Vision, Mission … Why Bother?

November 6, 2009 1 comment

ShadowPointingIn an in-class assignment, we were ask to make a vision & a mission statement for our life or career.

I was always confused about the difference between vision & mission statement … so we were taught the difference were:
   Vision = External purpose
   Mission = Internal purpose
Honestly, I could never under stand what’s the point of it. The company ones usually just seem long & generic most of the time.

On the contrary, It was an interesting exercise; We had to consider what’s important to us & what our life/career meant to us. It put a spotlight on what my direction in life.

This is mine (for now):

  • Vision: To show the power of teaching with leadership throughout my careers
  • Mission: To improve work-life & leadership through teaching

After the exercise, now I do appreciate mission statement & vision; Especially the process of creating it. It really get you think in a bigger strategic way.

For anyone who want to figure out their career path or bored about their life; I suggest you should try creating a vision & mission statement, you might just be surprise what you find out.

Categories: Careering, Leading, Teaching

To Succeed: Try, Try, Try Again!

October 22, 2009 1 comment

Bulb_oldDo you remember how many resume did you send before getting your first jobs after college?
To succeed in anything, you got to try, try, try again!

Perseverance is need before success arrives, just look at these examples:

  • Edison & his associates had around 10000 light bulb prototype before success
  • Henry Ford founded 2 car company before Ford Motors
  • The iPod had 4 revision before getting the click wheel right & gain mainstream attention for the device (This includes thousands of prototypes)

As for me, this is my third attempt at blogging, I learn something in every attempt:

1st Blog: Take-Talk
My first one was a podcast notes & recommendation blog. I loved listening to & learning from podcasts; it seems logical to follow my passion to share what I gain from them. I found passion sometimes is not enough to keep me going, because there are spikes & valley in passion.

2nd Blog: Soft Side of IT
With my experience in IT in 10+ roles, it would be a great career move to write about lesson learn in Information Technology jobs. Again it fell off since I had interest in IT, but passion was another story. This also lead to peaks & valley in writing for the topics, plus it was too broad.

3rd Blog: Teach … Lead … Careering
This time, learning from my last few attempts; I regroup & started this new blog (After a few months of break). By learning from failures … this time I made sure I had passion, interest, experience, career motivation & a future before I start. if one part falls off, I can rely on one the 5 things to keep pushing me forward. I don’t know if it will succeed or not, I just know this fits what I want to do.

To gain experience at any new knowledge, skills, industry or anything else; you need to try, try , try again to succeed.

Did you know:

Categories: Blog, Careering, Learning

To Lead: Trust Them

October 10, 2009 Leave a comment

ThumbsTrust is the a key motivator in Leading

This is what I found from years with my various managers, teaching experience, coordinating projects & leading teammates.

Even when I only have 1 -2 people to coordinate, I try to provide them trust & empower them with any needed knowledge. When that happens they perform better, which allows me to focus improve quality & spend more time in tracking pending issues in the project.

This is important even with grade school kids. I provide trust in their judgement & work with their homework, they gain confidence. Once that is in place, I will trust them to do their work on their own with minimal supervising.

When they know others trust their quality of work; They perform better with less stress, greater confidence, concentration & motivation to work.

Whenever there is trust, the lead/employer will trust the employee with resources (otherwise they are just saying it while not meaning it). This will empower the employees with freedom & decision making to do their work better due to less stress.

End-Note: The more trusts happens → The more you will be able to delegate → The more things you will be able to accomplish

Categories: Leading, Teaching

Best way to Learn: Embracing Failure

October 3, 2009 1 comment

Grill-FlameThis past Tuesday was FailCamp Toronto, it was pretty enjoyable & insightful. The point of the seminar was to “Embrace failure”.

Here is an interest comment that caught my ears:

We rarely learn from success,
all our best learning comes from failures & mistakes.

From working for years in parts of IT & a decade of teaching, I really like this comment.

When I teach, I often allow kids & co-worker to try the system/math problem, so they can learn to figure out how things work & learn to try. Sometimes I do this so much that the kids end up teach themselves. (I just give a few leading comment/questions)

Here is an exercise: Which way do think you learn more from this scenario?
Learning a new computer system at work, when the teacher:
1. Corrects you every moment you might do something wrong
2. Just let you try out the system, even though you are making mistakes.

In the first scenario, you might feel safer because the teacher is making sure you are clicking correctly; but do you think you can really can anything with the system?
While the second scenario might sound scary to play around with a system, you will definitely remember most of the errors or weird results from the mistake.

By letting mistakes happen, it gets the person to remember because it makes thing more exciting & no one way of doing thing.

Categories: Learning, Teaching

Motivation: Getting Back Up & Running

September 28, 2009 Leave a comment

WakeUp-CatLike a really good night sleep, where you want to just stay in bed for hours. After coming back from a relaxing vacation, I find myself just can’t seem to get back into the same flow. (This could be a good thing if you can get rid of a bad habit, like being a workaholic)

On regular trips, I can recover & get back to things pretty quickly. Although this time, i couldn’t … especially on this blog. It took a week to get most of my core schedule back on track, like Work Schedule, Excerising, Waking up on time… & the 2nd for the other schedule such as this blog. To pull myself back on track, I had to realign several elements of my motivation:

Mindset: Brainstorm some new ideas & make notes … just try to get excited about the project/job/work

Goals: Reminding myself the purpose & revisit the vision/mission/mantra (Update if needed)

Focus: Setting a schedule/time & reschedule when needed, this is to create a sense of urgency.

