Monday, December 27, 2010

Get the Life you Want by Crafting your Own Life Story Workshop @ Chua Chu Kang Community Club on 18 Dec 2010

Refusing the Call – Are Hidden Benefits Stopping You?

A postman passed a house with a dog sitting on the wooden front porch everyday. The dog always made a low whining noise. The poor dog was obviously in pain.

One day, the postman not able to hold back his curiosity any longer, finally asked the dog’s owner what was going on.

The owner replied that the dog was sitting on a nail, hence the non stop whining.

The postman then asked the owner why the dog wouldn’t just walk away from the spot where the nail was.

The owner replied: “Perhaps, that spot is shady and cool, and the nail is not painful enough.”

Are we not sometimes like the dog in the story?

Do we sometimes let ourselves be stuck in a situation that is causing us pain but stayed on because we are not willing to let go of some hidden benefits of staying put?

Settling for hidden benefits is usually fear-driven – it is the attitude that “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush”. It is the unwillingness to risk letting go of current benefits for a greater but yet unrealised gain. It is the preference for the devil we know over the devil we don’t.

  • Back off from plans to start your own business because of unwillingness to quit an unfulfilling job for fear of losing a reliable income.
  • Pass up opportunities for fulfilling relationships because of unwillingness to meet new people for fear of rejection.

We can choose to live within our imagined limits, settle for less, endure dull pain and boredom indefinitely, rather than risk rejection or lose face. Or we can choose to scale the brick wall disguised as hidden benefits that separates the Ordinary World and the Special World in two steps:

Step 1 - Find out what the hidden benefit is. It is often difficult to know what stopped us at the threshold of our Hero’s Journey. This is because hidden benefits lurk quietly in our unconscious mind like bed bugs hiding in the folds of bed linen. Try teasing it out using the following questions:
  • If backing out of your goal has a hidden benefit, what do you think it is?
  • If you knew what the hidden benefit is, what would it be?
  • If you already have the hidden benefit, what does it give you?
  • When you have what the hidden benefit gives you, what does it mean?

Step 2 – Now that you know what the hidden benefit is, find a way to deliver what the hidden benefit gives you and what it means to you without giving up your Hero’s Journey. Put another way, figure out how to eat the hidden benefit cake and still have our Hero’s Journey afterwards.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Success Attributes and the Hero’s Journey

A 20-year study by the Frostig Center for Children with Learning Disabilities in California, found that six success attributes have a greater influence on success than such factors as academic achievement, gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity, and even Intelligence Quotient (IQ).

These success attributes are:

  • Self-awareness
  • Proactivity
  • Perseverance
  • Goal setting
  • The presence and use of effective support systems
  • Emotional coping strategies.
The Frostig Centre research found that successful persons with learning disabilities are much more likely to have these attributes than unsuccessful individuals.

These success attributes can lead to successful life outcomes for everyone, not just those with learning disabilities.

By crafting our life story as a Hero’s Journey, we can intergrate these six success attributes into our lives so that we can live our lives at full potential and satisfaction.

Crafting our life story enhances our self-awareness as we will be better able to recognize the strengths, weaknesses, passion, and special talents of the lead actor in our own life story - that is us!

Writing our own life story is a thoroughly proactive endeavour! We are literally taking our destiny into our own pen (I mean hands), and setting the purpose and desired outcomes in our lives. By writing our own story we are taking total responsibility for our own decisions, actions and results. What can be a greater act of self advocacy and initiative than writing and living our own life story?

Writing our own story builds our perseverance as story writers know that “Facing the Ordeal” is a necessary part of the hero’s journey to the “ultimate boon”. Story writers know that difficult situations are valuable opportunities for learning and growing. They know that The Ordeal only makes them stronger and wiser but only as long as they are not overwhelmed by adversity, back away from challenges, or give up.

Writing our own life story is a fun way to set goals. Story writers set goals that are specific, with enough flexibility to adjust to specific circumstances and situations. Our story includes our strategy, the direction, and steps we wish to take to reach our goals.

Our life story includes our support network of mentors who give us guidance, support, and encouragement on our life journey. Story writers do not simply wait for someone to come to their aid when they need support. They actively seek the support of mentors (who could be family, friends, colleagues, etc) as they are keenly aware that Meeting the Mentor is part of their life story.

