Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Difference is Attitude

I’ve been staring at a blank screen for the last 30 minutes now without having any idea what to write about today. Well actually, that’s not true. I haven’t had any idea what to blog about for the last few days. My last post was kind of a last minute kind of thing and I wrote it because I hadn’t written anything in a while. Now I’m still struggling with the same problem and I’ve decided to just write whatever that crosses my mind.

The last few years of my life haven’t been that easy. People who have known me for a while now know that some of the toughest times in my life have been the last few years. Although my life hasn’t exactly gotten easier, I’m feeling more positive about it. Looking back at how I was over the last few years, and the last month or so, I guess the biggest difference has been my attitude.

I’ve always been someone who goes with the flow of things. I accept whatever that happens around me and just do whatever that needs to be done to adapt to that situation. Instead of taking initiative to get ahead in life, I react to whatever that happens in my life.

Recently I’ve discovered that this isn’t very productive. This attitude always ensures that you’re one step behind life. You’re reacting to whatever that goes on in your life instead of trying to take control of your life and lead it the way you want it to go.

Over the last few months, I’ve changed my attitude. Instead of just simply reacting to the things going on around me, I’m taking more initiative. I’m pointing my life in the direction I want it to go. Although there are still times when I will react to what goes on in my life, but I’m more focused and more driven.

I guess what I’m getting at is that as your attitude changes; your life becomes more focused. Attitude is one of the critical ingredients in the result you obtain in life. It is the determining factor in your success or failure. Attitude is a combination of your thinking, your emotions, your way of viewing events and circumstances around you and also your perspective.

Many times, we face problems that seem to us as insurmountable or we face circumstances that seem to be beyond our control. There are certain facts in life that cannot be changed. But our attitude can overcome those facts. Spud Webb was born short, but he had an attitude that he wasn’t going to let his stature determine how far he went. He won the dunk contest for the National Basketball Association (NBA).

If you want an attitude that improves the quality of your life and enables you to achieve your dreams, then you must work for it, work at it and work on it. You can’t just sit back and wait for it to happen. You need to make a decision to have a positive attitude. You have to realize that you might not be able to control the things that happen around you or to you, but you can control the things that happen in you.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

4 reasons why people do not reach their potential

This was extracted from an article by John Maxwell in Success Magazine.


Choices that we make throughout the day that will change our lives. The reason we are where we are is because of the choices you make. The choices that we make every day will change our lives. If we’re not in that place where we can make a difference, if we’re not in the place where we are open up to opportunity, we’re going to miss that opportunity.

So it all comes back to awareness. We need to be aware of the choices we make and we need to be aware of the opportunities. It’s not an over analysis, it’s just being aware of what we are doing every day. Is it taking us towards our dreams or is it counterproductive? Are we stuck in ego where we’re missing 2 or 3 days, where we are just living our life and not moving forward?

So start looking at our choices


A lot of people want to take shortcuts in life. They want to go out and build a business without fully understanding the whole process of achieving their dreams. People do not reach their potential because they have no idea it will take so long. No matter what your goals in life are, we need to stop “microwaving” our ideas to achieve our goals. Instead you need to let it simmer and sautéed.

A lot of people don’t reach their potential because they have a time issue and they want to shortcut the process. Furthermore, shortcuts don’t pay off in the long run. We have to let things to happen. We continually need to progress and we’re pushing and pushing. We don’t allow things to happen. Have patience. All things are difficult before it becomes easier.

There is no shortcut


There is a cost associated with success and many people fail to pay the price with their demands. Every time we come to a crossroad in our lives there is a trade off. We have to give up something important in our life to achieve something more worthwhile.

“Human nature tempts us to stay where we are comfortable; we try to find a plateau of resting place where we have comfortable stress and adequate finances, where we have comfortable associations with people without intimidation of meeting new people and entering strange situations. Of course, all of us need to plateau for a time. We climb and then we plateau for a time for assimilation. But once we have assimilated what we have learned, we then climb again. Many times, our challenges in life are not in understanding, they are in doing”. – Fred Smith

“When a man has put a limit on what he will do, he has put a limit on what he can do.” – Charles Schwab

There is a cost associated with success. And that is the reason why they fail to reach their potential. They’re afraid to expend that cost. What are we paying in time and investment in reaching our goals?

