Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Meaning of this Moment

The meaning of this current moment is not to become successful, no, the real meaning is to overcome my thoughts, my self-doubt, the negative thought patterns and to overcome them.

That is the real meaning.

If a genie appeared before me and offered to remove my negative thoughts, I may not accept it. Rather, I must choose not to listen to my thoughts and learn self-discipline over my thoughts and overcome them. Because, if we allow someone else to control our thoughts, what else is there to let us control and be free independent beings? Then we are not ourselves, we are the someone else.

That is why God doesn't take away our unhappiness, he can't. We must choose to be happy.

If we are left without freewill, then we aren't human, we will be robots.

In other words, then your thoughts will not be your thoughts, and if you're not thinking, then you don't exist. In other words as Descartes put it, "I think, therefore I am."

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Ultimate Logos

We will never be able to understand God and his purposes, for his ways are higher than ours, his thoughts greater than ours.

That's why faith is necessary, our brain capacities are limited in its understanding and knowledge.

Yet we must continue to grow.

I've learned that pride takes many forms. Besides pride in social status or material possessions, some people may be proud of their poverty. They seem to think that they are "better" than those with more money. They would like to paint rich people as proud and they themselves as "more humble" or "more spiritual" and hence "more superior".

But true humility isn't about comparing ourselves with others, its about service, it's about respecting others. It's not about deprecating ourselves but recognizing that others including ourselves are truly amazing creatures created by God so much so that we are destined to be "gods".

As CS Lewis wrote, think of the most boring person you have ever known, when we are transformed in the resurrection that person if he were to come down to earth, we would be tempted to worship him.

But despite the fact that totally understanding the ultimate logos is beyond our reach, for to truly know God would be to become God himself, we must still keep on learning about him. Even as human beings we may never truly understand someone else, we must keep on learning about him and appreciating him/her.

By learning and understanding God, we are in fact nourishing ourselves. For God is the true source of love and nourishment. Without growth we die. Without God we die.

Sometimes we think that we know it all. We don't. When we think we know it all, we stop growing because we stop learning.

Keep on growing, keep on learning, keep on praying. In every moment, every second there is an opportunity to learn, to grow if we only look for it.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Life is a journey, life is a game.

Think of life as a journey.

Right now, my part of the journey is as an entrepreneur.

But it isn't like the stereotype of being a businessman that I should follow.

I'm a student, I'm learning all about life again. Life is a big campus, where you're learning as you go.

As I grew up, I always thought that when I'm working I've made it. I would be like the Adults who always knew what to do or ordered me to do whatever they wanted.

But it didn't. You're always growing, you're always learning.

When you reach the age of accountability, you still realize that you only knew as much as you did yesterday plus what you learned today.

Your decision making abilities didn't automagically become flawless, your knowledge is still lacking, your relationships still remain the same, strangers remain as strangers and enemies remain as enemies.

Being a businessman isn't like the stereotypical fat cat riding a limousine and smoking a cigar... it's rather back to the basics of a caveman out hunting wild mammoth to feed his family, his village.

Like it or not, we're still like those cavemen in cartoons drawn by Gary Larson in his Far Side cartoons.

Life is a game.

If so, then what are the rules?

The strange things I observe about people are that they are people with unique quirks, pride, values, hurts, pains, trigger buttons, hopes, strengths, weaknesses, relationships, resources, power, etc.

How do we handle them or rather manage our relationships with them?

There are basically 4 resources that we must manage in this life.

  1. Knowledge.

  2. Money.

  3. Time.

  4. People (Actually, you can't manage people you only manage your relationships.)

The first 3 can be learned in school or going for courses, even though only the first is formally trained in school.

The other 3 must be learned through trial and error.

This is a problem with the education system.

Perhaps when society of a 100 years from now looks back, they will see how primitive our teaching methods are.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Heroes (III)

Edna Mode for being a larger than life personality.

Edna was my favourite character in "The Incredibles" because despite being the one without any powers, she had a personality that overwhelmed the rest of the characters.

She was strong enough and sure enough of herself to even slap Mrs. Incredible to her senses.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Psychology Of Winning: Positive Self-Esteem

Winners have a deep-down feeling of their own worth. They know that, contrary to popular belief, this feeling of self-acceptance and deserving is not necessarily a legacy from wise and loving parents--history is full of saints who rose from the gutters and literal monsters who grew up in loving families. Winners are not outer-directed. Recognizing their uniqueness they develop and maintain their own high standards.

Though they recognize the universality of fear and anxiety, Winners don't give in to these emotions.

Losing self-talk: "I'd rather be somebody else."

Winning self-talk: "I do things well because I'm that kind of a person."

Accept yourself as you are right now--an imperfect, changing, growing and worthwhile person. Realize that liking yourself and feeling you're a super individual in your own special way is not necessarily egotistical.
In addition to taking pride in what you are accomplishing--and even more importantly--enjoy the unique person that you are just in being alive right now.
Understand the truth that although we as individuals are not born with equal physical and mental attributes, we are born with equal rights to feel the excitement and joy in believing that we deserve the very best in life.
Most successful people believe in their own worth, even when they have nothing but a dream to hold on to.
Perhaps more than any other quality, healthy self-esteem is the door to high achievement and happiness.

  1. Dress and look your best at all times.

  2. Volunteer your own name first in every telephone call and whenever you meet someone new.

  3. Take inventory of your good reasons for self-esteem today. Write down your BAG (Blessings, Accomplishments and Goals).

  4. Respond with a simple, courteous 'thank-you'.

  5. Sit up front in the most prominent rows.

  6. Walk more erectly and authoritatively in public.

  7. Set your own internal standards.

  8. Use encouraging, affirmative language.

  9. Keep a self-development plan ongoing at all times.

  10. SMILE!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Verse Of The Week

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

(Ecclesiastes 9:10)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Be As Shrewd As Serpents...

Influence by Robert B. Cialdini is one of the books recommended in class about how people are influenced, especially by sales methods.

Cialdini lists the 6 forms of influence that almost all methods come from, they are:
  1. Reciprocation
  2. Commitment and Consistency
  3. Social Proof
  4. Liking
  5. Authority
  6. Scarcity
Reciprocation is the factor, when someone does something good for you, e.g. give you a free gift, or a free lunch, you will feel obligated to buy something from him/her as a reciprocation.

One example is that Turkish carpet sellers would give you a free tour of the city. At the end of it you will probably end up with one or two carpets in reciprocation of their favour.

Another example are the Hare Krishnas that press a flower in your hand to solicit donatiosn. Inevitably you will feel obligated to pay for that flower as reciprocal action.

So what is the antidote? Don't take "favours".

Commitment and Consistency is the factor where once you said yes to a small truth or favour, you will feel obliged to be committed to your "new identity".

This technique was used by Vietcong interrogators to turn American GI's against American. They would try to find some way for the GI to agree to some flaw in the government, this in turn will cause him to start agreeing that the USA is bad and evil.

Because you had agreed to one flaw in the government, the GI then had to be consistent in condemning other things about the USA.

Social Proof is the factor that "if everyone does it, it can't be wrong."

This is the way endorsements work or in the classic Singaporean case, "if there's a long queue for it, it's got to be good."

More subtly, laugh tracks in TV comedies help to induce us to laugh, they give audio and "social" cues to find a joke funny.

One way this technique is used is to plant several people in an audience to clap after a performance, inevitably the rest of the crowd will follow.

Antidote: Be conscious of this. Look around for evidence to the contrary, think rationally.

Liking is the factor, that someone would be influenced if you like him.

For example, if you like something, even if evidence points contrary, you will dismiss them as anomalies or exaggerate strengths.

Authority is the factor that you will obey someone if that person has authority.

Celebrity endoresements lend credence to whatever products they endorse because they seem to have a kind of authority.

In other cases, soldiers may blindly go and follow orders that are morally wrong because "they were just following orders."