Environment: Place myself & laptop in a coffee shop without wifi

It took me several tries in both weeks to not get distracted before I was able start writing again.
Do you have a project you are worked on that almost got dropped off? What did you do to get back on track?

Categories: Learning

Breaking the Curse of Knowledge

September 16, 2009 Leave a comment

SwordStoneFor the last 2 post, we discussed about curse of knowledge. This curse has lead to serious confusion, bad pitches & fail at driving interest.

The 3 cause of the curse of knowledge could be:
1. Hearing, not listening
2. Missing info
3. Bad assumptions
(Assuming something is common knowledge)

To recognize the curse is happening:
– Listen
– Read Facial expression
– Are they bored, confusion or just not paying attention
– Looking for reaction
To break the situation here are some ways I have gain successful with:

Ask Leading Questions
You can ask questions that you know the answer to:
1. Gauge the others’ knowledge level
2. Provide clarification to others minimal interruptions
3. Show their contraction

Clarifying Questions
This could be trick without looking dumb, but if everyone else is confused then you get a chance to clearing things out & having a new chance to sell the idea again (instead getting ignored)

Statement it in Your Own Terms
It starts with “So what you mean is …”; This might drive the other person crazy, it creates an atmosphere of clarifications

Recognize & State the Situation is Occurring
Just by stating it, this will show everyone is just confused; it builds a common connection while laughing; This also give you a new start with people you have bonded with
The curse of knowledge drives also of wasted time, money & failed pitches. These last 3 posts was to shine a spotlight of this issue; If we can lessen confusions, we just might be able to eliminate bad specification/pitches, multiple change requests after the fact or extended meeting … and that would be great.

Categories: Uncategorized

Recognizing the Curse of Knowledge

August 30, 2009 1 comment

From my last post on describe one impact of the curse of knowledge & said I was going provide method of avoid it. Although if we can’t see it happening, how can we avoid it? So let’s talk about recognizing it first.

The core issue is people having missing information. It could be as simple as weird acynoymns.

First, we need to recognize when does it happens.
You know the curse of knowledge is occurring when:
 – Everyone is disagreeing against 1 or 2 people (it could be you)
 – The same topic keeps on coming back
 – Too much arguing
 – Both side is giving incoherent suggestion
 – When someone look confused & keeping quiet (Scare of looking stupid)
 – When someone sounds like they don’t know what they are talking about
These are all signs one or both side being misinformation or misunderstood.

To break this is to make sure the other understand the situation or you just start asking question. That’s the quick version. I will leave the details & the how till next post. (9 days from now, after a sunny vacation … Cheers)

Categories: Leading, Teaching

Curse of Knowledge … on Delegation

August 19, 2009 2 comments

book-SpiritEarlier today, I read a post from Ravi Kudesia at Brazen Careetist about the curse of knowledge on innovation & it reminded me of Guy Kawasaki’s Reality Check. The book said the following:

“The curse of knowledge… Lots of research in economics and psychology shows that when we know something, it becomes hard for us to imagine not knowing it.”

At first it not seem that important, but when you can’t delegate because your team can’t produce the similar results as you … it is devastating.

Have you ever experienced someone training you tries explain what to do in one shot … then give you a stupid look when you starting asking questions?

When someone knows how to do something it will seem easy to the person because of their knowledge & experience. Although they try to explain it, but they cannot explain it in Layman’s terms; Even if they want to delegate some tasks,  they couldn’t.  This is one of the power from the Curse of Knowledge.

Next post I will attempt to find some ways to beat this curse.

Categories: Leading, Teaching

Learning: Building Confidence is Key

August 11, 2009 Leave a comment

ridebikeLast weekend, I was teaching two grade 4 students about long division. It was one of their first time learning it, so of course there were mistakes every try.

One thing I learnt was people learning new things set their impression of being good/bad at something very easily.

Steps to learn new things:
1. Never say the word ‘wrong’ … use a positive tone

2. De-emphasis the importance of making mistakes
    (Never make them feel bad for trying)

3. Giving them permission/encouragement to try again

4. Joke & have fun

5. Complement of small success … builds confidence

6. Let go

Just like learning to ride a bike or skating, it might take a bit of time to start, but once the confidence of not falling is gone … the learning speeds up + the fun begins.

This works on adults as much as kids; in my day time job, sometimes I would teach the IT system we are implementing to new team members. Depending on their confidence level, I had applied the above method & it works. With confidence, it takes people 2-3 days to learn 1+ week worth of material.

At the end, the students did their long division on their own & was pretty happy getting a 90-something on their short quiz.

Categories: Learning, Teaching

Inspiring: Leading to Action

August 3, 2009 Leave a comment

LightRay_roadAn inspiration of this blog was the post
How Teaching Can Make You Unforgettable
from Anita Bruzzese‘s blog On the Job.

I have been teaching kids for years & I have been applying those skills in the wokplace; But not until when I was replying on Anita’s post that I found myself constantly thinking of more & more points; that’s when I find myself thinking … “I might be able to write a full blog on this topic alone” … So I did, 3 months later (After planning, researching & pushing myself to do it).

Most of the time when students ask for help, they already know what to do. Usually what I do is to just ask leading questions to inspire them to figure out what they to should do … and their face lights up when they figure it out themselves.

Here is one simple way to inspire others through a situation:
1. Use leading questions to point people to a direction
2. Give them confidence/permission to take action
 Please don’t make them feel wrong if they took a different direction than you expected

3. Make sure to watch their reaction when they see their results unfold in front of them

Categories: Blog, Leading