Saturday, November 28, 2009


Am I living the life of my dreams?

Am I doing the things I always wanted to do?

Do I wake up every morning with passion in my heart, or do I hit the 'snooze' button?

Am I grateful for every second I spend on this planet, or do I take life for granted?

If my response is in the negative, what am I willing to do to change it?


If you're going to change your life, you have to:

1. Decide what you will no longer stand for and what you'?re committed to. Clarity is power.

2. Take massive action. You have to be willing to do the things you don't want to do. You have to build a momentum that consistent action produces.

3. Notice what's working and what's not working. And when it's not working, change your approach. And keep changing until you finally achieve what it is you're committed to.


"... Climb every mountain,
ford every stream
Follow every rainbow,

till you find your dream
A dream that will need,

all the love you can give
Everyday of your life,

for as long as you live..."

~ lyrics from the 'Sound of Music';


A Zen tale tells of two pious monks who were on their yearly pilgrimage through the mountains when they caught sight of a young woman by the edge of a brook.

She had fallen from her horse and injured her foot. In the meantime her animal had wandered off, crossed the brook by itself and stood grazing indifferently on the far bank.

Spying the two monks, the young woman hastily signalled to them and begged them to carry her across the stream, which she could not cross alone because of her injury. She was anxious to remount her horse and ride to safety before dark.

Despite the young woman’s pleas the younger of the two monks declined to assist her because of his vow of chastity, which forbade him ever touching a woman. The elder monk reacted differently.

Realizing how few travellers ever went that way and aware of the dangers that might beset the young woman at nightfall, he swiftly carried her across the brook, placed her on her horse and made sure that she started safely on her journey home.

The two monks then resumed their pilgrimage. When they had travelled down the road a short way, the younger one, becoming more upset each moment by what he had seen, was finally unable to contain himself any longer and cried out to his companion, ‘I cannot believe what I saw! You broke your vow of chastity by carrying a woman in your arms!’

The elder monk turned to him and with a quiet smile replied, ‘But, little brother, I let go of her 10 miles back!’

[Source: 'The Power of Letting Go: A Practical Approach to Releasing the Pressures in Your Life', by Dr Patricia Carrington.]

Friday, November 27, 2009


I have found the following interesting points, on maximising talent in an organsation, in the book, entitled 'The Driving Force: Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People', by Peter Schutz, former CEO of German automobile manufacturer Porsche AG.

1) Remove the glass panels between people;

2) Four of the most powerful words in the world are: "I need your help!"

3) Company icons are powerful;

4) Don't give your customers what they want - instead redefine customer expectations;

5) Pursue excellence, not success;

6) Build credibility;

7) Decide like a democracy, implement like a dictatorship;

8) Implement fundamentals like Vince Lombardi (legendary football coach): Make sure everybody understands;

9) Make sure your people are building a temple for customers, not busting rocks for a living;

10) Make sure your business culture is defined in large measures by what people must not do;


What do I really want to be & do with my life?

What is my mission in life?

What do I want people to say about me 30 years from now?

100 WAYS TO...

I have stumbled upon the following interesting blog posts, which offer a gamut of practical, useful tips & hints:

1) Steven Aitkinson's '100 Ways to Develop Your Mind';

2) Dragos Roua's '100 Ways to Live a Better Life';

3) Mike King's '100 Ways to be a Better Leader';

4) Armen Shirvanian's '100 Ways to Show Boldness';

5) Mike King's '100 Ways to Simplify Your Life & Mind';

6) Luciano Passuello's 'Tackling Any Issue with a List of 100';

Enjoy your exploration & assimilation!


In an earlier post, I have talked briefly about the research work of futurist Verne Wheelwright.

Verne Wheelwright is a different kind of futurist. Most futurists focus on the big picture; the future of the world, the future of society or an institution, but he is a “micro-futurist”, focusing on personal & individual futures, one person at a time.

He has written the 'Personal Futures Workbook' to guide individuals through the futuring process. Tactically, it's a guide to personal strategic planning.

The newest version of the workbook is digital (PDF) & can be completed & saved on a computer.

