Category Archives: Learn

The Oath To Be Ethical

The title of the New York Times article immediately caught my attention:  A Promise To Be Ethical In An Era Of Immorality.

This was about Harvard Business School graduates taking a voluntary oath that says their purpose is “to serve the greater good” and that, among others, they will “act with utmost integrity and pursue my work in an ethical manner.”

I am very happy about this development.  We all know  that most of these Harvard biz graduates are going to be leaders of big companies and organizations in the future but the NY Times article also says only 20% of the class took the oath.  What about the rest?

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A Lesson From Peru

There is something that we can learn from here.

Long shot but not impossible. 🙂

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10,000 Hours = “Genius”

This is like an echo of what Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book, Outliers.  As I pointed out in an earlier post, Gladwell gave, as examples, Bill Gates, Bill Joy and the Beatles and how they put in 10,000 hours to succeed in what they do.

To quote part of this article by David Brooks in The NY Times:

It’s not I.Q., a generally bad predictor of success, even in realms like chess. Instead, it’s deliberate practice. Top performers spend more hours (many more hours) rigorously practicing their craft.

He also cites two books which I hope to read in the future: Daniel Coyle’s “The Talent Code” and Geoff Colvin’s “Talent Is Overrated”.  I read a review of the latter book in one issue of Fortune magazine last year.  Colvin wrote that what makes Tiger Woods a huge success is not innate talent but deliberate practice (and, according to Brooks,  a father intent on improving his skills).  He reportedly would put a golf ball in a sandtrap and practice from that spot for hours.

Brooks conclude this short article with this …

Public discussion is smitten by genetics and what we’re “hard-wired” to do. And it’s true that genes place a leash on our capacities. But the brain is also phenomenally plastic. We construct ourselves through behavior. As Coyle observes, it’s not who you are, it’s what you do.

So the first order of the day is to muster enough discipline to start the first hour towards building up to 10,000 hours.

Notes from Outliers, Part II – The Best and The Brightest

Gladwell says that “our notion that it is the best and the brightest who effortlessly rise to the top is much too simplistic.”  He insists it is the “big head start, an opportunity that they neither deserved nor earned” that played a critical role in these people’s success.

I couldn’t help but think about how this happens in schools where, year after year, the same people gets “annointed” to run for positions in the student government, who gets chosen to dance and/or sing in school activities, who gets selected by the teachers or department heads or deans to represent the school in interschool, regional or national contests.  The more times you are chosen, the more you are able to hone your skills and talents, the more you improve, the more successful you become.

As Gladwell pointed out, success is the result of what sociologists call “accumulative advantage” or what sociologist Robert Merton called the “Matthew Effect” (because of the part of the Gospel of Matthew that says “For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abudance. …”).

Notes from Outliers, Part 1

I’m so amazed by the theories of Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers so I’ve decided to journalize the points I think will help me (and others, hopefully) achieve what I want to do.  Truly, this book has changed in many many ways what I think about success and how people succeed.

The following paragraph best explains what this book is all about …

People don’t rise from nothing.  We do owe something to parentage and patronage.  The people who stand before kings may look like they did it all by themselves.  But in fact they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot.  It makes a difference where and when we grew up.  The culture we belong to and the legacies passed down by our forebears shape the patterns of our achievement in ways we cannot begin to imagine.  It’s not enough to ask what successful people are like, in other words.  It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.

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Get Going

I have always wanted to make a difference in the lives of others through teaching.  I’ve always wanted to be able to do something else aside from teaching as a means of living.

As far back as 20 years ago, I tried to offer to teach accounting for free to an orphanage but nothing came out of it.  A few years ago, I inquired about how I could teach reading to indigent kids.  Somebody from the government replied that I had to tie this up with a nutrition program which neither I nor the provincial government had extra money to do.

Why I failed to intensely pursue my dream or lost interest in working on it would be a rather long and complicated story. But this year, I hope to seriously put all my efforts to jumpstarting my dream.

Here are a few things that I must do, according to Zen Habits:

  1. Focus on the right goal.  If we have the wrong goal, we’ll never have the burning desire to achieve it.  Makes sense.
  2. Know that you can do it. I like the quotation in this post:  There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure. – David Deida
  3. Keep notes of success by others. This is how and where we draw inspiration and motivation.  If they can do it, we can, too!
  4. Find friends who have the same goals or mission. It’s important to have the right people to work with.  Like-minded friends can share the tasks and give each other encouragement.
  5. Make use of your reticular activating system (RAS). This is new to me so I still have to research on this.  Basically, it’s a system that allows us to “home in” on our goals and stay focused on them.

The Last Lecture

I’m making a pre-reading  (i.e. scanning) of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.  I became interested in this guy when I saw him on Oprah where they also showed a short video clip of him delivering his last lecture.  Randy died shortly after that.

I flipped through the book before buying it and I landed on this chapter that’s entitled “Start By Sitting Together”.  I’m quoting the relevant parts:

Being able to work well in a group is a vital and necessary skill in both the work world and in families.  …

(His) tips … Try for optimal meeting conditions. Meet over a meal if you can; food softens a meeting. Let everyone talk. Don’t finish someone’s sentences.  And talking louder or faster doesn’t make your idea any better.  Check egos at the door: When you discuss ideas, label them and write them down.  The label should be descriptive of the idea, not the originator: the “bridge story”, not “Jane’s story”.  Praise each other: Find something nice to say, even if it’s a stretch.  The worst ideas can have silver linings if you look hard enough.

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