Saturday, May 23, 2009

Find the Upset of Regret

Regret is more than a one-size-fits-all proposition, says Thomas Gilovich, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. According to his research, regret comes in three emotional types: hot (anger, disgust, embarrassment, irritation), wistful (nostalgic, contemplative, sentimental) and despairing (helpless, longing).

In the short term, you may regret actions you took – usually hot regrets like impulsively buying those expensive items when you should have boosted your savings account. While most people get over the sting of hot regrets fairly quickly, the long term is another story: That’s when you tend to regret actions you didn’t take – like going to Europe for a semester during college – eliciting wistful or despairing feelings.

The good news is that while regret feels bad, you can make it work for you. Gilovich offers these suggestions:

Learn from your mistakes. Examine your behaviour and why you did or didn’t act in a way you now regret. You may be sorry you didn’t push harder for a promotion that you deserved but someone else got – however, next time you won’t let yourself be outmaneuvered.

Pursue a missed opportunity. If you regret not having learned to play the piano as a child or forgoing the track team for your studies, seize the day. Take action to replace those wistful feelings with newfound skills and a fulfilling sense of accomplishment.

Rectify past wrongs. If your regret centres on bad behaviour – you hurt a friend’s feelings with a cutting remark or, worse, stole her boyfriend – it’s never too late to apologise. Even if the other person isn’t responsive to your overture, you’ll feel better for having made the effort.

Give yourself a break. The path not taken often looks more tempting with 20/20 hindsight. So forgive yourself for not having been prescient enough to accept that job offer or make that big move, and remember you did the best you could at the time.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Principles of Coaching

By Michael Heah

“Coaching” is just not another word you be so used to hearing of in recent times. In fact, coaches and coaching have been with us for as long as humans have had the desire to improve themselves.

It started with sports, ever since serious-minded sports people found the need to engage sports coaches whom they believed could help them boost their performance for extraordinary results.

In the late 90s, the sports arena was no longer the only domain of coaching. It has entered the non-sports world as well: corporate boardrooms of executives; homes of parents and children as well as private lives of individuals. World-class organizations like Microsoft, International Business Machines Corp, Dell, Kodak and many others have relied on coaching to grow into world-class professionals.

Famous individuals like Peter Drucker and Ken Blanchard have had private coaches too. No wonder all of them have made extraordinary gains in their lives!

In modern days, people need coaches for many reasons; corporations in the 21st century are increasingly competing for higher growth and profits; families are finding it difficult to cope with the demand of modern homes; and individuals are increasingly being exerted with the complexities of professional and social life.

All of them have something in common; they all want richer fulfillment, higher satisfaction, and greater happiness, including achieving their fullest potential in life.

People have found a perfect place for coaches to be in their lives. Depending on their goals, people can have coaches in various fields; business coaches for corporate executives, parental coaches for family members, career coaches for ambitious people, and life skill coaches for people in all walks of life, and so on.

Coaches have one common objective; to break people out of their mindsets and self-limiting beliefs to enjoy the fullest of life in the way they really and always want to be.

People perform well when they receive individualized instead of mass attention. It is highly effective because coaching goes beyond “general information” for improvement.

It is a learning relationship over a period of time. Although you can compare them to tuition teachers or counselors, coaches are many more times what other can do.

In gist, coaches are focused on three key principles when they work with people:

1. See. Either it is a problem or an issue the individual does not see or does not want to see it, a coach uses observation, questioning and listening skills to uncover it, identify it and “confront” the individual with it.

2. Say. The coach uses a high degree of inspiration, motivation and persuasion to get the individual to admit and acknowledge the problem.

3. Do. Instead of intervening, the coach helps “enlighten” the individual to formulate his or her own personal section programme. Then the coach monitors, aligns, motivates and bring back into focus what needs to be done until the result is achieved.

Unlike counseling or training, coaching takes place in a real situation, addressing real issues based on real-time results, without “delaying” the action to a later date and time.

It is a focused relationship with the coach and protégé entering into a mutually healthy relationship to address an agreed issue (or issues) together.

The results are long term as it is the protégé who holds total accountability for improvement.

The coach plays many roles when he or she watches from the sidelines: a facilitator when things get entangled; the conscience when performance slides; a motivator to push for performance; and a friend who celebrates achievement.

