Tuesday, June 23, 2020

State Management & Managing Your States

No, this is not an essay on how to run a country.

By ‘states’, I am referring to ‘bodily states’. How your body feels and senses at any one time, can be described as your ‘state’. You may be familiar with the song ‘New York State of Mind’, and the term ‘mind over matter’. In cases of legality, one may have to prove ‘the state of mind’.

I learnt about ‘managing my states’ in 1995. I attended a workshop on ‘An Introduction to NLP’, and my mind became aware of what my five senses afforded me at that time. I learnt to play with the voices in my head, feelings, memories, imagination, and other sensations. Certainly, these were all private, internal, processes that I had no working manual to refer to. So, I wrote an operating-manual for it, which has since undergone multiple revisions and versions.

Two-and-half decades later, I am still raising my bar in my sporting aspirations. I began with competitive bodybuilding, and then shifted to racing in marathons and triathlons. Every year, I attempt to complete successfully at least one marathon (42.2km) and Ironman triathlon (3.8km swim, 180km cycling, 42.2km run). For each event, I have to be as well-prepared and mentally-conditioned to face the race-day, whatever the weather and terrain conditions would be.

For each of my fellow participant, their goals can be vary from completion to competition. My hopeful results are based on living and demonstrating the credo of the Olympic Games, namely, ‘Faster, Stronger and Higher’.

My 18-years of tacit experience and wisdom in racing in endurance, multi-sports, events has taught me to manage my physiological (bodily) states on several levels. These include:

1)   Manage my level and tolerance of pain (braving extreme cold and heat, cramps, injuries, painful stings, gut disorders)
2)   Manage my sensory level of discomfort (conditions of water, waves, currents, taste of the water I swim in, sweatiness, dirt, windiness, heat, cold, flies, and much more)
3)   Doing ‘damage control’, especially when my results start to slip away, as my fatigue level increases (deciding to stop and rest, feeding my body, and walking when I have to)
4)   Dealing with disappointments, especially when the results were expected/unexpected
5)   Dealing with distractions, confusion, uncertainty and changes to my plan (consider this: The race distance was modified for safety reasons; or cancelled due to extreme weather)

Managing my states is one of my motivations to racing. Sometimes, it hurts even more when you want something badly enough. In competitive racing, we call this ‘digging deep’. That is, we harness on our resources (limited) and our RESOURCELFULNESS (a useful value to tap on in times of crises). I am sue many entrepreneurs can relate strongly to the string of challenges that may be laid out in their quest for their business dreams. The successful ones keep rising incessantly when they fall. Even skillful cyclists still fall off their bicycles.

When I earned my qualification spots in the Boston Marathon, or the Ironman world championships, they were ‘painful joyfulness’. In managing my states to get there, I had to learn to stay focused, patient and calm (on the inside).

With the current global pandemic, millions of people are affected physically and psychologically by the stress(ors) of a personal viral threat: its impending infection, spread, fear, concern, anxiety, and other equally virulent impact from it (economic, financial, self-esteem, well-being). How can we strengthen our mental and physiological resolve (physical and emotional) to deal with it? How do we manage our responses and reactions to these stressors? What can we do to alter our attitude and behaviors, in managing ourselves and those we are entrusted with?

Only when we actively manage how we think and feel (internal factors) in the face of external factors, can we then sensibly and sensitively manage our people. We won’t be effective in leading others if we are ‘headless chickens’. Meanwhile, stay focused while re-building our teams, and encourage and embolden them for future discomforts and distractions.

Monday, June 15, 2020

How Do We Live With Rigour In A Time of Pandemic? (Part 1)

Caveat: These opinions are entirely my own, and I share my perspectives with those with a sense of optimism and adventure. If we can't be hopeful, what's the point?

Over the weeks, I have been collecting perspectives from senior managers, entrepreneurs, and employees. The common thread is: Everyone is struggling in their own way and braving their private battles. We are faced with threats to our way of life, both work-wise and leisure-wise. The disruptions and chaos that has ensued may lead many to and review and revise the way we think. Here are three key areas to ponder over, and we will go into detail, shortly.

1) Working From Home (WFH): This is inevitable, and the flexibility of working one-day-weekly from home has expanded into a lengthy period of home-based work. This is no different where educators have to, occasionally, teach from their homes via webinars, and the like. WFH may be the ‘New Norm’ as we have to figure out how we can work best in-separation. In my interviews, many managers believe that their staff are, probably, working more productively in this situation. There seems to be more focus and concentration when employees are at their desk, whether conducting a project meeting, or attending an online workshop. When you exclude traveling time to/from work, and ‘water-cooler conversations’, the working day is better spent.

