Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Great Samurai Warrior

The Great Samurai Warrior was 10 years old when he started his swordsmanship training under a well-known Sensei. He went through all the lessons with dedication and focus. He loved training so much that the Sensei frequently had to remind him to take a break for a while and rest. He was also very persistent and continued his rigorous training for so many years until his Sensei told him that he was ready to go out into the world with a samurai sword tucked into his sash.

When he was about 30 years old, the Great Samurai Warrior became a legend in his own right. He was known not only for his sword fighting skills but also for his noble and compassionate heart. Many people have seen and heard about how smooth and how fast he was able to dispose of multiple opponents, sometimes as many as 8 at a time. He was able to save and defend dozens of peaceful and gentle villagers from the black ninjas who descended from the mountain and raided their simple farming village.

The leader of the black ninjas was a fearsome and ruthless man who had no real name. No one also knew where he came from, what his background was. To the villagers, he was simply called the "Scourge".

One day in summer, after the harvest, Scourge and his band of black ninjas raided the village and fortunately the Great Samurai Warrior was in his house having tea with his parents. Upon hearing the cries for help, he immediately went out and confronted Scourge and his black ninjas. After a hard fought battle, he single-handedly killed all but Scourge. They then had a duel, with all the villagers watching. Finally, he was able to defeat Scourge who was now kneeling before him, waiting for the quick blow to the neck to finish it all. Everyone was silent, awaiting the gory scene. Suddenly Scourge stood up and spat on the face of the Great Samurai Warrior, who wiped his face calmly, put his samurai sword back into his sash, turned around and walked away. It was a great day for him because once again he was able to apply one of the most difficult teachings of his old Sensei, "Do not kill when you're angry".

Now everyone knew why the Great Samurai Warrior was called Great - he highly valued obedience and adherence to principles over his emotions.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Half Full or Half Empty

It's easy to tell someone to be more positive.

But the response may not be that straightforward. Meaning, the person may be facing such a big crisis that he may not even be able to understand what "positive" means. Or, his interpretation of positive may not be the same as that of the common majority. Or, he may actually believe that a 3rd choice is much better, that of being indifferent.

What brings this about? Family upbringing, hereditary genes, environment, friends, culture, school, teachers, long-standing beliefs, etc. But any or all of these factors doesn't mean that your outlook or attitude in life is permanent. I think people nowadays are more flexible, more open to change as compared to those of a generation or two ago. Today's fast-paced, impatient type of lifestyle, with all of its negative impact on mental and physical health, has at least been responsible for one useful trait - being able to adapt to ever changing circumstances and environment.

Why change? If we clearly know that our habits and mindset have not helped us progress in our relationships, or in sports or in business. A more simple reason - if we want to avoid the headaches we suffer after having a heavy dose of blaming, and worrying!

What to change? Not everything, of course! Only those things which have consistently made our life and other people's lives unhappy and miserable.

Why choose positive? Countless researches in sports performance, business, social, education, etc. have clearly shown the vast difference between having a negative viewpoint from that of being optimistic. Medical science has time and again recorded the astounding recovery rates of advanced cancer patients who chose to fill their thoughts and their lives with smiles, laughter and happiness, and of looking forward to the future with hope and the strong desire to live and be healthy.

Even in our quest to become better persons, wherein we need to spend a lot of time, attention and effort in developing a lot of good habits, it's easy to see that without a positive mindset, without the ability to see that you will succeed, you will definitely stop short of the goal - why bother, if you know that you can't get it?

The tricky part in developing a positive, optimistic, tough as nails, success-oriented attitude is in the painstaking effort you also have to put into the practice. Optimism cannot be developed by thinking happy and positive thoughts in 2 weeks time, or in 2 months' time. You just have to keep on shoving away the negative and deliberately injecting the positive. What can be helpful is when you choose your friends or who to talk with, what sections of the newspaper or magazine you read, what TV shows you watch, etc. Being healthy will give you the energy to sustain you in your long term efforts - more vegetables and less meat, stay away from too much caffeine, softdrinks, cigarettes. Fix a regular schedule for bedtime and stick to it. Be generous and help the less fortunate. Enjoy the company of your loved ones.

Nice day, isn't it!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Solid Gold Feel Good

Solid Gold Feel Good

2 things guaranteed to make you feel good:

1. Be genuinely grateful
2. Pray for others, wish them well, and look for small acts of service

If done only one time, the feel good effect lasts short term.

