Archive for the ‘Change Initiation’ Category

I Need Help!

Jul 03, 2015 // No Comments » // Change Initiation | From The Inside Out



I read a beautiful story from my quiet time about the St. Olaf Choir from Northfield, Minnesota. They are renowned for making beautiful music and one reason for its excellence is the selection process. Choir members are chosen based not only on how well they sing but also on how they sound as part of the whole. Another reason is that all members agree to make the choir their first priority and commit to a rigorous rehearsal and performance schedule.

What caught my attention about this choir is what happens during rehearsals.

“Whenever members make a mistake, they raise their hand. Instead of trying to hide the blunder, they call attention to it!”

This allows the conductor to help each singer learn the difficult part, and it increases the likelihood of a flawless performance.

Last year, I was asked to help support a senior leadership team to align the team’s vision and build collaborative behaviors.

Upon diagnostic, one key contributing factor to the team’s dysfunctional state is their inability to render ‘Vulnerability-based Trust’.

When team members are genuinely transparent and honest with one another, they are able to build vulnerability-based trust. Team members who trust one another can be comfortable being open, even exposed, to one another regarding their failures, weaknesses, and fears. Vulnerability-based trust is predicated on the simple and practical idea that people who are willing to admit the truth about themselves are not going to engage in the kind of political behavior that wastes everyone’s time and energy and, more important, makes it difficult to achieve real results.

The leadership team spent quality time in the past two retreats gathered in conversational circles, created space for thoughts, ideas and shared stories about how they would help one another to take courage in being vulnerable to one another and to encourage trust within the team.

What is stopping you to raise your hand and say “I was wrong”, “I made a mistake”, “I need help” or simply “I am not sure”?

Are you brave enough to be vulnerable?

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility…Really?

Jun 03, 2014 // No Comments » // Change Initiation

ctrl, shift, blame

Control, Shift, Blame?

You have a responsibility to study hard…If I caught you committing truant I will break your leg. You understand?

I still vividly remembered my dad’s warning when I was 10 years old on my way to school on a busy late morning in his trusted near white Datsun 120Y. You see, my dad completed pre-university at then Chinese High in the mid-50s. He would have made the family of 12 siblings proud to be the only graduate if not because of financial difficulties… Obviously knowing the importance of a good education he took it very seriously and work really smart to ensure that we have a smoother path towards success (so we thought…).

Lately, I have been studying the meaning of “Responsibility”…and felt that if we are not careful we could be placing the true meaning in the wrong way. Take for instance:

“Tim, you are responsible to keep your room tidy or else…” or

“As a manager you are responsible of your team’s performance…” or

“Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: “With great power comes great responsibility.” This is my gift, my curse. Who am I? I’m Spider-man…”

I used to defined Responsibility as follows:

Responsibility = Choice to Respond + Level of Ability

But often than not we tends to use responsibility as way to ensure that we have a reason to fault others when they fell short…

We all know it’s important to Claiming Responsibility rather than Blaming Irresponsibility.

But how can we assign and delegate responsibility effectively? How can we ensure people are accountable by their action and not just paying lip service.

Here’s my 5Cs towards engaging others to be responsible…

  1. Clarity – Be clear to why you are assigning the responsibility. But that’s not enough, helping others to be clear why they needed the responsibility are equally crucial first step.
  2. Challenge - Help people to understand how being responsible supports their development. People are naturally motivated by challenges within their capability first and would then explore to take on more risk as they go along.
  3. Choice – Encourage them to make conscientious choice to respond to challenges….even the courage to say “NO” is a choice they make and we have to respect that and talk through the reason why and make adjustment to ensure that they are not taking beyond what they are not able to handle.
  4. Communicate – Show your interest in how they are doing with their responsibility by keeping open communication consistently. Reminding them of any milestones, timelines and possible barriers is a sure sign of showing they are not just being “dump” those responsibility.
  5. Celebrate – Success or failure in all ways, means and forms are worthy of celebration. Only when people knows that being responsible is a worthy cause that they are receptive to more responsibility in the future.

