What’s New? 7 lessons from the last 70 days

What an interesting time we live in, now. Many things have changed since then – from the routine of our daily lives to my internal beliefs. Not all are positives but undoubtedly they all provide useful insights and require some reflections, for sure!

Sharing my 7 main lessons from the last 70 dayssome are the old-aged conventional wisdom and some may seem counter-intuitive:

1. The importance of routine

We are the creature of habits and routines give some sense of normalcy. I have to admit that this plays a major part in stabilizing our household and creating that sense of security. Enlisting our children as part of the planning process helps in empowering them to choose their own commitments and decide on how they will spend their time. In turn, this helps me to balance working-and-parenting and to focus on other matters.

2. But, Always be Flexible

While we like to have all our plans to be 100% fool-proof, I would be naive to say that everything will go according to plan (never!) Hence, my second lesson is a constant reminder for me to remain flexible in our routine plans. This also helps me reduce all the unnecessary mental distractions if things don’t go well. What helped me really is to be curious to solve unplanned issues (be it from broken printer to lack of vegetable supplies!)

3. The fallacy of Dream

This fallacy is such a good lesson for me to re-evaluate and learn to distill the essence of my dream / aspiration. I have always dreamt of working from home and being able to homeschool the children. After these 2 1/2 months, shall I say it is always good to test and validate my dream! It turns out that I am definitely not fit to be a homeschool teacher and would rather delegate this role to professionals (and I have no qualms admitting this!) Instead of being so surprised by this, I got curious and explored this assumption. I still like the part of being accessible to my children and imparting some life lessons – but that was it. I did not enjoy teaching them the run-of-the-mill school subjects, but enjoyed their presence. In summary, more than ever, I become more cognizant of the fallacy of dream and the only to do it is to test and experience it.

4. But, dream anyway!

This crisis presents such an opportune time (and low risk) to test this assumption of mine. Without these experiments, I will never learn. So, dream and set goals anyway!

5. The wonderful way of learning new skill

(Note: OK, so I am one of those statistics of working mothers who suddenly find herself immersing and learning new cooking skill). I cannot tell how much I used to stay away from cooking and baking (and would prefer to delegate to our food delivery services and restaurants!).

One observation I had in learning (any) new skill is to be conscious of the objective of learning, be clear on the foundational skills and be confident to try. Of course, the external motivation for me is to see the family enjoy the cooking.

Similarly, some people broaden their skills by learning other cognitive skills like data science, finance etc. The basics remain the same in approaching new skills, whether it is learning about investment or cooking – be clear on learning objective and nothing beats immersing yourself by being in action.

6. And, at the same time, honing our superpower(s)

For learners like me, we thrive in the process of learning itself, so this is the part that I struggle the most when I get distracted in the learning journey itself. After so much divergence, I finally decided perhaps that I can try to focus on one thing at a time, especially sharpening my existing superskills/ superpowers. What helped my distracted self is to create monthly reflection on what I can further improve on. Incremental daily improvement of 1% is better than a yearly 10% step improvement.

7. The critical part of building mental fortress

This comes as a no surprise, yet remains a powerful lesson in terms of daily application. I find micro breaks and micro gratitude practices helped me tremendously in prepping the mind. I would have never imagined that visualizing my favorite vacation spots is on top of this list, but it has proven effective once I try it. The act of eliciting positive emotions really helped me to prepare my mind to be more expansive.

So what would be your surprising practices to clear the mental fog?

Goodbye 2019, Welcome 2020!

When we did our 2019 family reflection earlier this month, I openly shared my disappointment in meeting some of my “Align” projects for the 2019 (Align was my word for 2019). My 11-year old daughter then said “mommy, is it because your aspirations are too complex?”, pointing to my long to-do list.

Take two

I did the reflections again last week when I did the family annual photobook and relooked at my own definition of “success”. Instead of “complex” definition, I asked myself a simpler question: What did I learn from the 2019 experiences and do they contribute to my “Align” intention? The answer was a clear YES.

Here are the top 3 of my “Align” reflections:

1) Align with “Who I want to become”

Admittedly, I had been struggling to come up with 3-year and 10-year vision. After many iterations, I needed to reframe the question from “what do I want to do” to “what do I want to become”. The slight tweak in the semantics opened up more possibilities and now I feel more congruent in the vision. It is much easier to define my character, and my contribution, than planning something that is hard to predict in foreseeable future.

