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When we meet friends whom we have not seen for a long time, we often ask, “How are you?” with a concern on their well being. The most frequent answer heard, “I have been busy.” Everyone seems busy … all the time. I hardly get to meet someone who is relatively free. People are occupied all the time, almost like 24/7 and if you are out free, you stand out and people wonder what have you wasted your time on!

How do we make time? Can time be made? Are we ahead or behind it? We often run out of it. We lose it. Yet we are given 24hours each, rich or poor,  it is the same dose every day. What you make out of it is really up to you. How you want to stretch it depends on your creativity. It can go to waste, too.

What meaning do you attach to time? Is time of value to you? To the businessman, time is money. To an Olympic runner, a mere few seconds make a great difference to the gold medal. To a child, getting to the destination seems like hours. To the cancer patient, every day is a miracle. Time is precious. The clock ticks on where time and tide waits for no man. True.

As the world spins, time slips out as in an hourglass. Are you time tight? How do you manage your time? Or does it manage you? Look around you. Do you see pockets of time you could use? The waiting time, the lull periods, the in-betweens? What do you do?

Clever usage of time needs to be planned. Having designated blocks of time to get things done is one way. Focusing on priorities and giving it the important time slots mean we get key things out of the way. That includes things we dread to do.

To get some extra time, I started off today by waking up an hour earlier. There was much I could do and I did. Things that were put on the back burner came out first and completed in a shorter time frame than I expected. I was elated. I did things faster than I usually do and the change in schedule made the difference because the routine was re-routed and I did things on a fresh footing. That helped.

When we do things we love, we get immersed and time cease to exist. It flies through the window. We are in the time zone. The danger comes when we do not know when to stop as the enjoyment gets exhilarating. That accounts for us being late, delayed work in other aspects, missed deadlines and pushing things back. We need to take a step back to re-focus.

Having a planner to craft out the time zones for work and play makes a lot of sense and yet most people do not do it. Use a planner to see where your time went to and how you can make the most of it. Look at it and ask: Are there things you could cut down? Are there things you could increase? Are there things you can do away or delegate?

It takes effort to make changes and save time when you can. Do you want to do it? What do you see as the end result of having it done? Does it motivate you sufficiently to have the change? It all comes back to the meaning you attach to time. If it is important enough to you, the change will be made. Be time wise.


The Road Less Travelled

It has been a forced situation where circumstances dictate that I do it differently this time. For years I have avoided driving by myself to the west part of this sunny island. Why? The excuse was that I do not know the way and it is a labyrinth of factories in an industrial estate with heavy vehicles plying the roads. If I am ever there it has been my colleagues, my partner or some family member who drove. Otherwise I take the train.

Just this week, I had to visit a client tucked in that corner of the earth. I love to work with them and there is no way I am going to pass up the chance of another enjoyable project exploring new territories together. This avoiding business just had to stop.

I checked the map on how to get there and made sure I have my bearings right. I know what you must be whispering … hey, use the GPS. Well, this car when purchased did not come with it and I have lived without one for eons, so why bother? All done, I was ready to go solo on this so called road trip.

It was some road trip. I got lost in the urban jungle of the industrial estate. It was not my way or the highway, it was stop and turn back before I go any further. Fuming at myself for my mistake, I had to check for directions. Then I am off again, finally making it to my destination in one piece.

Looking back, it was not as hard as I thought. It was all in my mind. I will have to visit my client again with the project underway. Will I drive? Yes, I will. What was it that stopped me from driving there all these years? It is some perception I have in my head that the drive there is complicated and difficult. If I had conquered my doubts, I would have enjoyed the suburban precincts with the new malls and amenities. What have I missed?

What is in your life that you have similarly avoided? Could an opportunity come where you can take charge and make the change to embrace it? I have and now I wonder what took me so long. Come to think of it, perhaps I should consider investing in a GPS device. Then I am all ready to travel to the four corners of the earth and take the road less travelled. What about you?



Lots of us are guilty as procrastinators one time or other. What has been gnawing at you and that you have put off for some time ? And really, you know the consequences when you hold back too long.

