“You figure these stories are laced with hyperbole, but when you get in there, it’s unreal.”
“You figure these stories are laced with hyperbole, but when you get in there, it’s unreal.”
“A primary task of leadership is to direct attention.”
3 modes of attention – focusing on yourself, others, wider world.
“Focusing inward and focusing on others helps leaders cultivate emotional intelligence. Focusing outward can improve their ability to devise strategy, innovate, and manage organizations.”
“Consider, for example, the implications of an analysis of interviews conducted by a group of British researchers with 118 professional traders and 10 senior managers at four City of London investment banks. The most successful traders (whose annual income averaged £500,000) were neither the ones who relied entirely on analytics nor the ones who just went with their guts. They focused on a full range of emotions, which they used to judge the value of their intuition. When they sufered losses, they acknowledged their anxiety, became more cautious, and took fewer risks. The least successful traders (whose income averaged only £100,000) tended to ignore their anxiety and keep going with their guts. Because they failed to heed a wider array of internal signals, they were misled.”
“To be authentic is to be the same person to others as you are to yourself. In part that entails paying attention to what others think of you, particularly people whose opinions you esteem and who will be candid in their feedback. A variety of focus that is useful here is open awareness, in which we broadly notice what’s going on around us without getting caught up in or swept away by any particular thing. In this mode we don’t judge, censor, or tune out; we simply perceive.”
Focusing on yourself – self-awareness and self-control.
“Decades’ worth of research demonstrates the singular importance of willpower to leadership success.
Particularly compelling is a longitudinal study tracking the fates of all 1,037 children born during a single year in the 1970s in the New Zealand city of Dunedin. For several years during childhood the children were given a battery of tests of willpower, including the psychologist Walter Mischel’s legendary “marshmallow test”—a choice between eating one marshmallow right away and getting two by waiting 15 minutes. In Mischel’s experiments, roughly a third of children grab the marshmallow on the spot, another third hold out for a while longer, and a third manage to make it through the entire quarter hour.
Years later, when the children in the Dunedin study were in their 30s and all but 4% of them had been tracked down again, the researchers found that those who’d had the cognitive control to resist the marshmallow longest were significantly healthier, more successful fnancially, and more law-abiding than the ones who’d been unable to hold out at all. In fact, statistical analysis showed that a child’s level of self-control was a more powerful predictor of financial success than IQ, social class, or family circumstance.”
“The word “attention” comes from the Latin attendere, meaning ‘to reach toward.’”
“Executives who can effectively focus on others are easy to recognize. They are the ones who find common ground, whose opinions carry the most weight, and with whom other people want to work. They emerge as natural leaders regardless of organizational or social rank.”
Three distinct kinds of empathy that is important for leadership effectiveness:
1. cognitive empathy—the ability to understand another person’s perspective;
2. emotional empathy—the ability to feel what someone else feels;
3. empathic concern—the ability to sense what another person needs from you.
“Strengthening the ability to maintain open awareness requires leaders to do something that verges on the unnatural: cultivate at least sometimes a willingness to not be in control, not offer up their own views, not judge others. That’s less a matter of deliberate action than of attitude adjustment.”
“A simple way to shift into positive mode is to ask yourself, “If everything worked out perfectly in my life, what would I be doing in 10 years?” Why is that effective? Because when you’re in an upbeat mood, the University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson has found, your brain’s left prefrontal area lights up. That area harbors the circuitry that reminds us how great we’ll feel when we reach some long-sought goal.
“Talking about positive goals and dreams activates brain centers that open you up to new possibilities,” says Richard Boyatzis, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve. “But if you change the conversation to what you should do to fix yourself, it closes you down….You need the negative to survive, but the positive to thrive.”
“… a social and emotional learning (SEL) method (is) used to strengthen cognitive control in schoolchildren across the United States. When confronted by an upsetting problem, the children are told to think of a traffic signal. The red light means stop, calm down, and think before you act. The yellow light means slow down and think of several possible solutions. The green light means try out a plan and see how it works. Thinking in these terms allows the children to shift away from amygdala-driven impulses to prefrontal-driven deliberate behavior.
It’s never too late for adults to strengthen these circuits as well. Daily sessions of mindfulness practice work in a way similar to Musical Chairs and SEL. In these sessions you focus your attention on your breathing and practice tracking your thoughts and feelings without getting swept away by them. Whenever you notice that your mind has wandered, you simply return it to your breath. It sounds easy—but try it for 10 minutes, and you’ll find there’s a learning curve.”
“An executive at one bank explained to me that it has created a separate career ladder for systems analysts so that they can progress in status and salary on the basis of their systems smarts alone. That way, the bank can consult them as needed while recruiting leaders from a different pool—one containing people with emotional intelligence.”
“Information consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” – Nobel Prize–winning economist Herbert Simon.
“The link between attention and excellence remains hidden most of the time.”