Remember, we are first and foremost Responsible in entrusting responsibility on others… So who’s responsible?

Be Still – from Conformity to Mobility

Oct 21, 2010 // 4 Comments » // Change Initiation | From The Inside Out

One of the many miracles Jesus’ performed during His ministry; “Calming the Storm” incidentally is one of the favorite story my kids like in their bed-time story. There seems to be this recurring theme about casting our worries unto His care in the Bible – I think this is more than a promise from God but a command He desires from us.

Be Still – a simple posture of not acting seems to go against the grain of our need to do, act and perform; to think useful, to feel valuable and to be justified.

In my career as a trainer and facilitator, I was privileged to meet with some like-minded people and great thinkers from around the world. One of them is Timothy Gallwey – a pioneer in sports motivation and psychology. Tim wrote the first book “The Inner Game of Tennis” in 1972 and follow-up with a series of Inner Game series in the last four decades. It was his “Inner Game of Work” that brought his theory of human potential to main stream business coaching in 1998 and to Singapore in 2002 during the association’s inaugural Human Capital conference; In which Tim and I met and became friend partly due to our love for the game of tennis. I met with him again five years later in Los Angeles and continue to be amazed with his thinking that has transcend from sports to business to communities-at-large.

One of his conceptual idea about learning is mobility – from Conformity to Mobility; the ability to learn and be aware without being paralyzed by doing and external pressure of producing result. Many of us always think that to perform is to produce, hence there is a great need to act and do. Tim has argued that in order to gain mobility is having the ability to STOP – an acronym he shared to debunk the myth of ‘performance momentum‘ – a term he argued that most of us have habitual actions we do in the course of the day without a moment’s thought of why we do them.

Step Back – to step back means to put distance between yourself and whatever you are involved with at the moment. Step back from the momentum of action, thinking and emotion. Find a place of poise and balance – a place where you can think clearly, creatively and independently.

Think – to stop thinking momentarily in order to think may sound like a paradox, but it is not. Here Tim expounded that there is a shift in the thinking gears, a disengagement of thought in order to either rest or engage in a different level of thinking. Here’s where you begin to ask thoughtful questions.

Organize your Thoughts – Thinking may not usually occur in a perfectly organized fashion. Especially in longer STOPs where there has been creative thinking about problem solving or strategic planning. ‘Organize’ is your chance to pull your thinking together, bring coherence to your plan, consider priorities, and provide a sequence for actions.

Proceed – You don’t stay on the mountaintop if you want to take action. There is definitely a right time to descend from your thinking space, and that should be when things has been refresh and clarified. When the goals and the next steps are clear, and you have been connected to your motivations and surrounding, you are ready to get back to work.

Again, do not hesitate to STOP once clarity fades. The biggest resistance to using the STOP tool is the habitual comfort of ‘performance momentum’, our inherent way of doing and ‘performing’ that may gets in our way of learning and enjoyment.

Points to Ponder:

  • STOP at the beginning and end of each workday or project.
  • STOP to make an conscious change.
  • STOP to address a mistake, ask a question.
  • STOP to correct miscommunication and to check how your performance momentum have impacted on others.
  • STOP to listen, learn, coach and encourage.
  • STOP to rest.

“Just” me!

Oct 15, 2010 // No Comments » // Change Initiation | Conversational Circles

© ConversationCircles

© ConversationCircles

Hang on! Before you begin to think that I am blogging about ‘Just Me’, think not. I am sharing my learning about “Self-Justification” and probably an important lesson for you too.

Recently, I was intrigued by this simple yet truly great word – JUST.

We use this word ever so often; we use it as adverb such as just now, just do it or just a moment ago etc. We also use it as an adjective such as: this is a just cause, a just reward or punishment and deserving of a just retribution etc.

