We all know the age old saying “no man is an island” which alludes to the fact that we need each other. Be it in social and family settings, at work, with friends, at a club, or other settings. If you isolate yourself from the rest of the world, you will find increasingly that you will lose touch and lose your relevance in the various social spheres where you operate in. This is why it is especially sad to see people who live alone in their homes and carry on their daily lives without anybody to share them with.
However, the other thing to bear in mind in relationships is chemistry. This is an intangible factor which is hard to define, but you know it when you see it or feel it. There are some folks whom you can immediately hit it off with, chatting like long lost friends from the word “go” and feel totally comfortable with each other. Naturally, those whom you can generate the best chemistry with would end up as either your life partner or “blood” relatives.
On the other hand, there may be people whom you find difficult to approach even with a 10 metre pole. For some reason or other, their interests, body language, tone of voice and values seem alien to you. The way they speak, the manner in which they behave, and their approach to life seem foreign, weird, and maybe even repugnant.
The gurus tell us that if you want to succeed – in life, love and career – you need to bridge that affinity gap and generate chemistry with people from all walks of life. The fancy name for this is emotional intelligence or EQ. As a Christian, I believe this was what Jesus Christ had done when he came to Earth more than 2,000 years ago. He mingled with and befriended sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors and other then riff raff of society. He showed by example what it meant to be a great leader of people, and had many followers. This philosophy has in fact been marketed in modern day age (Jesus as CEO).
This has been a lifelong challenge for me. How does one generate “electricity” and magnetism with the people that I meet at work or at play? How does one relate to others sincerely and honestly without fear of any negative retribution? Is it really possible to befriend everybody that you meet? More importantly, do you have to “sleep with the enemy” to achieve your goals in life?
Speaking of Lion Dancing, thought I should show this all-time favourite video of my son Ethan’s, at my Sister-in-Law’s place. I used a Dopod 818 Pro to capture the video, with its 2 Meg camera.
A fascinating thing about being a parent is watching your kid develop his own character, likes and dislikes. From the time he was a baby, I knew that my son Ethan is going to be a very different person from my wife and I. Both of us were very quiet and tend to be unassuming, “kuai” characters at school or at home. On the other hand, Ethan is quite a social butterfly.
Pushing three in November, Ethan has a strong curiousity for just about anything and everything, and is fairly extroverted, boisterous, friendly and loud. Yes you heard me right about the last point, even by toddler standards. Especially when he is singing his favourite “Happy Birthday To You” in a room full of people. While he can be quite a livewire at functions and parties, he is also quite an emotional and sensitive new age guy (SNAG) and easily burst into tears when he is being bullied.
One thing that Ethan likes very much is Lion Dance. Yesterday evening, we heard the clanging drums of a Chinese Lion Dance troupe playing downstairs at the coffeeshop near my house. Immediately, he asked us to bring him downstairs to watch. The grin and smile on his face as he watches the performance, as well as the energetic prancing from side to side and shaking of his head in emulation was quite a spectacle for my wife and I. Lion dancing is something he likes so much that we bought him a “mini” Lion, and he uses that to “practise” his dance steps to often humourous effect at home.
This morning, we woke up to a white cloud enshrouded landscape. No, we are not in Heaven, but instead, enveloped in the year’s worst haze attack with PSI levels at ungodly new highs (yes its now at an unhealthy 101!).
To escape the scourge of sulphur-laced nano-scopic particulate matter, my wife has suggested that we check out the new VivoCity. After all, it is just a stone’s throw away from our house, and is Singapore’s newest and most spanking new retail destination. This mega destination has over 1 million square feet of space, and claims to have up to *gasp* 450 retail, food, beverage and entertainment outlets. Suntec City eat your heart out – that’s what they are claiming.
Positioning itself as a “multi-experiential destination”, VivoCity will host not only retail or dining festivals, but include cultural and music festivals, purportedly at its outdoor amphitheatre. Other than its array of Singapore Biennale sculptures and artworks, the complex will also tie up with promising artists and designers to showcase their works. This promises to be a visually inspiring, and aesthetically pleasing spectacle, and will hopefully differentiate itself from run-of-the-mill shopping malls offering the wine, dine and shop-till-you-drop experiences.
It also has the largest cinema by Golden Village, with 15 cinema halls and 2,500 seats that offers to screen not only the latest Hollywood blockbuster, but also more eclectic yet quality “indie” offerings. I hear that the screens are different, sound systems are top-end, and seats are also a notch above.
As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Let’s go forth and see how it fares.
Tonight is mid-Autumn festival. It is a time of celebrating through feasting on delectable goodies, munching on high caloric diabetes-inducing mooncakes, and carrying fancy Disney-esque lanterns which blare high-pitched cheesy tunes like “Lambada” or “Venga Boys”. Older folks may prefer to sip a cup or two of their favourite “Oolong” or “Iron Buddha” tea.
