Journal, Videos

Arena Anthems

One of the most important lessons I learnt from Brené Brown’s “Daring Schools: The Four Pillars of Courage” was to set up a playlist known as the Arena Anthems.

It is a playlist of empowering songs that accompanies you when you want to summon your courage to enter the “Arena”.

I do not have such a playlist yet but I believe I better put what I’ve learnt into action.

I never felt so alone at work.

I never felt so lack of time before.

I never felt so involved in emotions, such that I do not know how to manage it.

I struggled with authenticity, the dilemma of being my pessimistic inconsiderate self, and, just holding back my confabulations and ego, being a bit more encouraging to others and a bit more compassionate towards myself but at the same time, not to overdo it until I’m not myself.

Just a bit more. I think I can tide through this like how I tide through other trials and tribulations.

Just a bit more motivation.

Just a bit more encouragement.

I’m entering the Arena.

And there’s no turning back.


journey to RIDE II: Shame, Ego and Reaching Out

It has been a humbling experience being a student again, on a subject which I know I would suck but I never expected myself to suck that much.

IMG_4316-editNo puns intended but it was a fundamental left turn which I couldn’t get it right after 400 minutes of lessons.

I thought I would be fine. I did not clear the stage the first three times but I do see that ever small bit of improvement and I was perky and excited about it.

The fourth time, I lost it all. Everything I did seem terrible and of course, I did not manage to clear it. I walked out of the driving center feeling really discouraged and disappointed at myself.

That was the first time in a long while which I felt that I wanted to give up because I felt that I wasn’t able to go through this. Just thinking about the plank, the shalom, the figure 8 course and the crank course which will come in the next few lessons if I manage to pass this one scares me.

A large part of it was ego, an ego of a man who was afraid of losing and not able to learn as quickly as so many other people, and always having a fear mental block.

I also hate it when I said I wanted to start on something and I didn’t see through to it. During my teenage years, there were too many instances where I just give up on something too soon. In the end, it was a waste in my investment both time and money, amplified by the fact that my family wasn’t well to do; I felt I was wasting away my parents hard-earned money.

The biggest irony is that I’m a lecturer, and I always tell my students not to give up.

It was bitter. Very bitter. It took me lots of courage to being on my lessons and now I felt that I wanted to give up because of ego and fear. Unacceptable. Yurusenai.

I knew I had to reach out. I immediately popped a message to my friend, James, who was also learning riding to explained how I felt. He had been a great inspiration to get me started and keep me going in my journey to ride and he always seems to know exactly the words to say to make me feel better.

“Perhaps this is how your students felt during programming lessons.”

Well, if it is then this would be an important rite of passage for me then. To fail, fail, fail, and try again. Since I’m the almost-always-get-A student, always stump about how best to motivate my students, now I have a story to that I can relate with and share too.

There’s also Ray who openly shared his personal stories with me and expressing lots of empathy. It always help to know that I am not alone in the situation.

I also did a shout out on Twitter and Facebook. I must say I’m surprised at the number of people who responded and left me a reply of encouragement. Some also private message me to find out what’s going on. To everyone, I’m very very thankful that you did what you did. You made me feel safe to dare greatly again.

Let’s see how far I can go. It’s still too soon to call it quits. Yes, got to put that ego aside. Fear everyone has it, just got to manage it. But, there’s no place for ego in a learning environment.

On hindsight, now I know what I felt. It was the warm wash of shame that Brené Brown, my favourite author, often talked about. Empathy rules.


Ideas, Videos

The BIG WORD called Empathy

Recently, my colleague and I confronted a group of students regarding something not very pleasant. I’ll leave the story for you to guess but all in all, my colleague told the students to have a bit more empathy. At that point in time, I was wondering if the students understood what empathy really means.

Empathy is a really BIG WORD that I didn’t truly understand what it really means until about half a year ago. The dictionary defines empathy as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. However, what does it mean when it says “understanding and sharing the feelings of another”? Similarly, when people said that we should put ourselves in another person’s shoes, how do we know that we have put ourselves in their shoes? The meaning provided in the dictionary wasn’t enough for me to know what is going on.

So, what is Empathy exactly?

Dr Brené Brown explains empathy in the following three-minute animated video.


To the Politicians of the World

Above all else, we ask that you show up, let yourself be seen, and be courageous. Dare greatly with us.

