Ruin Or Reinvention

picture credit: Octavio Fossatti


I am still disappointed!

That is me.   Us.  And life.

I thought I had longed resolved a disappointment I had some time ago.  And when something I saw today on my social media triggered that same sense of disappointment, I realised it is still lodged in my consciousness.  It is still there.  And I hated it that it is still there.

Disappointment does not go away easily.  It stays for a while.  And sometimes, it stays for years and years.  And I am beginning to wonder, does it ever really go away?  I am beginning to think that disappointment is enduring.

And for what reason?

I think enduring disappointment does one of 2 things to us.

  1. It captures us and makes us captive to it.  It makes us ever suspicious and distrusting of the people that disappointed us.  So when it overstays its welcome, it becomes toxic, and creates the enduring separation, pain and over time, enduring bitterness.  Or …
  2. It checks in with us, measures the temperature of our disappointment, and gives us a health report on how much we have changed and progressed from our disappointment.

So which is me today?


I think disappointment hangs around like an irritating buzzing fly.  And I could imagine myself doing one or all of three things.

One, tell myself this is utterly depressing and there is no where else to go where there are no flies.  The flies just keep coming back to me again and again.  Help!

Two, explode in anger, go after it, curse it under my breath, complain against it, try to kill it, and missed.  Again and again.   And then, let it ruin my day.  Again and again.

Or three, handle it like a pro.  From experience, swat it at the precise moment and be done with it or simply, get up and walk away.

As I thought about what I saw in my social media that triggered the old disappointment, I was able to trace the journey of that disappointment.

  • When the disappointing incident first happened, I definitely felt like there is nothing I can do.  Why did it happened to me?
  • Then there was the scenario two where I got angry whenever I am reminded of what had happened.  And it did ruin my day.  Again and again.
  • Of late and today, it definitely felt like scenario three.  I checked myself, made a mental note not to let it render me helpless or upset, learn from it and try and become the better man.

So yeah.

Disappointment is here to stay.


Whether it ruins me or reinvents me, I get to decide.

I can choose to blame the people that disappointed me and relive the disappointment again and again and again.   As a result, I will experience mounting agony, pain and eventually, greater and deeper disappointment.  And the people that had disappointed me, well, they would have moved on and not have the slightest clue to what I am going through.  So where’s the fun in that?


You, disappointment, will not ruin me.  You will reinvent me.  I choose to learn from you, change through you and become the better me because of you.

I like what Conan O’Brien, the comedian said about disappointment.

The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.




The Secret Of High Achievers

Make every day a good day?

It is possible.  All you really need is to do one thing.

Get things done.

The Secret

High achievers find immense satisfaction when they get things done. And they have a little secret that for many of us, who are not achievers, do not know.

They have a to do list.

They always start their days with a list of things to do. Their objective is to check off each item on the list every time they accomplished it. When they are able to do that, it gives them great satisfaction.  And every time that happens, they have good days.

We can learn from high achievers. And have good days every day.

One Thing

Start your day with a list.  But with a twist.  Don’t create a list of things to do.  But create just ONE THING on your list that you would do.

Putting that ONE THING on your list will start off a chain of things for you: –

  1. Thinking Proactively – It moves you from reaction to response.  In a typical day, you would react to many things that happens.  Every time you react, you have lesser control in what you do.  But by proactively thinking about that one thing you want to accomplish, it shapes your response and  gives you greater control for that one thing on that day.
  2. Doing Intentionally – Having that one thing provides a focal point for your day.  You may wander throughout the day, but with a focal point, it makes you intentionally move towards it.  When you are intentional about doing what you have planned, it will always make you feel better about your day.
  3. Feeling Alive – When you do what you set out to do, you feel useful.  So by creating only one thing on your list,  it gives you a greater chance of accomplishing it.  And when you get things done, you feel alive.  And your day is always good when you are feeling alive.

That ONE THING could be anything.  Could be about work or something totally unrelated to work.  It could be about getting a specific proposal out on that day, or it could even be about something that you have never done before.

What I Did

Let me give you an example of the latter.  I jog early in the morning.  And when I jog, I am totally oblivious to people around me.  On one Friday morning, I decided that my ONE THING for that day would be to say good morning to every stranger I pass by during that morning run.

I wasn’t expecting much.  I am terribly shy.  Yes, you heard me.  I am shy.  And I didn’t think people would respond to me.

