Eat That Frog

My husband told me about a book ‘Eat That Frog!’ and I was wondering what kind of weird book it was. Apparently, someone in his course mentioned this book about combating procrastination. I absolutely need it. I had already managed to psyche myself about work, so I’m quite happy for the past six weeks. However, I have not done that for one critical part of my work, and I’m simply procrastinating. It’s Sunday and I brought my work home, but I had been doing other things.

So what does ‘Eat That Frog’ try to say? Well, there are always things we dislike doing everyday. Think of the frog as that thing we dislike. So, we should start our day by eating that frog. Get to the dirty task right in the beginning of the day. You need to know what is vital and at the same time it may be tedious. So once you get it out of the way, the rest of your day is lovely.

Although, I think the title isn’t really apt for Chinese, because frogs are delicious! I think I might have eaten frog legs before, and they are soft, and a little chewy. However, if I see the frogs that are still alive, I think I’ll avoid eating them. I don’t need to see how my food used to look like.

I guess I’m going to get to work since I have another 4 or 5 hours to go before the start of tomorrow, and more work that is going to pour in.

Procrastination – A Deadly Disease

What separates the great and the normal can be procrastination. It is one of the deadly diseases that prevent success. I overheard this in the staff lounge a few days ago. My colleague has a paper to submit, and no matter how much time she has, she can never finish it early. She has a friend who can get As on a constant basis, even though she will usually submit the work half an hour just before the deadline.

I’m facing the same problem now, so even though I’m given a head start to do my work, I’m still feeling the pain of completing it. I went to a café on a Saturday to do my work, but after 3 hours of staring at the paper, I got sleepy and went home. Unfortunately, the moment I got home, I simply could not get started.

I’ve also been trying to survive my work by waking up at 3 or 4 am in the morning to complete whatever work I have. I sleep rather early, because the day is exhausting, and sleeping late is really bad for the complexion. Our skin repairs itself the best between 11pm and 1am, confirmed by Chinese physicians and also Western scientists. That’s why people get dark circles if they sleep late.

Unfortunately this is not a long-term solution, hence I need to learn to avoid procrastination. I need to step out of my comfort zone and do things that I dislike. Perhaps what Tim Ferris said in his book was right. We should not have long deadlines, because we will never stick to it. Instead, do things when they are required, because we work best under tight conditions.

If we submit our work late, we hold up other’s deadlines and their work. It’s really unfair when you have such co-workers. It’s probably because of this that I feel I face a lot of stress at work. It’s a bad habit I need to kick. One way to overcome it is to start on things when we get them, so that if there are any things that demand our time, they will not hold up our progress.

I really have no idea how my colleague manages to finish his work way before deadlines are set. He is really coping well with work, and he is getting promotions faster than others. That goes to show that when you overcome a deadly disease like procrastination, you can succeed.

One thing you can do to complete task on time is to shorten the time length required. Meeting deadlines is part and parcel of academic life and working life, so do preserve and do the work that is a pain in the ass before you enjoy yourself. It is only then you can enjoy yourself without any worries.

2-Hour Preparation Every Morning

Wake up early and prepare for 2 solid hours before you start the day’s work. I heard this from two different people, John Di Lemme (a motivational speaker) and Marc Yu’s mother (Marc is a child prodigy in piano) this week, and I think it’s a great idea. I wake up early, but I spent my time on reading newspapers, eating breakfast and showering, so by the time I get to work, I arrive on the dot, and head straight into work without preparation.

John said that he would not speak to people or answer questions if he did not have the time to prepare. Each presentation or coaching session that he does comes from time spent on researching, rehearsal and preparation. He also uses the time to put himself mentally into the right frame of mind. Hence, he has pushed away engagements that require him to speak at 8am, because he cannot wake up early enough to prepare. In addition, he does not like to speak on the spot to somebody, because he feels that the time spent on preparation is very important, so that the people can fully learn from what he has to say.

Marc Yu is a child prodigy who receives homeschooling. He learns about history of music and other topics that children his age have no interest in. Science, mathematics are some other subjects he learns, so his mother needs to spend time to go through the topics for the day, and to fully prepare in anticipation of the inquisitive questions that he will ask. If she doesn’t spend the two hours to read up, then it will be wasted time for the boy. She will also use the time to plan how the lessons for the day develop.

From these two people’s experience, I realise that I have been jumping right into the day’s work without sufficient preparation. Sometimes, I meet with my clients right at the start of the work day. On other occasions, I have one or two hours to prepare before I see them. There is a difference. When I do not have time to prepare, I am able to produce a presentation on the spot, but the standard is not good enough. When I have time to prepare, I have time to read more in-depth, ask more thought-provoking questions, and engage them better. I am also in the mental mood to go through the day. This is especially important as I tend to wake up with low energy and enthusiasm. Regarding this, I’m taking steps to overcome that. Before I can do that, I must make sure that my standards do not suffer.

