Monday, January 26, 2015

What Is Your Inspiration?

President Nelson Mandela: 'What is your philosophy on leadership? What inspires you?'
Captain of Springboks, Francois Pinnaar: 'I believe in leading by example.'
Mandela: 'That is exactly right? But how do you inspire your team to become better than they truly are? Now, that is difficult I find!'
~ INVICTUS, film.

What inspires you? Where do you get your inspiration? 

Inspiration is a form of motivation. It is something that can sweep us off our feet, or make us stand to steadfast attention. We can be inspired through the following ways:

From People Around Us
People are real, dynamic and interactive. Engage with them. Every person has something to offer  or teach us. Everyone is very good at something. The room is the expert. Ask, so we may learn. What can you learn from a person you dislike? We would be surprised. Most people lead fascinating lives in private, through their passions, passionate pursuits and pastimes.

From Films, Music and Songs
President Mandela was inspired by the words of the national anthem of South Africa, when he was at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. He was inspired to become a better leader.

From Quotations
These can be become personal mantras, and even powerful beliefs. Our internal self-talk can motivate us to do things, or avoid them. Beware of talking yourself out of duties you are expected to perform. 

Leadership LessonsHow do we inspire others to become more capable? List down your sources of inspiration, and apply one of them daily.

Monday, January 19, 2015

10 Lessons From Films

I have always loved films. In 1990, I assumed the responsibility of reviewing videos for a magazine. Every month, I would receive a stack of videos from Warner Home Videos (WHV) from the distributor, and I would give either a deep review or one, or superficial ones were there a few. These are lessons I have gleaned over the years, as a fan and buyer of 'box-sets' and 'collection of classics'.


I am not a graduate of film-school, yet I grew up loving the film of medium. With the technology of Blu-Ray and DVD, the reach of films has become one of attainment and attachment of what we term the 'classics'. My box-sets of 'film trilogy' and television 'season' box-sets are a testament of my fascination with 'moving pictures'. Thank you, Mr Edision for the invention of the projector.

What can one glean as lessons from films? Here are my observations and perspectives.

1) Watch the film once, and enjoy it for what it is. Regard it as pure entertainment.
2) Films deliver  a message. Distinguish what it is communicating. What is it attempting to educate, entertain, or engage us about?
3) Wach a film and study the relationships. Which character is playing Functional Dynamics? Who is playing Dysfunctional Dynamics (Victim, Persecutor, Rescuer ~ Jan Kelly & Gary Yardley, EOM technology)?
4) Watch the Feature section (if available) and learn how digital technology has enhanced film. How has sound technology enhanced the total viewing experience (Dolby-sound)?
5) What did you enjoy most about the film? Script, character, plot, scenes, staging, or sets?
6) Which quotations stood out for you? ('Carpe diem!' in Dead Poets Society; 'I feel the need for speed!' from 'Top Gun').
7) When a film is 'inspired by true events' or 'based on a real story', how much did it lead you to explore more about the theme or message? How have you checked on the authenticity and audacity of the film? How factually through was it? How much was contrived or rewritten for dramatic impact?
8) What draws you to watching a film? Trailers, posters, cast, director, genre or theme?
9) Which films are most memorable to you? Why? How did it make an impact on you?
10) Which are the 'coming of age' films? What makes a classic?

These considerations and questions, help give us structure to our Critical Thinking. The film is a stimulus, an artistic expression, and a demonstration of 'artistic licence' (where certain liberties are made). How did the film influence you? Which films formulated our life decisions?

As you can see, there are much we can learn from film and film critique. Enjoy the big screen!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Book-Ends: Filling Content, Not Filling Content

Books are a treasure trove of not just content - fiction and non-fiction - they can be our companions of our minds, hearts and hands. These cover-bound pages may conceal, yet reveal much about our past and present. They can be treated casually or seriously. We can refer to them, study them, be inspired, engaged and entertained.

The sub-heading of Guy Kawasaki's book 'Enchantment' is 'The Art of Changing Hearts, minds, and Actions'. Underlined subtlety in this book on business, is the elusive art and science of leadership. [I reviewed this book on this blog, before its release in 2011.]