But it is not the word uttered or use outwardly that intrigued me…but the manner in which we use it inwardly, silently or even unconsciously that amazes me. For example, suppose you are in a long public-train ride and got yourself a comfortable seat besides one that is meant for the elderly; at one stop, the corner of your eye spotted someone that might need your seat more than you do. Now, I guess that the most immediate response from your heart will be to choose to let up the seat for the someone; but here’s how we may often choose to response:

  • The person on the seat meant for elderly should give up, not me!
  • What if the elderly may not need the seat as he may disembark at the next immediate station?
  • I am not alone in this…why should I?
  • What if the elderly reject my offer? This was what happened when I did the last time…
  • This is a long ride for me. I am as legitimate as anyone in this train to the seat, why me?
  • What if…

You see, we have this uncanny ability to JUSTIFY our own choice of action/behavior that is in contrary to our organic response or intention. Our reservoir of logical reasoning that camouflage our heartfelt intention is mind boggling and often disengaged us from our true way of being with others. Worst of all, the habitual “way of engagement” would become our wrong sense of being with others so much so that we deceive ourselves into believing that we are JUST in our own action.


Last Sunday evening, it was my turn to read bedtime story to Eiffel (our three year old boy). Having just got back from a training assignment on board a cruise ship for three days, I was really tired and was quietly hoping that Eiffel will pick an easy reading and possibly a book with the least pages…To my horror, almost like he wish against my hope, he picked one of the heaviest book from the shelf titled “Around The World in 80 Days”. As I was struggling to stay engaged throughout, for a few times when he wasn’t paying attention, I craftily took more than a few pages at once as I flip the page, and every time I did that I pretend to narrate the new page with exaggerate tone and expression to cover any trace of “fast-forwarding” the pages! Eventually, if not for my clever endeavor I would not have finished the book in half the time – though not rightly so but I am JUSTIFIABLY tired! – a self-justified exclamation even before I went into Eiffel’s bed-room.

“Ok Eiffel, what does it mean when we come to this page of the book?” holding the back cover of the book high up and trying to conceal my yawning…

“it means the end…” Eiffel’s mumbled unwillingly.

“Yes, it means time to sleep and papa will say a prayer for you now. Close your eyes…” I was urging him hurriedly.

“But dad, why is it the story is so different from the one that mommy read to me the other day?” Eiffel asked unwittingly.

“Oh…Mommy read Around The World..?” I gestured at the book cover nervously.

“Mommy’s story has India, Hong Kong and…”. Eiffel was peeling off my self-deception innocently.

Justly, my deceit was exposed. But more importantly, I have learned an unforgettable lesson from our three year old boy about my way of being with others beyond my action or behavior – and my self-justification.

Points To Ponder:

  • The last time when you chose to not respond to your innate calling but act in contrary, how does that felt?
  • If you felt justified acting in contrary to your organic responsiveness, how would you think others might respond to you?

Same Same but Different

Oct 07, 2010 // No Comments » // Change Initiation | Conversational Circles

© Jock McDonald 2008 via

Photographer Jock MacDonald and animator Paul Blain teamed up to create this visual masterpiece that explores the idea that we are all one. (I suggest you anticipate with some patience during the presentation and gaze into the eyes of the portraits). Have you ever experience the organic desire of sameness yet felt the fighting force of differentiation from within? Do you have a “place” to go to when you are ‘fighting’? When your heart’s-at-war? Let me explain…

I was once in Bangkok, Thailand for work/holiday and chanced upon a t-shirt at a very popular flea market. The design of the t-shirt caught my attention with the phrase “Same Same” in the front, and “But Different” at the back. I was intrigued by the wordings and my curiosity must have caught the attention of the enthusiastic lady mending the store who might have sensed the chance of an early afternoon sales…

Same Same But Different

“This is an interesting t-shirt.” I started the conversation with my usual unassuming way.

With her not so fluent English, she said: “Sawadika. Yes, yes…very nice, very cheap. Only 300 Thai Baht..very cheap. You L size?”

