Saturday, January 29, 2005

Christian Writing

FaithWritersI have not written Christian articles for a very long time, not since I last wrote for a newsletter of a church I have left many years ago.

As a Christian and a freelance writer I feel it my obligation to write about what I believe apart from writing for commercial print and digital media. Therefore, when I came upon a web site that welcomes contribution of Christian articles, I immediately signed up with them to be a participant. That was what I have been busy with over the last week.

It has not been easy writing religious related articles, especially when it has been a long time since I last wrote on such topics. In fact, I find it more difficult to write things related to Christianity than to write for commercial media. Anyhow, for a glimpse of what I have written thus far, feel free to read my articles at

Monday, January 24, 2005

Academia vs Experience

It has been said that the early bird catches the worm, but in the real world this may not always be true.

Early birds or capitalists who have been actively engaged in playing the lead role in coming up with new products and services may have reaped manifold in comparison to late comers, but they are not always the winners of the race.

For example in the academic world, there are people who ace all their papers in exams and achieved the highest academic qualification within a short time, while there are also those who achieved their academic qualification late in life. Yet in the secular sense of the economic world, both may be great achievers in their own respect, and in some cases, the late academic achievers may be better off than the early. To understand what I mean by this, let me illustrate by telling you a story that happened in real life.

Hector is a software analyst who has not achieved a degree in Computer Science. While working in a technology firm, he learned hands-on how to implement networking for corporations. When he was required to get himself technically and academically certified for Internetworking, he was able to score high marks because of his experience, in comparison to the degree holder who lacks the practical hands-on.

From the factual story mentioned above, it is clear that people with skills and expertise in their field of work demonstrate better performance and possess perception that is quite different from the pure academic achievers. Unfortunately even though this is a fact, not all employers however recognize this truth, partially because certain governments, especially in Asia, strongly believe in academic achievements and have thus molded the society to think the same.

If you are among the people who are not the great academic achievers or who are latecomers, you must therefore be discerning and not be disheartened, because you can often be better secular or economic achievers than the academics.

Therefore, when writing becomes a pressure instead of pleasure, it is time to retreat and rediscover inspiration within nature.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Inspiration vs Hard Work

We usually think more creatively when we are relaxed. Unfortunately, many of us think at the worst of times and often under pressure, when we are forced to make decisions.

As a writer, I often have to muse and think over the subject before I write, and I write best when I am relaxed. I get inspired easily when walking through the woods or while taking long nature walks. Unfortunately, such luxury are seldom available when I am on an assignment, which often has short deadline, so I do the next best thing, similar to what everyone else do when they are pressured - research and compile, then write.

Research and compilation is common in most environments, and if you know the process of problem solving, you will probably know what I mean. In a corporate environment, problem solving means identifying, analyzing, implementing, and evaluating. This is not dissimilar in any other environments.

First, research and gather as much information on the subject as possible. Next, sort out the useable from the unusable then select what goes into the story. Finally write in one's own words the story based on all the information gathered, re-reading it to edit and modify where necessary.

A story written based on hard work is seldom satisfactory to the author, but at least it gets the work done. In a perfect world, the author has a lot of time to think, and if one gets a chance to write a novel or a book, some inspiration will definitely be essential. However, if writing is a daily or periodical routine that makes up a high percentage of press news and factual content then option two will be more appropriate in solving the immediate problem.

Therefore, when writing becomes a pressure instead of pleasure, it is time to retreat and rediscover inspiration within nature.

Friday, January 21, 2005


There is communication in silence where the absence of words communicates many things.

Silence reads messages in the eyes, understands the language from the body, and sees gestures that tell many tales. When someone talks to you and you remain silent, it reveals your disinterest or your ignorance. It communicates your lack of attention and a listening ear.

When someone says 'silence is golden', he or she refers to solitude, and not the absence of sound. True silence is about being quiet at heart and mind, and being of few words. It is about thinking before speaking and speaking only when necessary.

