24 January 2015

U SAID it - Your New Year Wish

Wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year has not any assurance that you will get them. It is only good manners that may perhaps bring some little happiness and optimism to you. However, giving you the know how to be happy and successful may indeed make your New Year Wish come true. The actions you need to take is captured in U-SAID. Here are the details:
 USAID stands for Unload, Stop, Add, Increase and Decrease.

Unload - Bring Closure to Your hurtful Past.
The better life for the New Year begins with Unloading. You can't move forward easily until you unload your heavy loads, accmulated in the past, all the way from the day you were born til now. Some of the loads are:
  • hurtful experience, rejection, abuses, bullied, cursed, violence in family, abortion, etc.
    Need healing for the hurt, guilt and also forgiveness, even of self.
  • lies - May be due to the hurtful and bad experience, certain incorrect mindsets are formed such as 'I am a useless nobody or a loser or a failure',  'Men are big bullies', 'Money will solve all problems", "I need to be loved to feel worthy" etc.
    Find the lies (the assumptions, the limitations, the prejudices) and replace the lies with truth. May be need to find the truth first and then the lies will be exposed and self-destruct.
STOP doing the harmful and evil things.
Dr Henry Cloud wrote Never Go Back: 10 Things You'll Never Do Again" and here is the NEVER DO list from his introduction:
  1. Return to what hasn’t worked
  2. Do anything that requires you to be someone else
  3. Try to change another person
  4. Believe that you can please everyone
  5. Choose short-term comfort over long-term benefit
  6. Trust someone or something flawless
  7. Take your eyes off the big picture
  8. Neglect to do due diligence
  9. Fail to ask why you are where you are
  10. Forget that your inner life produces your outer success
ADD new fruitful and strategic things to do.
Fruits are the produce of your inner virtues like love, righteousness, wisdom, etc. You must first find out your own purpose in life and the values that you believe in. Write out your personal mission statement; your motto in life. With a mission, you can tell what are strategic and important things to do  .... those that accomplish your mission are strategic. Those that contribute nothing or even lead you away from your mission are unimportant or distractions that you should stop.

INCREASE those strategic activities.
With your mission defined, you can quickly find out the many good things that you have be doing. Do more of such strategic things. But you may complain that where can you find such more time and resources to do more? Extra time and resources can be found in the stopping of harmful and unfruitful activities and also in the following:

DECREASE those essential but not contributing to mission activities.
Many things are needful, such as eating and being healthy. But they are not sufficient in achieving your mission.  Any champions, be they in sports or in academia, need more than just being healthy. Excessive eating and exercises do not make anyone healthier. DECREASE such activities to the minimum levels to free up resources for the strategic things. This process is known as PRUNING.

Here is a mind-map that summarized the above and apply SAID into relationship building. STOP harmful relationships, ADD new helpful relationships, INCREASE uplifting relationships and DECREASE or maintain necessary relationships.
Before the Chinese New Year, 19 Feb 2015, can you Unload and bring closure to your past hurts and lies, and list down a set of activities to Stop, Add, Increase and Decrease. You don't need a big list, but just one or two in each categories. When you have done them, review again to come out with the next 1 or 2 activites for SAID.

Don't wish but rather be sure to take the USAID actions and have a better year ahead.

Lim Liat (c) 23-1-2015

21 January 2015

Leadership is as Simple as 123 according to CEO Handbook

Sima Guang, a famous Chinese Historian and a former Primer of the Zong Dynasty, gave as two sets of three key principles, one on personal development and the other on running successful organization. This wisdom is distilled from the study of the rise and fall of nations and leaders in China from 403 BC to 959AD. It was written as a guide for the King to rule the country well.
The famous history book written by Sima Guang is The Zizhi Tongjian 资治通鉴, literally in English is, "Comprehensive Mirror in Aid of Governance", or in my translation, "The CEO Handbook", since it was writtent as lessons for the rulers. It is published in 1084, in the form of a chronicle. In 1065 CE, Emperor Yingzong of Song ordered Sima Guang (1019–1086) to lead with other scholars for the compilation of a universal history of China. The task took 19 years to be completed. It records Chinese history from 403 BCE to 959 CE, covering 16 dynasties and spanning across almost 1,400 years, and contains 294 volumes and about 3 million Chinese characters. Sima Guang gave his evaluation for the reasons for success or failures throughout the chronicles. Most kings through the Chinese dynasties had recommend the study of the book. Even Chairman Mao of China has recommended it as well.

