A great day – a lesson is learned

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Drive Chip and PuttJuly 16, 2015 today was a great day, for a lesson has been learned that will be important for years to come. My daughter Faith has been playing golf for three years now. Each year I observed that she made progress and her love for the game continues.

Two years ago, I saw the Drive Chip and Putt at the Masters on TV.   It consists of the best young golfers representing different parts of the US.   I mentioned that to my daughter and she said she wanted to give it a try.   We did and the first two years yielded tough lessons and heartbreak for her.   She knew that she has a long way to go to achieve her goal.   Last year we decided to change coaches. The objective was to find someone who could spend more time with her and help her develop her skills.   We were introduced by Faith’s friend mom to Coach Jun Espiritu.   He coaches at the PGA tour in Paramus.   Faith started to improve because she is learning the logic of the game. The game is not about hitting the ball around the course, but rather understanding how to adjust and maneuver through the situation presented. Dealing with the situation and making it happen.

Faith has been preparing for the Drive, Chip and Putt for a couple of months now. This journey started when, right after last years’ event, we changed to a new coach and the transformation started this year. Early this year she made it a goal to make the next round.   Last night she had a lesson with her coach. When I arrived from work, I asked her if her stuff was ready.  She checked her stuff and realized that her glove was missing.   We looked everywhere but could not find it.   We look through her old stuff and found an old pair, thinking she could use it on Thursday.

When we arrived at Galloping hills, we bought a bucket of balls and proceeded to warm up. After hitting about a dozen of shots, she complained her hand hurt. She took the glove off and there was a blister on one of her fingers. She said it was painful. I accompanied her to the club house to ask for a Band Aid and I decided to buy a new glove. She said the blister hurt and was bothering her.   I thought to myself, all this work came down to a blister that could potentially ruin it for her. I told her to take a deep breath. I reminded her that she worked hard to get here that she needed to block it out and dig deep. To be successful, at times we must work through adversity to know ourselves and what we can be capable of. She said she would give it a try. One of her drives was over 200 yards. Three skill challenges later, she was moving on to the next round. She was so happy to place 3rd overall at the local qualifier. She was 2nd in Driving and 3rd in Putting.   She learned a valuable lesson in dealing with adversity and learned that she is capable of achieving great things.

When a lesson is learned, it is always a great day. We’re so proud of our daughter. ⛳️

Being Positive

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Each morning when I would kiss my two daughters good bye, at the same time I would say be positive, do your best and I love you.   On numerous occasions, they would come downstairs arguing about something. I would take those opportunities to explain to them that it is important to start your day right by being positive. There is no point in arguing, thereby ruining your day.

Why do I encourage them to be positive?   I do so because I believe that if you have a positive frame of mind, you can think through a situation and come up with better solutions.   In addition, your interaction with other people will be pleasant and rewarding in terms of knowledge exchange.   Here are some of the reasons why it is important to be positive:

  • Being positive helps you make good and informative decisions because your brain is not clouded with negative thoughts and emotions.
  • Avoid situations in which you have to apologize for something you say while you were upset.   Remember that when you say hurtful things to others, it is like driving a nail through the wood, you can always pull out the nail by saying I’m sorry, but the scar will stay forever.
  • If you’re having a bad day, people who come your way do not deserve to be mistreated.
  • By focusing on the positive side of the equation, you can keep things in perspective.
  • By being positive, you can attract people who want to interact and work with you.   It can also improve your overall performance over time because people want to be around you.
  • When things go wrong, applying negative thought will not really improve your situation. Assess your situation and step back and figure out your way forward.
  • Opportunities can only be seen by those who are ready for them. If you’re upset, you’ll never see good in others, thereby missing the opportunity to connect with others.

While I’m saying positivity is important, I know that I’m human, that I will have good and bad days.   But my point is I try my best to take control of my emotion and actions to the best of my abilities.  I’m a realist, but I learn a lot through my mistakes. I also learned that I can only make matters worse by acting inappropriately. Therefore it is important for me to make the right decision amid challenges unfolding in front of me.

