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When I last saw my 11-year old niece in 2019, she was singing the 1960s hit, the Sound Silence. That was one of the best folk songs in my book. I remembered in the 90s, when I got to know some of the best classical folk and rock songs and started to learn the guitar for the first time. The Sound of Silence was one of the beats that was unbeatable. I gave up on the guitar after trying for a few months recovering from blisters all over my fingers, but not on the song.
The Sound of Silence is eternally relevant and powerful with its hunting melodic harmony that remains supreme against the auto-tone, music trashing modern bands we have today. I can say that I grew up learning to play these songs, interpret these songs during my high school life, and appreciate a different era of my parents and grandparents where some of these songs have been birthed.
Silence in today's world is a rarified survival tool. Everyone wants it but it takes courage to find and keep a silent life. If you think about it, silence is a blessing.
As I grow in years, I would lean more to the quiet, calm, and assured days and moments as opposed to the big, boisterous, and larger-than-life events that take our breath away from time to time. The sound of silence is the heart beating, bird chirping at outside, snow falling from the sky, staring at a newborn baby (which I did today!), snoring sound in another room, electric fan swirling, moments that no words can be enough. I'd rather be drowned in silence than to fill up the space with meaningless chatter and fake words.
There is power in silence and using this power responsibly and positively honors the One that gives us the power to listen. We can hear more when we listen on non-verbal cues that are rich, textured, and layered of meanings. I am coaching one professional and I told her that there is no problem with silence. Don't avoid it like a plaque but understand the meaning of silence in every encounter or situation with the people in the room. Being a leader means being aware of the underlying context that most of the time, is hidden from verbal expression. Emotions make us human, respecting the positive benefits of silence is truly a gift. Take notice, be interested, and listen discerningly.
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never heard
No one dared, disturb the sound of silence...
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2022 is a year of high risks and low expectations. I benefited a great deal from both. Despite the legendary dismal economic situation post-COVID19, the on-purpose organizations are looking for new ideas to outsmart the new realities of their business environments. We see new models, new visions, new creative perspectives being experimented and/or embraced with a modicum of success. At the end of the day, survival is a necessity but innovating is a competitive advantage. If you want to be relevant, choose the latter.
1. Organization and structure trump the intricate planning precision. If you aim to be better tomorrow, then in totality, it will sweep you up in the momentum of direction of change. Things get done even in the worst combination of events against you succeeding. Talk about beyondresilience.
2. When everybody says the planet is doomed if we are not going to act in a certain way, there are thousands of people that are benefiting from the dystopian, emergency, crisis-festered environment and milking their way to the bank, amidst the the lack of supports, funding, and bridging efforts for the most affected and vulnerable. We like to believe that we are all on the same page with climate future but no, we are not even agreeing what kind of future to choose.
3. If you can't have your own ideas and copyright it as your own, then nobody gets to know what you are designed to do, mastered enough to do, and excellent enough to provide value to others. The insecurity of others should not dictate how you should play your game and even enjoy it. There is no joy in playing small and hiding behind your true potential just because others can't do what you can.
4. Your accomplishments and failures are two-sides of the same coin. There is no point beating yourself for all the wrong things that happened as against the wonderful ways luck, smart work, and planning coalesce in spite of yourself or your organization's constraints. Organizations by now understood the point that you can provide value with less than what you would expect. Fit-for-purpose designs invariably take supreme in volatile times.
5. People can say all they want but how they act on the information provided to them is the real ignition switch to delivering an outcome versus merely focusing on intentions. Fantasizing and wishful thinking are not strategies.
6. Privileges are privileges. The lack of privileges and advantages shouldn't embolden anyone to be full of contempt and scorn for those that have it. Neither do those in positions of privilege act high and mighty for the rest of society to worship them. That's why we have the rule of law, democracy (despite its many flaws), and meritocracy. Unfortunately, these three things are eroding before our very eyes.
7. In my leadership training and coaching this year, I saw two things: high-level performers do not get the time to have real connection with another peer or colleague even in the same network or industry. There is so much focus on keeping up productivity in remote work when the best outcome is lowering quantity for quality. Employees who are energized and supported will feel better with their participation and this leads to better performance in and out of work.
8. Another issue is that connecting is like breathing air. Executives must find time to rebuild and replenish their oxygen-tank, connect with purpose-filled individuals they can be inspired with to pursue their own passions. Get off the screen and take the time to schedule coffee/tea, bowling or meal time with a colleague, friend, a clubmate, or anyone you would like to know more.
