Saturday, September 13, 2008


I have spotted this poster with the apt caption today while hanging out at the Centrepoint Shopping Mall on Orchard Road with my wife.

Naturally, perfection takes time, because it requires rehearsal & practice.

Practice over time - with persistence & consistency - makes perfect. Permanent, too!



"He who innovates will have for his enemies all those who are well off under the existing order of things, & only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, 'The Prince';


When was the last time I hit the pause button on my life to reflect?

~ inspired by the work of Richard Leider, author of 'The Power of Purpose';


According to Richard Leider, author of the classic 'The Power of Purpose', among other great books, people who are living on purpose:

- feel energised to go to work on Mondays;

- have deep energy for their work;

- are clear about how they measure their success as human beings;

- use their gifts & talents to add real values to other people's lives;

- work with other people who honour the values you value;

- speak their truth in their work;

- experience true joy in their work;

- make a living doing what they most love to do;

- speak on purpose in one clear sentence;

- go to sleep most nights feeling that that was a well lived day;

In summing up, people who are living on purpose "feel a sense of aliveness everyday & seek to make a difference."

A purposeful life is living with meaning & intention.

Please read my review of the above book in an earlier post.

[More information about Richard Leider & his work can be found at his corporate website under The Inventure Group. Here's the link.]

Friday, September 12, 2008


What's the use of running fast if I am not in the right way?


If you pop into the corporate website of consultant & author Jon Gordon, who wrote 'The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work & Team with Positive Energy', you can get the chance to down load 27 free inspirational posters, which collectively embody the positive energy of the '10 Rules'.

In a nut shell, the '10 Rules' draw on the kind of positive energy consisting of vision, trust, optimism, enthusiasm, purpose, & spirit that defines great leaders & their teams.

Driving - & riding on the bus together - is just an apt metaphor.

Here's the link.


"One of the things that my parents have taught me is never listen to other people's expectations. You should live your own life & live up to your own expectations, & those are the only things I really care about."

~ Tiger Woods, as a pro he continues to dominate the world of golf, & recently becomes the only man in the history of the game to hold four major championship trophies at one time: the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, & PGA;


The recent big hoo-haa in the local newspapers as well as internet forums about the 'Ugly Singaporeans', especially referring to those:

- who refuse to help clear their own plates & utensils after finishing their meals at fast-food joints - they think that it's the cleaner's jobs;

- who mess up the cinema halls with empty cups or cans & spilled popcorn during show times;
- who blatantly refuse to give up their seats to old folks & pregnant women in MRT trains - worst still, they even pretend to doze off while sitting;

- who don't queue up properly in front of elevator exits in shopping centres &/or MRT train door exits;

- who "book" seats in food courts with tissue papers or other personal effects;

- who don't bother to say "thanks" when you open doors for them or hold waiting elevators for them;

is rattling everyone else in the nation.

Singapore has been running regular courtesy &/or kindness campaigns for the last twenty years or so, & to every one's dismay, they apparently didn't work at all.

In fact, I believe Singapore is the only country in the world that has to resort to conducting such campaigns on a regular basis to constantly remind its over 4 million population of the importance of a gracious society.

No wonder, MM Lee Kuan Yew holds the view that it will take Singapore a long time to achieve its dreams of becoming a gracious society.

What's wrong?

I reckon all these obnoxious habits of the 'Ugly Singaporeans' boil down to the dark side of attitude - negative attitude.

One major contributing factor is poor family upbringing.

The essence of it can be best described by the local Malay phrase, "kurang ajar" [translated into English: "lack of proper family discipline."]

In Singapore, many families are two-income based. Parents are busy chasing their respective careers, & henceforth, so many of their kids are unwittingly left to their own personal devices.

Many families have also chosen to "outsource" their kids to their maids, who themselves are already bewildered, out of sheer convenience to the busy parents.

Some are left with aging grand-parents, who are obviously unable to control the kids, let alone educate them, especially while there are so much influences & distractions from a techno-savvy world.

Judging from the reported misbehaviours & unruly antics of a lot of young kids in public places, right in front of their parents without even a blink in their eyes, one can easily tell that "spare the rod & spoil the child" is a preferred option at home.

That itself is a physical manifestation of the kind of role models the unbecoming kids are having at home.

When those unruly kids meet up with other kids from the same kind of home environment, & when they grow up as professionals, the rest of us just have to live with their behavioural havoc, at work as well as in social settings.

Personally, I have encountered a lot of these brats in public places, when they often like to bulldoze their way through heavy human traffic without saying "Excuse Me!".

