What Prices the Brain


The brain is probably the least talked about subject or organ.  Maybe it conjures up complexities that most people want to avoid due to lack of knowledge, understanding and interest are probably the contributing reasons.  (After all for many it is not an exciting topic.)  Who could blame them?  It was not until fairly recent, as far as science is concerned, that astounding research findings are available about how the brain works.  Even then, there leaves much to be discovered. Continue reading

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What Powers Motivation


Motivation has been a key in many self-development theories as old as time but with recent development in other aspects, this age-old phenomenon seems to have lost its lustre.

Either the theory is over used or the low success rate has  led to disappointments.  If one were to use the carrot-and-stick method to motivate without other considerations, it would not be surprising that it failed after some time.  The simple reason is that such method could only have short-term gains, unless you have a mind of a dog…those canines never get tired of responding to stimuli where food is involved.  That in itself is telling.  If the right motivation is applied in a consistent manner, the theory could still work.  May be it is time to update the theory to include other related issues.  Perhaps understanding how the brain works would help. Continue reading

Coaching Conversations in the School Room


In spite of the increasing awareness of Emotional Intelligence and talks of introducing it into schools to develop interpersonal and intrapersonal skills in children, the actual implementation is slow in actualizing.  It is a mammoth task as a stream of people are involved in making it happen; especially the teachers who must recognise  their need to change first before such adoption in schools can be made possible.  Perhaps learning to use coaching conversations is a good start.

So what is coaching conversations and their connection to Emotional Intelligence? Continue reading

Reflecting on Teen Parenting


For the past few months, for some reason or other, I was drawn in the direction of Teen Parenting.  Aside from the programme run by my partner, Dolly Yeo, on parenting in particular on teens, I seem to attract all things relating to teen parenting.

Last week, I was with some friends celebrating a birthday.  The conversation somehow drifted to managing teens and the difficulties that went along with it.

One said, “Teens nowadays would not listen to you.  You tell them one thing and they will do another.  They would listen to friends and others but me.”.  Quite a few agreed.

On the same weekend, I met another ex-colleague and again the conversation was unconsciously steered toward parenting.  You quickly picked up on the self-justification on how different the world is today, parenting is becoming more difficult and there is nothing much you can do about it.  Such is the defeatist attitude. Continue reading

Generation Gap in Parenting?


I was listening to my partner’s – Dolly Yeo – “Stop Parenting, Start Coaching” radio programme last night in which one caller asked about the differences  between parenting in generations before and now.  It is a very valid and interesting question given that we believe it is time to call for a different parenting style.

One of the parenting styles Dolly mentioned is the authoritative style widely practised by older generations.  Some over-compensate by being too permissive.  Playing good-cop-bad-cop gives off  mixed signals that can be very confusing and damaging to a child’s development.

So why does the old parenting style – mainly authoritative – work then but not now?   I agree with Dolly’s views of the different lifestyle people are leading today.   These may just be the symptoms and not the root cause.  Let’s look at some of  these differences. Continue reading

What is your Wealth Profile?


Everybody wants to become wealthy and by default means rich but most do not know how to get there.  Know your wealth profile and half your battle is won; without it, you might be groping in the dark for the right break.  That may sound simplistic and if you hear Gary Goy talks about how you may gain from knowing your wealth profile, you may want to go and do the test immediately.

When I first met Gary Goy, he was introduced to me as a Wealth Coach.  Now that is a more remote coaching type than all the other aspects of coaching I have come across.  But then it could just be me.  Gary is a man of few words and I was not quite able to grasp the essence of what wealth coaching is all about until… I was invited to listen to him talk – The Secrets Formula to Create Massive Wealth – and that changed everything.  With that little insight, it has given me lots to think about and I am ready to jump in with two feet to take the test. Continue reading

The Second Life


Aging is such a frightening thing for many people.  Rightly so if you do not prepare for it.  This is the period when everything is breaking down, some more quickly than others.  But it is usually the lost of health and loneliness that are the worst to bear.  Save yourself with a new second life.

