A Man Of All Seasons 

You won’t miss Richard Hoy in a crowd. This tall, handsome, macho, sociable, confident, healthy looking, white bearded gentleman catches most eyes.  I guess it’s his built, personality, charms and mannerisms that attract attention to him. 

The uniqueness of this gentleman is his all roundedness where his external front matches his inner self well.  Here’s a man with some of the finest qualities.  Probably the one that stands out best is his life philosophy of ‘putting more life into his years’, instead of ‘more years into his life’. 

Because of this I had the great honor of having him as my coach student in order to become a Professional Certified Coach some 8 years ago at the age of 70!

Where many would have already packed up their bags, Richard lives every minute of his life with grace.  He has many other pursuits; learning is one, holidaying is the other, having a good time partying yet another and not forgetting the fact that he is running an insurance agency as well.  All these make him so complete.

Today at 78, Richard is still rearing to go.  Indeed, he’s unstoppable.  If anyone of us wants to look for a role model, you can find one right within our immediate circle!

We hear so many stories about success but few about fulfilment.  Richard certainly has both.

That’s why I regard him as a ‘man of all seasons’. 

 

I MISS YOUR LOVE LETTERS, SWEE CHOO!

I still received ‘love letters’ every year from Swee Choo until last year when she was diagnosed with cancer. Every year, this dear friend and old colleague of mine never missed a year to send lovely love letters, a nice soft and crunchy biscuits that we savor during Chinese New Year. This chain of love letters went on for more than 10 to 15 years, even after I left Reliance where we both lived separate lives –she in retirement and I as a Corporate Coach in my own company.  

When many would have regarded me as irrelevant or of no use to them when I resigned from my position of power, this special lady still remembered me for what I am, and not what I could do for her.

Her tin of ‘love letters’ every year before CNY, were expression of a different kind of love- a special, close relationship, kindness and most of all, her gratitude for being her friend when I was her superior when she was a tour manager then. Somehow, she would get it delivered every year, no matter what even though she was in Melaka when I was in Kuala Lumpur. On one occasion, she even took the trouble to attend my birthday here when she was not in the best state of health.

Last week, Swee Choo left us at the age of 77. She may be gone, but her humility, kindness and gratitude will forever be etched in my heart, not only me, but my family and the hundreds of people and fellow tour managers who had a chance to experience her special friendship.

Like it is said, we all have friends or acquaintances, but very few true friends. Swee Choo is definitely one of the few in my world. Indeed, it is so hard to find genuine friends like her.  We all have our hard way of finding out, knowing who is still around you when you are down or when you are of no use to them.

Only true friends stay with you through thick and thin. They have no expectations on others; only memories that never left them no matter for how long.  No wonder, she was a star when she was with her passengers on her Europe tours. They adored her for her demeanor and most of her, her down-to-earth simplicity, and heart of gold.

May the Lord always protect her in His arms …. and I am looking forward to meeting you, Swee Choo, again when my time comes.  

What Does Attending 3 Funerals In A Row Means To Me?

This April month seems like a strong reminder to me that life is so fragile but more importantly is, how prepared are we for this final moment on this earth.  

Attending 3 funerals, and losing 3 people you know in just  two weeks leaves a strong impact on me. It was a bit too much to bear really. Sadness in losing them is one, fear of this eventuality that will happen to me or my very closed ones is next, and anxiety is the other as in my Christian teaching it says that ‘God will come like a thief in the night, striking at the least unexpected moment’.  So when will it be my turn? 

Well, as much as we strengthen ourselves in all aspects of our well being to deal with death – be it courage, resilience, acceptance and letting go off attachments, facing death in our own home front is a totally different matter. In an eulogy by Anne Tee, (who’s also a coach who lost her youthful husband so suddenly),  she told everyone there at the wake that ‘I often advised my friends to take consolation  if someone dies from  a sudden heart attack as it’s the easiest and best way to die’. But she admitted tearfully that when this same thing happened to her husband, she just couldn’t bear it. She now knows that there is no escape from sorrow when it comes to death. Hearing her account was a most revealing moment of what death can do to us. 

