Dr. DARREN CHUA

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9December

2017

How to develop a Winning Mindset

Whenever we have a conversation on “Winning”, the natural image that most of us have is that of a person standing on a podium and receiving his award or trophy. After all, the common definition of the word entails “relating to victory in a contest or competition”. However, there is another definition of winning is of “attractive or endearing”. For example, “he has a winning personality” or “she has such a winning smile”. When we speak of a winning mindset, it is also the latter that we are referring to.

I believe there are a few attributes to a winning mindset and in this post, we will be taking a closer look at three of these qualities.

Visualization
Visualization is simply the act of having a very clear and distinct picture of what you want to achieve. It is about knowing your end goal and literally directing a movie in your head that shows you achieving that goal.

Using visualization techniques to focus on your goals and desires accomplishes four very important things.
1) It activates your creative subconscious which will start generating creative ideas to achieve your goal.
2) It programs your brain to more readily perceive and recognize the resources you will need to achieve your dreams.
3) It activates the law of attraction, thereby drawing into your life the people, resources, and circumstances you will need to achieve your goals.
4) It builds your internal motivation to take the necessary actions to achieve your dreams.
Visualization can include mantra’s and affirmations to help keep the idea of your future success firmly visible in mind.

The Art of Determination
We need to feel invested in the things ywe do. It is not about doing that project at work, because the “boss needs it”. We should own that project so as to make it as our own.

When we put our “stamp” on things and take ownership of them, we are taking things out of the hands of fate and putting them into our own hands. Success or failure is all on us now and not on the will or whim of others.
People who knows the art of determination understands that life does bring us into a roller-coaster ride and set-backs and delays to happen in life. They will have contingency plans and work to ensure that nothing blindsides them and keeps them from their goals.

Focus on Positive Possibilities
People who fail are always worried. This worry and fear does nothing good for us. In fact, all it does is to heighten our stress and make it more likely that we miss the shot, mess up our project or fail to reach our goals.

It is far better to stay optimistic, calm and positive about the outcomes. See ourselves making that shot as we take it. Know that we are doing the best we can on the project, and the boss will love it. See yourself reaching your goals, plan to avoid obstacles and visualize our success.

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1November

2017

A Leader's Vision

Many people mistakenly believe that a Company’s vision should be the responsibility of the CEO.

That is erroneous thinking and not only limits the growth of any leader, but also makes his career less exciting.

All leaders in any organization, community or team is able to effectively manifest his vision (‘see’) as long as he creates specific and achievable goals (‘do’) while initiating positive actions and enlisting the participation of all relevant team members.

Of course, to reap maximum synergy and motivation from your team, a Leader’s Vision should be congruent with that of the Company’s.

However, there are a few questions that beg to be answered.

As a Leader, how important is it to set a Vision? How should Leaders rally their team behind that Vision? What is the role of the Leader in motivation and bringing out that Vision?

Vision

A visionary paints beautiful scenes of the future and articulate them with great enthusiasm.

A visionary leader, on the other hand, brings that vision into reality and, thereby, impacting the space we dwell in.

As a Leader, even though he was requested to leave the company that he helped set build, Steve Jobs never threw away his Vision of what Apple could be. Instead he dug deep, persevered and returned back to Apple, impacting the company even more in the process.

As Leaders, how ready and enthusiastic are we to share a piece of our dream with the team?

More importantly, how determined are we to see our Vision bear fruits?

Buy-in

Successful Leaders should also be able to get positive ‘buy-in’ from our team. Therefore, we should concentrate on the various stages of the buy-in process and manage it accordingly.

Before any task is initiated, it would be very helpful for Leaders to show “complete disclosure” to their team as to what is to be done.

And what this means is that Leaders should dedicate effort to spend time with their team and explaining to them the merits of these particular project or the team’s role in the organization.

At this point any confusion can be dealt with and any disagreement with task orientation can also be smoothened out.