Some people think that they can just rely on what they have been doing for the past few years to take them through. However, there is new information in the world everyday, and it takes time to digest. If we do not set aside time to reflect, to think through the day’s events, then ultimately, our work suffers.

Since not everyone is a morning person, perhaps you can find a time that suits you. If you are able to plan your time in the office, perhaps you can schedule meetings with people later in the morning, or in the afternoon, so that you have enough time in the morning to go through your ideas, your pitches and other important things before you meet your co-workers or clients.

Ultimate Success Formula

I’ve introduced this Ultimate Success Formula to many people, and they found it useful to achieve success. I first learnt about this model from a course I attended at AKLTG. I used it to apply to my fitness plan, and I reached my goal of running in a race.

First of all, you must believe in something. Perhaps you believe that you can succeed in this field, or achieve something in some area. It could also be a universal belief. Perhaps you believe that you are going to a great success in your work. For students, their beliefs could be something to do with their academic success and their ambitions.

Next, what we do is shaped by our values. Do we do something out of passion, or out of fear? Perhaps, some people fear being looked down by others if we do not make a name for ourselves. Or we could want to work hard in order to support our families as it is our responsibility to do so. We could also do something out of love or fame.

The next step requires setting a goal. The goal should be as specific as possible. Stretch yourselves and move forward. Perhaps you want to get promoted to a specific possible within two years. You could also want to publish a book by the end of this year. It would be great if you could decide what type of book you are going to write.

After setting the goal, we have to come up with strategies to ensure we take active steps to achieve our goal. The strategies must be specific. It should not read like New Year’s Resolutions which we know we seldom keep due to its vagueness and ambiguity.

Finally, we have to take action. Don’t end up like NATO – No Action, Talk Only. You can incorporate the Magic Rule of 21 and work on each strategy for 21 days in a row.  If we achieve success, then we can move on to other Ultimate Success Formulae. If we do not achieve success, then we have to take a second look at our goal. Is it something achievable? Strategies may have to be fine-tuned. Get a pen and a piece of paper, and start writing your Ultimate Success Formula.

Take Action, Don’t Regret

I retook an exam last year after being hung up about my results many years ago. I did not need this exam result at all, but it was more to prove to myself that I can succeed. I got the best grade possible which was a huge improvement from my previous grade.

While results are not everything, the reasoning behind taking the examination is important. When we want to motivate ourselves and succeed, we have to set out a clear action plan to succeed. Some people may talk about doing something constantly, such as learning French, learning driving or going on a dive trip, but do not take any action to see it through.

The grade I got was not important. It was just a reflection on how determined I was to improve myself after so many years. By going for the examination itself and ignoring what other people said about me (yes, a number of people who found out actually laughed at me), I was challenging myself to get to greater heights. In addition, I did not want to regret things that I did not do so well. It’s futile wasting your time regretting something. By taking action, I attract better things in life as well.

This little achievement helps me to improve my confidence in one area and I plan to use this achievement to help other people succeed.


The Japanese have a philosophy known as kaizen. It has to do with making small improvements to something everyday. If you are able to improve your technique in tennis by 5% each day, then by the end of 20 days, you will have made vast improvements.

As part of my job, I have to repeat my presentations to different clients. Each time I present, I will improve it by a little, and using this idea of kaizen, I find myself being able to grasp the time better, and I am able to link my points better with each presentation.

That’s why parents love to nag at their children to play the piano everyday and practise the scales. The more you practise, and by improving 5% everyday, you get better quickly.

The people at Toyota did the same thing, and their cars are well known in the world. They constantly improve little things that appear to be unnoticeable in short term, but they all add up.

So, think of something you can add incremental changes everyday. It’s easier than making a huge change at one go.

Penalised For Asking For Help

At the practical examination I mentioned earlier, I observed that some of the candidates were confronted with something they did not know. One couldn’t get something to work, and so she asked for help. They were actually given the go-ahead according to instructions to ask for help if they were stuck for more than fifteen minutes. Of course, marks would be deducted based on the extent of help rendered. Some may continue to keep quiet and suffer the fate of getting extremely poor marks. It is a calculated decision we have to take sometimes. Two others subsequently asked for identification of materials and help was rendered to them.

What would you do if you were in their situation? It’s just like Asia Amazing Race, where time is precious. Contestants were tasked to dig through an area of sand to look for an object. Despite digging for a long time, some refused to give up. That was because if they had given up, they would have incurred a time penalty of four hours. Probably they thought they could do it within a shorter period of time. One group after searching for an hour decided to give up. A few other groups decided to give up. They were all afraid that if the took the time penalty, it would be disastrous. Unfortunately, for those who carried on, they became extremely tired and exhausted, and still could not find the object until the sun had come down. One group finally gave up after expending a lot of energy and wasted even more time.