Complete silence living in the city is quite impossible, but true quietness is amidst the noises, maintaining silence in the heart and mind. If your mind is not in turmoil and your heart is calm, it is then that true peace has been attained in silence.

Quit meaningless chatter!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Emotional Intelligence

"Anyone can be angry - that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way - this is not easy." - Aristotle

Understanding one's emotion to behave in a way that is socially acceptable is certainly not an easy task. It requires "a type of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' emotions, discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide one's thinking and action" (Salovey and Sluyter 1997, quoted in DeJanasz et al., 2001, p.9). This social intelligence is what we call today as emotional intelligence or EQ.

Emotional intelligence is about developing an awareness of one's feelings and emotions to response appropriately according to the situation at hand. It requires skills like self-control, zeal, persistence, and motivation to adapt and navigate within a society.

According to experts in the field of behavioral studies, there are six fundamentals for achieving emotional intelligence. They are: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, social skills, and group work skills (DeJanasz et al., 2001, p.10).

Self-awareness requires the self-analysis of behavior in understanding the way we conduct ourselves, our motivation, our modes of thinking, acting, and interacting. It includes understanding one's own personality or the relatively stable set of characteristics, tendencies, and temperaments formed by inheritance and by social, cultural, and environmental factors (Maddi 1980, p.10; DeJanasz et. al., 2001, p.4).

Self-regulation is about regulating oneself to adapt to situations, exercising discretion, cultivating trustworthiness, conscientiousness, innovativeness, with the ability to manage disruptive emotions and impulses.

Motivation is about what drives us to pursue one action over another. By understanding one's core drivers, whether positive or negative, one can discover the roots of one's behavior and make adjustments necessary to modify it.

Empathy is the ability to understand others and putting oneself in the shoes of another, to read and respond to others' feelings.

Social skills relate to one's ability to interact smoothly in managing interpersonal relationships and the emotions of other people.

Group work skills focus primarily on organizational or communal collaboration and cooperation, teamwork, conflict management, and the willingness to work toward common goals.

Emotional intelligence is related to several personality traits such as conscientiousness, emotional stability, openness to experience, agreeableness and the kinds. To some extent, EQ can be learnt but people in general do not naturally develop it by just understanding what it is. It requires coaching, constant practice, and adapting from others' feedback (McShane and Travaglione 2003, pp.125-126).


DeJanasz, S., Dowd, K., and Schneider, B. (2001), Interpersonal Skills in Organizations, Irwin, McGraw-Hill.
Maddi, S.R. (1980), Personality Theories: A Comparative Analysis. 4th edn. Homewood, Il, Dorsey Press.
McShane, S. and Travaglione, T. (2003), Organisational Behaviour on the Pacific Rim. NSW, McGraw-Hill.
Salovey, P. and Sluyter, D. (1997), eds., Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence: Educational Implications. New York, Basic Books.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Discovering Self

Not long ago I wrote on the subject of Personality Traits and a few people have asked me whether there are tests available that can help a person discover oneself. There are of course many methods of evaluating oneself through personality tests, but there is no one particular place or site that dare claims to provide a complete analysis of a person's personality in uncovering one's strengths and weaknesses in entirety. A good start in understanding oneself is to take a simple test such as What Number Are You?

Using this test I discovered myself to be a peacemaker who is emotionally stable and willing to find common ground with others. My friends and family often look to me to be the mediator when there is conflict and I am generally easy going and accepting. I take things as they come and avoid conflict most of the time. I am content when things are calm.

This reading or analysis to some extent expresses my sentiments and knowing this fact helps reaffirm the understanding of myself. Understanding self however is just the first step. If a person is starting on a career, this information may help direct the right direction to bridge the gap, but if the person is mid way through a career or finishing his or her dues, this test remains an analysis for knowledge because one cannot in real life change a career to become a social worker or peacemaker to serve all mankind because of a discovery of self. To what end then is the purpose of personality tests?