Start finding out what is needed to take us to the next plateau.


Most of the time we fail to reach our potential is because of problems are holding us back. There is a difference between problem spotting and problem solving. Most organisations and individuals can spot problems, but what holds us back is problem solving. Find a way to solve that problem.

It’s time to make decisions in your life. It’s time to get the education. It’s time to get the strength of presence. These are the reasons why WE haven’t reached your potential.


Monday, April 13, 2009

“Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”
- Ernest Hemingway

Sometimes I ask myself, how do I want to be remembered? What would people say about me at my funeral? How would people, my family and friends especially, describe me in the obituaries? True it sounds a bit morbid. I mean basically what I try to do is imagine my own funeral and my own obituary. But at certain points in my life, I find it to be quite an interesting exercise.

The first time I tried this exercise, I was asked to write my own eulogy. I met this man while I was studying in the UK. I was attending the University of Bath and this man, Ken Johnston, picked me up while I was trying to hitch a ride to campus. He was in his 60’s and was working as a writer for the local Rugby club. He wrote and organized the contents for the program booklet which is distributed at all home games.

We started to talk and I discovered that he was single and lived alone in a small apartment just outside of town. He asked me if I could use some extra money as he needed a hand at his apartment from time to time. He was too old to do too much extraneous physical activity and keeping his apartment dust free was too much for him. Since I was a student who could always use some extra money, I said yes.

One weekend, I was over at his place cleaning up his study, I found a lot of newspaper clippings. They were articles written by him about various topics published in the local paper. Apparently, he was quite a celebrity. He used to have a column in the local papers where people would write to him about their problems and he would suggest some solutions. The articles covered everything from changing lives to managing finances.

That was when he told me about his eulogy. He told me he was in the army during World War II stationed in France. He was young and he was very scared, so he started to write his own eulogy. He discovered that what he wanted to do in life was to help as many people as he could, and have people remember him for his contributions towards their lives.

And that was what he did. Immediately after the war, he returned to Bath and joined a lot of organizations which were dedicated towards helping the unfortunate, the poor, single mothers who lost their husbands in the war, the homeless, orphans and many others. He made it his personal quest to help as many people as possible. Only in his old age did he stop physically helping people and that was when he started to write in the local papers.

After I read some of the articles he wrote, I asked some of my friends who were active in charitable organizations about Ken. All of them knew who Ken was and all of them had a deep respect for him and what he did to help unfortunate people regardless of their background, race or religion.

After I left the UK, I didn’t really keep in touch with Ken. He wasn’t that tech savvy so he didn’t have an email address. I got a Christmas card from him back in 1995 and he sent me a congratulatory letter when I got married in 1996. I received news from one of my former colleagues that he passed away not long after my wedding.

I guess when I think about it again, Ken was probably my first mentor. He was the one that instilled the desire to help people not matter what the circumstances were. It was an honour to know him.

I remember this one Sunday evening after I finished cleaning out his store room, we sat down to dinner and he pulled out this piece of paper, nicely typed. I read it and realized it was his eulogy. He told me that he hoped that was the way people would remember him and he hoped that was what someone would say at his funeral. I hope someone was kind enough to read it at his funeral.

So, imagine yourself in spirit, witnessing your own funeral and you hear all these people, family and friends pouring their hearts out telling people how much you’ve affected their lives. People from all different walks of life come up and say that you’ve changed their lives forever.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Are you pursuing success?

We spend a large part of our lives trying to find success. For years we work 8 to 10 hours a day (Sometimes more) and 5 days a week (Sometimes more too) in our pursuit of success. But what is it that we are actually pursuing? Do we have goals attached to that success or are we simply pursuing success just for the sake of being successful.

I have often asked my friends the question “what is it that they want out of life?” The most common answer is that they want to be successful. Successful is such a relative term so I sometimes follow this answer with another question. Sometimes I get a more definite answer but most of the times they just say that they want to be successful.

