Reaching Out To Passion

Many of us live in a world where we don’t have much time to think and we stand to lose our own identity. While companies talk about profits and value, people don’t get passionate or fired about that. What they are passionate about are their family, children and perhaps their own community.

Patrick Dixon asked the audience whether they have done something for free in the last 2 years. Perhaps it was to help out in a small charity or community doing their accounts, or help out at their children’s school in a puppet play or something. Many of them put their hands up.

Why is it they are able to do it without being paid to do it? It is the passion inside them that drives them to do something to help others. Sometimes, we may be so bogged down by work. Work alone does not define us. Without motivation in our own lives, we cannot give much to others. By helping others, this sense of fulfilment can propels us to achieve better things in the world.

By understanding what drives people, then we can cater better to their needs. If you are a teacher, you need to understand your students need to feel accepted by their peers and yet they want to be unique. If, as a teacher, you are able to make their lives better, and connect people, they will respond better.

If you are in sales, you need to know how your product can make your customers’ lives better. Does it save them time? Does it improve their quality of life? Or does it feels a particular need? How does this product help them connect to the rest of the world. For example, if you are selling a car, then obviously the car will help them go to work easily, comfortably and quickly. They can bring their children to places that would be very difficult by public transport. You can make the world come alive for their children. Or it could bring you a certain kind of prestige, which makes you have something in common with someone else in another part of the world.

By being able to meet the needs and wants of people, you are able to succeed better.

Just My Luck

clovercloverI borrowed a DVD today after a gym workout, and it was Just My Luck. It was about Lindsay Lohan having great luck in everything she did. The moment she stepped out of her building lobby, the rain stopped and the cab stopped right for her. She managed to get into an empty lift and get picked up by a rich man’s son. Next, she even got a job promotion after solving a major crisis.

One thing that struck me was that she had so much positivity. The Law of Attraction worked really well for her, so she did not believe that she was lucky. She just got what she wanted because she carried positive thoughts.

Now, the problem came when she kissed a guy who had the worst luck in the world. Their luck switched and she immediately got arrested, lost her job and broke her nose while in detention. He got a chance of his lifetime to get a new British band discovered by a music mogul.

About this guy, despite having bad luck for most part of his life, he did not blame himself. He still looked on the bright side of things, and was well prepared to solve any possible problems, such as keeping a poncho instead of an umbrella because he knew it would become a lightning rod with all the strong wind instead.

Even when Lohan was stuck in a janitor type job and had to scrape bubblegum and unclog the toilets, she learnt from mistakes quickly and did her best in everything.

Of course, this is a show, and anyone who is down on his or her luck will not be able to smile like her. But what was interesting was that when you keep getting something you want, even better things will come. In addition, what can go wrong will go wrong. You choose to keep a virtuous cycle as compared to being stuck in a vicious cycle.

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.

Go As You Are In Five Years Time

Have you ever wondered whether you can be a successful businessman, or a Nobel Prize winner? There is actually a way to help you reach your goal quickly. That is to hold a party where people dress up as what they envision themselves as in five years time.

If I want to be a successful author, what I can do is to design a book cover, with my face on it, of a best selling title and put it over another book, and bring it around. If I want to be a Singapore Olympic swimmer, I could put on my swimming costume and wear my track suit, complete with goggles and swimming cap, and walk around with gold medals hanging from my neck. For those who want to be superstars, they could go and get a makeover, and walk down the red carpet. What the host could do is to hire people to pretend they are reporters, or people from the paparazzi to make the party come alive.

When the guests arrive at the party, they should be in character, and talk to each other like how they would if they are in that position. For example, if I aim to be a successful San Diego plastic surgeon, I would be discussing the latest technology in liposuction or other reconstructive surgery, and gently pointing out how people could improve their looks through removal of eyebags. If I were a successful lawyer, I could give tips to the author on how to protect his copyrights, and get the author to interview the swimmer so that he could write the biography.

It may seem a little ridiculous, but when you are able to visualise yourself as a real person in your dream occupation, and get others to agree, it helps to reframe your mind that it is possible to do so.

Princess In The Vineyard

The actress who acted in The Princess Hours has acted in a new Korean drama serial, The Man in the Vineyard, is quite cute in her new role as a city girl who goes to learn how to grow and harvest grapes. I cannot remember her name.

