Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year 2010

Hi Friends,

Wishing you a happy new year! I really look forward to 2010. This morning, when I woke up at 5.00am, I asked myself why don't I feel nostalgic about 2009 like I normally would about the previous years? I would then need the next few days to recover and function properly again. I remember reading somewhere in the newspapers years ago that wrote: there's nothing significant about 31 December and 1 January other than 2 dates on a calendar. Well, this year I'm feeling it LOL! Am I starting to get that old already? Well, I hope I'll get excited about the Chinese New Year, at least.

This year I'm trimming my new year resolution list from 3 to just 1 - Finish writing my book. By 31 December 2010, I must send it off to a publisher! I believe I can do it because where there's a will there's a way. Now, if only I could get over the "my spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" syndrome.

Once again, Happy New Year 2010 to you and your family!

With love,
Luke Bong

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Planning anything for 2010?

In exactly 5 more days, we will bid goodbye to 2009 and welcome 2010. It's also interesting to note that we have completed 1 decade of the 21st century already. I was reading the latest edition of Success magazine and publisher Darren Hardy asked the readers to reflect on what have been their greatest achievements in the past 10 years. Well, I'd like to share mine (at random) here. I'm not trying to impress anybody (well, maybe just a little) but I'd like to take stock of how good God has been to me.
  1. I got married in 2002 to the girl of my dreams.
  2. I bought a house that same year and later moved to my dream house in 2008.
  3. I'm blessed with a son in 2005.
  4. I became a public speaker in 2008 (a dream come true).
  5. I walked on burning charcoal barefooted in 2004 at the Anthony Robbins Unleash Your Power Within seminar in Singapore with my wife.
  6. I received my MBA degree from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia in 2004.
  7. I gave a talk to 200 people at Pustaka Miri in 2008 and 2009.
  8. I won the Toastmasters International Division E International Speech Contest (2008, 2009), Division E Table Topics Contest (2008), Division E Evaluation Speech Contest (2008), 1st runner-up Division E Humourous Speech Contest (2008) and 1st runner-up District 51 Table Topics Contest (2008).
  9. I started my tuition centre (Great Minds Language and Training House) in 2004 and closed it that same year.
  10. I started my second company (Great Minds Management Sdn Bhd) which owns Lighthouse Education and Training in 2009. (Note to self: I'll make it work this time)
  11. I emceed at a dinner function attended by 1200 people in Genting Highlands (2007) and KLCC Convention Centre (2008).
  12. I enrolled in the Money Mastery Workshop and paid RM5200 for the programme to attend it in 2010.
  13. I've changed my mindset and attitude towards money. Money is an idea. I can make money out of nothing (no, seriously). Money is a tool for me to do good. There is an abundance of money out there. Money loves me (Ha! Ha!)
  14. I enrolled in a Ph.D programme with UNIMAS and after doing 3 months of research, felt it's not the right thing for me so I quit.
  15. I got below 100 kg at the start of 2009 (the last time I was 99 kg was more than 15 years ago) but am now at 103 kg.
  16. I'm taking care of my parents who stay with me. I'm so blessed to have them in my life!
  17. My wife gets along so well with my parents and vice-versa. My prayers are answered.
  18. I bought my Jupiter Alto Saxophone (professional series) in 2007. I've been dreaming to have a good saxophone since 1988.
You know, doing this list makes me feel so thankful and grateful to God for His grace and kindness. Why don't you do a list, too. Begin each day with a thankful heart!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Meaning of Christmas

What does Christmas mean to you, dear reader? Have you thought about that lately?

It is usually synonymous with holiday, shopping, gathering of family and friends, gifts, church services and of course Santa Claus. Now, more than ever, people from around the world are trying to disassociate Christmas from Jesus Christ, whom we are celebrating His birthday in the first place. And some go to great lengths to lobby that the word Christ be taken out of 'Christmas' so that it is politically correct for today's modern society. So, instead of writing Merry Christmas, people will take the short cut and write Merry X-mas.

