About Me

My photo
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
My hero, Superman. Want to be just like him, save the world, beginning with improving myself constantly!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Choices, choices, choices

Being a parent, we need to make plenty of choices all the time. Which formula milk? Which brand of disposable diapers? In the first place, disposable or napkins? Is he eating enough? Should we give him more? Should he start eating meat? Can he eat fruits? I think I can go on and on...

Do we really know which choices are right and which choices are wrong? Being a father for almost a year now, I dare say you'll never ever know until afterwards. So, what do we do? Do we then do nothing? OR do we allow others to choose for us?

This morning as I was reading through the tweets of the people I follow, a friend, Ming tweeted this:

The only way not to make mistakes, is to not do anything. That in itself prove to be the ultimate mistake.

This makes absolute sense to me, because, although this may be a surprise to many of you, NOT doing anything is ALSO A CHOICE! I guess what my friend was trying to say is that if you don't do anything, yes, you may not make those 'mistakes', but some of the biggest mistakes like losing out on an opportunity, happens when we don't do anything.

Based on my observations over the years working with people being a trainer, many like to do NOTHING and think that it is safer. OR they think that because I'm not 'CHOOSING', I will not make any mistakes. I'll share some of these scenarios below...

Scenario 1 - I didn't do anything, its not my fault:

In an office environment, email is a very common form of communication. Mr. Safe receives an email from a his boss sharing the team's plan for the year. He spots some problem with the paln, but though to himself that to be safe, is to do nothing at all. Later that year, something goes wrong with the plan. Mr. Safe blames his boss, "My boss so stupid, he should've known that this will not work. Even I COULD SEE that there were problems with the plan. Now its ALL HIS FAULT that our team is f**ked and we're going to blow our budget for this year....its ALL HIS FAULT!"

Think again, was it the boss' fault? Probably yes. But was it ALL HIS FAULT? probably NOT! In this case, Mr. Safe thinks that just because he did not do anything, he is NOT responsible for the mistake. WRONG! Mr. Safe, being a member of the team, has a responsibility to ensure that the team is headed in the right direction and that the team achieves its goals. We must understand one thing, like I said earlier, NOT making a choice IS indeed a CHOICE! Mr. safe CHOSE not to do anything and hence he should ALSO be responsible for the mistake.

Saying this to Mr. Safe, he objects, "But my boss doesn't listen, even if I pointed it out in the first place, he would've shot me down and told me to mind my own business and he'll think that his plan is perfect! What am I supposed to do? I still think I did the right thing!"

Mr. Safe has a point, but it doesn't change the fact that he did not make any effort at all to save the team. This is what I'll suggest Mr. Safe can do. Present to his boss that there is a flaw in the plan, then suggest a solution (of course how you present this is also very crucial, perhaps I'll write something about communication in the near future). Be very objective and keep the team goals in mind. If for some reason, Mr. Safe's boss is so egoistic as to not listen. Then when the problem occurs later in the year, Mr. Safe can then say that he has done everything he could to prevent, and now we can then say it was more of the boss's fault now.

But is it ALL HIS FAULT? I really don't believe that any single event can be a result of one person's actions alone. I believe that everything that happens is contributed by many factors. In this scenario, perhaps Mr. Safe could have tried his second time telling his boss when signs of trouble began to emerge. If that didn't work, how about third time? Fourth? Fifth? In fact, there are still many other options in the corporate world that I'm not going to dwell into. Bottom line is this, Mr. Safe had a choice, not making one is also a choice.

Scenario 2 - They told me to, its not my fault, I didn't have a choice!

Ms. Safe goes for massage (professional ones). The masseuse was applying intense pressure and made Ms. Safe uncomfortable. She then told the masseuse to soften a little bit. The masseuse told Ms. Safe that this is the pressure that is good for her health, if the pressure is reduced, the effect won't be as good. Ms. Safe, though feeling the pain, decided to take the advice of the masseuse.

The next day, Ms. Safe was having body aches everywhere and started complaining, "That masseuse I'm telling you, really lousy! She pressed so hard and its causing me a lot of pain. That place is terrible." A caring friend asks, "Didn't you tell the masseuse to reduce the strength?" Ms. Safe yelled, "I DID! I told her that, but she won't listen, what choice did I have? She said that it was good for me, now clearly, she's wrong. I shouldn't have listened to her, now I'm aching all because of this lousy masseuse!"

Let's think carefully here, did Ms. Safe have a choice? She did make known to the masseuse that she wasn't comfortable, does that technically make her right? She decided to proceed with the massage with the masseuse's suggestion, Ms. Safe MADE A CHOICE!

Very often, I see people doing this. Because I used to do it a lot! I used to blame people for the choices they've made FOR when I think back again, I say to myself, WHAT?!?! What was I thinking, how can anyone make a choice for me? That is just absurd!

Having shared these 2 scenarios, I hope that you can see that we always have a choice. But more importantly, we are ALWAYS (and I mean it, always) responsible for our choices. Sometimes these choices don't look like choices because we choose not to choose or choose not to do. That very decision in itself is a CHOICE.

I would like to encourage everyone to try this. From now on, tell yourself that everything you do is a result of your own choices. What you eat, what you say, what you see, what you hear, what you want, what you buy, what you feel, what you believe, what you think, who you are and who you'll become. You will always have a Choice!