Here's the weblink where you can download a free copy of the workbook.

More information about the author & his consulting work on Personal Futures can be found at his corporate website or at his personal weblog.


"Don't become a wandering generality. Be a meaningful specific."

~ master motivator Zig Ziglar;


When you can do, & then actually do, the skills that are needed to take your next step.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


While taking this digital snapshot at Lucky Plaza on Orchard Road, interesting thoughts flashed through my mind.

As I recall, management consultant Dr Judith Bardwick has elegantly exhorted since the mid-90's: 'Danger in the Comfort Zone!', which also happens to be the title of her classic bearing the same name.

The comfort zone is indeed dangerous because it is holding us back from unleashing our innate potential.

Worst still, a comfort zone invariably allows our daily habitual routines to become rut-tines!

Learning new ways of doing things & taking on new responsibility are very important to our survival. They make us more productive & effective, which lead to the viable personal bottom-line, with more money, & will undoubtedly open the doors of opportunity, which we never would have known existed!

The most optimal choice thus open to us is to go out of bounds!

I leave behind here an apt quote from life coach Brian Tracy as food for thought:

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward & uncomfortable when you try something new.”

RANDOM SPOTLIGHT: "I can see the next opportunity..."

This digital snapshot of a bald eagle with the apt caption on a poster certainly reminds me of the wonderful quote from the maverick adventurer/billionaire Richard Branson:

“Business opportunities are like buses, there's always another one coming.”


"The only job security is found in your own ability to keep learning (new things)."

~ Peter Drucker;


I had probably watched the thriller movie, 'Shooter', on StarHub cable television more than half a dozen times. In fact, I had watched it again only last night.

The exciting story centred on how a retired US Marine scout-sniper, Bob (played by Mark Wahlberg) was hook-winked & double-crossed by a high-powered rogue group led by an enigmatic Colonel Johnson (played by Danny Glover), in collusion with a mysterious senator in deep cover within the US government establishment, to take on a seemingly patriotic assignment, with the objective of flushing out a known assassination attempt on the US President.

At the end, he escaped & eventually tracked down & neutralised all the bad guys, with the unlikely aid of a disgraced FBI agent, Nick (played by Michael Pena).

Naturally, as in most Hollywood movie productions, a beautiful woman also got dragged into the web of intrigue, serving unfortunately more as eye candy.

As a matter of fact, last night, I had also watched another thriller movie, 'Enemy at the Gates', on StarHub cable televison about a deadly cat & mouse game between a Russian sniper (played by Jude Law) & a German sniper (played by Ed Harris) at the tail end of the Battle of Stalingrad.

Several years ago, I had also watched the thriller movie, 'Sniper', followed by its two subsequent sequels, 'Sniper 2' & 'Sniper 3'. Tom Berenger had played the US Marine sniper veteran featured in all the three movies.

In a nut shell, somehow I seem to have this unquenchable fascination for watching snipers at work, even though they were conceived in the minds of creative Hollywood producers.

Well, for me, I always hold the view that reel life reflects real life, & vice versa.

I have read that real-world snipers actually work in team of two, as depicted in the movie, 'Shooter'.

What actually fascinates most is the skills repertoire of the scout-sniper, which comprises:

- combat-readiness & extremely keen survival instincts;

- mental skills, especially the ability to think ahead (I call it "anticipatory prowess", as depicted by Bob in the movie); to look at the situation critically; the patience to wait for the perfect opportunity to fire upon a selected target, the ability to "neutralise" environmental distractions; & more importantly, to manage the countless mathematical variables in the head, about wind speed, wind direction, range, target movement, mirage, light source, barometric pressure, temperature & even the earth's rotation (that's why he works with a spotter in a sniper team);

- physical discipline & survival skills;

- observation, reconnaissance & surveillance skills, especially the ability to catch the slightest "unnatural disturbances" in the environment around them;

- camouflage skills, to avoid detection & staying alive;

- stalking & infiltration skills, including stealth adeptness as well as the ability to adapt & improvise with whatever resources at hand;

on top of his superb marksmanship with tactical weapons & an expert understanding of ballistics.