Worrying and being afraid will not take aging away.  It is a natural process we have to go through.  The best defense is in managing it to the best of our ability by preparing for it.

At the heights of our lives, there are more things that consume our time and energy aptly summed up by this typical “Wheel of Life” chart on the top left.  (Click on the image to enlarge.)

This is very often used by life coaches to help coachees determine the areas of satisfaction and importance to set goals. Continue reading

Measure Coaching Success


In the past few months coaching seems to have gained some prominence in Singapore especially since the government started talking about upgrading skills with more focus on soft skills.  This is indeed good news for coaches although the focus appears to be more on executive coaching.  However, in gaining on soft skills, life coaching would seem more appropriate.

In spite of the reports in the Straits Times on 20 March 2010 acknowledging the successes of coaching there remains the question of its effectiveness in creating awareness. Continue reading

When is your turning point?


When someone undergoes a 360 degree change it is when some major mis-happening has occurred in their lives.  The turning point is that crucial moment of realization when your whole world is turned upside down.  You are then forced to think about what is important in your life, what is your purpose, and so forth.

No one reflects much about their lives when the going is smooth; you have a good job, a fantastic marriage, a loving family, kids and all.  What else would you ask for?  Then the unthinkable happens.  It could be losing your job, a failed marriage, a love one died or you suddenly have a heart attack.  The big question comes up: what is my life all about?  The soul-searching journey begins but it is hard for you have never done anything like this before.  You become nervous and lost.  Then come the depression you do not know how to get rid of.  Desperation could cause you to take the next available boat not caring the destination it is heading.  You take a chance and that could lead you into more unhappiness. Continue reading

Everything Starts with You


No matter the outcome is good or bad, everything starts with you.  If you think it is good, it is good and if you think it is bad, it would not turn out good.  I am sure you have heard this: what you think is what you are.  That is precisely why coaching always starts working on you first and primarily the way you think.

Coaching works on the inner self: self-awareness, self-reflection, self-management and self-direction.  The focal point in coaching is on creations – of visions, ideas, solutions, plans, actions – all towards uplifting and inspiring thoughts.  Remember, negativity saps your energy while positivity energizes you.  The focus on new inspiring goals propels you forward.

I have the opportunity to spend an entire day with my cousin’s children.  Something I must say I have never done before for some strange reason.  It turned out to be very insightful and interesting day.  They are lovely kids although when they started on their tricks you wonder why you have ever thought them wonderful.  At ages 5 and 8, they could tire you out easily with endless questions and amazing observational power. Continue reading

Cultural Differences in Parenting


Cultural differences have been a talking point as far back as I can remember and why should it be any different in parenting?  Personally I believe the differences are more apparent than the similarities seemly because we, human beings, rather like to differentiate for the sake of an argument.  Without the differences, what is there to talk about?

In reality, regardless of race, religion and nationality we all share the same feelings, wants and needs of being loved and respected.  Any other differences are shaped by societal expectations, behaviours and conditioning.

I was having coffee with a couple of friends a few days ago: Dolly Yeo, my partner at Global Coach Connect and Nadine Auzanneau, French by birth but is more of an international citizen having lived outside of France in several countries for 20 years . Continue reading

“Don’t live someone else’s dreams”


This sounds perfectly reasonable but yet we often live someone else’s dreams without realizing it because we never question ourselves deeply enough.  How often is it that even the most intelligent of persons would say they did this or that because their parents wanted them to.  Or that, everyone thinks that he/she is good at doing this so that is what he/she landed up doing.  It is sad but true.

If we are not living the lives of others, we are imposing others to live the lives we would have like to live.  When I hear parents say, “I didn’t have the opportunity to learn to play the piano when I was a child.  Now that I have the means, I am sending my son to piano lessons.” , I feel sorry for the child.   No consideration is given to whether her son is interested in playing the piano.  So now the son is stressed out having to go for the lessons weekly and need to be reminded frequently to practise the pieces.  It is no wonder children today is feeling the pressure.  The parents’ defense is always “I’m doing that for their own good.”. Continue reading

When Nice is not so Nice


We are taught from young to be nice but it is not always appropriate to be nice.  For instance, your parents do not always appear to be nice when they want you to do something that is perceived to be for your own good or, when your teacher lectures you for not doing your homework and, the list goes on.  They are practicing nice by being not so nice.

