Sunday 1 July 2007

To enhance/sustain your bottomline by changing your method of staff performance evaluation

(photo by Daphne)

... I'm proud, grateful, and happy to be a Canadian .. especially a Chinese Canadian ! :) .. I view this R&D proposal as a vehicle to allow me to pay back some of what I owe Canada ..

  • This is a research-&-development proposal to address a common major corporate issue - the inability to adequately unleash the creativity of their employees. The primary issue stems from the employees' fear of failure and the fear of being misjudged (see "How Failure Breeds Success", BusinessWeek July 10th, 2006).


  • I'm seeking multiple business and academic groups probably working together in pairs to conduct this proposed research to assess the effectiveness of unleashing the creativity of their employees. If interested, please contact
  • The root cause of the fear of failure stems from the fact that we (i.e., the employer or ourselves) judge our performance mainly by the result/outcome of what we do. The author hypothesizes that by focusing directly on one’s intent and effort, and using the result/outcome to analyze these two attributes, we would be able to significantly minimize individuals’ fear of failure and fear of being misjudged. As a result, the corporate atmosphere would be such that the creativity of employees would come forth naturally. The gateway to achieve this is through adopting a new way of doing performance measurement of the employees.
Implementation Strategy:
This is achieved via the formal performance appraisal process of an employee.
  • An employee's performance is a function of his/her intent and effort.
  • The achieved result/outcome of a previously set objective is used to assess the employee's intent and effort.
  • Performance Measurement Formula (examples shown below):
    • Performance Index = Intent x (W1) + (Quality of Effort) x (W2) + (Quantity of Effort) x (W3)

Where Wx is a weighting factor which is to be arbitrarily set by each organization.

How to enhance and integrate the existing Performance Appraisal process with this proposed approach:

Weighting Assignment for a functional group

Human Resource department, working in conjunction with senior management of a corporation, will set the weighting assignment range for each category for a particular group of the organization. In the following example, the manager of the group can arbitrarily set any weighting value from 0 to 5 for the “intent” category or a weighting value of 0 to 10 for the “outcome” category. However, the sum of the weighting values of the four categories must be equal to 10.

Example a): With primary emphasis on using “outcome” as the ultimate criterion.

Intent [0 – 5]

Effort (quality) [0-5]

Effort (quantity) [0-5]

Outcome [0-10]

Overall [must be 10]






Example b): With primary emphasis on using “outcome” to qualify one’s “intent” and “effort” as the ultimate criterion.

Intent [0 – 5]

Effort (quality) [0-5]

Effort (quantity) [0-5]

Outcome [0-10]

Overall [must be 10]






About assigning a performance value to a particular category for an employee

The actual value assigned to each evaluation category for an employee is always of the range from 0 to 10. Encourage each manager to trust that the intent of most employees is good when they are doing a particular task. So, assign a default value of 5 to the “intent” category – unless you’ve concrete evidence (say, based on the outcome), do not change it to a higher or lower value. Consider an assigned value of 5 is fully satisfactory.


Intent [0 – 5]

Effort (quality) [0-5]

Effort (quantity) [0-5]

Outcome [0-10]


Weighting [W]






Manager’s view* of John Smith’s performance of a particular task [P]





W x P






* For the purpose of simplifying the illustration, an employee’s self assessment of his/her own performance in each category is not shown here.

  • Try not to let your concern about the practicality of the implementation to deter you from focusing on what should be done. I'll address your concern separately :)
  • The overriding purpose of this blog is to eventually actualize the ideas as described in the "What If" section (at the very end of this blog). This end section presents that, to significantly enhance the quality of living for this human race, we and our children should learn a way of thinking and values that complement/amplify their core cultural and religious values.
  • The very first step in mapping a key component of the "What If" ideas in the field of psychology or philosophy to an implementable level is through this R&D proposal.

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Sunday 10 June 2007

A quiz ...

Can you be open and forget your biases for a moment? ... allow me to have the privilege to walk with you for the next moment of your life ... take a deep breath to ground yourself .. now read on ..

Pick one of the following quizzes that suits you ...

Quiz A:
  • If you were God, and you're going to judge every action of a person in terms of his/her intent, effort, and the outcome, where would you put your primary emphasis on (i.e., intent, effort, or outcome)?