Writing is a labor of love, if you like my post share it with your friends. If you don’t agree, let me know your thoughts. I always look forward to learn new things or gain new knowledge.   Thank you for your time.

“ME” and “WE”

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The age of Internet advancement brought about the expectation of having everything you want on the same day or, at the latest, next day.   This is coupled with marketing campaigns by companies that focus on you being at the center of their attention.   This creates the “ME” syndrome.

The “ME” focus does not become an issue until the new generation reaches the workforce, or what I called the real world.   In the real world, we work on projects that require us to collaborate to get things done. At this point the focus shifts from “ME” to “WE”.  They often struggle to understand that the need to address the need of the collective “WE” is at times more important that their personal desire.

As a parent it is important to strike a balance in teaching our children that the world doesn’t revolve around them.   Letting them know that they cannot have everything they want is equally important.   Sometimes people think that experiencing rejection is not a good thing. I’m of the opinion that giving our children a false sense of getting everything they want would be a disservice to them. The reality in life is that you don’t always get what you want. In fact, you might not get what you want at all. In that case how will your children cope with that situation when they face it in real world? It is better to get them ready than that they be naïve and believe that the world is their oyster.

It is important that we assist our children in understanding the expectation of things to come.   Doing so will prepare them for what to expect when they step into the real world.   Team play is key to their success.   By learning that early on they will increase their chance to succeed.

Entitlement

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entitlement-cartoonpicture courtesy of garyvarvel.com

In Merriam-Webster, entitlement is defined as the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something. Or, belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges.   When I was growing up, my father told me that there is no work that is beneath me, that I should always be eager to take on any work and put in my best effort to get it done.

Over the last 24 years, I took on work that I didn’t like, but did the work with a smile and got it done.   I always put the team/firm’s best interest first and understood that sometimes someone needs to do the work that no one likes but gets the work done.   I look at it as taking one for the team.   I’m willing to wait my turn and let others take better assignments.   I took my father’s advice to heart and waited to earn my keep.

As I moved up the management ranks and the Gen Y entered the workforce, I observed that they have a sense of entitlement. They know what they want and aren’t shy in letting people know what they don’t want.   It creates a dilemma for people managing them because work that otherwise would be done will be left to more experienced folks to do because new employees have no interest of working their way up.   Is this the sign of the times? They grow up taking and when they enter the workforce, it is time to give. However, they are accustomed to taking and think that they should continue that behavior.   While some are still eager to work their way up, a good number of them just want to do things that they want.

Dr. Jean Twenge is the author of Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled and More Miserable Than Ever. Dr. Twenge of San Diego State University studied more than 16,400 students who took the Narcissistic Personality Inventory between 1982 and 2006. In 1982, only a third of the students scored above average on the test. Today that number is over 65%.     This trend is alarming because self-centeredness will affect our ability to keep a competitive advantage, because folks halfway around the world are willing to do the same work to earn their stripes and get paid much less to do it.   As a result, they gained the skills that could enable them to be more successful in the long run.

entitlement-problem

The age of technology advancement and the need to for instant gratification or what I call the “I want it NOW” mentality will prevent them from developing the skills they need to be well-rounded and better prepared for future opportunities.   In the past, everyone worked their way up.   With the new generation, where they want to pick and choose, it is becoming increasingly difficult to gain the foundational skills that are needed to enable them in the future.

When my daughter joined recreational sports a few years ago, I was surprised to see that everyone received a trophy at the end of the season.   If I remember correctly, they only won one game and lost eight.   In fact, my daughter was so upset each week as their opponent scored against them at will. 8-6, 4-2, etc. was the score of their opponents.   I told my daughter that what was important was the they were trying their best. However, receiving that trophy was not right as they really did not achieve anything.   It was hard for me to explain to my daughter; however, in the coming years she understood my point of view—akin to inflated grades to make children feel better, similar to mass promotion.