Since young I always wondered why X-mas is pronounced as Christmas? After all you don't call the X-men as Christmen or X-ray as Christray, right? If they do, then perhaps we have to start calling the old TV series X-files as Christ-files. It's amazing. When people want to make something acceptable, there are ways and means. We call this self-rationalization. Pretty soon, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In my humble opinion, the main focus on Christmas should and must still be the birth of Jesus Christ. Forget about the fact that it doesn't snow in Israel in December. That's like 2000 years ago. I don't think they have birth certificates or computerised database in those days, right? To go one step further. Each year, in Malaysia we celebrate the birthdays of our King and Sultans. But it's on a gazetted day which is not even the person's actual birthday. Yet, we have military display, etc to celebrate. If people can do this for another human being, I don't see how and why anyone would hold it against Jesus.

So, in closing, as we approach the 25 December 2009 and thereafter January 2010, I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and share with you the following scripture:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whomsoever shall believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John3:16

That's the perfect present, won't you say!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Weddings & Marriages

"I do!"

To many single people, this 2 words seem like the most anticipated words in the English language. It ranks way up there together with words such as "I love you!". This phrase marks the next phase in an individual's life - MARRIAGE. Once you say it, there's no turning back and the world is filled with jokes and quotations about life after this 2 words were spoken. To quote a trite example.

"When a man is still single, he is half complete. When a man is married, he is finished."

Well, ever wonder why there's so much of anticipation about the big day and then the moment you take the next step, there are so many horror stories waiting for you to discover? It's a no brainer, right? Imagine being told, "Son, you should get married. It's not good for a man to be alone." Then after you took the advice you are told, "Son, deal with your own problems. Who asked you to be married in the first place?"

Well, while I'm no marriage counselor or relationship expert by any means, I'd like to share my personal views on this. Nowadays, too much emphasis is being put on the wedding and not enough emphasis is put on the marriage.

Wait a minute. Is there a difference between the two? You bet. Your wedding only lasts one day while your marriage lasts one life time. Couples spend approximately 365 days preparing for that big day planning for how to have the wedding photos taken, what gown to wear, who to invite, where to have the reception, where to go for honeymoon, etc. But only a fraction of that time is spent on planning how to live together for the rest of their lives. It's frightening to see that there are so many divorces and remarriages now. It's as if more emphasis is put on the wedding instead of life after the wedding. I personally know a couple who managed to involve me in their divorce and the ugliness of it and subsequently in their wedding to other partners. All within 24 months!

There's a saying in English that goes like this. "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." This applies to marriage, too. If the couple spends more time planning for their married life such as how to handle conflicts, how to divide the chores, how to live together (a.k.a the boring stuffs), they stand a better chance of honouring their vows to each other. Stephen Covey calls this the "important but not urgent matters" in life.

Lately, there are so many weddings in town. I sincerely wish these love birds the best in their married lives and may they find true marriage bliss that comes only with the boring stuffs such as commitment, hard work, tolerance, understanding and support. Then, comes chapter 2: The Baby! Well, that's another story for another day!

With love!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Winner are learners

An old saying goes like this. "Live as if it's your last day to live. Learn as if you will live forever." My personal interpretation of the 1st part of this saying is to live life in the moment and be focused on our goal in life. Too often we are distracted by happenings around us, so much so that we can't even stay focused. It is not surprising that the average attention span of an adult today is only 20 minutes. Can you believe that? We have been slowly programmed to run through life, expecting things to be instant. Instant noodles, instant coffee, instant wealth, instant success, instant information, instant love, instant relieve, you get the picture.

But the journey to be a winner is not one filled with instant results. Rather, as the second part of this saying suggests, it takes a life time of learning. To a lot of people, the moment one graduates from the university, the popular idea is one has also graduated from learning. We hear people shouting in joy "Yeah, no more exams!" or "Yeah, no need to go to class anymore!". But what people are missing here is we have only graduated from an institution but we are immediately enrolled in another university called "University of Hard Knocks" or UHK in short. UHK gives exam everyday and UHK doesn't stop for students to catch up. UHK can be a mean, S.O.B teacher but UHK is also a fair teacher, one that rewards the top students extravagently.