Have a great Sunday, I choose to spend time with my family, so although I have many other points I'd like to share about choices, I'll write them next time.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

First Steps

My son took his first steps today. So far he has been able to walk while holding on to something for support. Today, for the first time, he is able take something like 6 or 7 steps unaided. One of the best moments in my life.

It really makes me think about how we all learn to do things. A lot of things that we know how to do today started off with uncertainty and struggles. We do a lot of things subconsciously, without really thinking about it. Actions like breathing, walking and sitting may never cross your mind until you consciously think about it.

Fortunately for us, this is a great system. Imagine if you have to think consciously how much pressure you need to apply on the toothpaste tube to squeeze out the right amount of toothpaste. Then you'll have to consciously coordinate your other hand, to make sure that the toothpaste land nicely on your toothbrush. Basically, this system of ours is working pretty well for us. Unfortunately, not all the time.

Today, not only did my son take his first steps, he had also gone through his first swimming lesson. I met this awesome swimming coach last week and he said he can teach young children, even below the age of 1 to learn how to swim. So we decided to let him learn this useful skill.

At first, he seemed a bit scared, because its the first time his head is fully submerged in water since birth. So I asked the coach if this is normal. He said, "whether or not he is scared depends on how us as adults or you as a parent reacts. A baby's nature is to experience new challenges everyday. If you react with fear, he'll learn that he needs to be scared. But if you react as though it is a normal thing, he'll learn that the challenges he is facing now is something normal he needs to breakthrough."

AHHA!! Being a trainer, I am very well aware of this concept. Nonetheless, it triggers me to want to write this.

Our brain programme works very well for us, but like I said earlier, not all the time. When a child falls down, a parent has many choices of response.
1) Run up to the child with a very worried look and say, "Oh no, are you ok? Are you hurt? You must be really scared of falling right now. Poor thing..."
2) Stay calm, put up a smile, look at the child and say, "It's part of the learning process, its okay, you can learn to get up and feel better!"
3) Look stern, military looking face and say, "Don't be a weakling, get up, be a man (not the way Russell Peters does it)"

Different responses will give the child different definitions to the fall.
1) I'm weak, if I fall, I should be hurt and I should just cry and wait for my mamee to come pick me up
2) Falling down is a natural learning process to enable me to stand up strong. I am capable of learning this and looking from the smile on my parent's face, I know that I have their love and support! I can do it!
3) Its wrong for me to fall. My parent doesn't love me when I fall. I should do everything right, if there is a chance of doing something that might go wrong, maybe I shouldn't even try.

Of course, the definitions and belief stated above are all hypothetical. Nonetheless, most of us develop some kind of belief that affects our behaviour one way or another. Based on plenty of studies done, most say that these believes are formed between the age of 0-7.

So this is it, a child's first step is very important. What's probably more important is the responses he gets when he takes those first steps. When I say first steps, it includes all experiences that a child gets doing something for the first time. We can of course think of many positive first steps, like the first steps my son took, the first time your child sits up straight, starts walking, running, talking and as they grow up even more, the first time going to school, doing math, sports, meeting friends, etc. Some of these great moments in life, we can be very positive and encourage with applause, smile and any action of recognition.

But how about the negative first steps? First time knocking his head on the floor, falling, bleeding, stung by a bee, barked at by a dog, etc. These may seem like negative moments in life, but if you have been falling me thus far, you'll understand that well, whether or not it is negative depends on how we as parents respond to it. I believe if we respond positively to some of these so called 'negative' events, the child MAY, and hopefully just learn that falling down is a natural event that we need to face in order for us to work towards our dream. That means, be persistent instead of giving up, focus on solving the problem instead of whining, be proactive instead of  procrastinating, or be strong-willed but not being stubborn.

Some might be thinking, so does that mean that I am doomed if I have a bad programme in my mind? Fortunately for us, as Virginia Satir says, anything that is learnt can be changed. So, good news! Nonetheless, it is still worth spending the effort to make sure that the 'first steps' are well taken cared of.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Discover the Superhero inside You

I was watching this Chinese TV show, 非诚勿扰 (check it out on their official site: last night and felt very strongly about something.

I began watching just about a week ago and the way they arranged the show mesmerised me. I love the twist and turn in the show. I love the opportunity to observe human behaviour in the show, very interesting for my line of work.

I then found out that the show began early this year, so I managed to find and watched the first episode. I dare say if I began watching from this first episode, I would definitely not be attracted at all. The pace was different, when to slow down to create suspense and when to speed up to get things going and keep things exciting. Generally, I noticed many details different.

The first thing that came to my mind was this. They tweaked uncountable minor details in the show to make it really interesting in a very short time. I guess this is due to the incredible pressure and competition in the China market.

I then reflected on my life and I realised something. For the past few years being a trainer, I have been changing little by little, becoming the person I want to be. Sometimes, we may not be able to do drastic changes, due to time constraint or lacking of resources. But I told myself this, no matter what happens, I must always work on at least 1 thing I wish to change and improve all the time!

The world is changing constantly. Our environment is changing constantly. If we don't change, we become outdated, expired and ultimately useless to the world. I believe we are all here for a purpose. So find your purpose like I have, and start making those little changes. You will then Discover the Superhero inside You.