Story writers recognise that stress laden phases like Crossing the Threshold, Facing the Ordeal and Transformation are part and parcel of the hero’s journey. Therefore, story writers anticipate the situations that trigger stress and have emotional coping strategies already written in their life stories. Story writers have a confident, positive, optimistic outlook as they know that the happy ending to their life story - Returning with the Elixir - had already been written!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How Do I Know Something is My Talent?

In their research, Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton found that every person has at least one talent – something which the person can do better that the next 10,000 persons. It could be singing, dancing, public speaking, painting, writing, running fast, running long, jumping, dribbling a football, and so on.

Our talent is something which if we focus and improve upon, would make us better than the next 100,000 persons.

How do I know that something is my talent?

We can tease them out with these two sets of questions.

Set one, is like brainstorming – we get as many possible talents (the suspects) as we can by asking ourselves these questions.
  • What do I love to do?
  • What do I do happily without been asked?
  • What do people consistently tell me about what I am good at? Especially, if they are different people and better still if they don’t know each other.
  • “What makes me special?” Ask this question of people whom you trust who can and would give you an accurate, honest answer.
  • What activity do I like to read, talk and/or write about?
  • What is easy and effortless for me that most other people find hard to do as well as me?
  • Think back to your childhood for those proudest moments and accomplishments for clues. What were you doing?
  • Think back to your childhood – what were you doing when you were happiest?
  • What activities make me lose track of time and miss my meals?
Set two, narrows down the numerous suspects to the two or three talents which you could focus on and develop to the level of genius.

This list of questions is adapted from Martin Seligman’s work on strengths.

  • What do you feel when you are using this talent?
  • Do you feel a sense of ownership and authenticity, that “This is the real me”?
  • Do you feel excited when displaying this talent? Even if, you are displaying it for the first time.
  • Do you improve and learn fast as you develop this talent?
  • Do you continuously yearn for new ways to use this talent?
  • Do you continuously learn new ways to use this talent?
  • Do you feel a sense of inevitability in using this talent? That you will do well and triumph, no matter what difficulty?
  • Do you feel that the more you use this talent the more energised you get, instead of feeling exhausted and drained from the exertion?
  • Do you continuously create and pursue personal projects that revolve around this talent?
  • Do you feel joy, enthusiasm and even ecstasy when using this talent?
The more you can say yes to most of these questions, the clearer you are about your talent.

Congratulations! You have found your voice, and now by all means SING!

Levels of Life Coaching

There are 3 levels of life coaching.

Level 1, the lowest level, is performance coaching. At level 1, the coach works with tactics and techniques to deal with specific challenges like a difficult person at work, a job interview, a high stake examination, a debate or a negotiation. The focus is on processes and drills. Once the specific situation is handled and passed, the clients are back to their old ways. There is no fundamental change in the client’s character or view of life. For example, a client might master the drills and aces the examination, but remains basically under confident and have low self esteem.

Level 2 coaching is basically the same as level 1 except that it focuses on a category of needs such as relationships, career, speech, sales, investing and parenting rather than on a specific situation. Though broader than level 1 coaching, level 2 is still about processes and drills, and leaves the client’s life generally unchanged as it is.

Level 3, is transformational coaching. This level changes the client’s mental filters and map of the world. At level 3, the coach works with insights. Insights, once seen cannot be unseen. Level 3 coaching, stretches the client’s mind with insights.

And, the mind is like a rubber band. Once stretched by an insight, it cannot return to its previous state. Level 3 coaching makes the most enduring change in the client as it operates on the client’s identity, beliefs and values. Seemingly small shifts at this strategic level lead to lasting, big changes in a client's life.

Once a change takes place at level 3, level 1 and 2 changes follow naturally and effortlessly. Level 3 is catalytic. It changes the client from inside out. It changes the client’s behaviour by changing his identity, beliefs and values.

Level 1 and 2 works on doing. Level 3 works on being, on self realization, and the aha! moment.

Level 3 is the most liberating as it frees your mind to live big.

Life coaching is most effective when it touches the client at all 3 levels.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

All We Need to Succeed is Inside Us

One day, according to an ancient Sioux legend, the Creator wanted to hide their gifts from humans until they are ready see it.

The Creator gathered all the animals and sought their advice.

The eagle said: “Give it to me. I will take it to the highest mountain and keep it there.” The Creator replied: “One day, the humans will conquer the highest mountain, and find it.”

