“People may forget what you say or write, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Read an article from Business Times and I quote in full below. Blogging it down and bookmark for future reference for me to put things in perspective whenever work overwhelms life.

A year of beer, fear and tears

Amid the uncertainties, it’s important to take stock of all things that have shaped us – both good and bad
VIVIEN SHIAO

WHEN I started this column about two years ago, I thought it would be nice to round off each year with my own reflections on workplace lessons learnt. Sort of like a time-out to do my own annual review.

But when I look back at 2017, I feel a strong need to reach out for a beer.

There’s no way for me to mince it – this year was a painful wake-up call on so many levels. The retrenchments and restructuring that have plagued many industries finally came for us. Waiting for the axe to fall was possibly worse than the cut itself, as rumours had been swirling the past few months.

It was not like I was unaware of the state of affairs in the industry. I have seen the labour statistics. I have written articles on the displacement of jobs in the new digital economy. I have even helped retrenched relatives polish their resumes.

But nothing quite prepared me for the moment when I witnessed it myself. It was messy, it was human, it was heartrending. For weeks after that, those of us who remained were all pretty much walking bodies, numb to the world. I cannot even begin to imagine how the others felt.

My intention is not to dredge up the past and reopen old wounds. But rather, what we all want is healing – and closure. It’s been several months and many of my former colleagues have moved on to bigger and better things. But I don’t think any of us – be it the retrenched, or the people left behind – will ever forget that day. And we shouldn’t.

For me, lesson No 1 is to never give your heart and soul to any company – perhaps just your time and skills. It’s not about being cynical. The reality is that it is not rational to expect loyalty, but if you do, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment.

“It’s just business, nothing personal,” they always say. But of course it gets personal. For many of us, our work is firmly entrenched as part of our identity. When our jobs become redundant, we tend to extrapolate it to think we are redundant. And for good reason – many of us pour out too much of ourselves into our jobs.

My biggest takeaway from the entire episode is to never let my work define me. Yes, it will always be a significant part of my life. But it is not everything.

I can always trust my dad to put things in perspective. He once saw my article on the front page of the paper. “That’s nice,” he said. A few hours later, I found out that he had since read it and used the paper to line the garbage bin.

But it encapsulates things quite perfectly, don’t you think? What you accomplish today can be quite easily forgotten tomorrow. It’s much easier said than done, but I’m learning not to get so hung up over the small things that I end up losing sight of the big picture. There is more to life than to make a living.

Taking charge

This means trying not to burn my nights and weekends on work, unless I want to burn out. For many of us, the idea that there could be one day where you are given just a few hours to pack your career into a cardboard box changes your perspective in life quite considerably.

It also doesn’t mean you do a half-hearted job. On the contrary, do what you can with what resources you have. Job pride is a great and rare thing, but I have learnt that one must always do it for your own future’s sake – not because that’s what you’re told to do.

This also brings me to the other lesson that I’ve learnt from this entire episode. I cannot emphasise this enough: take charge of your career.

There are many things that we cannot control. But there are a lot more that we can. This means thinking seriously about what you want to do five years, 10 years from now. What skills do you need to know to get there? What resources do you need to get better? These are all real questions that we should stop putting off.

A friend once told me, perhaps in the heat of the moment, that I only ended up where I am because of luck. I was stung, but perhaps there was some truth in it. All my life, I never really planned where I wanted to go. I never thought of being a journalist. It just happened to be the only opening available when I graduated. And after that, how I ended up in The Business Times was because an acquaintance casually mentioned that it is a great place to work, despite never having worked here. Coincidentally, there was an opening. It’s been more than four years since.

Having friends as colleagues

But I think the time for trundling along in one’s career is over. Taking charge of your career doesn’t just mean ambitious plans for the future. It also means having some self-awareness of where you are at right now.

If you are stuck doing mundane work that is not going to add to your portfolio in the future, it’s time to re-evaluate your job scope. Being self-aware also means you know when to say no to bosses when your plate is already full and what skills you lack that hinder progression. These are all very unsexy issues that are easy to dismiss, but we can no longer afford to wait.

This year may have been grim, but contrary to what I’ve been going on about, it wasn’t all bad. There were many poignant memories made. This year’s office party proved to be the most epic one yet. Karaoke sessions with colleagues – correction, friends – and having them endure my best Taylor Swift impression is also one for the books. Throughout the year, whenever it got hard, it’s all these relationships at work that really helped me, ahem, shake it off.

A few of us were reflecting on the past year, and we all agreed that one common narrative is the need to put people first over process. Allow me to paraphrase an oft-cited quote by Maya Angelou: “People may forget what you say or write, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” It’s something I still struggle with. Truth be told, I always find people the absolute best and also the downright worst part of the job. But as always, it’s a journey.

In the coming year, may we all have the ability to have a (metaphorical!) beer when it comes to things we can’t help. And enough coffee to sustain us for the things that we can.

Cheers to that.

 

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The story of urine, saliva and vomited milk

Fatherhood. Mmmmnn… where should I begin.

I just spend the last 72 hours manning the nightshift with barely 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep at any point in time.

The twins are taking turn to act up, and they don’t seems to want to sleep during daytime. They have taken their turn to urinate on me , drool all over my shirt and vomiting milk on themselves and me.

I am now standing at level 13 sky terrace , just done getting Edith to sleep after enduring her 20mins of shrieking and screaming. I think I’m turning deaf. Why she is shrieking and screaming, I have no idea.

This photo is to commemorate me FINALLY getting her to sleep. Never mind the messy hair, unshaven face, the heavy duty eye bag unglam army tee and the baby carrier.

