The Serenity Prayer

It’s been a great year. There were many achievements, many failures, many laughs and many tears – a combination all those things that makes life, and living special.

Looking ahead, I pray..

Oh Lord,
Grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage, to change the things I can;
and the wisdom, to know the difference.

Happy new year all! :)

If you are traveling with a child, please attend to yourself first, then the child.

Have you ever wondered why that line exists in the aircraft safety announcement?

I think of it in terms of 3 common life situations –

1. Only after we are on top of our tasks and targets can we be helpful to others (with colleagues)

2. Only after we bring our lives under control can we help others with theirs (with friends)

3. Only after we take care of ourselves and have ourselves in control can we love, be loved and be affectionate(with family)

Essentially, our first priority should always be to make sure we are okay. And that doesn’t necessitate a self centred approach to life. The whole point of taking care of ourselves (in my humble opinion) is so we can take good care of others around us, build great things and make a dent on this planet.

First step though, is taking care of ourselves.

Putting yourself on the holiday priority list

This holiday week has been exceptionally busy. After touching down here last Friday, I was off to Malaysia for a weekend trip and that, of course, was tiring in itself. Following that, I had more family coming in and of course, lots of family outings day in and day out to all the shopping hot spots, sight seeing hot spots etc – you know the drill.

The biggest difference was that this time, I consciously forked out time for myself. Unlike university days, I’ve got to be back at work on Monday morning in a different timezone, so there’s a fair amount of admin work needing completion these holidays. And given my introverted nature, I also need sufficient non-people time to recharge. I had to make tons of compromises of course – many items on the ‘to-do’ list were pushed to January thanks to lower priority and I had to cut down my ‘to-meet’ list of friends to a bare minimum as well and push the rest of the meetings to my next trip down here, and of course, I’m having to not think about football either.

All the trade offs aside, all the high priority admin work has been done, quality time has been spent with family, a couple of meet ups have been planned and I know there’s rest and relaxation waiting for me the entire weekend. It’s been a big learning in managing myself and my happiness – putting myself as the highest priority and ensuring the holiday season stays at the ‘enjoyable’ and not ‘stressful’. Fine line, as always..

Oh, and I also managed to catch a Man United game last night – sign of a healthy holiday!

If we don’t help ourselves, who will after all?

10 questions to sync with ‘me’ – A review tool

The holidays are here and there is no better better time for some good ol’ reflection! In the spirit of looking back, learning, growing, and then looking ahead – here is a self reflection form that I am using myself which I hope would be a useful thought starter.

Please feel free to use the same form, or make edits to design a customized one for yourself of course. And any feedback is always welcome so I can do a better job of it next year!

If you do choose to use this, I would suggest printing out and writing as writing is a neuromuscular activity and can potentially have deeper impact.

I hope you manage to find time to reflect, review and plan ahead for a great year. Do reach out if I can be of help in any way/answer any questions.

Once again, the file is available for download here . Just right click and save as on your computer.

Hope you find it useful!

Time with Grandpa

One of the highlights of time with family is the one evening of quality time I usually get with Grandpa. Family time, especially when they visit Singapore, is always very chaotic thanks to the many items on their agenda that quality time is often at a premium. Last evening, however, I sat up with Grandpa. Time with Mom and Grandma comes pretty easily but my Grandpa, being more withdrawn, generally is more reclusive. He was very tired after a day that began early but being the man he is, he readily woke up and we sat on a bench in the open air for a chat while the rest of the family shopped late into the night..

Time with Grandpa typically involves a few characteristic features – first up, he would need a smoke (to clear up his head in his opinion of course.. :)) and then it would involve one story after another from the past. I would typically have heard these stories many many times but hearing him tell a story is an experience in itself as it captures those moments in his life he deems most memorable. Amidst all these stories are many byte sized life learnings that helped him in his life. His advice for me is always similar – stay honest, work very hard, save diligently, invest in family and NEVER touch a cigarette. The last piece he underlines by repeating how hard it has been for him – and that, while he often thinks of quitting, he is a self confessed slave of the nicotine and hopes I won’t have to go through the same experience.
I have great respect for my Grandpa – more than I can or have expressed, when I think about it. It was his diligent saving and investing that took our family through tough times and coming from a simple village background, he dared to go out into the world away from the small family business, started his career at Indian Airlines as a clerk and retired as the General Manager Finance, South India Region (which in those days meant all of South East Asia – i.e. Singapore, Maldives etc). In an age when airline travel was uncommon, Grandpa had seen the world.. and I was of course inspired to no end! I wanted 3 passports as well with all those visas, after all! I also wanted to be neat, clean, patient and most of all, measured and calm – all those attributes that defined him in my eyes. And probably – what inspired me most was that he said little but his words had great impact. I was of course at the other end of the spectrum..
I’ve been fortunate to have lots of great times with him – walks to the temple, swimming with him at the pool nearby, chatting with him while Mom and Grandma were shopping among others. And 5 years ago, when I left home, time with him became a premium and as I’ve gone out and experienced the world, I’ve realized how important his simple pieces of advice have been as I’ve gone back to them every time I’ve felt challenged.
Time with Grandpa yesterday was special, as usual. It was nice to hear him regale all those stories from the past, was funny to see him wonder aloud as to how people tolerated him when he was a finance manager as every important decision came only after a smoke and most of all was just nice to spend the time to experience him.
We have inspiration all around us. And it is just human nature to take for granted whatever we have constant exposure to. Just as a goods-peddler in front of the Taj Mahal or the Egyptian pyramids never sees them for their true value, it is very unlikely we recognize the true value of people who surround us. As we spend time with us, their imperfections often stand glaring at us. In time, I’ve realized that special people are meant to be celebrated with love, affection and appreciation and I’ve tried in the past to let Grandpa know how much his advice means to me. But, I have a lingering feeling I’ve not done enough..
It’s time to banish that thought.. :)

Disconnect to Connect

It’s been great to disconnect from all things internet for 2 days! The family trip to Penang helped, of course.

It’s nice to stay clear of all things digital. Lots of learnings on the way through which I’ve noted on my blogroll (i.e. learnings to be blogged in the days ahead) and until then, I hope you have a lovely break with friends and family and remember to disconnect, to connect.. :)
I hope to do the same as well!

The up and down routine

I’m a self professed ‘life learning’ enthusiast. And nothing amazes me more than life’s propensity to deal you a blow every once in a while to keep you humble.

Let’s take a simple example – I’ve been looking forward to the Christmas break (which starts today) for a month. And given my last 3 weeks have involved crazy deliverables and hence, many days with crazy work hours, I daresay I felt like I deserved it.
The first part of the plan was to take a short trip to Malaysia. But, the last week has involved one hurdle after another with today resulting in a close friend dropping out thanks to emergency work on Saturday. To put things into perspective, the count for this trip has grown negatively from potentially 8 to 3!
The best part of this was that I did my best to ‘respond’ and not ‘react’ and I’m feeling rather good at the way I took the news. And instead of screaming, raging and throwing a fit at this friend, I managed to hold it till after the call. ;-)
And that, I thought, is a small win worth celebrating with a learning!
This experience only further affirms the fact that the problems and hurdles never stop coming. What we can stop/control is our response to it. And exercising that choice often makes all the difference in the world..