There is Always a Choice

There is always a choice.

That is why I am no fan of the “blame game” that people play. Flip through any sort of media channels and you can find the trend of blaming in almost every story, in any scope, be it a small town event or national crisis. Better yet, look around yourself and see how many people always think they are victims of problems created by others. Why is that?

It is simply easier to be victims and claim that you do not have a choice. That means you do not have to be responsible. Let’s face it, most people avoid responsibility by victimizing themselves and pretending they had no part of the problem creation. People fear to admit the problems they have caused and shit they have created.

Let’s look at it on the individual level with a few examples.

Do you have to go to work?
Do you have to exercise? Or go to the gym?
Do you have to make your spouse happy?

You may think that you HAVE TO work to pay all the bills, but do you really HAVE TO? For all I know, you work for the money to afford the luxury of a shelter, food, the use of city’s facilities, and the million things that you try to accumulate. You do not HAVE TO work. You may think it a tragedy when you lose all your things but you will not be dead. You CHOOSE to work because you want all these things and stuff.

The concept of have-to-exercise or have-to-go-to-gym are detrimental and is the reason why many people never get healthy or stay consistent with a training schedule. You do not HAVE TO do those, albeit your body will function sub-optimally. It is not a chore. It maybe difficult to have yourself go at times, but personally I make the choice to exercise and go to the gym every time I do so. I want to be healthy and maintain my body. I want to be better physically, at the same time improving myself mentally. Body and mind are inter-related. Therefore, I choose to go. I also choose not to go when I feel I cannot strain myself any further due to schedule.

What about relationship? Do you HAVE TO stay in a relationship that maybe harmful to the both of you? Or do you stay in a relationship because you HAVE TO be in a relationship, supposedly? You may think you HAVE TO because you may hurt the other person badly, but you probably are already doing so. Give the other person some credit and let them be responsible for themselves while you make an aware decision, whether to leave or to take action for resolution. And if you are married, does that mean you HAVE TO take care of your family? They may not be as well off if you don’t. They may hate you. But I say you do not HAVE TO. I would choose to be with someone because I want to, not because I have to have a girlfriend. I will choose to care and protect my family not because I have to, but because I want to and it is my choice.

In the extreme case, for people who are in the position of authority to do so, they think, “I have to do [fill in illegal activities] in order to make my family happy.” Now, do you really? Maybe your family desire not all the money and power you may gain from doing the illegal stuffs in order to be happy. Maybe your parents will be happier if you stay safe and just take care of yourself. Maybe they will be happier if you are around more. Maybe it is all okay, if you choose to care more about them and stop hurting others to get what you want. Maybe if you choose not to be such a greedy bastard.

All the “have to” we tell ourselves are choices we have given up. I am not telling you to live in an illusion and put a positive spin where you control everything. Because you do not control everything. You control nothing but yourself. But I believe what you choose for yourself in every moment can directly or indirectly influence many events to come in your life. In every moment, there is always a choice. Therefore, first not give up your choice. Second, do best to make good choices.

Begone with the “have to”. Now make your choice. And give it time because it will take time to regain responsibility on things you have given up on and to resolve the mess created in the process of you not being responsible.

There is always a choice.

Originally posted 2008-07-13 01:41:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

A Generation Gone Awry

In the latest issue of BusinessWeek, there is an article about students taking the extra effort to be competitive by participating in financial/investing clubs AFTER getting into prestigious school, Meet Your New Recruits, They Want to Eat Your Lunch. Here is an excerpt:

Once, merely graduating from an Ivy League college or similarly prestigious rival like Stanford or Swarthmore qualified students for a choice entry-level perch on Wall Stree. No longer. “The whole idea of smart people just falling into banking is becoming rarer,” says Lance LaVergne, a vice-president and global head of diversity recruiting at Goldman Sachs. “Clubs are essential to preparation, especially for students who are not majoring in traditional discipline like finance or accounting.”

Also in the article, a girl is described to gain admission to three prestigious clubs at Stanford, and it is AMAZING.

I understand the world is getting tougher out there. Therefore, it is great to be driven. It is great to prepare for the future. It is great to kick-start learning about investing because that’s what I am doing now. But despite all that, I can’t help but contemplate if these students are getting too mixed up in the money-means-success culture at a very young age. I can’t help but worry that these students would grow up with the only ability to handle money, finance, and investing and narrow vision due to being a money-purist. Is that what life is all about?

