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.