Sunday, 21 July 2019

Visualisation in Coaching

Coaching has a definite effect on the brain. A coach who interacts with coachees are using techniques that allow them to interact directly with thought processes.

The way the brain processes stimuli and responses can be seen in the mechanism of writing vs typing.

Most motivational speakers swear by the method of writing down your dreams to clarify your values, goals and actions.

However, even with the ubiquitousness of typing on the phone or computer, most people still find better results to achieve their aims by physically penning it down.

The difference lies in the process of writing versus typing.

When you write, your brain visualises the letters, sends impulses to the hand to take action and to create on paper what it sees in the mind.

When you type, your brain recognises or remembers the position of the keys on the keyboard, then sends impulses to the hand to strike the keys. There is no visualisation nor creation involved.

When you coach someone, you are asking questions to stimulate them to visualise the goal and take physical action to create their dreams.

However, when you give advice to someone, their brain only recognises or remembers it and they just follow external instructions with less conviction.

Thus, when you want someone to change their behaviour or commit to an action, use coaching to have them choose to do so. Advising can risk creating robots instead.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Recognising the Onset of Passion Can Save Your Life

I rarely lose my temper and because of that, I find it strange that people can lose theirs, because I've always valued presence of mind over passion.

Have you heard of crimes of passion, where in court, the perpetrator says they didn't intend to rape her, beat him up or kill them? Yes, a person can blame their passions because in the heat of the moment, they really do lose control over their mind.

However, it doesn't mean they are blameless, because passions CAN be controlled. Nay, they must! We have been given methods to manage and rein them in. We just have to use them.

Passion affects the human physiology in different ways, and learning to manage them can sometimes be the difference between life and death.

One afternoon, I was driving to pick up my wife and daughter, when a car turned suddenly into my lane. Instead of apologising, one of its passengers berated me, and the driver also started cursing. My blood boiled to a point I hadn't experienced in a long time.

With both our windows down, he screamed to pull over and 'settle' while I screamed to him to be sensible. Seeing there were four of them in the car, my brain immediately laid out an intricate plan of how I would take them out one by one after I pulled over.

Just as immediately, I realised I was breathing hard, and my anger was reaching a superpoint (where I would quickly lose control over my actions). I immediately recovered my breathing and smiled at him and said "Enough of that". I was aware he might want to insist, so I was ready for anything. Amazingly, he backed off and drove off.

If I had persisted with my desire-inspired plans, I could have been seriously hurt and gotten into trouble.

Several days earlier, my daughter Alisha was playing at a funland, and the sheer size of it, and the many toys and facilities would take any child's breath away. For Alisha, it was more dangerous, because she has asthma, inherited from me.

After a few minutes of running around, she started coughing and tearing up. Her uncle thought she had swallowed her saliva, but I knew the signs better. I immediately grabbed her and told her to calm down and breathe.

I held her close so her chest could feel mine and we breathed together. Asthma can be deadly when you experience an attack and panic. That's when the passion of fear takes over, and you spiral deeper and deeper into breathlessness.

I've been teaching her to manage her asthma these last few years, so, in the moment of her panic, only key words worked for me to trigger her to follow me breathing.

We breathed together, in and out, until she calmed down, and when her mindfulness kicked in, she could willfully practice breathing for herself. Within five minutes, she was back and running around again. A couple of times, I noticed her stop to sit down and breathe. It means that she has learned to recognise the onset of an attack and take action before she could panic.

For someone with anger issues, or even asthma, recognising the signs of getting close to losing control is important to maintaining it. There's no way to be ready for it. You learn when you're in the situation. But at least you can prepare by training your reflexes.

When your desire is exhorting you to do evil deeds, this too is leading up to passion. Do you know how far you can go before you lose control?

Friday, 19 July 2019

Answer All Questions to Think & Act Faster

When, as an adult, you don't know Why you do something, it stems from an unanswered question you once had.

As a child, you asked a lot of questions, many of them being Why. Maybe some of them were answered, but soon, you were probably told to just "accept it" without needing to know why.

Soon after, you stopped asking questions.

