That co-worker sees criticism as personal attack or a challenge to her judgment and intelligence. Every time I see people raising their voice and getting hot-headed and rather energetic on self-defense upon a slightest criticism, I think of that co-worker and how people never care to contradict her, and how much she has lost because of this.
My co-worker presents a sharp contrast to this Chinese saying, “Being delighted when people bring up our weakness.”
It is a matter of attitude and interpretation. I am sure we will benefit tremendously if we can tuck in our useless pride and see kindness and positive factor in people who care enough to make us see our blemish.
Imagine how you feel if I see an used band-aid stuck to the back of your hair and walk away without telling you, tyring to cover my smirk at the same time. That means I-dont-care. How sad that would be!
When I was at our SW clinic back in 2009, one of the co-workers was a genuine headache. If someone points out her mistakes, it is like poking the hornet’s nest, she would make a scene and put her whole self out in self-defense. She takes it very personally.
Once I saw she used pencil on inclusion/exclusion document and the wonderful part was our doctor even signed on it. This is like inviting trouble. Still, I would poke that wasp nest by telling her this. Indeed, when the monitor asked her to write it in ink and ask doctor to re-sign it, oh-boy, she was so mad that the air was filled with f-word spitted out from her mouth.
I observe the reactions and attitudes of people around her. I mean nobody cares to put out her mistakes. Once I noticed she committed a major protocol violation, I only confirmed my discovery with another friendly colleague and just watched from a safe distance.
To be continued…
On 3/19/2011, while I was waiting for my daughter at a nearby HyVee store, I took up April 2011 issue of Psychology Today magazine, a fascinating subject. I read a piece of writing on conflict resolution and the tendency toward topic proliferation. Though it deals with problems among couples, I think it applicable to conversations between parents and children or between any two parties. Here’s the note.
“The funny thing about conversation is that they can escape into fights, while at the same time they can also spread outward, proliferating into lots of distinct conversations all happening at once as one topic leads to another…. issue proliferating like mosquitoes in a summer swamp.”
Next the author gives an example of one couple’s conversation evolving from one topic “Why are you late again?” to “You are always finding faults with me” “You never admit you are right” “You start the fight again.. I should have ignored you in the first place”… The couple ended up changing topic over 20 times in less than 5 minutes.
The author thinks topic proliferation happens a lot when couples argue. It makes a conversation not only unmanageable but difficult to resolve. I see similar problem in conversations between parents and their children. I think it is very crucial to focus on the topic, one thing at a time, if parents want to have a constructive conversation with their children.
We all know what elimination means in sports competition, it actually means the same thing in economic competition. To be sure, downward economic turn will eventually generate downward movement for some people, which will lead the way to being eliminated in the competitive job market. A friend of mine sent me on 5/8/2011 a list of people that are at risk of being thus eliminated. Check it out for yourself.
(1) Do not learn anything new after work. A famous Chinese scholar said something like this — the difference among people lies in the way people use their time after day job. I like this one.
(2) Slow or negative reaction to new events and phenomena. This tests your adaptability and willingness to learn and understand the new.
(3) Venture out alone instead of teaming together with others.
(4) Fragile psychologically, that is, feeling hurt easily or unable to stand any setback.
(5) Possessing a single skill.
(6) Near-sighted, no long-termed goal, unable to see an inch beyond their immediate interest.
(7) Low emotional intelligence. People with low EQ lose temper easily, often over a minor matter, which eventually lead to the loss of control over their own destiny.
(8) Hold fast to outdated concepts. The new concepts tells us success means not how many people you have conquered but how many you have helped. You win by helping others to win. You succeed because of the good qualities in you, fail because of lack of them.
On 10/22/2011, Saturday evening after we got back from Barnes & Noble bookstore, my daughter watched with great sympathy and intensity the fundraising show by Operation Smile, an international children charity organization.
I said to her, “You should feel blessed now.” She agreed that she was fortunate on two accounts. Number one she does not have cleft lip or cleft palate; number two, if she had it, we could afford to fix it for her as we fixed her teeth before.