Worst still, when they run foul, they don't even say "Sorry!".

The Straits Times once wrote a report about parents who openly challenged school disciplinary masters when their recalcitrant kids are taken to task.

In the recent Forum page of Straits Times, a reader, a mother of kids with a maid, wrote in about her personal encounter with another mother, a family friend, who overheard her polite request to her maid to come down from the apartment to give a helping hand.

Her friend questioned her why she was so nice to her maid over the phone. Gee whiz, can you believe that?

As a professional manager before, I have learned - the painful way - that the dark side of attitude from employees poses the toughest challenge to management. I have had my fair share of headaches in dealing with problem employees.

Attitude adjustment or personal motivation for that matter can only take place from within, from the rapscallion himself.

Of course, the poor manager or the compassionate HR Department can provide some counselling, but the intervention will only work until the employee in question takes cognizance of his own attitude problem.

To me, a good attitude naturally starts from a conducive home environment, where appropriate discipline is exercised as & when deem necessary to inculcate the gentleman's credo.

Mums & Dads, please take note, because you are your children's first disciplinary masters.


My good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, Learning Chef & Managing Director of Brain-Dancing International, has just released his latest masterpiece, 'Taleblazers: Imagination to Imprint'.

It is targeted primarily at all aspiring authors, from students to professionals.

As far as I know, there is no such book in the marketplace that is graphically illustrated with conceptual symbols, systematically packed with a very broad spectrum of pertinent topics from conceiving your first story-idea, through the use of story-starter stimulants & sentence mapping, all the way to editing & publishing the book, & coupled with illustrated understanding of the print economics as well as crafting a book prospectus.

Best of all, the book is skillfully organised in aesthetically vibrant colours across all of its 168 pages.

Even the conventional table of contents you often see in books is now superseded with the author's unique & beautiful tapestry of contents.

Please enjoy the snapshots from the book in this blog.

As an avid reader, I can say that the book is drawn from the author's real-world portfolio as an accomplished writer of many pragmatic works, namely:

- 'SuperBrain';

- 'Brainfinity';

- 'Braindancing';

- 'Building Brainpower';

- 'Unleashing Genius';

- 'Brain Symphony';

- 'Surfing the Intellect';

The first three books, released by the author during the mid-nineties, are now out of print.

The remaining four newer books, according to the author, now form the 'Creative Brain Quartet'.

More information about the books & ordering is available at the author's corporate website. Here's the link.

Personally, I know as a good friend, writing 'Taleblazers' has been a rather steep personal challenge to the author, as he has intentionally written it in just about two weeks, thus proving that his story-crafting methodology of bringing out "the best-selling author within you" & "moving you from rhetoric to reality" really works.

For a beginner, his "dot logic to launch your consciousness" is definitely ground-breaking, as most first-time authors often find a blank page rather intimidating. The moment the pen meets the paper, it's a dot, & if you could do that, then writing can commence its journey from that dot.

His apt metaphor of "pen & sword" & analogy of "jaw jitsu" - "if you can converse, you can write" - provide a very refreshing prologue to "just get it all out" on paper.

Every conceivable issue or problem in writing, editing & publishing a story is dealt with wit & wisdom.

Inspiring quotes are abound to keep you in good company. All the fancy icon graphics & rich conceptual symbols in the book come from the painstaking efforts of the author, who is also a gifted cartoonist & caricaturist.

Interestingly, from my point of view, this book caters to both traditionally text-oriented as well as picture-oriented readers.

The author shows you how to use your initial scribblings, jottings & even doodles - "the philosophy within random symbolic shapes" - on paper to bust your FUD (fear, uncertainty, & doubt).

To instill some fun at the onset of your writing endeavour, the author's 'The A to Z Narrative', 'Story Word Alternatives' & '12 Words Challenge' are great story-starter stimulants.

As an active blogger, I find these little nuggets very useful in my own writing pursuits.

With this book, I am confident that "the journey from first thought to bestseller" is right within your grasp, & best of all, the author is always there to hold your hand & tap your shoulder.

For me, my favourite chapters are sections 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10, pertaining to "Creative Calisthenics" as applied to writing, "Taleblazer Economics", "The Business of Taleblazing", "Crafting a Book Prospectus" & "Sentence Mapping", respectively.

As an engineer by training, the author has obviously an excellent command of the English Language as you can see from his linguistic footprints.