It is good for Leaders to help the team ‘see the big picture’ and understand how their involvement will help the team reach goals and also result in the growth of each respective team members.

After all, Leaders are dream makers who know that dreams are made from future probabilities and never from past liabilities. The more we nourish our team with possible visions of what the team can achieve, the more dynamic and motivated they will be.

Step-in and Step-up!

One of the key elements in bringing your team into the Vision is trust.

Trust is the primary ingredient in all relationships. Because it is often something that is earned, our team may not initially trust us until we are able to demonstrate some sort of trust building behavior.

For this reason, team building activities are of value.

The relationships between Leaders and the rest of the team is critical as to how engaged everyone will be.

A Gallup research (2009) shows that a team needs constant feedback as to how they are performing and not just yearly.

Effective Leaders also need to give and receive feedback and to mentor their team in a way that increases engagement and commitment.

Motivation

For teams to be highly motivated there ought to be effective communication. It is essential for information to be received and transmitted in its exact same form or spirit within our team.

It is useful to remind ourselves that success of the team only occurs when everybody ‘wins’.

Hence, some handy reminders include:

1) Always take into account your boss’s point of view

2) Focusing on the solution rather than the problem

3) Being aware of your body language

4) Observing how your boss prefers to communicate with you

Many of us avoid the responsibility of visionary leadership primarily because we are too sensitive to criticism and failure. But all these may fade away when we realize the impact it can have to our organization.

As Robert Frost once wrote:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. “ – Robert Frost

(This article has been published in 11/09/12 CATS Recruits)

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3November

2017

Of Wisdom

Albert Einstein once said, “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it”. In a world that is fast changing, we are facing life with increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. For us to continually thrive and excel, we need to know and understand how best to respond despite the current times and situation.

I believe that our thought process of any issue is not completed until we have wisdom of that matter; which can be rearticulated as knowledge understood which is fully applied.

You see, wisdom is very much like a 3-step ladder. Each rung of the ladder corresponds to a common English word – knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Some may view them as of similar meaning although I beg to differ. In fact, wisdom is knowledge that is understood and applied. After all, Knowledge is Information, Understanding is Comprehension and Wisdom is Application; and that is why application is supreme. Because we can know something and not understand it. We can understand something but not apply it.

So the starting point of wisdom is gathering of knowledge and basic facts. The next step is to ensure that you have the skills and capacity to understand that knowledge. This is the where we translate meaning from the facts gathered. And finally, you need to garner the courage to apply it in practical life. In other words, it is not just good enough to know what to do next, given an understanding of the facts but to also have the fortitude to carry it through effectively.

The following tale may show help you visualize the differences between the three terms:

Knowledge Understanding Wisdom
Facts Meaning What to Do Next
Information Principles Application
Memory Reason Action
Scholars Teachers Practitioners

Charles Spurgeon once wrote; “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are the greatest fools of all. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”

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21October

2017

Mindset of Leadership

Mindset will determine the way we behave, our outlook on life and our attitude towards everything that is happening around us. Our mindset is our ideas and attitudes that shape the way we thinks about ourselves and the world around us. Simply put, our mindset is our way of thinking and our frame of mind.

Our mindset not only determines our collection of thoughts and beliefs, it also shape our habits. And our habits affect how we think, what we feel, and what we do

The mindset we have shifts the way we approach our everyday life. And the good news is, our mindset is not set in stone; there are things that we can do that shift your mindset so that we can get the most out of it.

As leaders, have we ever reflected upon how the role of our mindset plays in the way we approach our leadership, as well as our leadership styles?

Our mindset can be defined to comprise the entirety of our attitudes, beliefs and expectations we hold that act as the foundation of who we are – which in turn shapes how we lead and the ways we interact with our team. Our mindset determines how we think, as well as how we interpret the situations occurring around us. It impacts the quality of our relationships, as well as moderating the way we live and lead our lives.

