Archive for the ‘Conversational Circles’ Category

Circle of Hope – Stories Retold

Sep 10, 2015 // No Comments » // Conversational Circles | Stories Retold

Circle-Hope1

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness” – Desmond Tutu

 

A circle was called on the 3rd day of September – an invitation to connect and share stories of hope. We gathered at 10 Square Orchard Road on the late afternoon.

All invitees were encouraged to bring along a personal item in which signify hope for them.

I reminded everyone (including myself) that the conversation may take us on a journey that we may not be aware…mystery. Circle-Hope5

A check-in ensued after an informal introduction to the work of circle…I sensed that they truly were unsure what was expected.

Like in the past as circle host, I trusted the circle worked its energy within the group and enabling respectful listening and intentional speaking.

As the speaking-piece was being passed around, the circle provides a safe space for stories that lay deep in the hearts to be retold…

Circle-Hope3

Hope of Rest – A time to let go of work.

Hope of Dignity – A gift to completeness

Hope of Encouragement – An honor to remember

Hope of Arts – A memory to cherish

Hope of Perseverance – A book to encourage

Hope of Success – A journey to learning

Hope of Friendship – A crystallize reminder

 

As we listened, we were honored by each and everyone’s story in which connected with our very own stories and memories. I picked up a poem in the midst and honored one of the story retold…

Flawless - Margaret Wheatley
For far too many years
I have wanted to be flawless,
Perfecting my pursuits, I bargained all for love.
For all these many years
I've made masks of my own doing,
Pursuing my perfection, I found I was pursued.
And then one day I fell, sprawled, flattened, lost,
on the fertile ground of self.
Naked in dirt
no mask, no bargains
I raised my soiled face
and then, you were.
I struggled to stand.
Dirt from my body clouded your eyes.
Your hand reached for me.
Blinded, your hand reached me.
There is, in all of us, a place for pure perfection.
We discover its geography together.

We checked out…grateful to be called into the circle with hope in our heart.

From Certainty to Curiosity

Aug 13, 2015 // No Comments » // Conversational Circles | Stories Retold

 

 curiousity

 

Consider the story.

Leonie: I resented the way you reacted in front of our friends at dinner.

Rachel: The way I reacted? What are you talking about?

Leonie: About the extra-toppings on my dessert. You acted like you are my mother or something. You have this need to control me or put me down.

Rachel: Leonie, I wasn’t trying to make you look bad. You said you were on a diet, and I’m just trying to remind you stick to it. You’re so defensive. You hear everything as negative even when I’m trying to help.

Leonie: Help? Humiliating me in front of my friends is your idea of helping?

Rachel: You know, I will never win with you. I am so tired of this. Sometime I wonder you do start these fights on purpose…

The conversation left both Leonie and Rachel both hurt, angry and misunderstood.

They are engaged in a classic battle of intentions.

Leonie accused Rachel of hurting her on purpose, and Rachel denies it. They are caught in a cycle they don’t understand and don’t know how to break.

The two crucial mistakes in this conversation make it infinitely more difficult than it needs to be – by both of them.

Mistake 1

When Leonie says “You have this need to control me or put me down.” she is saying about Rachel’s intentions. Her mistake is to assume she knows what Rachel’s intentions are, when in fact she doesn’t. It’s an easy – and deliberating mistake to make. And we do it all the time without noticing it.

Mistake 2

The second mistake is Rachel assuming that once she clarifies that her intentions were good, Leonie is no longer justified in being upset. She explains that she “wasn’t trying to make Leonie look bad,” and in fact she was trying to help.

Here’s the problem.

While we care deeply about other people’s intention toward us, we don’t actually know what their intentions are. We can’t. Other people’s intention exist only in their minds and hearts. They are oblivion to us. However real and right our assumptions about other people’s intentions may seem to us, they are often incomplete or just plain wrong. Here’s why:

  • We Assume Intentions from the Impact on Us
  • We Assume the Worst
  • We Treat Ourselves More Charitably

One more thing. Getting other people intentions wrong can be costly. We usually assume bad intentions mean bad character. We go from “they have bad intentions” to “they are a bad person” in a whim. Accusing others of bad intentions creates defensiveness in us.