Just recently, I had to visit the dental clinic. Admittedly, it is not one of my favourite places. I dread going to the dentist. It is nothing personal about the dentist, in fact my old, regular dentist has retired recently and I was thinking of switching to another one. 

At the back of my mind, I knew the visit had been long overdue. When the cavity started to trouble me, it seemed like I have no choice. If only it was that easy to take a panadol to rid it, unfortunately the tooth ache required special attention. It has hit a raw nerve, so to speak, costing me sleepless nights. Thus an appointment had to be made real soon. Sigh.

What has held me back from going for my regular checks and the much needed scaling? Thinking back it must have been the experience in my early years when I had my dental treatment at a dental hut of my primary school.  I saw the hauling up from class to this little consultation room as a dreaded time that sent shivers down my spine. The mere a sound of the drilling machine would set me running a mile away. I have associated the dental treatment with fear, an anxiety attack.

Going through the dental treatment was not as bad as I thought though it was certainly not a trip to Disneyland. I survived. The new dental clinic I visited had state of the art dental equipment and a TV screen to entertain me, calmed my already frayed nerves. The dentist and his assistant were very professional and reassuring.

What are the cavities in your life that need fixing? Is there anything that you feel you ought to do but have yet to get started? What is holding you back? What do you associate the experience with? What are you moving away from? Take a little time to uncover the answers to these questions and then ask yourself what benefits you when the experience is over?

For me, I have decided to add more value to my set of teeth that will see me through to the rest of my life and it had better start now. The next time you see me, I shall flash you a  smile and with a sparkle in my tooth, you’ll know that I had that gold filling done! : )


When two or more are gathered …

Last evening, I met up with fellow trainers from the International Society of  Neuro-Semantics, Singapore chapter. We have met a month before and were keen to bring the group to the next level. Thus began the agenda for the next meeting.

The group dynamics was great as we could gel and had common goals. Each person had a part to play. We fed on each other’s energy and that brought the group to a whole new level. While looking at how to support fellow trainers within the region, we embarked on a new journey of hosting our own training classes, not as individuals but as a group. This is new. It is a collaborative affair with like-minded people. Brainstorming together allowed creative juices to flow and explore new avenues that have never been tread.

Having pulled resources make sense and having work partners would mean the work gets distributed. It’s economics 101 where resources are scarce and making the best use of them saw economies of scale. It is no longer a solo flight but a charted one that brings us to our destination. Together we will soar to greater heights. It would be synergistic where the sum of the parts is far greater than each individual component, having to ensure we had the ego strength to manage things together.

The commitment level of the team members was amazing. What was more awesome were the strengths that each brought with him or her complimented the weaknesses. Someone with a global perspective would be visionary while another who is detailed, got the nitty-gritty done. The doer cum performer amongst us had to ground the creator when far-fetched ideas start to emerge which had to be archived for the future. We knew what we wanted and what to move away from. If you had been there, you would see the rapport and friendly banter confirming the fiery enthusiasm within the group bursting to the brim.

It was a meeting that lasted for 2hours and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thus when two or more are gathered, we not only get more things done, we grow. I dedicate this article to my two fellow trainers, Michael and Peter who encouraged, motivated and inspired me. Who wouldn’t look forward to more of such meaningful get-together?


Positive Stress

Stress has been a dirty word for a long time. It has negative connotations and people associate stress with high blood pressure, heightened breathing, heart palpitations, panic status, eating disorders, sleeplessness, headaches and the list goes on. At some point in time, we might have experienced any one of these and feel the stress level rising. It is not a good feeling, is it? The stress symptoms signal the red flag.

Not all stress is negative. On the flip side, we do get some positive stress. Can stress be positive, I almost hear you ask. Yes, it can. So what is positive stress? You know, we can get some goodness out of it.

Let me share with you some situations of positive stress. When the opportunity arrives for you to prove yourself, this can be a form of positive stress. It may be something you have expertise of and when a project or assignment comes along where your allow your skills and knowledge to be showcased. In such cases, you are more than happy and tend to work harder filled with excitement to produce something that some one will appreciate.