Books may seem indirect, silent, and unimportant yet, once opened, they may offer an avalanche of possibility and purpose. In an ADD world, we may be easily distracted by real-time news, 'live broadcasts', drama of sports, viral videos, and rants and raves. Rants are more terrifyingly attractive, whereas raves are perceived as marketing ploys and deceptive devices to meld the Buyer's Mind. We can be led, and misled - and the distinctions may be hard to discern.

Quotations are popular on the Social Media platform. These sayings can be inspiring, and move us to do things that matter to us, and others. The popular books are filled with these utterances, as they can be shared as words of wisdom, despite coming from a source sometimes untraceable. That is why biographies and memoirs contain much that have been said, or seldom revealed. There is always another side of the truth.

Reading is a discipline that seems to be losing its popularity. Perhaps, eBooks read through mobile devices like tablets and Kindle may prolong its gradual demise. However, Slide-Shares and memes enhance our sense of thoughtless urgency for condensed versions of content. In the distant past, we read 'Reader's Digest'. Today, we succumb to 'instant news' which are propagated through social media sharing. Oftentimes, without verifying the authenticity of sources, we accept news as fact, and fact as truth. The consequence of unquestioned acceptance of knowledge is as dangerous as blind obedience and subservience to a defiant authority.

Without reading, and thinking about what we read, we become 'book-ends' that limit books, rather than retain them. A un-read book is doomed for intellectual perdition.

So, read on. Read widely. Question what you read. Digest. Challenge. Engage in dialogue and argument. Expand your consciousness.

Leadership Lesson: Read a book. Finish it from cover to cover. Summarise your knowledge in a100-word review. What did you like about it? Why? What did you dislike? Why? Would you recommend it? Treat it as post-holiday review on 'booking.com' or 'hotels.com'.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Leadership Re-Booted 2015

Leadership training may sound uneventful. Who would want to attend one of 'those' events other than enjoying nice buffet meals and spectacular coffee-breaks? 

Being assigned a leader can be overwhelming. Why the big fuss over leading others? After all, I may have been a class-monitor, school-prefect, student-counsillor, or class-President in school.

Who wants to be leader, anyway?

Yet, leaders are much anticipated for their decisions, clarity, confidence, and commitment. Leaders - lead. We look to leaders for instruction, guidance, direction, and a sense of purpose. The future has more premise and promise when leaders abound. As followers, we direct our actions through those of the leaders.

We can be a leader in these areas of preference and competencies: thinking/thought, business (vision and strategy), people, and personal. We have choices. We need to help others create choices for themselves. We have to be mindful and considerate of others, their fears, hopes, desires, doubts, anxieties, dreams and aspirations. It is so easy to allow ourselves to be clouded and occluded by fancy thoughts, wild ideas, and idealism.  

In this new year, we will review much about what we think we know about leadership, and innovate it. We will consider different ways to apply our leadership, with purpose, positive intent, to achieve our personal and collective goals.

The journey will be turbulent, so brace on, saddle up, and enjoy the ride!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Focus: Long & Short of It

Parkour runners claim to 'focus on the present'. Exponents of this dangerous but exciting sport, incorporate techniques of jumping, scaling, leaping, acrobatics, and climbing to achieve their goals of reaching a location in their space. It is as much about the journey, as it is the the destination for these 'free runners'.

Focus is imminent and critical to athletic or business success. By being specific in your goals, you set your goals with clarity, precision and purpose. By being frivolous with your goals and approaches, your results may elude you. By training mostly on trails, you may risk compromising your hard-spent efforts on disappointing results on a road-race. 

Saying 'I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon' and 'I want to run a sub-4 hour marathon' may be far apart, unless both are aligned as similar or exact goals. Intermediate goals, and achievements stoke our motivation and sense of purpose. Certainly, one has to be realistic with one's goals and not set a over-arching goals which may require more time, and dedicated effort. If we set ourselves up for failure, we may be distraught, disappointed, and become doubtful about ourself.

Focus is about keeping your eyes (and sense-ability) on the 'prize'. You can focus on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking create distractions, and may deviate you from your goals. Plan for a few things, set specific goals, and a reasonable timeline and success may be within our distant reach. Never distant yourself too far from your goals and potential achievements.