Try asking ourselves, why am I doing this? Why am I pursuing success? These might be simple questions but a lot of people can’t answer these questions. They pursue success just for the sake of being successful. In doing this, they have created for themselves an unsubstantial goal. And when they find success, they will find that they have wasted a lifetime of effort.

So try doing this. Redefine what the word success means to you by setting a goal. Take 10 minutes out of your day, ideally in the morning when you wake up and when your mind is clear. Spend some time evaluating what the meaning of success is to you.
Then once you have an idea of what success means to you, what goals you want to achieve, write it down. Then try to identify a path, a plan of action that will lead you to that success.

If you’re already on the right path, then good, if not, seek the path that will bring you the success. Then identify the people that can help you achieve that success. Set a time limit, when do you want to achieve those goals? Identify the obstacles you might face in achieving those goals and finally, ask yourself what’s in it for you.
So, take some time to assess the following:
  1. Identify a goal
  2. Set a time limit
  3. Identify the obstacles
  4. Identify the people that you need to work with
  5. Identify a plan of action
  6. And then answer the qestion “What’s in it for me?”

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dream of Success

- Zig Ziglar

That is one of my favourite quotes. You can find it on my Facebook profile.

I’ve come across a lot of people who doubt that quote by Zig Ziglar. In my case, I was told from the very beginning of my childhood that my dreams cannot be achieved.

I wasn’t really an outstanding student. More like just above average. I spent too much time playing sports and didn’t focus on my studies. I guess when it came to studying and my academic life, I wasn’t competitive enough.

So, my parents and some of my teachers, whenever they looked at my exam results, would tell me that if I had grand ideas for my future, to forget it. They always kept telling me that if I didn’t focus more on my studies, I’d end up working for someone. Slaving it out for 5 days a week and I wouldn’t go very far in my career.

I always hated that. I always hated it when someone told me that I couldn’t achieve my dreams. My dreams weren’t that difficult. I just wanted to have the freedom to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I wanted to have a beach house where I could go on weekends and spend quality time with my family or alone with a good book. On weekdays, I wanted the freedom to be able to sit around the house, watch television or play computer games, go out and have lunch at nice restaurants, hang out with friends in the evening.

That’s all that I wanted. It sounds like a lot to ask for but when you analyze it closely, all that I wanted was time freedom

So everyone was telling me that it was impossible to achieve. And I moderated my dreams. I decided that I had to have a dream which was a bit more realistic to achieve. My dream became the average dream, a wife, 3 kids, a house in the suburbs, and a reasonably priced sedan to move around in. That became my dream.

That was until I started to read biographies. The good thing about reading biographies is that most of them are success stories of the ordinary man battling against the odds and coming out on top. I read a lot of biographies over the last few year and the main thing I concluded, was that dreams can come true.

I’ve spoken before about the likes of Rudy Ruettiger and Charles Lindbergh. These aren’t the only 2. Time and time again you will find that people who have great dreams find that they can achieve their dreams. So if they can, why not me? And why not you?

Another quote from Zig Ziglar:

“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Power of Visualization

I went out for dinner with a couple of friends the other night and one of my friends started to talk about her experience going to the Jamiroquai concert which was held in conjunction with the Formula 1 Grand Prix held at the Sepang International Circuit recently.

So as we were heading for dinner, this friend started mentioning about the power of visualization. She mentioned that as she was heading out to Sepang, she spoke to a couple of her friends who were to meet her at the concert venue. They had decided to park elsewhere and take a shuttle to the concert venue because they thought it would be hard to find a parking space nearer to the venue, as the parking lot would be full of cars parked by spectators of the Formula 1 race.

My friend decided to try her luck. While driving towards the concert venue, she started to visualize an empty parking space near the main entrance. All along the way she visualized that she would be able to park as near as possible to the concert venue.

Lo and behold, by the time she got to the concert venue, the Formula 1 race spectators were already leaving the circuit as the race had already ended. She found a parking space next to the main entrance.