Deadlines are important in our work life. Without them, we won’t know when to stop, when to submit the work needed for the next phase. Guess it is one of those necessary evils.

Here is an example I can cite personally where an advanced deadline brought on positive stress. In my last training curriculum development, there was a change in training dates and looking at the calendar, the original deadline given by the client was way off. A late submission of the module development work would mean a late approval  from the authorities, pushing back the training delivery. The deadline had to be forwarded and that meant I had to churn out the work sooner. For the first time, I managed to complete the work in record time, much. much faster than the industry practice. The positive stress kicked in resulting in higher productivity through a better working system. With that, it meant future job scope of the same nature can be done with top rate efficiency.

Positive stress puts one in a “high” state  with positively charged energy. The adrenaline that pumps through make ones feel efficient, working at a higher pace or with happiness getting to the end faster. It puts one in-charge and having the feeling of being able to control the situation driving positive results.

So you see, not all stress is negative. There is positive stress which you can strive on, riding on the positive wave, surfing with exhilaration, enjoying the work. Whether a situation is stressful or not, greatly depends on your response to pressure. Handle it correctly, it can serve you well, making the best out of it.


A Working Saturday

The sun beckons me to be outdoors on a glorious winter Saturday. I looked and am tempted. But there is still work to be done and deadlines to meet. Goodness, it’ a Saturday, I told myself.

First things first, review what needs to be done, then prioritise for the day. As it is a Saturday, the aim was to keep the work as light as possible and easy enough, almost like a non-work situation. That cheered me up with my favourite music in the background.

The stuff I embarked on are really preparation work required for my training classes. That included cutting out templates of colour swatches for a visual styling class, looking through the magazines, filing the tear sheets, scanning in pictures and taking photographs of objects. Now that does not sound like work, does it? Yet, they still have to be done.

Guess what? I worked through the few projects with gusto and enjoyed every minute of it, doing what I love most in the creativity department. The sunny day will wait for a while and when I am through, I head for the outdoors.

So working on a sunny Saturday is not that bad after all. Keeping the light stuff for a rainy day, no I mean for a sunny play day. In fact it was therapeutic, working with my hands to complete some tasks and letting the light in to warm up the room.  : )




ImageLast month I had the privilege of attending a much awaited conference for coaches and trainers from the Neuro-Semantics community. It was held in Kuala Lumpur, a stone’s throw from Singapore, where I would be in town for some assignments.

The presentations and workshops were wonderful learning experiences where the speakers shared great insights on various topics. There were many hilarious moments when the talks were kept light hearted but serious in content.

What struck me most was the renewed friendships with fellow trainers and coaches from different parts of the world, many of whom I have not seen for more than five years. It was easy to pick up from where we left off. We could also see how much we have grown from the younger we to present now, enriched by life experiences. It was also a good time to catch up with my Indonesian friends whom I met just a couple of month ago in Bali, always warm in demeanour.

Making new friends was on my agenda, connecting with people I have not met. Some were connected through the friendly social media, Facebook and it was the first time I meet them. Others were names mentioned or listed in the regular eNewsletters sent out and when we live in a virtual community, I now can finally place the name to the face in person.

Then there was the opportunity to connect at a higher level with compatriots from the same country. It has always been a busy, rush-about time that we never stop for a cuppa. Thus being at the conference meant we could share a meal, chat a bit, share information and bounce ideas off each other. Going forward, we could now work more closely to push forward for new frontiers.

One thing that came as a surprise for me at the conference was a number of people who said they knew me when I have never, never met them before. With raised eyebrows, I wondered aloud how that came about. They explained that they have seen my name in the posts of the eNewsletters. That then made sense. I hardly post anything in response to the key message of the newsletters over the years and this year I only posted twice. I had no idea the effect of the post was more far reaching than expected when all I wanted to do was add a positive view to support the original one.

The conference has met its objectives and allowed the people in the community to connect at the deepest level, leveraging on each other’s strengths and expertise. The networking continues beyond the conference with friends linking up through social media and possibly at the next training sessions or in two years’ time, the next conference in HK. It’s a small world after all and I cannot ask for a nicer circle of global friends. I look forward to connecting with these friends again.