Here’s my learning in how to avoid the mistakes.

Disentangle Impact from Intent

Separating impact from intentions need you to be aware of the unconscious leap from “I was hurt” to “You intended to hurt me.” Below are three questions to help you:

  1. Actions: “What did the person actually say or do?”
  2. Impact: “What was the impact of this on me?”
  3. Assumptions: “Based on this impact, what assumption am I making about what the other person intended?”

“Once you have clearly answered these three questions, the next step is to make absolutely certain we recognize that your assumption about other people’s intentions are just as it is – assumption. It is a guess, a hypothesis.”

The next step is to share the impact it had on you and then inquire about their intentions. Saying something like

“I want you to know that the things you say and do have make me feel embarrassed.”

“I wonder you did say it on purpose to hurt me? I don’t know why you would want to do that?”

The conversation is only beginning, but it is off to a good start, usually.

A One Foot Journey – From Mind to Heart

Jul 03, 2015 // No Comments » // Conversational Circles

cropped-IMG_02221.jpg

A conversation with an experience management consultant over breakfast sometime ago after an exchange of business card…

“ConversationCircles, interesting! What is it about?”

“It’s about people having conversation in a circle…creating ‘space’ collectively and thinking together.”

“But what’s so new about meeting in a circle?”

“You are right, it’s not new. In fact, it has been around for a long long time. But we may have forgotten how to come together again.”

“You mean we don’t know ‘How’ to have conversation in circle?”

“There’s a possibility we might have forgotten ‘Why’ to have conversation in circle, and how to ‘Be’ in circle.”

“So do you think people will ‘pay’ you to teach them how to talk??”

“We hope to help people experience their conversation beyond the technological and conventional structure. The possibility of weaving collective wisdom through different experiences…”

We have not met since the last conversation.

A participant in a senior leadership role recently came up to me after the first day of a circle process to identify leadership traits her organization was looking to establish for their quantum leap into the future; to visualize how would the leaders of tomorrow be like.

“You did this on purpose, right?” She asked.

“Pardon me?” I was taken surprised by her intruding tone.

“I meant we come with certainty of how we wanted our future leaders to behave but the process seemed to have taken us on this mysterious ride to nowhere…now we are unsure about what we want.”

“How do you feel now?” I asked sensing that this might be a great opportunity for her to share openly.

“To be frank, I actually felt…good. I mean the curiosity within the group was unexpected but genuinely positive. I am actually looking forward to see how this circle thing will lead us to discover more about what we want…and need.” She shared intently with her enthused eyes.

Are you ready to take the journey from what you know to the unknown?

What if Giving is a form of Learning?

// No Comments » // Conversational Circles

alberteinstein-001

A recent meeting with Ramona Pierson, CEO and Co-Founder of Declara sets me thinking about the topic on lifelong learning.

I asked:

“What if Learning is not just about receiving but giving?”

I often proudly professed I spent no less than 10% of my annual income on self-development; books, workshops/seminars, courses locally and overseas, online or live presentations. Be it for professional development and/or self-interest.

“Can you stop receiving and start giving?” a friend recently commented on my overdrive desires of self-improvement.

“What’s wrong with continuous learning when I can?” I disagreed readily.

“Nothing wrong, but I think it’s time to go out and give what you know so that in the process knowing what you might not have known…” he insisted matter-of-factly.

“But I am…” I responded in denial.

The story of Ramona (you can read it here) touches me deeply as she recounted her younger years where learning was a natural for her; from the fascination of her dad’s home experimentation (in propulsion sciences) to academic excellence (in particularly math) and athletics, she excels in them all. A horrific traffic accident almost robbed her life but left her coma for almost 18 months, she awoken blinded and many parts of her body replaced with artificial materials…She recounted how she learned to speak, moves and eat all over again.

She regained her sight some years later via a tweak in her brain.

In September 2013, she co-founded Declara – It’s a type of social network that links everyone in a company or an organization. Declara’s system learns how people interact, what types of questions they’re looking to answer, and who can best answer them.

“I have decided to devote the rest of my life giving my gift to this world where learning will never be the same again…” She professed proudly.

At the side after her formal presentation, we embraced with a hug as a mark of my respect for her perseverance, courage and above all, love.