The speed of action depends on the clarity of rationale. The clearer your reason, the more committed the action.

When you can think clearly, your convictions become immovable.

So, the next time your son asks "Why", invest the time and answer him. Otherwise, he will stop asking too.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Memories Befriend Us In Our Times Of Need

Suspension of disbelief is a gift that all human beings have. It allows us to hold a piece of information in a state of tight balance between acceptance and denial. That way, we get the benefits of belief without the disappointment of untruth.

It means you don't need to actually wait to experience something in order to experience it. There is a sense of control, of power in determining how you want to feel.

This unique ability of the human brain to engage in fantasy allows us to experience hormonal flushes of dopamine, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen amongst others and fully immerse ourselves in action, horror, violent and dramatic movies. These become memories that we choose to have, false they may be.

Every emotional rush facilitates neuron creation in the brain and anchors the false memory together with the attending emotion. Because of perceived helplessness in life, many humans use and abuse escapism in this way, reading novels, watching movies, listening to songs or engaging in fantasies.

Good control and targeting produces good healthy results. Bad control and targeting further removes the subject from reality, which in some cases, is the actual desired outcome. To run away.

When we run into trouble, we replay these anchors to motivate, analyse, focus and calm ourselves. Those songs, movies, quotations and fantasies become our only friends when we need them.

Books are my friends. Who are yours?

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

The Answer to Racism

The answer to racism isn't really not-racism. The key function of racism is to be able to differentiate between what defines a good person and what defines a bad person. In that, racism is found wanting, because it doesn't have guidelines.

The human mind, from Adam, who was taught the names of creation, was designed to differentiate, to tell the difference. To discern, to evaluate, to assess, to test, to define. But racism is taking someone else's definition and without evaluating, using it to blanket everyone who share similar attributes.

Thus, we want to teach our children the science and art of evaluation of the human being. To know what are qualities of a good person, irrespective of race, religion, age, gender or preference. There is a level of humanness that transcends all of these that we need to be able to recognise.

Since humans tend to cluster socially around similar beliefs and the strength of those beliefs, the next step would be to evaluate whether these other people share your beliefs and whether you would want to interact with them.

Islam has moral guidelines and measures that help with this decision, but also warns against taking them as absolutes, and reminds us that we don't really know people.

Thus far, the last four paragraphs sounds a lot like racism, but this is where Islam (and as pure messages of the Divine, should other revelations as well), trumps racism by going one step further: Da'wah.

Da'wah is essentially wanting what is good for yourself to be good for your brother. You promote Islam to others, because of the peace and empowerment it allows others, not because you think they're stupid without it.

And since da'wah is meant to be for all, and if you are a true da'i you really don't choose to avoid or ignore anyone, simply because, irrespective of how they behave, you believe they deserve to be good.
So, the answer to racism isn't non-racism. It's learning to evaluate and then learning to help.

(For Muslims, the short answer, is Islam).

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Check & Balance Your Thoughts

When we define ourselves, we sometimes trap ourselves into that definition.

"I hate people who throw trash out the window" So we automatically react when someone does, without consideration.

"I am always on time. Can't stand people who are late" So we automatically label another person as a whole without seeing the other aspects of them.

"My status updates are always purposeful and written to help my audience grow" So we can no longer write flighty, irreverent, humourous, nonsensical posts.

These are Thinking Traps. A Thinking Trap traps you into a Fixed Mindset, which is based on past information, attitudes and opinions.

Yet, the world moves on, and in order to grow along with the world, we have to constantly reassess what is in our heads and hearts.

In some cases, we get a deeper understanding of what we know, in others, we develop the courage to abandon them.

Some of these are young enough to uproot, like "this restaurant is taking advantage of my patronage. I'm not coming here again" while others are far older and more entrenched, like "every <INSERT RACE> is a <INSERT NEGATIVE TRAIT>"

Science has a peer review system built-in to check and countercheck this information. It is the foundation upon which all thinking is built.

We need to have this system embedded in us, to ensure that we navigate life correctly and grow positively.

This is known as a Growth Mindset. Being willing and able to learn new things, applying them to yourself and move on from the past towards the future.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Information Addicts vs Information Phobics

When you watch a scary movie, do you close your eyes or do you keep them open?

