Sunday, November 25, 2012

Continuing "the Path"... Chap 8: To Further Expand Your Business

Two parts in this chapter that resonate with me:

Gratitude (p119):
"The prices may be the same, but people will naturally tend to patronise the shop that takes good care of its customers and is thoughtful and conscientious about its services or merchandise. Few customers will return to an establishment where they get little attention and where common courtesy and respect is not observed."

What's in this paragraph is commonsense, isn't it? Especially, as a consumer, service matters, and more people would rather pay more for a good service than to compromise the experience at a lower price. Today, the expectations has changed, in particular the consumers'. Let's ask ourselves, how many of us are willing to pay slightly more for better quality and service? Not difficult to find, right?

I therefore fully agree that "Service rendered with kindness, quality, and quickness, as well as a spirit of reverence - a business thus run, no matter where it is, will be successful." (p120)

Following Through (p129): 
"People order others to perform some task. They give directions, request tasks to be done. But it is meaningless if they simply send off orders, issue commands, and make request without following up on them, and the results would be minimal."

"Those who do the follow-up as well as those who are followed up on must cultivate the resolve and the courage to resist the tendency to leave any given task unresolved and unfinished."

How true! Indeed, how often we are guilty of making assumptions that things will go on smoothly in the hands of others, especially when it's not the first time that others execute the task? Yes, experience, and good work habits are often assumed when one is assigned to do the work that's no longer for the first time. 

Continuing "the Path"... Chap 7: To Further Improve Your Work

This Chapter discussed about work... actually, to be precise, it's about one's attitude towards work.
I'm sure different people hold different perspectives... and it's really how we define "work", I think.

I like how the chapter started - to highlight the value of "work" comes from the "meaning" behind it. Yes, it serves a purpose. Because it has its value, and therefore it has a reason to exist. It's just like some work no longer exist because their role has been 'automated' and there's no value to put a human being to do the job. It's no longer meaningful if the machine or device can do a even better job! E.g. We don't need a bus conductor in the bus anymore.

So, when we are employed to do the work, we take up the job because we first find (or at least we think we will find) meaning doing it (although sometimes the meaning 'behind' the job might have changed in our eyes, or due to changes of the environment).

Next, it examines our attitude towards work... if it's something we are passionate about, there's where we devote our time and effort into it... and soon, the thin fine line between work and life would start to become blur. Well, sometimes, we call these people workaholic, I guess, when they dwell too deeply into work and forget other things in life, I guess. However, sometimes workaholics may just fall for (or fall in love with) it.. because it has become a means they derive satisfaction from, there's where they felt driven... Hm... ok, these are words from a deemed workaholic :) Of course, it doesn't mean that workaholic doesn't have his/ her own life... except that, in the eyes of others, it seems like work is life to him/ her... confession from a 'workaholic' ~ "I have life... except that I spend a smaller portion to seek joy and satisfaction via other means, apart from work."

To quote, from p99, "A person who is devoted to and enthusiastic about his or her work may be able to exercise some say regarding the way it is done, but if it is forgotten that the work being done is for society, it could be reduced to a selfish action that is done only for one's personal interest and gain." This reminds us that work is not just a means to getting paid, but it's about giving back to the society, for the growth of the community. It serves a larger purpose. That's why we work... "What matters most is to pursue the work society has given us to do in a conscientious, humble and careful manner."

To "truly" complete a job, it's about giving the attention to ensure that the work is not just done, but properly done, and well done. It's about seeing it through to make sure it has "reached/ created" the desired impact/ outcome. It's about reporting one's effort put into the piece of work. 

It's the same when one is tasked to be a coordinator of the project. It's more than just "coordinating" information or passing information, putting the stuff together, and making sure everyone gets the info. An outstanding coordinator will see through the work to ensure that he/ she knows the reason or purpose behind the information gathering or dissemination, being able to articulate the rationale is important. On top of that, it's the following through to see that everyone understands the intent, not to wait for "questions" or "problems" that arise.

