Dr. DARREN CHUA

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15December

2016

Pursuing Purpose

Recently I had the pleasure to meet a new friend who is also a stroke survivor. Both of us had our brain attack due to an AVM (arteria-venous malformation). Over coffee in the afternoon, we shared how our lives were affected because of the bleed.

Over the course of our conversation, one theme cropped out often and that was about our life’s purpose. Maybe it is because stroke at our relatively young age makes us realise just how fragile life can be. Or maybe it is because we both appreciate and acknowledge how grateful we are for God’s unmerited favour over our lives. As I relaxed and enjoyed the time with my new acquaintance, it reminded me why it is so important for us to seek out passionately what our purpose in life is.

It was Dr Myles Munroe (1954 – 2014) who was a pastor, inspirational speaker and international author of numerous books that wrote, “The value of life is not in its duration, but in its donation. You are not important because of how long you live, you are important because of how effective you live.

And so I shared over our afternoon coffee why it is so important that we have a duty to live out our life. Paul (5 – 67 AD), the apostle who taught the gospel of Jesus Christ in the first century, had the privilege to complete his life’s destiny when he wrote these words, “My life is being poured out as a part of the sacrifice and service… Yet, I am filled with joy, and I share that joy with all of you.” – (Phil 2:17)

How absolutely wonderful it must feel to know that we have impacted others through the lives we have touched!
As we go into the final few days of the year and we look forward to 2017, let us ponder as consider the purpose of our lives and how we pursue. it.

Perspective
One of the best ways to develop a healthy and positive approach towards life is to be intentional about our mindset and the thoughts that we dwell upon.

Again, it was Paul the apostle that reminds us that “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” – (Phil 4:8)

Authenticity
To live a life that is meaningful and rewarding, we need to be real and authentic about who we are, what we have done, where we want to go and how are we going to reach there.

One of the most important thing we can do to develop our purpose to be be self-aware of our talents, abilities, gifts and inclinations. And this is what I routinely do for my workshops and talks.

Service
When we are determined to live a life where we are continually giving, we act with respect, care, and mindfulness for the well-being of everyone and not just for our self-serving interests. When we serve others first and be a leader second, we help individuals achieve worthwhile results while keeping the best interest of those we serve before our own.

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29December

2016

How to Develop a Successful Mindset for 2017

What is Mindset? The dictionary defines it as “the established set of attitude held by a person”. In other words, our mindset refers to our mental inclination, tendency and habits. It is our way of thinking and opinions. Through our mindset our attitudes, moods and disposition is established. Moreover, this mental frame of mind; which we term mindset; drives our ideas whenever we approach a situation. Mindset is important because it refers to our thought, actions, results and beliefs.

It was perhaps the Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu who first wrote about mindset and its significance more than 2 500 years ago with these words:

“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

Stephen Covey (1932 – 2012) was an American educator, author and businessman who wrote The Habits Of Highly Effective People; and it was he that coined the idea of abundance mindset contrasting it with scarcity mindset. For Covey, he believes that the emergence of an abundance mindset creates a mentality that gravitates towards enough resources and successes to share with others.

In 2006, Carol Dwerk (1946 – present) published her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success in which she postulates that individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of where ability comes from. According to her book, there are those that believes their success is based on innate ability and she termed them as “fixed mindset” vs those who believes that success is based on hard work, learning, training and doggedness whom she termed as “growth mindset”.

I believe that mindset is the key that unlocks the treasure that is stored within us. As we move into 2017, let us remember together some keys that will open up our possibilities as we position ourselves for a great year ahead!

Why are we doing what we are doing?
One of the most important thing we can know in 2017 for ourselves is what is important to us? As the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) so profoundly said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Our purpose drives our reasons and reasoning.

We can accomplish almost anything when what we are trying to accomplish is what we are passionate about. Let us be focused and disciplined to a cause and purpose that connects with who we truly are. All of us bear a unique voice that is longing to be expressed so let us start living sincerely though this expression.

What can we do to achieve transformational results?
All of us have the responsibility to deliver to the world the potential that is trapped in each and every one of us.

