Archive for October 2007

How To Excel Beyond Excellence In Your Life, One Step At A Time…

October 31, 2007

As much as we would like to take a giant leap in a single bounce, we seldom can. Neither are we able to fly without first learning how to run. And before run, we must walk steadily.

Often whenever we are eager to excel superbly, we realize that we have to take it one step at a time.

1. Have a simple goal first.

2. Make a list of whatever you are already efficient and proficient at.

3. Take that list and insert this into your current lifestyle wherever possible.

4. Strive to do your best in your enhanced lifestyle. With whatever you are doing daily, perform at your best.

5. Now re-look at your simple goal again. Make minor adjustments to your enhanced ‘do-your-best’ lifestyle towards the goal.

6. Once you have attained that simple goal, make a slightly more challenging goal.

7. And always strive to do your best with your newer-adjusted-enhanced lifestyle.

8. Make minor adjustments of this lifestyle towards the more challenging goal.

9. Repeat the steps as often as you need to attain your ultimate goal.

May you excel beyond excellence, one step at a time!

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Ever Told Your Brain What To Do? Here’s How To Take Better Control Of Your Brain.

October 30, 2007

The following are the steps to work better with your brain:

1. Rest well. A well rested brain is a well geared brain.

2. Make sure you are fully committed to using it for your improvement.

3. Give instructions to your brain. Make sure they are simple and clear. For example: Read the first 7 pages of a book.

4. Check if your brain can execute these instructions. If not, simplify your instructions even further. Break them down to little bite-size actions.

5. Double check to ensure your action is following through.

6. Shut up all the other internal negative thoughts or doubts.

7. Reward yourself when a certain number of steps are completed.

8. Repeat the cycle until it becomes automatic.

9. Expand beyond by increasing the challenges it has to perform.

The Elderly Always Sleep Worse, And Other Myths of Aging

October 27, 2007

Here’s an interesting article about our well being that my friend, Au Yeong, has emailed to me. I share with you here with his kind permission. Thanks, Au Yeong. After you have read Gina Kolata’s thorough researched article, maybe it’ll give you some thought about ourselves as we age. Or perhaps we can sleep on it first…

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The Elderly Always Sleep Worse, And Other Myths of Aging

As every sleep researcher knows, the surest way to hear complaints about sleep is to ask the elderly.

“Older people complain more about their sleep; they just do,” said Dr. Michael Vitiello, a sleep researcher who is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington.

And for years, sleep scientists thought they knew what was going on: sleep starts to deteriorate in late middle age and steadily erodes from then on. It seemed so obvious that few thought to question the prevailing wisdom.

Now, though, new research is leading many to change their minds. To researchers’ great surprise, it turns out that sleep does not change much from age 60 on. And poor sleep, it turns out, is not because of aging itself, but mostly because of illnesses or the medications used to treat them.

“The more disorders older adults have, the worse they sleep,” said Sonia Ancoli-Israel, a professor of psychiatry and a sleep researcher at the University of California, San Diego. “If you look at older adults who are very healthy, they rarely have sleep problems.”

And new studies are indicating that poor sleep may circle back to cause poor health. At least when it comes to pain, a common cause of disrupted sleep, a restless night can make pain worse the next day. Then with worse pain, sleep may become even more difficult — a vicious cycle common in people with conditions that tend to afflict the elderly, like back pain and arthritis.

The new view of sleep emerged from two parallel lines of research. The first asked what happened to sleep patterns when healthy people grew old. The second sought to uncover the relationship between sleep and pain.

To find out what happens with aging, some investigators, including Dr. Vitiello, studied older people who reported no sleep problems. They actually make up a large group — nearly half of people over 65. Were these people somehow spared age-related changes in sleep?

They were not. Their sleep turned out to be different from sleep in young people: it was lighter, more often disrupted by brief awakenings, and shorter by a half hour to an hour. Dr. Vitiello reasoned that the age-related changes in sleep patterns might not be an issue in themselves. Something else was making people complain about their sleep.