I have been thinking very hard on how to deal with this inevitable fate of death. In a way we are all cornered, there’s no way out. So comes the coaching question, “What is the best of no best thing to do”?  This got me to this conclusion that the most mitigating measures we can do are mainly 2. One is to never take our loved ones for granted and to treat them well like as if we are having them around us for the last time.  Treat them well, be selfless to them. Two is to be always prepared for it both spiritually and emotionally. On the spiritual side, it is to be close to God in our prayers and deeds. Emotionally, it is to live purposefully, doing whatever we enjoy and not forgetting to leave something behind for others, called it, your footstep, or legacy or a just good memory.  

So as long as we are still around, consider this living for the day as living on borrowed time that God is still giving us. The least we can do is to stay positive and happy but this won’t be enough if we forget to profusely thank and be grateful to Him for this bonus.  

 

Of ‘Chap Fun’ and ‘Economy Rice’

There’s really a lot of good in a ‘Chap Fun’ dish or commonly called ‘Economy Rice’.  I notice that more and more food outlets are offering this dish to cater to the increasing number of busy people or rather to the increasing number of budget conscious eaters in these challenging times.    

I owe a lot to this dish for it had helped me to survive in my early working years.  I really like it to this day for there is good value for money with its plentiful dishes to choose from including some really delicious ones at reasonable prices!  

While I’m very positive about this dish as a culinary choice, I detest it when people and organisations make the ‘Chap Fun’ way of eating as their way of life.  It is evident in so many ways: clustered workplaces, quick fix solutions, short-cutting processes, thoughtless way of making decisions, and low quality output, to name a few examples. The results is dismal: poor outputs, careless mistakes, and even poor attitude towards work or life.  

Here lies the paradox – while I am fond of ‘Chap Fun’ as a dish, I will try not to apply it in my personal and professional life lest it causes me to subscribe to a low quality life of carelessness, irresponsibility and crudeness.    

My value system propels me to believe that a certain measure of quality is needed from us, human beings, to make a statement or send a message about who we are. Not only will it help us to gain respect from others and increase our personal influence, but it is also a form of good personal self-care that we should bestow on ourselves for a holistic life and well-being.    

Like the saying goes, ‘a clustered desk often reflects a clustered mind’ as well.  

So, when I work with people, I will be watchful of those who try to apply the ‘Chap Fun’ method in their dealings with me.  I really have a low tolerance for such people.  

But when ‘Chap Fun’ comes in a ‘gastronomical’ context, I have an addictive urge to go for it. My body language will reveal how I yearn for it!    

So, this is one of my life’s greatest paradoxes.  

 

A Room At the Bottom of the Stairs

If you have been a fan of Eddie Rabbit and his famous song called ‘A room at the top of the stairs’, you will strike a chord with this blog title, as is the direct opposite of the title of this famous song some 20 years ago.

However, even if you are not a fan of Eddie Rabbit, you would agree with me that the room at the top is better than the one below, isn’t it? The one above connotes enjoying the space and fresh air while the one below is constrained by space and free flow of fresh air, including the sense of being “neglected”.

I know of at least 2 married couples whose other half have been relegated to this lower status of a room beneath the stairs so to speak; yet to the public eye, they are perceived to be happily living together! Indeed, they are seen going out for dinners, even holidaying together.

I can’t fathom the making of this matrimonial decision where one is given the privilege of sleeping in the master room while the other is banished to live like a maid in the maid’s room!  Is this about cruelty, selfishness, disrespect or what?  Whatever is the reason, this utter disregard for human dignity and human rights to a spouse is very difficult for me to understand, much less to forgive.