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister of Great Britain ran the first sub-four minute mile. In fact, he ran it in 3 minute and 59.4 seconds. Before this feat, it was thought to be impossible to run a mile in under four minutes. Interestingly, two months later, he raced his great rival John Landy of Australia and won that race, with both men going under four minutes, and within three years 16 runners had gone under the barrier.

What can we learn from this? The moral of the story, of course, is that so often our limitations exist only in our minds, and when someone erases the mental limits, performance takes off.

What are we believing today about our performance?

Where are we going as we move into 2017?
How do we reach our destiny? After we discover our purpose and recognized our potential, we have to realize our destiny can only be reached through determination, dedication, persistence and perseverance. In other words, the fulfillment of our destiny is decided by us.

There is currently 7.4 billion people here on planet earth and it is my belief we are all born to do something valuable and be an impact to the environment around. Our existence is proof that there is something important for us to deliver that made our presence necessary.

Fishes are meant to swim. Birds are meant to fly. Seeds are meant to grown. Our destiny is hard-wired into us. Yet, fear and false identity too often robs from us our success and the full expression of what we are capable of.

As we enjoy the last few days of 2016, let us all be committed to a mental frame of mind that will reap the results we are aiming for in 2017!

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16January

2017

In The Pursuit Of Purpose

Mankind is facing a tipping point. In almost every culture and social systems, we are struggling to find our place in a fast-changing world. In many societies, dramatic changes at the workplace has left a significant number of people discontented, disconnected and disillusioned. Indeed, in our current world which is internet-driven, our postmodern world can be so easily caught in a worldwide web of confusion.

Change is often the cause of uncertainty. And this uncertainty can very often lead to fear and anxiety. The 21st century has brought upon us an unparalleled acceleration in knowledge and information; and has led us into a maze of new paradigms and uncharted waters of social and cultural convergences.

I find that the key to stabilising our lives is in finding our purpose. Purpose is the key 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.

I have come to realize that nothing is truly ours until we understand it. In other words, we will never be fulfilled until we find out what is the reason for our existence. Vague goals such as “I want to be rich,” “I want to make the world a better place,” or even “I want to be happy” are not helpful and nearly useless. In the final analysis, our life purpose must be answered with the question, “What is the reason for my existence?” and the answer always invariably is linked to our talents, ability, gifting and inclinations.

Recognize that we are unique, special and that God did not make a mistake in creating us. This ought to give us confidence and assurance in living out our lives. Be determined to pursue our aspirations, dreams and goals deliberately and consistently.

Once we have found our purpose, remember to cherish it. In life, there will be many people, including well-meaning friends who may try and remake us according to THEIR plans, purpose and intention. Let us remind ourselves, today, not to let anyone prevent us from becoming, being and doing all that we are born to be and do.

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20February

2017

Declaring our Breakthroughs

Everybody desires to change something about their life. I believe all of us want something better for our lives. This is not to say that we are greedy or discontented in nature. It is just that we all know we have vast potential that is still trapped within us, yet to be unleashed.

Our breakthroughs occur when we unlock our potential and deliver it to the world to enjoy. How do we go about uncapping our potential? The answer to this question lies in planning. It is good to dream about our breakthrough and success, but unless we make the determined effort to plan for our success, our dreams will just remain unmaterialized.

You see, planning is the most important principle of success. The secret to our breakthroughs lies in effective planning. We are created to live life with purpose and passion and not let life live us with frustration and dismay.

A good plan is like a clear road map. It shows us the best way to get to our desired destination. It shows us the best route and all possible detours we can take to reach our purpose. Whether we succeed or fail depends on our planning. Success is, therefore, waiting for our plans

There are several elements of successful planning. One of these elements include prioritizing with wisdom.

Dale Carnegie once told a story of two men who were out chopping wood. One man worked hard all day without taking any breaks and only stopped briefly for lunch. The other chopper took several breaks during the day and he even took a short nap at lunch. At the end of the day, the woodsman who had taken no breaks was quite disturbed to see that the other chopper had cut more wood than he had. He asked, “I don’t understand. Every time I looked around, you were sitting down, yet you cut more wood than I did.” His companion replied, “Did you happen to notice that while I was sitting down, I was sharpening my axe?”