Sima Guang listed 3 key qualities for being a leader and another 3 principles for ruling the country. Here is the mind-map that explains what these mean:

Character Development:

Character Development has 3 key qualities:

  1. Benevolence,
  2. Discernment &
  3. Decisiveness/Forcefulness.
  • Benevolence is not raising children with indulgence. It is improving the politics, promoting education, raising all things, caring for people. This is the meaning of benevolence of a People's King.
  • Discernment is not critical and extensive fault finding. It is about knowing righteousness, understanding of security and danger, discernment of wise and fool, differentiating right and wrong.
  • Decisiveness is not ruthlessness and brutality. It is deciding and sticking, without any doubt, to the principle(Dao) such that it cannot be tempted by evil, changed by flattery.
  • Benevolence without discernment is like having fertile field and yet not ploughing them.
  • Discernment without decisiveness is like seeing the weeds among the wheats and yet not removing them.
  • Dicisiveness without love is like only wanting to harvest(cutting out)  without planting.
  • Having all three leads to a strong nation. Less one leads to decline. Less two leads to danger. Less three leads to death.
  • Since the beginning of man, there is nothing before nor has changed.
  • Quotes
    • 得财失行,吾所不取。——《资治通鉴•陈纪》
       Gain wealth to loose one conduct is not want I choose.
    • 能择善者而从之,美自归己。——《资治通鉴•宋纪》。
       Choose to follow and do the good and kind things will bring beauty back to self.
    • 仁者不以盛衰改节,义者不以存亡易心。——《资治通鉴•魏志》。
       The kind does not change with riches or poverty,
      The righteous does not change for life or death.     
Managing the Country - The Three Principles

Governing has 3 Principles:
1. Assignment
2. Rewards
3. Punishment
  1. Assignment: Matching People to Job ie 知人善任 Know People & Assign Them Rightly
    1. The abilities of people differs. Different jobs have their specialization. 
    2. During the ancient times of Yao and Xun, the capable people stayed in their specialty and changed not.
    3. If assign them here and there, change their jobs, then cannot reach excellence.  
    4. Hence, leader with integrity can gain the best of the world and deploy them according to their strengths.
    5. Assess capabilities then Assign
  2. Rewards for Performance 
    1. Heavily rewards those with accomplishments。
    2. Those that did well, rapidly reward them and don't change their job. 
  3. Punish in time. Severely punish those with wrong doings. 
    1. This is like controlling the horses of a wagon, direction & speed. 
    2. Demote or replace the under performers by able ones. 
    3. Those with faults then punish or kill without mercy. 
    4. If goodness is not rewarded and evil is not punished, the good ones will be lazy and the evil ones diligent. 
Putting Things in Context:
Running a business or governing a country takes more than just leadership qualities and management skills. One must watch and make sense of the external environments, the non-controllable, the influence-able and controllable factors in the them. Sun Zi's Art of War gives a more comprehensive framework for understanding, adapting and exploiting the external environment. But basically, life is about changes and good life is about knowing how to adapt and make good use of the changes. The best on this is the Book of Change, the root of all Chinese Philosophies, including Art of War. Here is a mind-map that put the study of Sinology in proper context:

In the above mind-map, we can see that "The CEO Handbook" is just part of a larger framework, covering only the ‘People' factor. There are other factors listed by the Art of War. On the left side, we see the origin of Chinese Philosophies, the Book of Change, also known as I-Ching. 

Please see:
Lim Liat (c) 21 Jan 2015

06 January 2015

Changing Ourselves Through ABCDE Method

Chaning yourself for the better is as simple as ABCDE!
The previous post Changing others begins with Changing Self stresses that change must start with self. How to change ourselves is covered here. This is a layman view of the ABCDE method for thinking changes feelings and behaviour. For more details, read articles like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

A is the Activating Event or the what that happened.
B is our Belief and the our subjective interpretation of the event.
C is the Consequence of our reaction to the event.