Antidote: Ask, "Is this guy really an expert?" and secondly, "How truthful can we expect the expert to be here?"

Scarcity is the trick when you think that the object you want is in limited supply or going to be snapped up quickly.

It forces you to move your hand or bid higher to get the object. It also increases your desire for it.
This is the bait used by certain stores when the say, limited supplies, first 30 customers only, etc.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Encourage One Another DAILY

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." (Hebrews 3:13)

Encouragement and motivation is like food, it must be taken daily.

Dale Carnegie writes that praise is so often scrimped by parents that they hardly praise their children. Some may only encourage their children once a week, or once a fortnight. Some, only once a quarter or when their exam results come about. Some only during festive occasions. Others may wait 30 years before even encouraging their own children once.

I find this not only in children but also bosses and employees. The boss only says something good to his staff when he does something spectacular or only once a month or once a year. I speculate that these bosses think that encouragement needs to be a controlled supply. Is praise such a rare commodity that it has to be rationed out?

Encouragement is so important that the verse quoted above says that it must be done daily, so that we may not sin.

Encouragement is like daily vitamins against the disease of sin!

A lot of us know and do eat fruits and supplement our diets with multi-vitamins, and health supplements. But how many of us encourage one another daily?

So, one of my goals from this day is to call someone everyday and to encourage him/her. Let's see what happens.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Noone One Owes You Anything. Not!

"No one owes you anything." That's one of the quick rejoinders heard when you get disappointed when things don't go your way, or perhaps there were unmet expectations.

I had to endure this recently when I turned down a job in Jakarta. Then I learned a hard lesson that people when people ask you to do something, it's really for their own interests. Even when you object with your own personal reasons (taking course, pursuing own business, Christmas time is dangerous, etc), they will pursue their requests for their own personal interests without considering yours.

I learned the hard lesson that you do have to take care of your own interests and say a firm "No", becuase they aren't looking out for yours.

But Romans 13:7-9 says:
Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
So really "No one Owes You Anything" is really a teaching from man, not God.

The unfortunate thing is... we are surrounded by men who don't believe they owe you anything.

We owe one another a debt of love. Each one of us. Unfortunately not everyone believes that.

The world doesn't believe that. A lot of cases it's everyone for himself.

"For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ." (Phil 2:21)

Paul wrote the above, because he too experienced the loneliness and abandonment from people who thought were his friends. He had enemies, he wept (Phil 3:8). Not everyone in the church eagerly supported his ministry, except the Macedonians. He has experienced selfish co-workers who preached the gospel out of envy and rivalry. He has terrible enemies, whom he calls "dogs".

Yet the book of Philippians shows that he is rejoicing in spite of all this. He talks about humility and the knowledge that "the best is yet to be."

[A thought to ponder: Are we supporting any Pauls in prison? Or are we so busy going about our business?]

Man's Search for MeaningI am reminded of the reality of life by Viktor Frankl's quote in Man's Search for Meaning:
"Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord's Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips"

This is why I would disagree with Anne Frank's statement that "I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart." (It is a static statement compared to a dynamic one. This I will elaborate further in another post.) I would say, "All men have been made in the image of God who is the source of all goodness and while still alive, may be in the process of choosing goodness or have the potential to choose goodness."

(Anne Frank's statement is too often quoted out of context and it is too simplistic. If all men are basically good, what is the point of Christ's redemptive work on the cross? Bruno Bettelheim is quoted: "If all men are good at heart, there never really was an Auschwitz; nor is there any possibility that it may recur" (Anne Frank. Reflections on Her Life and Legacy.)

But Paul writes and encourages the Christians to:
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Phil 2:3-4)
Galations 6:2 says: "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." but at the same time in 6:5 says "for each one should carry his own load."

What can I say for now? Further study and meditation required. So we have to carry our own load and as well as our brothers.

Heroes (II)

King David, because his life is vividly described in the Bible. A man after God's heart. Yet, one with many failings. His Psalms show the emotions of life. His struggles, just like you and me. Bullied by his older brothers. Hated by his own boss. Tempted and fell to sin.

He is a warrior, yet he is a master of a performing art just like I am. (Besides being a harpist, he's also an actor! See 1 Sam 21:13.) He comes from humble beginnings. He writes poems that expresses his joys, and sorrows, and even his anger, anger that may even be criticized as "un-Christian" were it to be uttered in public, yet the very same struggles that we go through yet hide or only write in our own private diaries.

Instead of the traditional sculpture of Michaelangelo's, I choose to show Gian Lorenzo Bernini's sculpture of David which show's David in action and the aspects of his life symbolically portrayed in the armor, harp, and his shepherd's bag.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Psychology of Winning: Positive Self-Awareness

Winners know who they are, what they believe, the role in life they are presently filling, their great personal potential--and the future roles and goals which will mark fulfilment of that potential. They have learned these things, and are constantly adding to their knowledge, through experience, insight, feedback, and judgement.

As a result they can continuously not only "play from strength" in the game of life, but also avoid errors and correct weaknesses.

Their judgements are characterized by extreme honesty. They don't kid others and they don't kid themselves.

Losers say, "Who knows what I could do if I only had a change." Winners say, "I know who I am, where I'm coming from and where I'm going.

Make this moment the moment of truth about yourself.

You have been selling yourself short all of your life.

You have the opportunity to experience more environmental, physical and mental/spiritual abundance than you could use in ten lifetimes.

Open up your lenses to the possibilities and alternatives available in your life. Change your attitude and your lifestyle and your many environments will change automatically.

Understand your own uniqueness. Appreciate the difference in others.

Relax and learn to respond positively to stress. Change for the better that which can be changed.

Remove from your presence those negative influences that cannot be changed. Adapt and adjust to those negative influences that cannot be changed or removed.

Take Action Today For More Positive Self-Awareness:
  1. Schedule a comprehensive annual physical with your own physician or a reputable clinic. Not just a simple blood pressure, urine exam but a complete detailed physical. Every two years go for an even more detailed blood, EKG, upper and lower G.I. series, x-rays, eyes, etc. This is a prevention check and tune-up. Go for a teeth cleaning session with your dentist. Call now or in the morning for that physical exam. Don't put it off--do it.

  2. Be more curious about everything in your world. Read book digests. Listen to audio CD's. Go to lectures and seminars. Seek out and gain counsel from the most successful people in your profession and hobbies. (They love to talk about their experiences and are surprisingly eager to help others.)

  3. Break the daily and weekly routine you have set. Get out of that comfortable rut. Unplug the TV for a month. Go to work via a different route or mode of transport. Plan a trip to Chile. Have your children give their best toys to an orphanage this Christmas. Take a bath instead of a shower.

  4. Make a list of "I Ams"--Two columns. Assets of "I Am Good At" in one column. Liabilities or "I Need Improvement In" in the other. Pick your 10 best traits and your 10 traits needing most improvement. Take the first 3 liabilities and schedule an activity or find a winner who will help you improve in each of the 3 areas. Forget about the rest of the liabilities. Remember, relish and dwell on all ten of your best assets. They'll take you anywhere you want to go in life!

  5. Look at yourself through other people's eyes. Imagine being your parents. Imagine being that person married to you. Imagine being your child. When you walk into a room or office, imagine that each person is thinking two descriptive adjectives about you--such as "well-dressed, confident" or "aloof, nervous." What would they be in each case about you? Why?

  6. Look at yourself through your own eyes objectively. This is easier said than done for all of us. If you want to test this exercise, try standing in front of a full-length mirror with no clothes on, with only a grocery bag over your head, with eye holes cut out. Look at yourself from front, rear and side views. Talk about a mind-blowing experience! When you look in the mirror day after day--your friendly face is used to seeing yourself and has rationalized all of your flaws--even the flab and dark circles. What the paper sack over that well-known face, you become a stranger in the nude. It's an experience you will remember for weeks to come.