Unfazed by the pushy sales technique that I was getting accustomed to the few days I was in Bangkok, I asked: “Do you know what’s the meaning…Same Same But Different?”.

With her ever broad smile and while holding the t-shirt over my back to see whether I fits a L-size, she commented: “Ahh…we same same like people…but different life, you good life I from poor life…”

I look into her hazel eyes with beautiful crease-lines at the end of it and said: “Khorb khun. Thank you for your blessing, I wish you good life too…I would like to have two of the t-shirt in L-size please…”.

“Khorb khun ka…please come again…” I still remembered her kind voice.

I have used this phrase kind of regularly since then; even my son Tim would utter it when he find a chance to remind me of my idiosyncrasies…

Let’s take today for example. Since you woke up till now, have you experienced moments of anger, dissatisfaction, agitation, road-rage, unfairness, bad news or simply things that’s not going the way you want them to be…Close your eyes and think for a moment. I did and I am quite sure you do, if not today then maybe days past.

These are times when we need to transpose ourselves to a “place” where we experience calm, tranquility, sereneness. It could be any “place” that we can quickly get ourselves ‘into’, for examples:

  • Remember the feeling and all the senses when you first hold your baby.
  • An old picture of someone dear to you.
  • Your first date, kiss, hug, farewell etc.
  • Your first hand-shake on the first day of your new job (remember how does that feel).
  • A prayer (accordance to your faith)

You may even consider a “place” to go periodically to reflect:

  • A book (Anatomy of Peace, Have a Little Faith, The Bible etc)
  • A video (Seven Pounds, Departures, Passion of The Christ etc)
  • A group (social network, conversational circle etc)
  • A retreat

I have downloaded the above video into my smartphone and I must say that whenever I am warring-at-heart it does help me to be calmed at times. Whenever I am in a ‘storm’, I will always have my bible with me and be ready to listen. I am also grateful to the friends and love ones that have always been a support whenever I need my voice to be heard.

Lastly, I am heading for a retreat cum practicum come November to learn more about the purpose of hosting circle and collaborative conversation.

Points to Ponder:

1. Can you remember the first day when you started on a new job; full of enthusiasm, hope, energy. You would probably think, “I am going to work hard, contribute to the best of my ability and be of help to everyone I meet regardless…”. Is the feeling still the same?

If not, what happen?

Have you ever Complain?

Sep 29, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Change Initiation

I once read an observation that our (Singaporeans) favorite national pastime is to complain – an act of expressing dissatisfaction, uneasiness, censure or resentment. It went on to comment that we are so superior and advance in its practice that if it is inducted as an Olympic sport we would be at the medal podium every four years…Hahaha, I kind of supported that observation as I realized that I am quite competent at this art form but might not be any where near the level of many other ‘national athletes’ in our midst.

I was at the train station 2 weeks ago and heard a pleasant (depending on your taste) jingles that remind commuters about the on-coming train towards the platform. The jingles is easy to remember and has a nice rhythem to it but maybe due to the quality of the audio system, I was desperately trying to understand the words…but I think it goes like this:

Train is coming, train is coming, train is coming,

Please start queuing,

and Love your ride!

Just a few days after the jingles went public, complainers in all national and age groups scrambling for platform to showcase their prowess. From press to cyberspaces, workplaces to food-courts, many were performing at the highest level in complaining about the jingles without any hint that they need stretching or warm-ups before launching into a 9.0 difficulty of maneuver…I was unimpressed.

Like any sports, complains does attract its fare share of commentaries. I must say that some commentaries does bothered the line of becoming the complainers of the complain depending on the commentary objectivity and purpose. But I guess this is where the eco-system of the public forum feeds itself;

  • The complainers requires something to complain,
  • and they will need a place to exercise the complains.
  • The public media provide the space for the complains,
  • because it is in the public domain, it also invites commentaries about the complains.
  • The complainers read the commentaries that was fed by their own complains,
  • and the media generates interest and eventually business activities.

