Sharpen Your Saw

Person A is trying to cut a tree with a dull saw for hours.

Person B passes by and asks: “Why don’t you sharpen your saw first?”

Person A replied: “I can’t do that. I don’t have time.”

You might laugh at Person A but I’m sure we’ve all done something like that in past. Most recently, for example, I myself was cutting a tree with a dull saw for a long time until I finally decided to sharpen it and reaped great results.

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Expect the Unexpected

For this week, I was preparing for the biggest event since my company Beyond was established (Launching next week! Fingers crossed!) — a 20 people focus group. It turned out quite differently than what I planned and I was once again taught how to expect the unexpected.

I got in touch with a university organization who arranges student volunteers to help out local nonprofits and social enterprises for 3 hours on anything they need help with. I was supposed to have 20 student volunteers to participate in my focus group to evaluate my product. I confirmed with the organizer twice, once a week before and once again in the same week. Then I planned everything from my end accordingly, excitedly anticipating a fun session with one of my target markets.

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Am I Forgetting My Roots? — Part 2

… Continued from Part 1

 

I noticed that while I am trying my best to be a real Canadian and fit into the mainstream culture, I, at the same time, am slowly losing my own cultural identity as a Chinese.

I do not speak Mandarin anymore with anyone apart from my parents, and we only talk about 2-3 times a week. I am forgetting many words and expressions in Chinese and oftentimes have to use the translator, only this time to translate from English to Chinese… It is also very hard for me to write in Chinese now, the beautiful characters developed from thousands of years ago.

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(Photo by Light L on Unsplash)

Recently, I started watching a new Chinese singing competition TV show. I enjoyed the songs in beautiful Chinese lyrics and loved the melodies. Judges were very knowledgeable and well read, and were commenting with all kinds of poems and proverbs. Contestants even made videos to showcase their hometowns. While watching this, without any warning, something hit my heart and I started to cry.

I knew what it was. It was a feeling that I don’t often feel but every time when I do feel it, it always hits me hard – It was the feeling of being homesick.

It reminded me of the beautiful culture that I was born into and grew up with. I suddenly envied those people I saw on the stage who were immersed in the culture and were sharing it with the whole world. Strangely, I also felt a subtle sense of guilt and shame.

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Am I Forgetting My Roots? — Part 1

I was mindlessly scrolling down on the list of top trending videos on YouTube and picked a Chinese reality TV show/singing competition. It is the Chinese version of the international phenomenon The Voice. I love singing and I’ve been a fan of all kinds of singing competition TV shows ever since I can remember. But I’ve not been following those shows for years now so I was a bit surprised to find out that I was still interested enough to watch it.

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Turned out that I not only finished watching that video, I also couldn’t stop but to search for more. I was shocked by how talented young singers are in China and impressed by the quality of the show. One new thing that I noticed is the strong influence of Western music styles this season. Of course the influence is always there and there used to be other memorable contestants in the past seasons who tried Jazz, Blues, R&B, and Rap on the stage. But it is clear that now both the singers and the audience are getting more and more comfortable with this influence and presentation.

Needless to say, I am really happy to see the change. I’ve been singing English songs when the majority of my friends in China didn’t even know these singers whose songs I was listening to. So naturally, for me it was a good sign to see that now there is a much better acceptance of international influence into the mainstream culture in China.

At the same time, I am conflicted deep inside for a very important reason. To put it in a simple way, I think it is an identity crisis that I am experiencing. But it is more complicated than it sounds. Let me try to explain to you and also break it down for myself.

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My Morning Routine

I never used to have any “routine” because the mere idea of doing the same thing the same way every single day sounded very rigid to me. But it all changed after I started looking into how habit works and what other successful people do in life.

Turns out that there are many benefits to having routines. If you set up your morning routines right, for example, it will help you form great habits, save you a lot of time and energy, prevent you from decision fatigue, start your day with a great sense of control, and many more. After all, if all successful people have some kind of routine, why should I not at least give it a try?

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Things that Bring Me Pure Joy

My dear husband Anmol asked me when was the last time I did something just for the fun of it and not for the value it will provide.

I thought about that question really hard for a little while and realized that I really haven’t done anything like that for a while now, not without his influence. The last time I did such a thing was in February when I really wanted to sing, so I just downloaded a singing app and recorded a song. But that was half a year ago!

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Quality Time

It is a long weekend. Anmol and I finally got time to catch up on a few things that we’ve been putting off for a while, for example, folding clothes… We were just casually chatting while doing the folding. The conversation gradually grew broader and deeper. Before we knew it, we finished folding. It seemed like that we both did not want to stop so we just kept on going. In the end, Anmol said “I like talking to you! We don’t do this enough!”

He was right. We don’t do this often enough and we haven’t been able to talk to each other for a long time now due to the crazy schedule we have. When I say “talk”, I mean like a real talk – open, genuine, and wholehearted.

You know when you’ve had a quality time. You don’t notice it while it is happening simply because you are so attentive and present, living in the moment. It is only when you pause and take a second to reflect how you are feeling when you realize that it has been so amazing and that hours and hours have passed when it only feels like just twenty minutes to you. You feel that you are bonding and regardless of the differences you might have with each other, you are, very much, deeply connected.

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(Photo by Eric Nopanen on Unsplash)

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Lessons Learned – Part 1: Talk About Your Mission

My assistant had to end the part-time contract work with me. On his last day, he asked me not to forget why I started doing what I am doing. I can tell that, as uncomfortable as that conversation was for him, he summoned up a great amount of courage to let me know what was on his mind.

I appreciate the reminder. It helped me realize a few very important things. One is that I should keep on emphasizing the blueprint with my group so that it is not just me who know where we are but so do others involved.

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