People in leadership position ought to be coaches to their constituents. Be it parents to their children, managers to their subordinates, politicians to their electorates or teachers to their students, they can help make a positive difference to people’s lives when they understand and know how powerful coaches can be.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Art of Communication

By Andrew A.L. Tan

"All fast developing nations need to re-engineer mindsets with a 'paradigm shift' to match the country's first class infrastructures with first-class mentality to strive and aspire to be a nation of people with the 'graces of a civilised society' such as art of leadership, communication skills, politeness, respectfulness, tact and diplomacy, traditions, cultures, music and the arts."

In tandem with progress and development, materialism breeds a lot of arrogance, insensitivity, ego, pride, rudeness, intolerance and impatience. Thus we need to counter-balance that with a re-flowering of art, traditions and cultures so as to make a person more civil, and artistically and culturally refined.

The next thrust to achieve Vision 2020 is in training, education and human resources development on the acquisition of 'soft skills', communications and linguistic skills, leadership, people skills, character training and development. This will further foster racial harmony, unity, understanding integration and mutual peaceful co-existence!

Like in any normal society, citizens need to be instilled with excellent mindsets, to be able to speak and write well, to be mindful/tactful/diplomatic/respectful of others with patience, tolerance and peaceful co-existence, and to be professional/effective/efficient and project our country as modern and progressive to all.

Ours is a plural nation that need to be integrated as one and inculcating/nurturing greater interest in a speaking/writing/reading culture and to master the refined gentle art of inter-human and inter-ethnic communications.

More so in the age of globalisation, all of us need to achive the competitive edge with modern, liberal and progressive thinking.

Quick Counter-Punch (QCP) is gentle and non-aggressive but defensive, firm and assertive. It is meant to encourage us to master excellent communication skills in all aspects of dealing with various people (local and international).

We are neither anglophiles nor xenophobic, doormats and servile, and do not apologise for who we are. East is east and West is west, and never the twain shall meet! The weight of the historical emotional baggage of a colonial mindset must be discarded so that we can travel and progress faster, and walk taller. We are grateful to our leaders (past and present) for enabling us to be proud both as citizens and as a nation.

It is not what you think. QCP does not involve physical fistfights but will liberate minds and souls, guide you to the top, show you how to be a top leader and an excellent communicator and conversationalist, negotiate with public relation (PR) skills, and how to be able to handle a cross-section of people effectively for personal and corporate success.

The art of strategic leadership, strategic thinking, art of dynamic speaking and writing are "soft" communications skills in managing, handling and dealing with human resources. As a refined art for personal and corporate success and survival in the real world, QCP is a verbal self-defence technique that will assist you to come up tops in understanding and communicating with people and be successful leaders in each your own right.

Among various key issues, it refers principally to the art of leadership and negotiation skills, power, politics and protocol for "People At The Top" (PATT), brain skills, strategic and lateral thinking, marketing warfare, strategic war plan in project management and business or even romancing people.

Success or failure lies in exemplary leadership, excellent communications skills and the power of spoken word!

Whether at boardrooms or business/project meetings, at the negotiating table, press interviews, or dealing with tough questions, when public speaking or in routine, mundane relationships with people, one has to master the refined art and intricacies of speaking and talking.

Through the skilful art of verbal communcations, we can be successful in dealing with friends, business associates or adversaries, at worst our harmful enemies. We need to be able to defend ourselves when verbally abused through the gentle art of verbal self-defence, and also master the art of speaking, which include dynamic public presentation.

The art of communication will influence people to our advantage and also protect us from being verbally abused and getting hurt.

QCP shows you the way to accrue power and leadership in doing and saying the right things with eloquence, at the right time and at any setting by understanding neuro-linguistics, transactional analysis and human nature, their needs, motives and intentions.

In dealing with rude, crass and obnoxious people, we must learn how to cut them off immediately with the right words through quick thinking and appropriate retorts. Quick gentle answers do turn away wrath. Be wary of people whose words are maliciously connived and calculated to demean, belittle or insult, couched in double connotations and subtle sarcasm and spoken with forked tongues like a serpent. The naive and gullible will surely fall prey. Charm can also be deceptive!

In business, projects or education, of all resources at our disposal, humans are our most important assets, yet people are so complex and capricious that it takes great skills in harnessing their talents, know-how and expertise for success.

Never fight forces but use and harness them. To be successful in life, both social and corporate, we need to know the importance of dealing with all kinds of people, including mostly the combative and battle-hardened type (jerks).

PATT or "People At The Top" are natural masters of the art of QCP! We must observe them and learn from them.