On this particular night, the moon was shining bright…. Hey wait, what is that angelic “halo” doing around the moon? And I can’t see any stars too. In fact, I can’t see anything more than a km away. Everything is enshrouded in a thick blanket of tiny particulate matter of foreign origin. Plus my throat, nose and eyes are stinging, and everything is a blurry haze – literally.
Yep, once again, Singapore is the victim of the haze – an ecologically disastrous phenomenon brought about largely by illegal loggers and shifting cultivators in the nearby Indonesian island of Sumatra. The meteorologist tells us that the worsening haze is a result of the wind direction blowing everything north-easterly towards our island’s direction. Well, at a PSI of 80, we are supposed to be in the “moderate” range, though my aching throat and teary eyes seem to tell me otherwise.
I guess in times like this, I wonder if we Singaporeans can do something about it. Of course, just trying to tell our neighbours down South to douse their own flames may not work if they simply do not have the means to do so. Can we then do something to help them control their alarming rate of deforestation – in a friendly, diplomatic and unthreatening manner? Hmmmmm…
I am sure you have all have experienced this some time or other. The butterflies in the stomach that approaches as the weekend winds down on Sunday evening and you stare hard at the ceiling at night, many things on your mind, and worrying about the morning after. I don’t know if they have a medical term for this, but practically everybody suffers from it. From school kids to NS boys to working adults.
I knew that it was coming for my son (34-month old Ethan) as he kept asking in the last few days if he had to go to school. He started showing all the classical symptoms of Monday Morning Dread – fussiness, crying, inability to sleep throughout the night, loss of appetite, wanting to play. This morning, his fears rose to a climactic high, and he burst into tears and clung tightly to my wife like a Koala, unwilling to go to childcare.
Naturally, we will be asking his childcare teachers if anything is the matter, as he normally doesn’t exhibit such behaviours. Being an optimistic, cheeky (very), and jovial boy, Ethan has many friends in school, and seems to be generally well-liked. However, as he nears 3 years of age, his behaviours appeared to have changed. It appears as if the neuroses of adulthood are slowly creeping in. Scary.
Watching my son in action (or inaction rather), I wonder why it is necessary for us human beings to go through this. Is there a way to make the transition easier from a wild weekend to a manic monday? How do we ease the pain of going back to the grind after staying up late? How do we escape from the hangover effect of a happy though hurried weekend?
I guess this is a question that we may never be able to answer. It is a rhythm in life – a circadian rhythm and biological clock that has its peaks and troughs. You work and go to school from Monday to Friday, and play from Saturday to Sunday. There are no two ways around it right? Or are there?
Having worked for years in an economic agency, one does sometimes get the itch to go and try something and take the plunge into entrepreneurship. After all, it is easy to catch the bug from inspirational entrepreneurs who have braved the winds and seven seas and taken all kinds of risks to be where they are today. You get to learn about what makes them tick, the problems and issues that they face, as well as the way in which they solve problems. Often, these bosses amaze me with their sheer grit, tenacity, and “never-say-die” spirit.
Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, I haven’t quite got the nerve to venture out although I have been trading ideas with friends for the longest time. The reason is that I love what I am currently doing, and do not see the need to go out there and fly my own flag so to speak.
Public service has changed significantly, and it now encourages us to be social entrepreneurs within the government sector. Innovation, daring-to-do, and thinking out-of-the-box are now values that public servants should embrace. Of course, these are subject to certain limits to safeguard public funds and prevent abuse. After all, we are accountable to the public at large. Taking foolhardy “bet-the-house” risks isn’t quite the same as experimenting with new approaches in a calculated fashion.
While I am pretty happy where I am, my wife is currently exploring doing something with a friend who has been based in Vietnam for more than 15 years. The idea is to bring in low-cost but finely crafted Vietnamese handicrafts and products like lacquer ware, vases, handbags, accessories, and customised corporate gifts. While we are aware that this isn’t something entirely new, we sense that there may be some hidden opportunities and niches out there.
As we did our market research, surfed the web, and asked around, we realise that starting out isn’t as hunky dory as what its made out to be. There are many issues to contend with. For example, collecting payment from customers, doing quality checks on suppliers, confirming shipping dates and modes, creating catalogues, watching cash flow, and so on. We also need to be mindful of the current business and trading laws of the land, export and import regulations, security and insurance.
Of course, treading too much on the ground of caution may mean that a business venture is doomed for failure from day one. Being too “kiasu” also stifles the spirit of risk taking and results in “analysis paralysis” – an affliction that many arm chair theorists (like myself) occasionally suffer from. However, I believe that if you want to succeed in anything, you have to at least do some homework and ensure that the odds are weighted in your favour.
This week has been particularly exciting though exhausting for me, as me and my team were tasked with organising the launch event for Singapore: The Encyclopedia as well as to ensure that publicity for the colossal tome was forthcoming.
I think this must be one of the most monumental projects I have ever undertaken, and I am glad to have a chance to witness history in the making.