  7. Take 30 precious minutes each day for you alone. Relax and breathe deeply from the pelvis and stomach up into your lungs when you inhale. Exhale slowly. Mediate and let go as if you were lying in the center of a water bed the size of a football field. Float freely. Give yourself at least one beautiful half-hour out of every twenty-four to be completely aware that your life belongs to you and that all exists in your life is seen out of your eyes and experienced by your mind and body.

  8. Look for truth and speak the truth. Don't let the ads and fads make you one of the countless victims of greed. When you read something that impresses you, check the source. When in doubt, call the research department of a national publication you trust or call a major university you respect. If it really works wonders, it will be available everywhere like aspirin. If it's a breakthrough, look for it to be announced by reputable news authorities and government agencies. Rather than hearing what you want to hear, listen for the facts of the matter. And remember, everything you think is your opinion, based upon your impressions from limited sources. Keep expanding your sources from the best authorities. View everything with a certain open-minded scepticism... open minded enough to explore it without prejudice... and sceptical enough to research and test its validity.

  9. Be aware of the children and the elderly. Remember that childhood is that wonderful, special classroom in which the adult is developed. Listen to their dreams. Observe their special talents. Ask for their opinions and reactions. Also, remember that becoming elderly is inevitable. It can be a lonely or glorious time. With activities, goals, horizons, and attention, being a senior citizen can be as exciting as being a senior in high school. It's a question of Positive Self-Awareness.

  10. Be empathic.
  11. Learn to feel how others feel and consider where they are coming from before criticizing or passing judgement. Even if you can't feel for everyone you meet, be certain that you feel with every living thing you encounter. It's the key to Positive Self-Awareness.

The Psychology Of Winning

  1. Positive Self-Awareness: Be open to abundance, emphatic to others, adaptable to stress.

  2. Positive Self-Esteem: Like and accept yourself for who you are at this moment.

  3. Positive Self-Control: Take full responsibility and credit for causing your own effects.

  4. Positive Self-Motivation: Focus all thoughts and energy on immediate priorities and rewards.

  5. Positive Self-Expectancy: Create your own winning horoscope for good health and good luck.

  6. Positive Self-Image: Preview your future attractions by imagining them as "Oscar Winners".

  7. Positive Self-Direction: Purpose, forged in goals and priorities, is the key to success.

  8. Positive Self-Discipline: Practice winning by relaxing, rehearsing and relenting.

  9. Positive Self-Dimension: Look beyond yourself, create other winners, and live in the "Now".

  10. Positive Self-Projection: Listen, set the best example and be lovable.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Heroes (I)

Class had one session and asked who were our heroes and to discuss what qualities they had. Immediately, I blurted out "James Bond".

After some discussion, the attribute that James Bond had that made him a hero wasn't his charm and wit, but rather his ability to stay calm and confident under pressure.

James Bond. Because he's the cool can do it all man.

He's quick thinking and tough, yet he manages to wrap it all with the gentlemanly manners of an Englishman.

He's not a tech genius, he needs Q for that. Yet he has the charm and wit and purpose of a man on a mission.

The Entrepreneur's Credo


I do not choose to be a common man,
it is my right to be uncommon... if I can,
I seek opportunity... not security,
I do not wish to be a kept citizen,
humbled and dulled by having the
state look after me.
I want to take the calculated risk;
to dream and to build,
to fail and to succeed.
I refuse to barter incentive for a dole;
I prefer the challenges of life
to the guaranteed existence;
the thrill of fulfillment
to the stale calm of Utopia.
I will not trade freedom for beneficence
nor my dignity for a handout.
I will never cower before any master
nor bend to any threat.
It is my heritage to stand erect,
proud and unafraid;
to think and act for myself,
to enjoy the benefit of my creations
and to face the world boldly and say:
This, with God's help, I have done.
All this is what it means
to be an Entrepreneur

Excerpt from Common Sense, written in 1776 by Thomas Paine.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Verse Of The Week

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)

The Deficiencies of Language: Quality, Quantity

Quality. Quantity.

I was talking to with some classmates and mentioned that human beings are getting less sleep than 100 years ago when people normally slept 10 hours a day.

Someone then interjected, it's not the quantity of sleep but the quality that's important.

Yes, however, 6 hours of quality sleep is still insufficient for a human being. That's like 40% less sleep than usual.

That's like saying a person needs 8 glasses of water a day and someone saying it's not the quantity but the quality that's important. Whether you drink tap water or swiss alpine mineral water, you still need 8 glasses of water. You can survive on 6 or 4 glasses of water a day, but the consequences accumulate over your lifetime. You are less energetic, your metabolism slows down, toxins accumulate in your body, your body is less supple, and your body deteriorates more rapidly.

Getting less sleep means that your body may compensate with micro-sleep. 4-5 minutes of sleep during the day. Less concentration. Your mind is also focused at the end of the day to getting to bed or longing for rest. Slower responses.

In France, fatigue causes 1 in 3 accidents while drug/alcohol affected driving only causes 1 in 5! (link).

"Drivers averaging less than 7 hours of sleep per night increased their odds of being in a sleep-related crash versus a non-sleep related crash nearly 2-fold." Driving While Sleepy Should Be A Criminal Offense Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine

If you saw your friend intending to drink an extra 5 drinks in bar would you stop him? Yes. But if he said he is going to get 2 hours less sleep? Yet 1 drink on 6 hours of sleep is equivalent of 6 drinks on 8 hours of sleep. (link) Taking 3 drinks would already get you arrested for drunk driving!

Yet, workaholic societies like Singapore applaud "sacrificing sleep" as virtues rather than as liabilities.

Quantity does equate to quality in this instance.

The problem perhaps lies in our language. Because we have two different words to describe the benefit of an object, we think that they are separate issues.

Our language doesn't imply that there is an interconnection between issues. When we use language to analyze issues, in our "scientifically trained" education, we think that certain factors are independant of one another.

(The scientific method works by taking various conditions, changing one factor and leaving the others constant. Doing this on each element or method one-by-one, by process of elimination we can arrive at source of the problem/solution.)

What other clashes of words lead us to believe that they are independent of one another?

How about:

Humility and confidence.
Flexibility and consistency.
Simplicity and profoundness.
Meek and powerful.
Task oriented and people oriented.

Seemingly opposed words, yet true leaders and wise men know that in life both combine together.

I wonder really then, the language, words and grammar of angels. The language of humans need to evolve even further.

Before This, All Balls Were Wobbly

Adidas unveils Official Ball

"When you kick it, it goes in the right direction," Zidane said.

You mean the ball never went the right direction with current balls?

"With the ball's movement, it doesn't go off everywhere, it goes where you want it to go and that's important. Your passing, controlling and shooting of the ball - it's in one direction and that's what you need." David Beckham.

Oh wow, you mean that before this in all football matches, the ball never shot straight and never went where you wanted it to go? You mean a ball can go in two directions at the same time?

Ooooh... I see, look closely, all of the errors when players missed the goal... you can now blame on the ball.

And what will happen in 2010 when another new ball is introduced? What will they say then? "Before this, the ball didn't have enough power, the ball couldn't... etc..."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sober Fact Of The Week

Half an hour everyday over 48 years adds up to 1 year.

So, if you can save 1/2 hour everyday by forgoing unnecessary, unimportant, things, you add one whole year of time in your life to do other more important and enjoyable things to do.

And that's not just a chronological year, it's an entire year of time alive, awake-potentially productive time.

So, make it a point to shave 1 minute here and a minute there. Even 15 minutes a day saved, adds up to 6 months of extra time over 48 years.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Strangeness of Human Nature

Despite all that is taught about there removing discrimination. It exists in the minds of everyone.

I noticed this when I was looking at Malaysian billboards and tv ads. There is a tendency to go for the "pan-asian" look. A mix of gweilo and asian features so that you don't really know what race the person is. Hardly do I see any ads of Indians despite them being 10% of the Malaysian population.

