Sunday, September 28, 2008

Top dog plays second fiddle

I’ve gotten used to being the best at what I do. Although it wasn’t always that way, numerous events in my life have taught me that I am top dog material. I aced debates, killed the opposition in negotiations and even landed a job nobody thought possible.

Fast forward several years and I’m still with the job nobody taught I would get. Some even marvel at me for being in the position I am. I’ve set benchmarks among my peers and raised the bar for all coming after me.

Being top dog for so long, I’ve begun to think that I’m still up there and that everything would come easy. After all I’ve always been quick on my feet and nailed it whenever I needed to.

Things aren’t quite the same today. I find myself in a situation where the top dog status is the general accepted standard to be where I am. Things don’t come easy anymore and competition is stiff. It’s a whole different ballgame and frankly, I’m feeling myself slip.

I’ve pondered upon this quandary I find myself in and the more I think of it, the more reasons I deduce to explain my loss of form. Maybe the competition is better, or maybe they just don’t get me. Maybe I’m just slacking abit more than the next and I need to pick up the pace. Or maybe I’m not ready for this - too much too soon? Or has the pressure to be on top gotten to me?

I’m sure all these reasons and some others are true in some quantum or another. I’m also certain that a noteworthy portion of how I now feel is down to just that – a feeling. It could well be that I’ve got it all mixed up in my head.

But not till just minutes ago (just before I begun writing this account) had I realized one of the key reasons why I find myself feeling this way.


Over the last few months, I’ve found myself trying to make a stronger stance at where I work. I wanted to make my presence felt and I wanted to build a reputation of being the guy who plays hardball. The kinda person who knows how to get everything he needs and keeps everyone in check and on track. In the process of creating – or perhaps retrieving – this persona, it is more than likely that I have made some less-than-friends in the process.

Take my boss for instance. I got mad at him last week I gave him such a candid answer he wasn’t ready to hear it. Sure he’s trying to pin the blame on me for something that did work out as a result of his miscommunication but I took it one step too far and made my resentment for this vocal. Similarly my can’t-get-to-the-point, Ms perfect teammate has been getting some straight talk (and walk) from me. Even my emails are missing the friendly “hi” and lacks the care that I used to treat them with. As a result, I think they’re throwing curve balls my way – effectively missing me in the process and striking the target beyond me.

The game has changed. The environment calls for smarter (as opposed to stronger) approaches to dealing with people and problem. More thought needs to go into every action. More care into every conversation. Less arrogance; more sincerity. Time to be the me I’d want to work and play with. Not the one I’d want to bury.

Until then, top dog is just average Joe.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Up in a puff of smoke

It's more than easy to lose your cool. Someone just needs to push your right buttons and you could explode in a cloud of smoke. It's worse if it's someone you care about who's keying in your detonation sequence.

I watched helplessly as I witnessed this today. The issue was trivial at worst and wouldn't ordinarily warrant an outburst. It got me thinking about why we crack up. At the risk of sounding cavalier, I think one critical but often ignored factor is focus.

I think it's more than easy to blow up when we're focused on the aggressor and what he or she is saying and doing to you. However, if we directed our energy on the big picture and saw the larger scheme of things, the might-have-been blow up might just seem plain silly.

Imagine someone tells you that you're draining all the resources. You know for a fact that you're not the one doing it. What do you do? It's easy to get upset and possibly retliate or rebut the statement angrily. But hold on - is that the real reason the comment was made? It's conceivable that in that fiery moment, you were more concerned about what was said "against" you and you responded to the act and not the substance. Focus as we know it, was lost.

So I think it's difficult to stay focused in less-than-perfect situations. But then again, it's easy to get angry. But remember, a 5 year old can get mad. Shouldn't we be better than that?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

An honest answer isn't the right answer

Sometimes an straight to your face response isn't the right thing to do. You could insult someone, destroy your career or even mess yourself up in the process.

A flashback to an earlier post on priorities quickly reveals that what was a candid, spur of the moment reaction, isn't an accurate reflection of reality. Honest but incorrect. A list of priorities were listed, but the order was in no order at all. It read:

2.The significant other

The last few weeks have thought me that priority number 1 - career - is nowhere near to being no 1. It can break at anytime, it can stab me in the back, or it can suck the life out of me. No, it's certainly out of order.

I cannot distinguish between the significant other and the family. I think they're tied at the same 2nd spot.