2) Competencies and Skill-sets: It would be opportune to begin planning strategically (firstly for yourself, then for your team) what your career options are. How much of your Job Description and Job Scope will change? Which skills may become obsolete? Which skills will be valued more? Which new skills will you need to adopt? If your profession and vocation runs the risk of becoming obsolete, or easily replaceable with digitalisation then which parallel professions do your current abilities and capabilities allow you to migrate to? If you were, unfortunately, subject to furlough and were laid off, what can you do to pitch yourself for your next job opportunties? Rest assured that if you have specific and endearing skills and are unafraid to venture into new pastures, you may shorten your incubation time before your next employ. Skills like selling, influencing, instructing, relationship, counseling, communication (reading, writing and mathematics, however up-sized and expanded) and negotiating, may still augur well for most industries and businesses. Now, if you are open to the ‘dirtiest and deadliest’ types of work, these will require specific training and an aptitude/appetite for such labour. You will also need to ‘fit’, and ‘fit-for-duty’.

3) Activating Your Values: What does this mean? You, often-times, hear the need to be resilient, enduring, agile, and creative. What do these values entail? Which knowledge, skills, behaviors and mindsets will you need to develop to keep you valued as an employee? Our DNA – core values – when aligned with a company’s can open doors of opportunity for us. In relationships, we need to build mutual trust and respect. We need to develop the tacit experiences and wisdom to work in/with teams? Our ability to manage conflict, confusion, distortions of the important messages, and rising expectations are points of consideration. Applying your knowledge is more valuable than gathering data and information. Almost anyone with access to the Internet can source information, but connecting to sources and resources require more than touching the keypad. We will need to remain connected with customers, partners, and collaborators and be able to appreciate the myriad ‘touch points’ that connect us with purpose and poise towards our collective future.  

I leave you with these considerations. Meanwhile, stay safe, be healthy, and decide to be diligent and discerning.

Thursday, June 4, 2020


The past 6 months has been challenging, to say the least. Most of us may still be Working-From-Home (WFH), and figuring out what our future holds for us. A viral pandemic of such epic proportions has hit us - hard - and with such unfamiliarity and ferocity that it boggles our minds, and shakes our hearts.
Yes, we are living in a time of fear (personal and even, shared), mired with confusion, misinformation, prejudices, ignorance and emotional turmoil. We may be resetting our compasses as others may be running about like 'headless chickens'. And, we cannot blame anyone, specifically, for we have to deal with the matter at hand. What can we do, individually and collectively, to reset and/or recalibrate our lives?
In the next few days and weeks, I will share with you my tacit experiences and wisdom on how we may manage our attitudes and actions towards the prevailing situation. Instead of dreading and complaining, we can take small steps towards regaining our 'personal power' and 'empower' others in the process of creating a global' New Norm'.
Meanwhile, let us move away from 'waiting and hating', and focus on 'moving and appreciating'. Let us be grateful for what we already have, and figure out ways to move towards a more promising future. Let us consider 3 relevant and pragmatic approaches that we can [now] take:
1)    KEEP MOVING: Movement is life. Biology is based on 'moving'. Work. Keep busy with activity. Small actions add up. Talk to smarter people. Bounce ideas off Subject-Matter Experts. Write letters. Pitch a proposal. Apply for a job. Create a new job description (scope). Sell your abilities and capabilities. Exercise. Exercise your options.
2) HAVE CLARITY OF FOCUS: Focus is how we amplify our 'light', so that it becomes intense. Possessing and harnessing on 'laser-like clarity' can illuminate on new opportunities and options. Focus can be enhanced by doing ONE THING AT A TIME. If you ever juggled, you would have learnt that juggling is a complex activity that teaches us to SHIFT OUR FOCUS. This can helps us engage our DECISIVENESS. (Scroll back to my hundreds of posts over the past 12 years of this blog, and you will find my acquired wisdom on DECISION-MAKING and CALCULATED RISK-TAKING).
3) BUILD ON YOUR POTENTIAL: Now is the best time to integrate as much learning, and building of skills and wisdom as you can. Enrol in an online course. Begin with a short-course. Many courses are FREE. Go to EDX to find out more. Many universities are providing modules that are free, affordable, and that may lead to a certificate, diploma, degree (and post-graduate level). Learn new skills. Learn to fix things. Learn to use an online platform or tool (Zoom is popular). Read. Watch documentaries. Write. Apply for an online scholarship, or entry to an institution of your dream. Acquire a new hobby. The results of your Continuous Learning can SAVE YOU ON EXPENSES.  
I will share more, shortly.
Meanwhile, keep safe and be healthy.