Why do some advertisers choose people of a certain race to promote certain items? If people are not racially prejudiced there wouldn't be any difference who you put in an ad to promote it.

The realities of life is that preferences based on race, sex, beauty do exist.

Despite saying "what's outside doesn't matter as much as the inside", people do judge based on appearances. Somebody once said, "only ugly people say 'what only matters is the inside.'"

Despite all the teaching of logic, people in reality do not make decisions based on logic. 99.99% of people make decisions based on their emotions.

Unfortunately, this fact must be learned from experience. I have never really read any textbook that said, "humans are make decisions emotionally." But declaring that out loud by a teacher in primary school implies, she being a human herself makes decisions emotionally and treats people emotionally and even has prejudices.

Somehow, learning the uncertainties, the foibles and vagaries of human nature is often left to chance. Perhaps the best source of understanding it is from creative works like literature and drama.

Marketers and sales people must understand human nature and what influences decision makers.

I hear that certain sales departments actually map out a prospects decision making hierarchy and who the real decision makers are and who are the influencers and what are their buttons.
For example, the CEO may be the decision maker on paper, but it may be his right-hand man that's the one who really runs the show together with his mistress. These things are never written down on paper but they must be learnt. Learning to read in between the lines is something that isn't taught in school but is a necessary school.
In a majority of people what a person says is 95% never what he does. But you can't say this to a person's face. Nobody likes being called a hypocrite.
A lot of humans don't really say what they want. They say what they think they want. Most don't really know what they want.
A lot of humans also believe that they are the center of the universe. Which is also untrue but is an unfortunate illusion that is shared by 95% of the population.
Why do people in authority teach subordinates when they make a mistake to promise, "It will never happen again." Looking at it logically, noone can promise anything with absolute certainty (the word "never") what happens in the future. You might be able to say, "I will do all that is within my power to make minimise the chances of it to not happen again. However, the future is not ours to see." But replying that would make you look like a smart-aleck. What the authority figure wants is really reassurance and perhaps some grovelling on your part to feed his own inflated ego in the illusion that he can order someone around.
Which brings us to the point, since people by nature believe they are the centre of the universe, they hate being upstaged by anyone else.
Another strange belief that humans have is that they have control. Which isn't true. You can't control anything except what you think, say or do. You can give orders to your subordinates, but he may choose not to do it.
In reality, there is nothing we do control. We only control our choices, our thoughts, our values, our attitudes.
Another strange concept humans have is this thing called "ownership". It permeates our language, words like "my car", "my house", "my wife", "my children", "my life". There is nothing we own in this world. Not even our lives. We have to give it up permanently one day.
We don't own our wives, we don't own our children but people sometimes want to force their children to be their own fantasy doll to live out their own dreams and to do the things that they themselves never dared risk themselves.
And when confronted with truth, humans will deny it.
Strange creatures these humans.

Don't Get Left Behind

Travelling a normal "Super-VIP" or "VIP" coach from KL to Singapore normally involves a 30 minute break for meals and bladder relief. It normally happens sometime for lunch or dinner time.

This is what you get when you don't return to your bus on time after your break.

You get left behind by a disgruntled bus driver.

This happened at the Lucky Garden rest stop at Yong Peng.

But on second thoughts, what happened to him? I could only shoot a prayer for him and hope he wasn't robbed in the toilet or somehow passed out somewhere.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Life Is Meant To Be Simple

Life is really meant to be simple.

It's just too cluttered with too many stuff in life that we are distracted and burdened with too many things.

Just list down what are your priorities in life.

How many are there?

At most there are 5-7 things that are of real concern. And one is the most important of them all.

Secondly, there is only one moment that you can be concerned about. And that is now and today.

Take one day at a time. The rest will clear itself up. Take one task at a time. A journey of a thousand miles begin with the first step. Don't worry about the 10th step or the 20th step or the 539th mile.

Let your desk be uncluttered. How many things on your desktop do your really use? Keep the rest in your drawer.

Let your bedroom be uncluttered. How many things on your dresser do you really use?

Let your bathroom be uncluttered. How many items do you use to take care of yourself.

Let your mind be uncluttered. How many things can you do in one day? How many problems can you solve in one day? How many appointments can you make in one day?

Let your daily schedule be simplified and think of what one thing that you want to accomplish today and who you want to encourage today.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Detecting Conmen

Over the years, I've been tricked and learned the following few lessons from scams I've heard. I've learned it to not fall into some scams but it's always good to revise what you've learned.

  • Don't trust someone fully, especially when he gains something from you.

  • Always appeals to greed (or vanity or fears).

  • Claims it's risk-free.

  • Dismisses your objections too easily.

  • If it's too good to be true, it is!

  • If it was really a great way to make money, why is he telling it to you?

  • If he claims to have insider or special or secret knowledge.

  • Does he try to find out personal things about you, that have nothing to do with the business? (I.e. probing for your weaknesses, your fears, etc)

Business is business, don't let sentimentalism get in the way.

Nobody owes you a living and it works the other way round too: you don't owe anyone a living too.

Ultimately, you are responsible for your decisions, let your yes be a yes and your no be a no. Not a maybe, not an okay lah.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Yourself as a Product

There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer.

Because of its purpose to create a customer, any business enterprise has two--and only these two--basic functions: marketing and innovation. They are the entrepreneurial functions.

Marketing is the distinguishing, the unique function of the business... Marketing is not only much broader than selling, it is not a specialized activity as at all. It encompasses the entire business. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is from the customer's point of view. Concern and responsibility for marketing must therefore permeate all areas of the enterprise.

Peter Drucker.

I'm taking a business diploma in enterprise development currently.

Marketing is an interesting activity. It is an activity that encompasses almost everything. Besides Nike shoes, Coca-Cola, even Britney Spears is a product, Karl Marx's communism is a product, Jesus Christ is a product, you and I are products.

For example, one marketing activity is romance. Romance is a marketing product. You are the product, you are selling yourself to a potential customer (who will be your bride).

So let's take yourself.

If that's the case, what type of product are you? Are you fun and adventurous? Safe and stable? Mature and reliable?

What will be the slant of your marketing efforts? What is your slogan in life?

And then who are your target customers? Who do you want to buy you? What target segment do you want? What sort of profile would like you?

What about the 4 P's of marketing? Price, Product, Promotion, Placement.

At what price is the person marrying having to pay? (But remember also it works the other way round. You're also the buyer, at what price are you willing to pay for her). Jesus Christ as a product means you have to pay the price of suffering and picking up the cross daily.
Promotion, Place: How are you promoting yourself? Staying at home won't work. You've got to sell yourself. Make yourself visible.
You are also a service:
intangibility: Saying "I love you" isn't enough. Show it with roses or gifts.
perishability: An exiting time at a theatre show needs to be spent with someone.
heterogeneity: Be consistent in your behavour.
inseparability: Your service to your wife is inseparable from yourself.
ownership: You still own yourself. Your wife doesn't own you.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Being Better Than Our Superiors

If we limit our growth to only what we see in our parents, the world cannot become a better place.

We must become better than what we see demonstrated in their lives.

For some, it can seem quite a daunting task if your father is Michael Schumacher or Michael Jordan.

But that is only one aspect, i.e. career wise. What I mean is character growth wise.

If our parents are crabby and complaining we must be positive and gracious. If they are negative we must be positive.

If they are lazy, we must be hardworking.

If the children of the world only aspire to be like their parents, they world would not become better.

Unfortunately, there is a problem here. A lot of parents want their children to be made in their own image and be the extensions of their egos. A pygmalion project perhaps. But how many parents have ever said to their children, "please become better than me, kinder, gentler, stronger, wiser."

Perhaps, if they were to say that, it would be admitting their own shortcomings. And humans do not like seeing their shortcomings highlighted.