Well-intentioned people who offer advice may sabotage you on your goals, if they, too, have specific goals themselves. A trail-runner may not be the best source of advice if you intend to run a fast, flat, road race. They are more useful in your goals of running an off-road race, or a trail-based ultra-marathon.

Leadership Lessons: Set long- and short-term goals. Commit to a plan of action. Back these goals up with alternatives, if you miss a few of them. There are no failures, only results and outcomes. Look farther as well as nearer - re-focus and set your sights on your dreams and goals.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

10 Approaches to Smarter Social Media Use

Getting my name on the cover on a monthly magazine on local multisport endurance athletes.
After three years of continuous daily blogging (thanks to Seth Godin for his clever challenge, and his dedicated daily postings), selective use of Facebook and Tweeter, and garnering recognition and treasured relationships in the process, here are my opinions and perspectives.

1) Learn from a variety of online sources. Talk to bloggers, online marketers, Tweeters, and Facebook marketers.
2) Surround yourself with experts in online marketing. Actively interview them.
3) Pay your dues. Study, apply and learn from your successes and mistakes. The wisdom from practice earned is priceless.
4) Build your brand. Build your reputation. They are both, interestingly, interchangeable. Combine it with traditional media like television (interviews, feature stories) and the press (magazine, newspapers). Engage through the mantra 'Express, then Impress'.
5) If you have something good to say, say it. If you nothing good to say, then don't broadcast it. Be an advocate for a brand, cause, challenge or crusade. Recognise others of repute, 'catch them doing it right' and share your passions and discoveries.
6) Social Media is an extension of face-to-face engagements (i.e. interviews, coffee-shop talk, Skype). Extend and expand your reach for Positive Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing.
7) Have productive and useful conversations on mobile applications (apps), Internet Messenging (IM), and the Comments box in Facebook. Expand the realm of consciousness over issues, concerns, challenges and problems. 'Sharing' extends the 'reach' to your audience and beyond.
8) Use Crowd-Sourcing and Crowd-Funding selectively and responsibly. Be, however, aware of how to 'ask' instead of using 'twisting the arm' tactics.
9) Fund-raising should be purposeful, deliberate, sensible and responsible. Avoid the backlash of becoming labelled 'unreliable' and 'desperate'.
10) Enlist assistance from your Tribes. Tribes are communities of like-minded individuals who share a common cause, and by extension willing to help achieve common goals.

Content is still king! Share ideas, perspectives, opinions and recommendations. Add value to each 'share'.
Hopefully, these considerations may help you reconsider and review your overall strategy for building your brand, reputation, garner sponsorship, and monetise your communication platforms.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Re-Booted and Re-Loaded

It has been a while since I updated this blog-site. I have my reasons and excuses, however they are irrelevant and not useful. As we have proposed, time and again, excuses can limit us in many ways especially through our behaviors. Our actions and inactions can lead us to outcomes and results that we vary in their impact on our expectations.

The first three years, I blogged almost daily. When Seth Godin suggested this challenge, I was intrigued and curious. Would it be possible? How would I begin? How would I sustain it? What if I missed a day or more, due to other commitments and priorities? These questions were answered in due course as I initiated the process of blogging, content development, content management, learning to use Social Media 2.0, and more.

Having accomplished this major challenge, I embarked on a journey of physical challenges that rode parallel with my writing and reporting. The purpose of this blog was to be a frontispiece for leadership through sport - endurance sports, in particular. Most of these challenges were accomplished, save for several others that I would have to reconsider and decide on. In the process, I met more amazing athletes, innovators and people who live a life of excellence.

We will continue to operate as a platform for sharing, but extended actively and deliberately into teaching and coaching. You can pose your questions, concerns and feedback and we will respond accordingly. Remember our mantra: Pay it forward. More to follow. Cheers. 



