Monday, December 21, 2009

Symbols of Christmas

Symbols of Christmas

1. The Christmas tree - reminds us of the tree on which Jesus suffered and died for us

2. Gifts - reminds us of the wonderful gift of salvation which Jesus gave us. Without him, the gates of heaven would have been closed to us forever. That's why gifts are freely given, without expecting anything in return, because He gave us the gift of Life even while we didn't deserve anything.

3. Smiling faces - the value of giving, and serving others cheerfully, of joyfully forgiving

4. Shopping for the appropriate gift, inspite of traffic, or the crowds, or painful feet - the willingness to sacrifice or endure pain for the good of others, to make others happy, to serve

5. Strangers greeting strangers, everyone wanting to contribute to make the season bright - the bond of brotherhood, everyone as children under the eyes of one loving Father, without looking at skin, or intelligence, or height, or beauty, or ugliness. No labels, just one big happy family.

6. Christmas carols - real, solid reminders of the what and why of Christmas:

- Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the new born king
- Joy to the world, the Lord has come
- O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant . . .

7. The Nativity scene - the value of poverty, and humility, of not having even a decent room, all endured for the sake of Love

8. The visit by the 3 kings (or, as some say, the adoration by the Magi) - the necessity for rich, wise and powerful people to be humble and acknowledge the real power of God, even if He cannot be obviously perceived, even if His power and majesty cannot be seen inside the cold and dark stable

Wishing all of you a truly Blessed and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tool to Achieve Calm Mind

8-Minute Breath Meditation

1. Set your timer with alarm for 8 minutes
2. Choose a quiet place
3. Lie down or sit comfortably
4. Start to observe your breath. Simply observe, and not try to control.
5. As you notice the air coming into your nose, tell yourself quietly, "IN". And as it gently goes out, say in your mind, "OUT"
6. As soon as you notice a distracting thought, very gently bring your attention back to the IN... and OUT.
7. If you notice that you're trying to assess your rate of breathing, such as , "I am breathing too fast", gently bring back your attention to IN... and OUT
8. There are no goals, no assessments, no forcing
9. What should remain is simply observation
10. Once you hear the timer, end the session, and go back to your everyday chores. Do not evaluate  whether or not your meditation session was "successful". The practice itself is "it".

Benefits:

a) You get to practice a very simple method. The simplicity calms down your mind and gives it an 8-minute rest from its usual hectic and feverish pace. As they say, the mind is like 7 horses all pulling at different directions. Try this small experiment: sit down and try to calm your mind. In a few seconds you will notice that about 10 thoughts have already raced through your mind. You cannot just sit down and "calm your mind". You have to anchor your attention to something, preferably rythmical. That's why it's so refreshing to stand by the beach and see and listen to the waves.
b)  After a few sessions you get to "discover" that you cannot control some things, actually you cannot control a lot of things! This realization will lead towards eliminating the sources of frustration, worry, stress, anxiety.
c) You don't need to join a special meditation group to start a useful practice.
d) You can do it anywhere.
e) Long-term, you will get to enjoy the many benefits of regular meditation if done through several years, such as, lower cholesterol, less anxiety, better and deeper sleep, better listening skills, greater understanding and tolerance, etc. All of which have already been proven through scientific research since the 1960's.

Suggested program:

Do one session of 8 minutes per day. Morning, afternoon or evening is fine, as long as you try to do it around the same time. No need to fret if you can't, or if you miss a day or two. After 3 months (shorter or longer is fine. Just don't force anything. Remember, there are no time goals, no performance goals) or so, try to do two 8-minute sessions per day - one in the morning and one in the evening. Eventually, as your body adapts and feels comfortable, and maybe by that time you've enjoyed the benefits of a calmer and sharper mind, you may think of increasing the number of minutes per session to 10 or 12 minutes.

Note: By the way, why 8 minutes? It's been proven, by testing brain wave patterns of long and short term practitioners, that this is the minimum amount of time needed before the practice can be really useful.

That's it! Best wishes to you!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Small Act of Kindness - Discovered

About 3 weeks ago, my wife and I were having breakfast when halfway through, we saw Larry, a close friend. As he joined us, I asked him how he was affected by the unusual storm which brought heavy rains which lasted almost 12 hours.

Larry said that about 70% of the houses in the village were badly affected. The whole first floor of his house was under water and he was only able to save a few personal things. Everything else was destroyed. He said he, his wife and kids tried to drive through towards the entrance of the village, but an onrushing torrent made him turn back fast and he found a spot on higher ground. They tried to get into the house but it was useless. A kind neighbor offered for them to stay overnight and even prepared warm food for everyone. It was very difficult to see how he would be able to "reconstruct" and to buy all the furniture, TV, etc. which took him years to save and buy. But again he said that he's thankful that no one in his family was hurt.

