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Posts from the ‘life’ Category

Big Fish in Small Pond vs Small Fish in The Ocean

 You can argue for both sides and there will be no concrete conclusion even after all the dust settled from the battle of these two sides.

In his “David vs Goliath” book, Malcolm Gladwell argues that we’d better off with choosing to be in the small pond. My simple take from his argument, it only creates undue stress to be competing in the vast ocean. Even if you are actually a top performer.

Personally, I can attest to this idea of choosing to be in the small pond.

This inclination comes from a long experience:  more than a decade of working experience (and also from more than a decade of academic experience).

And yes, I have been in both ‘habitat’ — small pond and big ocean. A period of being in the small pond during my formative years, a long period of being in the big ocean during my ‘rebellious’ teenage years to my early years of working in the corporate world; and recently  I have been settling in a rather relatively small (to medium) working environment.

Your viewpoint of the world is shaped through your experience as well as through the input from others. These significant others and most influential thoughts leaders also play a great role in adding the ‘color‘ into your perspectives.

Getting back to the idea of choosing between being in the small pond or in a big ocean, I would definitely say that there is no right or wrong answer. You still need to be decisive when this ‘conundrum’ comes to you. Calculate the potential upside (and the risks too). And go for it. Have a concrete plan to ride in this interesting journey. You will never know your limit until you try it — and even the limitation can be enhanced.

Am I in a small pond or a big ocean right now? Neither.

It’s a ‘rapid’ leading to the vast ocean (again)…



Organizing Your Thoughts (and Maintaining Your Creativity)

Being sleep deprived can really take its toll on our mental alertness.

Think about the time when you had to burn the midnight oil – catching up on those deadlines.

Somehow your brain just lost its ‘sponginess’ in the morning following the very late night (or too early morning).

And don’t even think that your favorite double shot espresso can work its same magic in that morning.

The caffeine will only add up the feeling of being ‘wired up’. You can get so ‘wired up’ that you feel like all your nerves in your head is just like an overly stretch elastic band – any additional ‘pull’ to stretch it will only break it.

Don’t despair. (Imagine your favorite jingle in the background with a crisp booming voice over advising the following solution to your (good) problem)

Clear headedness is the solution of the problem. And being calm too.

But how? Adrenaline has been flowing like crazy – you just feel like you can literally spread your wing and fly away there and then.

Introducing.. Endorphin.

Not only that it induces feeling of happiness, it also helps you think clearer (at least in my own experience). How clear? Well, do you get ideas or inspiration when you have your morning shower? Now, multiply that ‘clarity’ by 2 or 10 for that matter – depending on your level of endorphin.

[Before you get any idea of how I ‘generate’ this happy hormone into the system, let me scope down the process first. We will focus on getting the endorphin through intense endurance exercise requiring  cardiovascular fitness: running]

So.. What to do when you need to bring the sponginess back to your brain so that you can organize your thoughts and draw creative ideas from that ‘well of ideas’?

Lace up your running shoes.

Hit the road running. A good 5 km of run (or around 30 minutes) should do it!

The Uncharted Teritorry

There were times when people used to believe if they keep traveling (or sailing) ahead they will fall into a cliff because they reach the edge of this planet. They were wrong. The earth is round.

A wise man also said that we fear of the unknown.

All sorts of scenarios, possibilities, risks flash in your mind when you think about something new. A foreign environment. Different people. Different culture.

We know that we’re not going to fall from a cliff of the edge of the world when we boldly go to the uncharted teritorry.

Yet, if I can borrow Daniel Kahneman’s thoughts, in my own experience, my System 1 (the emotional side which thinks fast) almost always beats the System 2 (the logical one which thinks ‘slow’) when facing an unknown. The old lizzard brain simply overrides the cognitive function – or decision making process can get biased.

To get back to the ‘Uncharted Teritorry’ analogy, these days , we are fully equipped with advanced techonology (GPS, Google Map etc) to help us navigate ourselves into our destination – a foreign land if you will.

So, we can tap into the crowd intelligence in the World Wide Web and ask the burning questions to millions of experts. This way, we can glean into their past experience when they go through our uncharted teritorry.

But, remember, sometimes GPS too could be misleading due to several reasons. One simple example, the map has not been updated for quite sometime.

And in crowd intelligence case, the so called expert might have experienced the ‘event’ a while ago which render it irrelevant.

Still, we need to at least reduce the fear by reducing the unknowns.

My day will not complete until I _______

end of today

Take your time. If possible, find your preferred quite space to ponder on what to fill in the blank…

I can think of  a list of possible answers.

Let’s take a stab at it.

My day will not complete until I have a solid quality time with my family.

