This is not to be until I realised it happened.
A student in Boston wrote ‘I am from Hong Kong.’ An onslaught of Chinese anger followed.
So, what will happen if someone write, “I am from California”. Guess Americans will likely respond and say, and so what? But will it make a difference if the statement reads, ‘I am from the American Southern Confederacy or…?”
Our life, our nationalities and faultlines. Treading uncomfortably over mines of identify, our own or our forebears past that need not define us compared to a sweet present that we need to live or a better future for all that we should work together to create.
Self awareness is crucial to life because you are here to first understand yourself, not to be understood. This is what Steven R. Covey discovered and wrote in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People …
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
Joanne Lang shared a personal experience on huffingtonpost of how understanding the boss made a whole difference in understanding the boss’s decision. The lesson learnt, “… you need to listen so that you can understand. It’s important to get the facts from everyone involved, and (this sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how many people fail to do this) never make big decisions based on one half of a story — no matter who is telling it.” Read more.
Seeking First to Understand is not limited to communication, but includes discovering life and defining life, success, meaning etc.
The Danger of a Single Story
This is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED presentation that already has over 4.2 million views on YouTube. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. She explains how our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Watch the Video.
Discovering Self – a tweet
Life and perspectives can depend on where you stand, where you are looking from (or at) or where you are coming from or going. No matter what, how you personally see things matters and where you are coming from matters and same for others.
Though we may differ in our opinion, views or perspective, we are all entitled to our opinions. Despite the fact that it may be difficult to experience life (or view things) from the other perspective, it is important to realise and appreciate that other perspectives needs to be heard, viewed and listened to as a lot about them (life experience, culture, knowledge etc) may differ from our own.
Hey! Don’t forget, it’s still first about you. Understanding the other side is to help you to continuously understand and find you. Okay, one more. And so you can be a better you that can live to have fun at work, through work and in life.
Featured Image Credit: Cliparts-Library
It’s easy to get so engrossed in the pressures of daily work that at age 50, it’s not unusual to still be asking the question, what is life in retirement all about? A really dedicated worker who gives his all to his duties can just realise at retirement that he or she left life behind. Retirement offers a unique freedom that can only be maximized if an individual is prepared.
“Don’t get so busy making a living, that you forget to make a life”
“Anyone with a pension or retirement is an investor in the stock market” – Brad Katsuyama
“It’s nice to get out of the rat race, but you have to learn to get along with less cheese.”
— Gene Perret
Did I speak up too early?
I sat gloomily in the hall, fidgeting restlessly with my facilitator pen pointer as we all wait for the first person to speak. The local HR Director look up with a glance across the room, shifted uncomfortably in his chair, then look at the visiting Board of Directors from the company Group Headquarter in Europe.
“Do any of you have anything to say?“. Erik, the Group Executive CEO asked again in a mild voice, obviously trying to hide his growing agitation. No one moved. Pin drop silence that couldn’t even pick a few hesitant and dashing glances across the room.
“What will you want me to talk about? What question will you want to ask me?“. Erik continued, his voice now beginning to betray his growing frustration and impatience.
Feeling it was my responsibility as session facilitator to ‘manage’ the situation, not knowing it was my own inability to endure the silence, I stood up. I gestured to be given the microphone. I then began to speak. “Erik, thanks for the opportunity …”
Each time I look back at the session, I cannot but question myself, ‘why in the world did I speak up when others kept mute, did I speak up too early?’
Between espouse corporate steers and common sense
Back then, the reason was clear to me, business leaders had repeatedly said, feel free to speak up.
- I felt I had the licence and leaders encouragement to speak up.
- I believe I was doing it for the good of the business and the team.
- And I wanted to encourage others to speak up so we can have robust conversation to help generate the right inputs and engagement.
“A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”
― Winston S. Churchill
But why did others withheld using the same freedom to speak? It is usually believed and gossiped that employees get their ‘fingers burnt’ when they speak up, especially where their superiors are present. And even if superiors are not present, the fear that a colleague could give them away, even for saying what is right. But why should anyone be bullied or harassed for speaking after being encouraged to do so.
The Guardian online newspaper investigated and reported on the prevalence of bullying at work for a lot of different reasons. It stated that it’s a silent epidemic that is subtle, political and one that leaves employees unsure of where they stand, either to follow management’s espouse policy of speaking up, or use common sense and follow the in-use but unwritten management responses.
During the session I reported earlier, I may have spoken up too early or I may just have demonstrated the right level of confidence. I did not get any feedback, good or bad. But, I did not also feel it put any wind to my sail. I however learnt some good lessons from that event which I will chronicle later. But first, let me share the Four Simple Rules To Avoid Saying Something You’ll Regret that was written by Judith Humphrey (founder of The Humphrey Group) for the FastCompany and additional summarized two. One as shared by Susan Cain in an interview with Harvard Business review, and a second by Fran Hauser (author of The Myth of the Nice Girl) as shared on Oprah.
Speaking spontaneously encourages candor, but sometimes it’s at the expense of tact.
- Speak well of your company
- Show respect for your Boss
- Speak well of your colleagues
- Show Self-respect
- Show gratitude not weakness; replace, “I’m sorry,” with, “Thank you.” (summary from Fran, overcoming women’s more obvious weakness)
- Speak, its already better baked than an extrovert’s pie, stop the thought over processing (summary from Susan, overcoming an introvert’s inertia)
Finally, when you realize you have made a mistake in what you said, how you said it or when you said it, own up; make amends and do the right thing. Your error may even be that you did not speak up as much as you should! It’s a life of balance. Just as Pope Francis said in the handling of sexual abuse scandal in Chile, “I have made grave mistakes in the assessment and my perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information.”
“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” ― Benjamin Franklin
Looking back, I am happy I stepped out and said what I said during the meeting I referred to at the start of this write up, which I facilitated. And that is without concern on the outcome and its impact on my career. However, remember that saying something you’ll regret can have more disastrous impact on lives and careers, either of your self or others.
If you need more speaking quotes, check out the following.
Photograph Credit: BlendImages/Alamy through TheGuardian (Guardian News and Media Limited)
Are good leaders just great investors like the ten most legendary investors who ever lived who invest in stocks and businesses; or are they first, investors in people?
The names that comes up includes, Warren Buffett, Julian Robertson, Thomas Rowe Price, Jr, James D. Slater, George Soros, Michael Steinhardt, John Templeton, … and Akin Adeleye.
To read more, go to;