Archive for the ‘Creativity and Innovation’ category

7 Practical Ways To Increase Your Emotional Intelligence And Mental Dexterity

January 16, 2009

For these couple of weeks, I’ve been working on a number of courses that are coming up for the year. A significant time was also spent on customizing them to fit into clients’ demands. In addition, the training and coaching sessions have also be rather packed. A very fruitful start for this New Year indeed.

The past 3 days were spent conducting the highly intensive training on “Emotional Intelligence at Work”. As the training is customized for a major government institution, I highlighted specific examples where the participants could display Emotional Intelligence (EI) for themselves as well as in their daily dealings with their bosses, colleagues and customers (BCC). Through the sharing and discussions, I was extremely pleased to know that the participants found even more ways to apply emotional intelligence beyond what was taught. Now that’s empowerment for them!

Leading on, here are some of the practical things you can do to raise your Emotional Intelligence as well as the agility of your mind:

1. Appreciating others for the effort done in the projects, irregardless of the extend of the success.

2. Have daily greetings to your fellow colleagues, and mean what you say.

3. Think positively empowering thoughts and be solution-oriented to maintain your mental health.

4. Harness the quick learning from every task for future improvements.

5. Reflect on your own behavior and the outcome of your action.

6. Work on mending the differences with others instead of harboring animosity.

7. Give yourself a reason to arrive at work with enthusiastic energy each day.



The 5 Major Keys To Facilitating Ideas Effectively

December 14, 2008

When I completed training the government leaders on Facilitation Skills last week, I was pleased with how this useful skill would open up the mindset of many people. After all, what we are looking at is the regulation and facilitation of ideas, thoughts and opinions. And everyone will somewhat have certain level of viewpoint. Even choosing to not have an opinion is also an opinion.

What matters most the essence of getting these ideas out of the person’s mind, conjured and packaged into something useful, practical and applicable. While these are always subjective, they still contribute somewhat to the progress. All it takes is a shift in paradigm.

Hence, the following crucial keys will prove useful whenever you facilitate ideas and thoughts with your group:

1. Never discount the value of an idea without first putting it to fair examination of worthiness.

2. Create the safe, encouraging environment for sharing.

3. Realize that an idea need not stand alone. It can be combined and rehashed with other ideas.

4. Set the ground rules of interaction and ensure that everybody is on the same page.

5. Just because there are critiques to the idea does not imply that the idea is not workable.


The 5 Key Dynamics You Must Pay Attention To When You Communicate And Solve Problems With Your Team

November 17, 2008

A quick check with my schedule indicated that the past few days were absolutely packed with various trainings. The pace of living a life as a public speaker, trainer and consultant has picked up tremendously over the years. To me, this is somewhat a sign of the growing need and recognition for Professional Excellence trainings, speaking engagements and personal consultations as well as an increase in the participants’ willingness to upgrade themselves.

No longer is it possible to just be contented with fundamental technical skills, the soft skills aspects are now the essentials. It’s not just the norm, but it’s so necessary that even companies are demanding that their staffs know how to build better relationships with quality communication. This is even more so when problems abound at work, and, to a fair degree, exist in their personal lives.

Hence just 2 days ago, on Saturday, I completed Day 2 of the “Communication and Problem Solving for Leaders” training. In this customized in-house workshop for that multi-national cooperation, I explored with the leader-participations the range of key dynamics in leading people via effective communication, resulting in better ways to solve work problems and issues.

I also made sure that these learning points were easy and quick to apply with fast results. When the participants gave their input, I was highly delighted when they integrated the communication concepts into their demonstrations.

Taking it further, some of the key dynamics that you must pay attention to whenever you are communicating with your team to solve problems include:

1. The Agreement on the values and ultimate outcome or objectives of the project.

2. The Acceptance of the ground rules during the exploration of the issues and the discussion of the problems.

3. The Understanding of the flow of the problem solving model and process.

4. The Willingness to suspend personal biasness and let go of the limitations in perceptions.

5. The Intention to cooperate with each other in working towards resolving the problems.


Why Flexibility Exists And Why Is It So Important To You?

September 10, 2008

One of the new speakers that have been actively attending our Club activities is Natasha Lai. You can notice her eagerness in learning and enthusiasm for improvement. And I’m glad she is set on her path to present her projects with flair and with competence.

During a recent meeting, Natasha spoke on a well balanced topic about flexibility. It’s a timely reminder about our need to exercise flexibility and its usefulness in our lives. Therefore, with Natasha’s permission, I post below her informative speech on this very crucial and practical subject.