Gen Y’s need for affirmation and entitlement is spilling over to the work environment.   If this pattern continues, we will fall behind and other countries will take the lead in the marketplace.   We need to put entitlement into context and make sure they learn that they can be entitled to something only if they earn the credit by doing the work.   It is a stark reminder that they need to work their way up.     It’s leaders’ jobs to make sure that we educate the future leaders.   If we want to succeed, rebaselining of their understanding is an important step in heading the right direction.

I do understand that this topic is a bit controversial, but if I don’t talk about it and raise awareness, I’m not doing the right thing. The question to ask is: Do I want to face the alternative that we will lose our competitive advantage? My answer is an emphatic “NO”.   Let me know what you think.   I’ll end my post with this quote by Earl Nightingale, “We will receive not what we idly wish for but what we justly earn. Our rewards will always be in exact proportion to our service.

 

Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

Have you faced a situation in which you’re offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?  What would you do?  What’s goes through your mind?  What’s your decision-making process?   As I reflect on this, I’m often reminded of the decision that I made to accept an offer to work in Singapore back in 1992.   Back then, I was really happy with my job as team leader managing 6 developers and going to my dream university pursuing my MBA.   I was contented and satisfied with my progress of my career and looked forward to finishing graduate school.   I was not ready for change, but the factors that helped me decide to pursue the opportunity were my desire to gain international exposure. I made the decision and moved forward and never looked back, I felt blessed that I was offered that opportunity that forever changed my life.When I started my career in Information Technology, I was amazed by the intelligence level of the people that I worked with.   They were fast learners and I felt that I was falling behind.  I decided that if I would like to keep pace with everyone, I must do something different than what I’d been doing in the past.  In this case, I decided to invest more time in learning.  That would mean staying late and working nights and weekends.    But over a course of 1 ½ years, I noticed that I was keeping pace and making good progress.   I realized that to differentiate yourself, you have to do something different than everyone else.   In my case, that was time investment and upfront sacrifices like not hanging out with friends and being proactive by volunteering to do extra projects.

whale shark

whale shark

While on recent trip to Cebu, Philippines attending a family reunion and celebrating my father-in-law’s 88th birthday—God Bless the man, he is still sharp and active—we took a side trip to a place called Oslob.   The place is known for its whale shark.   I was particularly nervous because I never associate the word shark with anything good.  Growing up I had nightmares after watching Jaws for many months.   We arrived at the place.  We the attended the briefing then the tour guide provided us with our life vests.   I was on the boat and as it went farther out to sea I was getting nervous.   My wife (Jane) and two daughters as well as my wife’s nephew and cousin were with us on the boat.    A few minutes into the boat ride, I started seeing the whale sharks in the blue water.    Jane’s nephew and cousin jumped in the water.  My daughters declared that they wanted to join them.  Off they went. Then there was me, sitting and staring at Jane.  She asked me, “Are you going in?” My answer was, “I’m not sure I want to.”    She said, “You’re here already, why not give it a try?     I thought about it for about a minute and thought this could be the only time we do this, so I proceed to get in the water.   I knew this was one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.    How many people can say that they swam with the whale shark?  Not that many, so I thought that I should seize the moment and just enjoy the moment.  Seeing the faces of my two girls and the joy that the experience gave them is priceless.

In life, sometimes we are faced with these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities in which we need to make a decisive or quick decision that can alter the rest of our life.  It is important to note that we need to step back and assess the situation accordingly.  The key is not to dismiss the opportunity outright because we are afraid of change, because you might never have that opportunity again.   In your career, it is best to seek growth opportunity by learning something new.  By doing so, you will be well equipped and prepared when the opportunity presents itself.  It is better to be prepared and miss out on an opportunity because you were not selected than to miss an opportunity because you did not have the requisite skills.  My once-in-a-lifetime opportunity opened new doors for me and I could never image what life would be if I did not take the first step and take a calculated risk.   I suggest that you be ready for whatever comes your way and seize the moment by making it happen.