Interestingly, I read that marksmanship accounts for only 10% to 20% of their overall skills repertoire.

The skill & the power of observation are rated very highly.

While digging through the net for information on scout-sniper training, I found the following interesting games as part of their observational skills training, known as the KIMS game:

It goes something like this.

A number of different objects are placed randomly on the table: a bullet, a paper clip, a bottle top, a pen, a piece of paper with something written on it.

They may be 10 to 20 items.

Trainees are given a minute or so to look at everything on the table.

Then, they have to go back to their desks & describe what they saw.

They are not allowed to say "paper clip" or "bullet".

They have to say, like, "silver, metal wire, bent in two oval shapes."

In other words, the training requires you to observe the objects more closely or critically.

The foregoing game is repeated with more objects to look at & & with less time to look at them.

To add to the challenge, the time between seeing the objects & describing what is seen gets longer as the scout-sniper training goes on.

By the end, they may see 25 objects in the morning, train whole day, & then at night be asked to write down descriptions of all the things they saw in the morning.

Another observational skills training happens in the field with a sniper scope.

What they are required to do is to scope out random but hidden objects in a field.

For me, this intense observational practice is intriguing.

Now, I can understand how all these observational training manoeuvres eventually help the scout-sniper to function superbly with stalking, infiltration, & reconnaissance manoeuvres in the field under dicey circumstances.

I reckon the same observational skills can also readily apply in the skills repertoire of today's business professional, except for the "one-shot, one-kill" score.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


“People with a high level of personal mastery are acutely aware of their ignorance, their incompetence, and their growth areas.”

~ Peter Senge;


"Business begins with an idea. And as never before, its growth, stability, & ultimate success depends upon innovation, & a constant flow of imaginal thought... I will maintain that the most urgent business of business is ideas."

~ Jerry Hirshberg, founder & CEO of Nissan Design International, Inc., & author of 'The Creativity Priority: Driving Innovation Business in the Real World' (1998);

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


"There's no such thing as work-life balance. There are worklife choices, & you make them, & they have
consequences... "

~ Jack Welch, former CEO, GE, at the Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference in New Orleans, 28 June 2009;


Yesterday night, a good friend of mine rang me up to tip me off about a wonderful business opportunity involving soaps with micro-agae formulation that supposedly could keep one's facial skin young & beautiful.

Intrigued, & using the trade name given & with the expert help of my old faithful Copernic Agent Pro, I conducted a relatively deep probe through the net.

The return of search findings was overwhelming. It was a painstaking exercise for me to glean through the stuff.

At one end, there were numerous spurious purveyors who seem to echo glowing testimonials about the stuff from the primary purveyor, based apparently in Malaysia. There was also a Singapore company with the same trade name, but probably served more as a marketing tentacle of the Malaysian enterprise, which seemed to be less than 2 years old.

There was a mugshot of the young CEO, but no details were available about the management team. One man show? The address of the Singapore arm was listed, but offered no details at all about its management structure or business operations.

Worst still, the proposed "working arrangement" for those who were likely to be interested to serve as down-line traders was not even specified. There were only sales pitches about how much money one could make, depending on the down-line level.

All one could read was a gamut of purportedly "success stories" about young people as well as illiterates who seemed to have hit the big bucks trading the stuff. In MLM lingo, this is known as front-loading!

My suspicion was immediately aroused when I came across several interesting "complaints" on net forums. Of course, they might not necessarily be true, but personally, I always believe that when there's smoke, there's fire somewhere!

More interestingly, as I read more & more of the stuff from the search findings, I managed to discern an intricate web of relationships, plus the transient CEOs, of the diverse companies connected to the stuff on both sides of the causeway. Distant places like Taiwan & South Korea got entangled too, especially involving some sketchy legal issues.

The only problem that I had was getting the more specific details of each seemingly worthwhile "finding".

More explicity, it was really hard for me to verify the facts, but the nature of "intelligence gathering & analysis" is such that one still needs to keep the "unverified" information in view & also to consider its likely implications, if it turns out to be true.