When she first goes to the vineyard to work, it is because of a possible inheritance given by a distant relative. However, she cannot adapt to the village because it is extremely backwards and it is a back-breaking job trying to grow the grapes. Her extrinsic motivation is to get the vineyard, which is worth a lot of money, so she forced herself to stay on. Unfortunately, she soon gives up as the hours are punishing, and packs her bags to go home.

When we have an aim to work towards, we cannot simply want something that comes from our hearts. True, many of us want to be rich, but if the process is something that we hate, we will soon give up. Perseverance could only last that long without first finding out about our beliefs. If we strongly believe in caring for the grapes, achieving the goal of getting the vineyard should not be a problem.

For the poor city girl, her goal is not supported by the belief that she can survive in a vineyard. What is interesting is on the day she runs away to the train station, she meets the guy whom she had a major crush on. Trained in cosmetic plastic surgery, he is performing his National Service in the same village. He wants to set up his clinic in Seoul, but it will be extremely expensive to do so. Now that she is fuelled by the belief that to obtain the love of her life, and become a doctor’s wife, she would do everything to support him in whatever he did, her goal is now supported by the new belief that love conquers all.

In the process, she grows in love with the grapes, and the man in the vineyard, and her belief system is further strengthened by the central belief that with her own sweat, she is able to produce delicious organic grapes that would be enjoyed by others, and thus, she goes to great length to ensure the survival of the grapes. The outcome would still be the same, but she is definitely much happier because she has found a purpose in life.

For anyone to succeed in life, we must find something that really motivates us, and what our central beliefs are, before we can determine what our goals are.

Read 1 Book A Day To Be An Expert

Do you always complain about not having enough time to read books? And you marvel at people who are able to read a lot even though you struggle to finish one? One simple way is to cut down one hour of television each day, just like what Jack Canfield (the Chicken Soup guy)  said, and put the time to good use.

If you are able to read one book a day, you will be able to be an expert in the field within a short period of time. For example, I’m definitely no expert in choosing wedding gowns, but due to necessity, (I’m taking my wedding photos soon), I read up on various books on how to choose a suitable one. I now know the difference between sweetheart and Contessa necklines, and which one is suitable for me.

To take this further, spend one week reading a subject that you are totally not familiar with. Break out of your comfort zone and read something different. There are plenty of Tattoos books available. For example, you can tell a kid why he must learn to colour within the lines, because that is what Tattoo artists are supposed to do. Different colours are absorbed differently by the skin, and you can use that to teach a child about colours in physics lessons.

When you break out of your comfort zone, you can learn to apply the new acquired knowledge in your current field. For example, if a person who loves to cook decides to read and learn about photography, he or she can simply bring the dishes to life through photos. Or if the person reads about architecture, he or she may be able to serve the food in amazing ways.

The first thing to do is to stop watching that extra drama serial which will suck away 20 hours of your life when you get started on it. With these 20 hours, that’s 20 hours of knowledge to be gained.

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.

Make Time for Exercise

Do you know why employees at Google get to swim, play basketball, work out at the gym or play any other games while they are still at work? The swimming pool and basketball court is actually inside the Google Complex. Do you know why you are always feeling tired and bored of life? It all boils down to a simple maxim: exercise brings about a radiant life.

If you are already exercising, you are on track to lead a great life. If not, you can always get started. There are ten rituals expounded in The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. These ten rituals, which include reading, meditating, listening to music, speaking and so on, are some simple tasks that promise to transform your life. One of them is to exercise.

Exercise helps to train your body, and when you body is fit, you are able to train your mind too. It helps you to feel refresh and rejuvenated, instead of tired and lousy. At the same time, when people exercise, it helps them to focus better. They can become more creative. Because of exercising and of course other reasons, the Google employees are constantly creating new things and improving on their present products.

While not all of us are in tip top condition now, some form of exercise is definitely necessary. I’m glad to say I have an exercise plan which I am committed to, and this took me quite some time before it really took off. I am certainly very glad that I am now very eager to exercise. In the beginning, I accompanied my mother to yoga classes. As I had learnt ballet when I was young, it was quite easy for me to learn the poses. Unfortunately, I was unable to continue with it due to time and location. Classes were held in town, and I usually could not afford the time to go down.