What is “flexibility?” Body contortionists have it. Managers need it. Rigidity just hates it.

Flexibility is the capability to bend without breaking; or it could also mean “to be adaptable.”

Here are my 3 points why I think flexibility exists and why is it so important.

Firstly, flexibility enhances your personal growth.

Just like how muscles grow when they are stretched, personal development takes place when your limits are stretched. Ever been in a situation where you had to think on your feet and come up with a solution within a given time? Situations like that help you realize your potential and help bring out the best in you. Being flexible also means that people will be less lazy. You actually need to be pretty hardworking and do a fair bit of thinking to be flexible. Let me explain with an example.

I was involved in a Youth Expedition Project to Thailand 3 years back. Our main task was to conduct an English camp for the students in a primary school. We had everything planned out, curriculum and all. The camp was supposed to start the day after we arrived at the school. However, there was some miscommunication between us and the teachers, and they thought the camp would begin on the day we arrived. As we arrived promptly, there were more than 40 students waiting to welcome us upon our arrival. Hence, with no more than half an hour we got things ready and started the camp program. My team members worked hard and no one complained despite the sheer exhaustion we faced from the long journey. Through this experience, we realized the value and importance of flexibility.

Secondly, flexibility coaxes creativity and innovation from others and you.

There was a young dance instructor who taught ballet. She wanted to let her students explore their creativity so she told them to mimic animals in the zoo. The girls were braying, neighing, bellowing and crawling all over the floor, as unglamorous as little ballerinas could be. Just then the principal of the dance school walked past and was highly displeased with what she saw. She confronted the dance instructor and told her not to repeat the activity ever again, as it was not in the dance curriculum and would tarnish the reputation of the school. She was more concerned with upholding the prestigious image of the school, than with encouraging students’ creativity.

Since dance is a form of art, shouldn’t developing creative expression be the main focus? With such a rigid dance curriculum, those budding young ballerinas just might have been deprived of an opportunity to discover their full creative potential.

Finally, flexibility is necessary because unforeseen circumstances occur to you every single day.

Once I was wearing my perfectly comfortable pair of Birkenstock’s sandals. As I was going up the stairs, I tripped and fell! Oh, how humiliating that was! Comfortable as they were, the sandals were too rigid. Not only did it cause my books to fly out of my hands and scatter themselves neatly all over the floor, my knees kissed the ground, and there were probably more than 10 pairs of eyes that witnessed my stated embarrassment. Another time, I was wearing this pair of green rubber slippers. Again I tripped, but this time – the slipper bended and I was able to regain my foothold. *phew!* I wouldn’t dream of going through the same awkward experience once more. Thus, flexibility also prevents unexpected circumstances from becoming too imaginably horrible.

Have you ever watched gymnasts do their thing? I was watching videos of gymnasts to better understand the meaning of flexibility, and they simply took my breath away! Watching them twist, turn and bend their bodies in every single conformation possible, had me worrying that they might hurt themselves or break a few bones. Then it occurred to me that the hard work they put into long hours of intensive training increased their physical flexibility. The warm up stretches they did before each routine also prevented them from getting hurt easily. That is why I believe flexibility is so essential in our lives. In my case, it saved me a whole lot of embarrassment.

In conclusion, do not just settle for comfort, a routine lifestyle or a good image, but ensure that in your life, there is – flexibility.

6 Steps To Step Up For Change

August 13, 2008

I had just concluded today the very intensive and in two and a half days training for the Step Up For Change program. This is a nation-wide initiative by the Work Development Agency (WDA) and the various Community Development Councils (CDC) to help women become more empowered for positive action and adapt to changes in their lives. In addition to this, I’ve designed this training to further enhance the participants’ ability to handle increasing life challenges, receive better employment opportunities as well as live a more enriching and meaningful life.

Therefore, here are the steps to help you STEP UP for Changes in Your life:

1. Sense what you need to change for the better.

2. Think creatively of ways to make your life work.

3. Energize yourself to charge up your life.

4. Plan your strategies for action.

5. Use resources and tools to aid you.

6. Perform regular review to improve.

Clearly this training is specifically designed to allow the participants to get out of the comfort zone in preparation to excel. And when you choose excel, you must become committed to keep working on it and strive to make it even better.

In this way, you will surely Excel Beyond Excellence!

Expansive Thinking Is Not Expensive, It Makes You Exceptional.