A lot of people would say that she was lucky and that it was a coincidence that she managed to find a parking space so near to the concert venue. These people probably have never heard of the Law of Attraction and the Power of Visualization.


Basically what the Law of Attraction states is that if you want something bad enough, the universe (or in the case of religion, God) will send people, events and circumstances that will assist you in achieving what you want. You don’t really have to look far for an example.

I’m very sure somewhere along the way, in your life, there has been a moment where you want something really, really bad. Maybe you just lost your mobile phone and your really needed a new one. Or maybe your computer or laptop was acting up and you needed a new one. Or maybe there was a time when your car broke down and you needed a lift to get to work.

Somewhere along the way, you will find that there were people who gave you a helping hand, or something happened that helped you out of a tight spot. That is the Law of Attraction working for you. When you want something bad enough, the universe will work its way to make sure you get it. But that doesn’t mean that if you want something bad enough, you can just sit back and wait for it to come to you. You still have to work for it.


The power of visualization is tied very closely to the Law of Attraction. If you can visualize what it is that you want badly, it adds to the intensity of your desire. It gives it more purpose and it defines the thing that you want and gives it more focus. It makes it easier for the Law of Attraction to work.

Some people might say that this is all nonsense and that you will get what you want only if you work hard enough. That is true to a certain extent. But have you noticed that even when you work hard, there are times you still don’t get what you want?

Now try to visualize your life in 5 years time. How do you want to live your life? Where do you want to live? What car do you want to have? Try to visualize this every day and see if it comes true.

Take action now


I have an uncle who retired from his job a few years back. He was a very successful person in his career. He graduated from a university in the United States and came back to work in an investment bank here in Kuala Lumpur. He was with the investment bank for quite a long time. He rose in rank from being an officer to being senior manager before he left the bank. He left the bank 3 years before his reached the age of 55, compulsory retirement age. After he left the bank, he joined a public listed company as a Director of the company.

All throughout his career, he had saved money for retirement. He saved money in a bank and also his Employee Contribution Fund. He also had some investments, both in property and stocks and shares. I don’t really know how much his total savings and investments were, but since he worked throughout his entire adult life, enjoying increasing salaries every year, I assume he managed to save quite a substantial amount.

When he became a director in the public listed company, he started to pick up Golf. He started to love the game. He would spend a lot of time during weekends playing golf, teaching his kids to play as well. He was planning to spend a lot of time on the greens after he retired. He also started to spend a lot more quality time with his children, all of which were still in their teens as he married quite late.

At the age of 55, he retired. Like he planned, he started spending quality time with his children and he also started to play golf on a daily basis. A year into his retirement, he decided to start a new business. I spoke to him at this point and asked him why he wanted to start a new business.

He told me that his eldest son, who at that time was only 17, had a few years left to go before he was earning an income on his own. So in the mean time, my uncle still had to support his family and the expenses were piling up. The house and cars were fully paid for, but he still had to pay his children’s college tuition in the future. All these were slowly eating into his savings. So he thought he should do something before it became too late.

The business he started a year after retirement failed. He didn’t have the experience to run his own business and eventually it collapsed. He still had some savings left so he started another business. That one failed too. 4 years after his retirement, he was on the verge of being broke. So he decided to try a different approach. He decided to drive a taxi for a living.

He is currently driving a taxi around Kuala Lumpur to feed his children and to send his kids to college. He’s still got a long way to go as his youngest son is still in primary school.


Only 5% of people will be financially independent when they hit the age of 65. Some of you might think that you probably wouldn’t be around at that age might have to think otherwise. The average life expectancy for men is now 76 years old and for women, it is 78 years old. So, how many of you would be financially independent for that 11 or 13 years?

My uncle spent 30 years of his life in the corporate world, not just as a clerk or an executive, but a senior member of management. 6 years after retirement, he has to drive a taxi to support his family. Unless you are in the 5% who will be financially free after the age of 65, or you work as a government servant where you have a pension for life,


That is unless you want to gamble and hope you end up in the 5% group. Me, personally, I don’t like the odds. So what choices do you have? This is one: