Saturday, 30 June 2012

It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life is an aspiring movie examined the worth of a single man’s life, it’s dark and bright, full of passion, despair and joy. It's a little too sweet sometimes - but it has moments that can surprise you even after you’ve seen it dozens of times you watch it.

The stories evolve around George Bailey, an ordinary kind of fella who thinks he's never accomplished anything in life. His dreams of becoming a famous architect, of traveling the world and living adventurously, have not been fulfilled. Instead, he feels trapped in a humdrum job in a small town. His fate binds him to Bedford Falls and the humdrum business of making loans so working people can afford to buy modest houses. And when faced with a crisis in which he feels he has failed everyone, he breaks under the strain and flees to the bridge in the chilling snow.

George who was going to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge, but was stopped when someone happened by and struck up a conversation with him.The mysterious person eventually learns that George wishes he’d never been born and grants George his wish.

The mysterious ma takes him back through his life to show to him what his community would be like without him. George soon discovers that no one he knows recognizes him and that many of the people he’d known were worse off in their lives because he had never existed.  Most prominent among these was his little brother who had drowned because he had not been there to save him.

The mysterious man reveal to be an angel to shows how George Bailey's loyalty to the job at the building and loan office has saved families and homes, how his little kindnesses have changed the lives of others, and how the ripples of his action will spread through helping make world a better place.  George eventually gets the angel to change everything back to the way it was and is now glad to be alive.
After George prays in tears for the opportunity to live again, he awakes back in reality among his loved ones. Even though he is still on the brink of personal disaster, George finally comes to grips with the beauty of his life and he chooses to welcome his destiny, whatever it might be. In the end, it’s not an angel who saves George Bailey, but his family and friends.

It is amazing to think how our ordinary everyday efforts sometimes touch others. 

This movie was based on a “Christmas Card” Short Story by Philip Van Doren Stern, which was originally sent out to around 200 of Stern’s friends and family in December of 1943.

The short story was inspired by a dream Stern had one night in the 1930s. Stern, already an accomplished author at this point, albeit a historical author, then proceeded to write the 4,000 word short story Stern initially sought to find a publisher for his short, 21 page story, but failed in this endeavour, so decided to make a “Christmas Card” style gift out of it and printed 200 copies which he sent out to friends and family in December of 1943.  

This ended up being a gift that gave back, as the work eventually found its way into the hands of producer subsequently adapted the story further and ultimately made it into it’s a Wonderful Life, which debuted in 1946.

What make it more Interesting, the character of George Bailey was actually based partly on the founder of Bank of America. When A.P. Giannini join the Columbus Savings & Loan Society, which was a small bank in North Beach, California. He found that almost nobody at the Savings & Loan, nor other banks, were willing to give loans to anyone but the rich or those owning businesses. 

At first, Giannini attempted to convince the other directors at the Savings & Loan to start lending to working class citizens, to give them home and auto loans, among other things.  He felt that working class citizens, though lacking in assets to guarantee the loan against, were generally honest and would pay back their loans when they could.  Further, by loaning them money, it would allow working class citizens to better themselves in ways they would not have been able to do without the money lent to them, such as being able to buy a home or to start a new business. He was never able to convince the other directors to begin lending to the working class. So he raised funds to start his own bank, the Bank of Italy, which later became the Bank of America.

He then made a practice of not offering loans based on how much money or equity a person had, but based primarily on how he judged their character. By the middle of the 1920s, it had become the third largest bank in the United States. Much like the fictitious George Bailey, Giannini kept little for himself through all this.

In is amazing both Stern & Giannini shows the smallest contributions in it own way end up being the most significant ones.

If you watch this movie and, somehow, don’t warm to it then at least take away one of the important lessons it contains: “No man is a failure who has friends”. Keep that in mind and perhaps you can strive to amass the riches that George Bailey has in his life, even when he doesn’t realise it.

Note: Wonder how my life touch others?

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Jigsaw Puzzle.

Life can sometimes feel like a jigsaw puzzle.  Out of that, are some interesting life strategies that can apply to how you can put your life back together.