My day will not complete until I sip my cup of double espresso.

My day will not complete until I run my daily mileage of 8 km.

My day will not complete until I wrap up one major task.

My day will not complete until I see the sweet smile of my loved ones.

My day will not complete until I play Angry Bird – Star Wars version.

My day will not complete until I say my gratitude to the Almighty.

My day will not complete until I can share an enlightening thought to lift up a ‘gloomy’ soul out there.

Please do share your thoughts. What completes your day?


Picture credit: flickr/rospix

(My random) 34 Lessons in Life (Before I turn 34)

I am not a sage, sitting at the top of mountain meditating and reflecting every single action and learning point from my successes as well as failures. I am a (slightly) ordinary guy who tries to make his living and contributing his thoughts in between his office meetings.

Before I turn 34, I’d just like to take 10 minutes to ponder and pour my thoughts as a form of my appreciation to life.

Here you go.. My list of life lessons that I have learned during my 34 years of life:

  1. Action does speak louder than words. (Sounds cliche? But it’s so true.)
  2. If you must speak, speak your mind but more importantly speak your heart .
  3. Make sure your loved ones know that they are loved with all your heart
  4. Only YOU know what you want, what you’re passionate about.. Career advice is – as you know – an advice..
  5. Create the trail, create the path.. If there’s no book on that or if there is no prior practice to that? Create it!
  6. You can race to the top very early.. But don’t be surprised that you will not find what you are looking for…
  7. We are created equal. Don’t let ‘titles’ blind you or cloud your judgement.
  8. There are inflection points or turning points in life. You can create that turning points. Life is not served to you on a silver platter.
  9. Principles are principles. It takes ‘balls’ to uphold them sometimes.
  10. Grade Point Average (GPA) is overrated. Have fun while learning.
  11. It’s OK to make mistakes.. Beating yourself up over past mistakes will not change the present let alone the future..
  12. If the future (long-term) is vague, then go for the short term… Somehow you will connect the dots later..
  13. Energy and enthusiasm trump (weak) logic hands down.
  14. Question, question, question. Never take things as they are.
  15. See the world.
  16. Read more books.
  17. Talk to more people.
  18. Find good mentors. We are all ‘Luke Skywalker’ who need our Master Obi Wan Kenobi and Master Yoda.
  19. There will be time when we are the ‘Master Kenobi’.. Be kind to your young apprentice.
  20. Life is a complex game. Moving on does not always serve as a ‘reset’ button.
  21. Greet the morning sun cheerfully everyday. Be grateful that you have one more day to love your loved ones. To contribute to other people.
  22. Nothing is thicker than blood. Family comes first.
  23. Friends are priceless treasures (They can be as valuable as ‘blood’).
  24. You get the best of both world when you marry your best friend.
  25. Looking at my better half and cute son sound asleep is ‘heaven on earth’.
  26. Challenge assumptions. Challenge authority. Change is hard. Change is difficult. ..but when you arrive at your ‘destination’ you will be glad that you did what you were afraid to do.
  27. Try something different. You might surprise yourself.
  28. You were not born as either engineer, scientist, banker, philosopher, writer, speaker.. You can be banker/philosopher/writer/speaker/runner/father/brother/husband/leader/… You can define yourself or you can choose to be undefined.
  29. For every argument there is counter argument.. Don’t be afraid to be firm and choose side.
  30. Everybody seems to love novel ‘contrarian’ idea. Don’t fall to the ‘herd instinct’.
  31. Good life = simple life.
  32. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too young for something or to do something..
  33. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too old for something or to do something either..
  34. Be happy. It’s another day in paradise.

Thank you my family and friends!

Welcoming Holidays!

Everybody loves holidays.


You might have your ideas of fun, relaxing or exciting ways to spend your year end holidays.

Getting together with your loved ones is at the top the list for me. They are my inspiration!

If you need other source of inspirations, there are of course other ‘wells of inspiration’.

Read some uplifting and inspiring books! These books will help you prepare your New Year’s Resolution(s) for 2013.

Me? I am reading “You Can Change Your Life” by Rob Yeung and the seminal work of Daniel Kahneman: “Thinking, Fast and Slow”.

Happy holidays!

Quick Tips – Fight After Lunch Drowsiness

You just had that big lunch..

Well it’s quite common here in this part of the world to have a hearty meal at lunch time. Rice with variety of dishes rich in both good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. I am no nutritionist though..

However, I’d like to share a very effective tips to fight the drowsiness after that big hearty meal.

A shot of espresso! No sugar. No cream. Straight black coffee. It always works for me!

Do try it.. Provided that you do not have any digestion problem (e.g. chronic ulcer etc)

On Free Writing [Write Your 2013 Now]

I love Sunday.