It really saddens me to come to know of such despicable cases. Frankly, for me to stay positive always is tough no matter how upbeat I am about life and people.  Jolts like this one remind me of the stark reality that our world still has people who are out of their mind, or are simply heartless. Coming to terms with it and putting up a front that I know about it is difficult especially when I know these couples well.  It is very tough indeed.

Being a married person myself, I fully sympathise with the sadness, misery and shame of the person who has to go through life ‘living at the bottom of the stairs’.   Can you imagine when one party breaks the most fundamental matrimonial vow of living together in harmony and equality? Where’s the little love left, where’s the trying our best to stay together for better or for worse?

Such ill-treatment breaks all decent rules of living. To me, it is equal to maiming someone badly and left to die but am still unable to die. So they just hang on, till when, only God knows.

I offer no advice in this blog for this weird phenomenon as I am totally blown off my mind to stay sound on suggesting what’s next.  However, my intention is to bring to light that such hard truth can happen.  So stay mindful and feel for the other party.  I appeal to my readers to never ever think of doing this to another person.  Spread the word around too.  You must always remember that we all have a sacred duty and a conscience to have a heart.  If we can’t do this, then the least we can do is to bear with one another out of pure compassion and respect.

Life is too short for anyone to leash out such cruelty to another human being, worse still if this person is the other half whom they have committed to each other.

Always remember ‘what goes around, comes around’.

65 and Still Learning

Another year has whizzed past me; I turned 65 years old about 3 weeks ago.

While getting older every year is mandatory and a known fact of life, every one of these birthday anniversaries of mine carry its own uniqueness, even significance and a learning lesson as well.

When I was young, my birthday was a non-event as my parents were too poor to celebrate for me and all the other 6 children.  I used to feel somewhat sad but not deprived (when I compared my birthday event with my classmates and friends) as there was this inner voice that told me ‘to be patient and strong’ because some day I would get all the celebrations I want.  This is true for now I could have whatever kind of birthday celebrations I want, and for my loved ones as well.  I learned one great lesson in life – be patient.

Celebrating birthdays came about only when I was in UK in the 70s when my foster mum and ex-boss, the late Sister Thomas Chan would personally cooked for me a few dishes on all my 3 birthdays in a row when I was working under her.  Here I learned the lessons of kindness, gratitude and love from someone who didn’t have to but wanted to.

Since then my birthdays were always celebrated in different context and measures as well; some were big affairs, and some were small ones.  They carried different meanings, leaving behind sweet memories and different lessons as well.

I remember there was one time when I woke up in Melbourne on my birthday and had the whole bunch of ex-employees in KL singing the birthday song for me in Facebook. This not only touched me but I learned the lesson that we should always try to do good things to earn trust and respect from people.

My recent 65th birthday also unfolded a new lesson of life for me. In a way I was glad that this one was totally celebrated with some special like-minded old friends of mine, and the family was not in this equation at all!

It was an event out of default rather than planned for.  My whole family was in Melbourne at that time to support my younger son, Jeremy, who has made a very big stride in his life for getting enrolled in college there!  We are so glad for him.  A big birthday present for me in many ways!

So, on the other side of the planet, I became  a ‘temporary bachelor’ during this stretch of time that included my birthday. I had a choice: to celebrate it all alone because no one was around, or I could reverse the circumstances by having a party with some close social friends. Which I did.  It became very meaningful and eventful as well.

The first part of this special day was celebrated with some very nice ex-working colleagues in a traditional birthday lunch in a very fine Thai restaurant.  It was one of the best Thai lunch I ever had.  I felt so touched again to have this lunch with them for so many years without fail, as a boss and also now not as a boss. I learned this lesson that one should keep and treasure good friendship with special friends.

The second part was a ‘wild bachelor party’ with some special like-minded temporary bachelors who were without their spouses.  It was a convergence of some good and different friends coming together whom I knew and became close at different phases of my life.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in our natural ways without any pretense.  This one taught me the lesson that I need to invest in getting closer in friendship and relationship with good friends to spice up our aging life (or else suffer in loneliness); more so when I am getting older!