Quiz B:
  • If you've the power to decide how the world should judge you and to judge you in terms of your intent, effort, and the outcome of your every action, where would you put your primary emphasis on (i.e., intent, effort, or outcome)?
  • If your answer is different from what the world is, does it make sense to continue judging yourself based what others think, instead of basing on what your heart tells you?
  • Many times in our life, things simply did not turn out as expected no matter how hard we tried. So .. have we failed? or simply that the outcomes did not turn out as expected ..
  • The notion of failure can be crippling - at the very best, it can be used as a stick to drive one or others towards a goal. It stifles creativity .. it insidiously keeps one from moving forward in a way that is life enriching .. it robs joy from our lives .. it may bring one down to a state of helplessness and hopelessness. Do you wonder if there is a practical way to mitigate the detrimental impact of the notion of failure?.. Yes, there is - the secret lies in your answer to this quiz!

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A quiz for Christians!

  • Many times in the Gospels of the New Testament, Jesus (he, besides being HIM, was a human being like you and me) judged/evaluated the action of a person and subsequently handed out his compliment or reprimand. Now, can you recall a single incident described in the Gospels that his judging/evaluating was primarily based on the outcome of a person's action/inaction instead of basing on that person's intent and effort?
  • If your answer is "No" which is incidentally the same as mine (i.e., HIS way of judging was always based only on the intent and effort of one's action), and if you choose to model after HIM to judge yourself and others, what would that mean to you and to those around you?
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May this bring you a smile ... :)

Hey! This is for you! :)
(source unknown)
[Posted Dec. 2007]

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The central tenet of all major religions

Treat others as you would like to be treated.

To research and create this list was on my to-do list. Then I found what I wanted (and possibly better than I would have done myself) on page 68-69 of "Me to We: Turning Self-Help On Its Head" (by Craig Kielburger & Marc Kielburger, 2004) - highlighting with bold was done by me:

"In fact, the duality of caring for both the self and others is present in virtually all religions, and despite their differences, all come together in one central tenet: Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you. The following is a list of world religions and their interpretations of this Ethic of Reciprocity.
  • Hinduism: "This is the sum of duty: do not to others what would cause pain if done to you." (Mahabaratha 5:1517)
  • Taoism: "Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss." (T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien, 213-218)
  • Native spirituality: "We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive." (Chief Dan George)
  • Buddhism: "Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." (Udana-Varga 5.18)
  • Islam: "Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself." (The Prophet Muhammad, Hadith)
  • Judaism: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary." (Hillel, Talmud, Shabbat 31a)
  • Christianity: "In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets." (Jesus, Matthew 7:12)
  • Sikhism: "I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all." (Guru Granth Sahib, p.1299)
  • Baha'i Faith: "Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself." (Baha'u'liah, Gleanings)
  • Janism: "One should treat all creatures in the world aas one would like to be treated." (Mahavira, Sutravitanga)
  • Unitarianism: "We affirm and promote respect for the interdependence of all existence of which we are a part." (Unitarian principle)
  • Zoroastrianism: "Do not unto others what is injurious to yourself." (Shayast-na-Shayast 13.29)"
Added to this list is the very gist of Confucius' teaching: "Do not do to others what you don't want others to do to you."

What listed above, I believe, is likely the central tenet of all major religions. In particular, see the above quote about Judaism, " .. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary." - Wow! My dear Hillel! What clarity you brought forth! This very similar sentiment/emphasis was echoed by Confucius. When probed by his pupil (about 2500 years ago) to come up with one word to summarize the spirit of his teaching, Confucius answered: "恕" which means "consideration". He further expanded this word into a phrase as described above.

[posted Dec. 2007]

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A Father's Prayer 一位父亲的祝福

To: CSC & DSC,

I was inspired by Hodding Carter’s quote, "There are only two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings."

我被 Hodding Carter 的名言所激励,我们只能给我们的孩子两种有持久性的遗产. 一个是根,另一个是翅膀。

Appreciate your roots - get well grounded, take off and fly ..
My dear child, fly with the gifts you're given so that the world would become a better one because of you ..
Let your love and passion be manifested into actions ..
Let your warmth melt away the misery of this world ..
Let the world light up with your laughter and joy ..
And of course, if I may ask, share with me your adventure and joy (and pain) ..
For I'll feel that I've done my part as your dad if I know that my child is happy and contributing to the best he can ..

[Posted Jan 26th, 2008]

请看下面我数年前给我两个儿子写的 "一位父亲的祝福" (也是我向你祝福).