As described in p106, it says "Even if it might be a bit bothersome, the consumer is happy and grateful to know that the manufacturer is concerned about its products, and that it is serious and sincere in its post sale service." This would be the kind of desireable attitude to see at our work place, be it we are in the managerial/ coordinator role; or be it we are just team members.

To be continued in posts to come... looking back, the path made its first appearance in the blog in May 2011.

Continuing "the Path"... Chap 5: When You Face Adversity

This is one of the many good books that I read halfway and shelved... shelved not because it's no longer interesting, but because other more urgent matter took over the time...

Picked up this book (which was the first book bought in 2011) again... and I was less than halfway - only at Chapter 5. On the other hand, it's one of those books that I can afford to chew over and over again... and get connected to it :)

Here, the last couple of paragraphs set me thinking on what has been hovering in my mind in the past couple of months...

"When a situation goes contrary to plan, people seem to expend their energy on shifting the responsibility, abusing others, and blaming society." Does this sound familiar? OK, often, we can immediately associate this description with some people around us. Now, let's look at ourselves. Have we been guilty of this before? Sad to say, yes, I'm have been one of those guilty ones.

I think what the next paragraphs really reminded us not to get stuck at that 'blaming' stage, but to move on in a more constructive manner.

It says, "An entrepreneur has to have staying power. We need determination to accept the situation, devotion to revise the strategy, and efforts to build up the capacity to make the plan work. So, when goods don't sell, we would first examine why, tighten our belts, and go to work to make or develop products with qualities that consumers would be happy to buy."

Hm... think about it... this applies to almost all situations... be it in our classrooms... imagine if our students do not learn well... why? why? why? Let's look inward... though there are factors that lie on the children... but, let's look inward first!!! Next, moving on to managing organisations... same here, what do we do if we are not attracting the right people? Hm...

It's not the end. It's only the beginning. But to visit reality and face it with courage to see how to move on :)

To be continued in posts to come... looking back, the path made its first appearance in the blog in May 2011.

Anyway, the Paradoxical Commandments

The book caught my attention... when it appeared as the 'odd' one out amongst the stacks of academic books in the Lunch time Book Display earlier last week. Indeed, I took the book without looking even reading a page or two - the title tells me that its some reading that I would resonate with :)

I guess, that's what we call 缘 (Fate? Destiny? Maybe there's a better choice of word?). I'm not looking at any "10 Commandments" to abide to or to lead my life. But I think see some of my beliefs (and life philosophy) are nicely written in words by others. It's a little book of philosophy that I enjoyed chewing it over the past 2 hours.

No disappointment.  It's easy to finish this tiny book with slightly more than 100 pages. Simple reading yet I could get connected to, almost every page. Thanks, Kent Keith for putting the thoughts so nicely and neatly together. BTW, here's the website: for the complete list.

Here are the lines that I like... and for some of them, I had the ah-ha moment when I read them... enlightening :)

...Not all the 10 are reflected below:

