Thursday, September 30, 2010

Your First Times

Our first encounters with anything are usually memorable.

Ask yourself if you can still remember these ‘firsts’ in your life:

- Your first interview?
- Your first speech?
- Your first drive?
- Your first flight?
- Your first fight?
- Your first kiss?

Of course you do!

The thrill of doing something you have never done before mixed with the fear of the unknown makes these insignificant events memorable and even life-shaping.

However, after these things have been done repeatedly for a while, the fire burns out and the thrills and excitement experienced earlier disappear. Boredom sets in and it becomes a routine and nothing more.

This is, of course, simply a natural progression.

When a young person just starts out, everything is new to him. He therefore explores, with great curiosity, this world that he is just getting to know. Everything he sees and touches is new, fresh and novel. He tries out everything passionately yet clumsily.

As time passes, the things that were once new and exotic to him, start repeating themselves. As he repeatedly experiences the same things, he soon finds that the experiences that once gave him a tingling in the stomach are no longer exciting for him.

His passion turns into robotic calm as he goes about doing the once-exciting things which he now calls 'daily chores'. He does them as he MUST do them for whatever reason it may be. It might be to put food on the table, to honour the marital vow he pledged or to bring up the children that he has brought into this world.

He laughs at all the funny scenes on the television, but he is not capable of doing so on his own. He never really laughs a hearty laugh as a result of his own fulfilment or contentment of life. All his laughter is triggered by something external.

As he goes about living his life in absolute precision and predictability, he becomes quite skilful at what he does. From initially shivering and barely able to speak during a public presentation, he now speaks fluently and comfortably, regardless of the size of the crowd.

From being absolutely fearful of approaching strangers in a shopping mall to close a sale, he now understands exactly what to do in order to stop an uninterested passer-by dead in their tracks.

From having absolutely no knowledge about child rearing, he has now become the quintessential 'expert-father', specialising in all areas of parenting - feeding, changing diaper, speech therapy, medical care, etc.

Repetition always brings two attributes - one is positive while the other is negative. The positive one is expertise and the negative one is boredom.

To do something really well, we must do it over and over again so that our minds become conditioned in such a way to execute precision. When we reach a stage like this, we become 'experts'.

The first time we do something, however, is when we take it the most seriously and tackle it with excitement. This is actually when we are at our best - we are, at this point, the most alert, observant, humble, open, and willing to adapt and change in order to successfully complete the task.

Now, think about this: What if we combined the two attributes, excitement and expertise, in whatever we did? Wouldn’t we then have the best of both worlds - 'passion' as well as 'expertise' – the two most important qualities for success?

I once read a story that went like this:

A man had inherited a small drugstore business from his father, but he was getting really tired of running it. He opened his little shops in the morning, closed them at night, and repeated the same thing over and over again for years and years.

He was very good at what he did but he was bored to death. He kept thinking, "It is so meaningless to do this 'same old, same old', day in, day out."

Just when he had decided that he should just give up on his business, he suddenly had another thought, "Why don't I try to build the largest pharmacy chain in the world?"

It was a simple yet powerful thought, one that redefined the pharmaceutical retail landscape in the United States.

He plunged into the same game again, but this time, he did so with an absolute passion, the same enthusiasm which brought initial success to his grandfather and father before him. Not only that, he used all of the knowledge and expertise that he had gained over the previous years.

He was now playing the business game at his best. He had the passion of a starter and the skills and expertise of a veteran.

The result - the creation of the largest drugstore chain in the world, Walgreens, with a vast network of 7541 stores spread across the United States alone!

So let me repeat - combine a child-like enthusiasm and laser sharp acumen and expertise in your quest for success. You will get there sooner than you think!

“Life is about constantly going beyond limits!”
- Erican Chong

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Importance of Unity


It can be next to impossible for any one individual to accomplish something grand and epic. However, collectively, there is little we cannot do.

Behind all the big names that have dazzled us in the world today, very few are the work of just one man or woman. Behind each and every legendary name or brand, there is most often a group of people working together – in absolute unity.

The great achievers that we know of are seldom loners. There are, of course, genius artists and scientists like Picaso, Eisntein, JK Rowling. These rare individuals may indeed have worked entirely on their own and achieve great success.

However, in the world of business, where products must be manufactured and services rendered, it is a near impossibility to do this.

There are legendary names in every industry. However, the people who have established themselves in their respective industries are almost universally those who were able to attract a group of people to believe in their vision and cause. In short, they were able to unite people.

Why is this so important? Simple - Unity is the only formula for success in business!

A machine is comprised of many parts and components, bolts and nuts. These items are meaningless if they all exist in isolation.