I believe there are four important perspectives in a mindset we need to adopt in order to be a good and effective leader. I call these the S.T.A.R. mindset:

S – Sight
A leader’s sight enables us to be excited about the future, and they allow the team to be able to see the vision that we dare to place upon ourselves. It is the end in mind; the goal in which the team strives towards together with the leader.

T – Testament
It is almost a cliché, but also a truism that great leaders must not only “talk the talk,” but also “walk the talk”. Actions speak louder than words. A good visualization of the team’s success and heights the team can reach can only be achieved through concrete, actionable steps and actions taken in order to inch towards the end goal in mind. Without actions, ideas would remain afloat, and visions would only remain as dreams.

A – Assurance
One of the foundations of good leadership is the assurance and the determination we give to our team members. The amount of commitment that you bring as leaders sends a powerful message of commitment to your team mates. Leaders lead by example and lead a group together by trudging forward with them, whereas bosses only give directions for his subordinates to follow.

R – Responsibility
As leaders, we take the lead in all aspects of the team’s functioning and performance and we are willing to be accountable for our actions and results.

A good leader will take ownership of the actions and decisions made by him or herself, as well as those of the team – shifting of blame or finger-pointing is extremely detrimental for team dynamics, and would not attribute to good leadership as it slows team growth and progress.

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7October

2017

Character Matters

Character originates from the Greek word “charassein”, which means to scratch or engrave. Referring to a person’s character refers to attributes he manifests.

Our character is the result of us committing ourselves to principles that we will not violate. It is the power and will to remain steadfast in doing what is right regardless of the path that is taken by others. A person of character is one who has integrity and he means what he says and acts on his word. In many ways, our character is our convictions manifested.

Our character is the most important balance for a successful life. Without a robust character, our life has no safety and protection. This thing that is character is the thermostat that alerts us when compromising situations become eminent. People with character follow their conscience rather than their conveniences.

Our character is the manifestation of our values and habits. After all if we truly value something, we will not do anything in violation of it. We are responsible for these values we hold dear in our pursuit to destiny. Our values are the foundation upon which character is built.

Our character matters because is about accountability to ourselves and those that around us. Accountability refers to the obligation to report to those who we are responsible to and responsible for. Decisions that we make for our lives are actually never really private because our decisions always affects people around us. We protect ourselves to defend and safeguard others. So our accountability is actually a commitment to personal integrity. Hence, character and integrity are the protection for our lives.

Fundamentally good character refers to the positive and healthy values-driven habits that you develop that results in authentic success.

These values shape our decision-making. They are our own moral compass, and each person’s values are specific to them depending on the life experiences we have and the conversations we have about these conversations. These values are the passions in our hearts–what inspires us to live right never give up.

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29September

2017

Prioritizing Priorities

One of the greatest open secret to living life effectively is to understand the principle of priority. Our life on earth is the sum total of all the decisions that we make daily and these decisions are made by our priorities.

Life is designed to be lived simply and the key to a simply, yet significant life lies in prioritization. Identifying and focusing on the correct and right priorities is the key to a successful and fulfilling life.

Our priorities determine the quality of our life and drives our actions and behaviours. Therefore it is imperative that we understand and identify our priorities in life. One of life’s greatest fear is to lie life with the wrong priorities. One of life’s greatest challenge is to know what to do and when to do it.

When our priorities are correct (that is, knowing what to do and when to do it), our life is protected. Correct priorities protect our time. After all, when we set the right priorities, then we use our time for intentional and needful pursuits in life. Not only that, correct priorities protects our energy, talents and gifting and it simplifies and disciplines our life.

Failure to establish correct priorities cause us to waste two very important resources which are time and energy. When our priorities are wrong, we find ourselves busy with the wrong things and becoming preoccupied with the unimportant and the unnecessary. One of my greatest fear is to be kept busy and not effective and doing work which are not my assignments in life.

Why is this principle of priorities important? It is because priorities allow us to live life effectively. As we end this year, let us take time and re-focus on what is important to us and take concrete steps to make a positive difference in our lives and to those around us.