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Race-Travel Considerations (Interview on SBR Singapore)

This was the latest interview I had with a magazine. Swim Bike Run Singapore is a local magazine that focuses on Singaporean endurance athletes. I trust that you will find this piece of sharing useful.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Be The Best YOU You Can Be

I was having a conversation today with good friend, Alan and we discussed the books we were reading. As I recently introduced to him the writings by Seth Godin, and Alan is a businessperson, I mentioned 'Purple Cows'. Purple Cows was a term coined by marketing-guru, Godin and he referred to uniqueness and outliers in business and industry. 

In other words, how do you stand out in your business or profession?

One national-leader once spoke of this approach: 'We must continue to reinvent ourselves in order to stay relevant.' I took these words seriously and have applied it to my vocation, advocation and recreation. Traditional thinking promotes traditional businesses. Contemporary thinking promotes current and future businesses. How do you run your business differently? How are you managing your career differently?

Pop-icon Madonna had a future-orientated mindset when she kept her brand simple, with her first (singular) name, plus an avalanche of revamps of her vampish looks. She adopted diverse roles including (the profitable) songwriter, choreographer (step up from a dancer), singer (a major shift), actress (a natural however challenging career shift), fashionista (read: fashionable, fashion-expert, fashion-authority), videographer, and much more. Lots of study, thinking, creative thinking, and reinvention took place. Thus, her wealth and fame still trails her trailblazer career even in her fourth decade of entertainment career.  

Purple cows are blended solutions. Purple is born of the colours blue and red. Which blends are you? How versatile are you? What else can you do? How do you stand out from the maddening crowd? Being different means having choices. Move from a follower to a leader. Break the rules. Make the rules. Define yourself. Refine yourself. Avoid grazing too long at a spot, for the grass must re-grow as the soil must regenerate. Have you explored 'the grass is greener on the other side'?

Leadership Lessons: How do you establish your own 'purple cow'? What are you doing to reinvent yourself? How do you stay relevant? How are you progressing from good to great? Deep questions with deeper answers. May you discover your 'uncommon sense'. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Measurements & Measuring Up To Your Excellence

Excellence. That is a word that tends to be used carelessly and callously. The word denotes an ability to 'excel', to do better, and progress.

To be excellent, you have to identify with something that you excel in. It may be a field of discipline where you demonstrate an aptitude for, or a natural ability in. It could also be an area of deep interest, study, research, and practice.

With the pursuit of excellence (pursuit seems to be a word that suggests a motivation towards), comes a need for measurement. How do you know that you making progress? How do you know that you are exceeding yourself in that field? How do you know that you are excelling? Being at the top of your game is merely a measure of results. After that, how do you stay at the top of your game? How do you maintain your position or ranking?

Annual ranking is one way, be it in sports or in employment. Ranking determines (from a panel of judges, or from relative measure as in benchmarking) your relative place in the universe. Based on the Olympic ideals of altius, fortius and citius - athletes are ranked according to their performance. They may have excelled to get into the finals of the Olympic Games, yet another measure of their actual performance is their placings on the podium, or near the three prestigious spots.

Before/After photographs are the pride and joy of clients who have reshaped their physical structures. Aesthetic improvements as well as athletic performance are dramatic shifts in one's persona, mindset and paradigms. Wanting to look their best, feel their best, perform at their best are strong motivators to continue in their pursuits. As long as their approach is sensible, reasonable and legal then excellence is never far from the grips and grasps of the eager, desiring and hungry.
In endurance, multi-sport, excellence may translate to working on one's weakness. Training to perform at a heightened state of physical and mental expression is measured through one's final timing, pacing (at regular intervals), split-times (at specific intervals), efficiencies (less wastage, delays, or hesitation), mindfulness, situational awareness, and more. Comparative measures on a monthly or annual basis, reveal data and information that can be applied to future performance, and thus, excellence. Pure timing might be reconsidered when the route/course changes, or weather becomes inclement, or when overall ranking shows progress, or when you beat certain competitors that you look to/look up to. [My results for the AHM/SBR shows a markedly slower 21km timing, yet my ranking improved. I must admit that this was my off-season, and my performance was not as strong as I was when I earned my second BQ timing in the Gold Coast Marathon in July 2013.]

Leadership Lessons: What does excellence mean to you? How do you activate your value of excellence? How do you demonstrate your sense of excellence in your profession and your pastimes? What drives you to excel?