To conclude this book review, I like to extract two inspiring quotes from the book:

"All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary - it's just a matter of arranging them in the right sentences." (Somerset Maugham)

"Exercising the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up." (Jane Yolen)

On behalf of the author & good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, may I invite you to get hold of his book & "make your voice count by writing, publishing & setting the fires of innovation ablaze!

This book is about YOU, writing with authority, expressing your authenticity!"

Bravo! My good friend!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


It is certainly very gratifying to know, from a recent Straits Times report, that MM Lee Kuan Yew is still cycling & swimming daily, eating moderately & stopping when he still wants to eat, enjoying his work & sleeping well at night.

Now at 85, he treats every new day as a bonus.

I like what he asserted:

"If you believe you are old & walk around as if you are nursing a weak heart, you will go rapidly downhill."

MM Lee is definitely an awesome inspiration to all of us, especially all those running the second cycle of life.


"Everything is here - the essence & substance of all there is."

~ Henry Ford;

in response to a query from a distinguished visitor to the Ford automobile assembly plant after an exhaustive tour. The visitor was lost in wonder & admiration. He was bewildered by the fact that the plant was started by Henry Ford twenty-five years ago with practically nothing.

This anecdote comes from 'The Art of Creative Thinking: How to be Innovative & Develop Great Ideas', by John Adair.

The author has used the anecdote to drive home the point that all the materials - the elements, constituents or substances of which something can be made or composed - are all here in our universe.

That's what creativity is all about. Our task as a creative thinker is to combine disparate ideas or seemingly unrelated elements that already exist.


"To every man there comes in his lifetime that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder & offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to him & fitted to his talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which could be his finest hour."

~ Winston Churchill, 1874-1965, British wartime Prime Minister; famous for his eloquent speeches, often filled with wit & wisdom, to his countrymen during World World II, & also for his bull-dog spirit which eventually led his country & the Allied Powers to win the war;

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


According to author & consultant Bill Welter, writing in his new book, 'MindLab: A Place to Think', one should always engage in purposeful thinking.

It reminds me of 'productive thinking' [as opposed to "reproductive thinking"] once postulated by creativity consultant Michael Michalko, whose great books include 'Thinkertoys' & 'Cracking Creativity', & not forgetting his 'ThinkPak' brainstorming tool-kit.

I reckon it is safe to say that purposeful thinking = productive thinking.

After all, a disciplined process is involved in either case, & also, at the end of either endeavour is a purposeful or productive result.

To be purposeful in our thinking, according to the author, we need to do three simple tasks:

First, we need to have a meaningful & worthwhile goal to pursue.

The goal could be expressed as a question (?) or as preferred state.

Knowing our question or preferred state, we can then spend some time in reframing & refining the parameters.

Second, we must search for & consider a number of possible alternatives in response to the question, or preference, & then proceed to narrow down to the best alternative.

To me, the second task is critical in the resolution, because this is the open-minded state, where one is exploring the landscape. This is accomplished by the widening of one's focus & looking at a myriad of possibilities.

Third, we gather adequate evidence that one alternative is better than the rest.

Putting them all together, we use the goals as evaluation criteria for choosing the best alternative. We also use the goals to determine which evidence is fitting.

Then, we use the gathered evidence to evaluate the strength & appropriateness of the alternatives.

Finally, we infer a reasonably good answer or solution.

Thinking is obviously hard work, but once you have a good strategy, like what is been described, it's a breeze! Also, thinking is a learnable skill, & like like other any skills, it can improve with practice!

[The author is also the Managing Director of Adaptive Strategies, Inc., a small firm specializing in improving the strategic behavior of middle managers.

He is also the principal co-author of 'The Prepared Mind of a Leader: Eight Skills Leaders Use to Innovate, Make Decisions, & Solve Problems', which I have mentioned in an earlier post.]


"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work & give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast & endless sea."

~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 1900-1940, French aviator & novelist; author of 'The Wisdom of the Sands' & 'The Little Prince' (considered by some sources to be the 3rd most read book in the world after the Bible & the Koran), among other works;


I am always fascinated by the power of imagination.

With imagination, my mind becomes my playground. Coupling with fantasy, it becomes my amusement park.

Naturally, I love to read books about enhancing imagination. Several old classic books come quickly to mind:

- 'Applied Imagination', by Alex Osborn, the advertising guy who coined "brainstorming";

- 'Imagineering: How to Profit from Your Creative Powers', by Michael Lebouef - I love his premise: "You let your imagination to soar & then you engineer it down to earth.");

During my corporate days, I had even read 'Corporate Imagination Plus' by James Bandrowski, who asserted the importance of imagination in strategic planning.