I want to become better, and better than the person I was yesterday. I also want to tell my children to be better heights than me, to become better than I am, to receive a double portion of what I received.

But in the meantime, before I do have children of my own, I'll make sure I'll become a tough challenge to follow.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Lives Of Quiet Desperation

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.

- Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Happy Birthday Jack!

His mother died when he was 10.
Two weeks later he was sent to boarding school.
Headmaster was clinically insane.
Bullied in school.
Wounded in World War I.
Once a staunch atheist.
Converted to Christianity at 33.
As Oxford tutor, chased one of his students with a sword.
Beer drinker.
Friend and mentor to JRR Tolkien.

Literary and Christian apologetic genius.

C.S. Lewis.
(29/11/1898 - 22/11/1963)

C.S. Lewis: Apostle to the Sceptics

George Best (1946-2005)

Soccer Legend George Best Dies at Age 59 - Yahoo! News

George Best, one of Britains greatest footballers passed away this week.

It is a shame for someone who had the gift of playing football so naturally and able to charm almost any woman he met.

He had what the world offered, what people crave: Fame, glory, riches (though squandered away), women?

What was George Best running away from? What was it that he couldn't face? What was the meaninglessness that he faced? Shouldn't he have been happy and fulfilled? No, because there was a void inside of him that he was desperately trying to fill with drink. He tried desperately to deaden his senses with alcohol

What is it that makes alcoholics drink?
Why do some people classify alcoholism as an illness? It is classified as one because the person under that addiction cannot help but do what he doesn't want to do. It is termed "beyond his control".
So if it is beyond our control, we need a power beyond us to bring it under control.
Perhaps, we must ask the question, what is the poison that we drink? Be it alcohol, gambling, drugs, sex, TV, internet, computer games, news, anything that we use to get away from facing the realities of life.
Sin is a disease that infects us all. Only by turning our lives over to God, to Christ to can He turn our lives around.
One of the most successful programs to overcome alcoholism was started by a Christian, it is the 12 Step recovery program in Alcoholics Anonymous.
I sometimes wish that cell group would come together like an alcoholics anonymous group. Each knowing that we are sinners and accepting one another.
The 12 Steps are listed with a little tweaking. I have exchanged alcohol with sin, whatever it may be pride, lust, wrath, envy, gluttony, sloth, greed or any other sin.
  1. We admitted we were powerless over sin (alcohol) - that our lives had become unmanageable. (Romans 7:14-15)

  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to holiness (sanity). (2 Chron 7:14)

  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. (Col 3:3)

  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. (Psalm 32:5)

  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. (James 5:16)

  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. (1 John 1:9)

  7. Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings. (Psalm 51)

  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. (Numbers 5:6-7)

  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. (Luke 19:8)

  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. (1 John 1:8-10)

  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. (Matthew 6:10, Romans 12:2)

  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to sinners (alcoholics), and to practice these principles in all our affairs. (Acts 1:8)

I think the 12 steps makes an excellent sinner's prayer, don't you think?

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Problem of Divorce

The verse of the week I chose asks, "What problem is there that God cannot solve?"

I am always mystified by why people divorce one another. I cannot see why after marriage, that someone would break his vows of marriage when he/she entered into it at the altar promising "till death do us part".

Since there is no problem that God cannot solve, where then lies the source of the problem? It is in the people involved who don't want to let God solve it for them.

Yet, in my naivete I realized that my background is like that of a fish swimming in water. I grew up living with godly Christians around me. LIke a fish, I assumed that there is water always around me. Until now, I only know personally 2 persons who are divorced. It came as a startling fact that for one of my friends about 30% - 40% of her friends were divorced!

Divorce is such a strange concept to me. I think I understand it, yet it is something that I don't really understand. I think a better phrase would be that divorce is like some disease.
I know that it exists yet to see it manifest itself in human beings is like seeing them afflicted with a strange horrible disease that shouldn't be there in the first place.
The irony for me is that I do come from a broken family.
I've talked to lawyers who've handled divorce cases, and divorce happens to both Christian and non-Christian couples alike.
But of course, as I pressed on my question "but what if both of them submitted to Christ?". The answer was "Of course not, if both submitted to Christ then there would be no divorce."
I really hope I do not personally get first hand experience in the pressures of this.
From observation, it seems to be stubbornness of one of the parties to change or shift position in attitude, behaviour, or values. LIke a dance partner who doesn't move in tandem with her partner, it doesn't make a good dance. (Maybe one of my tests for a good marriage partner is to see how well she dances.).
Perhaps another reason is that there is no respect in the marriage. The other partner isn't a person in the other's eys, but instead a sex object or security object that has lost its value. If that was the case there wasn't true and deep love in the relationship in the first place. Like what Martin Buber described, it was an "I-it" relationship and not an "I-Thou" relationship in the first place.
There is also something else I learned. A term like "work hard to make the marriage last" objectifies the relationship, as if marriage is like a machine that needs tuning or oiling or repairing. It puts marriage as something that is outside of us. It paints some imaginary machine that both parties have to fix when in reality both parties are the machine and the only way to solve it is to fix themselves.
(Ah, the deficiencies of our natural language, despite all the richness of English it fails by far. Perhaps when we finally speak and know the language of angels would we change in our understanding and knowledge.)

Verse Of The Week

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."
(Mark 10:27)

Do You Feel Lucky Punk?


"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" by Emma Lazarus, "The New Colossus". Inscription found at the Statue of Liberty

The green card lottery. Yes, despite all the spam mail about it, it is a real lottery from the United States to bring in New Immigrants to the land of the free, the land of opportunity.

Unlike other countries that only want to bring in foreign talent, this lottery allows anyone with at least 12 years of education to enter and even if that isn't met, 2 years of work experience are enough.

This year's green card lottery is now purely internet based, no more last minute rushes to the post office or taking of that crazy 2 inch x 2 inch photo size. (Why couldn't they ask for standard passport size before?)

I was done like within 1/2 hour after reading the form, scanning in my photo and cropping it according to specifications.

The United States, the land where White Elephants are welcome, and pilot union heads don't get their PR revoked.

If you want to try, go to the official website. Any other emails sent to your inbox are just scams to get you your money. You wouldn't even know if these so called legal officers really did submit your application after paying their "processing fee" since it is a lottery. Just do it yourself. It's free, fast and no hassle.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Salsa @ Union Square

26112005 - Union Square.jpg

After the last day of class at Two Left Feet. Some of us decided to go and check out Union Square at Amara Shopping Centre. It's one of two most frequented places in Singapore for salsa; the other being XenBar in Pagoda Street.

I tried dancing, but really, I need more practice. Just having only 4 sessions of lessons, I wasn't going to make the cut.

Though I did learn something new. You can actually know a persons character when you dance with her. Some get frustrated and complain, some are helpful and patient.

The most amusing thing to happen was some guy who asked me to dance, only to realize when he saw my face that I was a guy. Having long hair together with dim lighting can cause some confusion!

Friday, November 25, 2005

No Decision is a Decision

There is no such thing as no decision. Even no decision is a decision.

There is no such thing as no religion. Even atheism is a religion. If we say that religion is a set of beliefs. So atheism is a set of beliefs that there is no being that created the world.

There is no such thing as no style. Even 'no-style' is a style in itself.

It seems simple enough. But that means one thing. We are always choosing, we are always deciding at every moment. We cannot say at any time we did not choose anything. We choose something at all times. Even if we choose not to make an active decision, we then make a passive decision.

Perhaps to extend Jean Paul Satre's thoughts that men are condemned to be free, men are condemned to decide all the time.

Now, with this thought, what responsibility do we have? Unless we consciously choose the right thing, then time, circumstances and fortune does the choosing for us. And that isn't something that we like would we?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Sacrifice really means giving up something good for something better. It could really be called up-leveling. When a person has a vision that transcends himself, that focuses on an important cause or project that he is emotionally connected to, then the real course of least resistance is to put service above self. To such a person it is no sacrifice.