A causes C, but indirectly through B.

If we don't like C, or if C is not the right response, then we much change B using D.

D is the Discovery and Disruption of our Belief Framework. We must find out the B, why we act C. Questioning B and replacing B with a better reasoning framework D. With D in place, when A happened again, we will response  better this time now with E, the better behavior and better outcome.

So, to change ourselves, we must pause and question, why we react that way? what do we belief in? Usually the B are wrong beliefs, wrong principles and wrong values .... in other words, B are the lies we belief in! To remove B, we must look for D, the true truth, the right principles, values and reasoning framework.

The KEY principle to controlling our emotions and making us a better person is Pause and Choose rather than to react impulsively. Choose to response in a positive way.

There are very interesting books to read, such as, Dinosaur Brains which provide a good insights of our typical reactions and beliefs, the B. Another one, Thinking, Fast and Slow: Daniel Kahneman, which is another view of looking at the samething, encourages us to move away from the auto-reactive impulsive system 1 thinking into the more purposeful and rational but slower system 2 thinking. I have only one thing to add, that is to replace our defective system 1 thinking by the system 2 thinking framework and principles as much as possible. Then even when we were forces to react quickly, our reaction will be correct, after a long time training in system 2 thinking.

Discovering B and replacing it with B is the Christians circle is called Inner Healing. Christians have the extra advantages of getting help from the Holy Spirit to discover the lies B, given the extra strength, comfort, security and acceptance of us inspite of our B, that we may boldly face the lies, even of ourselves!

This is not the end though. We need go one step higher of self-control. Even if our E is the right response and behavior, we must have the ability to control the time and where of our C. There is the right time, right place, and the right people to do C.  Self-control is a fruit, a maturity, of the Holy Spirit enpowered believers. In the Chinese Classics, that is 修身 and 修心. Developing the heart to control the body.  The book of Great Learning of Confucius School show us the eight steps. See Understanding The Great Learning DaXue in One Minute.

All the best wishes for your journey into a better in this New Year.

Remember, you can pause and choose your response instead of immediate reaction.
Why let other people run your life? Choose the life you want to live.

Lim Liat (c) 6 Jan 2015

05 January 2015

Changing others begins with Changing Self

Most of us want other people to change. 

We try different means depending on the relationship .....

  • parents use their parental authority to force the children to change (not very effective at all nowadays). 
  • Bosses want to use commanding orders or at the very least, scolding, and then threats of firing, etc. 
  • The government set up laws and then fine or imprisons the violators. Whatever, such enforcement incurs many costs of watching, catching the violation, and implementing the punishment. The end result is that it is not very effective. In the case of children, there are many cases of rebellion as the end-result.

Sun Zi, in his Art of War, tells us that victory is not decided by us but rather by the enemy making mistakes. We can only make sure we don't lose first, and then, we can win whenever the enemy makes mistakes. The enemy, can, of course, be lured or incited by us to make mistake to that we can win.
While we have no direct control over others, we do have full control over ourselves, especially on how we treat others.
So, changing others begins with ourselves making the change first. 

We must change ourselves and change the way we treat others to bring forth change in others. 

We can be a little bit more patience, a little more understanding (seeing things with their view point rather than ours, with more empathy), a little bit more love by extending ourselves to help out instead of demanding and .....
The way of drawing out is much better than the way of pushing through. So Lao Zi said the weak or the soft overcomes the hard and the strong. He said live things are soft and dead things are hard!
We can also learn from history. The great king Yu was able to fix the flooding problem by building canals to draw away the flooding water. His father failed because he did the direct approach of building dams to stop the flood water. As more water is stopped, the flood water gets higher and asserts greater and greater pressure on the dams. The dams will either be overflow (The Japan Nuclear Reactors stations build 10m high wall but the tsunami waves were much higher) or be broken.
Hence, change ourselves first and use the soft approach to trigger a permanent change in others or at the very least, the way they treat us.
Lim Liat (c) 5 Jan 2015