She announced that we definitely need to help these unfortunate children by our donation. I said we would be able to if she could be more economic by not insisting on eating out. As it is, we have to let her eat out at least three times a week when she did not like home-made meals.
She then solomnly promised that she would be more thrifty and not picky in eating, less eating out if we made this donation. I did what she asked as I am all for her big heart.
During the weekend of 9/24-25, my daughter worked hard on a take-home exam on calculus. At some point, she was stuck there and could not move on. I told her she could always ask her brother for help.
“This is an exam. You are not supposed to ask your family members,” she said.
“Take home is like an open book exam, why can’t you ask others?” I asked.
“Our teacher said you are not allowed to check the internet or to ask others.” she insisted.
“But who knows if you get help and understand what you are doing. After all, what matters most is you are learning.” I pressed on.
“Mom, you don’t have any moral!…” she charged.
I agreed I compromise when I see no harm to others. But my daughter is totally unshakable in her moral stand. I am proud of her.
I read a sad case last Friday evening when I was in Barnes & Noble’s with my daughter.
A woman in her 40s died of lung cancer. Since her youthful years, she drank and smoked, becoming alcoholic with a long smoking history, plus suffering from anorexia.
When young people think they are invincible, they abuse their bodies to the maximum and have to pay a heavy price in later years. This reminds me of a Chinese saying–
Thought for the day.
One late-staged lung cancer patient in her early 40s and her young son were sitting in the exam room, crying most sadly when I stepped in to hand her a copy of informed consent. She has been smoking since teenage years and up to present. My mind was kept there long time after I stepped out of the room. I couldn’t help thinking about the young boy, his loss, the meaning and responsibility of a mother, or the highest level of irresponsibility. No loss is greater than this when a mother fails to take care of herself for her child’s sake. It’s like abandoning your child if you have to cut short your life because of your bad habit, smoking in this case.
Get rid of the bad habit, whatever that is, for those who love you and need you.
On 9/23/2011, I read online something like “Stars who went broke.” To be sure, I am not surprised when wealth parts company with the unwise. But still, it was a bit shock to see how fast people have gone from being millionaire to utter poverty. Here are the incomplete list of those yesterday’s millionaires.
Nicolas Cage–The Oscar winner, once earned $20 million, was forced to put some of his properties on the market after failing to pay $14 million taxes for several years.
Mike Tyson–The former heavyweight champion, who made $300 million over his career, once spent $2 million on a bathroom fixture, filed for bankruptcy in 2003 after accumulating $27 millions in debt.
Randy Quaid–The “Independence Day” star and conspiracy theorist, once made nearly $817 million, filed for bankruptcy in 2000 after his aptly named film bombed at the box office.
MC Hammer– The “U Can’t Touch This” rapper earned $33 million in 1991, filed for bankruptcy in 1996, told the United States Bankruptcy Court Central District of California that he was $13.7 million in debt.
Kim Basinger–The Oscar-winning actress filed for bankruptcy after an ill-fated attempt to own an entire town (find it on a map). She earned a $5 million paycheck for the movie “I Dreamed of Africa.”
Willie Nelson–The “Red-Headed Stranger,” who found himself in hot water with the IRS in 1990, released a hilariously titled album to help pay off the debt.
Scottie Pippen–The NBA Hall of Famer, who lost $120 million in bad investments and big purchases, left the courthouse in tears after winning $2 million in a 2010 lawsuit.
Teresa Giudice of New Jersey” star and her husband filed for bankruptcy in 2009 after accumulating $9 millions in debt.
Also see stories on Chris McAlister, Burt Reynolds, Heidi Montag, Toni Braxton, etc.
I am sure readers would appreciate the expensive lessons these insolvent stars have to offer through their real life experience. Now we are supposed to be wiser than them.
I am 100 percent sure that I have posted this piece before, but on reading it again, I feel strongly that this should be out one more time. Simply because I love it. I hope I could commit it to memory, though mine gets short.
(What a parent should be to his/her children)
A place they can search for comfort.
Eyes they can look at and trust.
A hand they can reach out and clasp.
A heart that understands and doesn’t judge…
A place they can search for comfort.
Eyes they can look at and trust.
A hand they can reach out and clasp.
