Last Friday, a colleague of mine at my previous office wrote to me telling me that she had handed in her resignation and next week would be her last week. She is going back to school full-time now. I am so glad for her. I told her to keep in touch and update me of her progress. Below is what I wrote to her.
“This is the word that I am going to give you and this is what I have tried to follow, no matter where I go. It’s not easy, but trust me this is the only way for people to feel good:
Be a friend to all who know you.
When I went to the central library to fetch my daughter back home on 6/26, I related to her what happened to me that day. Of course, she told me to forget it as it’s not worth wasting my time. Indeed, there are so many important things waiting for me.
I know the event is too trivial to even think about. But in reality, I did find myself struggling to keep it out of my mind. I told my daughter, “I have the pictures of both of you in my office.”
Every time I encounter unpleasant things like this, I look at my son’s picture and say to myself, “My son would think this too trivial to even let it enter his radar of attention. He would not allow such trivial to upset him, not for a second.” He has so many big things on his mind.
When I look at his sunny picture, my mind clears up and I become cheerful once again. Immediately I turn back to what is important to me — my personal agenda.
My son is my inspiration. Thank you, my beloved son.
Below is exactly what happened yesterday, 6/26/2014, at 10:13 AM. Another colleague of mine wrote to my boss about me having a problem… when in fact she and I don’t even work at the same office and when she knows nothing about my work and how I work. For some unspeakable reason, she just cannot stop stirring up trouble like saying something bad about me behind my back to my boss.
I shouldn’t be bothered by her trouble-making act. Yet, to say I am not upset is a total lie. The day was at least partially blackened out by this. She did this thing to me more than once. I screamed out inside me: Why can’t you leave me alone? Why do you hate me so much that you have to stir up trouble like this? I have no answer. A colleague of mine said some people are addicted to sabotage acts like this. I am just unfortunate to become her target.
In medical documentation, there is a saying, “If it’s not documented, it’s not happened.” I share it here so that I can put it behind me and focus on what is important to me.
From: (my boss)
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2014 10:13 AM
Cc: VF, another of my colleagues and me
Subject: something very important
Thank you for your communication with my research team.
From: VF (Yes, that’s the name of the person who does things like this, God knows how many times a day)
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2014 10:00 AM
To: (my boss)
Subject: something very important
I believe there is a problem with how (MY NAME here) is handling the issue noted below. I’m not sure what she is communicating regarding cost of mailing [NOTE: it is none of your business to know what I communicate with others] or ….
Thought you should know.
Harvard Medical School often sends emails for me to buy their articles. On rare occasions, they give away something free, like this one –“seven tips can keep your strength training safe and effective.” Here are the tips which I’d like to share with my readers.
1. Warm up and cool down for five to 10 minutes. Walking is a fine way to warm up; stretching is an excellent way to cool down.
2. Focus on form, not weight. Align your body correctly and move smoothly through each exercise. Poor form can prompt injuries and slow gains. When learning a strength training routine, many experts suggest starting with no weight, or very light weight. Concentrate on slow, smooth lifts and equally controlled descents while isolating a muscle group.
3. Working at the right tempo helps you stay in control rather than compromise strength gains through momentum. For example, count to three while lowering a weight, hold, then count to three while raising it to the starting position.
4. Pay attention to your breathing during your workouts. Exhale as you work against resistance by lifting, pushing, or pulling; inhale as you release.
5. Keep challenging muscles by slowly increasing weight or resistance. The right weight for you differs depending on the exercise. Choose a weight that tires the targeted muscle or muscles by the last two repetitions while still allowing you to maintain good form. If you can’t do the last two reps, choose a lighter weight. When it feels too easy to complete all the reps, add weight (roughly 1 to 2 pounds for arms, 2 to 5 pounds for legs), or add another set of repetitions to your workout (up to three sets). If you add weight, remember that you should be able to do all the repetitions with good form and the targeted muscles should feel tired by the last two.
6. Stick with your routine — working all the major muscles of your body two or three times a week is ideal. You can choose to do one full-body strength workout two or three times a week, or you may break your strength workout into upper- and lower-body components. In that case, be sure you perform each component two or three times a week.
7. Give muscles time off. Strength training causes tiny tears in muscle tissue. These tears aren’t harmful, but they are important: muscles grow stronger as the tears knit up. Always give your muscles at least 48 hours to recover before your next strength training session.
I once shared with my children this, one year or five years or 10 years will come and go, regardless what you do or what you not do. If you don’t take initiative and do something, you will find yourself in the same spot, no change, say five years down the way.
I encourage them to imagine where they are five years down the road. If you want to see a career leap, take these actions.
