If life (or your mom) gives you sour pomelo (pamplemousse), make pomelo salad with lime and mint leaves or leftovers (chicken) from your fridge.

Serve salad using the thick pomelo skin as bowl. Or …

Wring the pomelo skin like a stress ball and be tantalised by the exotic citrusy refreshing fragrance of far away sun-sea lands like Thailand or Vietnam.

Constraints such as sustainability force us to be creative

Pomelo or 柚子 sounds like abundance in Chinese, making it a festive gift. Ipoh pomelo are light and sweet costing $10 but cheaper less sweet pomelo go for a third the price.

Quote from Steve Jobs in Wired (1996):

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”

https://www.wired.com/1996/02/jobs-2/

I grew up in an Asian family, where one believes in fate.  Born at a certain time, day, month, year, preferably “Year of the dragon” – you’ll sail towards the golden sea, without hard work.  I was not born under such lucky stars – and hence embraced American style motivational thinking with open arms.  You can be what you put your heart too.  Is this true?

As a Myers Briggs Type Indicator facilitator and career coach, I am now inclined that nature, nurture and “will” or adaptation through self awareness can help us modify our behaviors.

In “Quiet, the power of Introverts in a World that can’t stop Talking” (Ch 5),  author Susan Cain, interviewed Dr Carl Schwartz, Director of the Developmental Neuroimaging and Psychopathology Research Lab, using fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machines if introverts and extroverts behave differently.  Specifically, through measuring the activity of the amygdala – in shaping the personalities of introverts and extroverts.

In an experiment using a slideshow projecting a crowded room of strangers or some familiar faces, Schwartz found that the amydalae of high reactives (introverts) reacted more to the photos of strangers than low reactives (extroverts). Using a longitudinal study, found that the footprint of a high or low reactive temperament never disappeared in adulthood (what Carl Jung assumed all these while).  Susan Cain calls this the “rubber band theory” of personality.  “We are like rubber bands at rest.  We are elastic and can stretch ourselves, but only so much.”  Nature and nurture. Bill Gates is never going to be Bill Clinton.

What’s being processed in the Introvert’s brain in a cocktail party?

A lot.

1. When we greet a stranger in a party, the amygdala (the ancient part of the brain), goes into overdrive.

2. For those relatively skilled in social situations, the neofrontal cortex kicks in to tell you to calm down, and what to do next – shake hands, smile. But conditioning and learning only suppresses the activity of the amygdala, not erase the fear.

3. During times of stress, unwarranted fears came go haywire,  – “when the cortex has other things to do than soothe an excitable amygdala”.  => Solitude and time for meditation works for both introverts and extroverts as you don’t want your amygdala to spin out of control on you.

What should we do:

To conquer fear of public speaking, small talk with strangers etc.

1. Desensitise yourself (and your amygdala) in small doses, over and over again – in a safe environment.

Reassuring. Something I’ve known intuitively.  Don’t just jump into the deep end. Bad advice.  As Japanese say, “Kaizen” or small improvements daily is better. A case in point was when I learnt to ride a bicycle “in one hour” in my forties at the harassment of my husband.  Instead of buying a beautifully crafted bicycle meant for racers as my first bike, so that it can still be used 3 years later and not out-grow it, as he put it, I bought a safe one which I would put my feet on the ground “safely”, to minimise my fear of falling.  Also, I took to “Youtube” and watched many, many bicycle training videos to desensitise myself.

A “one hour miracle”, was actually hours of practice soothing my amygdala which cannot tell the difference between real practice and what the eye sees.

2.  Find your sweet spot.

Once you discover your preferences, organise your life around “optimal levels of arousal“, what Susan Cain calls “sweet spots”.   If you’re happily reading your book in a quiet place, and after 30 mins find yourself re-reading a sentence 5 times, you’re understimulated.  Call a friend, go out for tea.  Now you’re back into your sweet-spot.  But if your extroverted friend who needs a higher level of stimulation, persuades you to follow her to a party after this tea, you may find yourself having to make small talk with strangers, and soon, find yourself “overstimulated“.