So, how does one excel in UHK? The answer is: Follow its syllabus. In the UHK syllabus, the report card is not filled with grades such as A,B,C or F. Instead, it is filled with your bank balances and net worth report. Just as one has to study hard in school to get the A, one also has to do the right things to get the results in UHK. However, the right things in school may not necessary be the right thing in UHK.

Now, before you start to feel that I'm beating around the bush, I just want to add that each of us have a different UHK to attend. One that requires very different learning to take place in our individual lives. Hence, we have to keep on learning. Some questions to ask ourself, "When was the last time we read a book that helps to develop ourself?", "When was the last time we attended a seminar or lecture?" or "When was the last time we listened to a CD on personal development?" These are the sources of information on how to succeed in UHK.

But one thing that is similar between school and UHK is this. It requires discipline. The discipline to do things that we don't like doing. The discipline to keep on doing it until we see the fruits. And the wisdom to know that it is not the drudgery of the process that we are after, rather it is the fruits that we want.

Happy learning!

Monday, November 16, 2009

An Interesting Learning Session

Last week, I attended a talk at Genting Highlands entitled "Your Past Doesn't Have to Be Your Future" by Mr. Robert Young, a Singaporean speaker. He is a very interesting speaker, to say the least. He started off by leading the entire group to sing a famous Hokkien song "Ai Pia Jia Eh Ya" which means "One must fight then one will win" in both Hokkien and English version. The crowd which is made up of different ethnicity loved it.

Robert then did an unexpected thing. He started giving away money. RM1, RM5, RM10 and he even threw a handful of money up in the air. Did he make an impact? You bet. The crowd went crazy. I actually wanted to go and grab some as well. However, I was a staff of the organizing company while the session was meant for our agency force so it wasn't exactly appropriate for me to join in the fun. Sigh!

During lunch, just call it serendipity, Robert and I ended up sitting at the same table having our lunch. There were a few others with us. I braved myself and jokingly said, "Robert, can I have some of your money, too?" He looked at me and reached into his pocket. He took out a handful of cash and gave me RM1. He asked, "Want some more?" I replied, "Yes!". Then he passed me another RM1. Pretty soon, other agents started coming to our table for photographs and to get some of the money.

After awhile, Robert asked those at the table, "Why don't anyone ask me why I give away money?" So, I asked him and he replied, "In the insurance industry, the way to get more money is by opening our mouth and talking about what we do. The more the better." This is brilliant. Most people just take it for granted that business will be there just like the others on the same table with him who were having lunch together but did not ask for the money. When I opened my mouth, I was rewarded because that's how life works.

The bible says 'Ask and it shall be given. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it will be opened.' For me, this brief encounter taught me a precious lesson. One must be willing to open one's mouth to ask around. And more importantly, one must be willing to be humble before one can receive the good things in life.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Passion and Devotion

Have you ever worked so hard yet you don't feel mentally exhausted (or in some cases burned out)? Well, chances are, that's what you are supposed to do in your life. This morning, I saw a very profound quote by Bob Proctor. "You have got to love what you do because you are trading your life for it". We spend most of our time working. And if we hate what we do, guess what, we are trading our life (time) for it.

Lately, I've been doing a lot of work on a personal project of mine. I'm on a 1 week leave from my workplace but I find myself immersed in this project every single waking moment. I just can't put it down! Sure, at the end of the day, I was physically exhausted. I now know what it feels like to fall asleep the moment my head hits the pillow! Yet, the following morning, I jump out of bed at 5.00am to continue at it. This feeling is fantastic!

I read somewhere (sorry, I can't remember from where) that when you are on a medical leave (for a mild sickness) and have to confine yourself at home, what you do even though you were sick is what you really love to do with your life. Does this make any sense to you?

Live with passion!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Moment Is Here!

The event a lot of us at the Miri Toastmasters Club has been eagerly anticipating is finally here. The Magic of Public Speaking. 2 months of laborious work will show us its fruits. I'm proud to be associated with a team of dedicated and passionate people who put the goal before ourselves. It energizes me and it makes me want to go the extra mile, too!

Our organizing chairman (OC) Ken Yong is doing a fabulous job organizing this seminar. I learned from him about deploying people and delegating tasks effectively, something which I've been struggling to do for years. Elizabeth Wee and her media team showed us how dedication and commitment can produce excellent results. Make sure you watch the Miri Toastmasters Club promotional video they made for this Saturday at Pustaka Miri.