Interesting. But it sets me thinking about our innate desire to complain; why would we do that? I would like to share with you about my thoughts here:

  • I complain because I am dissatisfied with someone or something.
  • I complain because I am uneasy with someone or something.
  • I complain because I want to call attention to what I am thinking and feeling.

We can perpetuate from the above and dwell deeper into this national sports. Any complains?

Point to Ponder:

1. What are we really complaining when we do just that?

2. What if we turn ourselves to the subject of the complains first…will the complain even materialize?

Life in four-twenty – Which stage are you in?

Jul 29, 2010 // 3 Comments » // Change Initiation

Picture source: Life by Kerbbi via Flickr

Picture source: Life by Kerbbi via Flickr

A recent UN released list of countries by life expectancy rated Singapore’s overall life expectancy from birth is at 80 years old. I thought that’s quite a long time to live on this earth – Well, depending what do you do with it!

A conversation I had with my mentor some years ago enlightened me about how I can choose to see my life in different stages, hence how I might be able to use it purposefully. Here are the four stages of twenty years I have learned:

Learning – The first-twenty (Birth to 20 years)

Without doubt the first-twenty years is the time we spend most in learning. This is not to say that we don’t learn after this stage, in fact lifelong learning is what keep us going throughout our life time. But we do spend the most time at this stage learning from school, our parents and friends. We experiment with our growing up, our potentials and interest. We learn via our physiological, psychological and social changes largely during the first twenty years or so. We are at our most rebellious,  we fall in love, we learn about friendship and camaraderie. We learn a lot about our fear, like and dislike, values and faith etc. For men in Singapore, I guess the learning would probably peak when we are enrolled in National Service which is a very steep learning curve for most of us.

Building – The second-twenty (21 to 40 years)

Physically and mentally we are probably at our best in the second twenty years. In Singapore societal norm, many of us will starts our career in our early or mid-twenties depending on your academic route. As we embarked on our career choice, this also could be a time for many of us to be involved in some form of serious relationship especially so when we begin to find our financial independence. I sensed that many of us will faced lots of uncertainty in the first 10 years of the second -twenty. We may move from one job to another, we might faced disappointment in our relationship (hence, emotionally we may lack maturity). Most of us would get married in late twenties to early thirties. Building relationship, family, financial prowess, home, career and I think this also could be the critical twenty years that we shape our idiosyncrasies.

Extending – The third-twenty (41 to 60 years)

Some says that life begin at forty. I am at this stage at the moment. I sensed that it got a lot to do with how we managed our second twenty. For me, its kind of a catch-up as I somehow lost focus in my early twenties. At this stage, we begin to extend our career to its full potential (and income), we also begin to extend our family tree, have more children, and for some lucky ones grandchildren. For some, we might also begin to experiencing some body-aches and health scares. We begin to see the importance of extending our life span so that we may enjoy the fruits of our labor. At this stage, we tends to extend our knowledge, experiences, know-how; both at work and social spaces. We begin to take on roles such as managers, leaders,  elders, mentor and coach. Some may spare no efforts in extending their reputations, titles, expertise and so on…

Giving – The forth twenty (61 to 80 years)

This is the season of giving. A time to contribute back to the place/people you have so benefited from…But don’t get me wrong, we ought to be giving at any stage of our life in any way we can. But there are so much to give when you begin the final twenty; your time (for those who are very successful career wise in third-twenty), your experiences and knowledge, your money (yes, you can’t take it with you can you?). What else? Your advice and positive influences…and many would argue that that is why our Minister Mentor would continue to be an valuable asset to our new generation of leaders.

I begin to realized that managing each twenty with care is so critical to how well we can best serve our purpose. For example, if we do not spend our energy and focus on the first twenty in learning, we may need to do catch up in the second twenty and what may not have fulfill in the second twenty might have to play catch up in the third-twenty and so on so forth…

Which twenty are you in right now?

What is your purpose in life that makes the present twenty clearer to you than ever before?

