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Saturday, October 04, 2014

“If you don’t study hard you will be cutting grass like this man here!!”

This is an interesting post I am reproducing here with the permission of Ms Aya Imura...

The original story appears in here.

To be honest, this is the biggest culture shock I got in Singapore: I once saw a mother pointing at the hardworking landscaper, as if he is invisible, delivering her public lecture to this poor kid. It was along the lines of “If you don’t study hard, you will be cutting grass like this man here”.

It has been four years since I moved to Singapore. Every now and then I am still asked “What is your greatest culture shock since living in Singapore?” my replies are usually politically correct, such as food and lingo. But to be very honest this is the one: the lack of respect and bigotry towards a certain group of occupation. And unfortunately this is also the biggest shock shared among a lot of the Japanese here in Singapore. 
In Japan, first thing we teach children is “Every job is respectful and precious”. We cannot go putting our values on other people’s work.” In Singapore however, many adults would tell their children to study hard so they would not end up a cleaner or bus driver in the future. Worse still, they make it an effort to condescend those profession to make sure they got their point across.

We have a tradition to value every craftsmanship and professionalism in Japan. As long as we take our job seriously and keep improving, people will admire us and support us.

In Japan, professionals with great craftsmanship and skills are considered our national treasure. In fact we have a “Living national treasure” system and there are 166 living craftsmen (like cloth weaver, bamboo craftsman, potter etc) registered as “Living natural treasures” and the state supports them in passing of their skill to the next generation.

We also have a tradition of respecting every individual, regardless of the amount of education they accumulate.

Take for example: the ex-prime minister Mr Kakuei Tanaka. The man left school at the age of fifteen and worked as a construction worker, yet he was never discriminated and rose to be the head of a proud nation.

Mr Konosuke Matsushita aka “The God of management”, the founder of Panasonic, dropped out from the school at the age of nine. With determination and hard work, Panasonic is arguably the largest consumer electronics company in Japan. Upholding the true spirit of knowledge and education, he founded The Matsushita Institute of Government and Management in 1979 keeping a “No prior education requirement” for their new students till today, where 43% of their graduates making key politicians and policy makers.
If we want to work at the headquarter of big companies like Toyota immediately after we graduate, yes going to a good university does help a lot. But if we leave school at fifteen years of age and decide to become a craftsman, people will equally respect us as a professional.

I remember reading the results of an interesting survey. A survey was commissioned to understand children’s ambitions from 9 countries in Asia. The question posed was: “What do you want to be in the future?”

In many countries like Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, becoming a medical doctor was the most popular answer.

In Japan, the most popular answer was to be a Patisserie (Pastry chef).

Guess what was the top Singaporean kids answer?
Interestingly, it is: “Manager”.

My Note:
In Asian movies, it is common to find the hero as the Princeling or rich man. 
However, in Eastern European and Russian movies, the hero tends to be a playright, poet, artist or political prisoner.

Some food for thought.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

To Make Money or Make Sense?

While waiting to go into a seminar, my friend and I struck a conversation with a stranger who was very impressed with the previous seminar in this same institution and was looking forward to the evening's event. He opined that it is a rare to find university professors who can make money and not just talk about making money. Further he emphasized that the professor in the previous seminar did not only reveal  "how to make money", but "how to make OBSCENE sums of money".

Curious about who we were talking to, we asked for this stranger's name and got an "Andy". 
"Andy? ...and your surname is?", we asked.
"Andy will do," he replied firmly.

And so we called him "Andy Will Do".

"Andy Warhol!", I added in jest. 
"Not Andy Warhol!" he retorted, and then went on to criticise Warhol for being overly commercialised and that he would not regard that man as an artist.

"But Warhol makes money! Not only that, he makes OBSCENE sums of money!" I added.

Evidently, Andy Will Do did not see that coming and was instantly silenced.

Then, it was time for the seminar and we went into the room.

Thankfully, and to my surprise, the seminar was not about maximisation of profits, or making OBSCENE sums of money, but rather about "Running Companies Through Humanistic Approaches". And that coming from three medium-sized companies in China is commendable. That was surprise number two. 