However, when we start making friends, we very often refrain from saying things that may upset them for fear of losing their friendship.  We are always trying to be nice. Well, if we are genuine friends we would have to learn to confront difficult situations without resorting to be being nice and burying the less than welcome truth. Continue reading

Are you a Great Trainer?


I never really thought about what makes a good trainer until I attended the T. Harv Eker’s “Train the Trainer” 5-day training at the Singapore Expo from 2731 January 2010 organized by Success Resources.

That was an awesome experience! The energy that vibrated the entire conference room filled with nearly 300 people was so amazing.  Blair Singer, the master coach at the training, was extremely inspiring.  He was able to hold the attention of the participants throughout those five days from nine in the morning right into the night ending close to midnight.  That is not something you and I could easily do without some intensive training.  He gave some very interesting tips and allowed everyone the opportunity to practise what were taught.

You could actually see and feel the transformation in the participants; on the first day everyone was sober, serious and purposeful but all left, at the end of five days appearing more joyful, confident, inspired, liberated and energized. Not only is Blair Singer a fantastic presence on stage during the training, he also comes across as being very authentic, filled with a passion for teaching and sharing. Continue reading

Taking Action!


Procrastination is probably one of the worst enemies in personal transformation and coaching helps to jump over this obstacle.

In the words of Norman Vincent Peale, one of my first motivators:

Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear.

So when you procrastinate, you are inactive and the root cause may be something we are afraid to ask ourselves.  Maybe that is the self-preservation at work – we do not like to see what we perceive as the ugliness in us.  See not the ugliness but the opportunity to become better.

Successful leaders and coaches will tell you to take full responsibility of your own actions be they successes or failures.  Only when we are honest with ourselves are we able to determine the areas we need to change for the better. Continue reading

Stop Parenting, Start Coaching


I attended the free talk given by my Global Coach Connect partner, Dolly Yeo on “Stop Parenting, Start Coaching”.  I thought it was wonderful and very timely as many parents today are at sea in how to deal with their teens.   In this new digital environment and the wide, seemingly out-of-control exposure we are dealing in, managing our kids calls for a much different parenting skill than those employed by our parents.  The world is different.  I am sure you notice.

The old school of thought in managing children and in particular teens is outdated.  Parenting is tough, parenting teens is even tougher.  Hormonal changes around this period make it more challenging and most parents are at a loss.  It is not aided by the generation gap, especially now that couples are marrying and having children at a later age.  Conflicts begin almost overnight leaving parents to wonder where and what they have done wrong.

One thing they have done right is loving their children; what they have probably done wrong is how to communicate with their children.  There is always a tendency for parents to compare those days when you were teens to what their own teens are today and obviously there is a big divide.

There is this in-built inclination toward telling our children what to do, have and want all in the name of love.  Well and good but teens needed to be heard and respected as adults too because that is where they are heading towards and they need their parents’ understanding and support to become one.  Parents and their teens need to learn how to tango to establish certain level of trust in order for them to grow into responsible, well-adjusted and happy young adults.

Dolly shared her own experience – the pains, anxiety, frustration – in managing her three teenagers; the ups-and-downs she has gone through and how she managed to triumph and conquer the situation.  It was a very inspiring talk.

She told of the hours and courses she spent to learn to become a better parent and primarily to manage first herself as a person – learning to love herself and removing her baggages.  In her journey of self-discovery, she stumbled on coaching and began practising her coaching skills on her children.  It drew fantastic results (not overnight but with lots of patience and perseverance), leading her to understand that it is time to let go and stop parenting.