Boy, was I wrong!

The first person I said “morning” to, I caught him by surprise.  He ran passed me with a hurried mumbled “morning” back to me.  For the next runner, I gave myself a little more distance between she and I before I greeted her.  This time round, she looked up, and gave me an energetic “morning!”  Over the next 30 minutes, I would do that to every runner I had passed.  And to my surprise, almost everyone greeted me back.  And for some strange reasons, I felt fantastic!

That ONE THING was some thing I had never done before.  While it was not a terribly difficult thing to do, it did require effort and a little courage on my part.  And I did it!  The benefit for me that day wasn’t just feeling fantastic after the run.  It actually shaped my mind and let me looked at everything on that day with more confidence and positivity.  And it turned out to be a very good day.


So make a good day happen.  List down that ONE THING.  

And get it done.

People and things.  One is to be loved and not used.  The other is to be used and not loved.

It is my experience that when we focus on cherishing and flourishing people and relationships, we focus on creating life experiences that lasts.  The work that we do will impact people.  But it is impacting people physically, mentally and emotionally that truly matters.

This is a Shareable Quote.  Please feel free to share or download the quote for your own use.  You can use the social icons below.

(Image Credit Imthaz Ahamed)

Also, check out my latest post, The Courage To Try.


Knowing Which Ideas To Keep Or Abandon

The only way to see if your ideas work is to test your ideas and see them fail.

I am on holiday in Orange, New South Wales, Australia and I was transfixed by the crow outside my hotel balcony.

It was looking for twigs to build its nest.  And what I found really interesting was that it didn’t just pick up any twigs. Not even those that were already on the ground.

It had a “better” idea.

Instead of choosing the twigs on the ground, it started breaking off creeper branches on the wall by biting on it. And then letting the broken creeper branches drop to the ground.

And then, what it began doing next was fascinating.

It flew down to where the branches dropped and started testing them one by one for strength.  How?

By breaking them!

If she can break them, she didn’t want them.  Turned out, none of the creeper branches survived the test. Its great idea had failed spectacularly! It soon got disinterested and flew off.

I thought that was the last I would see of her.  Well, I was wrong.

A few minutes later, it flew back!  Now, it had gotten interested in the twigs that were originally on the ground.

She had discovered a “new” idea.

These twigs on the ground have become especially interesting to her.  And to my surprise, she went on and started performing the same strength test on these new twigs.  And this time round, the twigs passed the test.

Finally! She had found what she needed.  She picked up all the tested twigs in its beak.  A bunch of them actually.  And flew off.

All this happened in under 5 minutes. Unexpectedly, I have learnt a life lesson.

Ideas not tested out will remain forever as ideas.

Think about this.  How often have we had all those ideas only to see someone else tried them out and made them worked.  As a result, our ideas never see daylight, and we never got credit for them.  “But, but, I thought of them first!”, you told yourself.   However, it really didn’t matter. What mattered is who tested out those ideas first.

The only way you know if your ideas are good or bad is by testing them out.  Only then can you know which ones to keep, which to abandon. And which ones worked.

Just like the crow did.


5 Things You Can Do To Get Started

I am terrified to get started on some things because I fear rejection.  To be rejected is my number one fear.  I did not have the courage to try.

Because of it, I often struggle in getting started on things that I have always wanted to do and things I should be doing.

What are you terrified of starting yourself?

As recently as last week, I have been struggling with getting started on this blog for the last 3 years.  It would have greatly helped advance the cause of my passion and benefitted the thousands of people that I have served.

But courage was missing. Fear loomed.

Rejection for me could be about a look of disdain, the pain of critique, the sound of dead silence, the litany of outright NOs, the forever blame game or the shame of failure.

Many of us get stuck at the MYTH of fear:

I need to first overcome my fear so that I can get started.

It is saying, let me deal with rejection first, then I can get to the things I wanted to do.  So we read books, attend courses, search the internet, go on to youtube, or follow the gurus for all kinds for self-motivation, inspiration, improvement, and training.    And the result is always the same.

Yes I can!  Yes I can!  No I didn’t.

You cannot overcome fear first and then get started.  The truth is

You need to get started first so that you can overcome fear.

I cannot overcome my fear of rejection if I haven’t seen what it is like.  Mostly, I imagined them.  And quite often, they don’t materialize.  And from previous other experiences, I am always glad I got started.