A heart that understands and doesn’t judge.
Someone they can lean on and learn from.
A source of wisdom and loving advice.
A million memories in the making.
A precious companion on the path of life.
A door that is always open.
A caring, gentle hug.
A time that is devoted to family alone.
A reflection of love and wisdom.
On 8/10/2011, during our daily early morning walk, I mentioned to my daughter the book that she was going to read, Quantum Man: Richard Feynman’s Life in Science by Lawrence M. Krauss, and the fact that Feynman started a radio repair shop when he was a child.
I told my daughter the earlier you started doing something, the better, something that your peers are not doing. You would get more praise when you can tie shoe string at age 3 than at age 13. Similarly, you get more credit when you set up your own company in your teen’s years than during adulthood. Look at the President’s Volunteer Service Award, its requirement on gold level, the old you are, the more hours you have to pour in when you don’t have as much time as you once had.
Kids (Age 5-14): 100 hours or more
Young Adults Age (15-25): 250 hours or more
Adults (Age 26 +): 500 hours or more
That is why I have advised her to set up her own company at age 12, keep it running all through her college years. By the time she emerges out of college at age 22, she has been CEO of her own company for a decade. Whether or not you have customers is an irrelevant question. What matters is the world may have tons of college graduates but very very few 22-year-olds with a decade of work experience, even less as manager and CEO.
For parents, the most tricky part is to get your youngsters listen to you. Good luck!
On 8/9/2011, during our daily early morning walk before work, I mentioned to my daughter one of Aesop’s fables–“The dog, the meat and the reflection.” We all know that the dog with the meat in his mouth lost his meat when he saw his own reflection in the water and tried to snatch that one.
I asked my daughter about the meaning of this fable. She said, “It teaches people not to be too greedy and how they should be content with what they already have.” Since it is a fable, it is written for children’s comprehension with an obvious message for them.
Yet, for adults, there is more than that. We can interpret meat as the substance of life while reflection as anything insubstantial and insignificant. When we waste our lives on the insubstantial and lose sight of our substance and by the end of the day, when we end up having nothing in our hands, don’t we behave as foolishly as this dog?
I am not sure if I have posted this piece here. If I have, too bad, read it again. A young relative of mine in China was given a job offer around the end of August. Everybody was worried that he would quit the job, packed up things and come back home in a few weeks, either because he did not like the job or the job was too demanding and he did not want to work hard on it.
I wrote to him on 9/3/2011, “A paycheck is a paycheck, no matter who gives it to you. If you don’t like it, you can always find another one. But don’t just quit on the spot and go home. It is better to wait till you find another one, the so-called riding-a-donkey-while-finding-another-donkey. Always remember a bad job is always better than no job. You don’t increase your value as an employee by sitting at home doing nothing, and you don’t want to let time go by without increasing your value.”
I’m happy to report that he is still holding that job now.
Last week, on 10/14, a colleague of mine talked about our former manager who met with another colleague of ours in another clinic. Our former manager left us first for one big company in town, then she moved to another one, a much smaller one.
They talked about job security in a small company and whether or not she had made a wise move. This reminds me of one small company that I used to work for around year 2000. At that time I thought it more secure to be with a big company like Sprint. Within one year of the move, I got laid off during Sprint’s third round of force reduction and the outsourcing drive.
I remember one colleague of mine who tried to get certified for “job security.” But her certification has not saved her during our latest round of job cut. Oh boy, she was extremely upset.
Now I no longer count on any company for job security. The only security that is worth seeking is one’s indispensible skills.
This is part of my diggings during my house cleanup. I wrote it back on 7/30/2008. The topic is work habits that bosses love written by Margaret Steen.
(1) Communicate, communicate, ommunicate. Better asking too many questions than otherwise
(2) Acknowledge what the boss says. We all appreciate “responsive listening.”
(3) Collaborate. Respond to new ideas constructively instead of throwing roadblocks.
(4) Build relationships.
(5) Understand how you fit in. That is understand what the boss expects in an employee.
(6) Learn the boss’s pet peeves.
(7) Anticipate the boss’s needs.