More significantly, I went away being disturbed with this question:

“What if Giving is a form of Learning?”

Are you into lifelong learning…ehmm…giving?

There is no right or wrong…or is there?

Feb 13, 2015 // No Comments » // Conversational Circles

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“He has the thoughts and insights for the businesses…and a heart for our people.”

This was my response many years ago when my then boss was shortlisted as a finalist by a reputable HR publication for Best HR Director of the year.

It sounds paradoxical. How often we tend to associate a behavioral trait as being one-dimensional as if people can be simply boxed-in on a certain behaviour and they are not capable to complement such with another.

paradox |ˈparədɒks| noun a seemingly absurd or contradictory statement or proposition which when investigated may prove to be well founded or true.

Comments as such abound…

“She is so direct and blunt…incapable of being tactful.”

“He is so stubborn and always has a mind of his own…if only he is more open to trying new ways of doing things.”

“My boss expects me to be more flexible and adapt to changes…but my strength is being organised and making sure things are in order.”

We often use comparative terms such as  ’positive’ or ‘negative’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and sometime even ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ to evaluate tendencies and behaviours. But human behaviour are extremely multi-dimensional, complex and contextual. I prefer to use ‘dynamic’ and ‘gentle’ to describe our behavioural traits. In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang, which are often shortened to “yin-yang” or “yin yang”, describes how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent; and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

One of the many tools I have used in my years of coaching, leading and facilitation, Harrison Assessments is a highly reliable preference assessment tool that provides comprehensive data and information on job suitability and eligibility, paradox graph,  leadership development and many more traits and definitions in the report.

Do drop me a line to find out more about Harrison Assessments.

 

A Circle in Conversation

Jun 14, 2011 // 1 Comment » // Conversational Circles

ConversationCircles

ConversationCircles©

A leader flagged-out his concerns with me regarding one of his director whom was faced with people and team challenges; she is not able to command respect and lead the team in a way that this leader expected of her.

“I am very concerned with her ability to lead the team and enable them to move in the right direction.”

“How do you arrived at this conclusion?” I asked.

“Well, for a start she just don’t seemed to be able to get the best out of her team members…she kept telling me that her people are afraid to speak up and do not have the capacity to present themselves well. She is convinced that many would benefit from an intensive training program in presentation skills and ways to get them to speak up…I don’t know that’s why I would like to hear your opinion.” lamented the leader.

I requested and met with the director the same day afternoon. After the formal and informal chat, I asked:

“Tell me a time that you are proud of your team effort.”

“Definitely! There are about 11 of them and some of them have many years of experience in this profession. A few are still very junior and I will coach and mentor them as frequent as my time permits…”

“And your frustration is…?”

“Umm…like many managers I faced the same problem in getting them to speak up and contribute their ideas during meetings and group suggestion. They are very poor in presenting their opinions and thoughts especially in client meeting…Do you have any training program in presentation skill to help them?”

“Would you let me have a conversation with them tomorrow for about 45 minutes of their time to find out more…?” I suggested.

ConversationCircles

ConversationCircles©

Next morning, 10 of the team members showed up at 9.15am for a quick informal coffee before we adjourned to a small room with 11 chairs in a circle. I was not surprised by their surprises written on their faces but some were already very indifferent in their disposition.

I started with a welcome and quick story about the circle council. The flow of session was shared using a flip chart stated the agreement and guided intention so as to give us some direction.

A talking-piece was introduced as a way to garner respectful way of speaking and listening. Though it took them a few minutes to get use to the flow of things but the magic of circle enable most of them to have their voice heard; even for those who hardly speak the local languages…

ConversationCircles©

ConversationCircles©

Here’s some of the emails I received after the conversational circle which overran by 30 minutes:

“I noticed that I am more relaxed and more willing to listen to people to understand them, rather than being so busy reacting to them. I’ve made it a point to slow down when I speak so I can think it through.”

“Thanks for holding a great session and providing us a place to express our thoughts and feelings.”

“Being a good listener is more difficult than I ever imagined…thanks!”

May I invite you to pick up the talking-piece and start listening

How far would you go for a conversation?