I'm charged up and all ready to go! Can't wait for Saturday afternoon to speak to our guests. I love public speaking. I eat it! I live it! I sleep it!


Friday, October 9, 2009

When the going gets tough...

Sometimes, things can be tough. I know because this year I have faced one obstacle after another. In fact those who know me are beginning to ask if I was jinxed? And for awhile, I was thinking about it, too.

Well, as a child of God, I know that if one is going through hell, don't stop! The only way to get out is to continue going and believe in Him for deliverance. The Bible tells me that His mercy endures forever and is new every morning. Thank God for that!

The latest episode in my 'interesting' 2009 happened like this (the funny thing was I didn't even know about it). I was in my office and I felt a funny sensation in my left toe. My toe was painful and it felt hard. When I finally took off my shoes at home, I noticed that it was reddish in colour. I immediately applied some medication, thinking that it was just a mosquito bite, or something harmless. Well, little did I know the next day, my left foot was swollen and the pain grew. I went to see a doctor who prescribed me some antibiotics and cream. No improvement. The following day, another doctor. More antibiotics, painkillers and anti-histamine. Well, still no improvement yet. So, I'm going to see another doctor tomorrow. This time, it will be a skin specialist. You can see from the picture how it looks like.

Anyway, I trust my God that He will deliver me from whatever situation that He allows me to be in. Do keep me in your prayers, will you?


Saturday, September 26, 2009

This is worth protecting...

Health, that is.

Recently, my family was faced with several health complications starting with my mum, than me and now my Dad. So, I was in and out of the hospital tending to my parents and myself in August and September 2009. Needless to say, this is really tiring and stressful for me. Anyway, this experience taught me 3 precious lessons as well. I just want to share them here.

  1. Some people think that their body is stronger than others and can take more punishment so they adopt a 'tidak apa' attitude. WRONG! Just because we are not experiencing anything doesn't mean we are healthy. On the contrary, when the body starts telling us something, it is usually quite late already. For example, 99% of kidney failure patients don't feel any pain in their kidneys! So, by the time they discover they have kidney failure, it is normally end-stage, hence requiring dialysis forever.
  2. Man will spend the first half of their life trading health for money and then the second half of their life trading money for health. This is so true and so STUPID! What's the meaning in that? Better to have a balanced lifestyle and enjoy the beauty that God has placed in our lives from beginning until the final destination. Do we slow down and just enjoy the beauty of HIS creation? Do we slow down and say 'thank you' and 'I love you' to our loved ones? We may be busy chasing after our dreams but certainly we can have time for these 'Important but Not Urgent' matters.
  3. Work like there's no tomorrow. Yeah, and there will not be a tomorrow. Whoever coined this phrase must be mesmerized by the philosophy of "The world is round because it is not flat". Instead, work because there is a tomorrow. Don't burn bridges. Don't hurt people. Don't feel that we are the center of the universe. Respect life. Value others. Enjoy the beauty that God has put in our lives.
We are entering the last quarter of 2009. Very soon we will bid farewell to this year and say hello to 2010. What legacy are we leaving behind this year? Which reminds me. My friend, Ken and I set a few personal goals to be achieved this year. Time to do a 'stock check' to see what have been done and if the results are what we want them to be. One thing for sure, my bosses will certainly look back and say to me "Yesterday is history. Forget past victory. Tomorrow is still empty. Meet the target or you'll be sorry." :p


Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create it

The above quote was from Abraham Lincoln. What a fantastic way to view the future. In times like this, people are constantly worried about the future: economy, AH1N1 virus, terrorism, etc. Let's do what Lincoln suggested. Create the future we want today. What's one thing that if we start to do today that would change our lives 5 years from now? Learn a new skill? Start an exercise program? Start to be involved in charity work?

I was sharing with some friends on the Power of One. Can one person change the world? Definitely not on his or her own. But one person can inspire many others to change their world and when enough people change, we change our world together.

