Necessary Pain

All of us were brought to this world by a necessary pain – childbirth. For it was not for this divine maternal act, we would not make it.

On the other hand, the universe could have made a big joke and have us replicate by cell splitting. Who knows? But that is not exactly our point.

By the process that brought us here, this should have send the message that our lives will be full of necessary pains. After birth, our pains just began.

As babies, we cried in order to be fed and changed. We felt pain in order to be gratified.

Going to school was painful. Toiling through each lesson, painstakingly answering each assignments, deadlines for reports, field practices, all of which had some impact on our future as citizens. Many of us made it and others did not. It did not stop there.

Our lives are full of painful decisions. Living away from family to pursue a career or stay out the comforts of our homes to experience a chance of the lifetime. Those pains have something gratifying after. But we had to weigh their options.

Why do we have to go through them?

It is the balance that we need in order to be humans. As ironic as it is but, our lives will depend on the pain we choose.

In order to make it to our destination, it is just part of our lives to go through them. Growing through necessary pains is just part of our nature.


The Hidden Gem of Communication

When we hear communication, we often associate the likes of eloquent speakers – John F Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and other influential figures. These people are skillful in communicating and imparting their ideas. We hear their speeches – vigorous, with tinge of animation, facts and vast amount of conviction. Yet, we have to ask ourselves, what makes their speeches powerful? How can they arouse and influence us – the people to move to their cause?

There are important elements besides the delivery and message of the speech. These things are the behind the scenes. The sheer amount of legwork is unknown to most of us, we do not see them besides their brilliance in delivery.

It could be charisma. However, we doubt it. This trait will make us like a speaker but it does not tantamount we will be moved by his cause.

We will be swayed by his brilliance. Sure. Saying all the right words does not necessarily equate to actions.

Truthfulness. Our speakers can be truthful today but dishonest tomorrow.

So, what is it?

Communication’s hidden gem is the person’s character. Most of the time, it takes a man’s destiny to show his sincere conveyance. Our speaker’s lifetime is a summation of how effective his relations beyond his speech. This makes him formidable before and after the fact.

Let us delve with these examples.

Franklin Roosevelt, at the height of Depression, hired the best and brightest economists to create a program. He sought their advise. He hired the “ground agents” to solicit citizens’ opinions. Even after he had all his facts, he had mastered the art of reassurance – the slow and calm tone to relay his plans to revitalize the economy. All his years in politics and character building mustered on him.

Steve Jobs mastered sifting through the noise.  When he made his Stanford Graduation Address, he had made his career – taking his own advise and listening to what he should be doing. He was intensely focused and out-rightly frank.

Even Hitler reveled his fervent vision of the Nazi Regime. His demise came after aligning with the wrong side of humanity.

It shows communication has a knack for people with character. Truly, those destined are the most effective.


The Lost Art of Introspection

Introspection is the least practiced skill today. Most of us are becoming mindless freaks tackling mundaneness. It looks like we have settled with mediocrity.

Coming at this day and age, the advent of modern computing made it convenient for us to do our chores. We have resided in the fact we can press buttons to get things done. We take pride in scrolling through literally Facebook posts and Instagram stories. We loving reacting without properly examining the situation. Gone are the days when we wash dishes, looking beyond the mirror and wonder how our lives have been. It is our classic paradigm – every day brings the same shit.

I am not saying this is bad. Yes, this is better than committing crimes. However, have we thought about living life to the fullest?

And yes, there are a flurry of notions that we can inculcate in this living to the fullest discussion. But for this blog’s sake, I am focusing on introspection.

Introspection is the capability to look within, be self-aware.

Self-aware is one big word. Mind us, it is not. Its practice is a culmination of living and self-improvement. We do not need input from anyone, we look within and study how we behave. This brings a cycle of self-examination.

And if we ask, what for? Why do we need to do this?

Living includes a fair amount of awareness – a big lump of mindfulness. We often misjudge this… our nature being humans is to shun reflection and thinking. As Daniel Kahneman puts it, we find ways to avoid analyzing not unless something is forcing us to – we take the path of least resistance…

Moving beyond our intellectual discourse, let us delve on how we can practice this craft. Here are a few ways to become proficient in the art of introspecting:

  1. Keep a journal. It will be best if we can write daily. But regardless of how often we pour ourselves into it, it is better than nothing. Reflection is all about recording and reliving the moment, getting the courage to move forward and learn from our past.
  2. Keep a Thank you list. Part of our self-awareness is to keep a record of what we are thankful for. It is easier for us to remember and be aware with all the great things that happened to us.
  3. Keep a list of our strengths. Say you are good with writing and public speaking, it will be in our best interest to know what we can further develop. Also, when we are close to self-pity because people are pulling us down and for any other reason, it will lessen our self-burden by referring to what we have.