A few months ago, I have read 'Turn Your Imagination into Money', which is actually a reprint of an old classic.

I reckon the most memorable personal experience in appreciating the power of imagination is my first visit to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, during the eighties, to experience the imagineering masterpieces of the legendary Walt Disney.

The joyful encounter was followed by further visits to The Tokyo Disneyland in Japan & the Walt Disney World Resort (+ the EPCOT Centre) in Orlando, Florida. In fact, I had revisited the latter after a gap of ten years in 2000.

Following a stumble-upon on the net, I am now reading:

'The Imagination Challenge: Strategic Foresight & Innovation in the Global Economy',

by Alexander Manu, a strategic innovation practitioner.

After perusing only the first few chapters, & particularly Chapter 11, plus some casual browsing of the rest of the book, I must say this book definitely ranks in a totally different league, when compared to all the stuff I have already read earlier.

It's almost a scholarly exposition, although I detect that there is a very playful streak in the writing, which is clear & succinct.

The first thing I got out of the book is the lucid distinction between 'imagination' & 'creativity' since most of us, including myself, tend to lump them together.

Also, I now get a better understanding of the apparently subtle difference between 'strategic innovation' & 'tactical innovation'.

From the way I read it, the book is specifically written from a human user-centred design perspective. This has to do with the author's original design background.

Also, much of the material in the book is drawn from the author's professional experiences, while serving as Research Director in the Beal Institute for Strategic Creativity. [Currently, I understand he is the Chief Imaginator with InnoSpa Consulting of Finland.]

I certainly appreciate the author's many key premises at the onset of the book's beginning chapters:

- creative & innovative thinking creates (or recreates) value in a product or service, but it is the power of our imagination that provides the quantum leap in our thinking as well as experimentation to help build & enhance the ultimate user experiences with our products & services;

- it's the ability to imagine without limits, & asking 'what if...?' questions incessantly that will allow us to create innovative products & services;

- to trigger imagination, we need to become real kids again, as serious play (to kids, play is never a task, in fact to them, play = work) is a powerful means to unlocking our creative & innovative potential;

- it's our imagination that give life & meaning to technology;

- the best approach to designing wonderful customer experiences is through the eyes of a kid, be curious about the world, about everything, experiment, reason everything before drawing up conclusions, don't jump on forms but rather define what the forms must do & how they interact with users before deciding how they look;

- in the words of the authors, strategic innovation requires an understanding of the underlying behaviours, desires & motivations of the ultimate design solution;

- interestingly, more questions will come from the play instinct, as play is exploring, searching, seeing things in a new light, communicating, interacting, & more importantly, be-ing what we are from day one - born with creative impulses;

- as organisations, we need to create an ecology of possibility or play space, so to speak, to allow our people to explore the possible & to come up with breakthrough solutions, & more importantly, to be play-wise & play-ready;

- hands do not initiate play; the mind must do it first, so I reckon what keeps our mind agile is how we use & stimulate it;

The book is packed with inspiring stories & illustrative anecdotes.

What I like most is the author's complete set of 8 flexible steps that can serve as a framework for investigating viable opportunities, culminating into what the author has designated as 'The Strategic Imagination Circle':

1) signal discovery;

2) emerging signals mapping;

3) imaginative questions;

4) points of departure;

5) future scenarios;

6) experience opportunity definition;

7) economic opportunity modeling;

8) post-signal learning;

At first glance, it seems complicated. It has taken me quite a while to understand & digest how it works.

I can sense, to some extent, some of the stuff here, at least:

- in terms of "just playing around leads to great discoveries", correlates to Michael Schrage's 'Serious Play: How the World's Best Companies Simulate to Innovate', although the latter has a primary focus on prototyping;

- in terms of reading signals, correlates to the work of George Day & Paul Schoemaker, who wrote 'Peripheral Vision: Detecting the Weak Signals that Would Make or Break Your Company', with the principal premise: How good are you in sensing, interpreting & acting on the signals? [Please read my review in an earlier post.]

The only adverse comment I am going to make here is that the suggested tools to be used at each stage of the 'Strategic Imagination Circle' seemingly lack sufficient elaboration or amplification on the part of the author.

Although I am still reading the book, I dare to say that it is definitely worthwhile to pursue. It's not just about the power of imagination & the wonder of play.