Maya Angelou said this. "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain." I say this sheepishly. I still catch myself complaining about certain things. Well, I'm going to do my best to stop it. Rather than complain about it, I'll do something about it. Then, it's fruitful.

Selamat Hari Raya!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Why I love the Toastmasters Club?

I have a confession to make. I love the Toastmasters Club! In particular, Miri Toastmasters Club. Why do I say that? Well, when you feel tired and weak, come for a workshop and a group of sincere people will laugh together with you and motivate you. By the end of the workshop, you just feel that the stress is all gone.

Now if I made it sound like it is a laughing club, actually it's only half true. The Toastmasters Club is dedicated to the development of verbal communication skills and leadership skills among its members. It has touched the lives of more than 250,000 people! Personally, I've improved a lot as both a leader and speaker ever since joining this club 2 years ago. Every workshop is a learning laboratory to discover myself more. We learn by doing and that's the best way to learn.

In my 2 years at this club, I've seen people transformed from a timid person into a confident speaker. Talk about the Magic of Public Speaking. If you are interested to drop by to see the workshop and experience the fun and laughter, we meet every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month at Gymkhana Club, Miri. Our workshop starts at 7.30pm.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Failing Forward

I was having a deep discussion with a close friend last week when the subject of our discussion touched on the topic of fear and failure. My friend asked me a very profound question "What is the worst case scenario that you will see yourself in?" Well, that question hit me like a tonne of bricks. It was one of those questions where I know is there but never really got around to asking, perhaps conveniently bypassing it.

As I was contemplating it, I told him that if I were to fail, I'll make sure that I come up with something else to make up for the gap that my failure would have created. I'd not just return to where I was and say "Boy, I should have just listened to them naysayers." The idea was to make sure that I'd go further and further towards my goal and each failure would be a push towards the success that I'm searching for.

My friend immediately replied "Failing Forward." I thought it sounded cool. So I googled the phrase and it is actually the title of a book written by Leadership guru John C. Maxwell about how to optimize each failure to achieve our success.

At present, I'm about to make a very important decision that may change the course of my life. Am I scared? OF COURSE, I AM! Am I excited? YES, too! (There's something about us humans who like to seek thrills in activities such as bungee jumping and climbing the KLCC Twin Towers with our bare hands to tell ourselves that: Yes! I am alive!) But I'm going for it even though I'm scared. That's what courage is. It is not the absence of fear. Rather it is doing something in spite of fear.

I'll finish with this quote by the Malaysian tycoon, Mr. Robert Kuok. He said as much as "she pai nai chen gong che mu" (translated as failure is the mother of success), he holds firmly that "chen gong nai she pai che mu" (translated as success is the mother of failure). Does it make sense to you?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Paradigm Shift

Yesterday, I had an experience which started off as bad and ended up helping me discover something important. It was not a very big event and one which was pretty mundane you'd say.

As I've blogged earlier, I am still nursing my dislocated left shoulder. I had an appointment with my physiotherapist booked at 2.30pm. At 2.15pm I went to my car only to discover that 1 of the tyres was punctured. My first reaction was "Oh man! Not now!". Normally, I would just roll up my sleeves and change it in a jiffy but not with my injured shoulder. So, I went in search for help and finally found a shop which was willing to send their staff over to help me change the tyre. Problem solved but I missed my appointment.

Anyway, what was the important thing that I discovered? Well, my paradigm shift. Let me explain. Several years ago, I underwent a hernia surgery. (The wound was the exact location as the C-section surgery so I know how that feels like after giving birth LOL!) That Saturday, I was home alone and ready to get to work. So, I turned the ignition key and the car engine just wouldn't start. Yup! A flat battery. Being the gung-ho, Rambo, Lone Ranger - type, I pushed the car out of the house, pushed it down the slope, turned the ignition key and jumped into it the moment the engine was ignited. Well, it took me 2 attempts to get it work. Man, I was so proud of myself.

But thinking back, that was plain stupid. 1) I could ask my neighbours to help, or 2) I could call office and tell them about my problem. What if I burst the wound? That would be worse, right? Well, that was the lone ranger mentality I used to have. And it got me no where.