In my opinion, personality tests are only for discovering self for the purpose of understanding one's own character. In understanding one's character, one can then adjust and change to adapt to the situations one face in his or her environment. Hence if you ask me about personality tests, I will say there are plenty out there on the Internet, but if you ask what you can do in discovering your personality, the answer depends on where you are at in life and in what situations you are in, and from there it is up to you to see what next steps to take.

From the way the test works, it appears the number scored doesn't really matter. It's just a reference to associate the type of personality a person majors. What matters is the description of the character. Does it describe you accurately? Accuracy of the test result is dependent on how true you are in answering the questions and how well you know yourself. If an answer is in the borderline, you'll need to pick one that is most frequently true and what's closest in describing you.

As a suggestion, you may want to consider taking the test at different days and at different time of the day because your feelings probably differ when you are busy, angry, or when sad. Results can differ depending on mood too!

Have fun discovering yourself and let me know your results!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Late and Awake

Have you ever deliberately stayed up late in the night because of a reluctance to let a day pass by? You have been working hard the whole day and despite tiredness, you stretched yourself through late night because you feel unfulfilled without spending a few hours for personal time each day.

Time for self or personal time is what many people treasure most. It is this time that most found lacking because a third of their time has been spent on work, one third on sleep, and the little time remaining for self. Many sleep late because at the end of the day they feel a vacuum in themselves because of a lack of satisfaction or the need for accomplishing some aim or purpose, apart from regular occupational work.

For me, I spend much time on-line late into the early mornings because of my refusal to let my personal time go by without accomplishing something. Whether it is catching up with friends via e-mail or chat on-line, writing a blog article of my thoughts, or doing something I like, I constantly dragged on the time available before I will myself to sleep. The consequence of this is a lazy morning going to work or going about doing the things that brings in the bread and butter. This may be the reason why many people are seen sleeping in the morning on public transport - to catch up the lost sleep before occupational work commence. Such a practice however is not at all a healthy lifestyle.

Symptoms of people who practice such lifestyles may indicate a certain level of dissatisfaction at work. When a person does not find satisfaction at work, he or she seeks pleasure in other forms, and such other forms hopefully can be fulfilled through the little time remainder at the end of the day. Without satisfaction, man will find it hard to move forward in life because of a lack of aim and purpose. A fulfilled life is not always about material gains. In fact material gains are quite meaningless and do not in anyway satisfy the vacuum within man. Man is after all created different from other living beings with a spirit and a soul, and without God no genuine satisfaction can be derived.

If you are like me in some ways staying up late into the nights, share your comments at this blog. Tell me your reasons for staying up late and let me know your thoughts.

Sunday, January 02, 2005


If a mobile phone rings during a seminar attended despite a prior request by the organisers to turn off all phones, which group of people will immediately come to mind to blame? Is it the youngsters or the adults?

The scenario described above is fairly common and often happened in public meetings.
It illustrates the prejudices that all of us possess to some degree or a great degree. We always think negatively of people of a certain group based on race, age, occupation, financial status, or the kinds. For example, when we look at people of a particular race, we often feel certain the types of behavior to expect. We assume a certain group of people frequently spit on the floor and we constantly view negatively of another group of people who constantly block passageways. Which group of people do we assume are not educated?

Preconceived ideas of people within a certain group although can be generally true at times, are in reality not the entire truth. Not all people of a certain group or genre behave in the way we think they usually behave. People are not robots. They are not programmed to behave in specific ways. Some may have accumulated bad habits as a result of the society or culture they live in, but not all are the same because individuals change and vary in behavior. No two persons are created the same.

The next time we meet a person, try not to jump to conclusion or think negatively of that particular person. Always ask the question, are the assumptions we have of them prejudices or are they true. If the answer is prejudice, then erase it out from the mind, and view the person as someone yet to be discovered. If the answer is true, then consider whether he or she may have changed. Learn to give others second chances. Never ever coin a person by the group he or she is in or by the people he or she associates.