Let our focus this year NOT just lie in doing more. Instead, our success and breakthroughs will lie in us doing our work more effectively and efficiently.

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28February

2017

Our Life is built upon our Thoughts and Ideas

Everything in life built upon our ideas we have about it. Ideas produce everything. After all, the handphone that we are using was once an idea. The laptop that we work on was also once an idea. Even the thought of starting a business or pursuing a course of study began with an idea in our mind. Hence, it would not be wrong to say that everything begins with an idea and is the product of something that first took root in our mind. In fact, ideas control the world.

An idea, once it is birthed, is also hard to eliminate. That is why we are having such a huge problem combatting terrorism because international terrorism is, at the root of it all, an idea and it cannot simply be shot down by a bullet.

Our life is the accumulation of all the ideas and thoughts that we have accepted as a matter of fact. Therefore if we want to change our life, we have to first start with changing the thoughts and ideas that we have accepted as our “truth”.

The way that we expose an idea or a thought is through the words we speak, say and ask. Hence the self-talk we say to ourselves is so vital to our success this year in 2017.

What are our thoughts, ideas and words that will bring us to our breakthrough today?

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6March

2017

Living Life with a Passion

All of us desire to be ALL that we are destined to be. All of us aspire to maximize all that we could be. No one, other than ourselves, has the passion to fulfill the dreams lingering in our hearts.

I strongly believe the key in fulfilling this desire is in living out our future. Yet many find it difficult and even inconceivable as to how to live our future. However if you ponder just for a minute, we realize that our future is not only found next year, it is the next hour. In fact our future is our next minute. Yes, even our next second is our future.

In other words, to live our future is to live our present, intentionally focusing on what else we can do rather than focusing on what we have already done. Because we can, in error, focus on what we have done and live a life that we have already lived rather than questioning what else we can still accomplish

Our past can be a threat to our future if we continually focus and dwell on our failures and mistakes. Yet our past is also an opportunity for us to learn from our mistakes. What is crucial is how we view our past. The way to move from our past into the future is to perceive all of our past and view them as learning points and growth opportunities.

In fact, when we view failure as an opportunity to start again, then we see it as a temporary experience gearing towards our eventual success. In other words, we cannot stop a man who has decided he is going to win. We have to live life according to our terms if we want to be effective and successful. Life has everything we desire in it but we need to live it with our passion and intentions.

Our past can also be a threat to our future if we continually focus and dwell on our past accomplishments and remain too comfortable in that space. While we should celebrate our triumphs, we must also continue to reach for brighter stars and bigger goals.

What makes life interesting is that there will always be challenges awaiting us. For us to live our destiny, we need to confront these challenges, subdue and overcome them.

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20March

2017

Vision is more important than sight

It is what we think and perceive that holds us back. Conversely, it is also what we think that propels us to our future success and destiny. While it is true that in life we cannot control circumstances, but we can always control our thoughts regarding any problem or situation. After all, nothing in life changes until there is a renewal of mind and consequently, a mindset transformation. It is good to remember that information per se does not bring transformation to our lives; intentional living does.

The renewal of our mind and transformation of our mindset is not an easy task. We are the product of the sum total of our thought processes which we have conditioned into our beliefs.

But just because we believe a fact does not necessary mean we will act on it. When I was younger, I thought our beliefs defines who we are as individuals. Well, not anymore. I realised there are many things which I know it is a fact, yet I do not act on it. Change does not happen simply because we believe and know it is fact. Change happens only when we are convicted to the point of action.

Recently I read about this story of a man who came upon a construction site where three people were working. He asked the first, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I am laying bricks.” He asked the second, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I am building a wall.” As he approached the third, he heard him humming a tune as he worked, and asked, “What are you doing?” The man stood, looked up at the sky, and smiled, “I am building a cathedral!”

Out of these three workers, who would have the preferred attitude? It is interesting to note that in this story we have the same job yet with three differing working attitudes only because of their mindsets.