好好地欣赏你的根源 - 打好基础然後升空飞翔。 
当然,我还希望,你会与我分享你的经历, 快乐 (和痛苦)
如果我知道我的孩子是快乐的,并且他已经尽力贡献, 我将会觉得我己完成了我作为父亲的职责。
[Translation added, July 28th, 2014] 
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One way to handle verbally abusive behaviour

(2 components of communication)
Try to address an emotional glitch right at the moment of its occurrence.

We would always readily feel hurt when we get verbally abused (e.g., "You @#$%&^* no good! ..") or simply just get gently jabbed emotionally by a tone of voice which is getting impatient or a body language that is tense. A typical scenario of miscommunication between two persons is illustrated below.
  1. Started with a logical and civil discussion between person A and B.
  2. Triggered by something "B" said, "A" gets impatient and shows his/her impatience via a change of his/her tone of voice (and often with change of body language) ... meanwhile, on the surface, he/she communicates a logical point(s).
  3. "B" feels jabbed emotionally but he/she still focuses on responding to the logical point under discussion.
  4. Now, A's impatience grows .. however, he/she generally and often unknowingly express his/her impatience by coming up with stronger and more elaborate arguments for his/her logical point(s) made earlier ... and the tone of voice is getting more abusive.
  5. "B" now starts to show his/her hurt via an aggressive (or passive aggressive) tone of voice (and certain type of body language) .. however, strange enough, as if by choice, "B" stays on the logical level to argue with "A".
  6. The exchange becomes hurtful and totally unproductive ... and the experience adds to the accumulated feeling of hurt which one day would result in an irreparable explosion.

Suggested remedy:
  • There are always two components in any communication (an emotional one and a logical one - see diagram above). Whenever we sense the occurrence of an emotional glitch (e.g., the other person's tone of voice is getting a bit aggressive), if possible, we must stop the logical discussion and immediately address the emotional glitch (e.g., calmly state, "How come you sound so stressed? Do you have a tough day at work?", "Do you realize that you've raised your voice?"). If you don't feel comfortable to address that right at that moment, bring it up with that person afterwards .. but it must be addressed.
  • Seek a proper closure for every such emotional abusive incident. The lack of this kind of check-and-balance force in place in the business environment explains partly why a lot of people in power behave abusively ... they're spoiled by their subordinates or their peers.
[posted Nov. 2007]

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Friday 1 June 2007

How to contain our impulse of telling others how to do their jobs

  • By gaining the awareness of how little the other persons can actually retain what we said.
  • By letting ourself be pleasantly surprised by the creative solutions put forth by the persons we depend on.
  • By not taking away the opportunity of allowing the other persons to grow and learn through their mistakes (i.e., within reasons :)).
  • By not blocking the avenue of self expression (i.e., by not insisting on "do it my way").
  • By ... well, you may have more reasons .. let me know :)

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Sunday 27 May 2007

When stuck in being RIGHT :(

"being RIGHT" is OK as long as you're not imposing on others unreasonably :)

When you feel that you (and likely those around you) have suffered enough for you "being RIGHT" (.. and yes, I know that you have plenty of reasons why you're right .. and you're absolutely right about your reasons .. :)), and accepting the fact that keep repeating the same practice and expecting a significantly different outcome is rather ludicrous, try the following approach:
  • Replace the word "being RIGHT" with "PREFERENCE" e.g., "This is what I prefer.", "I understand that this is what you prefer."
  • When you're "right", the other person must be "wrong". We, not only have the primal need of "being right", but also have the intuitive sense of responsibility to right the wrong. Likely the other party (possibly somebody you love dearly) thinks the same ... then the fight begins again .. and likely both walk away feeling disconnected - deepening the dissatisfaction about the relationship in the hearts of both. .. I wonder how many divorces started with this .. and worse, much worse, how many hideous crimes/killings committed in the name of "being right" today and in the history of mankind ..
  • We want somebody to come close but often unknowingly, we push them away with our repulsive energy - insisting on "being right" could be very very repulsive.
  • Assuming the position of "preference" takes away the edge of "being right" and it helps to bring out the warmth in you because you're more likely to listen - to hear out and acknowledge what the other person "prefers". It may promote a sense of humility in you. Now, if you can go there, it not only reduces the stress in you, your energy (and therefore, your presence) would become so much warmer and attractive. Is this what you want for yourself?
An experiential exercise:
  1. Close your eye and recall a typical scenario where you ran into the problem of "being RIGHT". How do you feel now?
  2. Close you eye again. Get yourself grounded by, say, taking several deep breaths.
  3. With all sincerity, replace the word "being RIGHT" with "PREFERENCE" and reconstruct your scenario with this approach. How do you feel now?
  4. Compare the outcome of the two different approaches ... my very best wishes to your commitment to grow :) ..

