Saturday, 25 June 2011

Surviving @ Work

"Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do" - Oscar Wilde

I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me that am on the worst day of my life.

One of the saddest things is that the only thing that a man can do for eight hours a day, day after day, is work. You can't eat eight hours a day nor drink for eight hours a day nor make love for eight hours—all you can do for eight hours is work. Which is the reason why man makes himself and everybody else so miserable and unhappy?" 

It's not just about me and my dream of doing nothing; we don't have a lot of time on this earth! We weren't meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about mission statements

So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That's my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that and the fear of losing my job. But you know, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.

It was true that I didn’t have much ambition, but there ought to be a place for people without ambition, I mean a better place than the one usually reserved. How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, brush teeth and hair, dress, force-feed and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?”

Our job consists of basically masking contempt for the assholes in charge, and, at least once a day, retiring to my room so I can rest while I fantasize about a life that doesn't so closely resemble Hell.

What if I told you insane was working forty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldn't you consider that to be insane?

We are those people who worked shitty jobs for bum pay checks and took the subway to work every day, and worried about our bills. Blink. Ten years have passed and you’re left wondering, how did I get here? In this cubicle? Doing something I cannot stand (and I’m not even honestly good at), with people I quite frankly don’t really care about?

It’s hard to walk away. But hey, if it pays well and the bills get paid, shouldn’t that be enough? And shouldn’t I just be grateful to even have a job in this economic climate? 

Yes it should, and yes I should. But what happens when the answer is no and no? What happens when the “I didn’t know what to do” escalates into “I still don’t know what to do” or “I don’t know what to do, but all I know is I don’t want to keep doing this”?

Sigh. It’s back to my cubicle for now, brushing these things aside and being thankful that I even have a cubicle to go to.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

How to be an Australian

In an attempt trying to be local Australian, I have invited my mates for a barbecue dinner at my place. There is believed that you are not a truly Australian until you grill barbecue and serve it to your mates.

Because I am a Muslim, I got my all meat from Halals butcher place. This was a start of a good “Kedai Kopi” talk in Australia.  We cannot help ourselves to talk about religion, mostly about being Muslim, terrorisms and the idea that Muslims hate Christian and Jews.

Islam is a peace religion but however the extremist have tarnished the goodwill name of Islam. Every religion has extremist, last time we heard about Ku Klux Klan that believe in white supremacy in Christianity and murder the black and burn them on a cross.

The discussion became more interesting as one of the “panelist” is an atheist which lead to a discussion on why the need of believe in God at the first place.

To set the record right and this is my opinion on the discussion.

Islam means a willing and conscious submission to God. It means one can become a Muslim only by one’s own choice.

 “Let one who desires to believe believe”, says the Quran, “and let one who desires not to believe believe not”.

Islam is a word describing an act, it is what a person does. So it does not simply happen to someone, it comes into being with the person’s volition.

But we must not forget the important fact that Islam is also the name of a particular religion, which implies that the submission is not without form; every Muslim submits willingly and consciously to the will of God as prescribed by the religion of Islam.

The religion of Islam, from the very beginning, makes an open call (or a proposition) to all mankind, that they submit to the will of God, by following the religion that He has revealed to His Messenger, Muhammad.

The Quran declares that only in Islam one can find a way of life that inclines perfectly to human nature. It means, to submit to God according to the way of Islam is a natural thing to do, while any other form of submission (i.e. religions) are not only against human nature but also not acceptable to God.

This is what Islam has been saying about itself and other religions. Upon knowing it, one can either agree or disagree with it. By all means, one can use whatever tools or resources at one’s disposal to investigate and verify the claim. Any decent human being would want to know the truth and live accordingly. He would not subscribe to a false religion, belief or ideology consciously and willingly.

To truly make a choice means to have the knowledge of the nature of the thing under consideration, and to act according to that knowledge. Now Islam is the subject matter under consideration: to accept or reject Islam means to judge whether it is a true or false religion.

So, to reject the proposition: “Islam is the true religion”, means to maintain the opposite: “Islam is not the true religion”, and that requires knowledge of what makes a true religion.

Islam’s claim that it is the only true and accepted religion must be understood: first, that Islam is confident of its truth and that its claim is verifiable to anybody; and second, for Islam it is truth that matters, hence, it calls upon mankind to verify its claim to truth and compare it with the claims of other religions.