(8) Think one level up. This is very important if you want to move up.
(9) Open yourself to new ways of doing things.
(10) Be engaged in your work.
On 8/7/2011, while cleaning old stuffs, I dug out a piece of paper with some blogging rules, written on 6/21/2008. I was a bit surprised, well, they were laid out by myself for myself. I don’t think I have followed them. I consider them to be good rules for any writing, though I have clearly wiped them out of my mind all these years.
Follow these rules in all circumstances–
(2) Keep level-headed
(3) Decent language
(4) Clear thinking
(5) Consistent writing style
(6) Keep the humor
(7) Proof-read everything before going out
(8) Always remember you broadcast globally every time you publish a posting.
One of the documents that I have kept for many years is traffic tickets, not many of them though. Here’s one of them.
On 7/12/2005, at 11:24 noon, I was on my way to Shawnee Mission West high school, where my son attended summer school. I remember following a swarm of cars, feeling as safe as a group of tigers. At the intersection of 103rd and Grandview, a police siren suddenly burst out. I was looking around to see who was the unfortunate one.
This time I was that one. I noticed the cop was following me, so I stopped in the mid of traffic. He approached with a got-ya smile, asking for my driver’s license and insurance card, then handed me a speeding ticket for $77 for driving at 47 mph in a 35 mph zone. Whatever. How I hate that moment!
The fine has doubled now as this is one of their revenue channels. Just be careful next time if you don’t want to feed with your hard-earnd money this way.
A doctor recommended to me his acquisition editor on 3/23/2011. I sent my book proposal to this editor the next day. I was hoping I could get an update from this editor but was told by the doctor that “It is best to wait for him to contact you. It is a long process. He will contact you when he has something to tell you.”
On 4/7, the doctor told me again not to write to this editor, “…it is a slow process and you must be patient. You will not accomplish anything by writing to … I would suggest you let at least 6 weeks go by before you inquire.”
So I waited for two months and still heard nothing on this regard. On 5/31, I contacted this doctor again about my book plan in China. He told me to contact his editor first. Finally after two long months!
This I did, but no words came from him after two days. I asked this doctor what if I had not heard from him by the time I was leaving for China? All the time I was hoping he could jump out and say something on my behalf since he has the connections and could move things faster. No, instead, the nice doctor told me, “Then assume he is not interested,” which means, well, you can imagine how I felt about it.
The next day, the editor wrote back, full of apologies, because he had forgot all about my book proposal. I know he has not trashed it, as he promised me that he would discuss the book with his colleagues and get back to me.
I was pondering upon the words of the doctor, the two-month’s waiting and the forgetful editor, from hopeful to hopeless and to hopeful again, from doctor to the editor. As with everything in life, it is never a good idea to pin down your hope or your chance of success on others.
I read this news yesterday– “US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, said the bill reflects the frustration felt by many Americans. The US Senate has voted through a bill that aims to put pressure on China to increase the value of its currency, the yuan.”
When these politicians pick up China for their frustration and inability over American dire economic crisis, I was more than flabbergasted. Why can’t people see some of the simple facts that have led the nation to what it is now? It is simply preposterous that politicians choose to ignore these facts. Perhaps it is the cowardice in them that has disabled American politicians to claim their responsibilities. Or probably it is easy to find a scapegoat or create a common enemy to focus their energy on or even worse to shift people’s attention to the root of the problems, which are the following.
(1) The cost of the two wars runs up to more than a trillion dollars. A huge addition to the country’s debt burden.
(2) The revenue shortfall caused by the two massive income tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. According to the Congressional Budget Office, Bush tax cuts extension for two years alone will add $3.3 trillion to the national debt.
(3) The shortfall of revenue gets worse because of the 14 million jobless Americans. No job means no revenue for government and no consumer spending.
(4) Americans have been spoiled by the sense of entitlements and are so immune to any hardships that these entitlements start to accumulate and aggregate to the point of crisis
The passing of the currency bill reminds me of a Chinese saying on boomerang effect.
This is from what I wrote long ago when my son was still a baby. I don’t even remember where I got it, but I believe there must a reason for me to keep it. Words associated with an ideal home are the following–
providing good role models,
feeling safe and secure,
feeling unique and special.