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Tuesday 22 May 2007

Anger Management!

"I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, and a thousand indignities produced in me an anger, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people" [Nelson Mandela, page 35 of "MANDELLA, An Illustrated Autobiography" 1994]

Ummm ... how do I channel my frustration/anger towards a constructive goal? ... this is not meant to be a rhetorical question ..

Ahh ... are we the prisoners of our own thoughts? ... now, this one is rhetorical :)

Acknowledgement: The drawing above was done by CK, a beloved teacher of mine ..

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Monday 21 May 2007

The gist of what Confucius Said & The Fall of The Roman Empire :)

The top part of the above quote was Confucius' answer (about 2500 years ago) to one of his students' questions about the single most important thing one needs to learn and is the very gist of Confucius' teaching.

This means: Do not do to others what you don't want others to do to you.

The Fall of The Roman Empire:

There are multiple causes for the fall of the Roman Empire which ended around AD476. The main theme appears to be the decay from within. One can readily use the decay-from-within (especially within those in power) theory to explain the survival problems of many countries, dynasties, communities, businesses, families and individuals in the history of mankind.

Confucius' teaching repeatedly emphasizes building the thinking foundation and the value system of the self before one can effectively provide his/her service to the outside world. The bottom part of the above quote embodies that spirit.

This means: one must start with strengthening one's moral stance, then to harmonizing one's family, then to bringing prosperity to one's country, and then to bringing peace to the world at large.

The fall of the Roman Empire (and for that matter, the fall of many empires, governments, and communities) is presumably a lesson for us to learn - i.e., "history repeats itself". The question is: Does history repeat itself, right now, right inside us?

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Sunday 6 May 2007

Purpose in Life

Do you know your purpose in life?

If your answer is "No" or "Not sure", read on ...

Do you believe that you may achieve a better quality of living if you assume the position that you do have a purpose in life?

If your answer is "Yes", read on ...

It would be extremely rare to meet somebody who knows what his/her purpose in life is. However, what stops you from defining one for yourself ... as time passes, let your feeling be your guide in measuring the correctness of your assumed purpose in life ... and a more useful version will emerge over time.

  • Mine is: "To rise to the needs of the situation while maintaining a big picture". Now, may I know yours? ...

A quote from Albert Einstein:
"Strange is our situation here on earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men - above all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness depends." ["The GOD Delusion" by Richard Dawkins 2006, page 209]

Acknowledgment: The above drawing was done modelling after Ernest Watson's Magenta Tulip ("The Art of Pencil Drawing").

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Definition of Success

When prompted with the question, “What is your definition of success?”, it seems that everyone has an answer. When averaged out over a prolonged period of time, our state of mind depends whether we meet our definition of success. If we do, we may feel satisfied, happy, content, joy, etc. If we don’t, we may feel rejected, dejected, abandoned, angry (at ourselves and/or at others), shame, depressed etc.

Do you believe that your definition of success in life often consciously or subconsciously guides you to move forward in life? Do you believe that it governs what you think and how you think, therefore how you feel about yourself and others, and therefore how you behave?

If your answer is "Yes or probably", read on ...

Do you find that your definition of success is now in your way of seeking your happiness in life?

If your answer is "Yes or probably", read on ...

  • See if you've set too high an expectation for yourself and set yourself up to fall.
  • See if your definition of success is in line with your purpose in life.
  • See if you've defined your success in terms of the outcome of a journey instead of focusing on the journey itself.
  • Mine is expressed in the form of an epitaph: "He used well what he was given". Now, may I know yours? ...