2) Align with the things that “give me energy”

This remains a continuation of past year’s experiment on what brings me real joy and energy. I became more mindful of the people I surround myself with, the promises I make, the stuffs I own and the way I spend my time. Let’s say, I did major “Marie Kondo” in many parts of my life (and our family life) this year.

Surprisingly (which is not surprising at all), I find that those good old advice still prove very worthy, such as weekly planning and daily prioritization and reflection. This way, I feel more in control of my energy and whether the time spent are aligned with my intention. Overall, I am only at 70%, and looking forward for more energized and focused life in 2020.

3) Align with the concept of “blessed life”

This is probably the most vague but also turns out to be the simplest. Blessed life to me is really living mindfully and being at peace, by grace of God. Sometimes, I feel that we get trapped by “external noise”, be it validation or just artificial measure of success. At the end of the day, I realized blessings can span from help from unexpected sources during my trying times to signs to the questions I had been asking.

In summary, I am grateful for all the lessons and experiences in 2019 that helped me align in critical areas of my life.

So what is my word for 2020? “Focus” – as a response to my daughter’s observation and also the lessons of moving one step forward.

I shall “focus” my energy on things that matter and spend time with people that matter. Here’s more to a more productive 2020!

Finding Purpose – a futile search?

This quest of finding purpose feels futile to me for quite a long time. Unfortunately, the more desperate I was, the more confusing it got.

Like any other person on a quest, I searched everywhere. I journaled, I read books, I talked to people, I listened to inspiring speeches. I even Googled! But – nothing. It got more confusing.

What I forgot to do is to search in one place that I usually avoid – within me.

By grace of God, instead of avoiding, I mustered the courage last year and set the intention to start the journey of discovery. I am happy to say that there are glimpses of ‘purpose’ that I found in this journey and my intention here is to share some of the key lessons with you.

What are my three key lessons in ‘finding purpose’:

  1. Semantics is important. I have now learnt that the way I frame and define ‘purpose’ is critical. I found that purpose is not about ‘doing’ but it is about ‘being’. I have since then re-framed purpose as “what do I intend to be and how will I show up on a daily basis, using my unique gifts”. Instead of pressuring myself to be the hero and saving the world, now I define my purpose as someone who gives a voice in conscious living and positive parenting / leadership. The compass helps when making small decisions on a day-to-day life. (These decisions add up!)
  2. I did not find purpose overnight. It is indeed a continuous journey. But once I reframe it as ‘being’, it took away the expectations to find THE purpose. What is more important is to be open and curious in the journey, allowing it to unfold naturally. I have never expected that allowing myself to be curious and to play is the best way to connect the dots. It still amazes me how things unfold when I decide to be curious and take the next step (which most of the time seems ridiculous at times. This blog is one of so many examples of curious ideas that popped up.
  3. Purpose requires commitment. We all have a unique gift to express but without fierce commitment and discipline, a vision will remain a vision.

In summary, what I found in this journey is that purpose is created consciously, one at a time. It blends our strengths, our joy and our contribution. It requires commitment. It requires me ‘to be’. Sometimes, I need to let things unfold and see the magic. Yes, a departure from my expectation when I started 🙂

So, what’s yours?

9-Months Journey: A Reflection

As we closed our 9-month Mastery program yesterday with the closing call with my circle sisters, my heart just overflowed with such gratitude and wonder on how it has transformed me in this journey of fully embracing myself.

If I were to say what is that single shift – it is really the ability to create a deeper and more compassionate connection with myself, which in turn creates more compassion on others. With that shift, I had been able to hold multiple perspectives and get to the generative mode especially in times of conflict. The key that unlocks this is really to observe our old patterns and to name the limiting belief – and at the same time, extending compassion and radical self-responsibility to go there, to reframe and to question the belief.

I know the shift is subtle but at the same time significant. In one of the meditation practices, I was so surprised by my own observation that I did not know how to react to that wounded, small-Self, which is primarily the cause of my fear of getting to the bottom of it. This understanding alone has allowed me to give the space to re-learn and re-connect.

Of course, this is not without much commitment and relentless efforts. In all the three power centers we learnt, I felt I still had a long way to go in developing the second power center – which is really to trust my intuition and co-create with the Universe. However, I have learnt to surrender and to actually ask for help from the Universe (or God, whichever you believe in). What I have also learned is to embrace the imperfection, and at that exact moment, set my intention and clear my energy before I ask for guidance – it feels much more doable then expecting it to be perfect. I have also learned to remind myself to continue “giving” despite all my worries and the world will give back in unexpected little ways I could not imagine (and they do a lot of times!). Some of these blessings manifested not in the external success definitions, but really those definitions that really matter – it is indeed a blessing.

