Saturday, November 14, 2009


The above interesting & apt tagline comes from the beautifully revamped website of 'Brain Me Up', belonging to one of my most influential thought leaders, thinkologist Dudley Lynch.

As founder of Brain Technologies, he wrote the evergreen classic, 'Strategy of the Dolphin: Scoring a Win in a Chaotic World' & also the quintessential 'The Mother of All Minds', among many other great books & useful resources for accelerated self-growth.

I have already written many reviews as well as about my personal explorations with his thoughtwares in this weblog of mine.

I fully concur with what Dudley has asserted, but I am quite inclined to add that acting on change is also an equal stickler.

However, I am also prepared to concede that, once a tough decision is made, the follow-up action as well as follow-through action to implement that decision invariably becomes so much easier.

No wonder, celebrity peak performance coach Anthony Robbins often likes to exhort:

"It is in your moment of decision that your destiny is shaped."

Deciding to change is always tough. I know it, because I have gone through the learning curve.

In reality, nobody likes change, let alone deciding to change, although they may like to talk about it, & often prefer other people around them to change.

But I do know, even though I have never been a father, a wet baby truly loves change!

Besides the awareness & willingness to change, it takes courage, commitment & fortitude to make a personal decision to change.

Implementing the decision to change is even tougher, because it takes persistence, perseverance & preparedness to welcome the event of failure.

In fact, I would even add that the whole process from awareness to execution of decision necessitates concerted thinking & elaborate planning on one's path to change.

When I have had this intuitive inkling inside me that I need to quit the corporate world - where I had already spent almost a quarter of a century of my life - to pursue my own fondest dreams during the early nineties - the decision making process didn't happen in a flash.

On hindsight, it took something like three years or so, starting from the end of the eighties.

During that critical period, I read hell a lot of books about personal change as well as mid-life transitions. I talked to a lot of people. I even attended the 'Money & You' seminar in Australia & the 'Excellerated Business Schools' in Hawaii with the view to explore more options.

In a way, it is fair for me to reietrate that the latter was eventually pivotal in helping me to negotiate my final "GO' decision.

I have already written quite a lot about my personal tribulations & pursuits in this weblog.

Were there doubts, fears, ambivalences, frustrations, agonies & pains during that period? There were, absolutely.

Hence, when I have come to read the foregoing tagline on 'Brain Me Up', it sort of brought me back to the times of my life when I really needed a change.

Many thanks, Dudley, for stirring up the bitter sweet memories.

The following picture with the foregoing tagline has been zapped from 'Brain Me Up':


"Problem solving is what you do when you don't know what to do."

Frankly, I don't know who had defined it as such, but it certainly gives an interesting perspective.

All I know is that a problem is essentially a question that motivates me to search for a solution or solutions.

Tactically, this implies that, firstly, I need to solve the problem.

Secondly, I have to search for a way or maybe several ways to find a solution.

Looking at it from a deeper or rather organisational perspective, a problem exists when there is an apparent gap between the current performance level ("what is") of a process, product or service, & the desired performance level ("what must be", or "what should be", or "what would be").

Hence, problem solving can be defined as the systematic investigation of a problem to identify the root causes of the gap, exploring & evaluating alternatives to resolve it, deciding on the best option, taking corrective action to eliminate the gap, & keeping it from occurring in the future.

From my days of engineering experience, here's a simple problem solving model:

- describe the problem;

- understand the current process, product or service;

- identify the root causes;

- explore & weigh various alternatives;

- select the best option;

- develop the solution;

- implement the solution;

- review & evaluate outcomes or results;

- reflect & act on the learning or feedback;

Considering it further from a truly personal perspective, I would say problem solving is also the ability to find answers to life's everyday difficulties.

Effective problem solving leads to joyful everyday experiences, & also enables the planning of one's future path.

Therefore, suffice to say, planning is an important aspect of problem solving.


If it's all only a matter of perspective, how can I change my perspective to accomplish the things I desire?


1) moving with attention;

2) turning on the learning switch;

3) experiencing subtlety;

4) breaking harmful habits through variation;

5) living more slowly;

6) setting flexible goals;

7) firing enthusiasm;

8) using the imagination;

9) cultivating awareness;

[Source: 'Move into Life: The 9 Essentials for Lifelong Vitality', by Dr Anat Baniel;]


"Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learnt something from yesterday."

~ Inscription on the headstone of my most favourite cowboy movie star of the 50's/60's/70's, John Wayne (1907-1979);

Friday, November 13, 2009


The whole idea of retail therapy - a prevalent term often used by the newer & larger shopping malls - intrigues me.

Basically, it's shopping with the primary purpose of improving one's mood or disposition.

In a nut shell:

For the customer, it describes the pleasures of the total shopping experience, at least from the emotional standpoint.