If done consistently and over the long haul, these habits become part of you and will give you peace and happiness all throughout your stay here in this wonderful world. What's the secret? The 2 habits make you look outward, outside of yourself, almost forcing you to forget your miseries and your aches and pains.

The choice is clear: to be helpful or to be painful; to be of service or to be selfish!

I'm not saying that you should create a dream world or try to deny reality. All I'm saying is build the 2 habits and insert them during odd moments of the day, as an antidote to the blues and blahs.

A few suggestions to help you out:

1. To have a refined sense of gratitude:
- Have a small handy notebook or journal. Log in just 5 items throughout the day that you felt grateful for. Like for example, "May 15, 2010 Entry #1: Woke up early and jogged for 30 minutes". Note down the 5 gratitude items day after day, 24/7.
- Join http://www.gratitudelog.com for free. All you need to do is register on their website. After joining, you can post one gratitude item per day. You can also join groups, give group members "gifts" or icons related to your Appreciation Message.

2. Service to Others:
- Try to notice how other people struggle through their daily chores, or through traffic, or the delivery boy doing his job under the heat of the sun. And then shoot a short prayer for the guy. Or if an opportunity arises, you can pick up a package of groceries which fell off the cart being pushed by an elderly woman.

Forget yourself, have fun! I am also passing on to you a message I usually receive from a dear friend: STAY GOLD!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Path to Greatness

The Path to Greatness

Greatness is defined in the dictionary as: "Superior in quality or character; above average"

Average is the majority, or the commonplace, the usual. Normally we equate average with about 70% to 95% of cases.

Let's talk about personal achievements, like in music, art, sports, business, school academics. We hear the phrase, "the outstanding few". Why? Because only a few are willing to do what it takes to reach the goal. Of course we need resources, both external (like contacts, and money) and internal. But time and again we admire the achievements of people who lacked the external resources and still achieved something great, mostly relying on their internal resources of good habits (or virtues) such as mental toughness, persistence, patience, constancy, optimism, cheerfulness, the team-player mentality, the eagerness to pay it forward, the strong spirit of service, generosity especially towards those in need, etc.

The first step of course is to have the humility to accept that we all have defects and limitations. Then, we need other people to point out what needs to be fixed. Next, we draw up a simple plan to eliminate these negatives by developing the good habits necessary to achieve our goals. And of course we tenaciously and persistently apply these actions, and not stop until we develop the good habit. Some people advise a minimum of 21 days (or 3 weeks), and some people say you need 3 months to properly embed the habit in your life. As they say, be willing to put in as much or more than what you expect to get from it.

Let's not fall into the trap of choosing projects which are grandiose, or flamboyant, or ostentatious. Greatness is not made of these. Eventually the project may become well-known or even publicly praised, but that's not the goal we should set. Greatness is doing something in a superior manner, of exerting effort and excellence in the smallest tasks which normal people may not even notice. Before you even start thinking of a project, you can start by setting personal goals and try to achieve greatness in the following:

- developing strong bonds of friendship and love among family members
- starting and persistently continuing an Awareness Meditation practice
- having a reasonable goal of say, losing 10 pounds of body fat in 6 months, and in the process, not overdoing it nor experiencing "burn-out" which makes you quit, and permanently! The 10-pound loss should be a combination of diet, exercise and some lifestyle changes.
- learning a new language

Then, you embark on the practice and do your best whether someone can see you or not, whether other people can notice the changes in you or not. Also, contrary to what some people say that you have to fix your sight on the goal and never let go, maybe you have to rather set the goal intelligently, forget it, fix your eyes on the path towards it, have fun and enjoy trekking the path.

Cheers!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Crisis of Love

Crisis of Love

Nowadays, it seems that many people want to fall in love, but don't really know what love is!

As portrayed on TV and in the movies,  love is when a handsome man and a beautiful woman get attracted to each other and after a few dates where they get to know that they both like pistacchio cola float, they get so excited with the idea that they finally found their soulmate, that they can't wait to jump into bed so as "to express their love more deeply".

Or, watch the "reality show" where the the tall, rich and handsome bachelor finds it so difficult to choose among 10 pretty women all dying to marry him and live a life of bliss in the 20-room mansion the guy inherited from his parents. Almost 90% of the scenes show guy and girl in the jacuzzi or in the pool or riding a horse and always kissing and saying, "You're so attractive..."