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Thursday 26 April 2007

Garbage Pick Up (an experiential exercise - part 1)

This is an experiential exercise to achieve a better quality of living. particularly in achieving greater happiness in life. To derive the most benefit from it, you are recommended to follow the instruction and do not proceed to Part 2 until you've completed this part. Surprise (and confusion) element is part of the design of this exercise. Consequently you're asked to perform a task with no adequate explanation of "why". For those who are interested to skim through this blog, feel free to skip conducting this exercise! :)

  • Get a big garbage bag.
  • Fill this bag with garbage from your neighbourhood (now if you've problem finding enough garbage, come to my neighbourhood :))
  • Wear a pair of glove - be safe.
  • When you're done, read Part 2.
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Garbage Pick Up (an experiential exercise - part 2)

If you've completed Part 1 exercise, congratulation to you for having the childlike curiosity to explore!

  • Write down what you felt and observed about yourself while you were collecting the garbage.
  • Repeat the same exercise but this time focus on each moment and be seriously purposeful of every garbage picking movement - escalate the sense of purpose of what you do to the highest level you possibly can (e.g., from "for fun" to "for this neighbourhood" to "for this city" to "for Canada" to "for this world" to "for this universe" to possibly any spiritual level you so choose).
  • When you are done with this second round of garbage collection, read Part 3.
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Garbage Pick Up (an experiential exercise - part 3)

If you've completed Part 2 exercise, my compliment for your childlike curiosity and open-mindedness. I believe that you'll benefit a lot with such valuable mental assets as you move forward in life! Now write down what you felt and observed about your experience of picking up the garbage for this second round. For now, let us view each of these two exercises you undertook as a small journey of your life. So, compare the outcome of these two journeys. Is it that one of the two is more useful and meaningful for you than the other one? (hopefully, your experience is similar to mine :))

Purpose of this garbage-pick-up exercise: A way to enhance one's quality of living (particularly in achieving a happier life) with the enhanced ability to live a more meaningful life.


Meaningfulness of a journey is a function of one's perception of the relative importance of one's intent, effort and the outcome of the journey.
  • It seems that if we can associate our moments (and therefore our journeys) synergistically, the sense of meaningfulness of our life would be much much greater than the sum of their parts (actually as the law of nature dictates, so is the outcome!).
  • The sense of meaningfulness comes from one judging oneself (consciously or subconsciously) of a moment or when looking back at a particular journey in terms of one's intent, effort and the outcome. For example, a) "I feel great that I contributed to the success of this project!" [primarily outcome based] or "I feel miserable because you think that what I've done is not good enough." [primarily based on the perceived outcome as dictated by others], b) "Though this project did not turn out as expected, I am very proud of myself because I've done the best I could!" [primarily effort based], c) "Now, let me pick up this trampled stack of newspaper from the subway platform floor because I want others benefit by a cleaner environment." [primarily intent based].
  • This particular exercise is focused on the effect of escalating one's intent. As one chooses to move one's intent towards a higher level (i.e., moving from "for self" to "for others" or possibly to a higher spiritual level), one should feel that the sense of meaningfulness is increased accordingly. Well, does this experiential exercise work for you?
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Monday 23 April 2007

Shame & Guilt

Name of book:

  • Shame and Guilt (Guilford Press, c2002) by June Price Tangney & Ronda L. Dearing.


  • This book examines two specific types of emotions (i.e., shame and guilt), their differences and the significance in understanding and dealing with their differences.

My favorite quotes from this book:

  • “There is substantial evidence supporting Lewis’s (1971) contention that the fundamental difference between shame and guilt centers on the role of the self (i.e., “Who I am”). Guilt involves a more articulated condemnation of a specific behavior (i.e., “What I did.”)”. (page 24). Example of shame: “I did that horrible thing.” Example of guilt: “I did that horrible thing.” (page 25) To me then, shame is a feeling resulting from what I perceive how others may think of me and guilt is a feeling resulting from what I should have done but did not do.
  • This chapter has described one of the great surprises from our program of research on shame and guilt. Contrary to folk wisdom, feelings of shame actually provoke other directed anger, rather than inhibiting anger and aggression.” (page 11) ‘.. guilt along with empathy emerge as a “good” moral affective experience (page 89)


  • It has been an immensely rewarding feeling when a client can learn to view a situation of his/her past differently such that, at least momentarily, they are freed from (or deescalate) a sense of shame ... and they have an opening, mindful of its presence and with persistent practice (simple but difficult), they can rid themselves of shame.
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Saturday 21 April 2007

Doing important-but-not-urgent things (Part 1)

  • To acquire the awareness and habit of doing what is important but not urgent things in our life.