Nov 30, 2010 // No Comments » // Conversational Circles | Stories Retold

Friends of ConversationCircles. Kit and Kimberly (on my left)

Friends of ConversationCircles. Kit and Kimberly (on my left)

Approximately 700 kilometers, 10 1/2 hours of travelling time, and waking up at the wee hours to catch an early train to the coach-bus station at Novena Square. That’s how far I went recently to have a conversation and thought I would like to share this story with you.

Last Friday, I travelled north on a coach-bus from Singapore to KL to meet with Kimberly Ong, the Learning & Development manager of Fuji Xerox Malaysia. It all started from a friendship forged with Paul Lim, whom I have never met, he is the husband of a friend based in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. He also happens to be the General Manager – HR of Fuji Xerox Asia Pacific Pte Ltd (Malaysia Operations). He is one of the biggest supporter of ConversationCircles in the past year. He subscribed and followed  CC Touchpoint since June this year, reading and commenting on my blog posting and sending encouraging emails periodically. In September, I wrote to thank him for his support and encouragement and began a conversation. Paul asked how ConversationCircles might help in his organisation training plan for next year and a meeting was duly set up for November.

When the meeting date draws near, Kimberly – who has since taken over the training matters wanted to know the agenda and specific outcomes of the meeting. She asked to have a call three days before to confirm some details of the meeting and here’s my respond:

“My intention is to have a conversation and meet with your good self and of course Paul if his schedules permit…”. I responded to Kimberly’s well intentioned.

“That’s nice but we wanted your trip to be useful so if we can have some sort of agenda that will help…”. Kim seeks my approval.

“Kim, the agenda evolves with the conversation. Trust that process and we will enjoy each others company.” I thank and assured her.

After an almost 6 hours bus ride and 350km later, I was at the technology and industrial corridor of Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur. A 15 minutes taxi ride took me to the spanking office cum product showroom amidst many industrial giants such as Honda, Honeywell and Colgate. I was met with a beaming Kimberly and quickly led me to a boardroom style meeting room and was soon joined by Paul. He is a stoutly build man with a attention gripping voice, proudly wearing his company colors on his sleeve with the latest slogan on ‘green technology’. Our conversation quickly went from brief introduction of ourselves to overview of organisation setting…and much more.

Paul spent about 30 minutes with us and left for another meeting. Kimberly and I continue the conversation for more than an hour and a half and we both end with some plans and intention to help the people.

I am grateful to be embraced as a friend and confident in the challenges that is facing the organisation. The conversation did not entail promises and solutions but useful questions that help us to be careful in taking the next step. I could be back again soon to have another conversation – and hopefully this time with a larger group than before.

In my six hours bus trip up north, I met a Singaporean businessman whom is going to KL to attend a wedding reception. When he realized that I am taking this trip without any promises of economics or business benefits, he was surprised. But after we shared and learned about the intention of conversation itself can be richly rewarding, I sensed that he understood my purposed and wishes me well.

Once again, a big thank you to Paul, Kimberly and Kit (whom has assist in my travel plan).

See you all again soon!

PS: I returned on the same evening after dinner with a friend also based in KL – to my sleepy family at 2am the next morning.

Our Circle in Daylesford Melbourne, Australia.

Nov 29, 2010 // 6 Comments » // Conversational Circles | Stories Retold

Friends of ConversationCircles

Friends of ConversationCircles

A circle was called from 12th to 17th of November at a beautiful country side of Victoria, Daylesford. Together with Christina and Ann, we were called to be in a circle, listen, responded and reflected at a deep level that is beyond the description of words. For me, the five days has open my hearts to the meaning of conversation…

I wrote this just a few days before my 7 1/2 hours flight to Melbourne, Australia.

To end, we must have a beginning.

But there is no end to the circle.

How can there be if there is no beginning?

But we can pause, adjourn, stop or even digress…

We don’t need an agenda, objectives or even so often prized ‘outcome’ to help us start and end a conversational circle.

We do need intention, choice, respect, curiosity; and the ability to embrace and celebrate differences.

Indifference among us will deplete the energy within the circle that holds the wisdom of those called to the circle.

Our circle

I am still not sure what I actually meant but I did wrote to help me raise a question;

How can the circle help those who are indifference?