Dr. Vitiello and his colleagues also asked what normally happened to sleep over the life span. It had long been known that sleep changes, but no one had systematically studied when those changes occurred or how pronounced they were in healthy people.

With analysis of 65 sleep studies, which included 3,577 healthy subjects ages 5 to 102, the investigators had their next surprise. Most of the changes in sleep patterns occurred when people were between the ages of 20 and 60.

Compared with teenagers and young adults, healthy middle-aged and older people slept a half hour to an hour less each night, they woke up a bit more often during the night, and their sleep was lighter. But after age 60, there was little change in sleep, at least in people who were healthy.

And even though sleep changed during adulthood, many of the changes were subtle. Middle-aged and older people, for example, did not have more difficulty falling asleep. The only change in sleep latency, as it is called, emerged when the investigators compared latency at the two extremes, in 20- and 80-year-olds. The 80-year-olds took an average of 10 more minutes to fall asleep.

Contrary to their expectations, the investigators found no increase in daytime drowsiness in healthy older people. Nor did aging affect the time it took for people to start dreaming after they fell asleep.

Instead, the biggest change was the number of times people woke after having fallen asleep.

“Healthy young adults sleep 95 percent of the night”, said Dr. Donald Bliwise, a sleep researcher at Emory University. “They fall asleep,” he said, “and don’t wake up until the alarm goes off.”

By age 60, healthy people are asleep 85 percent of the night. Their sleep is disrupted by brief wakeful moments typically lasting about 3 to 10 seconds.

“There is some aspect of sleep that isn’t going to be as good as when you were 20,” Dr. Bliwise said. But he added, “When that crosses the threshold and becomes a significant complaint is difficult to say.”

The real sleep problems, he and others say, arise when people have any of a number of conditions that make them wake up in the night, like sleep apnea, chronic pain, restless leg syndrome or urinary problems. That, of course, describes many older people.

“The sheer number of challenges to maintaining solid sleep in old age is just huge,” Dr. Bliwise said. “You come out with the question, Well, what is normal? What should I expect?”

The new frontier of what to expect, and what to do about it, involves studies of the relationship of sleep to pain. It’s no surprise that pain can disrupt sleep.

But what is new is that a lack of sleep can apparently increase the sensation of pain.

Michael T. Smith, the research and training director of the behavioral sleep medicine program at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, reached that conclusion with a study of healthy young people. One group slept normally for eight hours in the hospital.

Another was awakened every hour by a nurse and kept up for 20 minutes. Their sleep pattern was meant to mimic the fragmented sleep of elderly people. A third group was allowed four hours of solid sleep.

Comparing the second and third groups allowed Dr. Smith to tease apart the causes of the problems that arise from fragmented sleep: were they because of the short total sleep time, or because of the disrupted nature of the sleep?
Fragmented sleep, he found, led to severe impairments the next day in pain pathways. The subjects felt pain more easily, were less able to inhibit pain, and even developed spontaneous pain, like mild backaches and headaches.

Timothy Roehrs, director of the sleep disorders research center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, also found that healthy young people became exquisitely sensitive to pain after a night of fragmented sleep.

And getting more sleep, Dr. Roehrs found, had the opposite effect. His subjects were young healthy people who said they were chronically sleepy, just not getting enough time to sleep at night. Dr. Roehrs had them stay in bed 10 hours a night. The extra sleep, he said, reduced their sensitivity to pain to the same degree as a tablet of codeine.

Now, Dr. Smith says, he and others have markedly changed their attitude about sleep problems and aging.
Of course, he said, sleep is different in 20-year-olds and 70-year-olds. But he added, “It’s not normal to get a clinical sleep disorder when you get old.”

Are You Really Ready For The Truth?

October 26, 2007

Sometimes the truth isn’t pretty, but it opens up your eyes.

Sometimes the truth hurts like nothing, but it cures you of your disease.