To an outside observer it would appear to be a sacrifice because he is denying some present good. Happiness is essentially a by-product of subordinating what we want now for what we want eventually. Rather than being the course of most resistance, sacrifce is the course of least resistance to one who is deeply, spiritually and emotionally connected to a cause or a calling or the serving of another. Service above self is the ethic of all great religions and of all philosophy and psychology that has endured. Albert Schweitzer said, "I know not what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."

What is sacrifice?

During entrepreneurship classes we were asked what we were prepared to sacrifice in order to achieve our goals. In order to achieve success, we sacrifice some TV, some social time, some leisures that we go without.

Some sacrifice sleep. But a sleep sacrifice needs to be repayed. But after learning about the consequences of inadequate sleep, I realize that sleep may not be a good sacrifice.

However, when it comes to success in the family life, the success of the material world then becomes the sacrifice. To have good relationships, it may mean postponing an important business meeting for a PTA or little league baseball meeting in order to support our kids. Other types of sacrifices may be "prestige", "being #1" (isn't #2 just as good?), "convenience", "ego".

This concept of "sacrifice" is interesting.

What makes a good sacrifice then? It recalls to my mind images of Cain and Abel each sacrificing their offerings respectively. One sacrified the fruit of their own labours. Cain, the farmer, sacrificed vegetables and Abel the best of his flock.

It wasn't the type of sacrifice that mattered, vegetables or animal (or mineral) but rather whether it cost the person something.

It showed between Cain and Abel who valued God more. By sacrificing something that is not valuable, we show that God comes second in line.

To put God second best by giving him the lame and blind isn't a good sacrifice.

King David knew that sacrifice meant costing something. Araunah wanted to give his land away free for David to perform his sacrifice, but David knew better and still insisted on paying for the land. "I will not offer anything that costs me nothing."

"Negaraku" a.k.a Mamula Moon

Listen to the original Negaraku: Mamula Moon by Felix Mendelssohn and His Hawaiian Serenaders.

Is Negaraku from a Hawaiian melody?


KLUANG: Is the Negaraku adapted from a Hawaiian melody?

This question stirred in his mind when Mohd Zain Sahadan, 49, heard his son playing a record from his antique collection.

The song, entitled Mamula Moon by Felix Mendelssohn and His Hawaiian Serenaders, carried the melody of the national anthem but had a slower and more romantic beat.

ON RECORD: Mohd Zain showing the old record that contains the song 'Mamula Moon' which has the same melody as 'Negaraku' at his home in Kluang.

Zain, who works as a junior general administrator with the National Institute of Public Administration (Intan) here, said he felt excited when he heard the tune.
An avid antique collector, he said he had owned the record for more than 10 years without realising the significance of its content.
"I bought it together with 10 other records from an old man for RM500.
"Recently, my son rummaged through my antique collection and played the song on the gramophone.
"Only then did I notice the similarity," he said, adding that he believed the record dated back to the 1940s.
The record showed the name of song, the artiste and also indicated that it was made in England, but there was no mention of the year it was released.
Checks on music websites showed that Felix Mendelssohn and His Hawaiian Serenaders were artistes in the 1940s.
According to, they played Hawaiian-style music, while described the band's music as "immediately recognisable by its swing, swooning, sensual ethnic style".
This Mendelssohn should not be confused with the 19th century German composer and pianist Felix Mendelssohn.
History has it that the Negaraku was adapted from the state anthem of Perak, which had a similar melody to the keroncong-influenced Terang Bulan, a popular song in the 1930s in Indonesia and Malaya.
It was also a familiar tune in the island of Mahe in the Seychelles where a former Perak Sultan lived in exile. A French band used to play the tune when it performed on the island.
There is, however, no record of the exact origin of the melody.
Some historians believe that a well-known 19th century French poet and composer, Pierre Jean de Beranger, wrote the music.
But there is no reference on any link to the Hawaiian Mamula Moon.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Things Learned

Authority is not an item that can be held and passed around like sticks of butter in a supermarket, but rather a structure of a relationship.

Decision making can be shaped by our language.

We sometimes ignore huge warning signs, because we think that something so wrong could never happen and ignore the signs.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Game Developer Workshop 17-19 Nov 2005

The past 3 days was a fantastic time of meeting some internationally renowned game developers.

The picture in this post is that of Matt Costello, who wrote the story for Doom 3. But when I asked him whether he's seen "Doom" the movie, he said he didn't.

I am a game designer. We think alike!

2 of them even shared that they suffered from a dysfunctional family background.

The ideas for games and ideas for collaboration, the metagame, and ideas like metaphors behind the ideas were affirmations of things that I was thinking about games.

I really liked the encouragement given by a lot of people who said that they were excited by my 2 minute intro to my game and during workshop discussions. They wanted to play my game! And these are professional game designers.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Life Is A Dance

"No life can escape being blown about
by the winds of change and chance
and though you never know all the steps
you must learn to join the dance"

"Through Heaven's Eyes" (Soundtrack from Prince Of Egypt)

We aren't thought often that life is a dance. We are taught what we must do, what we must contribute. How to behave.

But not many of us are thought that life is a dance. That there are rhythms and beats to life.

There are seasons in the year, there is the 24-hour rhythm to a day, there is the monthly lunar cycle.

It is reflected in our physiology, but also in our relationships.

In dance, you can learn leadership. Especially in dances with pairs. We don't get taught how to dance in church, unless you believe that the "charismatic shuffle" is all you have to learn or jumping up and down to a disco rock beat.

In fact, there are many facets and subtleties that I'm learning from my salsa class that I'm taking.

For example, there is a leadership and follower role. You cannot have both the man and the woman doing the leading. One must be the leader and the other the follower. Having two independent beings wanting their own way cannot lead to harmonious dancing.

The man must for example be the strong one, he must provide the frame for the lady to lean back. He must lead the way and provide the cues for the lady to move in tandem with him, as well as watch out for other couples that may bump into him. But that does not mean the man doesn't follow the woman. At times, like when there is a spin or twirl he must follow the lady.

In dance, there are also subtle feedback given through thumb signals and the like. That is also a part of leading either in a group or in a marriage. Both must give each other feedback in order to dance well.

The couple must also not knock their knees into each other or step on one another's toes. When one wants to move forward, the other move backwards. The guys arms must be lifted high enough to prevent his elbows blocking her when she wants to spin, yet not too high that it is tiring for her arm.

The author is now currently taking salsa classes at Two Left Feet Dance Studio.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

You're Only Borrowing Sleep

I've learned that you can't really work longer one day and hope to be alert the next day.

If you keep on doing that on an ongoing basis, you're depriving yourself of much needed sleep.

And you'll pay for it. There will be such thing as microsleep, where you doze of for 5-8 seconds at a go when your body tries to compensate for lack of sleep.

The real solution if you find you have too much work is really to manage your time and if you really have too much work that you find yourself staying longer and longer at work is the following

  1. Save time by making decisions quicker.

  2. Get things done on immediately instead of delaying it.

  3. If it's not important, don't do it.

  4. Finally, delegate.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

10 Rules For Effective Prayer

  1. Set aside a few minutes every day. Do not say anything. Simply practise thinking about God. This will make your mind spiritually receptive.

  2. Then pray orally, using simple, natural words. Tell God anything that is on your mind. Do not think you must use stereotyped pious phrases. Talk to God in your own language. He understands it.

  3. Pray as you go about the business of the day, on the subway or bus or at your desk. Utilise minute prayers by closing your eyes to shut out the world and concentrating briefly on God's presence. The more you do this every day the nearer you will feel God's presence.

  4. Do not always ask when you pray, but instead affirm that God's blessing are being given, and spend most of your prayers giving thanks.

