simplify… phase two

Bit my lips.
Thank it.
Placed it aside to be given away.

Feel like keeping it.
Thank it.
Placed it in the rubbish bin.

Give up an active pursuit to learn it.
Learn to let go of it.
Told myself doesn’t mean I stop it totally.
Just means more time and more focus for more things that matters more.

Throwing away stuff everyday,
Stopping an active pursuit for something that isn’t active in the first place,
The never ending mission to lighten my load.

Need to be free.
free…

~Flex Tio~

I still think I own too much stuff and have too many passion. The irony is that these passions became passive, and if that’s the case, are they still passion?

I decided to stop learning Cantonese as a 5th language formally. I’m giving away my dictionary of Cantonese Slang to my friend and throwing away the Cantonese Drama which I never watched. But this doesn’t stop me from learning a bit of Cantonese here and there right?

And there’s so much more passion and hobbies I have that I better have some clarity how I want to pursue them soon.

Advertisements

motivation

run“Go go! Just go for it!” he shouted at the top of his voice and he came running from behind, passed me and sprint off forward.

He wasn’t anyone who I know, just someone who is taking the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) with me. He chose to cheered on even though I’m sure he is freaking tired. It was infectious.

I reciprocated. I widen my steps and took my best attempt to sprint towards to finish line too, completing my 2.4km run station just behind him, getting my first ever Gold standard!

It was a goal I had for previous years but as I never did achieve it, I drop it out of my New Year Resolution for the past two years. Getting a knack that I could do this this time, I committed for a goal to gold just six weeks before!

As I proudly showed my comrades, who are relaxing at the stadium stand with their fruit juice, the number “5” chip which I got from the run (which meant that I came in 5th out of the cohort of 35 odd), fellow comrade AC chirped in:

At this age, you still can accomplish a Gold, you know that when you believe, you can do anything. Really.

Well, I guess I can. Thank you both of you for your motivation during the run and the after thoughts inspiration. I’ll remember this dearly.

getting attention

I like goggles for my eye wear, I really do. I couldn’t resist getting this pair of spectacles: the Butterfly Effect series from Owndays when I came across it. I chose the most outstanding colour of the three for myself. Wearing it for about two weeks now, even though this pair of spectacles is causing some pain at various pressure points, I felt very me with this pair of spectacles. The little rebel in me.

It is like those times where I would dress a bit differently to look outstanding: trench coats, suspenders, bow-ties, although not all of it at one go of course. Or sometimes a little bit more subtle with my pair of Walking Tall.

Days that I just felt like getting some attention. And sure I got lots and lots of it! And I learnt quite a fair bit from the attention I’m getting too.

Glasses

I learnt that my students were more ready to give me compliments compared to my colleagues even though they probably don’t know me as well. Perhaps my students were surprised by my antics where to my colleagues, they have sort of expected it.

I learnt that there will still be haters and I still get affected by that single “bad” comment out of all those good. But I also learnt to laugh it off as best as I could. Not sure if I feel good deep inside, but it’s just part and parcel of living.

Finally, I also learnt that this pair of spectacles could get me an extra serving of noodles at the cookhouse yesterday morning! When I was helping myself to the breakfast, the cookhouse lady had initially prevented me from getting the noodles (apparently, you can only choose to have either the “Western” breakfast or the noodles). As I was about to clear my tray, she asked me to come get another serving of noodles and we struck a conversation about my pair of spectacles.

Just hope that the pain points can go away as I get used to wear this pair of spectacle. Then all would be well.

DIFFERENCES in culture

“Are Europeans friendly?”

This is a usual question I had for friends who went to Europe for their vacation. While my personal experience with Finnish had been a pleasant one, I couldn’t help but ask that question as I hear too many stories about Europeans being unfriendly.

I guess I got my answer today, with an opportunity to chat with a German, T, who has been living in Singapore for the past 9 years.

“Germans are straight forward. In fact, I had a little culture shock when I went back to Germany recently. The waitress was telling us that we should leave the seats as we only spent $5 in the cafe and seats are reserved for those who spent at least $10,” T shared his little nugget of story with me.