It's about insight restructuring & opportunity finding.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”

~ Swami Vivekananda, (1863-1902), Indian spiritual leader & founder of the Vedanta Society & the Ramakrishna mission; his lectures, writings, letters, & poems are published as 'The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda';


Do I remember what it is like to be a kid?


"There is still a 6-year old inside of all of us, still undaunted, & just dying to come out & play."

~ Granville Toogood, one of the most experienced & respected authorities in the executive communications industry; also author of 'The Articulate Executive';

Monday, September 8, 2008


According to today's life!.buzz section of the Straits Times, Mickey Rourke has capped his big-screen comeback last Saturday when 'The Wrestler', in which he plays a lonely, washed-out boxer, won the 'Golden Lion for Best Film' at the Venice film festival.

I certainly remember Mickey Rourke, when I first saw him as a courageous police captain against the Chinese mafia in 'Year of the Dragon' during the eighties.

I had enjoyed watching many of his other subsequent action movies, including 'Johnny Handsome' in which he played a reformed gangster out on a vengeance, 'Harley Davidson & the Marlboro Man' (with Don Johnson),  'Double Team' (with bad boy, Dennis Rodman, & Jean Claude van Damme), 'Once Upon a Time in Mexico' (with Antonio Banderas & Johnny Depp), 'Man on Fire' (with Denzel Washington), 'Domino' & 'Stormbreaker'.

Frankly, I had also watched his 'Nine 1/2 Weeks', but didn't like it at all. In fact, I had actually walked out of the movie theatre more or less half-way through.  The boring story plot was about the obsessive infatuation between a newly married woman, played by Kim Basinger, & an almost total stranger, played by Mickey Rourke. 

To me, sad to say, the movie was a really meaningless soft-core porn.  Maybe that's not my regular cup of tea, which probably explains why I didn't like the movie at all.

Interestingly, I had once watched a television interview, during which the actor had revealed that the film director had asked him to deliberately distance himself from the actress off camera, in order to enhance the emotional intensity &/or passionate desire of the seemingly weird relationship between the two characters in 'Nine 1/2 Weeks'.  

No wonder, that dark intensity obviously stood out in the movie, as far as I could sense.

Surprisingly, the actor has been a professional boxer for a number of years,  prior to venturing into acting. 

Looks like his sparring with Jean Claude van Damme at the Roman Coliseum in 'Double Team' was real in the real physical sense.

More surprisingly, he has reportedly spent much of the last fifteen years in the acting wilderness with a reputation for being difficult, outspoken & volatile on movie sets.

He was in fact very philosophical when he was asked what he thought about people who came back from the brink. He responded:

"Well, I had a lot of time, I was out of work for about 15 years, so I had a lot of time to think about things."

To me, he always has that tough guy image, which partly explains my interest in his action movies.  However, I am fascinated by the photo shot of him holding his aging Chihuahua. That really shows the good soft side of the guy as he said:

"I bought my dog because she is very old. She is 16 & she's not going to be around for long, so I want to spend every moment with her."

In fact, I have read that he once walked out of a movie set when the film director refused to allow his dog to be part of an ongoing movie production.

I reckon what we can learn from Mickey Rourke's gritty experiences is that, sometimes we just got to stand up for something, even if we had to bulldoze our way; otherwise we are nothing. That certainly takes courage & fortitude.
I am definitely looking forward to watch 'The Wrestler'


On Singapore roads, we have those irritating & recalcitrant road hogs. 

On Malaysian highways in contrast, there are the deadly highway pests that always prey on Singapore-registered cars.

Apparently, those pests have now apparently emboldened themselves, due to the lack of any concerted actions from the Royal Malaysian Police.

That was what happened to the poor Singapore businessman, who was supposed to join a convoy of Ferraris & Maseratis travelling on the North-South Highway last Friday.  

His brand-new S$900,000 Ferrari had  spun out of control during a high-speed chase by a bunch of highway pests in a black Mercedes.  After the crash, he got whacked badly. On top of that, his Ferrari got wrecked badly too. 

Such shocking news do not seem to rattle me anymore. 

The last time, I had read that a Singapore businessman, also a racing car enthusiast, was shot near Johor Baru when a bunch of rapscallions tried to hijack his fancy sports car.  Badly wounded, he managed to drive back to Singapore to seek medical help. He was really lucky to be alive.

If I am not mistaken, not too long ago, another Singapore businessman was badly bashed up in Johor Baru, while refilling his car at a petrol station located not too far away from a police station.

Can you imagine that?

For the last twenty years, I have stayed away from Malaysian soil, purely because of the reportedly bad crime situation.  

