Do Not Do List

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Do not doWhen I was growing up, I suffered from an inferiority complex where I always felt like I wasn’t good at anything.   This stemmed from the fact that I grew up in an environment where academic results were a key indicator of your love and appreciation.   I was told day in and day out that I was not smart and would never amount to anything, that the family convenience store would be my future because I wasn’t capable of greater accomplishment.

When people tell you something so many times, at some point it will be like a fact or reality to you, because it was repeated so much and programmed in to your sub conscious mind.   You start to behave and act the way that reinforces what was expected of you.   During that time, everything seemed normal, but the daily struggle of coping and feeling worthless continued to dominate my daily life.   I often questioned why I bothered going to school when my outcome was already confirmed. Why suffer and take those exams to then yield the same result?

Looking back, I would say that I didn’t know better.   I was not equipped to discern that I could influence the outcome. In my junior year in high school I turned things around and started believing in myself.   My teacher encouraged me and gave me the nudged to prove that I could accomplish more.   It is by no means that I figured out that I was smart, because I’m still not to this date. However I realized that I can do more than what I was programmed to believe in.

Back then, I started a proving-myself list. It is similar to a do-not-do list in that I list the names of people who doubted me and aim to prove that I can get it done. Each time I prove to someone that I got the job done I will cross out that name.   It took a while to see results, but I was patient and focused.   It is my laser-sharp focus and consistent results that helped me get to where I am in my career.

Over the last twelve months, I’ve focused on my do-not-do list. You might ask: what is a do-not-do list? A do-not-do list is a list of things that you’re currently doing or behaviors that you’re currently exhibiting that are holding you back. It is causing you to get stuck, thus failing to reach your full potential.   By raising your awareness and proactively stopping those actions and behaviors, you’ll slowly move in the right direction and achieve your dream.

So, what’s on my list?   I’m sharing a piece of myself—this is tough one.   The top two items are self-limiting belief and procrastination.   What do I mean by self-limiting belief? My lack of confidence in myself often affects my ability to try new things and pursue new opportunities.   When a new opportunity arises, I often talk myself out of trying or putting my name in. Not sure why, but since I’m aware of this behavior, I in turn challenge myself as to why. It is a difficult challenge to build up one’s confidence, but through baby steps and continuous progress it can be achieved, but it’s difficult to make the behavior go away.   The second one is procrastination.   Many times I will say to myself that I will do it tomorrow, even when I planned to do the task today. There is always tomorrow, isn’t there?   Then tomorrow comes and I get really busy; I’ll do it again tomorrow.   I’ve committed to blogging once a week. Since April, I’ve completed 22 weeks to date, an amazing accomplishment in my mind, but along the way, I almost missed making the weekly post twice.

I’ve taught the do-not-do list to many people at work. To date, many of the folks who attended my class shared with me their perspective and progress.   They said that it made them realized that they have something to work on and understand why they were stuck to begin with.   Awareness it the gift of making this list; once you’re aware of it, you can decide to work on it. I’m proud to say that many of them are doing something about it.

As you read this post, what would be on your do-not-do list? How will that list shape your future? I’d like to hear your perspective.   Writing is a labor of love, if you like my post, share it with others. If you disagree, share me your perspective.

Play Your Cards Right

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CardsWe all came into existence not because we chose to be, but we were brought into this world by our mother. Our circumstances vary and the upbringings were also very different.   As we grew up, we were exposed to the environment in which we were raised. The environment contributed to who we are and our values were inherited from the adults and other people who influenced us.

Must our upbringing define us?   I know I’m treading in a tricky topic, but I’m going out on a limb here. I’m of the opinion that our background and upbringing can help influence and shape us, but once we learn how to discern right from wrong, we are able to make decisions that help us achieve the dream.

Voltaire’s quote comes to mind, “Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her. But once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.”   I agree with Voltaire that you need to play with the cards that you are dealt with and make the most of it.   My father was born in a family of five children. He was the eldest. Growing up, my grandfather was never around for his family and my father had to work at an early age to help his mother.   My father became the sole provider of his family.   Imagine having to work when you’re eleven or twelve years old and being responsible for your family. When I asked my father why he did it, he said the need to help his family was a far greater cause that anything else.

When my father was 17 years old, he travelled to the Philippines to work in a hardware store and saved all his money to send to his family.   He spent the next 10 years doing the same thing day in and day out while also saving money to open his own convenience store.   As I reflect on what my father accomplished, I can’t help but remember Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” My father’s laser-sharp focus enabled him to achieve his goal and create a future for us.   He willed it and persevered each day.   He kept his focus no matter how long it took.