#1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centred - Love them anyway.
  • Sometimes people appear to be illogical and unreasonable, when they are simply using a different logic and different method of reasoning. They may have different worldviews, or different experiences, or see a different set of facts that we do. (p24)
  • Yes, this is something that we might have forgotten to recognise the fact that different people see things at different perspectives. How often we remind ourselves that we should be open to see or hear from a different perspective? Then when it comes to instances when we disagree, we forget to see that others may see things from a different perspective too! Then can we accept this difference and humble ourselves to embrace such diverse view?
#2.  If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives - Do good anyway. 
  • People who are twisted and bent, cynical and tired, have usually given up doing good. Instead, they are just trying to get what they can for themselves. They justify their behaviour by claiming that everybody else is the same... They attribute their own motives to others. They see people who are doing good as people who are only pretending to be doing good, when in fact they are really after something selfish. (p33)
  • Indeed, I like the fact that it started by believing that people are old (for the start)... and how often it's the situation or environment that has changed them (gradually). In fact, these are loners who are afraid, that's why they need to speak with a louder voice to drown others and making everyone else think that everyone else agree with them!
  • You will need to do what is right and good and true. That is where personal meaning and satisfaction are to be found. (p34)
  • That's where our personal beliefs and moral compass are.
#3.  If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies - Succeed anyway.
  • It's enlightening to see how the author had differentiated: A Personal Friend, A Positional Friend, A False Friend and A True Enemy. Indeed, instead of looking around me what kind of "friends/ enemies" are around us... I think it's more importantly to ask ourselves, who are we? To what extend that I have been successful being a "Personal Friend" to others? 
  • Some people attack because they crave more attention for themselves, and attacking you is one way to get it. Others attack because they are passionate about their beliefs and are upset that you don't see things the same way. (p42)
#4.  The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow - Do good anyway.
  • When you do what is right and good and true, you will know, and you will remember. That will give you all the personal meaning you need. (p48)
  • What matter is how you live. If you are living authentically and generously, you won't worry about whether anyone else knows or remembers. (p48)
  • When you lay the foundation for the future of your organisation, you will know the good that you have done. You can also find great satisfaction in seeing the eventual success, even if you have retired or gone on to the other things. (p49). Anyway, I would like to dedicate this one to my peers - whether you were @ Clementi Ave 6 or are still @ 1 Technology Drive :)
  • Many of the best things we do for each other are little things that bring a smile or lift the spirits as we go through daily life together. Sometimes, doing good is the common courtesy and thoughtfulness. (p49)
  • Do good for its own sake. Do good because it is part of who you are, part of your quality of life. The good you do will be a source of personal meaning for you, even if nobody knows or if those who know forget. (p51)
 #5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable - Be honest and frank anyway.
  • Building trust is something you must do if you are to have successful relationships, teams, organisations and communities. (p60)
  • Yes, it is important to be tactful... Confidentiality is part of a trusting relationship... But tact and confidentiality should not prevent you from being honest and frank in most of your daily relationships. (p60)
  • Vulnerability is a door to a new relationship, new opportunities, new ways to grow, and new ways to live and work together. (p61)
#6. The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds - Think big anyway.
  • A "small person" is often a good person, a hard worker committed to the organisation... he or she sees life in very small terms... He has usually mastered his daily routine and doesn't want it to change. (p66)
  • A small person often sees things in terms of his or her own power or comfort and convenience, and believes that what is best for him is best for the family or organisation or community. (p67)
  • Indeed, the "small person" is defined in a totally surprising manner (to me!). It has changed my perspective! And more worrying, when I look back, I think I exhibit the characteristics of a "small person" occasionally. It's thought provoking! And how often we forget we are the small person when we think we are trying to guard the interest of others? Hm...
 #8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight - Build anyway.
  • In organisational life, what we accomplish can fade quickly. We bring people together, build teams, and work toward our goals. When we leave the organisation, we leave a legacy in the hearts and minds of the people who remain there, a legacy reflected in the culture of the organisation. (p89) Anyway, here's another one I would like to dedicate to my peers - whether you were @ Clementi Ave 6 or are still @ 1 Technology Drive :)
  • What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. But that doesn't change what you accomplished. You did something you can remember with pride and pleasure. (p90)
  • The joy and meaning that come with building will last. They will be yours forever. (p90)
 #9. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them - Help people anyway.
  • Some people who need help deny they need it. They don't want to face their inadequencies. Others who need help won't deny it, but they resent it. They don't want to be helpless or dependent, they don't want to appear ignorant. (p95)
  • They may be struggling with their pride, their self-image. (p96)
  • ... the attack may not be against you. They may be angry about their conditions or fighting against their feelings of helplessness or need. (p97)
  • My heart goes out to these people. Indeed, it takes courage to manage the struggle that comes from within too. Confused? Yes, I believe they are the confused lot, too!
 #10. Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth - Give the world the best you have anyway.
  • The cost of giving your best can be high. The only thing that costs more is not giving your best. If you aren't giving your best, you aren't who you are supposed to be. (p102)
  • Fully agree... and to give our best, we need the support from people around us, too! Irregardless they share the same beliefs or philosophy or not :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I'm "Facebooking"

"Facebook" - to many of those born in my "era" - is something quite distant... and often, people asked, "Why Facebook?"

