author of 'What a Great Idea', calls the following common responses in the corporate world as 'Killer Phrases'.

According to the above author, a 'Killer Phrase' is defined as follows:

1. A knee-jerk response that squelches new ideas; most commonly said by bosses, parents, and government officials;

2. A threat to innovation;

Interestingly, in a separate book, entitled 'Yes, But...: The Top 40 Killer Phrases & How You Can Fight Them', the author has offered some practical strategy tools you'll need to bullet-proof your great ideas, as well as to diffuse the 'Killer Phrases'.

On the other hand, change strategist Robert Kriegel, author of 'If it ain’t broke... BREAK IT!' & 'Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers', calls them as 'Firehoses'.

By the way, these are the author's selection:

"Yeah, but…":

- This is code for “I think the idea stinks.” Anything that comes after the but is bull;

• "The toos":

- It’s too hard, too complicated, too expensive, too quick, slow, showy, takes too long. Anytime you hear the word too it’s too late;

• "They’ll never buy it":

- Who’s “they” and why presume how someone else will react?

• "It’s unrealistic":

- Our favorite. Was Galileo unrealistic? Was Einstein? How about Alexander Graham Bell or Ted Turner? Realism is just a name for yesterday’s thinking;

"It’s just a fad":

- Yes, and so were the compact car, the microwave oven, the fax machine. Today’s fad is tomorrow’s household word;

• "It’ll never work; can’t be done":

- If these naysayers are so smart, how come they never come up with any ideas of their own?

"If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it":

- And if you wait until it’s broke to fix it, you’ll end up with nothing left to fix;

• "Don’t rock the boat":

- Huge waves of change are already rocking the boat and will sink it if you’re not prepared to change court;

• "Don’t stick your neck out":

- An ostrich strategy that can’t possibly work in a competitive environment. If you don’t stick your neck out you’ll lose your head;

• "It’s not in the budget":

- Of course not. This year’s budget was made up last year, when circumstances were different;

• "Let’s wait and see":

- A delay tactic based on the hope that down the road the whole idea will be forgotten;

I have had my fair share of these encounters during my corporate days.

[Source: Robert Kriegel's corporate website]


"Our first response to overcome problems is part of the very mindset that generated them.

Fragmentation, competition, & reactiveness are not problems to be solved; rather they are frozen patterns to be dissolved.

The solvent we propose is a new way of thinking, feeling, & being; a culture of systems.

Fragmentary thinking becomes systemic when we recover 'the memory of the whole,' the awareness that wholes actually precede parts."

(Peter Senge & Otto Sharmer & others, joint authors of 'Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, & Society'; )


Singapore is a fine city.

This often comes as a fair compliment from tourists who visit Singapore for the first time.

To most Singaporeans, particularly all those who own & drive a car, like myself, the connotation is very much different.

This is my point. When you find a place fine for parking your car, there is always a fine to go with it.