What the f***, and that's all there is to it!

C'mon, love is not merely physical attraction, but of course it has to start from there. I can't imagine waking up every morning for the next 5 years and kissing a woman who looks like a camel and be sincere in saying, "I love you, my dear"!

The physical just starts the spark, but what keeps the flame glowing is the self-giving, the small and big sacrifices made for one another, the overlooking irritating details, the self-control not to open your mouth and say something painful. It's mostly forgetting oneself and looking out for the other person, the genuine concern for the well-being of the beloved, the anticipating and doing what may please her, the anticipating and avoiding what may make him sad.

Yes, life cannot be perfectly planned to take care of all its twists and turns. And all relationships have their ups and downs. But what counts is the really wanting to please that dear friend to the point of not noticing the rain or the distance, the constant, daily effort of trying to make it work, to revive the magic, to dream of things together, to laugh or cry together watching TV while eating popcorn.

Someone Great once said, "Greater love no man can show, than to die for his friends"

You don't have to literally follow that, but you do have to "die to yourself" in small things everyday, just to make life pleasant for the other. If you fall into the trap of mostly thinking of yourself, of feeling bad because he did not greet me today, or she should have cooked fish instead of spaghetti.; if you fall into the trap of "looking after number one" most of the time, then, you're merely loving yourself, period.

The essence of love is self-giving and not "self getting". Trouble starts when people start thinking, "You're stepping into MY turf", or "Don't invade MY space", or "I've given you this much this past week, and I think it's about time that you return the favor". There's no scoreboard to keep. It's simply wanting to please the other person so much that you feel so happy inside when you do the dishes or run an errand for her to be able to put up her feet and take a break, not only today, but for as long as it takes to keep her happy.

At a much older age, love means to continue to push that wheelchair around town, and then to tuck her into bed and kiss her, even when the only beauty left in her face is the glow in her eyes when she looks at you.

And, by the way, don't believe the byline of an old movie, "Love means never having to say you're sorry", because you do have to say sorry many times for hurts you may have caused intentionally or not. You also have to say lots of "Thank You's", and "You're Welcome", and "I liked that", and "I love you", and "I enjoyed the dinner with you" - the small things which mean a lot when said by a person in love.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Know Where Youre Going

Anecdote:

2 Teams from a lumber processing company expert in cutting down trees were dropped into the thick Amazon forest a few miles from their company headquarters, which processed timber for export. They were so engrossed in their work that they realized that they cut through the dense forest so fast that they were miles apart, and seemed to be lost.

It was around 4 in the afternoon when the leader of Team A decided to stop work and head for home. Team A had gas powered chain saws. Leader sat down and based on a few observations, gave the instruction to his men to use their advanced tools and start cutting as fast as they can toward the north-east direction.

Team B had cutting jungle knives and a few old-fashioned hand-saws. Leader sat them down and started a brainstorming session. After about 20 minutes, someone had an idea and climbed up the tallest tree nearby, surveyed the skyline, and saw the usual smoke coming out of their processing plant. He went down and indicated to everyone where to start cutting and in what direction.

Some related lessons:

1. Its good to sit down for a discussion to get ideas, no matter how urgent the situation is - that is, unless there's a real fire raging or the boat is already sinking
2. Its good to listen to people even though youre the leader. Leaders do not have the monopoly of good ideas
3. Its good to know where you want to go. Otherwise you might find yourself wasting precious time, money and effort and still not achieve your target

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Short and relevant Lenten Season message on SlideShare

Recent message from Pope Benedict XVI talks about justice, and eventually, love.

Please click on the title above to view the summary on 3 slides.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Beware the Rash Judgment

A businessman passenger in a subway train was finding it difficult to read the day's newspaper as he was being bumped by two kids who kept running around. He looked around and finally saw the dad, who was just staring ahead, not minding what was happening. The businessman allowed a few more bumps from the kids, and apparently fed up, he approached the dad and said, "Hey, aren't you concerned that your kids are so unruly and rude? I've been trying to read the paper but they keep on bothering me. Don't you want them to be more disciplined and a bit more decent?" The dad looked at him and said, "I'm very sorry, I wasn't aware that they were bothering people. We just came from the hospital where their mom died of cancer this morning. I was lost deep in my thoughts."