Finding Happiness

Will Lukang, CSM, PMP, CLDC

Finding HappinessIn Merriam Webster happiness is defined as a state of wellbeing and contentment, or a pleasurable or satisfying experience.     When I think of happiness, this quote comes to mind,

Happiness is always a by-product.  It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular.  But it is not something that can be demanded from life, and if you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness. 

~Robertson Davies

 

When I think of happiness, it is relative to a person’s circumstances, time and state of mind.   It also varies from one person to another.   Some people find happiness through material things. Other finds happiness through helping others.  When I was growing up, I was happy when I spent time at my parents’ convenience store, because I got to interact with the folks who buy stuff from us and the workers at the market.  I also found happiness drawing and creating posters for use at school because it was a means for self-expression.

As you go through life, what makes you happy changes; it is indeed relative to a point in time or phase of your life.  I find that sometimes we kind of live our life backwards.  We work to earn more money and accumulate stuff to make us happy.  However, it is better to find your true calling and then express your passion to achieve your goal.   As I ponder this topic, I can’t help but think of what matters to us the most.   I viewed that health is important and being healthy should make us happy because it enables us to do what we want.

I view a happy person as someone who can enjoy a journey with unexpected stops, but enjoy the scenery as he/she passes through.   I’m often reminded that I need to put my expectations in perspective.  The last time I served at St. Martin’s soup kitchen it reminded me that other people are facing problems; that a gift of a meal brings joy to them.   It is a humbling experience that made me come back to keep me grounded.

As I reflect on this topic, I can’t help but think that there are people who find tremendous happiness in making others happy in spite of the grief that they themselves are going through.   They put others’ welfare ahead of theirs.  Mother Teresa is an inspiration for what she did.  She dedicated her life to help the poor people.  She founded the Missionaries of Charity with the objective of providing free service to the poorest of the poor.

These days, I’m happy when I spend time with my two daughters and wife.   I’m thankful for the opportunity to be part of their activities and lying down and sharing stories with my daughters.   I believe in doing random acts of kindness.   A simple thank you goes a long way to putting a smile on people’s faces.   Each day I count my blessings and avoid falling in the trap of complaining.   Because I always remind myself that other people are going through tougher challenges than I am.

I’d like to close this post with this:

The happy have whole days,
and those they choose.
The unhappy have but hours,
and those they lose.
~Colley Cibber

May you find happiness in the little things in life like taking a walk in the park.  May you seize the moment and make the most of your opportunity.  As my friend Judy says, “She believes that truly happy people are the ones who are thankful for what they have.”

A journey to remember

Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, CLDC

Believing in my team

In the fall of 2012, my nine year old daughter decided that she wants to join St. Elizabeth 4th grade girls basketball team.    I recognized that this would give me an opportunity to be part of her activity so I volunteered as an assistant coach.

A few weeks before the season started, I received a phone call from the commissioner of our school that our team did not have a coach.   He suggested that I think about volunteering as the head coach.   I was not sure I was up for the challenge.   I spoke to my daughter and asked her if she really wanted to play basketball.   My thought process was, if I can convince her not to join, then I’m off the hook.  But she insisted that she wanted to play and urged me to coach the team.    That night I pondered on the responsibility as a head coach and its demand.   As it is, my work demand is high, but then I still want to be part of my daughter’s activity.     In my mind, I did not want to miss out on the opportunity.

During the next two weeks, I worked on my schedule and tried to move things around so I could be available.  I gave the commissioner a call and informed him of my decision to coach my daughter’s team.    That night I was left wondering if I have what it takes to coach the 4th grade girls basketball team.   I used to play basketball, but the last time I played was about 15 years ago.   The last time I coached a team was back when I was a senior in high school coaching the freshman team.

Over the next few weeks, I prepared for the upcoming season by reading books, practicing and watching videos.   I realized that I was putting in a lot of time and effort.   As always, I never do things halfway.  If I decide to do something, I often put in 100% effort and try my best.  That’s how my father taught me growing up.  You need to always try your best.  The outcome might not be what you expected, but as long as you tried your very best and put in your best effort, that was good enough for him.   It is the same values that I passed along to my daughters.   A great addition to my team was the daughter of my former co-worker, who offered to help me coach my team.