Sometimes the truth is unnecessary, but it’s interesting to know.

Sometimes the truth is tough to accept, but it makes you tougher.

Sometimes the truth is boring, but it gets you there.

Sometimes the truth is harsh, but it builds your character.

Sometimes the truth is complicated, but it makes you reflect.

Sometimes the truth is simple, and it makes you wonder.

Sometimes the truth makes you depressed, but it makes you cope with challenges.

Sometimes the truth is exciting, and it adds vibrancy to your life.

Sometimes the truth isn’t the truth, but it trains you to decipher.

Sometimes the truth is better not known, but would you rather be in the dark?

Sometimes the truth is a bitter pill, or would you prefer to be ignorance.

Sometimes the truth is confusing, but it hones your thinking.

Sometimes the truth isn’t complete, but it makes you detect.

Sometimes the truth takes time, but it teaches you patience.

Sometimes the truth is unknown, but it helps you plan for it.

Sometimes the truth is insulting, but it keeps you grounded.

Sometimes the truth criticizes who you are, but it helps you to remain humble.

Sometimes the truth is never heard by you, but it helps you learn more about things.

Sometimes the truth means you have to work harder, but it means you can reach your goals faster.

Sometimes the truth comes at a cost, but it shows you not to take things for granted.

Sometimes the truth is reverse of what you know, but it teaches you not to assume everything.

Sometimes the truth poses problems, but it makes you a better person.

Sometimes the truth is tedious, but it helps you excel beyond excellence.

Are you really ready for the truth?

How You Can Create A Practical, Applicable And Detailed Plan?

October 25, 2007

Whenever we embark on a major project, we need a plan. It is often not just a generic plan for general purpose, but rather one that must be practical, applicable and detailed. The tendency and temptation to merely have an airy, fairy plan is there. After all, even the planning itself can be tedious work. However, the grander the project is, the more it must be well planned.

In order to ensure that it fulfills the Practical, Applicable and Detailed (PAD) criteria, you can implement the follow:

1. Examine how your plan will affect the others a) in your team; b) who are not in your team but in related units/sections/departments. Take account of the way your actions will relate to the rest becomes a vital issue in your planning. People around you will be changed by your plans and the consequence of your action.

2. Get a trusted friend to purposely be the critical critic and keep asking you questions on contingencies and possibilities. Some examples include  “What if you run out of budget?”, “What if it rains?”, “Isn’t this too risky?”, “Can’t this be done faster and cheaper?”, “Isn’t this too much for a person to do?”

The intention has at least 4 basic purposes:

a) to tease out the blind spots in your planning,

b) to ensure that all areas are covered,

c) to force you to create alternative plans for the “just in case” scenarios, and

d) to offer you other ways of working things out.

3. Take another perspective. See how others will see the plan and if they will accept and understand it. It’s very much of putting yourself in other’s shoes. This will offer you a deeper appreciation of the overall impression and harness the ability to execute your plan.

4. Hear from others in your team. Planning is not just a one man’s job. It takes cooperation and unity from other people. Therefore, listening to others, getting their feedback and willingness to follow the plan become the essential part of planning.

5. Test it. Wherever possible, take a sample portion of the plan and test it. Do dry runs if needed. Examine the venue, logistics and equipments beforehand. Rehearse for what you intend to put up. This too, will give you the peace of mind.

6. Back it up with finance and people power. These two factors are the moving forces of any project or event you intend to carry out. Without finance, things cannot be obtained. Without people power, actions cannot be done. In many situations, the more you have of both, the better and the easier the project. Be sure to have the project fit whichever amount you have. Get the support of both where possible.

7. To plan well is to always be prepared. As the saying goes, ‘failing to plan is planning to fail.’. There is hardly any fault to being well prepared. Do everything to ensure you are ready for the major plan.

Every big dream requires a plan to fulfill it. Every grand project takes major coordination to execute it. Planning is not an empty talk. It is a series of workable actions within the deadlines. Hence to bring your dreams into reality, you must first plan to excel beyond excellence!