Babies are born every day. And they don’t walk. They learn to walk. First by getting started. Then by falling. And falling again. And finally, they walk.

We were babies once. Let’s get started again.

So here are 5 things that can help you GET STARTED on things that you have always wanted to do: –

  1. Get Strong. Not Wrong: Knowing WHY we do things is a powerful motivator. WHAT stops us is a powerful de-motivator.  And we all love to focus on what demotivates.  In my case, it is rejection, real or imagined.  And it delayed this blogging project for 3 years.  Getting clearer on my WHY changed all that.
  2. Think Big. Start Small: The end goal can be daunting and may stop many of us.  So, think big, but start small.  Start with what you have and not what you do not have.  For me, I got started on “blogging” on Linkedin with a quote.  Nobody clicked “Like”.  But nobody commented, “You suck!”.  OK!  Great start!
  3. Plan A Little. Do A Little: We are great planners and lousy doers.  Don’t just plan, plan, plan and do. Often, we never start.  If we did and fail, it can be terribly discouraging.  So, plan a little, do a little.  Learn and adjust.  That way, you are moving forward, and if you make mistakes, they are not going to be big problems.
  4. Go Deep. Go Long: This is a long game.  As you plan and do, find out what makes you tick and click.  Go deeper.  Do more.  I fell in love with coaching in 2010.  Since then, I became a Strengthsfinder and Halftime Master Coach and started StrengthsAsia. I am still at it. And whatever I do today, I am simply sowing in my orchard.
  5. Get Started!: STOP WAITING!  Do something!  Make something happen no matter how small it is!  It is not one day I will but DAY ONE I did!  For me, I finally did it! Started my blog. Launched it last week. So far, it has received more than 200 views and climbing. For a novice like me, not bad really.  And I thought nobody would read!

So don’t let fear stop you from getting started on the things you have always wanted to do.

Be courageous.  Try.

Or as we say it here in Singapore, “Die Die Must Try!”


Expression Of Ideas Is Your Strength

My wife told me she does not have the strength of ideation.  That she is not an ideas person.  “No ideation.  No strength in ideas”, she said. That made me raise my eyebrows.

I asked her, “Why not?”  And she told me 3 reasons: –

Different Strengths. Different Ideas.

  1. She doesn’t feel her ideas were original.
  2. What she knows, are stuff that others already have thought about.
  3. She thinks her only strength here is that she is good at learning and putting all these different ideas together.

Her 3rd point had me really puzzled.  So I asked her again, “And that doesn’t make you an ideas person?!”

Often, we all sell ourselves short.

It was Pablo Picasso who said


Good artists copy. Great artists steal.


And it was Steve Jobs who made that line famous.

It meant all good artists have ideas but only the great ones that put the ideas together made it their own.  We all can hold a paint brush.  And only those who paint on a white canvas are noticed.

Our ideas may not be the most original.  And yet, no one really has a monopoly over original ideas.  How often have you been told or you told others that your idea or theirs was nothing new?

Listen to this.

While our ideas may be similar to other people, our expressions of those ideas are our own. When we express these ideas in our own ways, we power these ideas in a new direction or with a fresh perspective.   When we put different ideas together, we create something new and make it our own.

Ideas find its strength and shape through our expressions.  It is our individual expressions of those ideas that showed how we think, feel and behave that is truly an original.

Unfortunately, many get stopped at “it is nothing new”.  We drew away, shut up, and too easily brand ourselves tragically as the person that is a “not”.  Not original.  Not creative.  Not an “ideas person”.


Ideas, originality, and creativity do not belong just to the fancy pants. They belong to everyone.  They belong to you!

I have been married for 27 years. And the one thing I know about my wife is that she is a fabulously “ideas person”.  Every day, she brims with endless creativity in bringing change, hope, joy, strength, and purpose to the family, to her work, and to her friends.

So, let’s stop telling ourselves we have little strength or ability in creating ideas.   Worse still, that we have no ideas.

How you express these supposedly “unoriginal” ideas through your own way is your unique strength.  The fact that you are taking all sorts of existing ideas, mixing them up and creating new insight is precisely what ideation is.  So don’t sell yourself short.

The lack of original ideas may stop you. But it is your expression of those ideas that must move you.