Posts Tagged ‘Change’

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?


Empower your people…Challenge by Choice

Mar 23, 2010 // No Comments » // Change Initiation | Conversational Circles | From The Inside Out

Photo source: Flickr_Steve.portigal

Picture source: Steve.portigal via Flickr

This is brilliant: if you dirnk, you have a CHOICE – take a taxi ($20) or take a cop car ($1800). Like “click it or ticket” they set up law enforcement as a situation where you are making an informed choice. I think this elevates the community member in the dynamic. Plus, this car is just a fantastic visualization of the two different vectors in that choice. Taxi married to cop-car.

I have been attempting to write about this topic for a while but I was concerned of both the philosophical and psychological implication of its meaning…nevertheless, I CHOOSE to take the risk. So do give me your two-cents worth of thoughts if you think that I don’t make any sense.

The first time I paid attention to the meaning of CHOICE was when my mentor said: “Do take a deeper understanding to the meaning of the word ‘Choice’ for the well being of your life. It may be one of the worthwhile life pursuit after-all”. During my tenured at Singapore Training & Development Association, we used the phrase “Challenge By Choice” as a way to encourage adult learner to be responsible for their choice of action and involvement in their learning. Even then, I wasn’t very sure what it really means…

  • “the challenge is introduced unto you from the outside and you have to make a choice to be subjected to it or not.” or
  • “the challenge is re-introduced by you from the inside and you make a choice to be subjected to it or not.”

I gave some thought to this lately and here’s my observation. In the former scenario, the common responses are ” Oh, I have NO CHOICE but to accept…” or “This is not what I am looking for but I’ve got NO CHOICE…” –  The common post-decision reactions are of blame, haplessness. In the latter, a likely response when people ‘re-introduced’ the challenge intrinsically and make a willful choice on it tends to take ownership of its implication and responsible for its outcome. A common post-decision reactions are usually of ownership of control, pride of trying and learning to take risk etc.

Some years ago, I was tasked to run a workshop for new employees to help them understand the importance of “responsibility”. At that time, I wasn’t sure how a three hours workshop can help young adults to ‘become’ responsible for their action, learning and development; but after much thought I decided to give it a try… I remembered the session started with the participants strolling into the classroom randomly and about a third of them were late for the 8.30am session. By 8.50am, most were seated chatting away with laptop computer up (they seems busy checking emails) and some even sipping coffee and having their breakfast. I stood silently right at the front of the room throughout and observing with keen interest of their actions. By 9.00am, most were alerted by my silence and I thought it was that silence that jolt them into their consciousness. When the classroom came to a complete mute, I asked:

“Why are you here?”

It takes another couple minutes of silence before someone bravely responded: “WE are here because we are told to do so.”

“Thanks for being brave and taking action to respond for the rest. But why are YOU here?” I asked firmly with my eyes fixated on him.

“Umm…I think I am here…because…I have NO CHOICE! The email indicated that the attendance is compulsory and failing to attend will result in having to report to my manager…” he continued bravely with his reasons and garnering some supportive nods and ‘yeses’ from other colleagues.

I sensed a good opportunity to introduce the concept of CHOICE and asked: “If I give you permission to return to your work-station if you CHOOSE not to be here, and promised that I will take full responsibility for your omission from this class, what say you?”

Surprisingly, that reply brought laughter aloud from the class as if they thought I was joking. I retorted firmly: “That promised goes to everyone in this class, if you are not able to take RESPONSIBILITY and make a CHOICE to be here by your will, then the next 3 hours will be a waste of your time and mine.”

No one leave the class that day. We had an enjoyable three hours (or less with an indicative introduction to the workshop).

I know that you prized and valued the opportunity to be self-determining. To be able to make choices.

When was the last time you said: “I have NO CHOICE!”?