  • To enhance your sense of integrity because now you have more confidence to do what you promise yourself.
  • Just to feel good about your being because you finally manage to embark on something that you've been thinking to do for a llooonnnnggggg time and very quickly (say, after a couple of weeks) gaining the confidence that you can actually reach the target you set for yourself.
  • One of the key elements in effectively formalizing and actualizing a strategic plan in a corporation is to help their employees acquire the focus and habit of doing important-but-not-urgent things for the corporation. If the employees manage to acquire the habit in doing that for themselves, what would stop them from bringing that to the working environment?

  • Set a ridiculously small amount of time/effort for what you want to do periodically (say, daily) so that you've absolutely no excuse for yourself of not doing it (e.g., I'll jog 1 min/day or I'll declutter my space by clearing 1 piece of something/day).
  • Treat it as one of the most important and urgent things on your to-do list of the day.
  • Once you meet the set target (i.e., the ridiculously small amount :-)), genuinely pat yourself on your back, smile and say, "Hey! I've done it!". Now, anything more you're going to do is a bonus.

  • The emphasis here is to very gradually strengthen your psyche muscle (i.e., from thinking of doing a routine to turning it into a habit of doing it).
  • The design of this routine helps to bring your to-do item to the very top of your awareness yet minimizing the negative pressure of something you have to do but not exactly attracted to doing it - the ridiculously small amount of time/effort lowers the very barrier that stops you from doing it.
  • I would love to hear about your feedback and even better, if I may have your permission to include your experience in the "testimonials section" below.
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Doing important-but-not-urgent things (Part 2)


"I used this method to form a habit of drawing. Though, I didn't manage to do it every day as I originally planned, I am able to do some drawing practically every day when I travel on TTC. The success in achieving what I set out to do, enhances my confidence in doing other important-but-not-urgent things on my wish list. It feels good that I'm more in control in improving the quality of the journey of my life .. and I believe that each little success I attained forms the very platform I need for the next one!" [Roch]

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Friday 20 April 2007

A collection of thoughts/quotes

  •  "Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love." [Mother Teresa]
  • "To build a future, you have to know the past ..." [Otto Frank (Anne Frank's father)]
  • "First they came for the communists, but I was not a communist so I did not speak out.
    Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unions, but I was neither, so I did not speak out.
    Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out.
    And then they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me." [Martin Niemoller, 1892–1984]
  • "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." [Arthur Schopenhauer, 1788-1860]
  • "It is fact not passion that sells to management. It is passion not fact that sells to God. Hey! Why not sell to both :-) [Roch Cheng. Haha! :-)]
  • It is not the client who is resistant, it is ... [Acknowledgment: Lee]
  • I usually have no problem in doing what I promise others. How come I've so much difficulty in doing what I promise myself?
  • Fire fighting is often the result of not properly addressing important-but-not-urgent things before they turn into important-and-urgent things. So ...
  • "All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in single words: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.", and "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm." [Sir Winston Churchill, British politician (1874 - 1965)] [Acknowledgment: CD]
  • One advantage of being aware of a moment is to gain the ability to have choice .. ummm .. wonder what are the additional advantages? .. [this is not a rhetorical question :)]
  • One's intellectual depth has very little to do with one's spiritual, emotional, or moral depth.
  • Perfectionism is often the euphemism for pickiness.
  • In terms of moral issues, independent of our intellectual training, each of us is a bullshit detector - we easily separate the good guys from the bad guys.
  • "When we have inner turmoil that needs healing, uncertainty about the meaning of life can grow into an obsession with self-pity or depression. For many people, the best solution is to think of something we can do for someone else." [page 172, "Living Faith" by Jimmy Carter, 39th US President]
  • "You will never be happy with what you have, until you are happy with who you are." [Zig Ziglar]
  • "If we take man as he is, we make him worse; but if we take him as he could be, we help him become what he can be" [Goethe]
  • "Despair = suffering without meaning" [Victor Frankl]
  • “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” [Nelson Mandela]
  • "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." [Dalai Lama]
  • "Believing everybody is dangerous; believing nobody is very dangerous .." [Abraham Lincoln]
  • "Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways." [Stephen Vincent Benet]
  • “People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” [Abraham Lincoln]
  • "Nothing is worth more than this day." [Goethe]
  • "The ideals which have always shown before me and filled me with the joy of living are goodness, beauty and truth." [Albert Einstein]
  • “A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” [William James] … haha! I like this one!
  • "There are only two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings." [Hodding Carter]
  • 'Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?" Expediency asks the question, "Is it politic?" And Vanity comes along and asks the question, "Is it popular?" But Conscience asks the question, "Is it right?" And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.' [Martin Luther King, Jr.]
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Thursday 19 April 2007

The QUESTION (Part 1)

Fundamental Questions in Life

To best define your goals in life and be able to move towards them effectively (as partly explained in Part 2), it is of paramount importance that you address the most fundamental question(s) of your very existence. The questions below are intended to help you do that.

