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Is it true that everyone knows how to smile?

source: en.m.wikipedia.or
source: en.m.wikipedia.org

In my training modules, I often include a sharing on the four stages of learning or competence. It enables the participants to understand their learning process, as well as encourage them to be open to learning new skills. And also for management’s understanding of training dynamics and assessment of training needs.

In this first post in a series of 4, I would like to share on the first stage of Unconscious Incompetence. This is where we are unaware that we lack a certain competency. We often assume that “they should know it” but “they may not even be aware that they do not know it.”

An example is how employers in the service sector assume that their employees can smile and connect with customers. If you have been a customer, you will know that this is certainly not true. Some service teams naturally have brightest smiles, many others often greet you with blank faces and non eye contact.

Another example is the case of a valued employee who excels in his job but when promoted to a manager, fails miserably in leading his team. It is an erroneous assumption of management that this excellent employee knows how to manage a team. But with effective training and coaching of skills, he certainly has the potential to be an effective leader.

By taking nothing for granted and equipping their teams with the necessary skills, management and business owners will be able to build teams who are engaged, joyous, resilient and able to create value in their doing and being.


Jack of all Trades, A Master of 10

While flipping though The Peak, an interview with Jeffrey Seah, South-east Asia CEO of global brand communications group Starcom Mediavest caught my eye.

Jack of all Trades“My hope is that every Singaporean will be a jack of all trades and a master of 10. It is not easy to be an all-rounder, as everyone wants to excel in one particular field. Having this awareness and a positive reaction to such stimuli will be the true application of Darwinism. The marketing and communications industry in Singapore will benefit with such mindsets.”

What an interesting positive spin on an adage that could be perceived as a limiting statement and belief!

When someone has a multitude of interests and skills sets, they are often encouraged to focus so that they can master one or two of them. But there are some of us who simply enjoy learning new skills and acquiring new portfolios and hats.

Take for example, my publisher Kok Hwa from Candid Creation Publishing. 4 years after our first meeting, he is now an Action Learning Coach as well as a trainer with his own workshop ‘So You Want to Be an Author?’. The expansion and continuous mastery of new trades have opened up new opportunities and an exciting new world for him.

Singapore’s ‘Mother Teresa’, the late Teresa Hsu who passed on in 2011 aged 113 is another example. At aged 47, she enrolled and was accepted into a three- year nursing course in London meant for students under 25. At 67, she founded one of the first home for the aged sick in Singapore in the 1960s where she worked until she was 85 years old. She picked up yoga at the age of 69 and started teaching it to the young and old at temples, associations, hospitals and schools. Truly inspiring!

And there are many other examples.

The key operative word here is mastery. It is not simply a shallow interest or shallow application but a deep desire to delve as deep as possible, and apply the new skills to its best possible use whether for one’s personal development or the betterment of the world around us. An on-going attitude of curious and open learning not limited by age nor the naysayers surrounding us.

It makes life all the richer for ourselves, and those around us.

A Thankful Heart Allows Change

Thankful HeartLast week, during a coaching session for a client, this reflection question popped up for her: What does it mean for you to have a thankful heart?

She is going through probably the fiercest hardest storm to-date. She’s been bruised and battered by the hard winds and shivered for countless nights. But through it all, she’s found refuge and sanctuary and, an inner strength and resilience. Above all, she has been able (with great determination and discipline) to maintain a strong sense of calm. Releasing of hatred and anger is the goal she is working towards.

It is not easy being my client because at the onset of our journey together, I tell them that my role is not to sugar coat nor am I in a popularity contest. My role is to be a catalyst in the transformational journey and that means facing hard truths at times. It also means accepting and taking action on recommendations even if it is something that throws them out of their comfort zone. Or something that is painful for them to do. For those with perseverance and willingness to do what it takes, there is always positive changes.

In my client’s case, she was what the world would perceive as the ‘victim’ in the situation. So the question I posed to her was not an easy one. But she graciously and openly accepted the reflective task for this period of Christmas in preparation for a new fresh start in 2015.

It is also a question that I have taken on for my own self-reflection and preparation for a brand new year. And it is a question that I think would benefit many.

In his book Hardwiring Happiness, neuropsychologist Dr Rick Hanson shared about the importance of regularly taking in the good to create neural pathways we need for well being. Unless we pay mindful, sustained attention to them, most positive experiences flow through our brains like water through a sieve. The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.

If that it the case, then having a thankful heart would also allow us to create positive neural pathways as well as a healthy heart.

What does it mean for you to have a thankful heart?

I am still reflecting on the question and it has been liberating to explore some of the pathways that my heart takes me to. To savour each new insight and thought. Much to think about and lots of experiences to reframe. All which is useful and beneficial for moving ahead.

Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

SAP 3 Was invited by  the Business Women’s Network of SAP Singapore as their guest speaker.

The topic “Break Out of Your Comfort Zone” is one that is very close to my heart.

As I laughingly shared with the participants, it seem that I  have had to constantly and consistently practice this throughout my life. And judging from the large turnout (the organisers shared with me later on that it was the best ever turnout), it is a topic that resonates with many.

Even though the session was just for an hour, I wanted it to be packed with strategies and tips that participants could use straight away. And of course, it has to be interactive and fun as well!
And during the session, when I shared the story about my mum and how proud I am of her for breaking out of her comfort zone, one of the participants excitedly shared that she knows who my mum is! So it was a nice story to pass on to my mum after the event.

As a lovely bonus, I met a friend whom I have not seen since our graduation.

Ex-school mate from poly daysI had so much fun at the event and it once again affirms the importance of breaking out of one’s comfort zone. If I did not take the first step (years ago) to do my very first speaking engagement, I would not have realised that I truly enjoy it. By moving into a new comfort zone, I allowed the unfolding of goodness. And if we focus on this unfolding of goodness, it gives us the added courage and boost to conquer the fears of moving beyond our limitations and often, self imposed boundaries.