Saturday, July 02, 2005

Our Innate Qualities

Our Innate Qualities

"History is valuable as a guide to the future. It provides insights into the nature and potentials of various peoples, because both the innate qualities and the cultural characteristics of a people do not change easily or quickly."

- Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore National Day broadcast, 1969

We all have innate qualities that we are born with. Some of these qualities could be strengths that could determine how successful we are in our lives. There are also innate qualities that negative or bad, and they could lead us to our downfall if not properly held in check.

Therefore, knowing what our innate qualities are is very important. These qualities will always be there throughout our lives, and like what Mr Lee said, they are very difficult to change. If we know we have certain areas of strength, we'll need to reinforce and nurture them so that they become a fundamental part of our character. Once a person's character is formed, his responses become automatic and instinctive. He excels whenever those qualities are being put to practice. His innate qualities have become his "core competence", to use a corporate cliche.

The negative qualities are the ones that are difficult to deal with. They are problematic because we are usually not willing to admit that they are our weakness, simply because they are such a fundamental part of our nature. Now, if we are wise enough to identify our negative qualities, and strive to minimize or even eliminate them, then we will limit the damage that they could do.

In our daily interactions with people and in the course of doing our work, we will realize what our positive and negative innate qualities are. Filter out the bad and amplify the good. And start nurturing new positive qualities that could over time become an innate part of us too.

Go ahead, do a QA on yourself. If you know how to make use of your innate qualities, you will do certainly improve the quality of your life!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Pleasurable Lightness of Travel

The Pleasurable Lightness of Travel

I'll be going on a one day trip tomorrow without my notebook PC, so it is unlikely that I will be blogging then. I try to travel light whenever possible but these days it is quite impossible to pack your luggage without the usual array of chargers, cables, converters and what-have-you.

I used to have a checklist of things to bring on business trips. I go through it to make sure that I don't forget anything essential. The worst thing to forget on a business trip are things things like belt, shoes, haircream and business shoes. You can't replace these things easily, especially if you only discover them missing on the morning when you are dressing up for your business meeting!

I have a bad habit of bringing way too much reading materials (which also weigh a ton). On business trips, I bring along technical books which I kind of half know I will not refer to. But still I bring them with me because they give me a comfort feeling--that I'm not severed from my source of knowledge.

One thing we have to remember is that, we will always come back from a trip with a lot more things. Don't forget the ole-ole (gifts) that we have to bring back for the folks back home. In my case, if I travel to Jakarta, I also have to make sure I have ole-ole on both trips. The safest (and dullest) ole-ole are chocolates and perfume. Men don't expect ole-ole, it's only the women who do. Men are interested in other things--especially your "field report".

The best part about travelling to me is loitering around at airports, train stations and bus stations. Somehow I find these places fascinating--the variety of people converging there and the sheer sense of freedom in the air, of going some place far, of having your destiny in your own hands. Staying in a hotel is also great fun. I'm especially happy whenever I'm alone in a hotel. Which was why I was reluctant to move out from my hotel in Jakarta for two years. And those were such happy times...

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

As Far as the Headlights Go

As Far as the Headlights Go

I wasn't planning to blog tonight as I've been doing so continuously for the past seven days. Moreover I'm feeling a bit tired after a whole day of meetings downtown. But as I was flipping through a book that happened to lie on my desk, I chanced upon the following quote:

Writing a book is like driving a car at night. You only see as far as your headlights go, but you can make the whole trip that way.

- E.L. Doctorow
That principle certainly applies to the way I blog: I often start an entry not exactly knowing how I will proceed, but I can see "as far as the headlights go". It could be a fragment of thought, or a quote from some book, or an interesting observation I made during the day; these things would kick me off and and I plough on, word by word, sentence by setence and soon I would have another entry to mark the day.

Doctorow's writing principle applies to life too. Often we cannot see too far ahead into the future. So we tackle what's immediately in front of us, one thing at a time. We cannot worry too much about what lies in the distant future. Take the opportunity that comes. Move ahead with conviction. If your headlights happen to show a bend ahead, negotiate it carefully. Always be ready for the unexpected.

When you drive at night, your eyes cannot wander elsewhere simply because it is too dark for you to see anything. So you train your eyes on where the headlights shine. It is where attention should be focussed on. Similarly in life, we have to focus on the task that's immediately at hand. Deal with it and move on to the next task.

It could be quite frustrating sometimes because there's so much uncertainty in life. But that's how fate reveals its plot to us--incident by incident, always with unexpected twists and turns. But if we know how put on our headlights and focus our attention on where it shines, we can be confident of navigating through the entire journey quite safely.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Checkpoint Now

Checkpoint Now

I'm looking forward to the start of another week. It's good to note that we will all be reaching the halfway mark for the year this coming week. It's time to do a checkpoint. How have we fared so far? Have we even got started on some of the grandiose plans and idealistic resolutions we made on New Year's Eve last year?

It is so very easy for us to sink back into our easy and familiar routines. Every now and then we will hear people sigh and lament: How fast time flies! Well, actually time flies at a constant speed, we just have a habit of falling asleep while on board.

How do we ensure that we don't go through life "unconscious"? By constantly examining our habits and thought patterns. If there are bad or unproductive ones, we have to try and eliminate them. We must never stop trying. To be complacent even for one second is to allow our bad habits to reassert their foothold on our minds.

Whenever we get angry, we are actually losing control of our minds. We let our instinctive thought patterns take control, often with regrettable consequences. It is good to slow down our thoughts sometimes because that allows us the space to do a checkpoint before we proceed to our next thought or action. The chain of action and reaction is then broken.

Always interpret your thoughts well. Good thoughts will need to be reinforced; bad thoughts killed immediately.

When we are surfing the Net, we often "lose consciousness". We let one URL link lead us to the next, and before we know it, two hours would have slipped by. People enjoy surfing so much because they are just pampering to the basic nature of the mind to jump like a wild monkey from one thought to another.

Wake up and do a checkpoint! Break that pattern of self-destructive thinking. Insert something fruitful. Plant a seed. Do something before it's too late--checkpoint now before you are checkmated!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Hideaway

A Hideaway

I'm the type who finds shopping a very tedious task, but I had to spend a whole day today doing just that. I have the task of furnishing my apartment, now that all the basic infrastructure is already in place--even Streamyx. Being the eternally dull person that I am, I plan to furnish it with just the bare essentials--and that does not include a bed, closet or a television!

Well you see, I don't intend to stay in my apartment--at least not yet. It is to be used as a storage place for my "personal stuff" (read books), and a quiet place for me to work without any distractions. I want to have my books all reunited in one place--properly shelfed. This is psychologically very important because with my books stuffed in boxes everywhere as it is now, I feel like fragments of my mind all scattered all over the place and I cannot gather my thoughts and memories easily.

Come to think of it, I've been staying in my existing Subang Jaya home for more than ten years now. Over the years I've collected a lot of junk: I even have to share my bedroom with a Sun workstation, a huge external hard-disk and a 4mm multi-tape backup system! I want to make sure my new apartment does not clutter up like that too.

One thing I've learnt is that things will accumulate very easily, especially junk. So I've made it a point these days to chuck unnecessary things away whenever possible, to maintain the balance. Any new item that comes into the house will require something old to be discarded immediately. But of course, that does not apply to books.

Maintaining another place will mean more utility bills for me to pay. So from now on, I'll have to work doubly hard. But hopefully with a proper home office, my productivity will also shoot up. Everyone needs a place to hide away. In a madly hectic place like KL, I think it is even a necessity. One's sanity is at stake.