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19August

2017

Creating our World and Designing our Destiny

Our mindset is our mental condition that determines our interpretation of and response to our environment and circumstances. It influences our way of thinking, impacts the results we generate, narrates our beliefs and delivers the actions we want to achieve. It is also important to understand that our mindset is the natural product of our self-worth, self-esteem self-concept and sense of of value and significance. In other words, is the manifestation of what we think, conceive and ultimately perceive.

There is a story I regularly use in my talks and workshops to demonstrate the power of mindset. There was a young lion that grew up in a flock of sheep and so he had no consciousness that he was a lion. He did not know he was a lion. He would bleat like a sheep and eat grass like a sheep. One day they were wandering at the edge of a big jungle when a jungle lion let out a big roar and leaped out of the forest and right into the middle of the flock. All the sheep scattered and ran away. Imagine the surprise of the jungle lion when he saw this other lion there among the sheep. So, he gave chase and got hold of the young lion who was cringing in front of the king of the jungle. And the jungle lion said to him, “What are you doing here?”

And the young lion said, “Have mercy on me. Don’t eat me. Have mercy on me.” But the king of the forest dragged him away saying “Come on with me.” And he took him to a lake and he said, “Look.” So, the young lion who thought he was a sheep looked and for the first time he saw his reflection. He saw his image. Then he looked at the jungle lion, and he looked in the water again, and he let out a mighty roar.

This simple story reminds us that we live our mindset and our mindset then creates our lives. We live our existence based on who we think we are. According the story, if we believe in our heart that we are a sheep, then we will stay and remain in the confines that others have put us in.

Hence, our mindset creates our world and designs our destiny. It determines our success in any ventures in life. Yet, a corrupted mindset can also lead to our failures. After all, our state of mind is the servant that can open the door or close the gate of possibilities. More opportunities have been lost and withheld because of a fixed mindset. Therefore the distinction between our success and failures is in our mindset. What is on your mind today?

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10August

2017

How To Live Life Gloriously

The glory of something and of anything can be defined as the full nature of that thing on display for the world to see and appreciate. The Hebrew word for “glory,” is kabod, which comes from a root word with the basic meaning of “heavy,” or “weighty.” Kabod also carries the idea of “fullness” or the “full weight” of something. In this sense it refers to the “weightiness” of someone of high importance, a person of notable, impressive, and positive reputation. In other words, when we speak of the “glory” (kabod) of something we are referring to the weightiness, visible manifestation, full expression and reputation of that which we are discussing.

Take for example the ‘Glory of Rome’. It refers to the epic achievements of Ancient Rome, whether military, architectural or institutional – from the Colosseum to the spread of Roman Law. The glory that was Rome refers to the visible manifestation and full expression of what it was at that peak.

Similarly for humans, all of us seek to be fully expressed and have our talents, abilities, giftings and inclinations visibly manifested. I believe that human beings cannot experience complete fulfillment in life unless they are fully expressed. Yet the glory that I am speaking of is to be distinguished from that of personal ambition. Personal ambition is about your personal view of the future based on personal desires. For us to be fully expressed – glory – we need to work out our talents, gifts and abilities based on how much we are able to add value to those around us.

There are three keys to finding fulfillment and subsequently be fully expressed. These keys are purpose, environment and relationships.

Purpose is paramount to life. Without purpose, life has no meaning. We find that it is so easy to be busy making a living even though we may be experiencing very little in life. Without knowledge of purpose, life becomes an endless string of activities with little or no significance.

Everything in life has a Purpose. Everyone who is reading this blog post is born with and for a purpose. Finding this purpose creates our source of meaning. Purpose, therefore, is the original intent in the mind of the creator, in the mind of God. And it is this reason why I believe we are all hard-wired and we have an in-built system that tells us that we are born on purpose and with a purpose.

Everything in life is meant to function in a certain Environment. From what is evident in the news, we see that if we do not take care of the oceans, fishes die. If we do not take care of our soil, plants die. In fact, ff we take a plant out of the soil or we take fish out of water, they naturally perish. We all needs a certain environment in which we flourish. Outside of that optimal environment, we malfunction.