That's to say what has happened recently is actually a perennial problem.  

Prior to that, I often drove into Johor Baru on weekends to buy fresh crabs from the wet market located near the bus interchange.

Although I am a Singaporean thoroughbred, I grew up & studied in Malaysia during the fifties & sixties.  Interestingly, I had even hitch-hiked a few times  on Malaysian highways, when I was studying at the Technical Institute in Kuala Lumpur

Naturally, I have had very fond memories of the beautiful country.  In fact, I still have siblings in Malaysia, who often come to visit me & my other siblings  in Singapore. 

It really saddens me to resign to the fact that Malaysian highways are now really not safe for Singaporeans, even on the North-South Highway.

Two of my good friends had been robbed separately at knife point while driving on Malaysian highways.

My gym buddy, born in Malacca, Malaysia, but is now a Singapore citizen, is often very reluctant to go back to his hometown, to the chagrin of his siblings & relatives.  Security is his prime concern since he drives a Mercedes.  

He also owns a piece of landed property in Johor Baru, & a few times a year, he & his wife & maid have to go to clean up the place.  On a few occasions, he has invited me to go along, & regrettably, I have to turn him down.

My wife has often pestered me to bring her to Johor Baru for cheap shopping sprees, but to her diappointment, my response has always been in the negative.

Oftentimes, I just wonder what the Royal Malaysian Police is doing. It seems that the Malaysian Government has more other pressing &/or invested problems in their hands. 

Is it because only Singaporeans are often the victims of crime that they just can't be bothered to do something about the worsening situation?

Now, I truly appreciate what a good clean government really means to the people.  It takes tremendous political resolve to get things done for the people.

I remember during the late fifties & sixties or so, our small Singapore island was a hot-bed for bloody gangsters.  

After our independence, the Singapore Government really cleaned up their nefarious acts by throwing Section 55 of the Penal Code at them: detention without trial.

In the recent Sunday Times' special report on foreign workers, a Thai construction site supervisor, who has spent the last 9 years in Singapore was interviewed.  He had earlier worked in Taiwan as a foreman for 3 years. He came to Singapore after he heard that the country was safe & clean.

[Interestingly, his only adverse comment was that "Singaporeans are less friendly . . . They are always in a hurry & look busy all the time."

Nevertheless, it is heart warming to hear such frank comments from a foreigner.


One of the most productive lessons I have picked up during my early years of exploring creativity is the understanding &/or appreciation of the power of shifting focus.

Undoubtedly, the power of focus, which I have talked about a lot in my many earlier posts, is a critical success factor in the search for & pursuit of opportunities, personal as well as business.

It boils down to what we choose to look at & where we direct our attention. This is because our brain follows only one direction: the direction of our current dominant thought.

However, I have also learned - the hard way - that the ability to shift focus is far more, if not equally, critical.

Edward de bono calls it, "fluidity of perception."  

Dr Ellen Langer of Harvard University calls it, "mindfulness" (as opposed to "mindlessness".

One of Edward de bono's early collaborators, Michael Hewitt-Gleeson from Down Under, calls it BVS or "better view of the situation" (as opposed to CVS or "current view of the situation").

In simplest terms, at least from my understanding, all these gurus are talking about the significance of enhancing our perceptual sensitivity to the world at large.

In other words, we should try not to get stuck in or from one viewpoint. 

Having multiple perspectives - & the ability to switch between different perspectives - is definitely the better way to go, if we want to be creative in life or work.

I recall one very interesting anecdote from Edward de bono's books, but I can't recall which book. Nonetheless, for my purpose in this post, it serves as a good illustration of what I am talking about.

During the early years of space exploration, NASA engineers were focused on "developing a pen to write in zero gravity".

They apparently spent a lot of money on the research.

The Russian engineers had  the same dilemma. They were "looking for a writing implement to write in zero gravity".

They eventually found a quick & even low-cost solution: the pencil.

Did they shifted focus? 

Invariably, shifting focus comes in many forms.

We can take a helicopter view to see the forest, so to speak, & we can shift down to a closer tree or even ground-level view. Feeling the pulse of the ground, so to speak.

In other words, "macro" & "micro".

Likewise, we can also take a broad definition in terms of criteria to look at a situation, & alternatively take a narrower definition.

The key is fluidity.

As a case in point, I would say Edward de bono's technique of changing entry point is a powerful way to shift focus.

