Author Archives: 200mAction
It is such a great day to celebrate: the last day of a month and the first day of a week; the newest day in the rest of our lives; the 2-month mark of my member as a Toastmasters.
Before I joined Toastmasters this June, I had heard a lot about it. People join Toastmasters for various reasons. People walk their path along Toastmasters at their own pace. People demonstrate tremendous confidence knowing their status as a Toastmasters. However, nothing was motivated enough to help me take that step, until I felt the need – a platform to build up my confidence to speak in public, a classroom to practice and practice more of my speaking skills, a place to motivate me to listen more, read more and know more. At least, it made me feel accomplished that I’ve attained one of my goal this year, becoming a member of Toastmasters.
In the past two months, I did 5 speeches and received valuable feedback and evaluations every time. The safe learning environment, the diversified themes and topics, the various formats from scheduled speech to think/speak-on-your-feet Table Topics, there are so many more to explore. However, I didn’t know about them until I became one of them.
Now I am a gung-ho member of my club, as the President said. I made it a goal to finish my first level by the end of this year. As I picture myself there, I feel more reasons to stay on my path than the excuses not to go for it.
Have you read something like this,
- “If you don’t start somewhere, you will never get anywhere.” – Bob Marley
- “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain
- “The one thing all famous authors, world class athletes, business tycoons, singers, actors, and celebrated achievers in any field have in common is that they all began their journeys when they were none of these things.” – Mike Dooley
Past or present, what has been cherished is the first step onto something leading to somewhere. So start your day and your week to do something, marking the start onto somewhere. Nothing can be guaranteed, but the harvest of your own words.
To your success.
In last night’s class, we read the story “Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Shower” together. It is one of the classic Amelia Bedelia series. As a maid, Amelia Bedelia created some crisis for the surprise wedding shower for Miss Alma. Instead of getting rid of the scales on the fish and putting them in the fridge (scale and ice the fish), she left the fish on the scale to weigh and put icing on the raw fish; instead of ironing the tablecloth (run over the tablecloth with iron), she run over the table cloth with an iron in hand, leaving her footprints on the clean tablecloth; instead of pruning the hedges (prune the hedge), she stick prunes on the hedges; instead of putting the cut flowers in the vase, she cut off the pedals and put them in a vase, just to name a few. However, when all the mess made the guests angry, she stayed calm and never forgot to bring out her signature cupcakes with smiles on her face the whole time. Finally, the kind Miss Alma burst into laughter, either after understanding the true reason or looking at the forever-smiling Amelia Bedelia. Anyway, it was a happy ending, everybody had an unexpected type of wedding shower, with pouring water from the hose.
I don’t k now how many times I had read this story before, during and after preparing this lesson. The first time, my reaction was, seriously? There are people like her, making stupid mistakes due to misunderstanding? After that, as I had been reading and expanding my thinking, the more I read the story, the more I find something we can learn from this girl. That’s exactly what happened in class yesterday.
After reading the story, I ask “How do you like the story? How do you like the girl?” No doubt, the replies were, to list a few, “She is stupid.”, “If she doesn’t understand, why not ask to clarify?”, “Her mistake can cause bigger problem if it is another more serious situations.” I understood where these answers come from. After clarifying that certain situations do require seriousness and accuracy, I then keep asking,
“What if she doesn’t think it is a misunderstanding?”
“Well, she is lack of common sense.”
“Does these cause any real trouble?”
“Yes, the guests were mad and the whole celebration was ruined.”
“Ok. The shower was ruined. Then how was the shower ended?”
“Well, it was a happy ending, everybody laughed, but it was because Miss Alma was kind and considerate.”
“Well, that makes sense. How do we define if an event is successful or not? Who can tell us if it is successful?”
“Of course, it is the guests.”
“The guests were happy at the end, so I believe the shower was a success.”
“En, I like your thinking.”
“Is there anything we can learn from this girl?”
“Absolutely not. She is so stupid.”
“How did the girl react when the guest started to get angry?”
They started to mention that she brought out the delicious cupcakes, she kept smiling, she was calm…..
“Great observation. You’ve pointed out the things that she did wrong, but is there something we can learn from her?”