These items, each and every one of them, are essential for the larger machine to function effectively. If one small item is missing or unable to perform, the smooth running of that large machine can be affected; it will likely even break down entirely.

However, when all the items are happy and work together harmoniously, great productivity can be achieved.

It does not matter how great each bolt or nut is, what is most important is the greatness of the collective outcome which is produced.

In an organisation, there is no room for individualism or heroism.

Imagine if everybody in a business simply tried to outshine and outdo one another. Imagine if, in order to achieve this personal objective and agenda, some even resort to measures that are destructive for the whole organisation. You can just imagine the chaos and confusion that would be produced!

The best choir in the world is not the one which has the best solo singers; it is the one which has the best collective singing. Imagine if you had a group of egotistical solo singers who kept trying to 'out-sing' everyone else!

To achieve a superb performance, you must have singers who are willing to act as supporting singers - who will harmonise in the background with an absolute focus on achieving a common interest, and not act in self-interest for glorification.

Imagine if you have a team of football players who do not care about the overall good of the team but are only concerned if they themselves can score that goal? Can you imagine if everybody is trying to be the one who scores the winning goal, and for that reason, nobody passes the ball to anybody else?

If we want to achieve personal success, we need to first achieve collective success.

As employees, we can only be successful if the organisation we work in is successful. Similarly, if you are a business owner, you can only be successful if your employees are successful.

There are NO two ways about it.

Unity is most important for success, be it for an organisation or a country.

And if you want to be more successful in life, learn this one thing - leadership. For without leadership there will be no unity.

Leadership brings unity, and ultimately, success.

“Life is about constantly going beyond limits!”
- Erican Chong

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Those Busy Children


In this modern world that we live in today, everybody is busy. From children to housewives, workers to professionals, chief executive officers to entrepreneurs, every modern soul multi-tasks in so many ways.

It is not difficult to understand why adults are busy.

But busy children?

The children of today are not like those during our times. These are busy little people. Due to the intense academic competition that exists, children nowadays must learn much more and much faster than their parents and grandparents.

Modern parents understand that in order for their children to excel in this world, they need skills and knowledge; the more skills and knowledge that they can possess, the better of a position they are in to compete with their peers.

These parents understand that the world is a gigantic rat race. You do not join the rat race only after you leave school and start working; you do so way before that - it starts way back in elementary school.

In order to realize your vision of getting accepted to your dream university, and hence achieving your dream career, you must outdo all the competition along the way, year after year.

It is therefore not an uncommon sight to see children moving from one learning centre to another after school in the quest for more knowledge and skills in order to remain competitive.

From English enhancement to mental arithmetic, ballet to piano, computer to right brain training, the children of today are bombarded by tons of learning activities.

Is this 'right' or is it 'wrong'?

Well, it is not about what 'right' or 'wrong'. It is about the necessity to stay competitive and the ability to adapt to the requirements of the 21st century.

You don't get to choose when to be born, you simply find yourself here at this time and in this age. The fact is that you DO exist at a time like this, and you must adapt to the demands of what this era poses. It is a game defined by the rule 'survival of the fittest'.

I am a firm believer in the value of learning. In fact, I hold strongly to the concept of life long learning, be it for adults or children. I believe that as long as you still breathe, then you must still learn. Learning should only stop when life ceases.

Lazy people always fear learning. In fact, they fear any form of learning and frown whenever the word 'learning' is ever mentioned. Because they are lazy, they associate pain with learning and assume that learning of any sort is painful and sad.

Therefore, when these lazy people become parents of their own children, they often think that if they insist that their children learn different skills, it must be painful for their children. And because they frown so much when the word 'learning' is mentioned, their children also pick up the same habit.

These children do not only frown, they cry when they hear the word 'learn' and refuse to learn anything that could potentially add value to their future. A self-fulfilling prophecy in action!

Who says learning is necessarily painful? Why can it not be fun?

I always challenge the lazy buggers who work so hard at trying to convince the world that since they won't learn, the world shouldn't either.

Let's not confine our children just because our own world is confined!

Let's give our children all the necessary tools so that they can be at their best and be properly equipped when they grow up.

Let's say 'yes' to giving our children the best education and the best learning opportunities whenever and wherever possible!

“Life is about constantly going beyond limits!”
- Erican Chong

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


The world's second richest man, Bill Gates, and his best friend and the third richest, Warren Buffett, used to be busily making money.

Now they are as focused on giving their fortunes away for charitable and humanitarian causes as they once were in making them.

And they have not stopped there - they are now encouraging their billionaire peers to do the same - to give away at least half of their wealth to charity.

The incredible thing is this - many of the richest people actually responded positively to this call. Collectively, they have created the largest philanthropic movement that the world has ever seen.