I told Larry that I became worried when I sent him a text message but he never replied. It was a simple message, "Hi Larry. Hope everything's fine with you and your family. Praying for everyone's safety". I told him that I was also concerned that maybe I shouldn't have sent him a message, as it could have been the worst possible time.

With a lot of sincerity, and with a warm smile, Larry then thanked me and told me that he received the message alright, but he had no time to reply as he was thinking of ways to save his family and some belongings. But at the moment he received it, it lifted up his spirit and told himself, "At this crazy and dangerous moment, at least there's someone out there who's concerned and who's praying for me". He told me that he couldn't properly describe the joy and courage he got when he received the message.

I learned something that day. I will never hesitate or think too much whenever I might again find myself in the situation to reach out and show concern, no matter how simple the act may be. It may be the life-line someone needs at that very moment. We don't know where a flash of inspiration comes from.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Celebrating the Spirit World

Christians the world over just celebrated November 1 All Saints Day and November 2 All Souls Day. The celebrations were significant for:

1. Honoring the dead, or the memories of the dead
2. Reminding all of us that we are mortals
3. The certainty of death
4. The certainty of life after death

What we remember in general about our deceased friends and relatives are their good side and the happy moments we had with them. These memories are part of our personal life history and therefore cannot just be dismissed or thrown away, and are always useful to us in one way or another.

We are mortals. We have an end. And it's good to acknowledge the limited time we have here on earth even if the reminder comes only once a year. We all know the value of acceptance of reality to our emotional and psychological well-being. But with the reminder, we also have the benefit of being able to prioritize well, and live out or actualize the priority. This again brings us to Stephen Covey's quadrant of the urgent vs. the important, where he talks about our tendency to forego or postpone the important matters and turn immediately towards the urgent tasks to be done today, with the resulting (bad) habit of always postponing the activities which build towards the most important matters. To my mind, the most important matters, by rank, are first, the spiritual, and next comes the family, and then our relationships with relatives and friends, our work/career/vocation, and lastly our hobbies. Why are these ranked this way? Basis is the durability or length of time that you will deal with the matter. Of course the spiritual is eternal, the after-life. Next is the family, because even if we lose everything else our relationship/s with family members will last until we die, especially if we gave time and attention in building the relationship while we still had the chance. Lastly comes our hobbies, because even if we spend an inordinate amount of time building skills, we will eventually lose or at least diminish our performance as we age. Also, it's common sense to say that people and relationships are far more valuable than hobbies or things.

Death will come earlier for some, and much later for others. If you have built a life full of generosity, kindness, love and care for others, then you can truly say that you have lived a rich life and that you can die peacefully, knowing the legacy and good seeds you've sown all along.

I believe that there is life after death, not only because of what my Faith has taught me but also because of some things I've heard friends talk about. One is why the wide-spread belief in demons and the spirit world. Another is, how cruel can the Supreme Being be if he only created us for this world. Another is, and this is a good one: There are 2 sides, either you believe that there is a God
and the after-life, or you don't believe (I think they call this group atheists).
a) If you believe and you built a really good and noble life based on this belief, then,
- if there's a God, you win, because you get the rewards, which you can enjoy eternally
- if there's no God, you don't lose anything because you've gained a lot of goodwill, friends, and solid loving relationships in this life
b) If you don't believe, then you will of necessity strongly believe in something material or of this world, like power, fame, wealth, possessions, building an empire, etc. and build your life accordingly. We know what happens to this type of person -  just watch Dominic Dunne's series on Power and Wealth based on real life stories. There are also lots of books, actually auto-biographies of people who "have been there" and have ruined their lives inspite the glitter and the "beautiful people" all around.
But, and it's a BIG but - if there's a God, the after-life and the spirit world then you will be losing, big-time!

If we look at our mortality with full acceptance and live our lives accordingly, then we can look at it squarely and say, "O death, where is thy sting?"

Let's go back to Stephen Covey's the Urgent vs. the Important, and it may do us a lot of good to sit down and seriously list down our priorities.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Typhoons, Earthquakes, Landslides are opportunities to show genuine concern for others

When strong rains, strong winds and floods come, normal daily activity stops for a while. Sometimes 1 day, sometimes 1 week, sometimes a month. And then activity resumes, driven by the desire to earn and recoup the losses and rebuild a life.

Meanwhile, the drama played out by the media sometimes is beneficial, mostly because of the heart-warming, inspiring stories of common heroes who helped others without regard for their own safety. Also an eye-opener is the oft repeated videos of volunteers and donors showing massive outpouring of generosity and compassion. Then you tell yourself, modern man isn't that evil after all. Although there were greedy hoarders and opportunists, fortunately they were in the very small minority.

