Category Archives: Lesson in Integrity

Character Flaws That Can ‘Kill’ a Coach

One day a coach-student tearfully confided in me that her introductory coaching session with a mentor coach was in shambles.  She said, “I went into the session feeling big and was really looking forward to meet my mentor coach, but I came out, feeling so small with every bit of my confidence destroyed”!

What should have been an uplifting coaching conversation to motivate the coach-student to become a better coach became a demoralising session where she was criticised and talked down for doing the coaching wrongly!  Obviously, a bad experience like this not only harm most people but can be traumatic to the point that it can destroy them for a long time to come.

But an incident like this is not a one-sided affair as it can also harm the coach’s reputation as well, and eventually his coaching career because this bad experience will be shared with many other people.  His future as a coach will be in flames, so to speak.  

Sometimes, coaches forget that their success depends many times more on their character than their skills and knowledge.  They can go on and on to build them but without a good character, nothing is going to work.  Whether it is in upgrading or adding onto their qualifications, clocking in more coaching hours, or exposing themselves in international conventions and seminars, it will all come to nothing if little is done to build their character as coaches. 

Here are five killer character traits that coaches should avoid having. 

The first one is arrogance.  Being a coach does not mean you are above others, especially the ones you are coaching.  Never think you are smarter, luckier and more superior than others.  When you have this attitude, you will likely be talking down on people with an “I-know-it-all” image.  This is not all.  You will also be making lots of judgements, criticisms and telling people what they should do instead of helping them to discover their answers.  Thus, the most fundamental principle of Coaching is being contravened!

The next one is a negative outlook on people.  Instead of supporting their coachees to see the bright side, they get into the “detective” work of furrowing further “holes” in their lives, causing more emotional pains to them. How can they enjoy a coaching session when it is more of a hell ride for them?

Another is the lack of passion for people’s growth. Many a time, coachees often wonder whether their coaches are genuinely helping them, or are after their money. If they are of the latter, you can see through them in their lackadaisical attitude, dull face, lifeless voice and their lack of energy.  A coachee can never be lifted up by coaches with such kind of negative persona.

One other is the lack of integrity and strong self-discipline. They compromise with themselves on quality, give in or give up too easily, lack discipline, tell lies, exaggerate facts and many, many others.

The final character killer is the stress in the coach caused by his own messy personal life either due to financial issues, relationship problems, health challenges and many others.  His life is somewhat in a mess and this is usually manifested in his erratic behaviours, wrong choice of words and disturbed appearances.  Somehow you will know that something is not working well for him.  So how on earth will you have the trust and confidence that this coach can help you?


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.  

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.  


Some People Turn Out To Be Disappointing. How I Learn To Move On.

I am feeling this way right  now as someone whom I looked up to didn’t turn out to be the person I thought he would be.  Even worse, he was almost a 100% contrary to my assessment of him. I thought he was God fearing, but he turned out to be perhaps more ‘evil worshipping’. I thought he was honest, but he was actually mean and vicious. I thought he was gentle, but he was thuggish.

People’s behaviours have a way to fool you, and this is something which so-called “people psychology” expert like me can’t understand how I could go wrong. No wonder people are complex and can be deceiving.

In my life I’m sure I will go through many more shocks and disappointments no matter how prepared I am when interacting with them.

The upside to all these are life lessons I can learn that may help reduce my chances of failures. There are 3 lessons that I picked from my most recent experience with this person I once held high.

One is, don’t shut out my mind completely even if I feel so sure about somebody or something. This will allow me to ‘breathe’ in some fresh information that will help me to reassess my earlier conclusions about them.

Two is, not to have high expectations or ambitious about any form of relationship, be it professional or personal. When failures do loom, it will not be so hurting.   However, should the relationship boom, consider it as a bonus.

Three, when disappointments do come, I learn to take it in its stride.  No need to cry over it. Let time heal. And also tell yourself that God has eyes. He knows the right from wrong; the good from bad.  God has a way of making up, so let go and not fight it to square off with them.

Four, at the end of my life is God. In the journey to him, happiness is of utmost importance. So what the heck, enjoy the journey, wish this person well. Get on with life, there’s so much more than what this person can do to you.

I Can’t Remember’. Don’t Get Fooled By This!

Thremember notis statement, ‘I can’t remember’  is used by many, be it as a defence on their innocence  in court  by someone facing conviction , or by the man on the street to defend their  innocence against a blame from something wrongful that they have done.

While there’s truth in some cases where they truly can’t remember due to a lapse of memory, there are unfortunately many deceitful people who use this again and again so that you can’t lay a hand on them.  To these people, their hidden intention is ‘ get off my back’.

I have, and I believe that some of you do have some people in your life  who frequently use the ‘I can’t remember’ weapon. Very unfortunately, their habitual use of it has robbed them of their integrity and respect in our eyes.

To me, the best way to deal with them is not to take flight from them but to confront them, stare into their eyes to show them that you do see through their deceitful words.  If you have other evidence of their super memory in other things that they have higher priorities,  it pays to highlight these evidences to them. One such rebut I use is, Oh! You can’t  remember this simple thing,  but  how come you can remember this or that …………?”

While there’s no guarantee that this will be a good solution to stop their deceitful ways, it will certainly minimise their usage of it so that they begin to live a life of truth.