This Can Make Or Break You

October 23, 2007

Some time ago at the National University Of Singapore Toastmasters Club (NUSTMC) meeting, I heard a very apt and timely speech presented by Xiong Dan. He did his research and made very poignant facts about our habits. In addition, he provided us some practical steps that we can all benefit from.

As you know, I am a strong believer and advocate of The Power of Positive Habits to help us excel in life. There are also some other articles in this blog that talks about it too. Hence, with his consent, I post his speech here so that we can also harness this power of positive habits. Thanks very much, Xiong Dan.

And now, my friends, This can Make or Break You

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Today I will present some interesting understanding about our habits. I hope to raise your level of awareness of the important roles our habits play in shaping our lives, and I will also share with you one practical tip on how to break bad habits and install good ones.

I am going to divide my speech into 3 parts. In each part I will answer one question. The 3 questions I will address are:

1. What is a habit?

2. Why our habits are so important to us?

3. How can we break a bad habit and install a good one?

So, not a big deal, just 3 questions, What? Why? And How? WWH.

First things first,

What is a Habit?

To understand what a habit really is, we must first examine how our brains work. Our brains are created from a very complex array of neurons (or nerve cells). Each of these neurons is connected to thousands of others.

By carefully adjusting the relations of one neuron to another, our brain forms pathways with the neurons to receive inputs from our sensory organs. After receiving inputs though these pathways, our brain can then process and interpret the massive amounts of information we receive from the outside world.

Some pathways have been used so much that our brain has set up dedicated connections to run through them automatically. If you play a musical instrument or if you play sports like badminton or table tennis, chances are you understand this process.

Actions like playing the guitar were incredibly complex and difficult for one to learn initially, but after repetitive practice, a skilled player can play a super complex piece without thinking where to press the guitar string, because a neuron connection has been built specifically for that action which runs automatically. These neuron connections are what we call, our habits.

I once read an interesting idea about our brains, which says you and I as human beings are just super bio-computers. Now if you think of a computer, a computer does millions of calculations using programs installed in it. Some programs often require little or no input at all to function properly.

Just like habits, these programs will often run completely without your awareness. Some of these programs are malicious and destructive, such as viruses and spyware. Like these nasty programs, destructive habits often install and run themselves in our brains without our awareness of them.

I hope this metaphor has helped you better understand what a habit really is.

They are like programs that we have consciously or unconsciously installed on our computers. Having answered the first question let’s look at the 2nd one.

Why our habits are so important to us?

It has been said that 90% of what we do on a daily basis is a result of our habits. Our lives run on habits. We have habits for what we eat, how we dress and where we go.

Habits dictate whether we jump out of bed each morning or hit that snooze button. Habits decide what actions we take on a consistent basis. Since it is our consistent actions that determine the direction of our life, our habits ultimately decide much of the outcome of our lives.

The set of habits we have also determines what kind of person we are. It is no wonder that Stephen Covey wrote a book entitled “The 7 habits of highly effective people” Your habits will distinguish you as an effective person or otherwise.

Good habits are like those useful programs that we have installed on our computers. They make our work more efficient, if you installed Microsoft office, you can edit a speech script easily; if you installed matlab, you can do complex calculations within seconds.

On the other hand, bad habits are like virus or spywares on your computer. They constantly drag your performance down. Think about how annoying it is when your computer keeps popping up windows where you can download x-rated movie while you are programming, what’s worse, your professor is standing right behind you. You get the idea. Good habits make you, and bad habits break you.

Habits play a truly important role in shaping our lives. As such wouldn’t it be nice if we can break bad habits and install good ones? This brings us to the last question.

How can we break a bad habit and install a good one?

Here I share with you a simple to follow technique which can help you break bad habits and install good ones. It is called the 21 day trial method. This method is best explained using an example.