A grassroots effort among JLL Singapore colleagues raised SGD 5026.60 for Typhoon Haiyan relief. Dec, 2013
filed under: couldhavebeenacontender
there is a book out now, whose concept is similar to one i had years ago.
the book is titled, “don’t eat the yellow snow” and offers the titles and lyrics of famous songs as advice. for example, “enjoy the silence” (depeche mode); “fight for your right” (beastie boys) and “you can’t always get what you want” (the rolling stones).
my concept was using the lyrics of songs in everyday conversation as quips or comebacks. it was inspired by an incident when a teacher phoned me by mistake and asked if i were the father of one of the students. at that time, i said “wrong number” but after putting down the phone, i thought i should have said something clever and came out with:
“she says i am the one but the kid is not my son.” (billie jean, michael jackson)
last week, a friend wrote a cryptic message on her Facebook wall, “Tsk. I told you not to. Now look what you’ve done.” so in response, i wrote:
“But I made up my mind, I’m keeping my baby.”
we had a long exchange of different lines from songs and it was fun.
years ago when i had this idea, i compiled lines from songs on different index cards but i can’t find them now.
here’s a flavor though:
“are you going to drop the bomb or not?” (used when someone announces he’s going to fart, Alphaville)
“welcome to your life. there’s no turning back.” (Tears for Fears)
“it’s a world gone crazy, keeps woman in chains.” (Tears for Fears)
“i feel stupid and contagious.” (Nirvana)
“each morning i get up i die a little.” (Queen)
“I was never satisfied with casual encounters.” (Madonna)
“oh mother dear, we’re not the fortunate ones.” (Cyndi Lauper)
“you put the boom-boom into my heart.” (Wham)
“i’ll pretend my ship’s not sinking.” (Go West)
“someone’s always playing corporation games.” (Starship)
if i had written/ were to write this book, it would be called “Don’t put your life in the hands of a rock and roll band”.
filed under: mindfulness
this morning, i saw an old lady who nearly tripped over some uneven tiles on the ground.
she nearly lost her balance but managed to recover. she stood still for about 10 seconds after that, as if to calm herself and to ingrain the experience.
then she went to the tiles and used her feet to even out the tiles so that others won’t slip.
that’s mindfulness and compassion. if i had those, i would have snapped a picture of the tiles and send it to the town council.
filed under: dreams
i would love Brad Grossman’s job.
“Grossman meets with each of his dozen clients on a weekly or monthly basis to discuss a subject they want to learn more about. He then has his researchers at Grossman & Partners dive into the area and deliver a report. But he also schedules long conversations with his clients–and will even arrange dinners with experts on specific topics.”
before this, brad was oscar-winning Brian Grazer’s cultural attaché and the job description was supposedly this:
This person would be responsible for keeping Brian abreast of everything that’s going on in the world; politically, culturally, musically. . . . They’re also responsible for finding an interesting person for Brian to meet with every week . . . an astronaut, a journalist, a philosopher, a buddhist monk. . . . There is LOTS of reading for this position! Grazer may ask you to read any book he’s interested in. You’ll probably get to read about 4 or 5 books a week and you may be required to travel with him on his private plane to Hawaii, New York, Europe—teaching him anything he asks you about along the way. . . . You will also be provided with an assistant. . . . Salary is around $150,000 a year. . . . You will be to Grazer what Karl Rove was to Bush.
Brad created this job for himself. i would love to do the same but i need to find my balls first.
have you seen them?
filed under: howtolive, films
one of my favorite movies in 2013 is Frances Ha. in it, the protagonist says she probably has to read Proust before going to Paris.
i have always wanted to read Proust but it’s a long read (“The entirety of “In Search of Lost Time” is said to be about 4,300 pages, depending on the translation”) and i’m lazy.
in this context, what better rebuke is there than to quote Proust himself:
“I think that life would suddenly seem wonderful to us if we were threatened to die as you say. Just think of how many projects, travels, love affairs, studies, it–our life–hides from us, made invisible by our laziness which, certain of a future, delays them incessantly.“
in the film, the protagonist visits Paris for the first time and is unable to enjoy herself because she has been unhappy for a long time. in one shot, we see her miserable and walking away to reveal a resplendent Eiffel Tower glowing in the dark of the night. she is indifferent to its magic.
Proust suggests they are many beautiful Eiffel Towers in our lives but they are invisible to us because we keep delaying our happiness thinking it will come in the future.
what are the eiffel towers that are hidden in our lives?
anyway the wind blows.