I couldn't even get information about the source company in Europe, which seemed to have originated the major proprietary ingredients in the final formulation.

For the record, the end product is manufactured in Malaysia under licence. To me, its fancy name seemed, at least to me, to be some sort of a PR charade, as I couldn't trace the source information at all.

At the end of the entire "probe" exercise, in some ways, I was sure glad that I got more pertinent questions to ask for immediate clarification, than answers that I actually wanted.

Nonetheless, I had passed all those questions of mine to my good friend, who had originally intended to attend a marketing presentation this forthcoming Saturday afternoon at a hotel. He was no doubt bewildered by my discovery.

To avoid potential financial havoc, we have both decided that it is best to stay out of it for the time being.

Thanks to the internet for giving me the opportunity to conduct my due diligence!

Monday, November 23, 2009


"Insight is the beginning of perceptions to come rather than the extension of perceptions gone by...

... Insight is a breakthrough, requiring much intellectual dismantling and dislocation. It begins with a mental interim, with the cultivation of a feeling for the unfamiliar, unparalleled, incredible. It is in being involved with a phenomenon, being intimately engaged to it, courting it, as it were, that after much perplexity and embarrassment we come upon insight — upon a way of seeing the phenomenon from within. What has been closed is suddenly disclosed. It entails genuine perception, seeing anew...

... What impairs our sight are habits of seeing as well as the mental concomitants of seeing. Our sight is suffused with knowing, instead of feeling painfully the lack of knowing what we see. The principle to be kept in mind is to know what we see rather than to see what we know."

~ Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972); Warsaw-born American rabbi & one of the leading Jewish theologians of the 20th century;


"Multitudes of people, drifting aimlessly to and fro without a set purpose, deny themselves such fulfillment of their capacities, and the satisfying happiness which attends it. They are not wicked, they are only shallow. They are not mean or vicious; they simply are empty - shake them and they would rattle like gourds. They lack range, depth, and conviction. Without purpose their lives ultimately wander into the morass of dissatisfaction. As we harness our abilities to a steady purpose and undertake the long pull toward its accomplishment, rich compensations reward us. A sense of purpose simplifies life and therefore concentrates our abilities; and concentration adds power."

~ Kenneth Hildebrand;

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Despite the fact that I have had only the opportunity to lead a small manufacturing operation in Thailand during the mid-eighties, I certainly can relate to the following observation [which I have stumbled upon while surfing the amazon online catalog], but not to the extent of 'living dangerously' as envisaged by the authors.

I am now looking for a second-hand copy of the book to read, as I am nonetheless intrigued by the profound & thought-provoking axiom:

"To lead is to live dangerously because when leadership counts, when you lead people through difficult change, you challenge what people hold dear - their daily habits, tools, loyalties, and ways of thinking - with more to offer perhaps than a possibility. Moreover, leadership often means exceeding the authority you are given to tackle the challenge at hand. People push back when you disturb the personal and institution equilibrium they know. And people resist in all kinds of creative and unexpected ways that can get you taken out of the game: pushed aside, undermined, or eliminated."

~ from the book, 'Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading' (2002), by Martin Linsky & Ronald Heifetz, with both on the faculty at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University;


"If you want to make more money, bring more value to the table. Think creatively. Solve problems. Add value. Become indispensable!"

~ Dr Michael Beitler, organisational change strategist & author of 'Strategic Organisational Change' & 'Strategic Organisational Learning';


I have stumbled upon a presentation snapshot ['Going Back to School & Getting All F’s'] from Mitch Holthus of Kansas City Chiefs, as reported by Jason Finke in the MAPP Newsletter (2007, issue #4).

The presenter talked about developing vertical accountability & illustrated with the following key points:


• About being lucky. Everything worth having comes from hard work.

• About being lazy. Horizontal accountability. i.e. being accountable to the other members of your “team”.


• It’s too easy to quit. Don’t quit on yourself.

• Failure is only failure when others quit on you. Surround yourself with good people to give you the support to keep you in the game.