Well, the word "Facebook" is no longer just a noun, but it has become so tuned into human activity that the word is also used as an adjective... just like "Google" that started off as a search engine, and now people simply say that "Let's google for the ..."

I guess, this 'humanisation' comes about because it has become part of our lives - in one way or another, inevitably, we'll cross path with it - because of the "human activity chain". For instance, one of my brother does not believe spending time in Facebook, and he therefore insisted that such an account is irrelevant, and it's a time-consumer. However, with members in the family (as young as the baby) started posting stuff in the social network, he has, eventually created an account, so that he could keep in touch what's happening :) OK, in a way, he was 'forced' by circumstances; and I'm the main culprit.

Now, back to the question at the opening paragraph - "Why Facebook?"

I guess many of us, without second thought might offer the following responses:
  • To touch base with friends
  • To let others know what we are doing
  • To share what we think is good/ interesting/ useful with others
  • To subscribe to a range of services so that updates will be 'pushed down' automatically... all at one place! (for convenience)
  • To seek attention!!! (because the size of "Friends" we have become our audience!)
  • and... To stalk people! (hahah... this is what some people do... especially those who have some "idols" to  that they follow very closely
  • Basically, that's home to my cyber-self!
Haha... those are the more common ones (from the individuals).

Of course, apart from the above, Facebook has features that support educational purposes, when these features are creatively tapped on, and coupled with teaching and learning strategies.

One day, someone commented that I'm a regular to Facebook... based on my postings, I guess! (Though sometimes I do comment, but not that often).

Indeed, to look back, my reasons for visiting Facebook has evolved over the past few years. It got start because of work, when I was still in ETD, that we had to explore platforms that enable us to deliver our professional development when we ran training sessions where digital materials were to be disseminated to participants; at the same time, we wanted to promote interactivity. OK, it was about 5 years ago.
There were already some great "features" that we started to ride on - Groups and pages; and I vaguely remember there was some kind of circles, too :)

The "next" change was when first joined my current context, where I had a couple of colleagues who were looking at leveraging social network to promote programmes and activities of our new entity. It was exciting, when we started to create groups/ pages to invite 'strangers' (ok, those were people who were keen to find out more about the school and were potentially parents sending kids to our school).

Facebook 'walked' into my classroom when I realised that it's where I could get quick responses from students (though today, I still firmly believe that Blog is a better way to manage learning activities). I started a group called Mathematics in Real Life, which was in line with the teaching approach we adopted in the school. It kicked start well... and it's an open group which was only publicised amongst my classes. Well, the group size grew pretty slowly as it's exclusive - in terms of who has the 'power' to post here :)

Of course, with students came into the picture, that's where I started to maintain a different account to draw a line between my private life and the 'public (to students)' life :)

Most of the time, it was about work... but eventually I realised that its presence and features could help me organise and document my personal journey too... as I started to discover there pretty useful "facilities" like photo albums that allow me to organise photos and images in a pretty structured manner. Of course, I also like the "comments" features that the album comes with. It has made sharing very much hassle free too, as long as we manage the access rights carefully :)

I blog pretty regularly... however, blogs is where I would spend more time to craft the story. It takes more effort and really requires some quiet time to work on.

On the other hand, Facebook, because of its 'short-and-quick' posting nature, it's where it would capture our immediate responses and even reactions to things happening around us. I think that's where Facebook becomes a very convenient tool to capture the "attitude-at-that moment". It, indeed, is a good tool to document our 'growing up'. If we get the time to sit down and revisit the entire journey, we would learn not just what he/she does and where he/she has gone to, but through the way one expresses his/her view points and the choice of words and reaction, we could see how one matures over time... the whole life story unfolds :)

Isn't this beautiful? Isn't this going to be the most detailed biography?

Facebook what I did Today: Facebook - what I did in the Yester-Year x