We all have our learning moments as we pass through the different stages of our lives.  We may grow older, but never to lose out in enjoying and learning from life especially in very special moments.

In my case, my birthdays are also my ‘classroom’ for learning about myself, my life and the special people who celebrates it with me!

 

What I See In Donald Trump

I knew that Donald Trump was going to be the next US President when I heard him speak for the first time in his campaigns.  Actually except for our Malaysian politics and elections, I have had scant interest in any other country’s elections  but somehow this towering guy caught all my attention and I gradually grew to admire him more and more as a person with presidential material or rather a person who will be the most powerful person in the world.

What is it that I see in this man that many don’t see? Why do I see him in awe while others see him in disgust, and fear? With an ‘appreciative eye’, here’s what I like to share with you.

I see in this man, a big compelling vision for his people and the world as well. His ‘Make America Great Again’ is really mind blowing for it says so much, means so much to the ordinary people of America and the world.  It is a slogan that’s so alive and real rather than a cold rhetoric statement. This sharply contrasts with his opponent’s ‘Stronger Together’ which meant so little. His vision means a better and a safer world for not just Americans but mankind. Indeed, ‘Greatness’ is definitely more compelling than ‘Stronger’.

I see in this man, very strong connecting and communication skills, whose demeanour and choices of words resonate well with the hearts and minds of ordinary folks rather than suit the upper and educated class. His speeches are so down to earth, simple and practical that the masses can relate to, unlike his opponent’s.  Like it’s said “not everything motivates but we got to know what motivates who”. Donald Trump certainly knows this better than many, including his opponent.

Probably what really separates this great man from the others is his high appreciative intelligence. He was really an underdog in all sense. The media was not with him, the ruling government was not with him, and even many of his own people were not with him. Even with this serious downside, he rose to the occasion because he went for the people who meant most to his victory- the ordinary folks once again. He made sure he fully leveraged on them for his eventual victory.

I truly admire this man, he taught me a lot, and I believe he is the New Hope to our world!

Coach Movers and Coach Forgetters

On 19th Nov 2016, CCA’s 11th Convocation, Awards and Networking ceremony was held,  where 70 out of 150 coach graduates were present, including 13 out of 16 from Jakarta, 1 from Sri Lanka, and 12 out of 50 who have become global coaches in 2016 for attaining the ICF Credentialed coaches (either as ICF-ACC or ICF-PCC).   It was a proud and unforgettable moment for the graduates and their families, friends or associates,  no doubt about it!

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The Convocation showcases the fervent commitment of CCA and MACC*  to the Coaching Cause, a journey that we have embarked 16 years ago to realise our vision of ‘building/growing a vibrant coach community’.

[* Malaysian Association of Certified Coaches which is CCA’s alumnus]

And here is my main thought: the commitment and sustainability of CCA/MACC’s Coaching Cause alone is not complete. Very important is also the commitment and sustainability of all the coaches to their own Coaching Cause.

What am I talking about?  It is about deciding what kind of future you want to have as a coach.  Or (coined in my words), it is about whether you want to be a Coach Mover or a Coach Forgetter.

When you choose to be a Coach Mover, it simply means that you want to remain steadfast in your own Coaching Cause (and goal); moving beyond this current coach credential that you have attained, to becoming a better and better coach; even becoming an extraordinary coach in the years to come.

  • You become a Coach Mover through your commitment in Coaching, either as a full time, a part time, or as a casual coach;
  • You become a Coach Mover because you want to continue embracing and integrating the ICF Coaching Philosophy and Values in your daily personal and professional life;
  • You become a Coach Mover because you want to continually sharpen the 11 ICF Coach Competencies to enhance your communication, engagement and conversation with people.

