Monday, August 29, 2011

The Joy of Reading

My elder boy has always been an avid reader. I suppose the home environment has a strong influence on him. His parents would be having a book, a periodical or newspaper in hand whenever they could afford the time. Not so for my younger boy, who is a very active boy and never could quite sit still.

We feel that it is just that he has not found the "right" book. A few weeks ago, he found the "right" genre. The book was Do-It-Yourself Wimpy Kid. He has been doodling and asking for me to spell out certain words so that he could complete his own comics strips. Another fave activity of his would be "hangman". He would carefully count and draw the dashes for each word, add a space in between intervening words, to prepare for the game. Thereafter, he invited us - his parents - to play with him.

Recently, he branched out to more conventional books - Geronimo Stilton. He asked his mother, that's me why I did not read his books. To which, I told him that mummy has her own favorite books which stimulated her thinking.

It led me to think about the subjects I enjoy. I have a very broad interest - economics, mathematics, sociology, criminology, international relations and sometimes even physics. They broadened my perspectives a great deal. Most importantly and the reason I could sustain reading as a hobby must be the joy they brought to me. A very recent example will be the recent US politics - with Democrat trying to spend more and Republican trying to cut taxes (especially for the wealthest). It was almost nonsensical with such trival tussle playing out in the fore of their domestic front, US today is still the world's superpower. I remembered the twin-deficit of the US which I have studied in Macroeconomics. When I proved that it worked, I was smiling at the disbelief and yet with a tinge of marvel. This is US, a land of opportunity, a land of innovation, a land where impossible becomes possible.

Reading is a discovery of the many magic around the world. It is the best gift you can ever give to someone. For through reading, one's thinking will open like a parachute. And once opened, it will never be the same.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Coaching for People Development

I have just attended a 2-day course on Coaching for People Development. This little post is to share my key take-aways.

First thing first, what is coaching? Besides coaching, there are also other terms such as mentoring, consulting and training, sometimes some of the words are used interchangeable with coaching. However, there are subtle differences.

In the case of consulting, it is more of a company paying an expert to find the solution. For the other terms, the relationship runs deeper.

Training is more the first level which the trainer will focus on transferring skills or knowledge to the trainee. Mentoring is more of sharing the knowledge acquired over the years by the mentor to the mentee. Coaching is about empowerment. No solution is given to the coachee. Instead the coach will guide the coachee through a series of powerful questions, deep listening and keen observation.

GROW Model for Coaching G - goals, R - eality, O - ptions, W - What's next.

This is the model to conduct coaching. Coaching is only possible when the coachee intends to change. One will want to change when there is a tension between reality and goal.

The coach's role is to help the coachee to have awareness and clarity on his goals. This could be done by asking the coachee to imagine a typical day when his goals become true. In other words, it is to dream.

Thereafter, the coach will bring the coachee back to reality and allow the coachee to think about what he should do next. This step will allow the coachee to think and identify the critical areas that will help him to move forward. It is in this step that the coach will have to practise deep listening to identify the mental model the coachee has.

There are basically 4 types of limits that people have. One could use the acronymn MARS - namely, Motivation (e.g. just feel unhappy when Monday comes), Ability (e.g. not good with numbers), Role Perception (e.g. a good employee spends 24/7 at work) and Structure (e.g. no computer access at home).

Thereafter, the coach will have to guide the coachee on the options available to him. The last step is "What's Next" which is to get a commitment to action. The coach's job is to find baby step to help the coachee get started and be motivated to continue the change process.

In conclusion, I would say that it is a skill which one cannot really go very far through passive learning. Just like one can only know how to swim by jumping into the pool, this is another skill which calls for on-the-job training.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Family Outing at Upper Pierce Reservoir

It was somewhat the spur of the moment decision that our family decided to drive down to Upper Pierce Reservoir just to idle around. Afterall, we love to be close to nature.

There was one portion in the ride where our car was on a winding road flanked by two rows of rain trees with their widespread canopies. My eyes were treated in a kaleidoscope of different hues of green as we passed the trees by.

When we reached that park, I saw the picture perfect sight in front of me. There was the Upper Pierce Reservoir with it clear blue water and in the middle of the reservoir a forlorn white structure. Amidst the gentle mid-morning sun, the glistening water washed away the stress of the mundane.

There was a little pavement leading to the edge of Singapore Island Country Club where to the one side was Upper Pierce Reservoir and the other Lower Pierce Reservoir. There was serenity as I peered afar into the horizon. Every tree, every leaf and every branch seemed carefully orchestrated. These colours of nature accentuated the park setting. As I strolled down the long and steep slope nearer to Lower Pierce Reservoir, I took in deep breath of the chlorophyll-infused air. A broad and satisfied grin broke over my face.

It is a joy to be one with nature even if only for a short fleeting hour, and therapatic to feel the stress of urban living melting away. I am definitely looking forward to more of such idyllic getaway.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

More on Tipping Point - A Case Study

Small things matter.

This is the story about a different way of thinking from The Tipping Point. Enjoy!

For many years, governments of the states in US have been focusing on the message that smoking is not cool. They are actually barking at the wrong tree.

Smoking is not cool. It is the smokers who are cool. Teenagers smoke 'cos they want to be like their 'idiots' who are cool.

The solution proposed in the book is not to focus on the message the smoking is not cool. It is to work with the manufacturers to make each cigarette with lower nicotine level so that teenagers will not get hook so easily. This approach accepts the part that it is idiot-worshipping is the rite of passage in the growing-up phase of a teenager. So instead of working against the natural flow of things, it works with it hand-in-hand but lower the risk.

I thought it is a brilliant approach. There is another broken-window theory - more on criminology. It is about fixing broken windows so that criminals would think twice before committing a crime. This is another a fresh way of looking at things.