What next?  Pair off with someone for in-depth conversation, or go back to your book. Understanding your sweet spot, can increase satisfaction in every area of your life and more.

Ask: How much time does your work require you to behave out of your sweet spot? Too much time in a research lab, and not enough time interacting with people? Or too much time socialising and schmoozing and not enough time to research in your cubicle.

3. Find out what’s meaningful for you

Can we act out of character? How then do famous strong introverts speak in public effectively?  Susan Cain introduces us to the Free Traits theory, created by Professor Brian Little, former Havard University psychology lecturer. “According to the Free Traits theory, we are able to act out of character in the service of core personal projects. ” Introverts can behave like extroverts to accomplish work/causes they regard as important, people/ projects they value highly.

To thine own self be true. – Shakespeare

How to identify core personal projects?

4. Pay attention to your actions

Can you fake it till you make it? Yes, to a certain extent according to studies by research psychologist, Richard Lippa comparing introverts who pretend and act like extroverts, with actual extroverts. Some psuedo-extroverts are surprisingly convincing.

Pay attention to how your face and body arrange themselves when you’re feeling confident and adopt the same position when it comes time to fake it. Studies have shown that behavior can lead to emotions. Smiling makes you feel stronger and happier and frowning makes you feel angry.

There is a limit to the control of self-presentation – beware of behavioral leakage. When you act out of character for a project you don’t care about, your discomfort can come across strongly and detected by the other party, sometimes as “freudian slips”.

5. Restore

Professor Little advises, find as many restorative niches as possible in your daily life, recommended by “The Introvert Advantage” – a quick read, practical guide. Surprisingly for a sedentary person like myself, going for a walk in the park, or jogging in the gym is a restorative process. After a day of lecturing, I recharge with a 20 min treadmill time, then off to a dinner with my husband’s colleagues and then supper with his friends.

While some of the recommendations are not new, it has given credibility that I am not abnormal, and allowed me to negotiate with my husband, an extrovert, who wants me to go everywhere. Professor Little calls it “Free Trait Agreement”,

Read more about this inspiring book, Quiet by Susan Cain.

There are more nuggets in this book not covered by my blog. Watch Susan Cain’s TED introduction, but she’s too modest in promoting her book.

Photo: Coffee at Pottery Tsuboya, Naha, Okinawa, 2017

Topics:

  • Art/ Apps
  • Business/ Books
  • Current Affairs/ Charities
  • Disruptive Tech/ Dream Destinations
  • Family/ Fun
  • Good food – Cooking/ Restaurant
  • Family
  • Here and Now/ Host/ Hobbies/ Holidays
  • Internet of Things
  • Job
  1. How are you related to the host? Are you related from the bride’s side or groom’s side? (At a wedding)
  2. Does your family have any “secret” or famous recipes?
  3. What’s your favorite restaurant that others don’t know about?
  4. How’s the family?
  5. What do you usually do on weekends?
  6. I am starting a book club, any good books you recommend?
  7. Any books you recommend to get into your field?
  8. Do you prefer city vacations or relaxing on the beach?

Job

I am/ My (niece/son) is interested to get into this [profession]. Do you have any advice for me/ I should pass on?”

“ How did you decide to get into [X field]?”

“I read about +++++ [Y detail about job] in +++++. Has that held true in your experience?”

“Which skill do you use the most in your work? Was that what you expected?”

“What’s the stereotype of a [job title]? Does it hold up?”

“Is there anything you didn’t anticipate about this role starting out? Do you like or dislike that?”

“What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? How about the worst?”

More tips on small talk or ice breakers for your next event:

https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/small-talk-guide

Career fairs are around the corner. Job search especially networking can be stressful. Why attend when we can read online company info?