So, my experience yesterday where I humbled myself and went seeking for help told me that I have learnt the importance to getting help and assistance from others to get things done. That way, we could do much more than we could ever accomplish alone. So, that's my paradigm shift.

Have a Happy Day!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Magic of Public Speaking

The Miri Toastmasters Club is organizing a public seminar themed "The Magic of Public Speaking". It will be held on 17 October 2009 from 1.30pm - 4.30pm at Pustaka Miri auditorium. The 2 speakers are Luke Bong (yours truly) and Distinguished Toastmaster Mohd Ariff Azahari. Tickets are available now. If you purchase the tickets before 18 September, it will be only RM45 (early bird). Normal price is RM50. For students (secondary schools, colleges and university), it is priced at RM30 only. Special offer for group booking of 10 tickets. This year, all participants will be issued a certificate of participation.

I'll be speaking on the topic "Let Your Body Speak". Most people associate public speaking with the ability to use fantastic or bombastic words. Well, that's only part of public speaking. In reality, words only affect a listener around 7%. The balance are actually body language and tonality. I'll be sharing on how one can use their body effectively when they speak to convince and influence the listeners. This is a topic that will surely interests people who have to do presentations to persuade or influence others.

Mohd Ariff will be sharing on the topic "How Anyone Can Create A Charismatic, Magnetic Voice". We all know how important a good sounding voice is. Let the expert show you how. This is a topic not to be missed. Ariff is the Liutenant Governor of Education and Training of Toastmasters International District 51 (Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei). He is also a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM). There are only a handful of DTM in Sarawak and he is the first Bumiputra DTM from Sarawak.

Checkout the post on Facebook at

Hope to see you at the seminar!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What My Injury Taught Me

Recently, I experienced one of the worst physical pains ever in my life. To cut a long story short, I dislocated my left shoulder in a freak accident in Melaka. The irony of it was it happened when I was having fun at a theme park. Talk about bittersweet. This was the second time I dislocated my left shoulder. The first time was in 1994 during a Wushu free sparring tournament in Kuching, Sarawak. My opponent managed to yank my shoulder out of its socket. The match ended as a TKO.

This round though, I was very thankful I had 3 friends who accompanied me throughout the whole ordeal lasting approximately 3 hours. (Thank God for friends who are caring) At the hospital in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan, I was given 21 days of Sick Leave by the doctor and adviced to get plenty of rest. Well, for good or for bad, throughout this time, I went through some periods of soul searching. First, I was thinking about the path to take for my future. Second, I was rethinking about the whole idea of corporate life.

Well, luckily before I kept on going down the "Oh me, Oh my" tunnel, thank God I met my physiotherapist who asked me why I was still working when I have been given sick leave. My reply was "I had no choice." To which he replied, "You must be an important man for your company lah". I laughed. I never thought of it that way. Perhaps, when people still call on you regarding work when you are on leave or sick leave is a sign that you are important and they can't do without you. (Some will also say poor management on my part, too. Can't please everybody)

Suddenly I felt proud about it but at the same time, it also put me in perspective. What does the company really care about? Me? Or what I'm paid to do? You know, I believe everything that has happened has a reason behind it. And I strongly believe in blessings in disguise. Perhaps this is one of them right now.

God, grant me the wisdom to deal with this situation and give me the vision to know which path I have to take. Amen!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Don't Be Good. Be GREAT!

In the latest issue of Success Magazine, Darren Hardy interviewed "the Hitman" David Foster. David Foster is the producer behind artistes such as Michael Buble, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Barbara Streisand, Chicago and scores of other heavyweights in the music industry. Whatever the Hitman touches turn to gold (and sometimes platinuum), literally.

One of the secrets of his success is this "Good is never enough." Wow! That's a pretty high standard to set for oneself, right? But that's also how he could standout from the rest in his chosen industry. I guess at the end of the day, it will become our 'signature' and reputation. Just imagine. Your name is signed as 'GREAT'.

I believe this strongly. One's reputation arrives before him and stays behind after him. If that's the case, I'll not just settle for good. I'll go for GREAT!