One is not necessarily braver than the other. It tells us more about we react to real life.

Some, when faced with an overwhelming situation automatically cut out all input, hunker down and wait it out. They become Phobics. "What I don't know can't hurt me."

Others can't stop themselves from finding out things. They become Addicts. "I have to know, or I'll die worrying".

If you have family members who have fallen ill, you can see such responses.

The Phobics will hate going to the doctor because they don't want to know what's wrong with them. They'd rather cure their worry by not knowing. They look inwards for answers.

The Addicts will scramble to the internet, schedule an immediate apppointment or seek advice from trusted friends. They cure their worry by knowing. They look outwards for answers.

Both of these reactions can be valid, healthy ones, but only if they are conscious choices. Only if they are responses.

There are times when having too much information, especially unvalidated ones, becomes confusing, and paralyses decision-making. Social media, I'm looking at you.

There are times when ignoring input can be dangerous, like not listening to what your spouse is confessing or not getting a doctor's opinion.

Some people call it their instinct. Even in this, we cannot be superstitious. How many times has this automatic reaction helped you instead of being detrimental?

If you don't want to know, because you fear being proven wrong, you're probably a Phobic.

Take charge of how you think and feel. You will surprise yourself.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

What Is Your Box? (Think)

Thinking out of the box is just thinking. Nothing more.

It's just that sometimes, somebody else doesn't like the way you think because it's different from them, they don't understand it and it robs power from them. They put constraints in the form of rules and norms to control you and tell you that you're doing it wrong.

That is the box. That is bad.

But worse still is when you agree that they are correct and accept the box and live in the box according to their whims and fancies.

That is why, when someone attempts to think or act outside of the box, they are called cheaters.

The truth of the matter is, we must think within a box, because we are human beings and our minds are limited. We just need to decide, which box it will be.

My box is Islam. I choose it consciously. Every day.

I am free from all other boxes, but Allah made my box, and I am happy living and thinking in it.

What is your box?

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Building A Better Democracy From The Brain Up

Democracy is fundamentally predicated on the belief that people know what they want, and they know what is good for them. They choose independently of outside influence and are sure that what they chose is correct.

Here's the problem: Anybody in branding, advertising, marketing or public relations will tell you that choice is an illusion. You are influenced by the input that floods your senses every day.

In the modern day, your choices in fashion, food and entertainment are decided long before you thought about them. But this isn't new. Control of opinion is actually quite old.

Once upon a time, rulers who understood opinion control would keep the masses happy by providing what the people desired. This included comfort, religion and protection. By mastering these tools, they could influence how positive their people viewed the rulers.

This worked when society was homogenous. People believed, wanted, said and did the same things. When you were all from the same tribe, and your tribe inhabited one common area, you could keep control of these 4 elements. The only way out of it was to travel.

Travel allowed people to share ideas, adapt them and bring them back home to help develop their own tribe. But all of this was filtered, slowly, without mass exposure. The heads of tribes could still control what comes in.

But as society became far more complex and global, the tools also needed to be sophisticated. Mastering the media came into play to control the messaging that would be shared. In the beginning, it was newspapers, magazines, books. Then it was radio, cinema, television. And now, it is the internet: websites, blogs, microblogging, social media.

Because everyone visits different sites and have different experiences online, people of a particular tribe are slowly becoming different from one another, and are joining ideological, not genetic or racial tribes.

They are based on common beliefs, values, interests and experiences. People get together because they believe in a flat Earth, or they value fitness, or are interested in football or have climbed Kinabalu at one point in their lives.

People now have to think harder to be democratic, because many of these new tribes create a smaller, tighter groupthink than genetic tribes. While it makes it more difficult for a ruler to control, it also makes it more difficult for an individual to choose without being influenced by their tribespeople.

I have seen examples in Facebook and WhatsApp groups where the dominant culture is decided by the alpha of the group, usually the founder or most respected. When a tribe member steps out of line, words are said, often not tactfully, in front of the whole group.