In any case, you may see a sampled list of responses collected since this survey (Question 1 only) started in 1980. You may get more out of this by attempting the following questions first before you look at the survey results.

Use your heart --not your brain-- to feel for your responses.

The Questions:

  1. If you have one and only one question to ask and for that you are guaranteed a true answer, what would your question be?
  2. What would you like to have inscribed on your tombstone for others to remember you by (starting with the word "He .." or "She ..")?
Question #1 is designed to guide you to think forward in life and Question #2 is designed to guide you to look back as if you're at the end of your life. Thus, your two responses should correlate. If they don't, it begs more thinking on your part ... :-)

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The QUESTION (Part 2)

Why I started a survey on "The Question"

Sometime around 1980, in order to address spousal relationship issues, my wife and I decided that each of us was to methodically list the issues and prioritize them. We do not remember the details of the list but the very top one on each of our lists etched vividly in our memory was (with practically identical wording):

What is the purpose of my life?

We were rather shocked by the unexpected outcome. This led me to hypothesize that the question that bothers most of us most is our lack of clarity in understanding our purpose and goals of life. The impact of the lack of clarity in understanding our own purpose and goals in life is manifested negatively in all sorts of our behaviour. With that in mind, I set out to collect data among friends, colleagues and relatives with regard to "the question" that most people want to know. By now, I'm convinced that the question (or the variations of it) that bothered myself and my wife most is the very same question that bothers most other people (to the extent, sometime they may not be fully conscious of its impact). For my survey details, please refer to Part 3.

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The QUESTION (Part 3)

The followings were the sampled survey results of "The Question #1" over a number of years. The people I surveyed were mainly my relatives, friends, and colleagues of different age groups (mainly with engineering or science education background) . I have separated the results into three groups (with the 3rd group with "questions" collected from children) to show that the bulk of the "questions" indeed gravitates towards the theme of "What is the purpose of my life?":

  • "Am I doing enough to achieve my spiritual goal?" [F, 61]
  • "What would I require to be happy?" [M, 25]
  • "What is the meaning of life?" [M, 25]
  • "Who am I?" [M, 24]
  • "What is the best ways to please God and get rewards?"
  • "Is there a God? Who is he?
  • "Is Jesus Christ son of God ?"
  • "What would make anyone truly happy in life ?"
  • "What is the meaning of life ?"
  • "Is there life after death?"
  • "Why am I here?"
  • "What is the meaning of life?"
  • "What is the best way to help people in destitute on this planet?"
  • "Is there a God or a higher being?"
  • "What is the meaning of life ?"
  • "Why am I doing what I am doing?"
  • "What is the purpose of life?"
  • "How can I best fulfill my highest purpose in life?"
  • "What does my personal future hold?"
  • "Is there life after death?"
  • "What question should I ask?"
  • "What is the ultimate purpose of life?"
  • "What career path that I actively pursue now will provide me in 20 years' time in retrospect, the most fulfilling 20 years?"
  • "Is there life after death?"
  • "How can I live happily ?"
  • "How can I be guaranteed a happy life?"
  • "Whether there is a God or not ?"
  • "What's next? next life; next set of objectives (5 year life plan)"
  • "How to target my efforts to optimize my happiness?"
  • "What is the purpose of life?"
  • "Will I be happy?"
  • "How to achieve real peace in this world?"
  • "What is the meaning of life?"
  • "Why am I here? (question asked since 14 years old)"
  • "Is everything on this earth predetermined by a Super Power?"
  • "I would like to perform my best in my life, how could I obtain the wisdoms of living & enhance my energy ?"
  • "What is the meaning of life?" or "Is there one God?"
  • "What is the purpose of life?"
  • "How to maximize my worth ?"
  • "Will I be happy ?"
  • "Is there a God ?"
  • "What is life after death?"
  • "Will mankind live in peace in time and space, without oppression?"
  • "Is there an immortal soul and its intelligence continuous ?"
  • "What is the purpose of life?"
  • "Is there life after death?"
  • "What is the extent and purpose of the universe?"