For the retailer, it's a means of boosting store traffic.

Is that a good or bad thing? It all depends on how you look at it.

For me, I reckon the most important thing is to pay attention to your mood when you shop. Don't shop till your drop. In other words, you don’t want to become addicted to shopping.

Remember, you don’t need to shop at fancy & expensive boutiques on Orchard Road to get your retail therapy "fix."

A trip to your neighbourhood stores in the HDB heartland can be just as fun & fruitful, if not more so, because you will get much more bang for your buck!

One more tip: Try to shop with cash! (or with your debit card rather than with a credit card).


"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."

~ Leo Buscaglia (1924–1998); also known as "Dr Love"; also a professor (University of Southern California), motivational speaker, & author of a number of 'New York Times' best-selling inspirational books on love & human reticence;


While the official APEC ministers were in town to have their pow wow, yesterday afternoon, together with three of my good friends, we had our own pow wow too, plus sumptious chow in the evening.

They were: Dilip Mukerjea, Douglas O'Loughlin, OD/change management consultant & Dr Robert Alan Black, workplace creativity consultant. The latter was earlier in town to conduct his 2-day 'Broken Crayons' workshop with the Singapore Institute of Management, from 10-11 November.

It was the first time for Doug to meet Alan. Doug also took the opportunity to present his debut book, 'Facilitating Transformation' (which I had reviewed in an earlier post of this weblog) to Dilip & Alan.

Following the usual preliminaries, we started our pow-wow at about 2.30pm at my residence in Jurong West, over freshly cut fruits & freshly-milked coconut water.

Besides talking about US politics, since both Doug & Alan hailed from the United States, our pow wow also covered a broad range of subjects, amidst fun & laughter, ranging from the mundane left-brain/right-brain stuff, "collective consciousness", to the origins of 'mindmapping', 'graphic facilitation', & from what truly makes a viable innovation landscape in an organisational setting to what should go into a planner/organiser for a student in the 21st century.

At about 6.30pm, the exuberant group, with Dilip as the spark plug as usual, & together with my wife, adjourned to my neighbourhood food court for yummilicious chow: assam fish head curry, BBQ stingray, grayfish fried with spring onions, steamed cockles, braised tofu & stir-fried vegetables.

Interestingly, at the dinner, I also picked a fascinating drink concoction from Doug (as he said, better than Coke Zero): a can of apple cyder (actually apple flavoured) mixed with a can of soda water (with odenlandia extract), both made in China.

For me, it's always fun to have pow-wows with good friends. Besides picking each other's brain & sharing new ideas & novel experiences, it's a really good opportunity to reconnect & touch base with each other.

[More information about the three consultants/authors & their consulting work/writings can be found at their corporate websites, as follows:

- Dilip Mukerjea, Braindancing International;
- Douglas O'Loughlin, Joy of Learning Consultants;
- Dr Robert Alan Black, Cre8ng Consultants;]

Thursday, November 12, 2009


“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”

~ Martha Graham;


1. How can I honor the rhythms of the seasons of my life?

2. What does it cost me when I don’t try new things?

3. What seeds are calling for attention in my life right now?

4. How high is my inner “wanter” dial turned up? What would happen if my “wanter” were turned up fully?

5. What is creativity? How many different (and creative) ways can I define it?

6. What is the alternative to living a joyful life?

7. Where am I experiencing envy in my life right now?

8. What assumptions am I making when I feel envious?

9. How is this a useful concept: There is no failure, only feedback?

10. There is no failure in falling down. The only possible failure is in not attempting to get back up. What is the gift in falling down?

11. Where in my life am I mislabeling life experience and learning as failure?

~ from the Life & Space Tips of Dr Katherine Morris;

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


"The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, & the solution comes to you, & you don't know how or why."

~ Albert Einstein;


I have captured the following snapshots of the Fedex ad from Monday's issue of 'The Straits Times', Home Page, front page, for a specific purpose.

Can you see the arrow?

The lesson from this exercise:

Opportunities are often right in front of you. The question is whether you can see them.

As America's most prolific inventor Thomas Edison once said:

"We often miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work"

In other words, problems = opportunities!


As I was rereading consultant Karl Albrecht's 'The Northbound Train: Finding the Purpose, Setting the Direction, Shaping the Destiny of Your Organization', the following advice caught my personal attention again:

Every (change) leader needs bifocal vision.

Accordingto him, it's the ability to perceive accurately things happening further out toward the horizon that will inevitably affect our enterprise, as well as the ability to focus on the more immediate, pressing events in our environment.

This ability to see the faraway field as well as the nearby field, & to deal comfortably with both is relatively rare. Indeed it is often not easy thing to do, even for the brightest managers.

However, I believe it can be learnt & improved with practice.