9. Growth experiences are such a great advantage these days. Few people can say that they have a true mentor, an advisor, a guide in the specific stages of their lives or careers. These benefits accrue to those that not only seek these experiences but take hold of them when presented with the opportunity. If you are given one on a silver platter, customize the tools and residual gains for your specific challenges.
10. Wabi-sabi. Embrace the imperfections of your organizations, your life, and your world. Instead of improving a piece of furniture, taking a modern style, why don't we just relish the age, maturity, decline, and the imperfections of that object? Translate this to your own organizations and environments. Imperfections are not problems to be solved. They have their merits too. If you can live with it, let go and just be at peace.
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It's now almost the end of summer and the remainder of the year looks very near.
Harvest time will be in full swing. COVID19 and Monkeypox will soon plateau. The Ukraine crisis will end and that the supply chain problems will dissipate. Organizations will know that they can't rely on prior performance, methods, and technologies to propel them to the future which is now. Executives will be busy gathering what they have learned from two years of crisis to rewrite their own playbook.
In the midst of all of these, the rainbow (from the Bible) represents renewal, a promise of commitment to never again a massive deluge will cover the whole earth. What I see with the rainbow, is what lies behind it.
There is another day, another week, another year for us to work on. Seize the chance to make sure that what you focus on gets you to the next level.
A friend of mine has won a PhD scholarship award from him and his wife. His wife and baby is now in another country on a another scholarship. Their lives was torn apart by civil war and a repressive regime. This challenge did not deter them obviously.
Cheers to many people whose lives are being transformed and renewed through courage, determination, and persistence. They have seen the worst but decided to honor what is the best for themselves, for others, and for humanity.
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I had just released my first commercial book.
Yes, it's a big achievement. It's a cause for celebration.
Some call me lucky. Others tell me, "You had come a long way."
Some said, that I should start paying tribute to the people who helped me along the way.
They're very happy for me. I'm pleased that they're happy for me.
But this book, like any other things in life, is part of a process.
The book is a product of that long process. For me, it took me two decades of sharpening that process- the wisdom, discipline, lots of lessons learned, and eventual putting it down to bring more value out there for others to partake.
Like any other process, it was a product of other processes that came with, my consulting business founded in 2013 but operational in 2014. The business grew in 2015 and cocooned to accommodate my personal vicissitudes. Back in 2018 soft launch and massive work thereafter to grow where I am now. It followed by creating value and ensuring quality every step of the way. I means late nights work, weekend work when my baby was with the in-laws, meeting potential clients, lots of networking, pro-bono work, writing while cooking, cleaning, and chasing butterflies, and enjoying the ride. I also learned magnificently.
Life is about failing well and coming back up to straighten one's paths. To all of you creators, you know what I'm talking about.
Cheers for this first book, cheers to many more, beautiful and valuable creations.
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I was speaking to a group this week. We polled them if they have a positive outlook during the pandemic and less than half confirmed that they had. They also reported that their supervisor supported them a lot. This showed that even their supervisors might not be feeling positive as well.
We can only surmise.
Positivity in the age of post-pandemic emergence is a pre-requisite and it's the basic quotient to have before you can build along changes that come into your life. I know for a fact that this is not easy. But I chose to be positive, persistent, and hopeful, despite several setbacks I experienced last year.
We can never know what other people are experiencing. If you can count the people in LinkedIn that have critical illnesses, jobless, with family and personal challenges, you will know that your troubles aren't comparable to these situations.
It's better to go beyond resilience: benefit from shocks, stresses, raise the bar, and go along with changes and welcome ambiguity. Cultivate opportunities even in the midst of trying conditions and know that you're not alone. You can be in a lockdown but isolation is a choice. You can still be connected in the deepest, most humane way if you choose to be.
I can say that the distance between our efforts and what we have as external impacts is our positivity equity. Increase that positive equity now and as you move up, lift others along the path to your recovery.
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Our lives turned upside down for the good when a cat came into our family. A stray cat suddenly appeared and made our hearts melt. Of course, my five-year-old is the number one cat lover aside from my husband. We took him in (by subtle force), until we figured out if he's an inside cat or an outside cat.
With previous knowledge on cats, my husband both the whole gadgets in case he decided to be a home cat. A family member said and another friend confirmed, "a cat has a mind of its own."
And so, with a bit of time, we figured out that he is both. He is both an inside cat and an outside cat. When the weather is great, we let him out and when it's time to go home, he's there waiting in the yard. Sometimes, he would wait until our truck was in the other house, and if he sees the truck, he will jump right on to be packed home.
Another family member said, "He's a cat that behaves like a dog." He surely has a mind of his own. Our house is a hotel, an entertainment center, and a respite against the cold, brutal world. We're okay with the arrangements. He's just being who he is. It won't be great for other families for sure.