This can elicit one of two responses. The tribe member leaves of their own accord, not seeing the need to be part of the tribe, of they get bullied into staying, for fear of loss of support from the tribe. No one is allowed to question the dominant opinion, making it an unsafe environment to be in.

Being the rebel I am, I often throw spanners into these groups to see what happens. When you put pressure onto people, you tend to see their true personalities come to fore. You see those who emotionally oppose you, those who empathically engage you, and those who keep quiet, for whatever reason.

When my experiment ends, I usually leave the group. Then, the quiet ones come asking about me.

So fundamentally, democracy is flawed because not everyone knows what's best for them, nor do they know how to get the best for themselves. What do we do then?

Well, democracy has almost always been conflated with free speech. I can say whatever I want, use whatever words I want, be as confrontational as I want. That's where the problem lies. Saying things that worsen, not improve.

In human communication, there is the logical aspect and the emotional aspect. What you say, in what sequence and structure is just as important as how you say it and how you look when you say it to engage the other person.

I submit that if Malaysians want to become a free-speaking, democratic nation, it needs to start at home. Children are guided by parents to inquire about their world, but with adab and a positive attitude first. Show them how to interact with others, both face-to-face and virtually.

Let them practice disagreeing with you empathically and have them explain their thought processes in justifying their response. This will give them interaction skills that hopefully can reduce their dependence on other influences and come to their own decisions.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

LinkedIn 2019 Global Talent Trends

Click on the graphic above to download the LinkedIn 2019 Global Talent Trends report

This year's LinkedIn Global Talents report is interesting for many reasons. There is a greater focus on soft vs technical skills in hiring and firing considerations, in some cases up to 98% of HR professionals agree so.

There is also a 78% increase in job adverts that mention some kind of flexible work arrangement, indicating that the young workforce is looking for more work|life balance and control over their own time and movement.

Also gone are the days of a toxic work environment and mutual respect between employees and levels are becoming the norm. People are no longer willing to tolerate harassment, disrespect or outright power trips and look for organisations that foster a healthy mental environment.

Finally, the elephant in the room: Pay Transparency. People are now looking for justice in terms of remuneration and justification of pay for effort.

Download the report by clicking on the graphic above and identify how you can provide learning & development services to support these trends either locally, regionally or globally.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

To Go Above & Beyond, Or Stay Put

"Ikhlas don't pay the bills, mate". I agree, an income does. Which is paid by employers. Which grows when an employer sees you can do the work they give you and more.

Of course, this screencap and my post here will trigger different people depending on their work and performance management experience.

As a principle, when you work, you practice your abilities. This leads to mastery. Doing varied work gives you varied skills. Doing the same work hones few skills. One gives you breadth and exposure, the other gives you specialisation.

Most job scopes are not unfair as most employees sign and accept the offer letter with no qualms and rarely host large protests a week into their jobs.

Therefore, most work is within the comfort level of most human beings. Basically, if you have time to be on socmed, you're not being oppressed.

If you're forced to do things not within your job scope, YOU have to decide the limit. When enough is enough. That being said, willingly working above and beyond the job scope does the following:

1. Demonstrates you are ready for a higher or different position. It grows your resume. If you ask for it and they turn you down, that padded resume can be shopped at other companies.

2. It sharpens your skillset and makes you measurably better than your peers in the company and the industry. You can prove that you are faster, more efficient and more productive. This saves costs, and increases output.

3. It gives you experience. The more you do, the more mistakes you can learn from. This makes you a subject matter expert and a point of reference in the organisation.

There are losses, of course. Loss of personal time, time with family and friends, time for rest. If you are young and healthy, consider going above and beyond to establish yourself with exposure, knowledge, commitment and skills.

Or, just listen to this HR person and be like everyone else.

Monday, 29 April 2019

Handling Rejection As An Entrepreneur

A friend asked me for a pick-me-up this morning as she was getting rejected by clients too often. I shared my thoughts with her.

The reason you fall off a bicycle is because you haven't mastered the basics of balance and precession.

If you slow down out of fear, the bike will keep falling over. But when you realise that to keep the bike balanced, you actually have to ride faster, then you will know how to succeed.