It is tricky to master introspection. If we are happy with the status quo, we do not need it. However, getting the most out of our life is all about doing our utmost. Being mindful is the first step to achieving a well fruitful existence.






Embracing Inactivity

“True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit. What sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.” – William Penn

It is not all the time that we will have action. Our lives are designed to be a cycle of ups and downs – same with periods of activity and inactivity.

If there is one thing we ought to do, it is embracing inactivity.

We need it to recharge. Constant pounding bears it toll on most of us who are always on the go. Being engaged everyday can be good for a period of time. However, we are like knives, without pauses to sharpen, our dull begin to show.

So, our moments of silence are something to embrace and cherish. Without them, our lives will be a perpetual toil until death. At our deathbeds will be full of regrets.

Why should we embrace inactivity?

Meaningful pauses promotes creativity. If we are left to our own senses, moments of nothingness stir our minds to wonder and wander.

A great example – Velcro was discovered by Swiss engineer George de Mestral. After a hike with his dog from the Alps, he stumbled upon small burdock burrs. The little seeds were covered with small hooks which attached to fabric and fur.

Without the hike, it might have been a couple of years after Velcro was invented. It is comparable to how Newton developed his Law of Gravity – sitting by the tree and imagining how the apple will fall to the ground.

Our key to greatness is finding the right balance of activity and inactivity. Many of us will justify pounding on a task until we have our desired effects. No one is barring from taking that advise. The whole point is to take meaningful pauses to promote imagination.

At the end of the day, it does not matter how long it takes us to get to our destination. Among the most important questions is whether we have enjoyed the journey. Hence, we bet, embracing inactivity promotes reflection which will make it all worthwhile.

My Right Amount of Ambition

I am very ambitious.

I am at the point in my life when nobody can tell me that I cannot shoot for the stars. Those luminous things are my secondary measurement of success. Adding value to the world is my first.

So, what led me to this point?

My past has a lot to do with my character.

Born and raised to a Filipino middle class family, I had experienced downs and ups. I received my primary education from one of the regionally exclusive schools in Davao. I then attended public high school – to be indoctrinated by the inner workings of the public sector. Serving as the Student Government President, I found myself haggling beyond educational expectations of teachers and even my fellow students. The “what’s in it for me” was quite rampant in all ranks, shapes and forms. The sheer amount of frustration was succumbed by the massive triumph for the projects my team of officers passed. Come college, I transcended beyond the communistic tendencies of some collegian groups.

Technically speaking, I come from a humble background. Working through my mishaps – from humiliating and redeeming myself in front of our high school principal, stuttering and stammering with my colloquial English for a school-wide student campaign, I have lined up an impressive list of failures. Those did not stop me. I wanted more.

Employment also proved trivial for me. The bureaucratic process does not recognize leadership, pure skill and talent. It is all about who knows and favors who. Hence, people can label me among successful compared to most people within my age group.

With the experience and wisdom infused in me over the years, I came to realize – I cannot look outside of me. I need to look inward.

This is why, at the age of 22, I signed up for MBA. Though it cost me an arm and a leg, which I am still paying for, I got to understand accounting and the simple principles of running a business. I started a clothing business that failed. It cost me a fortune over a 3 year period. I have started a couple of business ideas with friends without one coming to fruition. But that tremendously helped me understand the inner workings of entrepreneurship. I moved to Australia to start a family and also regain some of sanity from the American rat race. Electronics, programming, photography, and running are just a few of the skills I have acquired after moving to Sydney.

At the sign of my hunger pinned frustration and an inconsolable self pity. I often asked why I was not fast enough to attain success. Over the years, I came in terms that it had no defined road. I will take whatever it will let me. My sheer perseverance and determination will not be assurance. Hence, it will eventually cave in and show me the way.

I gained an insight from all of these things. I realized – I am me and no matter what, I am the steward of my destiny. These clung in me.

For all these things, with utmost conviction, I know I will come out at the top. As long as I live, for my right amount of ambition, I will do whatever it takes. I am foolish to dream. Let me be.