1. Have short-term and long-term goals
2. Have a clear road map to reach your goals
3. Have an open mind to new things and opportunities. Let nothing go by without your close scrutiny
4. Keep constant self-pep talk as morale booster and also as a reminder not to forget your goal. Nothing can come true without your believing it. Be your own cheerleader if nobody’s around
5. Learn from your failures. Move on regardless of all the setbacks.
This is a rough translation of last post.
(1) Be in good health
(2) Have a realistic goal
(3) Have self-respect
(4) Have self-control over one’s emotion
(5) Be optimistic
(6) Be generous and forgiving towards others
(7) Have a circle of friends
(8) Get along well with others, being able to integrate in a team
(9) Have a challenging job and proper pastime
(10) Belong to a team or be aware of the group you belong to
No. 6, 7, 8, and 10 talk about our relationship with others. As social beings, our ability to be comfortable with others is essential to our happiness.
I am at my office right now. Hang on there. I am going to translate this in my next post.
This is from Money magazine, June 2014 issue, “Get the Line on Unlisted Jobs.” It gives some tips for job hunters. Without these tips, “the job seeker who waits to be tapped on the shoulder might be waiting awhile.” I truly hope my children won’t feel the need to use any of them, that is, they have skills strong enough to get whatever job they desire without having to even think of them.
(1) Talk to the top recruiters. Higher-up HR reps tend to be gate-keepers for higher-level positions, so identify recruiters with sway at the businesses you admire. Write to them or send your resume… “They may not look at it, but they’ll remember your name…” I wish my children have better ways to make themselves known to others.
(2) Make a friend on the inside. Since upper-level jobs are often revealed only internally, it can pay to establish relationships with peers at companies on your wish list. Use LinkedIn to find a second-degree connection then request an introduction from your mutual pal. The trick is how not to make people feel like they are being used.
(3) Impress the C-suite crowd. For you to be identified as a candidate, the companies need to see that you are a known commodity.” “To capture the attention of those with hire power, you must steal the spotlight. This sounds uncomfortable to me.
(4) Get the boss’s buy-in. Not me.
How I dislike these tips, even though deep inside me I know they are useful. In fact, the dreadful fact that one is put in the situation in which one has to resort to these tips.
Pueblo Indian Prayer
Hold on to what is good,
Even if it’s a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it’s a long way from here.
Hold on to your life,
Even if it’s easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
Even if I’ve gone away from you.
This message is as old as I can remember. That is, dreams need actions, plenty of them, for them to materialize. Dream without actions remain forever a dream.
I can’t believe we still need to be told of this ancient message today and even get celebrity like Shonda Rhimes, on the list of TIME magazine’s 100 people who help shape the world, to repeat it at Dartmouth’s graduation speech.
I don’t feel comfortable reading these words of hers — “Dreams Are for Losers…” I am wondering what Martin Luther King, Jr. would think with his “I have a dream” speech. And don’t forget my favorite piece by Langston Hughes,
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
For me, I still hold my dreams and work steadily toward whatever I fancy to hold.
As I turned the pages of 2014 calendar, it dawned on me that the mid month and also mid year is approaching quickly, faster than I’d prepare. At this point, I thought of my New Year Resolution and realized that I have somehow moved away from my resolution, not totally though.
At the beginning of the year, I was very determined to move on in my life to another post, to leave the work place that I have been with since 2005. It is rather dreadful to see myself in the same position for a decade. In fact, I still don’t like my work place, more so now than before. But after a few attempts of job hunting and a few interviews, I became disheartened, because the process has been exhaustive and completely fruitless and time-wasting.
I don’t want to keep looking any more. This does not mean I will stop making efforts. Nor does it mean I will give up my personal agenda, totally dedicating myself to my work. That will never happen.
I am glad I revisit my New Year Resolution now as I need to revise it in order to channel my energy and time toward some new goals for the rest of this year.
I read this piece during the weekend of 6/7/14. I like it so much that I shared it with some of my friends today when I went back to the office.
I told them “I just shared this article with my daughter. I told her ‘You are not twenty-somethings yet, but they are good habits to start having.’ Not sure if she will read it. Still. There is only this much that parents can do with their children. We’ll just do as much as we can while they listen.”
The article “Effective habits to cultivate as enterprising twenty-somethings” lists the following good habits. Below is pretty much a copy of the article.
(1) Read every day
(2) Experiment & launch every week
Get something out the door once every few days. Build and launch, do it quickly while using some intuition to guide you.
(3) Explore your areas of talent
Are the businesses you involve yourself in within your range of passions and talents or are you beating away at something you won’t be able to continue with when things get hard. Working within your element is important not only because you know more about what you’re working on but also because you will feel excited every day to get to work.
(4) Keep your house in order
Stop putting off the small things. Every hour of the day shouldn’t be devoted to business and working. Spend time to clean up the house, keep track of your finances, your relationships and all of those other things you’re building a business for in the first place. If you don’t take care of the little things, they pile up and come back to haunt you, and potentially kill you.