It was a very lively interactive talk.  Participants were open in sharing their teenagers’ problems and view points.  The one thing that sticks out is that parents tend to insist that the problem lies with their children because they believe they are absolutely right and by refusing to reflect on their contribution to the problem – checkmate, nothing changes and there is no winner in this tuck-of-war.  What is right and wrong is very subjective.  As long as we maintain we are right, we leave nothing for negotiation and it is then impossible to find a solution.

Parents need to stay flexible and the first order of things is to see how we, as parents, can change in order to incite the change we would like to see in our children. Getting parents to change and see things differently and to stop parenting is difficult but until they see that this is where they have to start, we will end up with losers in the battle of wills.  The ending can be disastrous if we are not careful.

If you have “problem” teenagers, you may want to join Dolly’s group parenting sessions to get some insights on how you may want to change in order to save your children’s future.  Their future happiness is dependent on you and your behaviour.  If you love your children and want to do something about it, act now and make the call.  This may be your best investment yet.

To find out more about Dolly and the event, go to: www.mindset-coaching.com .

Why the Training and Coaching Connection?


News abuzz on the training scene following the recent Singapore  Budget 2010 – all the talk about boosting productivity through more training.  I am all for training but without the coaching connection, training by itself would not be enough to sustain long-term change to reap the benefits training provides.

I have an interesting conversation with a friend of mine who is a professional soft skill trainer  and a trained coach a few days ago.  We were discussing how we could develop programmes that use both training and coaching to enhance their effectiveness.    He is concerned over reports that appear to portray a rather skewed focus on technical training leaving little space for soft skills training, although more recent news started reporting on promoting sales and marketing training even for technical staff.  I applaud that move as they signal a more balanced view.  Nonetheless any spotlight on training is good news for trainers.

I liken technical and soft skills training to IQ and EQ.  A proportionate balanced IQ/EQ has served many successful leaders and entrepreneurs well and a good concoction of technical and soft skills would likewise do more good than harm, forming a more rounded skill sets to meet any challenge.

Training unfortunately, and in particular since the economic crisis, is seen by many as more of a frivolous rather than a valuable undertaking, in spite of all the incentives provided by the government.  I followed with great interest the comments posted on one of the LinkedIn group discussion on the value of training, both of in-house as well as external training programmes.  Some lamented on how some companies still do not recognize the value training brings while others are buoyant about the training future.

It is not surprising that there are such wide ranging views on the effects of training.  I often have conflicting views of training not because I do not believe in training.  On the contrary, I am a strong supporter for continuous learning and training is certainly one of the ways to go except that a better post-training management is called for to enhance the effectiveness.  That, sadly is missing or very under-developed.

I have my fair share of training and I have noticed that a majority goes for training courses for the wrong reasons, i.e. not necessarily to improve their skills and knowledge.  Attending any training for the wrong reason would certainly give raise to negative reports and impressions.  Some genuinely want to improve and see the training provided as God-sent but whatever the intention may be, there will always be some who will return energized and ever ready to try out the new skills only to fall back on old habits after a few weeks, or at best a few months.

This often resulted in companies wary of sending their employees to expensive courses to find out later that there is no significant improvement to speak of.  I can hardly blame them but there is always a flip side of things.  In spite of training having been around for several decades there are very few people who know how to manage post-training measurement and have proper follow through to ensure that the skills and knowledge are applied at the workplace consistently.  Over time, the employees seeing no acknowledgement of their new behaviour return to old habits while management moan about the ineffectiveness of the training.

Workplace Coaching enters the scene as a complement to training.  Often training takes a couple of days or a week or two while a coaching engagement spans over a few months.  This is the first major difference but not the most significant.

Coaching is about applying and internalizing the skills learned.  We all know that breaking a habit is very difficult and with just training alone, old habits will continue to lurk in the background waiting for the weak moments to resurface again.  Coaching is about reinforcing new habits over the old for longer lasting change.  Hence, coaching is training’s perfect partner for true transformation.