Decor

I got a glimpse of what’s install for the rest of the five days when we came together in a circle on the first evening on Friday, 12th November. A beautiful setting of 22 chairs in a room full of arts and decors, awaits us all amidst the green surrounding of gump trees, ponds, birds and bees…a sight to behold for a city dweller like me indeed. This was what’s written on the first page of my note book that accompanied me throughout the five days:

We do not ask what others may speak…until we inform them how they will be listen to.

What are the conditions that allow the soul to show up?

I held my breath…and the only reminder of my being was to be opened.

That night I couldn’t sleep (in fact, for the rest of the nights). I wrote this;

The Courage to try; is the Courage to fail.

The Courage to express feeling; is the Courage to be vulnerable.

The Courage to think; is the Courage to be thoughtful.

The Courage to ask; is the Courage to seek.

The Courage to respond; is the Courage to be responsible.

The Courage to love; is the Courage to give.

When I checked-in my luggage at 6kg on the day of my departing flight from Singapore, the smile from the counter staff seems to suggest that I am in for a cold chilling trip to Melbourne. I thought I know my geography and its supposed to be end Spring and sunny Summer…how wrong I was and the second day was getting chiller. But warmth was my experienced in the circle when jumpers and winter cover were offered even before I asked for…More warmths were being felt throughout the few days with Story Councils, Appreciative Circle and role-plays of actual life-cases. These interactions were given new life not just in the act but in our hearts. This was what I wrote on my third sleepless night:

The intricacy of the circle is limitless. Every details of its processes have such great impact on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of all those presence in the circle.

Therefore, it is of utmost care and responsibility of the circle host to make caring choices in inviting, involving and evolving the process for the greater being of the whole.

I suddenly felt that I am truly honored to be called a steward but at the same time burden with responsibility.

I also felt a sensed of being born into the circle family – that I can and I will hold its rim, learn, practice and evolve this art form so that someday it will ‘live’ unto the social fabric of our cultures and values.

Centering our Intention

Centering our Intention

Like a story shared; “If you start the fire, others will come.”

More practicum from the third day onwards. The circle continue its charm with simplicity and beauty. The value of sharing and learning from others continue to hold the rim together. I was constantly reminded of the very quote that caught my eyes on the first night when I walked into the room:

In every journey there is a secret destination of which the journeyer is unaware…

Welcome to the mystery!

Quote

It spoke right into my heart from day one. It still do till now…

We were given a glimpse of The Art of Hosting which comprises of social processes such as the PeerSpirit Circle Way, Appreciative Inquiry, Word Cafe and Open Space; which all has a common archetype of gathering and having conversation in circles. As the days of sharing coming to end soon, the question in me continue to cry out silently:

“How can the circle help us in Asia which is so culturally diverse?”

“Aren’t we have enough of the ‘western’ medicine that so often promised to cure all but actually created many ills amongst us?”

“Is there a circle way that is principly-centered to our own value system?”.

I did not get answers to all above…

But I know where to find the answers…within the hearts of those that will heed the call of circle.

Christina Baldwin

Christina Baldwin

It seems a long time I have known Christina and Ann. Having read their books, visited their website, heard their stories and followed their work, I was taking in their friendships in the way I am fond of – quite, demure and unassuming, I supposed. In the five days we spent time together, the close encountered has given me a glimpse to their passion, wisdom and above all humanity. We shared intimate conversations, spoke with our eyes and hearts, felt the energetics of love, walked the Australian bush and went for Kangaroo sightings at a nearby golf park with charming child-likeness – Thank you.

Ann Linnea

Ann Linnea

Here’s our little conversation we had periodically throughout the five days:

“I am unsure when to sound the bell as a guardian…would I undermined the intention of the circle host if I did so?”. I asked.

“Allen, I want to thank you for your wisdom in asking the question.”. Ann assured.

“I am burdened with responsibility to carry the work of circle…”. I shared in the story council.

“We want you to know that we are a team now. You are now a steward of the PeerSpirit Circle and we will support in the work that you do in Asia…and beyond”. Christina whispered with conviction.

See you both in Asia in 2012!

“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.

lorryx3_via_Flickr

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 www.jockmcdonald.com via www.lensculture.com


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?