As Tony Robbins says, “The past does not equal the future.” That is truly possible if you want to change something in your life and proceed to make it happen. My father inspired me to push myself outside my comfort zone.   He encouraged me to strive to do my best regardless of my intellectual capabilities.   He insisted that I be diligent in everything I do.   It taught me hard work is the key to my success.   While I still have a long ways to go to achieve my dream, I know that we are all blessed with the same 24 hours each day.   What we do with our time will ultimately determine our outcome.   In essence we reap what we sow.

I’ll end this post by saying, we may be dealt a hand that we don’t like, but we can try to play those cards with diligence and dedication until we are done.   As long as we do our best, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Akin to basketball, you can’t worry about the previous missed shot; you need to focus on the next shot and do the best you can. Remember that our will and desire can help program our subconscious mind to pursue the things that are otherwise impossible.

Writing is a labor of love, if you like what you read, please share. If not, share me your thoughts. Thanks

You Reap What You Sow

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reap what you sowThe girls are back in school. The next few weeks will be a transition period and then things will be back to normal.

This is often the time of the year in which I focus on market trends and observe things that transpire as another year comes to a close. “What?” you ask.   I often take this time to seek to understand what I need to learn, engage in, or stop doing.

As I assess what I need to learn, it is a future focus exercise. I want to plan for the future and be ready for a situation that’s coming up. I always remember that my dad used to say that you’re doing this for your future. While you cannot see or picture what your future looks like, have faith that it will be what you’ve working hard for.   In essence, you can only reap what you sow.   In my mind, this is the most important exercise and I see to it that I spend adequate time on this exercise.

The second one is what am I not doing that I need to be engaged in. This is a bit interesting, because this is one of those: go out, participate, and network.   After a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is network and talk to other people.   But I force myself to participate. In fact, I have two events that I need to attend to in the coming weeks.   This goes back to the saying that you can only reap what you sow.   Networking is a process not an event. It is something you do throughout time and not a one-time thing. It often amazes me when I meet people at an event and they will only ping me sometime later to ask for a job.   But between the time I met the people until the time they ask me for a job, they never both to drop a note to say hi.

Finally, check my do not do list.   This is really important because what are on this list are things that I’m still doing that are preventing me from achieving my dream.   If I don’t stop doing these, I will be stuck forever.   By taking stock as to what these are, I am aware of what I need to work on and how to improve myself.

Remember that you can only reap what you sow. If you desire something to happen in your life, you need to do something today and continue to do something tomorrow and the day after in order to achieve that dream.

Writing is a labor of love, if you like what I wrote, please share it. If you don’t agree, share me your thought.

Unplug on vacation

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unplugFor the first time in many years, we went on vacation and I unplugged myself from work. At first, I was not quite sure how I would cope with it, but then I took a leap of faith and went along.

The trip included 4 days of cruise time in which I went without the daily connection and interaction of LinkedIn, FB, Twitter and WordPress. In jeopardy was my blogging streak, because I did not have Internet connection, as I got preoccupied by all the activities on the cruise and before I knew it the day was over. The first five days of our vacation went by really fast.   When we left the boat, I was reminded that I went without all the great tools for 5 days. The interesting part is that I did not miss it at all.

Over the next few days, I stayed disconnected from work until someone reached out to me. I was engaged in work for 4 hours, but after that I was able to not look at my blackberry and did not login to work for the rest of the trip.   I found that at times it is best to be disconnected. It helps rest your mind and recharge your energy.

Regarding my blog, I was able to post my blog on Humility on Leadership on Sunday. I guess the streak continues. As I wait for my flight to return home, I decided to blog on this post. Unplugging is at times the best way to recharge. In these days of technology advancement, it is great to realize the blessing of being able to spend time with your family and not be bothered by the lack of connection to the outside world.

While I enjoyed being disconnected, I ran into a mother on the cruise that mentioned that her two teenage children were upset because there was no Facebook on the cruise. I felt bad for the children, however I think this is a perfect opportunity for them to learn the skill of socializing and exercise their verbal communication skills. Another mother gave in and paid for the wifi connection on the boat. We later ran into her and she was complaining that the children used up $89 of Internet in less than two days.

Overall I learned a valuable lesson of being disconnected. It gives me time to reflect and assess what’s going on with my life. It is bittersweet that I’m blogging in a waiting area at the Orlando International airport waiting for my flight. New experience always brings about new learning. I suggest you unplug on your next vacation.