If you're organization is set up to be something and behaves otherwise, and people get their noses up or insist that you behave like one (because of their own conditioning), it's time to break the stereotype. What people project on your organization, may not really who you are and most of the time, they're dead wrong.
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My quiet January became dramatic because I let fear in. When you're trying to bring about change and everything is going nicely, fear would creep in and induce a lot of paranoia that's unnecessary. This comes in the form of self-doubt, overthinking and defensiveness. A working relationship became mired with hypotheticals and what-ifs.
Why good changes do not stick? Aside from resistance to change because of confusion, misunderstanding, lack of buy-in, addressing the emotional issues from the change dynamic is key.
Fear is the number emotion that will hold organizations and leaders back from their planned approach.
Courage and the absence of it, will make or break a change prospects.
If you let in fear for only a short time, you let paralysis in and overthinking which will derail you.
If you let in fear for a long time, you will renege on your commitments and undervalue your own worth.
If you let in fear intervene in your progress, you're undermining your achievements.
Address issues as they arise and not pre-empt them in a way that will sabotage your progress.
Trust me, once I realized it's all about fear, it' easy to manage the rest.
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I hope you had a great festive time during this holiday season. We can make this season an expansive time of the year when the holidays can give us the time to pause, relax, and have the quietness we need amidst the celebration and feasting.
William James said that "the art of being wise is knowing what to overlook."
In this season, embracing the new year and letting go of 2021, my wish for all of you is to find what to overlook quickly so that your new year becomes fresh, not an extension of the past, whether good or bad.
To do this requires not just the usual introspection but the consider elements that had to be eschewed for the lack of its value to your life and to what you hold dear. As I heard many times, we need to travel light.
Anything that seems like a burden that is unquestioned or underexamined must become our current inquiry.
To translate this with on-purpose leaders whose organizations' survival (or viability) might be at stake next year. Learn not to insist on certainty. Don't sell out your capacity to give and be of service even when you're experiencing your own challenges. And don't give in to the apathy and despair that are easily tempting to succumb to.
With great wishes for 2022, let's hope for better times. Comfort to those who are afflicted, and challenges to those comfortable. Most of all, peace and strength in the new year.
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Ever Given, the ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal a few months ago got released by the Egyptian authorities this week. The fiasco had caused major supply chain crisis in many parts of the world where hundred ships were lined-up waiting for weeks. It has 22,000 containers on board, late but successfully arrived in Rotterdam. The ship company is facing thousands of lawsuits from the affected parties.
The stuck image of the ship reminds us of the agony being in the position of immobility. There is nowhere to go but out, even incrementally.
To get out of this mess is to first acknowledge that you're circling along the wagon. The second step is to know the cause.
The cause could be an insistence with a tired approach, fear of failure or success, or the method was inappropriate for the task. Whatever the cause maybe, find it and address the problem.
Third, create the simplest strategies to get you out the stuck mode. It means calling an external expert as a sounding board. It could be listening to a valid feedback from a colleague, or it could be retracing your steps and giving it another go. Sitting in a blank page is not a good thing. But knowing that help is within reach and that the right mindset is key could flush you out of the hole.
With a massive flotilla of tugboats and the tide on their side, Ever Given was freed at last.
Don't wait for something that will not come. Summon help or create your own tide!
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There are many faces of Canada right now that we are pained to see.
The uncovering of the mass graves in residential schools is a case in point.
The on-going struggle to get our economy back on track is another.
The targeted terrorist attack against a Pakistani family a month ago....
We have a long way to go as a nation.
We need healing, reconciliation, and justice before we can experience real peace that transcends our narrow interests and identities.
The Canada that I know when I moved here 11 years ago is a Canada that:
- respects differences and celebrates diversity and inclusion;
- empowers new immigrants to bring their selves into this country and play a vital role in building a nation and economy;
- is a peace and democracy-loving country amongst the nations;
- has a strong and stable government and corruption-free;
- has the best healthcare and educational system in the world;
Definitely, these are superficial facts that foreigners see from the outside- only a tip of the iceberg in terms of the condition of the country and its people. Now I know more but it doesn't give me regrets that I moved here and consider myself a Canadian.
I am proud to be alongside other Canadians in creating a great nation one day at a time, one generation at a time, and one impact at a time.
Let us not forget too that we are all Canada and what we bring into our communities, represented the best aspirations and attributes of our collective greatness.
As Andrew Malcolm said about Canada: It's going to be a great country after they're finished unpacking it.
Very true, we are all, a work in progress...