I am not saying one should not focus on academic work because I did that and graduated with a 3.8+ GPA majoring in Computer Science and Japanse, and here I am working in the computer industry. One must need pragmatism to survive in this society.

However, from when I was an undergraduate, a huge part of what makes me the person today is being a part of the fencing team for 4 years, where focus, discipline, hard-work, comradeship, travelling, and fun happened, and then other things like social dancing, Japanese cultural events, a few music classes, misc. physical exercise, or just having some plain(dumb) fun with my friends. Perhaps that is why I am not rich, in today’s commen sense at least, but I am perfectly content with how I am and what I have, which are not just things and money.

On top of that, these investment clubs may have an unintended consequence of promoting short-term trading because the students are driven for immediate results to show recruiters and they have an investment time horizon of at most 4 years.

I only wish the students can still take their sweet time, in spite of those clubs, and participate in other cultural, character cultivating, or simply fun events. Because I would hate to see a bunch of physically-dwarfed, money-mongering, rich, yet utterly unhappy people to be grown out of this generation.

Your thoughts?

Originally posted 2008-05-18 11:01:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Change vs. Change

“Change You Can Believe In”
“The Change We Need”

Between Obama and McCain, we have heard enough about these “changes” that we need. Change is needed because the United States is drowning in a sea of issues, let alone the world. So change had become the theme of this election. That is what people desire and also want to hear.

But I am doubtful about the the kind of changes that will happen. Because I believe in inner change in each person. Inner change is the only way to bring about positive change. The change they talk about, not so much. Because they talk about changing the government exclusively, which take the responsibilities off the people.

But they are politicians, they need to win votes. And to win votes they say they will change this and that in the goverment so it makes the society perfect for the citizens. Because they are politicians, it is almost the only way they can act to win. Yep, it sounds great. But if they keep preaching that, that is what the majority of people will believe. They will believe that the government will change for them, and that they are not part of the problem. Then we have a problem. Because…

And the people is an integral part of the system. The government cannot save the people, per se. If each person solely wants to the outter world to change without himself changing, he believes he does not have to change. Such a person is no different than dead because only dead things stop changing and growing. Water that does not flow becomes “dead water”. When the majority of the population believes they do not have to change, we have a dead society. Scary. Plus, when one tries to change the world for himself, bad things can happen.

So in reality, we, both as individuals and a society, are at a crossroad of choosing “inner change” and “outter change”. One vs. the other. To live? Or to die? Though in common sense, perhaps dying is easier.

I believe self-change or inner-change is the only change one can rely on. So how about this:

“Everyone, change or perish”

Originally posted 2008-10-12 21:06:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Employees and Workers are Humans

A recent commentary in a BusinessWeek talks of a “No Cost Way to Motivate”. In a few words, the suggestion is that if managers start taking an interest in the employees’ personal life (a.k.a. treating them as humans?), they will therefore work harder and with more enthusiasm.

Oh my my, really? We are supposed to treat each other as humans? I did not know that. (Though, if they do it pretentiously, it would mean worse than not doing it… almost insulting.)

To have someone writes such topic in a magazine can only mean that we have failed miserably at it.

It is not difficult for any of us to find examples in our real life. It is not too far fetched to say… most of us at work, treat each other as workers. Personally, I find such difficulty for people to step outside of this framework. We ARE engineers and we work with engineers. Managers see each other as managers, and minions as engineers, etc. When the high level executives look at “us”, we become numbers and headcounts.

Maybe solely for work purpose, it is suffice for us to acknowledge and call each other by our employee serial number. Alright, that’s probably too cynical.

The things I said above, most of us are complying to it. That is why we are such nervous wreck when we need to talk to people “in position”, or people “of seniority”. Note, fear and nervousness is not respect.

A very specific example is a friend who briefly mentioned his recent engagement to manager who took no interest, and not even a second to congratulate. I am not saying we need to have a celebration at work, but no acknowledgement? No wonder we are all miserable workers.

This takes me back to the topic that to truly relate to each others, for us humans to connect, it is a good idea to begin with the basis that we are human beings. We are all connected and that is where compassion arises. With compassion, we are giving each other a hand.

So for both productivity and for our own sake, do we really need to be “more employee” or “more human”?

Originally posted 2009-10-15 23:04:23. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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