The Myth about Team-building – Build What?

Jul 23, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Change Initiation | HR Insights | Team Intervention

Picture source: Spain Team by prismatico via Flickr

Picture source: Spain Team by prismatico via Flickr

Team-building has been within the theory and practice of Organization Development (OD), but from schools to non-profit organizations, sports arena to political scenes, it can be applied to almost any context. Almost everyone will be involved in some form of team-building in their lifetime wherever they play their roles…But have you ever ask the question:

“What really is team-building?”

“What are we actually ‘building’ when we team-build?”

“For what? Why?”

If you ask someone who has initiated team-building the reason why they do it you will be surprised with the many responses…

  1. To motivate them…so that they can perform to what’s expected of them.
  2. To build trust…so that they are able to resolve conflict and perform.
  3. To bond them…so that they can work well across their roles and function.
  4. To better communication…so that they can work well with one another and perform.
  5. To skill them in working in teams…so that they understand how to be a team member and perform.
  6. To “incentivise” them…after all they deserve a break! (after that, they better perform).
  7. To have fun…because we believe in having fun in the work we do. (so that we can perform better).
  8. To energize them…there has been a dipped in performances lately.
  9. To do what other teams have been doing…after all it is an “in” thing nowadays and we happen to have the budget!
  10. (Fill in your say…)

It is not difficult to realize that one of the key expectation for most team-building initiatives are about performance; there are many team or group performance/effectiveness/development model researched, selectively:

  • Tuckman’s Group Development Model
  • Tubbs’ System Model
  • Fisher’s Theory
  • Richard Beckhard’s Team Effectiveness Model
  • McGrath’s TIP Theory
  • Belbin’s Team Inventory
  • Drexler Sibbet Model and many more…

But have we really take a step back and ask…what have we done (team-building) in the past that we have yet to do? Have we seriously ask WHY we team-build before the how and what? Or maybe we seriously need to consider what’s there to be done before and after team-building? What can we learn from team-building? About our people, our people’s manager, our leaders, our system and processes, roles and accountability, our relationship with one another?

Yes, there is always a place for team-building to induce the fun and playful elements. What about using fun and playfulness to gain entry to the hearts and minds of the people? Would there be a time when people get tired of fun and playful team-building? Can team-building take a dimensional change of its purpose and intention? If we have a valuable window of opportunity to help teams develop using the context of team-building, would it be a pity to let that slips?

I was giving this a serious thought some years ago and compared a group/team to a pool of water forming and moving in a concerted direction to serve its purpose/goal. It may grows in size (new members), reduce (members leave), quench thirst (meet objectives) and so on…moving in the direction decided by the organization body. I realized that for the water to stay relevant and useful it should be examined and evaluate from time to time…The three stages that I discovered were:


At some point, the ‘group’ (water) need to stop doing (moving) what has been deemed useful or detrimental to their performances. By freezing, the ‘group’ may begin to examine the group elements by its actual size, volume, weight and shape.


Once the elements have been evaluated, the group will begin to unfreeze (a calculated process) by asking important questions such as why, who, what, when and how the team can perform well again.


A collaborative and effective teams with intentional leadership are able to refreeze at specific point of time to regroup and collect and change to a new form of water with renew goals, roles, processes and relationship.

Many of my peers and senior practitioners that I shared with have agreed that team-building has taken an ambiguous positioning in the context of OD. From event company to hospitality industry, many would claim that they are able to help you to “build-team”. Therefore I urge you to re-examine the purpose and reason for you to send your team for team-building program.

Ask the question: “Why? For what?”. If you are unsure of the purpose for your intended team-building, let’s have a conversation.

The Past that Changes the Future

Jul 09, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Change Initiation

Picture source: Past, Present and Future by hazevi via Flickr

Picture source: Past, Present and Future by hazevi via Flickr

A quote by a Hong Kong film veteran Suet Nei, in her 60s, on the need to count your blessings caught my attention…

“At 50, you may die any year. At 60, you may die any month. At 70, you may die any day. At 80, you may die any moment.”