– From ‘The Leadership Manifesto‘, Brené Brown –

Since the 2011 Singapore General Elections, I’ve taken an interest to study a bit more about politics and governance. I looked at what it means for a nation to be democratic or communistic. The ideals of capitalism and socialism. How a libertarian and an authoritarian governance could be like. There are probably a dozen ways more to classify this. In fact, I can’t even agree that this is the way governance should be classified! However, for the simplicity of discussion, please allow me to generalise things as such.

I am no expert but I’m beginning to realise that there might not be a solution to satisfy everyone’s idealism.

The capitalist will likely feel that their logic is right and when he explains his logic to the socialist, the socialist will likely feel that the capitalist’s logic is way off.

The libertarian will likely hope for more freedom. The authoritarian will likely think that more order is required in order to run things efficiently.

Among the most powerful countries in the world, US and China, represent the world of democracy and the world of communism.

Furthermore, all these scales are not in black and white. Everyone’s ideal will likely be at varying degrees.

I don’t think we can argue based on logic. What is perfectly logical to you may not to me. But I was just thinking, maybe we shouldn’t argue at all. Maybe we should just connect with each other and try to see things from each other’s point of view. We’ll continue to agree to disagree, but we will understand that our actions are going to have some form of impact on the other party.

Whatever actions we take, let’s try our best to go for a Pareto efficient one where possible.

To the politicians of the world, if you want the support of your people, I hope you choose to connect with your people. Have an honest conversation with us. If you feel insecure about getting our support but yet you are absolutely sure that you are the best person to serve the nation, why not share with us. I’m sure the people will be happy to share some of their ideas with you.

At least I will.


The Speech Contest Emotion Roller Coaster Ride

What started off as trying to set a role model for my club members by taking part in the Toastmasters’ International Speech Contest hosted by my club turned out to be a sharing session that I will not regret.

While looking for a possible topic to share at the speech contest, I pounced upon a YouTube (which I’ve attached at the bottom of this post) on Dr Brené Brown’s blog, that I knew instantly that is was something that I could use as a topic for the speech contest. After all, I’ve been a follower of her works and her speeches at TED inspired me to try to live wholeheartedly. Could I inspire the audience with the message I truly believe in too?

I entered the club level speech contest thinking that it will be a one-off speech that I’m giving but ended up winning it and proceeding to the area level contest.

At that point, the fire of competition rose in me. However, the area level contest greeted me with one big surprise: I was the only competitor. Personally, I prefer to move up to the division level contest with a proper competition. A competition with only one competitor is definitely not a proper one to me. I wouldn’t hide the fact that I really felt bad on the day the area contest was held.


The day of the division contest came quickly but that fire was somehow quenched by the area contest. Come to think of it, it wasn’t bad after all that the fire has been tamed. It was probably the best thing that happened. I focused on sharing the message from the bottom of my heart. It was not that I never did that for the club and area contests but this time round, there will be no thoughts of the contests to burden me.

And so I did.

And I wasn’t placed in the top three at all.

In a way, I half expected it as speeches with a sombre tone tend not to win.

But to say that I’m not disappointed would be a lie.

However, I haven’t felt as thankful before either.

I am thankful to the many audience who took the trouble and came to me just to shake my hand, telling me that it was a great speech with a message that they’ll remember.

I am thankful to the gentlemen who came up to me and said that while I’m not the most technically inclined speaker that day, whatever I said touched his heart, and that he was tearing while I spoke.

I am thankful for those who told me that I would be placed even when I didn’t in the end.

And you know what? I am placed! The judges may not agree but you all have.


Today, I hope to share that message with you too. It can be summarised by the video that I was inspired by. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.

Ideas, Videos

#ThankfulTuesday movement

“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” ~David Steindl-Rast~

I’ve been wanting to start a movement on the Internet for quite some time now and I like to call it the #ThankfulTuesday movement.

Slow down, spend some time to think about what you are thankful for every Tuesday and post a tweet with #ThankfulTuesdays hashtag. Take a moment to be aware of what you already have in your life. Things are really much better than what it seems to be 🙂

Also posting a video on Brene Brown’s take on Joy and Gratitude. Do take a look.

*Edit: Apparently, many are already doing this before me. Then I shall join the crowd~*