Make your presence felt at these pivotal moments. Practice in small doses to acclimatise your amydala. The ability to ask insightful questions reflects an intelligent mind.

Ask not questions from available open source material such as company website, Hoover, Bloomberg etc. Demonstrate the extent of your research by asking insightful questions.

Note that timing is important when asking questions. The questions below only serve as a guide. Use your judgment as to when you should ask the questions. Pay attention to the “flow” of the conversation to avoid the conversation sounding awkward and abrupt.

Questions about the company

  1. Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?
  2. How will you measure success?
  3. Between two equally-qualified candidates, what’s the deciding factor whom to hire?
  4. How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?
  5. What do you want to see accomplished in your team/ department/ company in the next 3 to 6 months? What would be ideal outcome or key performance indicator?
  6. What impact, if any, has Web 2.0 made on your organization or you personally?
  7. What is the biggest challenge facing your industry today?

Questions to the speaker at a personal level

  1. Can you share what insights impacted you most personally as a leader? Was there someone who was a mentor to you? In what way was this person an impact on your life?
  2. Is there any way I can be of help to you right now?
  3. What advice would you give someone going into this industry for the first time?
  4. What do you like to do? (Instead of what do you do?)

Don’t crowd the CEO of the company. Younger company reps may have more relevant advice since they were  in your shoes, not too long ago.

News-worthy events

  1. How do you read the impact of a [XXXX] on your industry?

Questions to the speaker

Michael Hyatt is one of my favourite gurus. Do check out his website and podcasts.

  1. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
  2. As an organization gets larger there can be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening?
  3. How do you or other leaders in your organization communicate the “core values”?
  4. How do you encourage others in your organization to communicate the “core values”?
  5. How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization?
  6. What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
  7. What is the one behavior or trait that you have seen derail more leaders’ careers?
  8. What resources would you recommend to someone looking to become a better leader?
  9. Could you share some of the resources you use to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
  10. What are some of your go-to resources for guidance in your field of work?

What other questions would you add to the above list?  Pls comment below.

Happy Networking and career success.

“Its not only the desire for wealth and position that debases and subjugates, but also the desire for peace, leisure, travel and learning. It doesnt matter what the external thing is, the value we place on it subjugates us to another … where our heart is set, there our impediment lies.”

– Epictetus, Discourses, 4.4.1-2; 15 (from The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman).

Ryan Holiday asks “surely Epictetus is not saying that peace and travel are bad, is he?” No, he explains. But ceaseless, ardent desire is filled with “potential complications”.

I am reminded of a verse in Bible that money is not the root of all evil. The love of money is.

When we pine for something, we set ourselves for disappointment. We can lose our self control in response.

Authors suggest that a good goal, like “love or a noble cause” can set you up just as well.

My self reflection: this verse jumps out at me and helps explain something Im going through, have been going through, esp with manipulative family members.

Coaching question of the day

Are you in control of your desires, or are they in control of you?

Truth will set you free.

I used to think that being authentic means being honest, about the way things are, the way I feel about an issue.

In “The practice of Adaptive Leadership”, Jeff Lawrence points out ” there is no such thing as a dysfunctional organisation, because every organisation is perfectly aligned to achieve the results it currently gets.”

Any social system is the way it is, because people (esp important people) in that system want it that way. “No one who tries to name or address the dysfunction will be popular.”

As a coach, if you take on the task of pointing out flawed thinking or any gaps thinking you are “authentic”, “truthful”, being ethical and doing someone a favour, dont be shocked when you do not receive an applause for identifying a gap between the professed value and current reality.

Adaptive change is a risk.

Authors advise that a change coach/consultant focus on “how to mobilise and sustain people through the period of risk.”

I found this statement so simple and profound.