So who are Coach Movers?   One classic example of Coach Movers are the many certified coaches in the Convocation ceremony: the convocation team, the 12 accomplished ICF coaches and the 2 coach speakers.  They are all Coach Movers because they have decided, years after they have gotten their coaching credentials, that they wanted to move forward and more forward as the years go by.

Now, we talk about the Coach Forgetters.  Those who choose not to be Coach Movers usually become ‘Coach Forgetters’. Instead of moving forward, they move away, forgetting the coaching knowledge they have learned, forgetting the coaching skills they have acquired, forgetting to embrace the powerful Coaching values into their lives, and even forgetting the coach community that they once belong.  It is very sad to see this happening. It is my hope always that few, or better still, if none, will take this route.

Let me ask you a frank question: Who do you want to be?  A Coach Mover or a Coach Forgetter?   Because if you choose to be Coach Movers,  will you commit to:

  • A continuous learning journey to keep enhancing your coaching knowledge and  skills that you have acquired?
  • Doing some form of coaching, either as a full time, part time or at least casually?
  • Setting your sight in attaining the next coaching credential; and
  • Always stay in touch with all of us in the coaching community?

For CCA coaches, we give them something really special – a Coach Badge which comes in different colours depending on their coach credentials.  It is a symbol of their credential, their pride, their “balloon” and their constant reminder to stay on the path as a Coach Mover, forever!

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Finally, should the going ever gets tough, move yourself forward and be a self-coach to yourself, asking yourself 8 powerful coaching questions that you learned during the course of your studies. They are:

  1. What do I want to be?
  2. What benefit will I get – for myself and my loved ones?
  3. How can I make it happen?
  4. What do I want to always commit to doing?
  5. What do I need to watch out for?
  6. How can I overcome this?
  7. Who can support me?
  8. What is my one step I want to take now to stay on course?

This blog is dedicated to all Coaches from CCA who have traversed the long and sometimes challenging journey to be a certified coach of repute, excellence and, most of all, with a big heart!

 

My Experience with a Self-Responsibility Team

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Team, teamwork, united team, empowered team and many other similar words are familiar names that you might have heard before; if not most of them, at least the majority of them.  Right?

I have one more to add! I don’t mean to add more to your basket of team names, but somehow I’m yearning to talk about it here in my blog after experiencing it about a month ago when we held the Coaching Camp for our coaches in October.

The Coaching Camp was a huge success (despite a lower turnout, no thanks to the depressed economy) because of MACC’s Exco’s  exemplary efforts. You see, taking up any post in a non-profit association like MACC (ie Malaysian Association of Certified Coaches) is voluntary; there’s no money to be made or fame to look for.  The only food for the soul is dedication to the Coaching Cause!

This I can say for all the Exco members.  Everyone has more than a full time job, and yet is willing to work for the coaching community!  They have to squeeze tasks assigned to them in their jam-packed schedule, often working late into the night!  Although the lines of responsibilities were drawn for everyone, no one from the President, Abdul Rahman; Secretary Jessica; Assistant Secretary Mun Yi; Camp Director, Chee Lian; and  all the others, drew a line of ‘what is mine, not mine, and yours’. This made things worked really well.  Everyone covered for someone in a tremendous demonstration of co-operation, unity and camaraderie.

And that is the secret of self-responsibility teams – it is really self-directedness. It means everyone not only look after their own areas of work but they also look at the bigger scheme of things.  When someone in the team notices something needs attending to, they instantly jump in to help out even not it is not their area of responsibility.  They don’t feel that it is not their business.  In such a spirit, no one calculates, or takes advantage, nor feel slighted because someone is ‘interfering’ in their area.  Everyone is a leader in their own right.  What drives self-responsibility team is simply goodwill, respect and appreciation that keeps everyone together for a common cause.

In the case of MACC, it was to ensure that the Coaching Camp was a success (and sure enough it was)!

As the Chairman of MACC, I wish to thank all the Exco members with my whole heart for displaying the ‘coach material’ of what good coaches are made up of.