It is actually a fair deal for those who believe that truth matters. And it is to people with this state of mind that Islam offers itself for their consideration.

As for those who want to maintain the belief and the way of their forefathers, regardless whether it is true or not, the Quran has this to say: “… even though your forefathers understand nothing?”; and for those who still want to reject despite all that has been said: “(ultimately) for you, your religion, and for me, my religion”.

In this regard, we may say that Islam advocates the principles of “free market” when it comes to ideas. However, it is not “free” in the sense that there are no asymmetries of reason and knowledge, objectivity and truth, hence, “anything goes”.

In an ideal free market economy, there is no government intervention and interference, and the economy is left solely to the decision of the market players. Protectionism is thus considered antithetical to the ideal.

By the same token, Islam does not allow compulsion. In fact, it abhors it. The Quran says it clearly: “No compulsion in religion!”

Free market implies the freedom of the market players to determine the price without external interference. What is assumed in a free market is that the players are rational, and that a rational human being will not do anything that is detrimental to his well being.
A rational choice is a choice that may contribute towards the attainment of happiness, not antithetical to it. One’s choice of religion is actually one’s decision with regard to one’s happiness.

To make the right decision, one has to be free, i.e. free from ignorance, because to make a choice in the state of ignorance is contrary to being rational.

Since knowledge is the key to human freedom, proper education is what a responsible government should provide to its citizens. By proper education, we mean education that enables one to make right moral and practical decisions in life, not the wrong ones.

Having said that, let us go back to the earlier statement that truth is what every decent human being desires to know. This statement is, however, “meaningless” to those who believe that truth does not matter, or even if it matters, nobody can know it.

This attitude is not new, and it is futile to argue with the person of this state of mind. Perhaps what we can do is to make him realize the practical and moral consequences of adopting such an idea.

If truth is meaningless or unknowable, then anything goes and all moral judgements would become absurd. So, if a nation believes it has the right to eliminate other nations, no one should be charged with war crime or genocide.

Ideas indeed have consequences. “Those who can make you believe,” said Voltaire, “can make you commit atrocities.”

Hence, we have the duty to believe carefully. The sincerity of conviction alone can in no way help us.

Many people have acquired belief not by honestly earning it in patient investigation, but by stifling their doubts. This is not acceptable as far as Islam is concerned because Islam is not to be founded upon doubts but upon knowledge and certainty.

I consider myself as “poor” Muslim and thus to I need to learn more.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Golden Rain & Green Grass of Home

Ever since I left to work overseas, meeting other Malaysians has been a much sought-after activity. Apart from the usual attraction of widening the social circle, I find it very intriguing to see how much people have changed. Amidst the friendly banter, one of us would innocently drop the seemingly innocuous question: “Are you going back to Malaysia?”

There was a time when the brain drain was hardly a pressing issue. It was an era where the supply of talent clearly exceeded the associated demand. But times have changed. Probably for the first time ever we have had substantial facts and figures on Malaysia’s brain drain – and it has taken the World Bank to come out with this .The World Bank simply defines brain drain as the migration of talent across borders. It is instructive what it says.

In fact, it warranted a chapter in the latest World Bank Report, which proceeded to suggest that the previous estimates of the number of Malaysian “diaspora” were probably on the low side, and that perhaps as many as 1.4 million Malaysians are currently working abroad.

In light of the ominous brain drain, there is a little hope of us becoming a developed nation by 2020. Companies have long complained about a shortage of skilled labour in Malaysia, and economists say it is severely affecting the country’s ability to attract more high-technology industries. The government is acutely aware of the shortage in skills and the potential hurdle it poses to the country’s 2020 goal.

Because of the constructed connection between brain drain and patriotism, laced behind the harmless question of “Are you going back to Malaysia?”

I don’t think anybody can fault me or consider me as a “traitor” to the country. In fact, when viewed objectively, we are now all global citizens, and it shouldn’t matter very much where we live and work.

Leaving Malaysia don’t mean that I am not contributing to towards the country, I am simply promoting Malaysia have a lot of good talent and potential that can be exploit.