Coaching question of the day

Is there a broken system you see? Whats better left unsaid? Are you prepared to speak only when your words are worthy of being heard? (The Daily Stoic)

“If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.” John Cage

Either once only, or every day. If you do something once it’s exciting, and if you do it every day it’s exciting. But if you do it, say, twice or just almost every day, it’s not good any more. – Andy Warhol

“You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.” – Andy Warhol

Today, I’m bored. (Most times, I’m boring). I’m an accidental Warhol fan and took his advice.

Embrace the place where life happens

I started with the most boring, unimportant and urgent task, cleaning my car windshield screen. A cleaner in the building walked past and asked if I was bathing my car. “Just as we need to bathe everyday, the car also needs daily bathing”, he shared.

Purpose and meaning to the ordinary

Very wise advice, “bathing” is indeed a boring but essential activity. That simple connection of our shared activity of cleaning. Perhaps that was how he saw meaning in his work. Zen of everyday living.

People’s opinion

When I put attention to something, it becomes more important and more interesting. I am going through the book of Psalms which used to bore me. Recently I started reading it with the help of Ms Seah Jiak Choo’s video and resources of CS Lewis and David Pawson and fellow educators.

Going through it together, albeit virtually somehow made it interesting for me. Although I read the same poem everyday, I chew on each word, its meaning and significance in my life and greater context. No surprise, this is the year of the ox. Chew on it.

CNY Salad at HV restaurant with Bel, 2021

Boredom could be a sign of anhedonia or fatigue and burnout. If thats you, seek help and rest.

Putting the ordinary on the Pedestal

(Continued from Part 1)

3. Aspirations

Developing a positive outlook and curiosity about the world are two attitudes that would benefit young people to cultivate. This would shape the way they perceive and respond to challenges. Are they willing to struggle through, learn to problem-solve and find options or alternatives or view them as setbacks and roadblocks? 

Experts estimate that 70% of our skills come from solving challenges, 20% from watching others, and 10% from classes/reading. Start building these attitudes in young people through asking thought-provoking questions:

“If you can change something about the world, what would it be?”;

“What’s a challenge you faced, which you can help others going through something similar? 

Get them thinking about how they can make a difference in the lives of others, as 1 Peter 4:10 said, we are called to use our gifts to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace. 

4. Reality Check

Professor Damon suggests that it’s important to give young people a sense of agency to take responsibility for their actions. For instance, helping them think through the trade-offs between job satisfaction (people you respect, work you enjoy), lifestyle (hours worked) and income (pay off student loan). 

Ian Ang, Co-founder of Secretlab, and youngest winner of EY Entrepreneur of The Year, reflected how his mother’s insistence that he fill out an excel sheet with projected expenses before he could claim his school allowance helped him become pragmatic about business expenditure. Interestingly, Ian’s long hours playing in eSports competition not only helped him find his tribe, but also gave him the idea to develop an ergonomic chair for eSport tournaments. This proved even more successful during the Covid-19 work-from-home season, where he found an unexpected fanbase in armchair Zoom warriors. 

Finally, James Citrinnoted expert on leadership and professional success, suggests that parents resist the urge to relate “everything back to your experience which can come across as this is the road you should take”. Instead, encourage them to learn how to take ownership and read the map for themselves, despite the winding path their careers will take.  

Even though these might sound like a lot to support our young people through finding their careers, it comes down to building a good relationship with them and being able to have meaningful, and at times difficult, conversations. 

#mentor #career #pathway #SOAR #strength #aspiration #Citrin #Damon #purpose #opportunities #reality

Im a hoarder. After being inspired by Netflix series: Marie Kondo, The Minimalists and Home edit, I decided to clear my closets.

Today I chanced upon a glass teapot I bought 4 mths ago and made myself a pot of lemongrass/screwpine tea.

And realised that in my cupboard, I had 24 different types of tea. The canisters of most were already rusty, so I cant give them away. But it was shocking that I could make myself a different cup each day. Yet, I drink Arabica coffee every morning, when I had so many choices in my home pantry.

Why am I not taking the pause to edit and enjoy the resources I have ?

Are there resources in your closet which you are not aware?