(5) Work out
Exercise, and the lack of, has a huge effect on your health, ability to think clearly and how happy you feel overall. Not to mention, it will improve many other areas of your life… In short, working out will give you the state of mind to stay balanced and clear about what you’re doing.
(6) Save every cent you can
Some day you’ll want to quit your job and work full time on your business. When that happens there is no guarantee you’ll be making mad cash or totally financially stable. Save every cent you can. Set up a few accounts, investments and start throwing money in there every week. This changes your overall outlook on how much you actually need your job and if you can take the risk of pursuing your business full time.
(7) Find more reasons for what you’re doing
Money is a great motivator. But what will that matter if you’re too old or busy to ever enjoy it and explore your life while you’re still fairly young.
My motivator is money as well. However, maybe even more is wanting to travel, be free from a job and enjoy more things while my wife and I are young. Nice cars and big houses don’t need to even be a part of the picture. More than anything, I’m looking for freedom to do what I love while making money and creating value for other people.
(8) Be a strategy builder and problem solver
Just launching random crap without thinking will cause you to run into the same mistakes over and over again. Maybe without learning anything.
The world pays problem solvers everything. Everything we pay into is to solve a need, problem or urge. Problem solvers make life easier and, if they’re smart, get paid for it.
(9) Don’t waste your youth
Maybe another motivator to work hard, get things done right and set yourself up is that twenty years makes a big difference. More importantly, what you do with that time.
My parents are going to retire with almost nothing. A small pension and an outstanding mortgage. How different would things be if they would have saved a little more money for those forty years, gotten better careers and knew what they actually wanted?
Doing these things now saves you a lot of pain later. So many twenty-somethings waste the most critical decade of their lives doing absolutely nothing that they’ll care about five years, months or even weeks from now.
Be smart and work hard.
In my last post, I have a Chinese version of these skills, habits or qualities that good parenting can help children to develop. I am going to attempt a translation today.
(1) Help children become a good listener. Many people lack of patience today. They either can’t wait to hear out what others have to day or make no effort to understand what other people say.
(2) Help them cultivate a love for reading. Be a diligent reader, that is, seize every moment to read. Be a fast reader and don’t stop at shallow read.
(3) Ability to communicate with anyone at all levels.
(4) Develop a strong written communication skill.
(5) Develop problem solving ability in daily life.
(6) Keep your promise. Mean what you say.
(7) Respect others. Accept responsibilities instead of blaming others when something happens.
(8) Go green. Don’t waste resources.
(9) Influence people around you. Create a positive environment.
(10) Keep an open mind to things that are new to you. Get along well with others.
I read this one on 6/5/2014 and was eager to share it here. I will try to translate it later.
Last Friday, 5/30, three of us went to New York. We left early in the morning and arrived early in the afternoon. We picked up a rental car at the airport, then drove to my son’s apartment at the corner of Park Avenue and 62nd street, to the east of Central Park in Manhattan.
We parked the car in a public parking garage, then walked to my son’s apartment. There we waited till his girlfriend came back from work. Then, five of us drove out of New York to Boston. We stopped overnight at Meriden, CT, Hawthorn Suites, and continued our way the next morning, 5/31, Saturday.
We went to tour Boston College and then walked on Boston busy streets. In the evening, we drove to Northampton, stopped overnight at Hartford, MA. We drove back to New York City Sunday morning, said goodbye to my son and his girlfriend, returned the rental car, took the shuttle bus to the airport. By the time we got back home, it was around 1:30 AM, Monday morning.
What a wonderful weekend!
“I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.”
— Charlie Munger
“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.”
— Charlie Munger
“The ability to destroy your ideas rapidly instead of slowly when the occasion is right is one of the most valuable things. You have to work hard on it. Ask yourself what are the arguments on the other side. It’s bad to have an opinion you’re proud of if you can’t state the arguments for the other side better than your opponents. This is a great mental discipline.”
— Charlie Munger
We all tend to have a certain fixed way of thinking, which is often rigid, settled, anchored, or rooted. Call it our established mental set or a mental box. The box is made of our past experience, knowledge, prejudice and almost everything we have learned in the socialization process.
I have heard people say something like “Don’t get into the box in the first place.” I am not sure if you can do it since the mental box is an inalienable part of our growing up experience.
The undesirable thing about this in-box thinking is it prevents us from thinking creatively and successfully. It binds our hands and feet and issues a virtual order on what we can and cannot do. Haven’t you met people who are likely to say “It is impossible” even before they try it? This is the effect of in-box thinking.
The first step to think creatively is to be aware of the mental box that you are in. Once you realize the retriction, try to challenge yourself and see how many different ways you can think on certain issues.