Your getting rejected means you are still learning about the basics of selling. Use the pain and shame and ask yourself what you can do better tomorrow.

1. Know your product. Every single part of it.

2. Know the questions they will ask and the objections they will raise. Collect these questions and objections into an FAQ. Study how to answer and respond to them.

3. Practice presenting a pitch 7 times with someone before you go meet a client.

4. Allow the client to prove to you what parts of your approach don't work well.

The day will come when you can ride this bike confidently.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

How To Avoid Being Seen As An Inexperienced Trainer

I have been speaking to a few clients recently, and last night, I heard for the latest time, one singular comment about 'trainers' in the industry.

The issue is, young trainers, fresh from university, who have good counselling, facilitation or training skills, but have little or no work experience (meaning, they graduated without ever working for a medium-sized or large organisation).

Thus, when participants in their programs talk about the common issues they encounter in their workspace, the trainer finds it difficult to understand and connect. Among others, it is claimed that these trainers don't know what the following are:

  • Travel, time & expense claims
  • Functions of Finance and Human Resources departments
  • Differentiation between operations, middle management and C-suite
  • Office politics & conflicts
  • Performance appraisals
  • Process inefficiencies

and so many more.

If you feel you're in the situation above, here are some options I would suggest:

  • Work in a multinational corporation for at least 5 years before venturing out into independent business, or
  • Get coaching from learning facilitators, coaches or trainers experienced in the matter
  • Be up to date on the latest global and local corporate trends by subscribing to relevant online newsletters and websites and constantly discuss these with friends who are working in those industries. Fahmi and Maria might suggest a few.
  • Develop a view/ opinion on any industry trends or issues from your own perspectives to make your service relevant to your clients' situations
  • Be prepared to learn and grow from your participants by listening and recording their concerns for research later. Every company is different, with different terminologies, but you will recognise similar organisational and administration themes

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Protect Your Product or Employment Brand?

Before you ask "Why is it so difficult to find good staff?", first ask "How do I become a good enough employer to attract good staff?"

When you do things consistently well as an organisation, it helps create a brand about your company in what other people believe, want, say and do about you.

"That's a good company"
"I want my nephew to join that company"
"You should go work for them"
"I'll recommend you to them"

We know next to nothing about Petronas, Shell, Google, HP, Axiata, etc, but we hear good things about working there. While the eventual reality might be different, but it was the Employment Brand that attracted us there in the first place.

With socmed today, the employment brand can come under deep scrunity, especially when a company is more interested in protecting their Product Brand.

The recent Malaysian cases of a Honda sales executive and a Cisco business development manager who made uncalled for socmed comments have received attention from their employers.

Companies are so protective of their Product Brand that they want to disassociate themselves from employees who embarrass them. In extreme cases, this includes terminating their service.

The question is, while the world applauds them for their actions and continue buying their products, but the next time you think of becoming their employee, what first comes to mind?

"This company cares more about their image than they do about me"

While that has always been an open secret about capitalistic endeavours, it has never been so loudly shouted as it is now. It even happens to spokespersons.

When Tiger Woods was embroiled in a shocking sex scandal in 2009, his sponsors began dropping him overnight. Accenture especially removed him and replaced him with an elephant on a surfboard. But Nike stayed with him throughout the ordeal. They are still together.

So. Why is it so hard to attract good staff? Well, do you care more for your product or your employees?

That will give you some clues.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Reflecting Well On Self, Reflecting Well On Others

Whatever we do reflects on who we associate with and who associates with us.

What we do while being a member of our family reflects on our family.

What we do while professing a religion reflects on our religion.

What we do while identifying ethnically reflects on our ethnicity.

It reflects on our friends, our professions, our political parties, our clubs.

Therefore, uphold those principles, speak up intelligently and do things that will make your associates proud of you. Refrain from that which makes it difficult for them to defend you.

You can say, "It is my body, my mouth, my thoughts. My right. I have the right to do, say and think whatever I want"

Yes. You have rights for yourself. Fight for these.

You also have duties to others. Fulfill these.

Or else, don't be surprised when no one wants to admit knowing you anymore.