The three companies mentioned were:
  • Tecsun Wood Houses
  • Fotile Kitchen Ware
  • Good -Ark Electronics.
All three of the companies practised Confucian values and Tao philosphy and purportedly placed a lot of emphasis to allow their employees to reach their personal goals and potentials in the long term. And all that happening with a very healthy bottom-line and rapidly expanding businesses too.

Tecsun's core values, for instance are "Honest, Diligent, Having a loving heart and Do not take short cuts". Its Employee Handbook has been reprinted 30 times and sold over half a million copies.

Fotile's mission is to "Make people feel better about their homes". In 2013, their growth exceeded 45% and the number of its patents exceeded the sum of those of its nine competitors.

Good Ark explicitly makes happiness the company's purpose since 2011 and is committed to introducing Sage culture, embracing Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism,  to the world and creating happiness to humanity.

So apparently, it is possible to "Make Money AND Make Sense".

The seminar was a refreshing change. Too many business seminars are about making money and more money and then deliberately making the audience feel inadequate and small, before heading for the final kill of selling you a highly priced follow-up course. It didn't happen here and I am glad. I left the seminar feeling inspired and hopeful for humanity.

This commentary is made based on what we listened to during the seminar. We are not related to any of the companies and do not have access to business data for us to verify the claims made in the seminar. Nevertheless, I am happy to accept them at face value.

Incidentally, just after I had finished this post, I got this "Thought of the Day", flashed in a website I stumbled upon:
Thought Of The Day
'Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.' 
- Andy Warhol.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cup Half Full or Empty?

Cup half full or empty?
Shuddup and drink the tea.

Thinking is the source of suffering, not the drinking...

Friday, March 07, 2014


Thoughts become things. What you think manifests. It all starts with  a thought. This is the Law of Attraction.

But why didn't some of your thoughts come true?

To be more exact, only strong thoughts that you truly believe in can manifest. Everyday we have thousands of thoughts in our mind every minute competing to manifest . So only the strongest manifest. The weak ones fade away.

However, your thoughts can only be strong if you believe in them.

For instance, if you shout aloud every morning that you are a billionaire hoping that you will become one on mere affirmation, you  are unlikely to succeed. Fact is that you know how much you have in your bank account. In fact, effectively you are telling yourself, "Who are you kidding?..." So, instead of a positive affirmation to move towards your goal, you have helped yourself moved away from your goal unwittingly.

A more workable affirmation can be something like, "Ï have more than enough money to spend everyday!" This will work whether you have a million dollars left in the bank at the end of each day or just a few dollars. It is something you can believe wholeheartedly without feeling like a rotten liar. Particularly if you had realised that you are persistently lying to yourself.

Once you believe in your thoughts, you will have to be able to focus on your thoughts. Focus will add energy to your thoughts so that they will become forms. Monkey minds that jump around from one frivolous thought to another will not succeed. Focus is probably the hardest part.

Meditation increases focus and cuts out clutter. There are different meditation techniques available. Try out several techniques and choose one most suitable for yourself.  For instance, if you are physically hyperactive, you may like to try walking meditation. If you are musically inclined, listen to classical music but follow the sound of one instrument. If you are sensitive to vibrations, try chakra meditation. Some techniques focus on the photo of a guru, some the tip of a candle flame,...etc. Whichever method, they all teach you to focus.

I learned a technique recently that focuses on a humble black dot on a white surface. I find it more effective than using the other objects, as it is something so simple and mundane that it is easy to move your eye away if you are not focusing

A black dot is more mundane than the beautiful tip of a candle flame and more neutral than the face of a guru. There is nothing interesting about the black dot other than using it as a focusing exercise. Using a beautiful or profound object on the other hand distracts you, but fool you into believing that you are focusing well.

Practise focusing. For unless you can focus, you cannot have strong thoughts and therefore they will not manifest. Instead, other thoughts that are relatively stronger will manifest. And they can be any other lingering thoughts that you are not aware of.

The dangerous part is that we are mostly unaware of what  we are thinking of, until it is too late. In other words, it is difficult to track the mind with the mind itself. So harbour healthy thoughts. Allow yourself to react to situations and even be angry about them, as being positive does not mean that you should become blind to negative things around you. Observe, but not judge.  But after allowing yourself the spontaneous emotions, tell yourself not to allow those unwanted  thoughts to fester.

