Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Where the Skies are Blue...

Where the Skies are Blue...

I'll be attending a training for the next three days. It's been a while since I attended any formal professional trainings. When I was working in a multinational, I kind of avoided them because they can be awfully boring and the instructors who teach them are often people who don't possess any field experience. I've always believed that the best training comes from hands-on work.

It's funny to find myself actually paying to attend a training now. But sometimes in the professional field, a paper certification is needed to get you into the game. Since the timing for this training is right, I thought why not. Still the biggest challenge in any kind of training is keeping awake throughout the sessions. Hopefully the next three days is not going to be a big torture for me.

When I was teaching at an Indonesian university, I tried to prepare my lectures so that they would not put my students to sleep. And I knew that I did not always succeeed. It is actually a great challenge to occupy the audience's attention in any subject-matter for more than an hour. So I do sympathize with training instructors. It's not an easy job. Furthermore, you have the obbligation to cover the entire syllabus, which will certain include topics that are bound to cure the worst case of insomnia. Hmm, maybe I should tape tomorrow's lectures and give them to a few of my friends who are suffering from it.

Looks like I'll have to make this posting short; I'll need to be up early tomorrow morning and join the Zombie March to town (to the accompaniment of the Pet Shop Boy's version of Go West)...
Go West, Life is peaceful there
Go West, There in the open air
Go West, Where the skies are blue
Go West, This is what we're gonna do

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Lure of Senility

The Lure of Senility

The haze in KL came and went but I was too busy to make too much fuss about it. I've been working almost non-stop for the past week. Another activity-filled week lies ahead. It's a tough challenge to remain equally focussed on a few projects at the same time but I'm learning to do so.

When I was a student during my secondary schooldays, (especially during the two sixth form years) I was very hardworking. I had no choice, for I knew I had to get good results to guarantee a place in the university. Those were tough years for me but it made me a better person. Only when you push yourself to the limits, do you know what you are capable of.

When you take any school exam, typically you have to sit quietly for three hours, fully concentrated on the exam questions and put in your best effort in answering them. Your mind does not wander at all; you are 100% focussed. In the exam hall, there's complete silence. You cannot even move about freely. You have only one task in your mind: apply your knowledge to tackle the questions at hand. There is no way you would allow yourself to give anything less than 100%. Your concentration is laser-sharp.

Now, let me ask this question: How often do we apply the same level of concentration and focus in our work?

To me, that should be the benchmark of quality that one imposes on oneself in doing anything that's important. If we were capable of doing so when we were students, why can't we apply the same energy and effort now? Have we gotten lazy?

A lot of people like to say that they are too old to be doing things like mathematics, physics or anything that requires some measure of analytical skill. Why should we accept that? Why allow ourselves to be senile before our age? Are we saying that all we are capable of doing now as adults are simply sitting around in useless office meetings and then going home to sit in front of the idiot box, watching reality TV shows?

If that's how your life is now, don't you want to do something about it? What is so different about your brain-power now compared to how you were when you were a student?

Well, perhaps you can afford not to work so hard now. You are the boss. You just delegate. Well, that's good. One should also know how to take things easy once in a while. Too much stress is no good for one's health.

As one grows older, one acquires the skill to do more with less. But remember, that comes with wisdom. Please be very very careful here: make sure your claim to be "working less in order to achieve more", is not just an excuse to be lazy. The right to do more with less doesn't come automatically with age, it has to be earned through sheer hardwork.
"I may be 80 but I am not senile yet"

- Tun Dr Mahathir, in refuting Datuk Seri Rafidah's claim on the AP issue.

That's the spirit that we all should adopt. Senility can be a very "tempting" thing. We become senile only because we unknowingly allow ourselves to be so. Don't be lured by senility. Resist it at all cost!