The Beauty of an Empty Hard Disk

I am writing this on an old yet ‘new’ laptop–thanks to dad who helped me get my 6-year-old (gasp it’s been 6 years since I bought this Compaq laptop as a freelance copywriter!) repaired. Turned out that the hard disk had crashed so he got it replaced with a new 500-GB Western Digital storage,  and my old data remains in the previous one, well beyond my access without professional help.

So this is rather symbolic. My life over the last six years has been quite a ride–ups and downs, so many changes along the way, walking and refining the path I  had discovered, looking forward all the way though there had been some station of regret I kept looking back at. But it’s all good, the past is over (and locked up in that konked out HDD), the present is teeming with life, and every time some zealous fellow Christian comes and talks to me about how they believe Jesus is coming back again soon and that we will all be taken up to Heaven with Him, my answer is still: “But I am still having fun here!”

There are thousands of songs in that old drive, countless photos, journal entries where I wrote down my thoughts, experiences, angst, and everything, articles I kept for “future” references, my portfolio as a freelance copywriter, one-page Word documents where I typed down random ideas for “future” action…and many more. When dad walked through the door and announced “your old data could not be backed up because the hard disk has crashed”, I was slightly aghast but when I found out that I still had the option of getting everything retrieved by the experts the first thought I had was, “Well I may not need to do that after all.”

So tonight I start anew with an empty hard disk–I guess spring cleaning always feels good–without the weight of accumulated information. The old hard disk is sitting on my desk, looking kind of antiquated.

Like the past. It will be there for retrieval if I need to consult any wisdom of old, but for now, it is not going to slow down my ‘new’ and fast laptop.



Motivation: Lasting Impact, Simple Means

Today two colleagues and I conducted a motivational program for a group of factory employees – and I use the term “motivational” rather than motivation because I am far from an expert on this subject. Therefore, it is more accurate to say that we organized something to motivate the workers to be more engaged and enthusiastic about their work, rather than to teach them about motivation.

Aside from the fact that none of us are motivation experts, I also believe that motivation can never really be taught. Like passion, genuine lasting motivation is something that has to come from within.

So how did we go about designing a program that would be fun, and most importantly, drive home a strong message that leads to lasting change? We wanted to achieve a profound impact through elegant and uncomplicated means. How?

So we put our heads together and in the end came up with a program content based on these premises:

1. That the answers (as to how to solve problems, get along with others, and be happier at work) are already in the participants themselves

2. That any motivational program must not appear to be preachy, shoving do’ s and dont’s down the throats of perfectly capable adults

So, for messages to be effective in spurring real change, they must be discovered by the participants themselves. Nothing new, actually – considering this is actually what the best counsellors, coaches/mentors and therapists do: leading their charges to discover answers for themselves, rather than telling them what to do.

So we did just that. First, we identified the priorities of this group of workers. And then, prior to the program day, we had them answer a questionnaire that sought their opinion on how things can be improved.

Then we analyzed their responses and picked the most common and also the most pertinent ones to compile into a summary. This morning, we kicked off the program by running through its objectives, and pointed out how these objectives were pretty much aligned with the feedback they had given us through the questionnaire. We believe in affirmation!

Next, we showed the summary of their responses and thanked them for their input, and informed them of what we were going to do about it. There were giggles and laughter as familiar statements flashed on the screen, and I noticed a good number of them nodding intently as I spoke.

In line with the premise that answers are often found within oneself, the next thing we did was to run a session on personalities – highlighting how we tend to approach life and relationships differently based on how we are wired. Finally we had them get into groups to brainstorm on what the different personality types could do to bridge differences and contribute to workplace harmony. They then took turns to present their results with the whole group, and in the end, out of the entire list of ‘things we can do’, we asked them to pick three things they could do over the next month or so, and then see if there is better teamwork and overall happiness by then.

What are these three things?
1. They agreed they would start saying ‘thank you’ whenever they receive feedback for improvement
2. They agreed they would smile at and greet their co workers and superiors
3. They agreed they would start to extend help to colleagues even if the task is not in their job description

And we would remind them of these three things, and follow up with them over the next few weeks to get their feedback on how things have improved with these simple behaviour modification.

Of course there were other fun things we did in today’s program, but I would not elaborate other than saying that we did play a couple of games, ate some good food (loved the hot and spicy tempe and anchovies!), had photos taken, and had a blasting karaoke session.

Granted, motivation is a lifestyle and not just a one-day program, so we will be following up with our participants and walking alongside them to discover more answers. And they will definitely not be the only ones learning and growing 🙂

Is there really no choice…

But to just bear with a situation that we do not like, but one that we happen to find ourselves in?

A situation we are stuck with not because we do not want change, but perhaps we are limited by health, finances, or safety issues. Or maybe there are some other people that we are responsible for, so we can’t make the change we want.

I guess the first thing to do to start feeling better is to simply accept that in life, there will always be things that fall short of our ideals, sometimes grossly so. So there’s no point wishing that it would be different, no point tearing our hair out wishing people or circumstances will change. Maybe it’s clearer to lay down my thoughts in a list… Since I am penning down my thoughts as they come.

1. Accept the situation
Wishing things are different will only cause frustration, and even bitterness in some cases.

2. Look at the bright side
Things could have been worse!

3. Find something that we can change, even it it’s just a small aspect
Surely even in the midst of the worst trial, there is a comforting ritual, or a minor improvement we can make. Living with insufferable in-laws? Perhaps you can still plan mini getaways with your spouse that you can look forward to. Focus on the reward for being so patient and tolerant.

4. Count our blessings
This sounds like number 2, but I just realized if we can just switch our default thinking to see the donut before the hole… Imperfections in life may just not drive us so crazy anymore.

5. And at times when it really gets too much…and you slip into depression feeling trapped… Remember that we are never trapped in the sense that we are always free to choose our response and perspective to things.

So there goes my spontaneous post, and I am feeling better already. Yes there are things that bug me, that have bugged me for as long as I can remember…and situations involving maddening factors beyond my control. But hey, I think this post is cathartic and empowering, so I will try to stick to this advice I gave myself today.

I actually DO feel better already…so I guess like fine wines, perspectives do get better with time… I love my life, so I will embrace even the battles that I do not feel are worth fighting. Embrace them so that I can constantly refine and even enjoy the process of finding creative and comforting solutions, especially in the midst of unchanging circumstances.