I recall that Dr Ellen Langer has offered the following valuable suggestions in shifting focus:

Looking at what’s there --> to looking at what’s not there;

Seeking your conclusions --> to checking your assumptions;

Examining the various details --> to evaluating the overall concept;

Concern about your goals --> to regard for the entire process;

Focus on objects --> to focus on relationship between objects;

Looking at the object --> to looking at the surrounding space;

Listening to what’s said --> to discerning what’s not said;

Come to think of it, the 'Ten Strategies for Scary Times" & "The Laws of Lifetime Growth", from Dan Sullivan, The Strategic Coach, which I have talked about in an earlier post are, in essence, valuable lessons in shifting focus.


In an earlier post, I have introduced readers to the work of Dan Sullivan, the brain behind 'The Strategic Coach' consulting outfit.

In that post, I have outlined the author's 'Ten Strategies for Scary Times'.

You can re-read all the good stuff at the author's corporate website. Here's the link.

The way I see them, the strategies are very useful as a platform to help you to see & make finer distinctions about the things most people often do on a daily basis, & also guide you in finding your sharp focus in today's turbulent times. 

Interestingly, the author has also written a book, entitled 'The Laws of Lifetime Growth', which I find very interesting & definitely worthwhile for reading pursuit.

Best of all, perusing it reminds me once again of the 'Law of Requisite Variety'.

In a nut shell, here are the author's 'Ten Laws' in total, mathematically speaking for brevity:

Law #1: Future > Past;

Law #2: Learning > Experience;

Law #3: Contribution > Reward;

Law #4: Performance > Reward;

Law #5: Gratitude > Success;

Law #6: Enjoyment > Effort;

Law #7: Cooperation > Status;

Law #8: Confidence > Comfort;

Law #9: Purpose > Money;

Law #10: Questions > Answers;

You are in luck, my friends. The author has unselfishly serialised all the good stuff from his book in his corporate website, from where you can read - & even download - to your heart's content.

Here's the link.

What I have learned from the author's work is that an understanding or appreciation - & then, adaptation & application - of the laws as postulated, plus those mentioned much earlier with regard to priming your focus, will help you to build up intellectual resiliency  as well as instill operational flexibility in your life's pursuits, especially in today's turbulent times.

From my own personal experience, dealing with scary or turbulent times necessitates sharp focus in our mind & strong resiliency in our actions.

That's why coaching works, because the coach helps you first to see & make finer distinctions in your choices & decisions.

Otherwise, your focus will end up fuzzy, & I am sure you don't want that to happen.


“What would it be like if you lived each day, each breath, as a work of art in progress? Imagine that you are a masterpiece unfolding, every second of every day, a work of art taking form with every breath.”

~ Thomas Crum, founder of the Windstar Foundation (with John Denver) & Aiki Works; specialises in conducting workshops on peak performance, conflict resolution & stress management; his books include 'The Magic of Conflict';


What am I doing now that I should not be doing?

What am I not doing now that I should be doing?

Sunday, September 7, 2008


From the weblog of Gerald Sindell, President of Thought Leaders International (an intellectual property consulting outfit), whom I have mentioned in an earlier post, I have been subtly guided to discover the following two resources:

1) 'Identity is Destiny: Leadership & the Roots of Value Creation';

2) 'The Identity Code' (audio book);

by Laurence Ackerman, a leading authority on organisational & personal branding.

Interestingly, the foregoing author happens to be a good client of Gerald Sindell. The adage "You rub my back; I rub yours!" rings true!

I have already placed the two resources in my shopping basket with Amazon.

While browsing through the author's corporate website, I am intrigued by the 8 natural laws of identity, as well as a set of provoking questions, as postulated by the author from the standpoint of identity management or personal branding, so to speak, as follows:

1) who am I?

2) what makes me special?

3) is there a pattern to my life?

4) where am I going?

5) what is my gift?

6) who can I trust?

7) what is my message?

8) will my life be rich?

I reckon these are excellent questions to ask - & to probe deeply - yourself, especially when you want to drive to be the best. They will certainly help you look & plan ahead.

With hindsight from my own personal experience, I can say that 'Know Thyself' is always the precursor to deciding what you want to do with your life, where you are now & where you want to go.

I certainly concur with the author's premise that personal branding must be first grounded in an authentic understanding of personal identity.

Looks like I am going to have a lot of wonderful stuff to read & digest for the rest of the year.

Please stay tuned!

[Here's the link to author Laurence Ackerman's corporate website. More information about 'The Identity Core' can be found at this link.]


I have stumbled upon the weblog of Gerald Sindell, President of Thought Leaders International, who openly shares his exploratory thoughts & expert insights about thought leadership in the 21st century.