Never under-estimate the power of support

I would not do justice without mentioning the superb support from Claire, the coaches and other Mastery participants. But more importantly, the weekly circle calls with my Pod sisters.

Why is this so?

The structure enables us to cement the lessons by sharing and reflecting our own insights before going back to really practicing it in our daily lives. The greatest gift is to absorb and learn through each other’s stories and lessons. I feel that by reflecting their brilliance, I also learn how to appreciate my own brilliance. For that, I am eternally grateful (and honored) for such genuine care and compassion we displayed to each other. I also enjoyed the space we have created as a pod to speak from our heart, to stand in our center and just the loving way how each other supported our journey in their own way. (By the way, this probably deserves its own page so I should probably save it for another day :))

So, what’s next?

My commitment is to continue nurturing myself through daily practice of morning exercise, journalling, daily energy clearing and meditation. What I wish to celebrate is the depth of my being and that I am learning to recognize the ways I can contribute in a more conscious, soulful way – which is more grounded rather than external-focused.

What I want to create next is in the area of conscious leadership especially for those in the technical line and business. One more interesting area I am exploring is in the area of conscious parenting and balancing my role as a working mother. I enjoyed the conversations around thriving in workplace and home. More to come!

Integrity – how far would you go?

The global community today lauds integrity and transparency in business and government.

But today, I don’t want to talk about integrity from that perspective.

Instead, I want to talk about the integrity with ourselves – personal integrity.

What does it mean by having “personal integrity”?

I define personal integrity as an alignment with our values, clarity on what we stand for and how we embrace our weaknesses and strengths – to show up fully to be of service to others.

If you ever felt conflicted, unease or just simply frustrated without understanding why, there is a small probability that something is nudging you to realign and reclaim your self integrity.

It has been a challenging journey for me to discover this path because it has not always been easy to dig deep into the dark closet and face my own shadows. What eventually drove me to get into the uncomfortable territory and face my own shadow is the vision to be a better mother, a better leader and most importantly, to be at peace with myself.

Recognizing that this is an ever-evolving journey, I realized that it will never be complete and one can only go as far as he / she wants to go. In my own journey, these question have helped me to re-center and ground myself closer back to integrity. I hope it will help you to re-center (and remember to take a deep breath!):

If I see my compassionate Self, what would I do as the next step?

I love this most because this is the gentlest question and I usually start with this first before I ask the rest of the questions.

What part of me contributed to this situation?

I have been in many conflict situations and my habitual response would be to blame the other person or the situation (who doesn’t?). However, after much practice, zooming out to see which part of me contributed to the conflict has enabled me to stay true to myself. Owning up, instead of feeling victimized shifted the blame energy and increased my understanding why that happened. A lot of times, I have to seek God’s help for me to see it clearly and see my own shadows. As a result, it usually will dissolve the negative energy in me, which helped me to frame a much more productive and generative communication. Of course, the journey continues and I am still practicing.

Is it aligned with my values?

When I feel charged with some issues, I caught myself being so judgmental on the other person’s opinions. Again, it takes a lot of muscles to just breathe and step back. This question helps me reframe and bring me back to integrity. Most times, I know that some of my actions and my feelings probably violate my own values, so this question keeps me honest.

If I believe that the Universe supports me in staying true to myself, I wonder what would be the best option?

After having deep (and mostly painful) reflections from the earlier questions above, I like to progress with this question since it evokes wonder and play. It is really to change my state of seriousness to something more open, yet still effective.

Looking back at the so-called perceived weaknesses, are there signs of strengths and how can I use to contribute?

I use this sometime to make me feel better. Recognizing that sometimes I may be too hard on myself, so I tend to see things in a negative light, under pressure. This question challenges my assumptions and beliefs, to dig deeper and see that some of the features are my strengths, instead of “perceived” weaknesses. For example, I used to think that my emotional sensitivity is my liability at work, but now I realized that when harnessed properly, it provides a headstart to create deeper connection with people around me.

Hope this helps you (and do not forget to take a couple of deep breaths!)

So, how far would you go to have personal integrity? I would invest my time to do this since my intention is to create a deeper connection with myself and be more congruent (my 2018 goal to “create”).

The Shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge, and it therefore, as a rule, meets with considerable resistance. Indeed, self-knowledge as a psychotherapuetic measure frequently requires much painstaking work extending over a long period of time.

– Carl Jung