Saturday, July 23, 2005

Exercising Free Will

Exercising Free Will

I'll be travelling again tomorrow, so blogging will be sparse for the coming week. Come to think of it, my postings have been very irregular for the past month. I have not been away from KL for more than a couple of days for the past two months. No, I'm not growing fond of the city but I have to call it home for the meantime--I think for the coming two years.

Perhaps this coming one week trip is a blessing in disguise. I need time away to think more clearly. I need to get my mind into a "batch processing" mode again. I need to cleanse my mind of extraneous thoughts.

I look forward to evenings by the seaside with a cool mug of beer, soaking in the beauty of the sunset over the Indian Ocean. Travelling is such a good way to break out from your usual habits of thinking. When you find yourself in a new environment, it is often a good oppportunity to break away from your old habits. Seize it and redefine your life by injecting fresh thoughts and ideas. Checkpoint!

Whenever I'm back in KL, I realize how easily people fall into a rut simply because they are completely caught up in the everyday stream of trivialities and petty pursuits. You drive on the highway and you see this frightening "Zombie March"; where are these seemingly unconscious souls heading?

Let's exercise the free will that we all possess. Let's take responsibility for defining our lives.

How does one do that?

By taking control of one's thoughts.

What's your next thought? Is it the result of a deliberate choice you make or are you just an automaton reacting to circumstances around you based on hardwired animal instincts and bad habits? You decide.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

"Rich Enough Not to Waste Time"

"Rich Enough Not to Waste Time"

"I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing."

- Gordon Gekko, Wall Street (1987), played by Michael Douglas
Ever since I watched the movie Wall Street seventeen years ago, I've often wondered what Michael Douglas' corporate raider character, Gordon Gekko actually meant by the line "rich enough not to waste time". I had assumed that when you are very rich, you will have all the time in the world to do what you've always wanted to do. You are able to determine how you wish to use your time, instead of having to spend the greater part of your life slaving for others. Was that what he meant?

Or could it be that, if you are a "player", your time is money--not one second is to be wasted anymore. Whilst the rest of the ignorant masses spend all their waking hours buried in the drudgery of work and barely eking out a mediocre living, the very rich knows how to make use of their time with great effect and economy: using money to make more money and investing (never spending) time on things that bring real returns. Time is precious. Time is money.

I don't want to rehash my rather unconventional view about money. Anyone who is willing to work, makes money. Some earn more, some earn less. If you earn less, you just make do with less. If you want to earn more, you'll have to challenge yourself a bit more--work harder and venture out from your comfort zone.

Of course there are people who become rich due to luck. To me, everyone gets their fair share of good and bad luck. Those who prosper know exactly how to take maximum advantage of the luck that comes their way. It is like sailing in the ocean--if the winds and currents are favourable, you ride on it. A good navigator is always on a lookout for favourable conditions. You must be prepared to take advantage of it. Which is why people always say, you make your own luck.

Making money is a given. Everyone makes money. Just that, making a lot of money requires something more: skill, hardwork and luck. To a certain extent, we can strive to improve on all these aspects. But still money alone does not ennoble one's soul. You are not born into this world to make money. You are born to do what you are supposed to do--discovering your Personal Legend. Money is just a side-effect.

We are all born naked, with nothing, except our God-given skills, energy and time. Yes, an entire lifetime. No one should be wasting time. To do so is to impoverish oneself of one's greatest asset. Use it wisely. Use it creatively. You might not turn out to be a rich person at the end of your lifetime, but a least, if you had use your time wisely, your soul will be enriched. And to me, that matters more than all the riches in the world.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Hard Work Ahead

Hard Work Ahead

How am I going to juggle between two (and potentially three) different projects which would normally require one hundred percent of my time and energy each? I guess I'll have to somehow find a way to double and triple my "CPU power" to be able to handle this workload. Unfortunately, these are also the type of work that I cannot delegate to other people, even if I have the resources to do so.

If what is required is only hardwork, then it is simple. You just put in the hours. But unfortunate some of the projects require a lot of "inspiration" for the seemingly insurmountable challenges to be overcome. You stare at a problem for hours and still you don't see a way forward. This is the IT consultant's equivalent of writer's block. These are situations that I dread. But I know I will face them inevitably.

Whenever they arise I will have to invoke every trick that I know from De Bono to the Muses. Sigh, my work is never easy but I comfort myself with the fact that the rewards will always commensurate with the effort put in. Yes, nature's perfect accounting system again.

I have a lot of friends who have comfortable high-level jobs in the IT industry. They tell me that the main thing that bothers them is a total lack of a challenge in their jobs. They have risen to positions where all they do is delegate work and make no-brainer decisions. They actually fear that their jobs are making them dumber with each passing day! But still they are stuck there in their present positions because they are drawing good salaries and they are at that stage in their lives (family, kids, mortgage etc etc) when they cannot take any big risks by changing jobs or coming out on their own.

I have to hit the road again soon. It's time to replenish my supply of tricks and ramp myself up to the next level performance. I look forward to some very difficult but hopefully fruitful months ahead!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Growth and Degeneration

Growth and Degeneration

I've always believed that If you do not grow, you will degenerate. So always seek opportunities to grow; it could be learning something new or continuing to enhance your knowledge and skills in a area that you are already familiar with.

When you first begin your career in your chosen field, you are young, energetic and eager to learn. You don't mind putting in long hours, even working over weekends. You are driven by a desire to learn and to prove yourself to your peers and superiors. But as you grow older and other things like marriage and kids start occupying your time, you begin to lose you eagerness to learn new things.

It is understandable though. Starting a family takes up so much of your energy. You have to fuss about buying a new MPV, a bigger house (preferable in a gated community, next to a golf course) and finding the best school for your kids--all the humdrum trivialities of modern middleclass life.

Time away from work becomes very precious to you (your wife already complains that you spend too much time with your golf buddies). Weekends have to be spent helping her shove shopping carts at the hypermart and spending "quality time" with the kids--that usually means feasting on junk food at the local burger outlet or spending nights glued to the idiot box, watching people making a fool of themselves in yet another reality TV show.

Is that the life that you want? Perhaps. You have a good career, a home, a loving wife and two happy kids (a boy and a girl)--a family. What more could one ask for?

Or perhaps the question that you need to ask yourself is: Are you still growing or are you degenerating?

As you watch your kids grow up, you must also allow yourself to continue growing. Or else degeneration will inevitably set in and the only thing that seems to grow visibly is your waistline.

Growth can come in many ways: you could for instance, start building your knowledge in the spiritual, so essential for the evolution of one's soul. Or you could also start contributing something back to your community by doing some voluntary work. Or perhaps even rediscover some the lost passions of your youth: once upon a time, were you not a keen photographer or writer? What happened to those hobbies?

To live is to learn and grow. Anything else equals degeneration and decay. The choice is yours to make.