Once in a while we hear unpublished stories from our friends about other heroic people, young or old, whose exploits may fill up pages of a book, the unsung heroes.

After the crisis, we come out with the conviction that truly, goodness and love have been embedded deep in the hearts of all men. Some choose not to follow this tendency towards good. But the majority of mankind choose to manifest this power of love, in big or small things. Yes, love is a power. A power stronger than typhoons. A power that builds palaces, NGO's, and Foundations dedicated to worldwide peace, or helping the hungry, or build houses for the poor, to help refugees, to save our planet.

Love is a power that draws billionaires, ordinary people, intellectuals, manual laborers, etc. to contribute their money, time and effort to help others and to pursue noble goals beyond themselves.

But, you can also exercise this power and need not look far. As they say, "charity begins at home". So many people, friends, relatives, neighbors need help. Some need money, others need a shoulder to cry on, or a sympathetic ear to which they can pour out their pains, and others may simply need a ride back home. When you help, with genuine concern, then this is love in its pure form. Pure because it's given without counting the cost or not expecting anything in return. It truly becomes effective because it comes direct from the source - your heart.

Have you truly, genuinely helped someone today?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Job-Hunting plus some basic Org.Dev. structures

There are various major industries, e.g., Financial Services, Automobile, Food, Fashion, etc. and each major industry has several sub-sectors. Like, for example, in Automobiles - automobile manufacturing, tires, accessories, after-market, etc. In Food - manufacturing or processing, sauces, purees; Fast-Foods, Fine Dining, Restaurant design, etc.

Each industry or sub-sector will have different ways of doing business, mission/vision, philosophy, core values, KRA's (Key Result Areas), and therefore different organizational and functional set ups, meaning, the departments or divisions needed to run and manage the business properly. Some common departments: Accounting, Sales, Marketing, Human Resources Management or Development. Most businesses would also have Research, Logistics (for bigger companies), or separate Warehousing and Distribution, I.T. (Information Technology or Computers.

Just looking at this very brief background, you can see that the new employee or new recruit must have a certain set of qualifications and competencies needed to be able to perform well in a given job/position. (More on the differences between "qualifications" and "competencies" in subsequent posts.)The manager of the department must know and have on hand a list of competencies needed (maximum of 6) and how they are ranked according to what is most valuable to his department. A short definition of "competencies" = skills, aptitudes, attitudes such as optimism or open-mindedness, beliefs, values, principles, good work habits such as patience or perseverance or care for details, etc. Obviously there would be no single person who would have all competencies needed to handle a specific job.

For example, in hiring a salesman, the company would stress on communication skills, outgoing attitude, friendliness and cheerfulness aside from other relevant competencies. But, in looking for an accountant, the company would be looking for prudence, cautiousness, accuracy, tight-lipped or knows how to handle confidential information.

Some quick tips for the job-hunter:

1. Know yourself, your strengths/competencies
2. Research on what type of industry matches your "most recent relevant experience" and what interests you.
3. Rank your competencies, and then look at what job is right for you - is it in Accounting, Engineering, or Sales. Remember different departments need different competencies.
4. Don't try to fake it - if you don't have it, or if you do have it, it will be uncovered in the tests you have to take and the interviews you have to go through
5. Prepare for the interview - most hiring officers or interviewers would be using some form of "S.T.A.R." system of interviewing, which is basically behavior-based, meaning, you tell them your actual experience in response to their specific question, and you follow this sequence:
S - State the SITUATION (or problem, or event)
T - Tell them the TASK (or procedures) you performed
A - ACHIEVED (what the procedure achieved or specifically solved)
R - RESULT (what was the over-all result, or how did it affect the bottom-line, did it result to cost savings? or increased sales? or more efficiency?)
6. Prepare for a drop-dead resume' - my experience tells me a 2-pager is the most effective, unless you really have 10 or more years' experience in so many different industries, and if this is the case, then try to limit it to 3 pages. Focus on your achievements and not on what process you used and who you talked to, etc.. All of these are useless details! Make it short with clear/concise descriptions, bullet points, key words only. Remember, interviewers and managers are very busy people!

Perked you up! Did I?!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day Upperk's 1st Post

Hi,

I am excited to start writing on the following:

  • Organization Development and HRD
  • Life Views
  • Personal Growth with emphasis on virtues and values
  • Family
On some postings you may see a quotation on the title space, which will be the main theme for that post. Most of the time I will be short and sweet, sticking to the main theme or quotation. But of course sometimes I will just ramble on, as fancy strikes me.

My goals are to keep this interesting and useful.

Motto for today: JUST DO IT!

With some caveats: only after you've at least thought it twice, or you think that a delay will be too costly, or you feel that you're already in the stage of "paralysis due to analysis".

Hope this perked up your day!

See you later.