Thursday, June 5, 2014

Forgiveness: Who Makes the First Move?

Is love having to "never say you're sorry"? Absolutely not! In fact, real love involves saying sorry many times - but the problem is this : Who should make the first move?

When my wife and I get into a tiff, my immediate focus is on her offense and my response then becomes conditional i.e. "I will acknowledge my wrong if she say sorry first!" Why is REJECTION the opposite of FORGIVENESS? When I choose not to forgive, I am actually consciously rejecting the person in my spirit. Our relational ties are now severed. From now on, we are on separate paths. If left unattended, it seethes into anger - fermenting into a stronghold of bitterness in the heart.

Let's get back to the question - "Who should say sorry first?It is the one who has the greater responsibility. That's why when a grave error is committed by an employee, it is the management that must answer for it. When my daughter commits an offense, I am responsible to step up. This is not to say that my daughter should not say sorry at all - the principle is this : when the one in authority (greater responsibility and maturity) ask for FORGIVENESS, the effect is greater felt. So, when I get into a tiff with the wife - you guess it - I am the one to take the first step towards reconciliation because I am the initiator in our relationship and I as the husband has the greater responsibility to lead in the family.

Asking for FORGIVENESS is not "losing face", it is actually "loosing" your face for a deeper joy ahead! There is no one happier than one whose heart is not burdened by the pain of bitterness.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It's Not About You!

 There is no significant life purpose without ministry and service to others. While salary may be a keen motivator at the start of your career, the factor of significance comes into play when we reach a stage of maturity and we ask this philosophical question - "Is there more to life than this?" The answer is "Yes" - but the "life" in focus here involves more than just your own life. Reality is that this life is not really about us. There is a bigger picture.

Click Here to listen to the full radio interview. This is the final part of a four series interview at BFM entitled "Discovering Your Life Purpose"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Responsibility before Reward

In most interview situations, there is inevitably the question of - "How much do I get?" As an interviewer, if I hear the issue of reward being mentioned before scope of responsibility, then I will be extra careful in hiring the individual. Reward is the by-product of responsibility and if reward is kept at the forefront of one's action, then greed and selfish ambition overtakes expression of good character.

RESPONSIBILITY is defined as knowing and doing what is expected of me.
(Definition from

A RESPONSIBLE person can be counted upon not only to complete a task but also to own up should there be a mistake and be accountable to take any necessary action to address the gaps.

One characteristic of an unreliable person is the inability to keep commitments. A RESPONSIBLE person is not concern with the "prestige" of the job as much as the diligence needed to successfully complete the task. That is why a RESPONSIBLE person is creating for himself or herself future opportunities for success. If the current task is done well, then people can trust us for subsequent assignments.

For more information on how to train for character :

Vision, Values and Valor

It is one thing to know your strengths but quite another to be applying it in a team situation where there is a conflict of values. How then does the strengths-based philosophy work positively in a negatively-charged situation? Here is where we need to go beyond self-awareness and begin to wrestle with the dynamics of vision-value interaction. Unless, we have a mechanism to address potential mismatch of vision and values, then each person's strengths would be displayed in a raw, unproductive manner.

The Conviction of Vision
Values such as recognition, passion, control, justice and knowledge ranks differently with different individuals. Hence, just depending on values alone to drive a team or an organization is an idealistic scenario. Here is where the act of "vision casting" comes in. The synergistic demonstration of individual strengths within a diverse employee base can only gain traction when the leadership steps up to the plate and declare what is "true north" for the organization. While the individual employee needs the clarity of strengths, the leader has the added responsibility of communicating the conviction of a motivating vision. When the vision is crystal clear, individual demonstration of strengths adjusts to accommodate various nuances and "irritations". In the absence of a noble vision, the default mode is one of self-centered "empire building". That is why the most obvious symptom of a distracted organization is strong personalities without strong leadership. Therefore, strengths in and of itself do not resolve conflicts, it requires the conviction of a common vision to direct a matured expression of strengths.

The Correlation of Values
Once the vision has been set, the following task is to correlate values for team chemistry. Managers often fall into the common practice of hiring based on competencies alone while neglecting the potential team chemistry mix. This matter is further compounded by the fact that strengths is values-neutral. So then, how do you identify and ensure you have the right "values mix" that results in chemistry and minimizes unnecessary conflicts?
The right time to take a "chemistry snapshot" of your team is when there is a crisis or challenge. Someone once said that despite the terror of war, it brings out the best and worst in an individual. When the going gets tough, do you know who are the tough ones that keep going and what are the values which hold them together? While strengths is a great way to identify potential, the leader must also be alert to the surfacing of values during moments of crisis. Challenging situations provide an excellent backdrop for the expression of both values and strengths and the wise leader is someone who is not so caught up with the "noise"of the conflict until he misses out on identifying the underlying values.
So, what if there is a mis-correlation of values? What's next?

The Call for Valor
While the vision stays constant, the manager need to keep abreast with the "values mix" of the team. In other words, the manager is someone who looks out for moments of courageous conversations with the following possible outcomes :
(1) Job enlargement - getting someone to do more of what she enjoys doing.
(2) Job enrichment - getting someone to incorporate more varied tasks and responsibilities.
(3) Job exploration - getting an entirely new position.
As an effective manager, meaningful conversations with the employee should not start and end with the job interview. In fact, the richness of the conversation should grow in tandem with the one's career. Vision casting and values correlation are two critical leadership mindsets that form a fertile backdrop in creating an effective strengths-based culture.
While actualizing one's strengths reinforce self-awareness, the practice of leadership requires vision and valor. In moments of team conflicts, we need individuals of courage who gives direction and demonstrate inspiring examples to foster matured expression of strengths.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Significance of Seasons

At the start of this new year, there may be a tendency of rushing head long into crafting a set of motivating goals. Although coming up with such a list helps, it may lack the deep roots of what it takes to gain traction and momentum.

It is not just about being fruitful but to be fruitful in the right season. I may have a list of right things to do but if it is executed in the wrong season, the returns and depth will leave much to be desired. The picture of being fruitful comes into play - just as I ought to be wise in sowing and reaping in the right season, so it shall be with my goal setting process as well.

Here are a few "seasonal" questions to reflect on even before you set your goals for this year :

  1. My life season - What are my legacy priorities? In anticipation of my days ahead, what is truly important? I cannot afford to be involved with everything that comes my way because the factor of significance becomes more important than material success.
  2. My skills season - What stage of growth and personal development am I in? Instead of taking on something completely new, why not develop myself in an extended area based on what I am already good at? For example, if I have been working on my training skills, why not consider extending that to incorporate coaching skills as well?
  3. My influence season - Who are those under my direct supervision and guidance? Sometimes my goals can be so lofty i.e. "I-want-to-change-the-world-but-I-don't-know-my-neighbor's-name". The most obvious example is my season of parenting - growing teenagers require a different set of parenting approach compared with gnawing toddlers. 

 So, reflect upon your life, skills and influence seasons as foundational considerations before writing down your checklist of goals. In that way, you will gain traction (and not tiredness) when the rubber meets the road.