This little story tell us that while we all see the same world and how we envision the world are two very different realities.

What is the Vision for your success today?

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8April

2017

What my stay in the hospital recuperating for my hip fracture taught me

It was supposed to be cut and dried, no-frills networking event organised by Sg100 with about 600 guests attending with MP Tan Chuan-Jin as the Guest of Honour (GOH).

During the end of the dinner event, as we were all rounding up and saying our goodbyes to each other and arranging for upcoming meet-ups as a consequence of the event, I accidentally tripped and fell. For most of everyone who is reading this blog post, a trip and fall would most likely result in a trip and a fall; at the very most, a bad bruise. But because of my condition as a former stroke survivor, I was not able to break the fall quickly enough and I ended up with a hip fracture.

As I write this blog post, recuperating in the hospital and re-staring my weekly posts, I pondered and reflected on what are some lessons that I have learnt from my stay in the hospital.

Meaning:
These past couple of weeks in the hospital reminded me that we are all given a limited period of time to fulfill our destiny. The meaning of life is to give our gift, talents, inclinations and abilities away; and in doing, we will be able to identify our purpose and know and identify what we meant to do in life.

And so, while I understand this, it is also frustrating knowing that the past 3 weeks in hospital can spent doing more productive things. And this is where I have to remind myself that one of the best ways moving forward is to develop and re-strategize our plans; especially in situations like this where there is an unexpected development.

Interdependence:
During this period of rehabilitation, many people play a vital role in my healing process. 3 weeks into my hip fracture and I am recovering well. The orthopedic team, rehabilitation team, physiotherapist and occupational therapist are all doing a wonderful work in fixing me back to shape.

I will have to also say that above all, God has been faithful in accelerating my healing. Currently i am already able to ambulate, with assistance, with the assistance of a walking frame.

Other friends and my coach who is preparing me for the Spartan Race 2017 has been encouraging and advising me on strategies to get back up to speed, as soon as possible. This fracture will most likely crush whatever hope i have initially had in completing the Spartan Race. But as my coach reminds me, there is always 2018 and i will still be there at the starting point come May 6!

Determination
In all my keynotes and workshops, one of the themes which I frequently speak on in on The Art Of Determination. The last three weeks have again brought me into a better understanding of what determination is.

Our determination is a combination and blend of persistence, perseverance and patience. Persistence is our decision on our choices no matter what happens to us. Perseverance is what we do to get up whenever we fall down. Everybody falls and our success is the result of us picking up our pieces and getting back up. And finally, our patience is us understanding that our success cannot be achieve in one day. Patience is therefore working while we are waiting; preparing for ourselves to receive our rewards.

We can always learn and grow in times of difficulties and discomfort. The key is to never give up and to realize that as long as we are willing to believe in a good future that days of pain can cancer out last days of joy!

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3May

2017

Stuck in a Rut? 5 Tips to Propel your Life forward

Are you at a place in life where nothing appears to be moving? Worse still, does the situation appear to be getting darker with every passing moment? Or perhaps, you are at a crossroad where every possible option appears to be simply just a choice between a step towards the devil or the deep blue sea?

The great poet Robert Frost penned the beautiful poem “The Road Not Taken”. In the final few stanzas he wrote:

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

Many times, all it takes is a change in mindset that will propel us to sweet success. Below are some perspectives in which a change, in any of the 5, may lead you to better outcomes.

  1. COURAGE

We all recognize acts of courage when we see them. Our spirit cheers in acknowledgement. While we can recognize it, performing it may be a different matter altogether. You see, acts of courage require us to dig deep and, very often, do something which we may not be comfortable with. Acts of valor require us not only to hold on to the cup that is entrusted to us, but to also run with it until we reach the finishing line.

Many try to find courage by introspection and often deemed themselves as not valiant enough and unworthy of being a champion in life. But maybe it is because the answer is not from looking inward; but rather to look at what you have at the very present moment, and consider how you can change the situation for the better; day by day, bit by bit.