The soft, nimble tongue is the smallest member in our body but the most powerful and evil. A little spark can put an entire forest at fire. The tongue is like the steering wheel of the car for it controls the entire vehicle. Even wild horses can be tamed through its tongues. It is like a double-edged surgical scalpel - it can heal or injure.

We need to understand and manage all kinds of people for success in our various endeavours. By our words we will be judged, and by them we are equally condemned.

Words spoken out of kindness and compassion to inspire and motivate will uplift another person, and make inter-human encounters and verbal exchanges more pleasant and enjoyable. The world will be in a more beautiful place to live in.

Songs, poems, prose, symphony and music are the rythms of life and enhance the quality of your lifestyle!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Continuous Need to Upgrade Know-How

By Benedict Morais

Opportunities for career success spring up from time to time. To be able to make the best of these opportunities one must be ready and adequately prepared. Many successful business executives and professionals have benefited greatly by regularly topping up their knowledge base.

They understand all too well that those who carelessly neglect to regularly update their corporate and professional tool-kit will flounder in tomorrow’s business and professional environment.

Mainly self-development

Senior vice-president of communications at United Technologies Corporation, is spot on when he says:

“Terms like career development or leadership development can encourage wrong thinking. Career development is mainly self-development. No one is ‘developed’ as a leader or manager or professional. They developed themselves. They may require a corporate structure that’s open to development.”

One has, therefore, to look at continuing professional education and development at a life-long process. It is also a function of energy, dedication, ambition and intelligence.

Many believe that people who wish to develop can do so under almost circumstances. People who are not so inclined will not be developed under any circumstances.

Structured and unstructured development

A corporation or a professional institute for that matter can offer opportunities, chart courses, measure performance and open doors.

It is, however, up to the individual to make the best of the opportunities offered. Commitment to personal management and professional development will, of course, depend on workload, time management and personal career goals.

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) for instance, believes that a professionally qualified management accountant should aim to devote a minimum of 32 hours per annum to structured development such as attending short courses, seminars and workshops.

Structured activities might also include undertaking academic study, utilizing open learning programmes, developing and delivering of training materials as a trainer, as well as participating in conferences, briefing and meetings.

CIMA also believes that a member should spend two to three hours per week on unstructured development, such as reading technical articles.

Keeping abreast of trends and developments

One should remember that technical competence alone will not suffice in the hectic and demanding business and professional world. The well-rounded business leader or professional is the kind of person who will be able to critically appraise business situations and cope with a range of problems and issues.

In addition, the potential corporate leader must develop the capacity to approach complex issues drawing on several strands of learning, coupled with an understanding of the wider business, economic and political environment.

Meeting the changing needs of employers

Those who wisely invest in continuing professional education, will stand to gain, in addition, the following competitive advantages:

* Enhance the added value of their qualifications.
* Add to their intellectual capital in a structured and effective way
* Meet the changing needs of corporate employers and a dynamic business environment

In planning and deciding on the type, range and frequency of continuing professional education, one should give due attention to the following factors:

* The stage you are now at in the management and professional hierarchy
* The need to build on cumulative knowledge and practical experience gained thus far
* The desirability to focus on specific key result areas

For this process to be truly effective, each person should carry out a realistic personal audit on his relative strengths and weaknesses. This will enable him to pick and choose those programmes or courses relevant to his personal needs at that particular point in his career.

An attitude of expectancy

In an increasingly competitive business and professional world, those with a positive mental attitude, high energy levels and infectious enthusiasm will stand out. Employers will turn to these individuals because, in addition to sheer competence, their pro-active approach to self-development has prepared them for increasing responsibilities and challenges. Furthermore, their approach to these matters has enabled them to enhance their competitiveness by strengthening their transferable competence.

These people have, in short, cultivated an attitude of expectancy. Achievers, in particular, have such an attitude. They do not grieve over failures, rather achievers look around the corner in anticipation of the good things that await them. They are able to open more doors, strike better deals and attract energetic and resourceful people to work with them. They also set higher standards and get others to help them meet these standards.

These winners realize that when combined with desire and preparation, expectancy produces hope. And as we are aware, hope makes all things possible. It is, therefore, simply an act of good judgement to invest in continuing professional education.

Those who are always learning are those who can ride the waves of change and who see a changing world as full of opportunities rather than dangers. They are the ones most likely to be the survivors in a time of discontinuity. They are also the enthusiasts and the architects of new ways and forms and ideas. If you want to change, try learning, or more precisely, if you want to
be in control of your change, take learning more seriously

- by Charles Handy
(The Age of Unreason, 1990)