In a time where human capital carries additionally gravity, a nation should increasingly focus on policies that will tap the talent of its citizens irrespective of their geographical locations. Concerted effort should be invested in actively engaging Malaysians abroad, knowing that they might have insight and networks that might be of great benefit to the nation in some other time.

However, despite a multitude of reasons why Malaysians leave the country of their birth, the truth is that many do return at some point, even if it’s only for a few years.

They’re coming back to an environment that they are familiar with, and the comfort of happy memories. Perhaps patriotism doesn’t make objective sense, but nostalgia is a strange magnet. On hindsight, the grass you left behind is always greener. 

Perhaps the most patriotic thing of all is to bring a bit of Malaysia with you wherever you go and never leave it behind – even if those back home believe otherwise. 

Note:- E.T Call Home

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Malaysia's Got Talent


I recently watched Jack Vidgen stepped onto the stage of Australia's Got Talent and emerged a YouTube sensation. His performance of the Whitney Houston standard, I Have Nothing, before a panel of stupefied judges and an awestruck live studio audience had been viewed more than 1.5 milions

In homes all over the country, hairs were raised as he hit a series of high notes and brought sophistication to his performance well beyond his 14 years. It has been told that Jack has been singing since he was about 3 years old. He loves it! Focused on a life in the industry, he is continually improving in vocal ability and has gained a lot of experience in live performance. Certainly, if YouTube hits are any measure of a contestant's chances of winning, Jack is streets ahead of his competition.
Susan Boyle, who also performed on the UK television show Britain's Got Talent, has captured the world's attention. And it's a good lesson for managers the world over.

In case you've don’t remember it: she's a 47-year-old unemployed charity worker who lives with her cat in a small village in Scotland. As soon as she walked on stage the audience began to snicker and roll their eyes. Simon Cowell, the show's host, asked her some pre-performance questions in his famously condescending style and, to the audience's enjoyment, she answered awkwardly.

She was painfully ordinary and everyone was prepared, looking forward even, to see her fail.

By now, if you don't know the story, you could guess it, right? She more than wowed them. She opened her mouth to sing and, as one of the three judges Pierce Morgan later said, she had "the voice of an angel."

She wasn't painfully ordinary; she was extraordinary. The audience immediately jumped to their feet in a standing ovation and stayed there for the entire song. The YouTube video of Susan's performance has, so far, received nearly 100 million views.

We prejudged her by her looks and were fooled. We experienced the full gamut of emotions in a few short moments: guilt, shame, vindication, hope.

But there's something else Susan Boyle awakens in us as we watch her come out of her shell. Our own selves. Who among us doesn't move through life with the hidden sense, maybe even quiet desperation, that we are destined for more? That underneath our ordinary exterior lies an extraordinary talent? That given the right opportunity, the right stage, the right audience, we could shine as the stars we truly are?

We all have that sense to one degree or another. And it's a great opportunity for managers. How we handle that opportunity is what distinguishes the great managers from the merely good ones.

Good managers help their employees succeed in whatever role they happen to be in. Great managers see the unique talents of each employee, and then create the role that's a perfect vehicle for those talents. Great managers remove the obstacles that prevent their employees from unleashing their talent. And they make sure each employee has the right opportunities, the right stage, and the right audience, to be fully appreciated.

While Susan Boyle became an overnight sensation, hers was not an overnight transformation. She's been practicing singing since she was 12. In her case, overnight lasted 35 years.

To allow yourself to be molded by your gifts takes courage. By recognizing and encouraging the particular gifts of their employees, great managers increase the chance that those employees will be willing to stand there, exposed and authentic, while their audience rolls their eyes and sneers, expecting failure.

And then, when their talented employees fail (which they inevitably will at some point), after they laugh or cry at their failure, great managers hold them up, keep them focused, help them refine their talent and keep going, until one day the audience stops laughing and starts clapping.

Susan Boyle is a phenomenal person to keep in mind as you manage your employees. In all her awkward ordinariness and amazing extraordinariness. She is talent discovered. Can you uncover the Susan in each one of your employees? Can you draw her out? Can you support her fully? Put her on the right stage? In front of the right audience? Can you keep her focused on her talent?

If so, then be prepared to be wowed

Note: My manager do not recognise me singing to client in karaoke session