It’s ok to share this. Subscribe to this newsletter by going to tinyletter.com/isaiahlim
filed under: howtolive
“…the thing I’m realising is, at the end of the day, we’re just all too selfish… If you look at 99 percent of speakers, their tweets are promoting their shit and no-one’s listening. We need to bring value.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
the tool that i am using to write this newsletter is tinyletter.com. its motto is “email for people with something to say”. it doesn’t say anything about whether others would want to listen and why.
selfie is Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year. some see this as proof that people are getting more narcissistic. i am not too sure. maybe we have always been narcissistic and now we have more tools to express that.
as someone who blogs (infrequently), facebook (very often), post photos on flickr and now writes a newsletter (weekly), i find myself asking “why” when doing these activities, especially on facebook. do my posts have a “look at me, look at me” quality? i think some of them do, especially the photos, but generally i try to make people laugh on facebook. we live in a cruel and unjust world, after all. that’s the value i try to bring on facebook.
i think “are we bringing value” is an important question that applies not only to social media but work and life. how are we bringing value to our colleagues, friends and families? is what you perceive as value, valuable for others? when it comes to work, it’s especially important to be able to articulate the value that you bring. if you like to discuss this, i am available. i am not an expert but two heads is better than one.
i hope this newsletter is bringing you value. what i mean by that is that i hope it makes you think and makes you aware of the decisions you have made.
filed under: howtolive
“Keep saying hello to people. They will be the differentiator for you for the rest of your life.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
a lot of interactions in the world feel very transactional. some months ago, i was at a restaurant opening and one woman at the next table was especially friendly and started talking to us. this is not a common occurrence in singapore and i was at first pleasantly surprised.
she gave us her name card, started talking about her food business and asking us to visit.
i was really turned off. i left her namecard at the table.
some of us may not be so direct. but often in our busy lives, we tend to be rather transactional. because connecting with people requires effort and time. and it’s certainly not easy, as people are also complex (which is another word for difficult).
maybe we should be considering, as part of a regular ritual, a random act of kindness for people we know. for it to be random, we should not do this because of a reason (e.g. birthday, a special occasion, etc.). but we do it for fun and for the heck of it. and we do it for ourselves because when we give to others, we give to ourselves.
let’s connect. let’s say hello to people. let’s have fun while doing it.
filed under: useful
a japanese friend asked me how i knew about Mt. Takao in Tokyo. I have found Japan Guide to be useful when traveling in Japan. During the sakura season, it provided a list of places to visit and gave an accurate forecast of the blossoms when i was booking my trip.
time out tokyo is also very useful, especially their “Things to do this week in Tokyo” section.
i enjoy reading metropolis. a free pdf of their magazine is available at their website.
part 2 of where i left off from last week’s newsletter would continue next week. as always, thanks for reading.
A readers of this newsletter asked me to write beyond the work environment.
I shall pleasure her.
This week I will write about the mistakes I have made in life and I expect to be done in 500 words or so.
But first, a detour.
This week, someone on the plane I was on had a seizure. I did not see this person which was worse because it made me wonder how bad it was. When I was a Christian, I could pray for this person. Now I could not. I thought of sending my positive thoughts toward this person but then I realized this was not something I believe in. How did it land in my head, I wonder? I wished this person well and felt powerless. “But powerless is ok,” I said to no one in particular. In a random and messy world, we are often powerless.
I need to understand this but not let it destroy me.
Back to normal programming.
What is a mistake? I don’t see mistakes and errors the same way. Both refer to wrong acts committed but a mistake is something you would not care to repeat while some errors are hard to avoid and need to be made for the sake of progress. For example, if a reliable friend told you about a good restaurant which turned out to be a dud, you would not have made a mistake going there but an error. A reliable friend is not always right and it would still be more optimal in the overall scheme of things if you follow his/her advice the next time.
A mistake however is to think that a reliable friend is always right.
At a basic level, some mistakes are easily identifiable. For example, my favorite breakfast in Tokyo is an onigiri and a coffee jelly. I once had 2 onigiri and a coffee jelly. Clearly, that was a mistake.
The most obvious mistake I have made in life is being cruel and making people feel bad about themselves. When I was about 18, I was very irritated with two people in front of me talking in a Christian meeting. So when it was time to pray, I prayed with them and in my prayer, I chastised them for talking. It was incredibly cruel and manipulative. In my relationship, I was withdrawn and refused to talk whenever I was hurt and confused. This makes the other party feel bad.
Nowadays, my solitary life allows less opportunities for me to be cruel. But sometimes, all it takes is a single word to transgress. If I have been cruel and careless, please please let me know.
Another obvious mistake is hypocrisy. Telling people to do things I myself did not do. So a few years ago, I told myself to stop preaching and giving advice. I sometimes still lapse into it, especially when I am frustrated and impatient. When I am having difficulty running my own life, why should I be telling others how to live theirs?
I have tried to play it safe. I should risk more. Fail more. It’s a mistake not to fail enough. This newsletter is an experiment to try more things and do more. But it isn’t enough.
Experimenting is sometimes like traveling. You end up taking the wrong road, visiting the wrong attraction, eating the wrong food. You could play to safe by doing tons of research and doing tried and tested things but it will be a different kind of experience. In traveling and in life, “not going to plan” can be a very rewarding experience.
Next week I will continue to write about my mistakes where it’s a lot more ambiguous. These will be errors but whether they were mistakes, I am not so sure. Even as I would have know the outcome, I would possibly repeat some of these errors. Life should not be always sweet and straightforward.
Thank you for reading.