What is Wisdom

I get to often ask myself this question. What really is wisdom?

It is the monotony of the human existence to ask the old for advice because of their experience. However, in the age of technology, information has always been in our fingertips. The act of asking for advice and dealing with better judgment is the equilibrium of prudence.

Basically, the highlight of wisdom is good judgement. Shrewdness can only be attained by practice. And practicality by virtue, is the summation of being in the moment. No two moments will be exactly the same. So taking ones advice is simply saying – with everything considered, I have arrived at the most viable solution.

Not all decision, lesson and even judgement will end up in wisdom. We can be wrong in a perfectly conceived plan. Our presumptions and lessons will end up in ashes after a painful event. Nothing is concrete. Wisdom like life can be a moving target.

So how do we approach this? Take my advise. List wisdom according to how we see it, there can be one or many. The whole point of this exercise is to be as fluid as we can be.

Therefore, in its most terse sense, wisdom – is the fluidity of accepting our change in good judgement.

As part of what I am advocating, let me share what is wisdom for me:

Wisdom is being comfortable on your own skin.

Wisdom is knowing that you cannot control everything, let them be.

Wisdom is understanding that people will be people. There is no use to sow seeds of hatred.

Wisdom is mustering what you can change. Be the biggest influence you ought to be.

Wisdom is about being wrong and even contradicting yourself. In the end, it is accepting you are wrong. 

Wisdom is being you, not that you are being different but exercising your uniqueness.

Wisdom will always tell you to change not for the worse but for the better.

Wisdom is about teaching. What you learn, you share.

Wisdom is taking risks and coming out learning.

Wisdom is quality of life and happiness. Richness is ought to be found within. All physical things are secondary.

Wisdom will always change. We live it like we live our life. Be fluid.

Wisdom is being a leader. No judgment, just lead.

Wisdom is being the best you can be. No pressure. Live it, as if you are going to die today.

Wisdom in the end will not matter. Just live your life.

All of these may change depending on my circumstance or even my mood. But the whole point is to determine what is wisdom for us.

The Art of Listening

This is among the most difficult life art to master. Even world leaders struggle with this craft.

In a Utopian sense, listening entails the undivided attention to the speaker, with full comprehension and fastidious understanding of the subject at hand. This is devoid from any acrimonious judgments.

Most of our conflicts are the products of misunderstanding – the ill son of disregard. Disregard of the person opposite of our views may well be the vain of our existence. We expect our perceptions to smoothly sail away from the rough waves of opposition.

We cannot avoid opposition. Humans are born to contradict each other. However, like a tree hammered by the wind to grow, we need it. Contrariety is the metric we need to solidify our position. Muster the evidence and gather strength knowing what the other is  doing and saying. This is when we need to listen.

Most of our managers are the worst in this effort. Given their authority, they are fond of pulling their weight on the subjects without well regard of factors. In the case of General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean war, he dissed the idea of Mao Zedong’s intervention. His intelligence and ground officers called and pointed the Chinese movements during the invasion. He kept pressing them to drive the North Koreans away until his forces were pinned by the Red Army in the Chosin Reservoir. If it was not for the effort of his ground commanders maneuvering their troops, the whole thing would have been a massacre.

There are countless more instances when people in general, not just in power refute the things ran by the folks in the trenches.

Our brains are not designed to be proactive – as you can see in our reactive nature. It is easier for us to run than to understand dispute. That is how we survived back in the days of the dinosaurs – we hear and react. It requires practice to listen.

Listening involves a dynamic process of dissecting an idea or perspective. It is not until our opposition satisfied with our understanding of their view, we cannot claim even moral authority to hone in an outcome.

Further, there are several factors that come into play when listening:

  • Holding judgement. We are not good with holding judgement. Our facial expressions and demeanor show our held feelings. It takes emotional mastery not to react and take a neutral ground.
  • Paraphrasing.  The best feeling in the world is knowing we have been heard and understood. This will be exemplified when we rearrange the same words uttered by the speaker to show our understanding.
  • Coming prepared. Having your feet on the ground – understanding the situation and the opposition’s environment will give us a better grasp of the subject. By that, we can also stress the importance of examining our motives. This is crucial in negotiations especially when we need to arrive to amicable terms.

It may not be our obligation to listen. But history has rewarded the people who mastered it.

If only we are all eager to master the art listening, this world will be rid off conflicts.