I opt to be a ...
GREAT Husband to my wife
GREAT Father to my son
GREAT Friend to those whom I have the honour to befriend
GREAT Speaker and create breakthroughs for myself
GREAT Encourager to those who need a drop of motivation every now and then

Don't just be good. Be GREAT!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Life Made Complicated

This scene is probably quite familiar. At the restaurant or hotel washroom (especially those trendy type), we chance upon someone staring at the sink, studying the tap to try to figure out just how s/he could force some water out of it. Has this ever happened to you before? Sure did to me.

Which made me think: the water tap is so essential to our daily lives and yet we make it so complicated and some even requires a degree in rocket science to operate it! Imagine you go to a cafe to order a cup of coffee.

You: Can I have a cup of coffee, pls?
Barrista: You want Java, Arabica, Bali, Vienese?
You: Give me Vienese, pls.
Barrista: Ok. You want expresso, cuppochino, latte?
You: Give me a latte, pls.
Barrista: Excellent choice. You want full cream milk, skim milk or fat free milk?
You: Fat free milk, pls.
Barrista: Cow or goat?
You: Forget it. Just give me a Kopi-O?
Barrista: With or without sugar?
You: With sugar, pls.
Barrista: White, brown or artificial?
You: ?#@*!!!

Are there somethings which we have made overly complicated in our lives? For example, I must have this, and this, and this, and that, and this before I can be really happy. If we pause for a moment and compare it to the water tap. Do I really need a fancy water tap if all I needed is just access to clean water?

Let's make things simple and be happy always!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Persevere in Humility

An hour ago, a strong gust of wind blew my neighbour's front gate off it's rail. That's the first time I saw something like that in my life. The bamboo forest in front of my house was quite a spectacle, too (darn I didn't get my camera!) They looked like rockets that were ready to be launched at any moment! At the end of the 30 minute bashing by the strong wind, the bamboos prevailed. On the other hand my neighbour's gate was derailed.

We all face the occasional 'strong wind' blowing in our life. Very often, we are tempted to throw in the towel and give up. However, if we look at nature, no wind lasts forever. No matter how severe the storm is, it will always be replaced by sunny days afterward. Mother nature has a very unique way of teaching us precious lessons in life. When facing the 'strong wind', yield to it and learn from it and we will be like the bamboo, triumphing in the end. That's what I call persevering in humility.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I still remember what started me off on the journey of learning to speak and write in English. The year was 1987 and I was in Primary 3. My English was mediocre because I hardly speak it at home and school. Both my parents don't know English so it is their aspiration for their children to master the language. Thus I was sent for English tuition classes.

It was at the tuition center that I met Mrs. Dass. Mrs. Dass was a strict, no nonsense teacher. One fine day for English composition, she gave me a 'B'. I was elated. It was the best 'B' I've ever gotten because that afternoon, I got myself an exercise book and started writing by myself. It was not even homework. All of a sudden, English became interesting. Before long, I fell in love with the language. That's the power of a small dose of encouragement.

Recently, I saw this happening again, this time on my 4 year old son, Jordan. We notice that he prefers reading to writing. As a result, his teacher has commented that he needs to work harder on writing. Then, one fine day, something amazing happened. My mum told me that after Jordan's afternoon nap, he took his drawing pad and his chair to the living room table and sat there and started writing the letter 'g' all by himself. He wrote hundreds of 'g' for more than 1 hour non-stop. I asked Jordan what got him so excited. This was his reply (in mandarin) "Teacher says I'm very good." Now, he can write the alphabets already. Heh! Heh! I'm so proud.

We all need encouragement to move on. Like petrol is the fuel for the automobile, encouragement is the fuel for the human spirit. John C. Maxwell shared the following about encouragement.

  • People want to do the right thing. STAND WITH THEM.
  • People want to find better ways of doing things. EMPOWER THEM.
  • People want to achieve things they can be proud of. MOTIVATE THEM.
  • People want to belong to a group that achieves the extraordinary. INVITE THEM.
  • People want to earn recognition for who they are and what they achive. HONOUR THEM.
Encourage someone today. When we give, we receive even more.

God Bless!

Luke Bong

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Team

Nowadays it's very common for organizations to send their people to team building training. The objectives are to instill teamwork and trust among team members so that they can function more cohesively back in their workplace. But is an off-site team building event effective in building team spirit? What do you think?