In such situations, the stubborn streak might have hindered them from seeking help or taking penalties. It might be useful if time was not a concern, because these are people who would ultimately succeed. If Edison was not such a person, we would not have our light bulbs today. However, this was a contest and time was a key factor. For the examination, time was also a key factor. It was better to lose a few marks than to lose all marks.

In reality, things are not so straightforward. We cannot predict what our competitors may do, but sometimes we have to take a step back in order to go a longer way.

Pleasure and Pain: Don’t Be An Ostrich


There are some people who constantly hide their heads in the sand, like an ostrich, when confronted with problems. They think that by doing nothing, the problems will go away. Tough luck. Usually, the longer we delay, the bigger the problem gets. This has something to do with how we perceive pain and pleasure, which I’ll talk more about.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, why not take some action? It’s just like being stuck in a job you hate. Day in and day out, you lack the drive to succeed at your workplace, and have to drag your feet to work. Instead of punishing yourself, (and your colleagues who have to listen to your grumbles and bear with your lack of enthusiasm in various projects, why not do something about it and follow through with the plan. By the time they decide to do something about the job they hate, they find themselves too old to change to a new field or company.

In another example, one of the worst nightmares for men is premature balding. Loss of hair leads to lack of self-confidence for some of them, and it can even bring about depression in more serious cases. Having a head full of head represents vitality and youth, so losing one’s hair may mean the opposite. Whether the man is 30 or 50, hair loss is something that is dreaded by many.

If the hair loss damages one’s self-esteem, there are ways to solve the problem. Grab the problem by its roots (pardon the pun). There is plenty of medicine available for hair re-growth. However, if the man has dragged his feet in solving the problem, it would be futile as medication works best on thinning hair, not a bald head. By the time they act, they may have to having hair transplant, perhaps in San Francisco hair restoration surgeries are easily available for them to go through. Of course, it is not so painful now compared to last time, but it is still a surgery and risks are involved. For these people to take a step forward to actually go through hair restoration procedures, they are brave enough to face the truth.

Or, it could be like what Anthony Robbins said in his book, that when the pain of something overrides the pleasure of something else, that is when people take action. Hence, perhaps the pain of being laughed for a receding hairline at finally tips over the scale of the pleasure of escaping from actual action of solving the hair issue.

Visualising where you live and how you look

Visualisation is a very successful tool that helps us to be successful. Think of how big your light-blue three-storey semi-detached future house with full length windows on the second and third storeys is. The garden has a small pond with koi swimming inside and it is surrounded by many pink flowers. Butterflies are flying and your pet puppy is running around the garden chasing its tail.

As you remove your shoes and walk into the house, the floor is made of marble and abstract art paintings are hanging on the wall. The 42-inch plasma TV is nicely placed on the sideboard and you have cable TV connected. As you go to your room, up the stairs with timber covering, you see the light shining in from the small window.

When you enter your bedroom, you see a king-sized bed waiting for you. The luscious 500-thread count purple bed sheets are extremely soft on your skin as you relax on the huge bed. From your bed, you switch on the music using a remote control and your favourite tune comes on through the Bose speakers at the corner of your bedroom.

If your idea of success is to own a big house, don’t just think of a big house. The words will mean nothing. To successfully use the method of visualisation, put in detailed information. If you can pictures from magazines, cut them out and paste them onto a big piece of paper and put it up your wall. It will serve to remind you. When this is done, you will be more inclined to work towards your goals.

If your idea of success is to look good, think of how you can look good. Do you need to learn how to put makeup? Do you want to wear clothes from certain brands? Picture yourself wearing a black-coloured pantsuit with red fine lines. Think of how actresses smile and cut out beautiful pictures of them. If you want to look as good as them and are thinking of nose surgery, you could try Photoshop to make your nose sharper, just like Jennifer Anniston, and see whether you like the results. Perhaps varying the way you put makeup would suffice. This is much better than constantly whining about how ugly you look and not taking any action.

Whatever your picture of success is, take time out to think through it by using the power of visualisation to help you reach your goals.

Personal Appearance Boosts Confidence

Silvio Berlusconi is a former Prime Minister of Itatly, and I chanced upon a photo of him wearing a bandana while having a stroll with the former Prime Minister of Britian, Tony Blair. We certainly will not catch our local politicians dressed so flamboyantly. It turned out that Berlusconi had just had hair restoration and he was protecting his skin.

Hair on politicians is quite a big issue with politicians, since voters like to see well-groomed politicians. When one magazine did a poll with voters, they said that having grey hair made a politician looked more distinguished, and hence, they were more likely to vote for him. Unfortunately, this opinion is different outside of politics.

There’s a saying that people depend on what they wear to look good, and it is important. One local actress said that she went for interviews with our national carrier 10 times, and they did not accept her application because she did not put makeup. When she finally did on the tenth occasion, she was accepted. It goes to show how people view appearances.

While I am not saying that we should spend lots of money on looking good, we should take an effort to look presentable. If spending some money to look good in order to boost our confidence, it is worth considering, though having hair restoration can be a somewhat drastic move.