The salmon said: “Give it to me. I will take it to the deepest ocean and keep it there.” The Creator replied: “One day, the humans will explore the deepest depths of the ocean, and find it.”

The buffalo said: “Give it to me. I will bury it in the heart of the great plains and keep it there.” The Creator replied: “One day, humans will rip open the earth, and find it there.”

All were stumped until a mole spoke up: “Why don’t we hide it inside them? That is the last place they will look.”

The Creator replied in an instant: “It is done.”

My personal mission statement is to use my creativity and enthusiasm to inspire and empower children, young adults and elders to access their inner treasures and get the life they deserve by crafting their life story.

Follow Your Bliss

A highly acclaimed teacher had numerous admirers and followers because of his insights about human nature.

One day, one of his many students asked him: “What difference do you want to make in people through your teachings?”

The teacher replied: “I have no such wants.”

The student stunned and confused by the teacher’s reply asked: “If you do not want to make a difference with your insights, why then do you teach?”

The teacher smiled and asked: “Why does a bird sing?”

Just follow your bliss, use your gift. Do what you do best naturally. There is no need for any external motive.

The teacher was happy just sharing his insights on human nature as a bird would be happy sharing his song.

People will change themselves on their own accord when the insight moves them.

When you find your voice, by all means SING!

Those who would benefit from your gift will help themselves.

I have found my voice, and my personal mission statement is to use my creativity and enthusiasm to inspire and empower children, young adults and elders to access their inner treasures and get the life they deserve by crafting their life story.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Power Your Vision with Dreams

Using the 100th Birthday Speech method, you have created a vision of your best self for specific aspects of your life. I am going to share with you some ways to create plans, and to inspire you to take massive action to achieve your vision.

One of the ways is to harness the power of our dreams.

Our dreams are very powerful problem solving and inspirational tools.

That’s why we sometimes solved personal or work problems by "sleeping on it".

This is because when we sleep, our minds do not turn off; quite the contrary, it becomes very active when we dream. Through dreams, our minds continue to work out solutions to our life and work problems, tapping into our innate creativity and problem solving skills to do so.

Let me show you a couple of famous examples of the power of dreams.

Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz discovered the chemical-organic "Structure Theory", not by experimentation alone but also by dreams!

Twice Kekulé had dreams that led to major discoveries!

Kekulé in a speech given at the German Chemical Society told the distinguished gathering that ideas for the Structural Theory first occurred to him when he was dreaming after falling asleep on a public bus while thinking about the theory.

Another dream led to the breakthrough that revealed the molecular structure of Benzene.

While thinking about the structure of Benzene on his fireside chair, Kekulé fell asleep and dreamt about twining, twisting, and whirling snakes. One of the snakes even seized its own tail. The snake seizing it's own tail gave Kekulé the circular structure idea he needed to solve the Benzene riddle that confounded scientists for years!

Kekulé told his colleagues, “Let us learn to dream!”

In 1964, golfer Jack Nicklaus was having a bad slump and routinely shooting poor scores. He then had a dream about a new golf swing which he credits for helping him suddenly regain his top form and scores.

Nicklaus said he was thinking about what could be plaguing his swing, when he fell asleep and dreamt of himself hitting good swings. He realized that in the dream he wasn't holding the club the way he had been holding it lately.

When he woke, Nicklaus held the club the way he did in his dream, and his top form and scores magically returned.

Like Kekulé and Nicklaus we too can harness the power of dreams.

Think about your vision during the few minutes before you fall asleep. If you have a vision board, take a look at it and let your mind wonder and marvel at your vision.

Let your unconscious mind take over and work on your visions while you sleep.

Trust your unconscious mind to come up with creative solutions in your dreams.

Have a note book and pen at your bedside. When you wake, recall and write down the dreams that you had before getting out of bed and doing anything else.

One of your dreams could be the key to achieving your vision.

Hero's Journey - Meeting the Mentor

When we have clear vision, missions and goals, we are energized and people around us can see and feel our vibrations and enthusiasm. People who are comfortable with themselves and who have the wisdom, talent and means will come forward to support us. It is natural for a person who is more self assured and experienced in the field to want to support another aspiring person make it in the same field or in life in general. The mentor sees in the aspiring novice a reflection of herself when she was starting out, and therefore feels an affinity for him. As Confucius says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Of course, when we set our sights on something, we are bounded to make some people uncomfortable. They may see us as competition and if they are under-confident in the field, they may set out to hinder us. They may be our family and friends who feel their lives may be affected by our endeavours. These people are the Threshold Guardians. These are the naysayers, doubters and criticizers who are determined to discourage us.