  5. Pray with the belief that sincere prayers can reach out and surround your loved ones with God's love and protection.

  6. Never use a negative thought in prayer. Only positive thoughts get results.

  7. Always express willingness to accept God's will. Ask for what you want, but be willing to take what God gives you. It may be better than what you ask for.

  8. Practise the attitude putting everything in God's hands. Ask for the ability to do your best and to leave the results confidently to God.

  9. Pray for people you do not like or who have mistreated you. Resentment is blockade number one of spiritual power.

  10. Make a list of people for whom to pray. The more you pray for other people, especially those not connected with you, the more prayer results will come back to you.

The Courage To Suffer

Man's Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy
Once the meaning of suffering had been revealed to us, we refused to minimize or alleviate the camp's tortures by ignoring them or harboring false illusions and entertaining artificial optimism.
Suffering had become a task on which we did not want to turn our backs. We had realized its hidden opportunities for achievement, the opportunities which caused the poet Rilke to write, "Wie viel ist aufzuleiden!" (How much suffering there is to get through!) Rilke spoke of "getting through suffering" as others would talk of "getting through work." There was plenty of suffering for us to get through.
Therefore, it was necessary to face up to the full amount of suffering, trying to keep moments of weakness and furtive tears to a minimum. But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer. Only very few realized that. -- Viktor Frankl, "Man's Search For Meaning"
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. -- Romans 5:3-5
What kind of suffering do we have? We are almost all too familiar with the physical, but in this world we often disregard the reality of emotional, mental, even spiritual suffering.
  • It can come in the form of financial ruin or material loss.
  • It can come in the form of unthankful children or unloving parents.
  • It can be in the form of missed opportunites or regrets.
  • It can be in the form of rejection from people we love or betrayal.
  • It can be in the form of shame or loneliness.
In contrast to the prosperity gospel, Romans 5:3-5 talks of rejoicing in suffering. James exhorts us to be joyful when trials and tribulations come (James 1:2-4). Peter tells us that suffering is not unsurprising, but expected in life. (1 Peter 4:12-13)

In fact to have 3 different people, Paul, James and Peter talk of suffering means that suffering was an essential part of the gospel of Christ. Yes, healing and God's blessing was part of it too. And the desire to alleviate ourselves and to take active measures to do so is the right thing to do. The action is to alleviate. But the attitude to take is to rejoice. It is not some kind of masochistic desire. No, it is the noble courage to face reality, but a firm confident faith in God, which some may mistake faith fo Polyanna-like or delusional optimism.

But does it mean we are doomed? No, because Romans 8 talks of the promises:
  • that we are not condemned.
  • that we are more than conquerors.
  • that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
  • that we have a helper in the Holy Spirit.
  • that God is working for our good even then.
  • that all things will be graciously given us.
  • that we are heirs with Christ.
  • that as we share in His suffering, so shall we share in His glory.
And that is the true reason why Christians can be optimistic. But not a delusional optimism that would be "irritating during times of pain" but one that recognizes that truth and sees it for what it is, yet faces it head on secure in the confidence that "his rod and his staff" comfort hims in the valley of the shadow of death.

Life Is Like A Rubik's Cube

I was never able to solve the Rubik's cube when I first got it when I was still in primary school. It just seemed too complicated. Get one square in position and all the rest are messed up. In the end I tried to solve it by unscrewing it and hopefully putting it back together. And that didn't work. So I ended up with a broken Rubik's which I threw away.

It seems that life is like a Rubik's cube. There are so many facets to life. And trying to keep them all in balance is frustrating. If you turn one face to get the reds together you unbalance the other sides of blue, yellow, white, etc.

But it can be solved.

There are analogies that the simple method to solving a Rubik's cube can be applied to life.

First you start out with a simple cross on one of the faces.Start out with Christ taking control of one of a part of your life. Don't expect Him to get your life all perfect in one day.
Then slowly build up the parts that can be moved to make one layer.Solve one area of priority first in your life.
Remember that the center cubes do not actually move; only the corners and the edges. Some people get confused by this.Learn to recognize and accept the things that you cannot change, and the things that you can change. The Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
Certain moves require you to memorize the moves. Follow the directions from people who have done it before. Professor Rubik took 1 month to solve his own invention. You can do it in 1 week by learning it from others instead.Get expert help when in trouble. You don't have time to work it out on your own.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Leaving On The Dot At 5PM

  1. Announce to everyone that you have a personal commitment at 5:30 that evening. If you have a child, you could say your child is in need of your assistance.

  2. Mark on your calendar that you will be leaving at five.

  3. Get a good night's rest the night before, so you'll feel up for the effort of fulfilling your dynamic bargain with yourself.

  4. Eat a light lunch; it keeps you from being sluggish in the afternoon.

  5. Strike a dynamic bargain with yourself at the start of the day, in late morning, in early afternoon, and in late afternoon. (Remember, it's okay to modify the bargain to accommodate a changing situation.)

  6. Regard any intrusion or upset as merely part of the workday, deal with it as you can, and plan tomorrow's strategy for coping. Do not let it change your plans on leaving on time today.

  7. After striking the dynamic bargain with yourself, don't be tempted to add more items to your list at the last minute.

  8. Envision how you'll feel when you leave right at closing time (but there is no reason for you to be staring at the clock for the last 45 minutes).

  9. If you want support, ask a coworker to walk you out the door at closing time.

Dynamic bargain:
"What would it take for me to feel good about ending work on time today?"
Stating exactly what you'll need to accomplish to feel good about leaving on time that day.

Kids and God

mrbrown: L'infantile terrible of Singapore: Sneaky

One of my favourite Singapore bloggers is Mr. Brown. I used to like reading his Singapore National Education Series.

He shares in this post about the travails he has as a father, taking care of his children, and in the latter part, the experiences he has with taking care of his autistic child Faith.

It reminds me something of God's relationship with us.

There are people who complain about God not doing anything. And there are people who know God is doing everything.

Perhaps we, the human race are like Faith, his autistic child. We get attracted to things that actually endanger us. And he has patience enough to lead us and to guide us and to protect us in spite of all the inconvenience to Him.

Turning the tables around, why should God love us, his children so imperfect?

I think that we the human race are like autistic children, full of joy and potential yet limited by a deficiency we are born with. But in spite of that, He loves us very much. (Matthew 18:1-6; Matthew 19:14)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Things They Should Teach In School

There are some things that I'm realizing now in life are far more important than schoolbooks, I'm amazed that they don't teach these things in school.

Perhaps some of these things are learned through extra curriculur activities, but the idea that they are "extra" implies that it isn't important when it is the obverse.

One sad fact I learned while working as a relief teacher was that the principal refused to start a football team because it would attract the "wrong" type of students. (Fill in the blanks on what you may think as "wrong"). And that by doing so would lower the grade point average.

1) Leadership skills and Teamwork.
I've realized that once an individual has gained competency in a certain vocation or skill, he/she needs to work with others.
Man is not an island, he works with people. Relationships are a necessary part of living in life. We relate to people from young, with our family, our peers, our teachers, our superiors, our government, people in authority and those under our authority.
In fact, as I have progressed in my career, the technical skills are easy to gain but the more and more higher you go, leadership and people skills become the most important. The CEO of General Motors doesn't know how to build a car, neither does the CEO of Coca-Cola know how to manufacture Coke but it was their leadership, motivational and people skills that was paramount.
Unfortunately, these leadership skills are almost haphazardly gained in the school playground. The movie "Sky High" illustrates this caricaturely, where students are either labelled "Heros" or "Side Kicks" on admission to school.
Does a person lose out on the chance to develop his relational and leadership skills based on a 5 minute impression made in high-school?
They do encourage students to take leadership positions, but do they teach leadership to all students?
I believe that everyone is capable of leadership, but they have to break out of the mold that they may have been given by their parents or teachers.