At least now I have something that can show and tell her next time that she has single handedly destroyed any of my credential of sexy and hot guy but validated my existence as a father.

I know all these shall pass and I can’t wait for them to grow out of this phase.

Love you, Elliott, Edith and Everett

The Story of a Cup of Coffee

I get my daily morning coffee from a local coffee joint en route to work for the past three years. So much so that I have become a regular there and knows all the staff working there.

On less busy mornings, bantering and greeting are common and we will discuss in drips and drags on life etc.

Nowadays, the conversation will be centered around the twins. Naturally so. One particular conversation stuck to my mind when I was asked how come I look so fresh every morning even though I have a toddler and a pair of newborns at home.

It will be easy to attribute it to having a confinement lady, a maid and a strong support system in place, but at the top of these support system that ties everything together is my wife.

It is not easy to maintain any resemblance of sanity when you have to juggle all the diapers change, feeding time, gassy stomach, running a household, allocating time to an active three years old. The fact that I can go to work knowing everyone is well taken care of and coming home from work to a home cook meal speaks volume of her capability.

I don’t say it often enough but she is a pillar of strength in our house and I am constantly in awe of her strengths to handling everything.

So this is my story of a cup of coffee.

Huggs

#huggs

How to whitewash – Singapore Style

Step 1: Declare your innocence and delegate the everything out to your trusted ones.

Step 2: Further demonstrate your innocence by avail yourself to a questioning session to people (preferably all the people should be on your payroll). Also make sure your trusted ones defend you rigorously through media favorable to you, because …. well… they are pretty much in the same boat now.

Step 3: Make sure your accusers are not in the same session.

(Bonus step: Get one of your trusted ones to dare the people on your payroll to censure you – obviously no one will – because they are on your payroll ; but it doesn’t matter as this will further enhance your innocence)

Step 4: Play the ‘family’ card

Step 5: Declare your innocence and “white-washed”. Get everyone to focus on more pressing matter ahead – like survival; because trivial matter like this is *roll eyes* waste of resources and time.

Whitewash

Quite Easily Done.

What not to say to a fed up customer

Dear UOB credit card,

We have known each other for a good 12years right? (Since 2005) You are probably the first proper relationship I have had ever since I qualify to do so. 

You also have the honour of being the first that I insisted on terminating. 

You are really a piece of work, I remembered that I first requested for the late interest charge wavier after numerous button pressing for a SMS reply (yes, for something as minor as a late charge waiver, why even bother to get someone to speak to me? You have more urgent matters to attend to. I get that) so I received a SMS within 5 working days that my request has been rejected. So I called to get a human to talk to me, apparent this was the second time that I requested for a waiver.  There was a charge on the card for a $10 McDonald bill and subsequently late charge of $60 + interest of a few dollars. The human answering my phone took the mandatory “minutes” on hold to clear with his supervisor and told me that the waiver has been approved. So that should end right? Nope, he went further to inform me that the next time I commit the devious and unforgiving offence of forgetting to pay my bill , I will not be given a reprevive. 

And so the fate would have it, I was travelling and missed the payment date and got the same late charges and interests blah blah blah. 

My fault, so I did the whole robot SMS request for waiver and guess what? My request got rejected. Surprise surprise .

Obi good right? Who asked me to be so forgetful , especially since we have a relationship of 12years behind us.

Of course any relationship expert will tell you that any breakup should be done in person. I did my best and call you up.

And your human voice reminded me that I have to pay off that late charge and interests before I can terminate the card. Well, I made sure I got the total charges paid off, and I did what is needed – cut off this toxic relationship.


So good riddance to you, UOB.  #uobsucks #saynotoUOB 😂

So it is true

Chinese believes that the Chinese Zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao, is based on a twelve-year cycle, each year in that cycle related to an animal sign. These signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. It is calculated according to Chinese lunar calendar.

The animal year when a person was born is called his zodiac year of birth. And I happen to be born in the year of the Goat.

So earlier this year (before Lunar new year), my colleague forwarded me this prediction for the year:

The Goat

Even though you may be diligent in your approach to work, there will be a strong chance that you may not see the career progression you deserve. This is because your superiors will fail to get your attention and it will be the reason you will feel as though nothing is improving in your career prospects. Simply hold your head high and keep on doing what you do, your efforts will eventually bear benefits further down the road.

I thought nothing of it as I strictly believe that hard work, best effort, and good attitude can and will overcome any difficulties. Then I received my annual increment result for last year effort – a pathetic figure that does not even cover inflation (btw I’m assuming the inflation is 2%).

Silhouette of Person Sitting Beside Body of Water

It is deflating because of all the effort and the sacrifices that were made, all the time spent working overtime when I can spend the time with my family, all the leaves canceled because I am needed at work. All the job offers rejected because I believed I will eventually be rewarded according to my contribution and hardwork.

But not so this time.

Of course, life is never fair and never will be. There will be people who will say, look at me, I have achieved a certain success in life (car, condo, money whatever), why take this so seriously? My reasoning is that all that I have achieved so far in life is through my hard work,

My reasoning is that all that I have achieved so far in life is through my hard work, effort and sacrifices, not hand-out money or inheritance. And all that was achieved was based on one key personal value:

hardwork = reward

And this is one of the values I was hoping to impart to E because I truly believe that nobody can fault hardwork regardless whether you are smart or dumb, talented or talent-less, pretty or ugly.

This is probably a depressed me trying to rationalise my feeling and I will snap out of this in a few days.

But at the moment, this work is shit.