Coaching uses positive questioning skills to help coachees explore and make deliberated actions toward attaining their set SMART goals.  By giving them enough time and space and in focusing on solutions using the skills and knowledge learned, coachees are thus able to develop longer lasting and enduring new thinking habits to gain personal breakthroughs.

Increasingly coaching is recognized as an important development tool so much so that some companies send their managers to coaching classes so they may use their new found skills to manage their staff more effectively.  Still there are differences in deploying managers as coaches as opposed to having external coaches just as you would have external trainers instead of internal trainers.

What has become interesting is that the mindset about coaching is starting to change as the awareness of coaching benefits grows.  In the days of old, when one is selected to be coached, he would feel insulted with the thought that only those who performed badly require a coach.  How wrong they were as that is far from the truth.  Today, however, managers hope they would be selected because those left alone would be perceived as being less important or not as valued by the management.  So don’t reject being coached if offered.  You may regret that decision.

You do not need to undergo any training before you are coached.  Coaching can be applied in many different areas for personal development and growth, and workplace coaching touches only just one aspect of one’s life.  If you have not been coached before and would like to try it out, find a coach who is willing to give you a free trial session.  You may be surprised…

Five Ways to Become Happier Today


I found the post by the same title on http://www.bigthink.com.  It is an interview with Tal Bel-Shahar, Psychology Lecturer at Harvard University, who is also best known as a Happiness Guru.  Here is an extraction from the interview.

So what are these five ways to become happier today?

Alive and undamaged: Interestingly he said you need to be not a psychopath or dead as only being one of these would mean you cannot experience painful emotions.  If we can experience these painful emotions then can we open ourselves to positive ones.  How true!  You cannot possibly be happy if you are dead or damaged in some way.  So celebrate the fact that you are alive and undamaged.  Be grateful that you have the opportunity to be happy by choosing to be positive.  Since there is a choice, won’t you rather be happy?

Quality social interactions: Spending quality time with family, friends, relatives, loved ones – people who care about us and whom we care about – is important in feeding our happiness.  Quality time also means giving a 100% of your attention and not when we are doing something else at the same time, like being on the phone or text messaging.  I love spending time with family and friends.  While they may give you headaches from time to time, there is still no replacement for having a laugh or two with your loved ones.  I have known of people who have dysfunctional family and remain unhappy throughout their lives.

Regular exercise: Physical exercise is also another way to improve your happiness level.  Research shows that regular exercising several times a week is equivalent to some of the most powerful psychiatric drugs for anti-depression.  Compared to our fore-fathers we are walking less by adopting habits such as using auto-transport even for short distances.  Not only do these habits have negative impacts on our physical but also mental health.  There is such a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when I take a 5-minute walk to the train station instead of taking a bus ride or complete a 4km walk on a good day.

Expressing your gratitude: Developing the habit of expressing your gratitude daily on things big and small carries a lot of weight in raising your happiness indicator.  He suggests writing at least 5 things you are grateful for before going to bed and not wait till you encounter a crisis to be reminded to appreciate the things you have in your life.  People who do that are happier, more successful and optimistic.  Hmm…I am going to try this one out, starting today.  (If you want to take your gratitude online there is a place to do it – http://www.gratitudelog.com.)

Simplify your life: Simplify by doing only one thing at a time.  Savour every minute of the moment.  Pay attention and appreciate the action, thought, feeling and words of the moment.  Develop quality in everything you do without destroying it with multi-tasking.  To help with concentration, allocate time for e-mail to say 3 hours daily, switch off the mobile phone during time set aside for the family, etc.  No rush, no tension just simply be (happy).

All these five ways appear to be so simple and yet there are many who would find it tough.  They are simple for the mind to appreciate but hard for some to carry them out.  But “Rome is not built in a day” so don’t trip yourself up by trying to do them all at once and expect total transformation overnight.  Instead set small but achievable goals toward these five things-to-do over a period and you will never be the same again.  If you find it hard to do it on your own, get help from people whom you trust or get a coach or mentor.

The mind is its own place, and in itself can make

a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven

–  John Milton, English poet