Threshold Guardians are very useful, even though they can cause us much pain.

If we are true to our vision, mission and goals, the Threshold Guardian is not there to stop us – they are not that powerful as after all they are fear driven. If we stay true to our core and calling, they are there to help us see how badly we want something. Threshold Guardians are only strong enough to stop those who do not want something badly enough.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Who Am I? Questions Are The Answer.

From the time we were born, we start to ask the question "Who Am I"? The need to know who we are at our core, qualifies as a basic human need.

We will search for the answer all our life but the question we ask at each stage of our life would be different. As we grow older, a new question will emerge and overlay the earlier question regarding who we are.

You will notice that the questions we ask shift from being self-centred to being other-centred as we grow older. As Gandhi said "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."

We don't have to wait till we are old before we ask the other-centred questions regarding Who Am I? We don't have to wait for the questions to occur to us one by one as we arrive at each stage of life. Some people may even get stuck at the self-centred stage although they may grow older in age - they never get around to asking the higher order, other-centred questions.

We can ask all the questions all at once. We will be wiser sooner if we ask the other-centred questions earlier in our life.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nice People May Not Be Good. Good People May Not Be Nice.

Walls Help Us See More Clearly What We Want

Get The Life That You Want By Crafting Your Life Story

Do you know that the story can also be a powerful tool to help you get the life that you want?

All of us have a story. Our life is a story.

Everyday we are writing our story, word by word, sentence by sentence, page by page, whether we are aware of it or not.

How will our story end? Does our story have a happy, triumphant ending? Or will it be a sad, tragic ending?

Whether we write our story consciously or not, there are patterns in our daily living. From these patterns we can tell how our life story will pan out.

The ability to write our own life story is a uniquely human gift. No other living thing has this gift.

Yet not all of us use this unique and powerful privilege. Some of us let other people write our story. Some just let circumstances write their story.

If we can design a wonderful life for ourselves by writing our own story, why not?

If you want to know how to craft your own legend, come and join us at Chua Chu Kang Community Club Toastmaster Club for an afternoon of sharing and fellowship with fellow Toastmasters and friends.

I will be sharing tools to write our life story ourselves.

There will be no charge but please register your attendance by sending an email to our Club President, Competent Communicator Antonia Beetsma at by 17 Dec so that we can prepare the light refreshments.

Looking forward to a fun and fruitful Saturday afternoon.

Thank you.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What is Your Story?

All of us have a life story. Our life is a story.

Everyday we are writing our story, word by word, sentence by sentence, page by page, whether we are aware of it or not.

How will our story end? Does our story have a happy, triumphant ending? a sad, tragic ending?

We can predict the ending by looking at how our life story is unfolding….. We know how the story will end by looking at what are its undergirdings. By this I mean what is guiding our actions, and thus our results.

What are our beliefs, values and attitudes? They are there influencing our actions whether we are aware of them or not.

What are our goals? There is no direction without goals.

What are our habits? What do we do when we meet with difficulties? What do we do when we are blessed with abundance?

Whether we write our story consciously or not, there are patterns in our daily living. From these patterns we can tell how our story will unfold.

The ability to write our own story is a uniquely human gift. No other living thing has this gift.

Yet not all of us use this unique and powerful opportunity. Some of us let other people write our story. Some just let circumstances write their story.

I will be exploring ways to write our life story ourselves. If we can design a wonderful life for ourselves, why not?

One of the ways is to pattern our story after the Hero’s Journey. Mythologist Joseph Campbell found after studying thousands of hero stories across the world and through the ages that all hero stories follow a certain pattern. We can design our own hero’s journey by using this pattern.

We can also write our life story by designing it backwards. We start by writing the last chapter - our 100th Birthday Speech. This speech describes us at 100 years old and our life achievements in key aspects of our life. With this 100th Birthday Speech we can plan backwards and live forward to achieve our goals.

What is My Life's Work?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Is That You, Really?

Who had big dreams when you were a child?

Who let some of these dreams fall by the wayside?

I did.

You too?

Why? What happened?

What stopped you?

One big reason why we let go of our dreams is because we forgot how great we really are. We underestimate ourselves.

Note I said “forgot” because we all once knew how great we were, but only later forget.