  • "Are there beings outside the solar system?" [M, 28]
  • "Whether space and time has a beginning and end, or is it infinite?" [M, 27]
  • "Why are we the way we are?" [FM, 32]
  • "What is the date of my death?" [So that he can plan to live accordingly.]
  • "How can I consistently get people to do what I want them to do?"
  • "Is it possible to travel faster than the speed of light ?"
  • "What are the entire contents of the Globe & Mail, Wall Street Journal and London Times for the next 50 years?"
  • "How well will I do with this company in a few months?"
  • "How come I am always running short of money?"
  • "Why has the female mythos disappeared ?"
  • "How long will I live?"
  • "What is next ?"
  • "What would I be when I reach 30 ?"
  • "Why have you given me the honour of asking you a question? (The fact that meeting God should be self-satisfying)"
  • "How long will I live ?"
  • "Is there any other living (i.e. thinking & intelligent) forms of life out there in the universe?"
  • "Is knowledge an infinite entity?"
  • "Don't want to ask the question."
  • "How do I acquire the wisdom to know the difference?"

"Questions" collected from children:
  • "Can I have a laptop?" [M, 9]


  • "He was a good father, husband, and friend." [24]
  • "He experienced life fully and helped those around him." [27]
  • "He used well what he was given." [61]
  • "She was courageous and strong." [32]
  • "He was a good father." [8]
  • "She was a good cook and she was a good mother." [6]
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A Simple Path: Mother Teresa's Life Philosophy


The fruit of silence is PRAYER.

The fruit of prayer is FAITH.

The fruit of faith is LOVE.

fruit of love is SERVICE.

The fruit of service is PEACE."

Page 7, "Mother Teresa, A Simple Path" (Ballantine Books, New York, c1995) by Lucinda Vardey

Though I don't fully grasp every aspect of "A Simple Path", I feel that the very foundation of Mother Teresa's success in living a very productive life comes greatly from the clarity she attained in understanding and believing what the purpose of her life was.

I've been wondering whether the spiritual pain of Mother Teresa (see "Mother Teresa's Crisis of Faith" [page 22, TIME, Sept 3, 2007]) comes primarily from her putting too much an expectation of an unusual spiritual experience rather than be content with the journey itself.

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Wednesday 18 April 2007

What If

The future of civilization depends on the quality of upbringing of our children.

Ever since the Industrial Revolution, the human civilization seems to have accelerated its forward movement on different fronts including gradual spread of democracy in the global political system, and technological advancements in physics, medicine, the birth of the computer and the introduction of the Net. A number of us are now able to live more comfortably because of this series of breathtaking advancements (e.g., the fall of the Berlin Wall in Nov 1989).
However, is the quality of living advanced accordingly or has it actually been impaired? A more balanced approach in addressing one's physical and intellectual needs, as well as one's emotional and spiritual needs seems to be the answer to enhance the quality of living for us all. Now, don't we all say that our children are our future!

What if our children can receive a more balanced upbringing (especially in the "value and thinking" aspect)? ... such that there is a greater assurance that they can remain and continue to be happy, healthy and contributing individuals.

What if our children can acquire the awareness that they have a choice to be what they are meant to be in the long term, and, from moment to moment, have a choice to decide how to react to a particular external/internal trigger? ... such that their belief in what they are meant to be would guide them as they grow, while they can remain resilient in facing difficult situations.

What if our children can learn to use the notion of "result" such that they are result/goal oriented, yet they will not associate the sense of worthiness of their existence, with the actual “result" itself? ... and ...
What if our children can learn to judge (themselves and others) primarily based on one's intent and effort? .. such that they can move forward with minimal inhibition and have the best chance to be what they're meant to be (not shackled by worries of failures).

What if our children can learn the notion that they are simply a manager of what they own and it is their responsibility to use well what they are given? .. such that they can live a meaningful and fulfilled life, instead of being enslaved by what they have or don’t have.
What if our children can learn the secret of great happiness comes from serving others (including other species of this planet and possibly beyond)? … such that they learn to live a truly joyful life.

May your child (& you) be a happy, healthy and contributing individual, and thus, a great citizen of your country/countries and, above all, a great person of this world!

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