After that question, the participants started to list her calmness, her relax, her humor, her excellent baking skills, and on and on. Then I ask, “Did you think about these right after reading the story?””No.””What happened? How come you start to say good things about this girl?””We look for the good things.”
That is it. We can say she is stupid for making such a mess, or we can also say she is smart for keeping calm and humorous in crises. We can say she doesn’t have common sense for not able to figure out people’s judgments, or we can say she has a follow-the-flow attitude and takes life easy for not affected by other’s mood. It all depends on how we look at it. It all depends on how we look at everything, our lives, other peoples, including ourselves. If you like feeling abundant, happy, good, positive, then you must train your eyes to spot these things. It is like the saying, “It only takes a sparkle of light to light up a dark room.”
Stupid or smart? Criticism or compliment? It is just a split of second, but it will make huge difference along the line.
To your success.
In our nearly two-hour meeting, he mentioned the following opportunities to me:
- a non-profit organization that he founded 5 years ago, which is still hanging in there
- a pageant business, taking place once a year
- an art gallery business, which is for a new talent artist
- an online web design and hosting business, which was sparkled after working with some photographers who might need online storage for their work
I was so amazed as he laying out page after page the things that are going on. I should have been more focused, but I just couldn’t help wondering how he is able to juggle so many things while keeping a full-time job in the government. If everything is generating income, he must be a new millionaire or the most renowned entrepreneur of the year. But the fact is, he told me later on, the reason why he wanted to meet me was to count me in, as he is too busy to handle all these going-ons. He said he has the network, the resources, the technical skills, but he needed to have someone do the work and push things forward. Ok, I get it. He needs someone good at EXECUTION.
I enjoy talking to people with ideas, because it is an incubator for new businesses and an inspiration for more ideas, if it is in a brain storming session. However, if it is real business, real life, what counts at the end of the day is what has been done. We can’t say that the people wandering in the streets with “ideas” are less smart then the people working as labour. But at the end of the day, the people who actually work are able to bring home the bacon, little but real.
The concept of “Ideas are powerful” is true; however, it depends what the ideas can bring. Only ideas that bring out growth, that land on a project, that propel progress, are powerful. A simple saying is “One bird in hand is worth two in the bush.”
Statistics shows that 74% of the managers are facing the most challenging job, which is execution. They have the most constructive strategies, the most capable teams, the most resourceful network, but they find it is hard to implement and apply what are in their minds. Jim Stuart, Senior Consultant at Franklin Covey Institute reaffirm the message. He said,
One of the most fundamental principles of organizational activity is that human beings are genetically hard-wired to do one thing at a time with excellence….
Wildly Important Goals are like that. They always share one unique characteristic: they are the goals we must achieve with total excellence, or else any other goal we might achieve just really won’t matter much……you must approach that Wildly Important Goal with focus and diligence until it is delivered as promised, with excellence.
You might be asking yourself, “Is there some way that I can successfully handle eight or ten goals at once?” A lot of people do that. They try to touch base on many, many goals at a time, pushing each one just a little every day. Mostly they wind up doing a mediocre job on all of them. That’s why that approach doesn’t work. You can ignore the fact that human beings are hardwired to do one thing at a time with excellence, or you can leverage this principle to achieve your top goals, one at a time, again and again.
At the end of the meeting, I declined my friend’s offer and I told him that I already have many things on my plate, so I don’t want to put his trust at stake. To myself, I don’t want to challenge my ability to execute either.
The principle of execution can be best illustrated and honored at the airport. There could be more than a hundred airplanes either approaching, landing, taking off, and moving around, and all of them are very, very important – especially if you happen to be in one of them. But for the air traffic control specialist, only one airplane is wildly important right now – that is the one they are working with, until it is cleared to land…roger…continue….
To your success.
Brought up in a traditional family, I have learned to be serious in life. With an organized and serious attitude, I had been the top student since elementary school. With an organized and serious attitude, I had received recognition in all the places that I had ever worked. I thought seriousness is a virtue I have that will benefit me, so I decide to continue. Whenever I say what I will do, I do it. Whenever people ask me for help, I go all the way to help. Whenever things are not going forward, I study the issue, get to know the cause and make it happen. Pretty much, these years, I am a person that others can count on with no exceptions, because I am serious with what I say, what I do and what I promise. To me, seriousness means structured, organized and get things done. I function exceptionally when things are structured, organized and done. So, I thought life is like this. Everybody is serious with the things they do and everything get done on time.