As a result of this campaign, forty of America’s billionaires have pledged to give more than half of their fortune to charity. These great people, besides Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, include CNN founder Ted Turner, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison and Hollywood director George Lucas.

The world is changing. Because of great men like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, many of the high-net-worth's are now inspired and taking a chance to rethink on how they can do more for humanity. The definition of philanthropy will soon change.

Most of us are certainly no billionaires, but are we exempted from giving just because we are not mega rich?

Not in the slightest.

Some people are very generous. Unfortunately, they are only generous toward themselves and not to others. They buy themselves expensive houses, posh cars, branded accessories, and wine and dine in the fanciest restaurants and hotels.

However, whenever these people are asked to help the less fortunate by donating in cash or kind, they become hesitant. Their spirit of generosity vanishes into the thin air; their meanness and miserliness raise their ugly heads.

I know someone just like that - this 'Dato' guy has a multi-million net worth, a huge mansion, a garage filled with exotic cars, watches that cost more than your Proton Sagas - but he will not give a cent when it comes to charity.

He says, "Why should I? It was not I who caused all these problems!"

Selfish! Selfish! Selfish!

One of the most attractive qualities a man or a woman can have is generosity - one that is not towards self but towards others.

Philanthropists are very 'sexy' people to me. I find them most appealing and attractive. They radiate charm that few people possess and few can resist. They are like magnets; wherever they go, they bring blessings and happiness to the people around them.

Yes, generosity makes you a more popular person. However, you do not need to be a big-time philanthropist to be liked. All you need to do is to try some of the following things:

- pay for a meal for someone else
- donate a small amount to the Kidney Foundation (or another such cause)
- help a friend in genuine need

When you are generous towards people, your love and care for them manifests itself.

Newton's Law applies - action and reaction. When you love people, people will love you in return.

And when people like you and love you, many possibilities can open up - you can make new friends, find a special someone or gain new business opportunities.

Your generosity needs not be limited to merely financial. Be generous to others in non-financial ways as well, like praising a subordinate who has done a good job, being forgiving to someone who has trespassed against you and showing sympathy to a friend who has suffered a misfortune.

If you want to be more successful than the current you, learn to be more generous to others.

The more generous you will certainly be a more successful you.

“Life is about constantly going beyond limits!”
- Erican Chong

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Your Priority List

To be successful we need to manage our lives effectively. And to manage our lives effectively, we need to manage our priorities effectively. Therefore, we need a list - a priority list.

What is a priority list? Simple put - it records all of your priorities. What is a priority? It is simply something which is important to you and therefore deserves your immediate attention.

Why do we need a priority list? That is because many people are confused between urgent matters and important matters.

The urgent matters are things that you need to attend to because the situation warrants it. These matters may or may not make a material difference in your quest for success. They are merely things that you feel compelled to do as there seems to be a tremendous sense of urgency.

The important things, however, may not seem to be urgent at all, but it is the effective completion (or lack of completion) of these things that will make you a success or a failure.

The pace of modern life is fast, so fast in fact that if our ancestors were alive today, they would be dumbfounded by the speed at which things are taking place. I am sure that even if geniuses like Newton and Einstein were still around, they would find it very difficult to adapt themselves to the breathtaking pace of the scientific and technological breakthroughs being made today.

Therefore, in the extremely fast paced environment like the one we live in, it is easy to get lost in all the hustle and bustle. When this happens, we can easily lose focus and may subsequently even lose out in the game. We must therefore have our priorities right. And to have our priorities right, we need a priority list.

Ask yourself these two questions:

1. What is your ultimate goal?
2. What do you think you need to do to make sure you achieve your ultimate goal?

Now that you have answered these two questions, do the following:

Get a blank piece of paper, pick up your pen, take a deep breath, count from one to three, and then start writing down all the things that you must do in order to achieve your vision. Continue to write without stopping for the next three minutes.

Done? Good.

Now take a look at your list. What you are looking at is a list of the important things that you must do in order to achieve your vision. And what you must do now is to do exactly what you listed in your priority list. Make sure you do not move on to the second item if the first one has not yet been acted upon.

You may be amazed at how much you may have to change in order to follow the list that you have drafted for yourself. You will be amazed that, while you have always known what would make you successful, how little you actually put these things into practice in your daily life.

However, if all the things on your list are the exact things that you do on a daily basis, I offer you my sincerest congratulations! I am very sure that you are already a very successful person, or at least satisfied with your current level of achievement.

By now you should understand why you are as successful as you are or why you are not as successful as you could have been. Success is not something complex. Do not complicate it. If you simply practice and follow what I taught you in this article, I can assure you - your success will be imminent.

“Life is about constantly going beyond limits!”
- Erican Chong