I am not sure I have provided this ideal one for my children, giving my easy-to-boil temper. At least, I have tried. No regret.
For some reason, the recent Occupy Wall Street demonstration reminds me of these words from Mao Zedong.
The demonstration started in New York City and spread to other parts of the country. I have a lot of sympathy for those folks. I am not sure what it can accomplish, though I am certain of what it is not.
(1) It is not and will not be an earthquake event like Arab Spring movement in Middle East, which is very close to Mao’s definition of revolution.
(2) It will not be as influential as Tea Party noise because Tea Party has been backed by the powerful moneyed class, whereas those demonstrators consist of the penniless, hopeless, helpless and even desperate ones. Let’s face it: how far can you go without a penny?
(3) They will not get what they ask, assuming they ask for jobs. A large quantity of jobs have been shipped overseas, gone forever.
The voices of these demonstrators are too weak and too late. They are not even as forceful as anti-abortionists who have succeeded in killing an abortion doctor or as powerful as gay marriage opponents who have claimed equal success. That’s American priority!
When I worked at DMR back in 1998, there was an Indian colleague who religiously go through a day of fasting every week. He was very hungry during one of these days, I told him just to sip something to keep him going. “Nobody cares.”
He told me this fasting was part of his religion. The busier he was and the more demanding his job became, the more he needed his religion, as if he were to maintain his moral height in the battle among mundane world breadearners.
I have no doubt that he will survive or even rise above the vicissitudes of today’s economic turmoils, not solely because of his religion but because the spiritual strength that he thus garners. He reminds me of Ursula Burns.
When I was moving stuffs around in my house, I came upon this step stool, which I have used for my plants after my children outgrew it.
The step stool brought to my memory of the time when I got it. It was from a would-be pastor. When his family moved back to Taiwan, he packed the whole apartment stuffs and was ready to ship them to Taiwan. He was going to keep this step stool, too, but his wife said no. That was why it became mine.
I still remember when I saw boxes of his belongings ready for the shipping, I was wondering why a theologist student was still obssessed with materials of this world. For a would-be pastor, aren’t we supposed to be more spiritual than materialistic?
By the way, a few weeks ago, I got in touch with this family and learned that after they moved back to Taiwan, they went to China for two years working as a pastor there, then moved to California for three years before they moved to Minnesota where the wife worked on her PhD while the pastor preached at a evangelical church.
Yesterday evening, Friday, 10/7/2011, I talked to my mother over the Skype. She told me, “You cannot count on anyone for your happiness, not your spouse, not your children. You have to find happiness from within yourself.” Such a sensible person. I think she talks from her own experience.
Notes from readings on Barbara Fredrickson and Shawn Achor
(1) At the end of the day, think of something that you are grateful for
(2) Meditation, thinking nothing, let your mind fly freely
(3) Keep fit. Exercise helps you stay positive
(4) Do good deeds whenever you can
(5) Develop happy habits
(6) Keep a diary
October 5, 2011 saw the departure of Steve Jobs, a legendary figure, looming larger than life in the hearts of billions. People poured out from every corner of the world to mourn over this loss. They don’t need to know the details of his life. They cherish the image.
He left young, yet he had lived like no one had before. He was a comet, exerting all his energy and illuminating the world as he disappeared in the universe.
Better than a comet is the legends and legacy that he left for the living and for future generation, which will live on as long as human history. The world will miss him.
For some days after I got back from China on 7/12/2011, I found it hard to stay awake in the morning. At first, I thought it normal jet lag. After two or more weeks, when things had not changed for the better, I started thinking of something else.
I tried to get up early, around 5:50, took a brisk morning walk or jog before I headed for office. As the result of this exercise, my morning yawning decreased and I started feeling energized.
From that time on, I make a point of having this morning exercise. To be sure, it is not without struggle, especially when the days get shorter in autumn. Every morning when the alarm yells and I am still very sleepy, I ask myself: shall I get up or skip this morning. When I am outside, I face another one: walk or run. I know I can find thousands of excuses for myself if I decide not to get up or not to run.