I was anxious about our first practice.   I started the session by asking the girls why they wanted to play basketball.   Each of them gave me their reason and I gave them my objective for coaching the team.   My focus for the practice was learning the fundamentals, teamwork, sportsmanship, trusting one another and having fun playing the game.

Our first game was against St. Anthony.  When we walked in the gym, I was surprised to see the girls on the other team were a lot taller than the girls on my team.    I kept my composure and focused on our game.  I knew, if we played our game and focused our defense, we had a chance to win the game.  The first game went really well and we won the game.   We also taught the girls sportsmanship by stopping from scoring once our lead was over a dozen points.  It was a hard concept for them to understand, but in the end they understood why it is important for us to respect our opponent.

Over the next few games, the team learned to work through adversity and won a couple of close games.   Before we knew it, we had won five games in a row.    Some folks approached me and congratulated me for a job well done, but I kept on saying that it was the team that did all the work.  I often attributed our success to the team’s commitment to teamwork.    I also found out that there were some reservations that this team might not do well this season.    From my perspective, there was no doubt that my team was capable of winning games, because of their commitment to learn and work hard at all times.

We closed the season with a loss, but that loss taught us a valuable lesson, that we need to play the entire game and we cannot just show up the second half.  We lost by a point.  I told the team that I was proud of them for coming out and playing well the second half.     The team remained hungry and eager to prove themselves.

We won our semi-final game and went on to play in the championship.   In the championship game, we faced the same team that we played three close games during the season.   We won all three games, but I emphasized to my team that we could not take them lightly.  Before the start of the game, I told the girls that I was so proud of them for working hard all year and they should enjoy this game.   I told them that I believed in them and that we needed to leave everything on the court and be aggressive. I stressed that we needed to come out strong and played our game.   We led the first half, but then they came back and led by 4 points with less than 3 minutes to go.   We were out of sync.   I called a couple of timeouts and during each one of the timeouts I told them that I believed in them that we could come back from the deficit.    I reiterated that I believed in them and did they believe in themselves.   They responded “YES.”  We proceeded to score a three-point play, then another basket that gave us the lead.    We won the game by a point.   The girls were so happy and everyone came running onto the court.

I was so happy for the girls.  They played hard and came back to win the game.   This win demonstrated that with hard work, dedication and commitment we can overcome all obstacles.   I told them that I’m really proud of them.     During the awarding ceremony, I thanked the host of the event, our opponent, AOL, who played four great games, the parents for their commitment, my assistant coaches for their contributions, and my players for working hard all season.   We completed a magical season in which we compiled an 11-1 record.

Here is my lesson learned:

  • Be patient – Patience is the most important virtue.   By stepping back and learning to listen to them, I was able to help them learn the fundamentals of basketball and enjoy it in the process.
  • Believe in them – I never doubted my team’s capabilities.  From day one, I knew that with proper coaching and support my team’s capability was unlimited.    I saw the joy in their eyes whenever they came to practice and played the game.
  • Work hard – There were days in which I felt like I was working two jobs.  I put in 100% at work then came home and worked on the lessons and plays for my team.
  • Never give up – My personal approach applies to my team.  I never gave up on them and continued to encourage them to try their best until the time runs out.  This resulted in winning 6 close games, five of which we came from behind to win.   Affirming that I believed in them was the first step in accomplishing our goal.
  • Keeping my composure – Throughout the season I kept my composure and never showed that I was worried.   I kept on encouraging my team to work through it and never waver.
  • Apply effective feedback – Whenever they made a mistake, I often encouraged them to reset and forget the mistake and focus on the next play or shot.    When a player was not playing well, I provided encouragement and engaged them in a one-on-one dialogue.

I’m truly thankful for the coaching opportunity.  I’m so glad that I took this opportunity.  I spent time with my daughter and formed a bond and shared an experience that we will share for a lifetime.    I will always remember this experience.    It reinforced my belief that I always have to seize the moment and make the most of the opportunity.   Go Crusaders!