How can we be sure that we have accurately assessed the situation, that our judgment is truly aligned with reality, especially after seeing the "evidences" of behavior right before our very eyes, or of "hard data" written down in a report, or of information authenticated by an expert? I don't think we ever can be sure.

Of course we have to handle the situation in front of us - but we can do so less harshly, in a non-judgmental manner, trying to be as neutral and objective as we can be, inspite our human limitations.

We can go beyond that, and adapt an advanced attitude, that of forgiving those who have wronged us and of deliberately practicing an attitude of loving-kindness. Thus, we contribute in a small way towards social peace, and in a bigger way towards our own inner peace, and the people we encounter.

Monday, February 22, 2010

HRD 101 - Outline of Basic Functions

Human Resource Development

- Two major areas of responsibility:

I. Employee Intake/Career - functions which directly affect people
II. Organization Development - functions which support Top Management efforts in pursuing strategic company goals

- Sometimes referred to as Human Resource Management, or Human Resource Systems, or Personnel Administration/Management (old-school, circa 1960s)

(Note: At present, common industry practice has Personnel Administration as one section under the HR Department, and is tasked with some or all of the following: Ads placement, Scheduling and administration of Tests and Interviews, Timekeeping or Attendance monitoring, Vacation, Sick, Sabbatical Leaves monitoring and administration, 201 Files, Personnel Action Notice )

I. Employee Intake and Career

A. Recruitment

1) Manpower Planning- how many new hires needed, job/position, what department, cross-postings, promotion
2) Job Description - the complete version has 3 parts, i.e., Qualifications, Competencies, and Tasks List
3) Job Evaluation and Job Ranking
4) Define Competencies needed for particular job - apart from the qualifications
5) 201 Files Maintenance

B. Career

1) New Employee Notification/Communication - includes triggering the Personnel Action Notice form to Accounting Department and to Department heads company-wide
2) New Hire Orientation
3) Performance monitoring during probationary period
4) Recommendation to job post
5) Review of policies and procedures, recommend revisions
6) Administration and enforcement of the company's Code of Discipline and Manual of Policies
7) Employee Relations Services - Health and Safety, Benefits administration, Conflict resolution, Counselling
8) Ensure adherence to Promotion Policy/ies of the Company in general, and of the specific department concerned

C. Compensation

1) Salary Structure based on Job Grades and Pay Levels
2) Incentives, Bonuses, Profit-share
3) Perks and Benefits

II. Organization Development

A. Strategic Planning
B. Organizational Structure, Reporting Structures, Matrix relationships, Responsibilities
C. KRAs Design and Development, Monitoring, and Measurement
D. Performance Management and Rewards
E. Training and Education
F. Leadership Courses/Learning Interventions and Management Development
G. Change Management
H. Succession Planning

Monday, February 8, 2010

Make Your Heart Smile

A smile is contagious - it makes you happy and it makes others happy, it helps you love more all around and love more deeply, it spreads peace and kindness. We also know that the more sincere and genuine the smile is, the greater is its power to uplift!

But what can bring about a genuine smile? It must come from within, from the heart. But what can make your heart smile? Small kindness thoughts and big generous thoughts, prayers of thanks and gratitude, more prayers for other people, wishing the best for others, the detailed and painstaking plan you lose sleep over to build a better life for others. Dismissing hurtful remarks and giving the benefit of the doubt for mistakes, not minding the small negatives in our relationships. The habit of looking out for the good aspects of people.

It's enduring the difficulties in trying to make life a little more pleasant for those you love. It's the continuing, "no let-up" effort you exert in trying to be the best father, or husband, or son, or daughter, or friend.

It's the high level principles and beliefs you cherish. It's in the active service you give to your community. It's in having concern (and really doing something about it) for your employees, or clients, or for those who need your help. It's in willing, and wishing to help without expecting any return.

It's a whole lot more, that which can make your heart smile, but most everything coming from within. Of course there are external things which can bring it about, even if only for a moment - a ray of sunlight on a cold, damp afternoon, or the shouts and laughter of children playing in the park, or a tough client who finally signs the contract.

From the inside, or from the outside, you're still the only one who can build a smiling heart. In your moment to moment decisions on what you want to hold on to and lock in your heart - the good or the bad, the hurtful or the joyful, the happy memories or the sad. And in the end, the accumulation of these choices will determine the way you look at life, which in turn will be perceived by the recipients of your gifts, or your service, or greeting card, or your "Good Morning", or "Thank You", or your "I love you"!