I notice throughout the day, I am constantly facing such choice, one being easy, the other being difficult. It is so easy to give in to the natural tendency of taking the easy one and to stay in our comfort zone. In the long run, the choice we constantly make defines us and determines our fate.
When I was in China, my sister told me the story of her friend’s daughter. The girl just came back from America after a year’s stay there as a high schooler. Her parents had to find an English tutor here to help with her English.
I think it ridiculous that she still cannot carry on daily conversation after living in America for a year. I should not be surprised over it as I realize this is not an isolated case.
What often happens is this. The Chinese students jump into the circle of their country folks, their comfort zone, as soon as they arrive in America. They have as little as possible contact with Americans outside classroom. The more they fail in English, the more they seek refugee in their mother tongue, thus perpetuating the vicious circle and forgetting what they venture out for.
As with everything in life, it is actually in human nature that we tend to take the easy option whenever that option is available. It takes some courage and maturity to break away from one’s comfort zone and enjoy a giant progress.
Continue from yesterday’s.
On first reading, Darwin’s words seem to reveal a touch of regret for not having read poetry or listened to some music, which had diminished the amount of happiness that he could have enjoyed and much more… I don’t think he knew what he was talking about.
First of all, he would not change a tiny bit if he had to live his life again. His life was determined and driven by his character and what he observed and experienced in his life. If he observed and experienced the same thing next time around, he would live the same life.
Secondly, throughout Darwin’s life, he had worked unremittingly, being motivated by a higher order of calling, undergoing tremendous hardships, gathering mountains of information in order to understand human evolution. For what he had gone through and what he had accomplished, he must have his moment of joy and his level of happiness, which no trivial mind can understand and enjoy.
In our lives, we all pursue our definition of happiness. For some, money makes them happy; for others, achievement and accomplishments; for some others, discovery and innovation. Regardless of these differences, reading poetry and listening to music are the side orders to the main entree, adding a finish touch to the total feeling of our happiness. Even for a poet or musician, he/she feels the real joy at the moment of creating them.
A few weeks ago, while reading Will Durant’s The Lessons of History, I found it necessary to read something about Charles Darwin. So I did, just want to find out how dreadfully boring Darwin could be.
Darwin’s laser-focused concentration on human evolution had changed his mind. Consequently, his “mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts.” And as he recalled, “for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry… almost lost any taste for pictures or music.”
However, he said, “If I had to live my life again I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week… The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”
What do you think of this? To be continued…
Last week I learned a man of our generation was struck down by a stroke before he turned 50, which was followed by a few minor ones. He is now bedridden, tube-fed, and is told his days are numbered. His wife is going through chemotherapy for cancer disease. We were asked for donations to help them out.
The news left me feeling sad and low-spirited as the man who has worked hard all his life seems to be leaving before he even hits retirement age. Moreover, I searched the internet for information on stroke as if I had not learned anything about it at all.
I learned from Mayo clinic that “A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and food. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. A stroke is a medical emergency. Prompt treatment is crucial. Early action can minimize brain damage and potential complications. The good news is that strokes can be treated and prevented, and many fewer Americans now die of stroke than was the case even 15 years ago. Better control of major stroke risk factors — high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol — is likely responsible for the decline.”
I try to learn a lesson from this incident and avoid stroke by eliminating the risk factors for it.
On 5/11/2011, a summer-like afternoon, I took my daughter to eye doctor for her annual eye check. We waited for a long time and were seen by the doctor for a very short moment. The bill is over $200. Luckily, our insurance company picked up the large portion of it. With her orthodontics doctor, a brief check cost $150 out of pocket money.
That evening I took her to the main library where she would prepare for the AP exams with her classmate. While she was there, I toured the inside of the library and saw the display of beautiful ceramics. I saw this display before. It reminded me of the time when my daughter was in first year of high school, taking a ceramics class. To be sure, she enjoyed doing and was thinking of making and selling them. But that idea has remained an idea.
On the way back home that night, I told my daughter of two incidents. “For a great majority of people, it is difficult to make a few dollars, but so easy to spend it. For a tiny fraction of population, the opposite is true.”