5 Qualities We Should Never Lose in the Process of Growing Up

IMG_3145I have been told repeatedly during my Catholic school years that, “Jesus loved children.”  I have never given any serious thoughts to this except just agreeing.  Who wouldn’t?!  Children are cute little creatures that look like us but in a much cuter physique.  They are like the *SD model of our favourite cartoon characters with non-proportionately large head with chubby cheeks.  When they are at their best behaviours, who wouldn’t love them!!

Well, with years of experience as a mother, I have long realised that children are never always at their best behaviours, and therefore are not always loveable!!  So, why are they so special?

Again, blessed with some mothering experience, I have been lucky enough to discover, besides their adorable physical features, little children have many remarkable qualities, some of which have unfortunately faded away as we grow up.  The qualities that, if developed and applied in the right way, are the most valuable qualities for our whole life.

1. Curiosity: Children are curious.  They want to know everything.  They want to learn new things.  They don’t care how difficult it is.  They don’t fear asking stupid questions.  They are willing to experiment.  They don’t fear failing.  They simply want to know and they MUST find out.  We adults think we know better.  Yes, in most cases we know better not to do things that will be dangerous.  But, aren’t we sometimes too cautious and miss out so many new learnings?

2. Open-mindedness: A lot of people say children are like a blank sheet of white cloth.  They are open to learn new things without predispositions, without prejudgements, without biases.  They are so ready to absorb new experiences.  You can see that in their wide, innocent eyes.  When they pay attention to what you tell them, you can see through those eyes how ready they are to be filled with words and ideas that you are putting in their head.  The risk is they never know whether those things are actually good stuff or poison.  We adults have built some version of filters to protect our brain and mind from poisons.  Yet, are those filters sometimes too protective and we end up screening out a lot of great stuff with our own subjectivity?

3. Honesty: Babies cry when they are hungry.  They scream when they have discomfort.  Toddlers think out loud without fearing what they say would be inappropriate.  They do whatever they have to in order to communicate their needs and wants.  As a mother, the best honesty I love and cherish the most from my little kids was when they told me they loved me, not because it was something I wanted to hear but because it was the purest and truest words.  You don’t have to be afraid they tell you lies because you just know they don’t.  If all adults have the honesty of the little children and the subtlety to communicate it in an assertive manner, this world will definitely be a better place.

4. Hope: I remember as a girl I loved to imagine growing up to be a teacher, then a businesswoman, then a diplomat, etc.  The list was endless.  There was never once I told myself I couldn’t.  It was always just that I changed my mind and I preferred to do something else.  Even the sky was not the limit.  In the process of growing up, we all learn our limits, or we create them I’m not sure.  We’ve lost a lot of hope and faith along the way.  What if we keep the hope and balance it with the practical perception of reality?  The list of our achievements will be quite a lot longer, don’t you think?

5. Living the Moment: With limited experience, little children don’t know what the future may bring.  That limit allows them to live in that current moment.  When they are happy, their heart is truly filled with joy.  When they are sad, they cry so hard because they can’t see how the sorrow will fade away with time.  When they feel something, they feel it to the extreme.  They are so full of energy to do just the thing they want to in that moment.  They put all their heart and body in what they do.  It’ll be so much better if we adults can just save our energy from our fear and expectations and put all into what we are doing…in this moment.

I personally find these qualities so essential that we should never lose them in the process of growing up.  Instead, we should hold on tight and learn a better way to use them in our life.  We balance out the reckless part of these qualities with what we’ve learned through more time spent in this world.  That’s why we don’t “change” from being a child to an adult but we “grow”.  We make use of what we have and make them better with experiences.  Someone should never be merely a bigger, more experienced version of their young self, but a wiser version, too.

*SD – Super Deformed

**Photo credit: with courtesy from my lovely customer, Khun Tim

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7 Benefits of Getting to Know Yourself Better

Last week was a pretty intense week for me personally and business-wise.  That’s not uncommon for someone playing 3 quite different roles, i.e. full-time mom, part-time cake decorator, and part-time human capital specialist.  When things are easy, I almost feel meaningless.  When things get busy on all fronts like this, it can be very exhausting.  

Again, referring to my previous post “Playing to Your Strengths“, even though you feel so physically, and sometimes also emotionally, drained, you still come out of it with positivity.