However, after my first child was born, the strong belief that I had been holding gave me a hard blow on the head. When I was on my maternity leave, knowing that I had day after day at home, I made plans to get the house well organized, I made lists of what needed to be done. At that time, I had that beautiful picture how clean the house would be, how tasty the dinner would be, how wonderful I would feel as a stay-home-woman (mother and wife). However, the baby required frequent and unexpected attending; while being the ideal mom who was always there when my baby daughter needed me, my brain had never stopped thinking of the next project on the list; therefore, I was torn between baby-caring and house-keeping. At the end of the day, I only felt exhausted and disappointed, exhausted by the back and forth and disappointed by non-accomplishing of my project. I burst into crying one day as if the sky was falling onto me. With trial and learn, I learned life’s lesson the hard way that taking life too seriously would only burn myself out. Later on, I discarded the list and spent whatever time my daughter wanted me to be with her, not be bothered with the dishes in the sink, the unanswered phone calls or the shelves I planed to clean. Once it happened, I became happier, enjoyed my baby a lot more; and the funny thing was that my house was still organized even though not sparkling any more. Why do I need it to be sparkling all the time, anyway?
After experience life’s first lesson, I learned to loose up a bit, at least I wouldn’t care too much about getting all the things done. I learned to take steps. I learned to finish today’s portion of duty and then enjoy the rest of the day. What’s the point of finishing something earlier, when I already have a good plan to get it done on time? Rather than focusing on what I need to do, I look more at what I have done, no matter how little it is, it is a sense of accomplishment. The more accomplished I feel along the way, the more I am willing to do. It becomes entertaining not straining.
Life has been such a generous teacher. It never gets tired of teaching me lessons without my consent. The other day, when I was supervising my daughter to play the piano with seriousness, she said “Mom, I don’t like playing piano.”. What? My first reaction would be “How dare you? I spent my time accompanying you to practice, and now you are telling me I am wasting my time and money? ” On another occasion, I pointed out to my business partner something that we can do better to propel the business, I got a question “What are you insinuating?” What? My first reaction was to look up the word in the dictionary. Once I learned its meaning, I couldn’t help yelling inside, “I had been such an unconditionally supportive business partner, supportive without reservation, putting up with your criticism of me being negative, but when I point out something beneficial for the business, even though it might sound harsh (actually I softened it a lot), does it give you the right to judging me being insinuating?” I need apology.
Later on, we still have some kind of tension when my daughter practices the piano. I didn’t get any apology from my then business partner for a month. Amusingly, my daughter still plays the piano and has the time that she enjoys the playing. My then business partner must be thriving without my critic and keeps the business growing his way. They have more space to check in on their feelings. And more importantly, I can still function. It is taking it easy that has changed my attitude. It is loosing it up that brings me more content in life.
When I can find more content in life, I thrive. I smile more and I know that is the most beautiful smile.
To your success.
Most of you will recognize the lady in the picture. Yes, she is Brigitte Lin (Lin Qingxia), the previous movie star loved by millions for decades. Recognize her or not, can you believe that she is 60?
What can you see from her? She is beautiful, elegant, graceful and she is smiling.
What I see from her smile is content. Smile from content is so natural, so tranquil and so pure. This is the kind of smile from within, that nothing is bothering her, no argument, no deficiency, no struggle, no deliberation, but only be present, be there, be her.
I didn’t realize the power of content until I keep seeing pictures of smiles.
These smiles are genuine, demonstrating the content they have, either from their career based on their competency, their wealth based on their wisdom or their cause based on their character. These are the smiles that can bring sunshine to any terrible days.
At the beginning, I thought, of course they feel content, because they are celebrities, they have the money to live an admirable life, they are known to the world, they have fame, wealth, status, which are what everybody is struggling for. However, think about it, like it is said that we will never have enough money, never have enough time, never have enough accompany, and these might apply to them, too. If this is what they look for in their lives, do you think the smiles can be this care-free?