Happy Valentine!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Self-Centered?

My friends have described self-centered people they know as rude, flashy dressers, loud tone of voice, chatterbox without stopping and jumping from one topic to the next without relevance, they are the heroes in the stories they tell, they gripe and complain about everything and everyone, they have an ever-growing-smaller circle of true friends, they tend to be too demanding and least grateful, in a meeting or brainstorming session their ideas are the only correct ones, they can't maintain a long-term relationship, etc.

Funny, but inspite their outward appearance of having "power", they are mostly known to be hypochondriacs or those abnormally anxious about their health. They also tend to be devastated when the projects they are handling don't seem to flourish. Anyway, I know you would want to add more observations which will only further substantiate the deep-seated state of misery they are in.

We also know that the more you "go out of yourself", and the more helpful and compassionate you are towards others, the more peaceful and healthier you become! It's clear of course that you know problems will not magically disappear. They will still be there, but the magic is in the way you face them, with a lot of peace and objectivity, with the good ideas and solutions you have solicited from friends and from more experienced, wiser people.

You may want to add this small piece of prayer to your "Safety Vault" of antidotes to self-centeredness. Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, Founder of the Franciscan Order, born at Assisi in Umbria, Italy in 1181. In it, you only ask for the things you can do to help others:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Monday, January 18, 2010

GRATITUDE

GRATITUDE

if practiced the right way, produces so many benefits

Personal:
- Sets your mind towards a more positive state
- Prepares you to be more aware of small and big things and how these benefit you, and therefore fosters a long-term feeling of satisfaction and happiness
- Fosters a "good" sense of wanting and eliminates the greedy, pressure-driven, type-A behavior in trying to pursue ambitions at any and all costs
- Reminds you of the goodness of other people
- Frees you from the tendency of being too self-centered

Social:
- Acts as some sort of "oil" to smoothen interaction with other people. Notice how a "thank you" makes life a little bit lighter for the other fellow, and how in return he puts in more genuine effort in his job of servicing your needs
- Encourages the recipient to continue doing a good job in the future
- Makes it easier to start a bond or friendship
- Encourages the donor to be more generous
- Gives hope to the recipient that after all, this is a nice world to live in, and not everyone is cold and uncaring

But the strongest and best way to establish the habit of gratitude is to include thank you prayers at the end of day, everyday, when you find that silent and intimate moment to talk with your God, and you acknowledge the fact that the good things that happened today also came from Him.

What should we be grateful for?

- past events that made us happy or made our tasks a bit easier to do
- failures, disappointments, aches, pains and sufferings, because these gave us the best lessons
- the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful sunset, the cool breeze on a hot summer's day, birds tweeting merrily in the early morning, a full moon, a half-moon, an eclipse, a rainbow in the middle of the city, strong waves on a beach perfect for surfing, calm waves in a moon-lit calm night, etc.
- even if only in your mind, thank the many people who chose to work in their jobs, like the factory workers who helped produce your car, the doctor who operated on you or your mom, or who prescribed the right medicine which relieved your pain, people who worked in factories producing your laptop, your clothes, soap, shampoo, food, T.V., iPod, the inventors, the managers, bankers, insurance agents, etc.

How or in what manner can we show gratitude?

- A simple but heartfelt "Thank You!"
- A smile
- A bouquet of roses for the wifey who prepared a wonderful dinner
- A small tip to the attendant who did a good job
- A big donation to the Church or school in the community you belong
- Establish a youth club to help underprivileged kids
- Offer to be a resource speaker in the Rotary
- Be part of the Flood or Earthquake Relief Center
- 1,000 other ways limited only by your imagination

The key is SIMPLY TO BE THANKFUL, and not to analyze who, what, where, etc. The reality is that in this modern world, we will not be able to move without other people working at their jobs. This attitude of looking at things face-value also establishes the mental attitude of always looking at the positive things around us and how people have and are continuing to help us, which in turn also helps eliminate the feeling of helplessness or of being a "victim", or of "getting the wrong end of the stick".

I am also taking this opportunity to thank you for reading this blog as this motivates me to carefully choose the topics I talk about, and reminds me of my responsibility to keep on blogging and trying to spread good-will first within my sphere of influence and then maybe later to a much wider audience. As a way too, of "paying back" to the many mentors, teachers, my parents, friends, bosses, etc. and as manifestation to my promise to them to be on the side of the good by helping others.