The most thought-provoking activity I did was joining the 3-day Hogan Certification Workshop.  I was fortunate enough to join the course with several other experienced, some of them highly-accomplished, professionals, whom I have learned a lot from. 

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Besides becoming a certified professional on the personality assessment tool, I have also discovered a great deal about myself, i.e. my perceived behaviors, my derailers or what I tend to do when I am under stress, and my values.  As I became more self-aware, I have discovered a few benefits of doing so:

  1. Understand the past: When you are more aware of your own behaviors, your reactions to stress, and your underlying values, you will start to be able to answer some very puzzling questions about why you did something or made decisions the way you did in the past.  It explains a great deal why and how you’ve become who you are now.  
  2. Make better decisions: By better, I mean decisions that you likely won’t regret.  Now that you understand yourself better, you become more confident about what are really important to you.  Therefore, you are able to make better-informed decisions that go with your values and strengths, while going against your weaknesses.  
  3. Develop to your potential: Since the Hogan results are in comparison with the global norms (N.B.: My opinion on grouping people in a normal distribution curve is a different story altogether.), you will be able to see quite clearly your strengths and weaknesses, especially in business situations.  Learn to appreciate your good points.  Look at your great potential not only through something you’ve already done well but through something you can develop and do better.  The opportunities are endless now that you know!
  4. Be humble and kind to others: Learning about your dark side helps keep your feet on the ground and feel humble about who you are.  No one is good in everything.  We are flawed in so many different ways.  It would be nice if we learn to accept that and be understanding to people around us.
  5. Appreciate the loving people around you: This may sound irrelevant but I do feel so when I learned about my derailers or negative behaviors.  When I look back on some of those times when these behaviors came out, I feel really appreciative of the loving people around me, who put up with and tried their best to understand me.  
  6. Fake it to make it: Specifically for your career, now that you know your shortcomings, you have a chance to develop what you lack but is required in your career advancement.  Sometimes we just don’t have much choice other than faking it to make it, as it was once said, “The difference between who you are and what you want to be…is what you do.”  Just make sure you don’t lose your identity, morality, and values along the way.
  7. Balance your life better: With a clearer understanding of your own needs and values, you can choose to do the things that make you happy and not put yourself under too much stress.  

These are the 7 things I have learned from learning about myself through the Hogan reports.  I understand there are many different ways to raise self-awareness and I’m not saying this is the ultimate tool.  I just happen to experience it and personally find it one of a useful tools for my own development.  

One thing I believe should be handled with extreme caution regarding the interpretation of these personality assessment tools is DO NOT limit yourself to what the reports say about you.  Learn from them not about your flaws but how you can get better.  As Nelson Mandela once said, “May your choice reflects your hopes, not your fears.”

 I would love to learn from you as well whether you have had any experiences that help increase your self-awareness and how do you feel about it.  Please do share.  

Me and My Nothing-like-beansprouts Projects

Don’t you just wish everything can grow as fast as bean sprouts?

My little girl just got a homework to grow some bean sprouts.  While observing the daily change of the “homework”, I can’t help but wish everything we have to grow or develop are like these little green thing.  I cannot think of any other kinds of plant that can grow this easily with minimal nurture and all.  Will it be nice if our kids can grow up so fast with minimal attention required?  Will it be good to see our projects, business, or any kind of work grow over night and reach its fruition so quickly.  I mean it’s only 3 days and you’ll have some nice organic bean sprouts to eat.  Plus, it’s sooooo hard to go wrong.  You just leave them there with enough water and light and you will definitely get them growing!!

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These changes actually happened in only less than 4 days!

Well, to be honest, if I think carefully about my own questions, I would have to say no, it won’t be nice if everything grows so easily and quickly like bean sprouts.

Even though it requires a lot of hard work, sacrifice, patience, and all the resources you can imagine, it’s the process of growing or developing someone or something that is meaningful…both to them and to ourselves.  If they are all like bean sprouts, it’ll take away the fun, the pain, and the gain from it all.  Then what’s the point when everything is dead easy?

So, let’s just appreciate our abilities, and all the opportunities we have, to grow and to make things happen…important and meaningful things for our lives and others’…and wish that not too many elements will go wrong in the process!

Now please wish me luck for these two mega projects I’ve been developing for 12 years…

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and for the new baby business that I just get started…

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all with lots of love and passion…and joy!