Just yesterday I was in a team building event which I organized for my company. Everyone had a lot of fun and were able to work in a team. Despite coming from different work teams, everyone worked together throughout the obstacle course cohesively. I was very impressed.

However something got me thinking. One of our members fell down and twisted her knee. Initially we all thought she might have broken her knee bone. I personally heard a loud cracking sound! We stopped all activities momentarily to make sure she got treated. A few members were on hand to make sure she was comfortable (despite being in great pain). A majority of the members couldn't be bothered and went on to do other things like sitting under a tree, making joke of the situation, analyzing how the accident took place, etc. What was disappointing to me was the injured member's superior didn't even volunteer to accompany her to the hospital for treatment. Since I was the organizer I decided to go to the hospital together. At the hospital we found out that she only sprained her knee. Thank God.

The final event was a game called 'big foot' where 10 people have to tie their feet to a giant ski and walk a distance. 2 teams managed to finish quickly while 1 team was clearly struggling. The ideal scenario would be the 2 winning teams quickly came forward to cheer and rally the struggling team to finish the race. But the reality was the 2 winning teams gathered around the water station and sat there watching the struggling team and waiting for them to finish. Leaders must lead by example, right? I ran towards them and cheered them on to the finishing line. But none seated at the water station followed. Sigh! More work needed to build team spirit.

After the team building, almost instantaneously people fell back to their old habits of hanging out with the same group of people during lunch and each having their own private discussions. It was as if the teamwork and comradeship experienced earlier has become history. I hope I am wrong here. Perhaps the lessons from the team building have been ingrained in their subconscious mind already. Am I ever the optimist, eh?

My reflection from this event? A team building event is a useful tool to show management's intent to build team spirit and teamwork in the organization. However, don't over rely on it and assume that after the team building everyone will be able to work as a cohesive team. So my action plan after this?

  1. Immediately follow up on the participants of the team building by broadcasting the pictures and experience to ride on the 'afterglow' effect.
  2. Continue to send positive messages regarding teamwork and follow up with positive reinforcement actions such as broadcasting good examples of teamwork among the colleagues.
  3. Plan for the next team building session. I'm a firm believer that team building is a year round thing.
Have you been to any team building events lately? Do share your views.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Goal Setting

I was inspired by a quote I read somewhere.

"Failure doesn't happen when you plan big goals and don't achieve them. Failure happens when you plan little goals and hit them."

Now, I don't know who said this but this person sure made sense. Often times we limit ourselves to how much we can achieve because there is always the 'voice' at the back of our mind reminding us 'Can-meh?' And when we listen to that 'voice' we naturally set ourselves a goal that is attainable, something small, 'organic growth' and comforting. Something we know we will not fail to achieve.

But honestly, if we can't fail to achieve it, then it's not a goal anymore, right? It should be called something else. Maybe a task, a chore, etc... but certainly not a goal. A goal should excite you, sets your adrenaline pumping and there must always be the risk of 'what if we fall short?'

Dato' Idris Jala, the boss of MAS said this, "Play the game of the impossible." When humans are faced with something impossible, it's amazing what creative solutions we can come up with. It was once impossible for humans to fly, right? Richard Branson has just launched Virgin Galactic, an airline that will bring you to space and back for just USD$200K per person. :P And the best part is this: They have already secured USD$40 million in bookings!

Here is a suggestion how we can set 'impossible' goals. Hope it helps you.

1) Write down your goal - it must be quantifiable so that it is measurable (for e.g. losing weight is not very clear. However, losing 10 kg will be quantifiable)
2) Now set yourself a growth rate (or in the case of losing weight 'negative growth' rate). E.g. 10%, 20%, or 50%. Be sensible.
3) This is your goal, right? Wrong! This is something which we are comfortable to write down.
4) To play the 'game of the impossible' set yourself another growth rate. E.g. 30%, etc...
5) Do you feel your heart beating, your inner voice saying 'can-meh?', your sweat starts dropping? Congratulations! You are ready to play the 'game of the impossible'.

Dream big, think big and achieve big!