When we stop looking for things that may bring us content from outside us, there’s only another place we can look, which is the inside of us, how we look at ourselves, how we take care of ourselves.
Rather than complaining that your partner doesn’t take you for that gourmet dinner like other couples, will you be able to treat yourself once in a while, be like a princess?
Rather than spending the time envying your friend’s achievement, will you be able to spend time improving your competency and become a better person?
Rather than feeling less of a person around certain people, will you be able to step away for a while and if things don’t work well, then get out of the relationship?
Rather than looking for what you don’t have, what you can’t do, will you be able to find the resources that you do have and actually do something to get what you want?
The list can go on and on. It is important to know that there’s always something we can do to regain that balance in our lives. It comes from accepting ourselves the way we are. It comes from the wisdom to find the things we like and are good at and do it. It comes from the confidence that we have the full control of our lives and the awareness that we can do something about it. At least, for now, after this reading, you might give your life a little thought and find the first little thing you can do to find the content.
Like Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “You will see it when you believe it.” Believe in the power of content, which can bring the best smile to your lives.
To your success.
Wednesday is regarded as Hump day, a day with a morning climbing up the hill of work and an afternoon sliding down the heap of work. Give ourselves some pep talk. I am sharing this poem with you, hoping that by reading it, we will have a better understanding of ourselves and be kinder to ourselves. We are our best friends.
When I Have a Soul Strong Enough
You criticize me
I feel your pain
You please me
I see your need for recognition
You act ultra rational to me
I realize your fragility and fear
You interrupt me
I understand your yearning to be seen
When I have a soul strong enough
I no longer justify
All the energy flows liberally between you and me
Hurt, frustration, guilty, sadness, anger and suffering
When they flow freely
I feel the warmth in sorrow
I find the power in anger
I see the hope in suffering
When I have a soul strong enough
I no longer fight
When I no longer hurt myself
Nobody else can
I let go the weapon
Open my heart
When my heart starts to soften
In love and kindness
I meet you brightly and warmly
To have a soul strong enough
I just need to recognize myself
To accept what beyond my control
To appreciate what I have done
And to have faith that
Living through the journey
I will not only survive but thrive
This post should have been posted yesterday to be called M|M|C Report, but a little procrastination, a little laziness and a little swamp, gave me the excuse not to. I am still catching up on my work after 2-week vacation. To be honest, I really didn’t feel so reluctant to come back to work. I guess I do love my job. I do love to do something, to complete something, in the meantime, contribute to my paycheck.
The only thing I found is that I kind of lose the fluency of speaking. That’s probably because my lack of talking during the vacation. I used to argue/debate in my second language. I used to talk in my second language every day; while in the two-week vacation, I lost my language partner, and I really didn’t brush on my language as much as I used to do. So I am genuinely happy to go back to my Toastmasters club today and continue my improvement.
We talked about competition today. The question I got was “When was the last time you compete for something? What was your tactic or strategy?” Actually, I don’t think I get into competition with others a lot. I know what I do, so I like to do things my way and get it done. The only situation I could think of was at job interviews, as I know there must be other candidates competing for the positions. Every job interview is an invisible warfield.
The best interview I think I had was my first job interview after college. As a newly graduate, I didn’t have Canadian work experience, but I knew what I could do. So before the interview, I had a clear action plan. After checking the firm’s website, knowing their expertise areas and anything related to my strength which I can contribute to, I brought with me my legal research project binder and my A+-across-the-board transcript, as well as a genuine me.
When I sat across the desk from the interviewers at this big law firm, I was energetic and ready to answer all their questions. I guess my energy transferred onto them, and the whole 40 minutes was communicative, cooperative and fun, like a conversation between acquaintance. The moment I decided to be myself, I started to take the interview as a conversation, a two-way process between the interviewers and me to get to know more about each other, not a test or inquiry. I realized that this mindset helped me become more calm and confident, because I just need to tell them about myself, the most familiar topic for me. During the interview, I not only showed them what I can do, but also honestly told them what I had never done and had no experience for; however, I added up my life experience of coming to this new country and assimilating into it, which was a much bigger challenge than that at work. When I told them my stories, I could see the sparks in their eyes, which is when I reaffirmed to myself that personal story was the most powerful tool in “warfield”, which was what differentiates us from any other person. I believe it was my genuine and my integrity that won me over the other candidates. However, I had to decline their offer, as the law firm where I had my co-op offered me the position before them.