Every human being is a Leonardo da Vinci. The only problem is that he doesn't know it. His parents didn't know it, and they didn't treat him like a Leonardo. Therefore he didn't become like a Leonardo. That's my basic theory. -- Öystein Skalleberg.

2) The Will To Meaning. (Spiritual)
The one hole that is in everyone is the need for meaning in their lives. Frankl disagrees with the other 2 schools of psychology that man either has a will to pleasure (Freud) or the will to power (Adler). Frankl claims that the will to pleasure or power arises when the will to meaning is blocked.
However, the will to meaning is also not taught. In fact, the underlying idea in life that is sometimes thought (I would not know since I am not in school) is that we are economic units. We are designed to fill jobs in the economy. The message that we get from the government is that we are either to defend the economy and to be competitive or to protect our rice-bowl.
True, power and pleasure are there and necessary. But they are only tools and side effects on the true goal of meaningful existence.
What happens then? When people are told that the meaning of their lives is just to make money, they are losing out on their true purpose of life.
Another side effect is that their self worth is tied to the economic value. A person who is a bus driver would think that he is of less worth than a president's scholar that earns tons of money.
The drive for entrepreneurship currently is a necessary move to keep Singapore going in the face of international competition but I fear that it again emphasises the esteem given to people making money far more than those that aren't.
3) Self Esteem and Responsibility.
Keep quiet. Behave yourself.
All these are reactive behaviour from teachers and parents to their children. They are taught that they cannot make wise decision for themselves.
"Keeping quiet". Also teaches them not to have a voice, or that their thoughts and ideas are not valued.
Perhaps not all, but I believe that responsibility can be taught from an early age. Unfortunately, I see in poly that there is this sense of helplessness in some of them that they can't change their future, that the course given to them wasn't their first choice, etc.
One of the most important habits of effective people is being pro-active. And pro-active people are pro-active because they know that they can have an effect. That their words and actions are responsible for consequences that follow. The only way that can happen is when they are response-able. I think that a lot of students are capable of a lot more than they are capable of, except that we don't give them enough credit for it.
4) Ethics and Morality.
Ethics and morality are one of the most important fibres of society. However, in school it was considered the non-examinable subject. The "sure-pass" subject. If it "easy and sure-pass", why are there people going to prison for crimes? Scholars and white-collar crimes are in the news. Enron, WorldCom, China Aviation, Slim-10. All these were committed by educated people.
The fact is, an idea like "separation of church and state" must not imply "separation of morality and skills". Especially in classes like political science, ethics and morality plays a huge role.
Ethics and morality are in fact the most difficult things to pass in life. In fact, doing the right thing is sometimes the most difficult thing to do against the choice of the easy wrong.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

What good is there to have smart and clever scholars that are corrupt, immoral and unethical?

A View Of Future Things

Electronic paper moves from sci-fi to marketplace - Yahoo! News

You can order your e-ink prototype kit from Any aspiring 17 year old future Bill Gates should order theirs one now! Well to do schools or polytechnics should order one for their student labs. Only US$3000.

Mobile is still the technology to go for. With more and more wireless and mobile applications, a foldable and lightweight technology will bring even more flexibility and new ideas to the market place.

Mobile is the next Internet frontier.

Imagine, picture frames holding updatable images. You could have the Mona Lisa on it one day, Van Gogh's Sunflowers the next, or a live cam view of the Eiffel Tower the next.

Or even bigger, things like dynamic wallpapers on your home.

Since it is bendable, how about camouflage or stealth vehicles that can actually change colour as and when needed. A chameleon vehicle as you may call it.

What about fashion accessories? Watch straps or clothes that change pattern?

The great thing about it is that the pattern holds even when power is turned off.

Verse Of The Week

'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." (Mark 9:23)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Christ Sets Prisoners Free

Kelvin Soh is an ex-drug addict who turned out right because he turned to God.

How did he come to know God, in today's Strait's Times it said:
"He credits his turnaround to a prison warden, who introduced him to Christianity while he was serving a 5 1/2-year sentence for possession of drugs in 1998. That was his last brush with the law."
Another famous person you might know is Nelson Mandela.

I would quote from "Prisoners Of Our Thoughts", pp 40-41:
"The day that Mandela was being released from prison on Robben Island, Bill Clinton, then Governor of Arkansas, was watching the news. He quickly called his wife and daughter and said, "You must see this, it is historical." As Mandela stepped out, Clinton saw a flush of anger on his face as he looked at the people watching; then it disappeared.
Later, when Clinton was president of the United States and Mandela was president of South Africa, the two leaders met and Clinton told about his observation during Mandela's release from prison. And, because Mandela had always been a model of reconciliation with no spirit of revenge or negativism, President Clinton candidly asked him for an explanation of what seemed to have occurred on that historic day.
President Mandela replied, "Yes, you are right. When I was in prison, the son of a guard started a Bible Study and I attended;... and that day when I stepped out of prison and looked at the people observing, a flush of anger hit me with the thought that they had robbed me of 27 years.
Then the Spirit of Jesus said to me, 'Nelson, while you were in prison you were free, now that you are free, don't become their prisoner.'"
In both cases, it was become of some unnamed person who had managed to start a Bible Study in prison.
We will never know their names until we stand in heaven. It goes to show that Christ does change lives through ordinary people like you and I. We may never get credit for it, but its effect can change a person, a group, a company, and in Nelson Mandela's case, even an entire country.

The next thought that comes to mind are schools. Recently there has been a brouhaha about proselytizing Christianity in schools and in hospitals. I have not come to an opinion yet on this issue.

However I do have a question
Do we have to wait until children are of legal age and in prison before we can tell them of Christ?
I hope not.

Some parents think that "religion" should not be taught to children until they are adults. They want them to make the decision themselves. I agree. Everyone must make their own decision to follow Christ. God has no grandchildren.

However, as CS Lewis said, do we wait until the weeds have grown all over our garden before pulling them out?

Introduce them to Christ, don't let the weeds grow in their hearts. It's easier to prevent them from growing in the first place than to pull them out when the roots have taken ground in their hearts.
No matter what a government rules however, I do know this: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)

Miss Fear Factor

I want to marry a Miss USA.

Now, wouldn't any hot-bloded male want to do that?

I will have to explain that it isn't what it seems.

After watching Fear Factor:Miss USA edition, I learned to admire these women a lot more. Watching the episode on TV yesterday, I had this niggling feeling there was something different in the show than other Fear Factors.

I realized then halfway through that it was the tone of the contestants and the way they conducted themselves.

They were smiling all the way, there wasn't much fear on their faces and they were gracious before and after the stunts that they participated in.

Though of course there was apprehension they still gamely took on the challenges like walking on a suspended steel framework, being drenched in fish, fish oil and worms and clambering around a climbing net carried by a helicopter.

There wasn't trash talk, putdowns and empty boasts by the Miss America contestants. They were actually cheering their own fellow competitors on.

It's such a refreshing change from the culture of women that we read now. The "liberated" woman of today doesn't seem to mind to bitch, moan, rant and rave about people around them. Perhap's I'm reading too much of Xiaxue's blog. But I hope that the ladies of today and tomorrow not find that saying things like WTF, KNN and CCB acceptable. I shudder to think that the media attention is now on bloggers like Xiaxue and Sarong Party Girl. They may be honest, but they sure don't make good role models.
Instead of the stereotype of a dumb, vacuous beauty contestant (though the youngest competitor did ask, "Fish have oil?", Fear Factor showed that these women were independence, fearlessness, sportsmanslike and this combined with beauty, poise, grace, dignity into one package make the women to truly admire.
Though of course I do understand that it may all be good PR and that it may be part of the organizers orders for them to keep up a good image and it is realistic to believe that some in private they may have their own foibles. But let's give them the benefit of the doubt and realize that women don't have to be b****** . Let's believe in the best of humanity. At the very least it is an image to can prove to be a better role model and ideal that humanity should strive for.
If there are more such women around, perhaps world peace may be possible.