My own version of paradise is to sit at home on a Sunday afternoon and watch movies with my loved ones. So relaxing…

Half of the time if not most of the time, I would have a mini-sleep or dozed off during the movie… Perhaps due to the strenuous long run prior to the movie watching.

Yesterday, it was a bit different. My better half picked ‘Sixth Sense’ as our Sunday afternoon movie. It brought fond memories since this is the one of the first movies that we watched during our ‘dating years’ back in college years.

What’s interesting.. I learned new thing from this movie: free writing. It’s the exercise of writing down your thoughts and keep writing and pouring the thoughts to dig your inner most ‘creative’ side. …Or perhaps to dig down deep in your subconscious part of the brain.

Yesterday, I did not doze off during the movie watching session. The conversation on free writing sparked an idea in my head.

Hey, I could actually use this newly-found tool to plan for my new year’s resolutions!

I simply write down my goals in this coming year and try to picture myself already (almost) finishing 2013 with all the written goals achieved.

The exercise simply energized me! The feeling that you are ‘THERE’ is quite powerful.

Having been energized, the thoughts are overflowing in my head. How I feel when I achieve the goals. I can picture the obstacle which I overcame. Working through the limit by going around the ‘barrier’ .. One thought leaps to another and spurs branches of thoughts.

The challenge will be to reconcile the seemingly disparate thoughts into coherent and structured ones so that the words can be ‘ACTIONABLE’ in time when the implementation part comes..

Try it yourself.

1. Imagine you are at the end of 2013 with all the achieved goals.

How do you feel? By feeling this surge of energy, I can assure you that you will be ‘dizzy’ with abundance of possibilities that you can write or should I say you can plan to do in order to achieve in this coming year.

2. Write and write and write. Do not worry whether your thoughts make good sense or not (at least not for now).

3. Reconcile the thoughts. You can frame the thoughts in simple chronological order (e.g. the timeline on initiatives that you need to implement) or cause and effect or even perhaps issue and solution.

To give you a glimpse of my exercise:

” It’s the time of the year again, December. Yep, the Mayans were out stone perhaps or other logistics to create their calendar  beyond 2012.. We are already in 2013 and I feel so blessed to hit my long time goal of publishing my own book. Any intellectual(s) [with strong alter ego] would have got the same ambition or dream: to be an author or influential thinker. I could have done this without the strong support from my loved ones to help me go through the grind every single day. A page a day. A dozen of pages during the weekend. Daily reminder of how I should progress.. Inch by inch.. The stacks of printed papers grow taller…”

What do you think?

Do try this free writing and share your thoughts.

The Awe Inspiring Experience (Why Do I Run?)

Picture this: Dawn. The sun is barely up in the sky, new light spreads slowly in the horizon showing crack of orange colored clouds. Cool tropical breeze touches  your face.

You are enjoying this splendid sight, feeling this refreshing chunk of ‘universe’ while you are putting your ‘will power’ to the test..

Will power to the test? Yep you heard (read) it right.

You barely had proper rest the night before and now you are drilling yourself for a quick 10km as part of your marathon prep.

The awe inspiring sight, sound and ‘feel’ plus the endorphin paid it off.

My Take On Life of Pi — A Lesson in Life (and also Leadership & Management)

“Above all.. Don’t lose hope” Pi Patel (from Life of Pi)

Think you have a hard life? A difficult tasks? A very demanding client?

Be resourceful. Human beings are very resilient by nature.

Dig down and dig deeper inside your mind.

Leverage your experience.

Chase your goal(s)!

Pi Patel utilized his knowledge and applied it to survive his ‘adventure’ being drifted in the ocean on a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger.

Had he lost his hope during that long 227 days, he would have literally..  died.

I know it’s a fictitious character; however I truly believe that the story resonates with most of us in living our own ‘adventure’.

Pi Patel did not know that it would take 227 days to finally reach the shore. He persisted nevertheless (with the ‘help’ of Richard Parker, the Bengal Tiger).

We can a learn a lot from the story..

1. Know your goal (Stay alive and reach the shore).

2. List down your resources (Food and other supplies).

3. Test your assumption in dealing with the problem — to see whether it deliver the intended solution (how to co-exist in the small boat with tiger — again how to stay alive)

4. If the first test fails then try again (first attempt did not deliver the result, the tiger could not care less about Pi pissing the boat to mark his territory — the tiger pissed back at him; he persisted and tried again with different ways)

So are you still floating or drifting in your own Pacific ocean?

There will be the day when you reach that shore.

Until that day comes, enjoy the scenery.. The flying fish, the starry nights , the majestic whale..

All the awe-inspiring sights!!!