However, I had a target last year and that was to look good for my ROM, I started working out in the gym at my workplace. With a clear focus in mind, I felt my pants were not as tight as before and I was glad with the results.

After discovering that exercise actually helped me feel refreshed and happier, I decided to search for a proper gym. At the same time, I felt that I wanted to mix yoga and pilates with cardio-exercises. A convenient location was extremely important. I found one that was midway between my workplace and my home, so I could work into my schedule to go to the gym at least 3 times a week.

It has been almost six months since I had started with my gym, and I’m glad to say I have managed to work this into my routine. It has become a habit to go to the gym, and I am glad that I am able to stick with this.

Therefore, if you wish to bring positive change to your life, start with some simple exercises. You do not need to jog if you hate it. Yoga is beneficial and depending on your fitness level, there are many types of yoga that you can consider that caters to your needs. When you have become fitter, you can start to explore other types of exercises, just to make your exercise regime more varied and interesting.

Observations In An Examination

I had the opportunity to observe an examination and since I had plenty of time to kill while waiting for the rain to stop, I thought of some lessons learnt.

1. Stop Being Trapped In Similar Situations
The ones who broke something while doing the examination did not learn from their mistakes. They broke the same thing again, within a short space of time. They are trapped in a vicious cycle where they continuously repeat the same mistakes. Telling people to learn from mistakes do not work.

They have to do the right steps the first time round, because habits are formed from learned behaviour. It is just like playing the piano. Once you make a mistake at a particular part, you would have forgotten how the right tune should sound. Your fingers would have developed the muscle memory of playing the wrong note each time round.

When you have to concentrate on avoiding that mistake, since it is already learnt, you take time away from other parts which you have already done well. That is because there is only so much we can concentrate at a given time. Things that are repeated will become a habit.

2. See Things From A Different Angle
In the same task, people approach it differently. Some squat down to look at it at the same level, while others bend down to look from top down. Do they get the same results? Perhaps. However, there are occasions when results are really different due to parallax errors. When is the last time you approach a problem from a different angle?

It also means that when you work in a team, people see things differently. They view the same issue from different angles, and you can check whether you are on the right track.  

3. Be Well-prepared
During an examination, some of them forgot to bring certain stationery. Just like a swordsman should have his sword during a duel, a person having an examination should have his or her complete set of stationery. If not, such people are just short-changing themselves. While an artist can simply use what’s available on hand, there are still certain things that are absolutely vital.

Did they make a checklist of the necessary equipment beforehand? Did they carry out a check before going for the examination? In business, if you have a presentation to make to a client, you jolly well have to make sure you have everything with you. If you tell them something is forgotten, or another thing is spoilt, they will have very bad impression of you. They can just give the deal to another party, since they are afraid you will be ill-prepared for their work.

I wonder what is stopping them from being well-prepared. Is it disinterest? Poor attitude?

Magic Rule of 21: Kicking A Bad Habit

Boy In Trouble

In The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: A Fable About Fulfilling Your Dreams & Reaching Your Destinyby Robin S. Sharma, it talks about the Magic Rule of 21. You apply this rule when you want to have a new habit.

It is very tough to get rid of old habits because old habits die hard. However, what we can do is to have a new habit that has so much energy that the old one will go away. This is when you replace your bad habit.

In order for this to work, you need to apply the rule. You need to spend 21 days in a row to permanently have a new habit. You need to make it like a ritual, doing it at the same time, same day and same place.

For example, I have a major problem with tidy desks, so my bad habit of allowing my desk to become messy should be kicked. I want to break this habit by having a new habit, which is to tidy my desk daily, so that things will not pile up and go missing. I will have more space on my table and I will feel happier with a neat table.

However, as I have not applied this Magic Rule of 21, my table is constantly in a mess. Perhaps I have unwittingly applied the Magic Rule of 21 by putting things on my desk everyday, and leaving my things there without putting into drawers or acting on them.

Hence, to get this to work, I shall spend 5 minutes every day, early in the morning when I get to work, to tidy my table. I shall put away all books, and stack the papers properly. Things that need to be filed should be filed. My pens should go back to the same containers I had taken them out from.

By the end of 21 days, it should become a routine for me to start my day, and I will not have to waste huge amount of time on finding papers.