Suppose you want to get into the good habit of get up 6:30 every morning and read an English article and plan your day. Tell yourself you are going to do this for the next 21 consecutive days. By the time you successfully graduate from this method, trust me, you will form a great habit that will benefit you for the rest of your life.

There are 2 things to note about this method though.

No. 1, the 21 trial days must be consecutive, if you break it in between, you must start over again.

No.2, since this sounds like a very easy method, you might be tempted to change 5 habits at one go. No, No, 1 at a time. You can’t really overhaul you life at a single attempt.

Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen, as you see from my speech, habits play a vital role in shaping our lives. If you want to take charge of your life, please take some time to list down good habits that you want to form and the bad habits that you want to break.

Use the 21 day trial technique, or other creative methods you can come up with. Don’t let your bad habits control you, instead control your own destiny and become the person you truly want to be.

How You Can Become A High Achieving Salesperson

October 22, 2007

In my mentoring and coaching sessions with the salespeople, we work on several aspects of my clients. However the reason why I am engaged as their mentor/coach is same. Their purpose is to eventually become a high achieving salesperson.

Hence, here are some of the things you can do and must have to attain high achievement as a salesperson:

1. You need fire in the belly. And I mean fiery passion. I must see it in your eyes. And you walk the talk.

2. Love to sell and persistently sell. It’s like there isn’t a day gone by that you don’t sell. It’s that serious… and infectious. (and I don’t mean bugging your prospect either.)

3. Define your goals through a plan. This includes goals of learning to sell, of being mentored, of how much to achieve and others. And when do you want to achieve them.

4. Disciplined to stick to your goals and act to achieve them.

5. Know how and when to apply the different types of selling skills. This is obvious. And continuously apply them in various forms: sales presentation, networking, chit-chatting, discussion, deals-closing and others.

6. Handle rejections and objections with ease. Oh, yes! If you want to even remotely make it, you better deal with these well.

7. Comprehend the concept on the Paradox of Attraction. The more you want to make money from them, the more they will run from you. Customers can smell desperation a hundred meters away.

8. Put customers first. Their welfare ought to come first. Understanding them is thus imperative.

9. Understand the power of the heart and the touch. Let your sincerity and concern for your customers touch the hearts of your customers. Remember, people don’t care about you until you show that you care about them.

10. Build on the power of positive relationships. This is what gets your customers to return to you again and again and again. You have a positive relationship with them.

11. Create and design your sales persona. This means your personality, the high achieving salesperson. What do you stand for and what comes to mind when people think of you. In short, branding yourself.

12. Be TOTALLY sold on your own products and services. If you are not, then you will find it an unconscious obstacle in your attempt to sell. Reason? Simple. Because if you don’t even absolutely believe in what you represent, you can’t totally put in the passion and the persuasion and influence.

13. Communicate well. Essential and vital. ‘Nuff said.

14. Ultilize the tools of sales communication. This means implementing the sales language, the captivating voice and the sales body language whenever you are selling.

15. Equip yourself with the technologies of sales (whenever needed). Hand phone is essential. Name cards are the basic. Email helps a lot. Website adds accessibility. Customer relationship management (CRM) technology adds to the icing on the cake. Check out the rest of modern technologies that is helpful for your own industry.

16. Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up. This is the key. The bigger rewards lie in following up with your prospects and your current customers.

17. Have a sales management system. This includes the follow-up system and incorporates the sales cycle.

18. Create leverage on your existing customers. Help your current customers become your salespersons. Impress them enough to let them tell their friends about you.

19. Have a mentor to fine-tune your selling skills. Meet up with him on a regular basis to tap on his advice and boost your skills.

20. Keep learning and improving in all areas of selling. You’ll always be getting better with this one.

21. Live a balanced and positive life. Selling is a lifestyle, not just for the moment when you meet customers.

It’s always exciting whenever you step on the path to become a salesperson. Persists and you’ll be on your way to excel beyond excellence!

Best wishes!