Set yourself some thought checkpoints and motivations. Tell yourself that you don't want to have ugly thoughts because it will give you an ugly face. Ultimately, it feels better to be positive than negative and it is easier to love than to hate. Positive thoughts energise. Negative thoughts wear you out. When you are tired, you also run the risk of poor judgment and slipping down the slippery slope into  calamities. So have enough rest and sleep too. They are essential ingredients to success.

I find acting and role playing an effective method for self realisation. As it allows me to go through the emotions and results of a scene sincerely.

If acting is  too hard, you may like use the state of your bedroom or house as a measurement of how clear or cluttered your mind is, as what is outside is inside, and vice versa. Clear the clutter outside and the inside too clears. This is an easy checkpoint.

Some people go into hypnosis to understand their subconscious thoughts. I simply record my dreams when I wake up in a diary. I find it very useful to check my thoughts and to  make the necessary corrections.

Minimise the use of technology where possible, particularly the use of smartphones. They are one major cause of monkey minds in today's world.

All the people that I have met that are successful are those who are able to focus on their thoughts that they truly believe in. None of them have monkey minds.

So why are gurus only teaching you the Law of Attraction skin deep? I suspect that they may not know some of the finer points which I have discovered the painful and hard way. Most gurus are money motivated. They are mostly selling generalised motherhood statements. Some boast of very successful students out of their large cohorts. By the law of big numbers, if you put enough people there, some will come out successful accidentally.

What we want is a method that works consistently. I have discovered that it is mostly to do with the ability to focus. If you can focus well, everything will fall in place smoothly. If they are not falling in place smoothly, that means that you are not focusing well enough.

IMPORTANT: Do not confuse being 'focused' with being 'stubborn and attached'. They are mutually exclusive.

NOTE: I am not trying to sell you any motivation seminars or magic crystals, but just sharing something I have discovered recently and have found them to yield the results I want. In fact,  you are likely to  have already known of what I have shared, except that may be you have not put them together clear enough such that your mental gears engage.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Thoughts, Words and Action

There are a few Hokkien spewing uncles behind the bus I took today. They sweared at each other to say "hello". Then they proceeded to chat at full blast volume about 4D lottery numbers and karaoke go-go girls, in between spicing their lines swearing their mother's fannies away.

By the time they were getting off the bus they had already fucked up their entire clan and ancestry. Then finally, they bade each other farewell like best friends or brothers.

What a show?!
Evidently, they didn't mean any of the profanity they hurled at each other. In other words, their thoughts, words and action didn't really match totally. Life would be simpler if our thoughts, words and actions matches I think.
For the case of these uncles, they were all eager to let out their penned up frustrations the moment they see each other - their best friends. That's my explanation for their odd mismatches. I would check my thoughts if I were them, for they become words and the danger is when they manifest to become actions. They probably will not manifest as in their words, but their harsh thoughts wouldn't do them good. Why risk it?
I know of someone who once said that he was not concerned if nobody turns up for his weekly meetings at a time when there were record turn outs. I think he said that to sound as if he is detached about the turnout numbers. Fast forward a few years, now he has hardly anyone turning up for his weekly meetings. The thing was that he planted the unwanted seeds for the action to manifest.
In another case, there was a woman who consistently said that she did not like money and that the husband was not giving her money. The latter which infuriated the husband as he was giving her a lot of money regularly. Again, fast forward a few years, and now she gets nothing from the husband.
So be careful with your thoughts and words, for they wil become true in action and manifestation. 
I am going to re-examine what I say, then trace them backward to my thoughts, from today. If they are thoughts I want to seed, then I will check if I can find richer and more specific words to represent them. For then, they will manifest more precisely with less pain -  if at all.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sufi Meditation

I have always been intrigue by quotes from Sufis like Rumi and Khalil Gilbran.This one from Rumi may touch your heart:

“The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.”

Rumi, The Illuminated Rumi

When I was a kid, I loved to swirl round and round like sufis do. Then I will lie down on the floor after that to enjoy the blissful detachment from my own mind. Nobody taught me that. I just did it instinctively.

Last Sunday, I attended my first Sufi group meditation. It is different from other methods of meditation in that it does not require one to focus on anything. And so it required a little bit of getting used to in the first few minutes. :)