“I guess I’m getting too used to Asian culture. It’s not that the waitress was unfriendly, I knew she was…” he added.

It was a moment of epiphany for me.

Strangely, it should be something I ought to know, especially as a learner of the Japanese language and someone who likes the Japanese culture.

A big aspect of Asian culture is face-saving and if we observe the Japanese culture, which in my opinion has exercised this “face-saving” culture to the greatest extent, the culture is even built into their language.

For instance, even though the word “No” exists in the Japanese language, it is seldom used as it is considered rude to reject a person. The proper way to reply would be “A little…”, coupled with a smallish body language of backing away with a gentle smile and an eye frown on their faces.

As for the person receiving the reply, he/she is expected to understand that it means a rejection and not push further if he/she could help it.

For the Germans, it was about being direct and getting the point across. Yes, even though they may throw in a bit of sarcasm in the midst maybe. As T puts it, two guys could be having a heated argument in work but once work is done, they can go into the same bar together and drink like brothers in the evening.

It’s just a difference in culture.

Probably it’s just that I’ve never met enough people who are more blunt and direct. After all, I’m guessing that Singaporeans are probably pretty German compared to our Asian counterparts.

cold calls

She called me three times the past few months, on the pretext that she knew a board gaming friend of mine (who I’m still unsure who he is at the moment). Tried asking her for the purpose of her call to no avail. Sensing something funny going on, I postponed her calls till one month later and three months later respectively.

And finally on the third call, she was like “I play board games too.”

Oh? In my mind I was like so are you trying to invite me to a board gaming event? Or have you also heard that I was trying to design a board game and you would like to invite me to a special event for board game designers?

“Actually I’m a financial advisor…”

Never mind the rest of her conversation, it was 1 hour after the call and my reaction was still like:

Rant

Can’t take it that I decided to take it out on Facebook

***

After taking it out on Facebook, I decided to do something which I don’t normally do. I called her back.

Frankly speaking, I do not know why I bothered.

I just felt that I should.

***

“Sorry, you cold called me just now?”

“Oh, I must have pressed the wrong button while I was flipping through my phone book just now.”

“No, I called you back. There’s no mistake. I’m calling you back because I would like to give you my feedback on why I rejected you. Except, I’m not sure if you would like to listen to it.”

“Oh, ok…”

Didn’t expect this to turn into a 20-minute chat.

It seems that this lady was not that new to financial advising. She was expecting to do a referral call but this particular one with me ended up as a cold call. I told her that she actually had a chance, if only she was upfront about the purpose of the call, there’s a chance I might listen more, instead of a tough rejection.

I really believe she could do cold calls. I’ve seen it working for many people whom I knew.

She was insistent that she’s making a referral call.

As it progressed, we chatted about other stuff, her profession and mine, she shared a bit of stuff about her husband also, trying to find a bit of common ground to chat about. And we parted amicably (I hope). Left her a link to LusiGroup. Offered to arrange a free pass to their preview if she wanted to find out more.

Strange to say, now it seems as though I am doing the cold call eh?

Anyway, still not sure why I did this though it did made my day interesting.

Afternote: As to whether it made my day, well… a friend of mine did commented: “(she) probably will brush it off and think it’s just one irritating person.”… Right…. Ouch!

Never Flagging in Adversity

I was not the easiest person to work with – full of skepticism and negativity. Most of my high school classmates would avoid me. I was in huge internal struggles. Depressed. Despair about life. It was so dark that I there was actually a blank in my memory of a few of those moments, which I knew there was extreme pain but I couldn’t remember the details of it…

IMG_20170505_062713

The Navy has been a very important part of my life journey. I am extremely fortunate to be working under a dedicated group of passionate officers who accepted me for who I was, who saw my flair and nurture my creativity, who mended the broken me together.

To begin with, I was part of the army who didn’t want to let me go. Yet, I’m always treated as part of the Navy family. My commanding officer did not have to do this out of his busy schedule because I’m really a nobody but he made two calls to the personnel department to ask to keep me with the Navy family.