• Three (3) strikes and you are not out. Be persistent & keep going after your goals.

3. FRESHMAN (Good freshman make great seniors.):

• You can’t be afraid of being a freshman again. Starting over is good.

• There is danger in the comfort zone. Step out of the zone & use your knowledge, experience, & education to take that next step up/forward.


• Make you own mission statement. Hang it on the wall. Remind yourself what you stand for & it tells others who you are.

• Don’t change the core. Remain true to yourself & your mission statement.


• Suffering looks back, anxiety looks around, & faith looks defiantly ahead. Faith will help you face your fears & challenges.

You can achieve your goals by being persistent & having the support system to keep you going.


I have stumbled upon an interesting Canadian website operated by Legacies Inc., a non-profit outfit which caters to home & hospice care management.

Its founder, Harry von Bommell, an adult educator with three decades of management experience in the field, has written three practical books as follows, among many others:

1) 'Prescription Leadership';

2) 'How to Learn Anything';

3) 'How to Teach Others';

You can read them online, or alternatively, you can purchase the books from them.

Here's the link.


As a movie buff, I just can't help myself recalling the 1980's thriller movie, 'Wargames', while I happen to find & read the interesting article by Dr Lew Ireland, project management consultant & President of the American Society for the Advancement of Project Management.

In the article, he draws an apt analogy of chess playing to describe valuable lessons that could be learned in terms of strategy formulation & execution of projects.

Nonetheless, in the movie, a young computer whiz-kid (played by Matthew Broderick) accidentally & playfully connected himself into a top secret military super-computer, nicknamed 'Joshua', which had complete control over the US nuclear arsenal. It challenged him to a 'Global Thermo-nuclear War' Game, & he innocently started the countdown to World War 3.

Fortunately, at the eleventh hour, 'Joshua' came to its senses after timely intervention by its original creator, Prof Stephen Falken, thus saving the world from total annihilation.

I simply loved the ending because the final message from 'Joshua' was:

"The only winning move is not to play."

By the way, here's the link to Dr Ireland's article. By all means, play with the project lessons!


To lead knowledge workers into the 21st century, leaders must:

• Re-examine & be able to clearly articulate their own personal values & purpose;

• Facilitate all team members in examining their own personal values & purpose;

• Confirm that their own values & purpose (& that of other team members) is in alignment with the organization's vision, mission & values statements;

• Think & demonstrate that all employees are necessary to achieve the outcome — people have different jobs but not inferior & superior ones (the volleyball team concept) — sincere respect for the contribution of all workers involved in the project;

• Integrate, resource & orchestrate the activities of various projects & provide leadership for these various projects as required;

• Share leadership with those who, through their knowledge, should naturally assume the leadership of the team at certain points;

• Guide, coach & mentor employees' ongoing professional & personal development (nurture an intensely learning oriented organization);

• Be a walking demonstration of their own continuous personal & professional development (develop personal power & inspiration rather than relying on the traditional positional power & fear based compliance of employees);

• Have sincere belief & passion in the organization's vision, mission & values statements & use that languaging on a daily basis;

• Be feedback junkies....from team members, peers, other branches within the organization, & ultimately from the external customers/clients;

• Master lateral thinking skills;

• Work on a "vision" level of where the team/organization is going;

• Learn & demonstrate the power of partnering (both within the organization — with other branches — & also with different external companies — even community endeavours.);

• Encourage & demonstrate ethical, consistent, & congruent behaviour;

• Reduce levels of job stress & tension;

• Encourage pride in the organization;

• Develop & use performance management systems;

• Foster teamspirit & use team language rather than "lone ranger", or separate, language ie. "we" vs. "I", "us" vs. "you";

• Encourage the demonstration of personal leadership from all team members;

[Source: Nina Spencer, executive coach & author of 'Getting Passion Out of Your Profession'; more information about her & her consulting work is available at her corporate website;]


“I never can resist the urge to create theories and models. But, I hold all maps and theories lightly, consciously making room for mystery and for doubt.”

~ Roger Harrison;