My suggestions at job interviews:
- Take it as a conversation, a two-way process to know each other.
- Be energetic: everybody likes people with enthusiasm to uplift themselves.
- Be genuine: no need to sugar coat your experience.
- Of integrity: walk your talk. The moment people feel the conflict, the trust drains.
To your success.
Happy Monday! It’s finally summer now. The temperature for this week is supposed to be stable at 32. We are going on a family exploration trip to East Canada next week. Thinking about the two-week getaway is exciting. It’s an adventure to me, to the kids and the family.
I learned that the tide at Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick is phenomenal and I couldn’t wait but to check it out on Youtube. While I watched the video, something hit me that happened two years ago. I visited my cousin in Japan two years ago. We joined a tour group to Hokkaido. It was a different experience from my other tours. The tour guide was a short man, Mr. Tanaga, probably in his fifties. He was more scholastic than entertaining. From time to time, he would say something that start a talk among the group. I was kind of enjoying the guide.
After a big tide ebbed, Mr. Tanaga guided us to the shore. There were already many people there picking up the fishes left on the beach. To our excitement, our group joined the picking. Some of us got salmon, and others got tuna. Pretty soon, my cousin and I collected a full bucket. After the work-out, everybody took a break and started to talk about how we were going to cook these fishes and made a big feast. Mr. Tanaga broke his silence, he said, “Do you think these fishes are the same as the ones on the table? They were not caught because of greediness.” I was puzzled and asked, “Aren’t they all fish? What is the difference?” Mr. Tanaga let out a sigh and said, “These fishes were left after the ebb. They are the ones in trouble. Do you still have the heart to eat them? Why not we let them out to the ocean?” The group looked at one another and realized that it would be a suffering for these distressed fish. What we could offer was to set them free into where they belonged to, which could be a good deed. So we started to dump the buckets, or bags of fishes into the sea. While we looked at them swimming away, I felt a different dynamic in our group. It was like everybody feeling relaxed and genuine happiness.
After the day trip, we were still talking about the happiness of letting go the fishes. Mr. Tanaga came to us, saying that one of his friends would close up his store tomorrow, and invite us to do some shopping before the closing-up. Well, liquidation meant good bargin, so we were delighted to go, esp. when we know the store had electronics, cosmetics, jewels and local specialties. When we got there, there were people lining up with full cart of products at the cashier. We couldn’t wait to jump into the spree. However, when we realized that very few products were on sale, our excitement ebbed. We each picked a few small stuff and checked out. Later when we saw Mr. Tanaga, he was holding two big bags of stuff with joy. One of the girls asked, “Why not these products on sale?” After a good few minutes, he answered, “These products are genuine. Why should they be sold cheaper?” “While, if they are of the same stuff as other stores, why you guys all shop there and buy so much?” Mr. Tanaga smiled and said slowly, “We all came to buy from the store, just to show the owner that he is good at the business side of it. He has been making a lot of efforts in the past years to run the business. Maybe pretty soon, he will be confident enough to open a new store somewhere more profitable.” Our jaws dropped. Wow, buying from a closing-up store doesn’t only mean to get some good bargain, but also to show comfort, encouragement, care and confidence to the owner.
The ebbing of the tides is when some fishes get into trouble. The closing-up of a store is when the owner meets with hardship. What can we do when we see others in an unfavorable situation? Are we gonna kick them downer, remain a stander-by or we can do something? By sending the unlucky fishes back into the water and buying more from a closing-up store, Mr. Tanaga demonstrated to us his kind and warm heart with his actions. We realize that it is at the time of the ebb, when no pretension is camouflaging, that we can figure out friends or foes. However, it is the fact whether we are the vulnerable fishes left by the tide, or the greedy fishes caught by lure, that differentiate our destination.
I am so looking forward to what the tides at Bay of Fundy will teach me. Happy vacation!
To your success!