In this case, the way I interpret it, "thought leadership" is analogous to "personal genius in the making".

According to the author, thought leaders or geniuses share eleven remarkable thinking approaches, which he culminates into what he calls 'the Endleofon innovation process'.

He is writing a new book on his work, entitled 'Think Like a Genius: The Eleven Essential Steps to Making Your Ideas Matter', which is expected to be released at the end of this year or maybe early next year.

Naturally, I am anxiously waiting to read the book.

In a nut shell, here are the 11 thinking approaches, based on my own understanding:

1) Making Distinctions;

2) Understanding Core Identity;

3) Analysing Implications & Ramifications;

4) Conducting Testing & Verification;

5) Building on the Shoulders of Giants (Precedents);

6) Assessing Environmental Needs;

7) Challenging & Reframing Assumptions (Foundations);

8) Thinking Completely from Systems Perspectives;

9) Building Connections;

10) Creating Future Impacts;

11) Embracing Advocacy;

Here's the link to what he has introduced briefly so far about the above thinking approaches.

Come to think of it, his work somehow reminds me of the work of Jim Canterucci, who wrote 'Personal Brilliance: Mastering the Everyday Habits that Create a Lifetime of Success', which I had read several years ago. Please refer to my book review in an earlier post.

[Here's the link to the author Gerald Sindell's corporate website.]


What have I changed my mind about?


I find it very comforting to read recent reports in the Straits Times about our young 3rd generation soldiers, who are now equipped with sophisticated technological devices as well as powerful weapons to make them combat-ready for urban warfare of the future.

Although I had only served my part-time national service in the Special Constabulary during the late sixties & early seventies [I certainly recall all the unholy hours - once every nineteen days, for almost 8 hours in a stretch - of patrolling the Pasir Panjang shores during the hey days of "confrontasi" with Indonesia], I am always very keen to read about & keep track of various developments in our armed forces from their acquisition of "global hawks", stealth frigates, to battlefield simulation labs, weapons that could "see" around corners, etc.

I always hold this fantasy - I don't know why - that the battle scenarios of the future will probably be fought more like those Jedi Knights against the Stormtroopers of the dark forces as protrayed in the 'Star Wars' movies.  

Come to think of it, I recall reading, during the early nineties, a book written by a retired US Army colonel in covert operations, John Alexander, who revealed interesting but sketchy details about the Jedi Project. 

In a nut shell, the book, entitled 'The Warrior's Edge', was about the US Army's clandestine efforts during the eighties in creating soldiers with supernatural powers & non-lethal weapons.  

The US Army had apparently designated the weird stuff as "soft option kill" technologies. 

I can only say this, what had actually transpired from then has remained a total mystery till today.

Nevertheless, the foregoing anecdote jots my memory recall of two fascinating movies I had watched during the nineties.

They were:

- 'Universal Soldier';
- 'Universal Soldier: The Return'

starring Jean Claude van Damme, as a "part man, part machine, total weapon" soldier, designated as UniSol GR44, by the US military in the first movie.  

According to the first movie, all the UniSol soldiers were actually  "reconstructed" under a secret military project, after they were all killed in action during the Vietnam War.  Of course, the military encountered some serious "problems", which therefore made the two movies really exciting & truly memorable - with great action sequences - to follow.

There were two other fascinating action movies with more or less the same kind of story plot about android soldiers.  

One was 'Soldier' starring Kurt Russell, & the other, 'Solo', starring Mario van Peebles.

I just can't help having to bring up the wackiest soldier of them all, & that is, 'Predator', a towering but ugly alien soldier-warrior with a built-in invisibility suit & self-destruct nuclear weapon, & not forgetting his unceasing penchant for human skulls.

The action movie starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose rescue & extraction commando unit was mercilessly wiped out by the rapscallion creature in an unknown Central American jungle.  

In fact, there was a sequel, 'Predator 2', starring Danny Glover, which saw the alien creature fighting in the mean streets of Los Angeles.

Well, that's the kind of fantasy scenarios I would envisage about the battles of the future, partly contributed by a "make believe" world of imagination.

One never knows, as fantasy often comes true, especially when one believes in it so vividly & ardently.


"Some of the most crucial steps in mental growth are based not simply on acquiring new skills, but on acquiring new administrative ways to use what one already knows." 
~ Seymour Papert, a mathematician by training & one of the early pioneers of artificial intelligence; also internationally recognized as a thought leader with regard to computers & pedagogy for children;