To me, this assertion fromthe author resonates in many ways with what creativity guru Edward de bono has often encouraged us to do: to adopt fluidity of perception as well as multiple perceptions in our view of the world at large.

In a nut shell, to constantly enhance our perceptual sensitivity to what's happening in our environment.

In fact, strategically & tactically, perceptual sensitivity is the "driving force" behind creativity & innovation. More precisely, behind opportunity scanning, where the horizon contains all our possibilities as well as uncertainties.

Naturally, all these wonderful insights also remind me of what innovation strategist Wayne Burkan, also author of 'Wide Angle Vision: Beat Your Competition by Focusing on Fringe Competitors, Lost Customers, & Rogue Employees', has often talked about "splatter vision". I have already covered this subject at length in several earlier posts of this weblog.


What do I have to do today to be ready for an uncertain tomorrow?

[inspired by Peter Drucker]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

RANDOM SPOTLIGHT: The Ideology of Comfort & the Tyranny of Custom

In Singapore, the Elecronic Road Pricing (ERP) has proven to be quite a successful system implemented by our government since many years ago to curb the traffic congestion in the city area during peak hours.

Today, to the chagrin of motorists, who are already the most heavily taxed in the world, more ERP gantries have been erected by our government in recent years, even inside the restricted area to regulate the traffic flow in the inner city, besides the major expressways on the outskirts.

The above traffic sign is just one of those ERP warning signs to remind motorists already inside the restricted area to stay within the zone.

Unfortunately, the ERP has created a self-imposed mental block in, sad to say, the minds of a lot of professional people.

I recall, when I was still running 'The Brain Resource', located just inside the Central Business District, zoned as a restricted area under the ERP policy, many of my customers often used the ERP as the deciding factor to enter the city during peak hours in those days.

In other words, the ERP became a self-imposed regulator of their overall mobility, instead of pursuing what they actually wanted to do, e.g. visiting a cold prospect during early hours of the day.

Unconsciously, from the way I see it, inconsequential cost considerations took precedence over life &/or business priorities.

From a larger perspective, just imagine the ramifications of staying put in the comfort zone for the rest of our lives, & unwilling to take the risks of moving out.

On the other hand, the foregoing musing also reminds me of the wonderful writings of change strategist James O'Toole: the extreme difficulties of overcoming the 'Ideology of Comfort & the Tyranny of Custom'.

No wonder, life is a never-ending game, with which we have to constantly deal with dilemma & paradox.


“One can’t stand forever on the shore. At some point, filled with indecision, skepticism, reservation & doubt, you either jump in or concede that life is forever elsewhere.”

– Arthur Miller;


Is what I do significant?

Monday, November 9, 2009


"And now you have joy?"
"I do indeed."
"And how did you get it?"
"I chose it, admitted it into my life, then I celebrated its arrival in my heart. I made my celebration so loud and boisterous, I prohibited all gloom from attending the celebration."

~ Calvin Miller;

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Here's the link to an interesting blogpost, organised in a Q & A format, on the importance of 21st century skills, as outlined in the book, '21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times', by two educators, Berrie Trilling & Charles Fadel.

In a nut shell, the foregoing book, accompanied by a DVD, vividly illustrates the critical skills needed to survive & thrive in a complex & connected world:

Learning & innovation skills (critical thinking, problem solving, creativity & innovation);

Digital literacy skills (information, media & technology literacy);

Life & career skills (initiative, self-direction, leadership & adaptability);

[Readers can also pop into the corporate website of the US-based Partnership for 21st Century Skills (the leading advocacy organization focused on infusing 21st century skills into education by bringing together the business community, education leaders, & policymakers), whose skills acquisition framework is the basis of the foregoing book.]


What would the best me do to get that desired outcome?


The company's laundry business as envisioned on their truck is certainly an exemplar of the day-to-day pursuit of quality & excellence.

Reflecting from a personal perspective, the pursuit of excellence is largely a question of believing in your capabilities & fully committing yourself to your growth & development.

Excellence, irrespective of whether it is sports, school, the performing arts, business or your profession, begins with a dream or goal to which you bring commitment, persistence & focus. At some point, you have to say to yourself:

"Hey, I want to be really great at this endeavour. I am going to do everything I can to be as good as I can be. I am making this endeavour a priority in my life."

To be your best, you must live this commitment, stay persistent & continue to focus on stretching your current limits.

Commitment, persistence & focus guarantee success.


"I think most of us look at personal delights as somewhere between minimally important & borderline immoral. We like them, but we're not sure we ought to. We seldom give them a high priority when other demands are competing for our attention. Nevertheless, the soul feeds on simple joys & withers without them."

~ Victoria Moran; writer & public speaker, specializing on spirituality & nutrition;