Therefore, I think we can appreciate that environment is the key to success and I believe it is the same for our mindset as well. For us to be all that we are meant to be, we need the right “environment” – the right mindset.

We are fully expressed we live for others – our glory exists not for our benefits but for others (Relationships). A rose gives off a sweet fragrance not for its own pleasure but for the pleasure of others. An orange produces refreshing juice not for its own pleasure but for the pleasure of others. And that is true of us too. What can we do today that can benefit those around us?

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11December

2015

Why I Participated in the World Strongest Man Challenge

So, there I was. Me vs the machine

This was going to be a variation of The World Strongest Man competition which was originally developed in 1977 for CBS by Langstar Inc.

Vehicles such as transport trucks, trams, boxcars, buses, or planes are pulled across a 100-foot (30 m) course as fast as possible. One variation sees the competitors pull the object with a rope toward them. Another has them attached to a rope which is attached to a vehicle, while they use another rope to pull themselves down the course. A third involves no ropes, with the competitors pulling the vehicle while connected to a harness.

With this version, The Inclusive Strongman Challenge, the challenge was simple enough. To pull the car with me seated down in my wheelchair and strapped to the vehicle and, just pulling and moving it.

When Bee, a friend, approached me I was so honoured and delighted to have this opportunity. Not to show off since, to tell the truth, I believe many other para-athletes will be able to pull the car over a further distance. But, more importantly, it is to drive home a point:

Disability is of the mind and never about the body.

And so there I was on 28 November 2015 and the challenge given to me and, I pulled. But that was not the point. What was more important was that from this challenge, to anybody who saw it that day and many more that will see it in the various media forms, they will all see one thing:

Hope.

Through my interaction with many disabled and even among the abled bodied, even before there is a breakdown in lives, there is almost always a crash of hope.

I am someone who talks about The Art of Determination.  Yet the spirit that drives determination is hope and we must live life as A Prisoner of Hope.

I lived a significant portion of my life trapped within my own body as a stroke survivor and I know what it is like to live in a ‘prison’. But what is more devastating is not a physical prison but a mental prison.

It is hope that gives us courage to believe in a better tomorrow. It is hope that gives us the audacity to think and plan of a better future. It is hope that says, “I deserve better because I am and I can”.

And oh, by the way, it moved approximately 1.5 meter.

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14December

2015

Celebrating the extraordinary

The 8th ASEAN Games, which was played in Singapore from 3rd to 9th December was my second time participating in the Games as a wheel chair table tennis player.

The 7 days saw 1185 para athlete fr 10 countries compete in 15 sports (largest to date) and old records were erased as new sporting excellence was reached. Throughout the event,  National, Games, Asian and even World records were broken and each of the 476 event saw people supporting their favorite athletes.

Looking back, it is amazing how powerful and indomitable the human spirit is when we are determined to reach not just any goal, but a meaningful goal that touches us.

But what is determination?

I often speak to The Art of Determination. In fact I even have a mini book of the same title. In it I stress on the facets that enables an individual to be more self determined  so that we are all able to be ordinary people achieving extraordinary feats.

Through my talks and conversation with people regarding this topic, I begin to see that while many people desire to have determination as one of their strong suit, not everyone possess it.  For determination is not of the mind. It is a habit. It is what we consistently do till we achieved what we desire to attain.

1 of the most vital ingredient in developing this Art of Determination is to have a plan. The plan has to be changeable and refineable as circumstances change, but this also has to be done in a concrete fashion and with an eye firmly fixed on the goal. The plan should have a realistic, changeable timeline with milestones and completion date. The other important consideration is that every step of the plan has to be reachable from the previous step and one has to know how; otherwise it’s not a plan but a vague statement of intention that’s not of much practical use.

And it is through this Art of Determination that allows ordinary people to celebrate extraordinary moments that last a life time.

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