Two years ago, I was facilitating a program in Guangzhou, China and begin the class with a question:

“How many of you believes that your past shapes your future?”

Among the twenty participants, many hands were raised and I drew two big circles on the whiteboard representing the past and future. I asked again:

“Do you think you can change the past?”. A firmed “NO” rang across the class and someone immediately responded:

“But we can change our future!”.

“How? May I ask?” as I sensed that they are getting it… “By changing the present!” most nodding in agreement and smiles.

“How can you change the present?” I persisted and sensed participation and learning.

“By making informed CHOICE to the best of our ability…” came a firm reply by a lady (Ms. Gan Xi) whom I still remember her name till today as she help me to learn more in-depth about the very concept.

“Tell me more…” I invited her as I sensed her enthusiasm.

She continued: ”In fact, by making informed choices in the PRESENT which impact and shape our destiny, in a way it shapes our PAST in the PRESENT because all the decision that we made now will become PAST…therefore, in a way we are ‘changing’ our PAST for the FUTURE. Though we can’t ‘change’ past PAST, but to large extend we can begin shaping PAST in the PRESENT to determine the FUTURE.”

The class went on to deliberate the concept in a conversational circle and I was so pleased that the concept introduced in ‘static’ form was taking a ‘dynamic’ direction in their sharing.

Are you making CHOICES now that might change the PAST for the FUTURE?


Do you have a Simon Cowell in your life?

Jun 29, 2010 // No Comments » // Change Initiation

Simon Philip Cowell

Simon Philip Cowell

Simon Philip Cowell – the British television and music producer, entrepreneur and but more famously known as the ruthless, blunt American Idol talent judge for a controversial nine seasons…

When I first followed the American Idol in their debut season in 2002, I was not entirely surprised with its winning formula as a talent show and most crucially a panel of judges that catered to the innate judgmental needs of worldwide audiences as critic ourselves. The trio of judges in my opinion represents the GOOD (Paula Abdul), the BAD (Randy Jackson) and the Ugly (Simon Cowell) not for their look front but their entertaining quotes and comments. In Simon Cowell, one of his many famous quotes that ring in me for a long time is…

“I find Paula patronizing. It’s as simple as that. Paula is more damaging than I am to these contestants because a lot of people just shouldn’t be singing for a living. – Simon Cowell”

In the beginning, I irks at Simon’s blunt and straight-forwardness. But as the season went, I realized that his frankness actually do more good than harm…though I must say that personally he will do great with some level of tact, but I guess this is how the show sells. His straightforwardness reminded me of someone in the last 10 years of my life that has ‘touched’ me, mentored and practice conversation that goes beyond diplomacy and bluntness…which he first introduced me to the term forthrightness and the concept of Communication Paradox.

Communication ParadoxThe paradox explains that in order for us to be an effective communicator, we need to practice authentic communication beyond the tendencies of being just FRANK; without caring the feeling of others, and the tendencies of being just DIPLOMATIC; stating views in an indirect and evasive manners.  The key is to be FORTHRIGHT and RESPECTFUL at the same time!

Till today, we will meet once almost every 3 months to share thoughts, feelings and for me a time to reflect on my being. Once I complimented him for his truthfulness but he added that the conversation between us can only be manifested mutually because of my willingness to receive as much as he is willing to give. For that friendship, here’s a gift for you, Francis.

“Once I was naive, invitingly you shared your observation openly.

Once I was restless, responsively you guided my enthusiasm forthrightly.

Once I was unsure, brotherly you expressed your ‘first touch’ gently.

Once I was lost, lovingly you provided your counsel heartedly.

Once I was disappointed, boldly you challenged my intention biblically.

Once I was elated, cautiously you show me where the ground is.

I long for our conversation, always precious to me…and you humbly acknowledge that you need it as much as me.”

I am sure we all need someone in our life to be forthright from time to time…have you got that someone?