I am no sailor, but the officers who were under him took very good care of me too. They offered me their friendship and taught me the traditions of the seas anyway, a lot going far back into the Age of Discovery. I fondly remembered the many nights working through projects with them. The many bowling sessions we gone for. The really generous affirmation they have given me about my work and my artistry.

I also saw through a dark moment – RSS Courageous. I remembered the skies poured its wrath at us, soaking every hair and every skin on that sombre day which the military funeral took place. All soaked and cold, our hearts strung in a common heavy beat as the procession drove passed us.

Through fair winds and against rough seas, this journey had built my courage and my confidence to live on and gave me a chance to redeem myself. It is for this reason, I always feel very much indebted to the Navy and will forever be grateful to be given a chance to be a part of this great family.

BIG PICTURE THINKING and POWER OF INFLUENCE: Observing Leadership in my Students

N was the result-and-task-oriented person, the head of the student club. J was the people-oriented person and a leader from the previous generation.

Both were just as passionate in serving and both were correct in their own rights.

It was two schools of thoughts, just like the one between a conservative and a liberal, one between a democracy and a communism.

They couldn’t convince one another. I see logic in both and I see shortfalls in both their execution. They just have to decide and move on.

N was probably stubborn in his own way, having the likes of a great entrepreneur in the making although not quite there yet. Authoritarian in his approach and expects everyone under him to perform as well as him. Decisiveness was his strength. Anger management and giving up to easily in getting buy-in from his team were where his shortfalls laid.

The Issue in Question

The issue in question was about dealing with additional student manpower for a school event. N was dogmatic that all student volunteers must be of quality. He was willing to interview the over 50 volunteers and will not hesitate to kick anyone out if they did not meet his standard. Harsh were his actions but there were certain validity to it.

J disagreed because no one kicks out volunteers and this is not “how the student club works”. Airy-fairy that reasoning might sound, but not without its truths.

Big Picture Thinking

In leadership training, people were often taught to have “the big picture in mind and not to be bogged down by details”. I often thought to myself what big picture thinking actually means. It was one of those terms, to me, that is so overused that it loses its meaning.

However, being put into the situation to calm both N and J down, for the first time, I was forced to do big picture thinking in a manner that I’m self-aware. One thing that I definitely know:

  • Kicking out student volunteers may allow them to run the event smoothly and make the event-goers happy. It will highly likely result in bad reputation for the student club if not done properly too. This will mean that future leaders of the club will find it difficult to recruit volunteers for all sorts of events.
  • Yet, keeping all student volunteers may sink the event into mayhem. That will also result in bad reputation for the student club and may cause a decrease in the number of event-goers next time.
  • Win-win: Keep as many as we can, train them and give them a memorable experience. Develop them and we have more capable volunteers with us in the future. They will help us make our event-goers feel at home. After all, we need all the help we can get.

A few big aspects about big picture thinking here. To me, big picture thinking (may include but is not limited to):

  • Is cross-generational and for the long term: How a decision can bring positive impacts and negative effects in the long term. Long-term should be defined as beyond the current generation/situation.
  • Takes ALL stakeholders emotions and concerns into consideration: In short, empathy. Yes, we need to take care of the needs of the “customers”. This must not be done at the expense of our own people.
  • Is a Win-Win: This often requires some creativity but when we place serving the people at the heart of solving our problem, I truly believe this will flow in automatically.

Power of Influence

Just as I and my colleague thought that we have settled their differences, the unthinkable happened the next week. J was so uncomfortable with N’s approach that she gathered the support from the rest of the student leaders to lead, plan and execute the event!

From the conversations with the rest of the student leaders, we can see that N’s authoritarian approached failed to gather any form of sympathy or support from them. The leaders were in fact happy that they were able to carry on with their work under J’s leadership. One thing, they felt that they were respected.

In history lessons, we always heard endless stories about how knights and advisors of the west to generals and eunuchs of the east usurped the throne from the king. Some of them wanted the power and others wanted a revolution.

Whichever the case, it is the power of influence that ruled.

Positional power can be easily lost without influence.