November 20, 2007

Yesterday was the final day of the “Work Improvement Team” training or commonly known as WITs. This course was an extension from the last Wednesday and Thursday. During the training, we had in-depth discussions on the art of thinking, especially thinking expansively.

This means to think, consider and ponder beyond your comfort zone. It requires the ability to shift to a new paradigm, a necessity in the fast changing world. However, it might be a tedious effort, demanding the constant need to push ahead despite the trappings. “It’s costly to go against the norms,” some said. “What if I fail?”

Throughout history, those who manage to make a mark in their lives possess such similar quality. They persistently think beyond themselves and what they can do, refusing to allow life or obstacles to limit them. Hence they push the boundary of their boxes further than others, living and carving out a difference in their own destinies. That’s living an exceptional life.

Here are some questions to help you use your mind expansively:

* How do you stretch beyond yourself?

* What other ways can you live your life?

* How else can you overcome the challenges in your life?

* How can you look at things differently?

* What other solutions can you resolve this issue with?

* If there are no limits, what will you do?

Let us Excel Beyond Excellence!

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!

7 Top Qualities You Must Have To Effectively Improve Your Work Place

October 12, 2007

Today’s seminar was a blast! I had just completed 3 intensive days of workshop on “Work Improvement Team Training”. This is otherwise known as WITs. Having further explored with the participants various Thinking, Analyzing and Planning (TAP) tools, we embarked on various projects to improve things around us at the work place.

What I truly enjoyed about conducting the training was the enthusiasm and excitement generated by the participants. Well done and my appreciation to all of you!

In addition, I shared with them about the qualities they must have to effectively improve their work place:

1. The belief in the need for continuous improvement.

2. Having a keen eye in noticing and knowing changes, both at work and in general trends.

3. Be sharp in thinking to know what changes has taken place and what to change.

4. Be creative in knowing how to implement the solutions.

5. Possess critical thinking skills to better analyze, critic and evaluate (ACE) the results.

6. Gain the support of your superiors and the management to carry out the proposed improvement.

7. Possess the ability to lead and influence your team members.

When you truly and earnestly strive to improve, the environment will reciprocate by allowing you to better perform in your career. After all, your work place is designed for you to excel beyond excellence!

How To Boost and Maximize Your Brain’s Learning Capabilities?

September 22, 2007

“Your mind has been a learning machine ever since you’re born.” This was one of the messages I shared with my course participants for the last two days. In “Brain Power”, I’m so glad that all the participants took immense interest excelling in their own mental well being and life success. Well done, everyone!

To add on, here are the ways to maximize and boost your brain’s learning capabilities:

1. Get curious. And I mean really curious about everything.

2. Start to ask questions. Ask them well and ask them deep. Ask me too.

3. Be observant. Hone your powers of sight and hearing. Tune your instincts.

4. Study different perspectives. Be receptive to possible ways of looking at issues and ideas. You see what I mean?

5. Take notes. Note them down. Study them. Discuss them.

6. Test for reaction. A bit of cheekiness here. Dare you push someone to the brink of their limit? Not crossing it though. A little sort of “what happens if I do this?” and then just work on the nerve buttons. I bet you’ll learn something you’ll never forget. (Please… use some emotional intelligence here to know your limits of testing, ok?)

7. Add variety. A little bit of pepper won’t hurt. Who knows, you might like it. So, instead of cramping the books, get out and boogie!!!

8. Seek creativity. When variety isn’t enough, get creative. Ever worn a flowery shirt to work instead of the usual black-and-whites?

9. Have fun. Fun has the strange ability to make you want more of it. So if you have fun learning, guess what you want more of? (The irony is… it’s a no brainer!)

10. Experience freshness and refresh your life. Take a deep breath, feel the positive energy of this world. Reflect on its existence and your purpose of being here in this life. Mediation adds to your enlightenment too. Hmmm……

Remember, your mind craves for new knowledge. Never deny it the chance to grow, for its continued growth is your guarantee to excel in life. A life that lets you excel beyond excellence!

5 Top Traits You Must Have For Creativity And To Think Out Of The Box

August 12, 2007

Just completed a series of trainings on Work Improvement Team Scheme (WITS) for the stat boards. Within the workshops, I highlighted the importance of creativity as well as the ability to think-out-of-box.

Indeed, in life encounters and work improvement, we cannot do without creativity.

Here are the 5 top traits you must have for creativity and to think out of the box:

1) You must have open mindedness.

2) You must have flexibility.

3) You must have a sense of curiosity.

4) You must have a sense of acuity.

5) You must have the willingness to “fail” and “make mistakes”.