How did we forget who we really are?

Because we learn.

It is how we humans are.

We were born perfect and when we were babies, we all knew we were perfect. Our authentic self is perfect like a shining diamond.

Has anyone seen an under-confident baby?

There are no under-confident babies. All babies have charisma.

As we grow up, we learn. We are incredible learning machines. We learned to walk, we learned languages, we learned who we are, the people around us. We learned that we have hands, a nose, ears, legs. We learned all the things that allow us to function as a human being.

Together with all the useful things in life, we also learned some nasty things that diminish our authentic self.

Together with the useful things, we learned nasty things from our parents, grand parents, uncles, aunts, people in authority like our teachers, school principals. Later, we learned from our friends, bosses, and we also teach (and mislead) ourselves.

All these people are well intentioned and most of the things they tell us are useful and helpful. However, invariably some will limit us instead of help us.

Our negative learnings form a layer around our true authentic self. It is like a layer of sticky horse poo on a diamond.

Horse poo are false statements from others that are installed into our minds as limiting beliefs, as if they were true.

I can remember a few from my childhood.

One day, our secondary school principal came to our class and told us this:

“No student from this school has ever been to university. None of you will go to university.” For years, I accepted that I was not good enough for university as “fact” and never questioned this statement.

I only realised how false this statement was years later when I met university graduates and saw how they were not much different from me. I later went on to university and also post graduate studies.

On the first day of soccer training at my secondary school, the teacher picked the eleven tallest boys to form the school soccer team. There was no try out at all. The selection was over in the ten minutes that it took to pick out the taller boys in the classroom.

The teacher then told us that the school team has been formed and those not selected can stay on – as ball pickers, if we wished.

I was deeply disappointed because I am passionate about soccer, and I was a pretty fast and good winger. Since then, I lost interest in playing soccer, believing that small build people are hopeless as soccer players.

Of course, this was not true. There are many accomplished soccer superstars that are about the same height as me (5ft 7in). Look at Lionel Messi (5ft 7in) and Maradona (5ft 5in), just to name a few.

Everyone has some horse poo covering our true selves. What are yours?

These negative messages are constantly brought up to our conscious minds through negative self talk. Stop for a few moments and listen to your own self talk. What can you hear? Did you hear yourself putting yourself down?

So what happens?

Over the layer of other’s horse poo, we add our own layer of bull poo (bullshit).

We mistakenly thought that the horse poo - what others say about us - is our authentic self. We’re misled into believing that the inadequate, insecure, frightened person is really us, when it is actually just other people’s horse poo.

So we try to hide other people’s horse poo with our own layer of bull poo. This we call our “personality” or image. We’ve got to have “personality” or image, we thought. This is just the glittering appearance we show the world. It is exaggerated and puffed up, and it is unauthentic.

Such bull poo is fear driven. With a fear driven mindset, we are constantly asking "How will others see me?" "Will they think that I am good enough?" "What will I lose?"

Sometimes I catch myself acting in an unauthentic way. What we do and say are not in alignment with how we feel. We know it when we are acting this way, it makes us feel lousy inside. Others know it too.

So what should we believe in? What should we do?

Do we want to believe that we are born with a special talent. That, at our core, we are diamonds. If we do, we will seek out our talent, nurture it, develop it, and excel in it. We are going use our talent to make a significant contribution to our community.

Or, do we believe in the layer of horse poo. That we are not good in this, not good in that. We are too much this, and too little that. That we are not worth much, or won’t amount to much?

The price we pay is that we feel we are too fat or too thin, unlovable, unworthy, undeserving, incompetent, can’t do anything right, can’t have want we want.

Or, do we believe in our own bull poo. We do things to gain other’s approval, validation and acceptance, but deep in our hearts we know that it is not us.

For some fortunate people, someone comes along and point out their true self to them.

But, we don’t need to wait for others to clear the poo for us to find our true self.

We just need to take the leap of faith and believe in our true, authentic selves. Believe that you are worthy and deserving.

Our true self lies just behind our fear and self doubt. Let your true self shine from inside out, just like a baby’s charisma. You had it when you were a baby, and it is still in you. You will find that people start to respect you more for it.

I'll be sharing with you some tools to help you rediscover your authentic self and to live your life to its fullest potential.

I leave you with the awesome insight of Marianne Williamson.

Try it, because you are made of amazingly sterling stuff, don’t you agree?