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

From Suffering to Greatness


Almost every great man I read about had at one time or another suffer some personal losses before they become great.  That puts me to wonder what really transpire during the time of suffering that make these people great.  For their greatness is sustainable for many decades and often the rest of their lives.  People like Lee Kuan Yew and Gandhi Mahatma.

Perhaps it is during the time of lost and suffering that people find there is nothing to lose by going deep within themselves to reflect and search for the thing they are made of.  It is perhaps during this time that the greatest insights and passions are revealed because there is no other noise of fear that camouflage and prevent its revelation. 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

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

Watch Out! Others could sniff you out


Many people hide behind social masks – sometimes several – as a means to protect themselves from harm.  Truth is these masks are causing more damage than they are shields.  They prevent you from knowing your true self.  The self-denial is so strong that it reduces your ability to handle problems.  This happens when we lack the self-confidence in being our authentic selves.

Being genuine and sincere seem so basic in human connections but there will always be excuses in not exercising them.  In almost all sales training, we are taught to be genuine and sincere.  However, most choose not to be out of fear that the potential customer would reject their services or products. 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

The Joy of Appreciation


Do you notice that when you give out gifts you receive more?  Not necessarily in terms of receiving more gifts in return but the warm tingling sensation of happiness that wraps around your heart when the receivers of the gifts beam their several-thousand-watt smile at you.  You know that your gifts are appreciated and they are happy.

That is the joy of giving which is one of the reasons I enjoy Christmas.  That is the time when I would be busy thinking of the things to buy or make to give to family, relatives and friends.  What joy!  And I am thankful that I have all these to give.

It is sad that most people now think Christmas as being too commercialized but does it really matter?  What matters is how you perceive it and what you are going to make out of it no matter what others say or do. If you put enough effort to it, you will know to find the right gift for each person and you receive twice as much in happiness for the effort.

Sure there will always be people who exchange gifts (1) because it is expected of them, (2) all in the name of fun and so, as long as the gifts are purchased and given, who cares if the recipient likes it or not.  Still as a recipient of the gifts, even they are not quite what you like, appreciate the thought that the giver has you in mind and has spent money on you.

Showing genuine appreciation is an art.  The better you are able to appreciate the better it is for you.  Remember we should improve our happiness set point and feeling and showing appreciate is one of the means to improve it.  When you consciously appreciate the efforts of another, you are forming positive emotions which automatically makes you feel better of yourself and the giver.  Try it and consciously notice how you feel, both as a giver and receiver of gifts.  The gifts may not be in a form of presents but they could be a smile, a service, close trusting friendships and so forth.

Now then why should we wait for occasions – Valentines Day, Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Teacher’s Day, Children’s Day, etc. – to feel appreciation?  Sometimes I think these days are specially created to remind people to be appreciative because leaving it up to us, we are very likely not do it.  Sad, huh?

Happiness and positive emotions can be generated at any occasion of your choice.  Make it an everyday occurrence.  Observe the number of times you actually show appreciation for the service and help extended to you in a day. When you start doing this you may realise there are very few if at all because we have taken a lot of things for granted.  It would be hard to rack up anything until you are in the swing of things.  Practice makes perfect – so start now to note down the opportunities that you have showed or missed showing any appreciation a day.  Overtime, with constant practice and conscious self-observation, the appreciation list will grow.

Once the practice is internalized and naturally becomes part of you, you will find that there are just too many to list them all.  Continue nonetheless as the more you do, the happier you feel.  People around will also appreciate you more because your happiness attracts them.  It comes in a full circle.  What you do influence others.  Won’t you want others to be just as happy as you?

The Pursuit of Happiness (I)


Who could honestly say they are not pursing happiness?  I think none would.  Everything we do relates to creating happiness; from shopping for the best of everything to ingesting the best foods.  However all of those actions can only appease but a moment and soon be replaced by another craving for a better watch, pants, ring, mobile phone, movie, etc.  There is no end to the things we want in hope to quench the thirst for happiness only that we do not realize that happiness is really what we are after and not the things we own.

Happiness depends, as Nature shows, less on exterior things than most suppose – William Cowper.

A research on happiness demonstrates that the statement above is true.  Until I read the book “Happy for No Reason” (in which the author reported statistics to support this point) and did a little digging on my own, I have not given much thought to this.  Perhaps I have taken for granted what truly being happy means.

I reproduce here the statistics as reported in “Happy for No Reason”:

  • Americans’ personal income has increased more than two and a half times over the past fifty years but their happiness level has remained the same.
  • Nearly 40 percent of the people on the Forbes list of wealthiest Americans are less happy than the average American.
  • Once personal wealth exceeds $12,000 a year, more money produces virtually no increase in happiness.

I would suppose the statistics here would not have been very different elsewhere.  It is not too difficult to call to mind a wealthy friend or two who are not too happy with their lives no matter how much money they have.  They then go on to an acquisition spree for higher status, education, more and better branded stuff, bigger and flashier cars, more attention, love, respect, etc. but still find happiness elusive.

Interestingly people who suffer from depression are not necessarily those who are destitute but also from the wealthiest.  There are probably more people in the lower rungs of society who are inertly happier than those in the higher social class; at least they have something to aim and hope for.  It is when you have everything and still cannot find happiness, that must be the most painful.

In the research report Happiness is a stochastic phenomenon by  David Lykken and Auke Tellegen  published by American Psychological Society in 1996, it is said that social economic status accounted less than 3% in the variance in general well-being.  (To read the report, go to http://cogprints.org/767/0/167.pdf.)

Our happiness set point may be inherently encoded in our genes.  However, it is possible to reset to a higher level by our experiences and consistent application of positive emotions.

“Dysfunctional behaviour exacerbates depression, whereas the things happy people do enhance their happiness.”

You may also want to watch this video about happiness set point:

Intense happiness is an emotion that fluctuates according to moods and events (winning a contest, getting promoted, etc.) while to be truly happy is the high set level of contentment and peace to which we fall back regardless of our emotions over both good and bad experiences of our lives.

There is no arguing of the fact that we all have moods – the causal effects of events happening around us – but the duration of the positive or negative impact may be prolonged by concentrated and repeated thoughts that determines the level of happiness or unhappiness.  Therefore the ability to self-regulate thoughts would help to improve the happiness set point in the long run.

Since we could reset our happiness set points, there is no excuse to remain unhappy.  All you need is to find the key to unlock the blockage.  Have your found yours?

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