  1. RESPONSIBILITY

To propel our lives forward requires us to accept a daunting truth. And that is no one is responsible for our life except us. The term “responsibility” can be broken up into 2 words “response” and “ability”. With any given situation, we all have the responsibility to “respond” with the very best “ability that we have.

In other words, in order to propel our lives forward, you have to live in the here and now. Past mistakes are regrettable but they are over! Move on! Future fears are nothing more than figments of imagination until they come to pass… which may not even happen! Just because you made a mistake in the past does not mean you will do it again. You have the ability to prepare and respond in a better manner… and therefore expect a much better outcome!

  1. APPRECIATION

“What you appreciate, appreciates – Anon”. Similarly, what you depreciate, depreciates. What do you hold dear? What do you constantly think about? Is it your family, or your business, or your job or other relationships? More importantly, in what manner are you thinking of such things?

Paul, who taught the gospel of the Christ in the first century, says clearly, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”

  1. TEACHABILITY

Sometimes, downtime may be an excellent time to reflect, re-strategize and to plan in expectation for a bigger and better harvest. In these circumstances, often the key factor in turning these downtimes into opportunities for us to emerge stronger is to have a teachable spirit.

Ask yourself these questions. Am I open to other people’s ideas? Am I able to accept my error when pointed out? Am I willing to show a temporary period of ignorance to gain a deeper understanding?

  1. HOPE

Think big and reach out for your star! Draw, aim and shoot at a goal which, while it should not be impossible, should be within stretch targets. Push yourself! You will be surprised with the hidden potential you have!

Zig Ziglar said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude”. Your attitude in any situation or problem will directly determine how well you fare in it. Hold on to that positivity and hope! At the end of the day, that may be all it takes to turn that flickering flame from afar into your flaming glory in the not so distant future!

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8June

2017

Renew Your Mindset Through Plasticity

Our mindset is the sum total of our knowledge, beliefs and thoughts about the world we live in. Our mindset is the filter and lens which we use to view, receive and react to information. Therefore, developing an appropriate mindset is crucial to our eventual success.

Increasingly, there is great interest in connecting these thoughts with brain research. Over the last few years, we have come to understand that the brain is not merely a fixed organ or entity. Our brain is constantly changing based on our actions and thoughts. The concept of our brain being able to change constantly is called neuroplasticity. Plasticity refers to how our brain learns new information and how we cope with new activities.

For example, we learn new motor task by repeating the motor task and thereby increasing the blood flow to this area of the brain which leads to increase brain connectivity. We know when you are creating dendrites, you are learning. I remember how I learned how to play table tennis in a wheelchair. When I began, the “brain connection” was weak but with repetitive practice, the skill of playing the game becomes more fluent and quick.

At its core, plasticity is about building a habit that becomes more automatic and therefore longer lasting. In turn, this will sustainably boost our sustainability and creativity. In other words, plasticity may allow us to retrain the brain to scan for the good things in life—to help us see more possibility, to feel more energy, and to succeed at higher levels

With that in mind, here are some ways which we can rewire our brain for positivity and enhancement in life.

1) Recognize the situation for what it is and now how it feels
We need to identify and relabel the false brain messages we send to ourselves. More importantly, we should also be mindful as to how we can rephrase the message that is able to empower us rather than restrain us.

2) Reframe to rewire our perception
After recognizing the situation for what it really is (rather than how we feel), we need to change (reframe to rewire) our perception of the situation. This allows us to search for new and better alternatives and possibilities.

3) Re-orientate and act on new perspective
After reframing, we next have to direct our attention toward an activity or mental process that is wholesome and productive – even while the false and deceptive thoughts and impulse are still present and bothering us. Yet we need to clearly see the thoughts, urges, and impulses for what they are: sensations caused by deceptive brain messages that are not true and that have little to no value and focus our thoughts and activities that are worth the while.

The key is practice. We literally need to be mindful and be more aware of what is happening and learning how to Recognize, Reframe and Re-orientate our attention in healthier and productive ways you teach your brain new, beneficial responses. With time, we will learn how to place our attention to where we want it to go.

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