Health is important because without it, the other priorities will crumble. Wealth follows, because in the modern world you need to have resources to survive and live comfortably. Sure money doesn't buy happiness, but if you have it, it's a heck of a lot easier to be happy.

Somewhere in the Bible is says, "He who is first will be made last" and although career isn't a he, it tumbles down the pecking order. And bringing up the rear end, are friends. My friends.

It's extremely important to highlight that being at the bottom of this list doesn't suggest unimportance or insignificance. To say that solid friendships are not important would be utterly foolish. Everything I've listed has and will have a place in my life no matter where it is on the list. But when choices need to happen, priorities based on what's important kicks in.

This therefore leads to a revamped list.

2.The significant other

Things change. Embrace it.

Start a routine

Deep down inside, we all know what’s good for us. But more often than not our tendencies to react to the world around us affect our better judgment – often resulting in outcomes we wouldn’t ordinarily desire.

Much in the same way, we all know what to do. But often is the case that we shun this knowledge for random acts of disarray. Some acts are more obvious than others, but ultimately our unwillingness to stand up and demonstrate self-leadership often leads us to take a back seat and let someone else take the wheel.

I am no exception.

I often find myself doing things I didn’t really want to do. I often find myself taking actions that are really soft-actions; actions that put off the real action that needs to happen. It’s so easy to get distracted. I’d need to get a project plan done for instance, but instead the phone might right, or a new email pops up or I hear a nice song that I just want to “savor” the moment. Sometimes it’s worse, sometimes I simply sabotage myself.

A soft-action. And then another. And another.

Over time, allowing one’s self to be driven by external influences manifests itself into the very fiber of our programming. Eventually the distractions from the forces around us seep into our subconscious mind. It becomes so powerful that sometimes the forces aren’t external. They come from within.

It is probably important to rewrite the code that has long taken up residence but truth be told, I don’t know how.

Or do I?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tribute to Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch passed on today at the age of 47. He had a wonderful message and so many got to experience because he made a choice to be positive at a time when his world was closing in on him.

I haven't see the full length lecture. But this 10 minute version on Oprah says alot to me. I hope it'll speak to you too.

Friday, July 25, 2008

When the light isn't bright, it's still there

I presume ants can't see. And like ants heading towards their next food source, we are all often guilty of going about our narrow pathways towards the little invisible goals we set for ourselves.

Take for example an aspiring mummy pleaser. He'll do is do everything he can to prove to his mother that he can be a success in life. He'll take two jobs, pretend to be intellectual but in the end all he's looking forward to is her golden approval. He might think he knows what he's doing but does he?

Or take the obsessive housewife who's always busy cleaning up and making sure everything's in order. Does she really like things clean or is she just looking for the approval of someone else?

The examples may vary but the idea is quite simple. We all do things for some reason or another, think we do it for reason A but do it for reason B. And we often don't realise until something smacks us in the face.

Along the path of our feeble objective more often than not we'll get some sort of sign that tells us to slow down and reexamine what we're up to. I, like most who will read this will attest to this. And like the rest of you, I too am guilty of overlooking the signs. Then when the cookie crumbles or the back breaks, we'd say "why didn't I notice" or "I should have known better than that."

When I felt the stain a few days ago, I ignored it and went on to complete what I was doing. I didn't expect it to get worse - or rather I didn't bother to stop and consider the consequences of my actions. I just move on - and paid the price.

I'm still paying the price. And if Doc B is right, I will continue the installments for a long time to come.

For me, two good things came out of this. Firstly I very quickly learnt that I should consider the repercussion of my actions not only before embarking on it, but also in mid stream.

Secondly, I learnt to be positive and happy regardless. Hope for the best and expect the worse. What's already happened has already happened. Don't fret, just learn. Learning is something I'm learning to do again.

It's easy to imagine that everything's dark and there's no end in sight. But even when the light isn't bright, it's not to say that the light isn't there.

It is. Open your eyes and you'll see.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Matchbox 20s 3am is playing on my mind at this point in time. It's got lots to do with the fact that it's 3:40am and for some reason I can't sleep. The weather is rather warm tonight but not enough to cause problems. No explanation for the insomnia today.

I've got an early morning ahead of me and a long day that'll follow. The good news is that I'll be seeing her alot so the day will be miles better than it would without her presence. I don't know what it is about her, but she always knows how to extract happy me. And that too in more ways than one.