So solve the puzzle we need to see the bigger picture, sometimes we just have to step back...

We see things more clearly when we step back and reflect. Often we want a quick decision. We want to solve a problem before we truly understand what the problem is. A problem not well defined may be half solved.

Unfortunately, we jump to conclusions and have to back track. We retract what we said or did and then have to clean up the mess. Never make a big decision in the middle of a crisis unless you absolutely have to. Reflecting on things doesn't take away from being decisive. It makes you a person of reason and judgment.

You are not alone. It happens to the best of us. We're too caught up in the details to notice the bigger picture, to realize the potential of something.

Even for those of us who do this for a living -- look at the bigger picture, find focus and clarity, communicate the main message to others -- when it comes to our own problem, some outside perspective is always welcome, and sometimes necessary.

Sometimes it's useful to just step away for a bit, to focus on something else. You won't forget everything you know, but you might shake off the curse of the expert; just by doing things that you are not a pro at. And by speaking with people who are not experts at what you do.

And while feedback and advice from friends and family is useful in many cases, it isn't always enough. Sometimes you need to talk to someone who isn't trying to please you, or to be helpful; someone who is standing far enough away from you to see the big picture -- all of it.

This kind of feedback is difficult to come by among your close friends, but that's exactly the kind that helps most. Sometimes it can be worth to reach out and look for help outside your usual circle. And just listen, with an open mind. And reflect, brainstorm. Let yourself be excited by the possibilities. Don't start with the barriers raised, don't reject everything from the start because you think you can't afford it, or because it would take too long, or because that's just not the way you normally do it.

It's ok to fantasize a bit. Ideas and thoughts that sound crazy at first just might have some potential. Let them form in your mind, for now. They just might open some new horizons, and let you see a much bigger picture than you ever thought possible.

Saturday, 16 June 2012


You must be thinking "Does this fella have to analyse every movie in his perspective?" Well, Hollywood has always been my source of my inspiration and will always continue to be. Each movie, I feel, has a hidden message and I always try to decipher it and apply it to my life... It may sound strange but that's the way it works for me.

Ever watched the movie Click starring Adam Sandler? It’s about an architect who is an absolute workaholic who is only focused on getting further in his career. He finds a universal remote that allows him to fast-forward, pause, and rewind through his life.

He could press 'pause' in certain moments he thought he wanted to last a little longer and 'fast forward' the unpleasant ones. As the story goes, Morty warned Michael to use the remote wisely and not to let it rule his life.

He uses the remote to fast-forward through his life and stop after he gets huge promotions at his job and ultimately ends up becoming super successful and rich but he isn’t happy.

His family has forgotten about him, he becomes ill, and everything that he’s ever loved and cared about ended up resenting him for never being there for them. He’s a wreck and wishes that he could rewind everything and go back to the beginning before he decided to speed through his life. But he can’t.

He thought that skipping through all the moments with his family and the hard work that it takes to become successful was the answer to all his problems, but he realized that is wasn’t.

So here’s the question for us: If we had the chance – if we had a universal remote that allowed us to fast-forward through our life – would we use it to get us to the point where we “have made it?”

Would we use the remote to bring us to “success” and skip the entire journey as a we growing  our career all the way to we are older, rich, influential, and successful?

How often do we "fast forward" in our lives, living on autopilot? How often are we looking forward to the future to start living? How often do we miss the present moment because we're caught up in thought?   It's easy to justify "tuning out" for moments here and there, but there is a price.

I was living my life in "fast forward"  mode. I was busy pursuing inculcated goals such as getting good results, earning money and becoming successful. My life was single-mindedly focused on what would make me rich and successful.

I don’t know about you guys, but I would never use the universal remote again. I wouldn’t want to skip the journey to becoming successful. The journey is what makes it fun. The journey is what we learn from. Being an a life is all about taking the journey, getting up when us fall, basking in our feats, and feeling special when us change the lives of others along the way.

There are some bad times which I would like to "skip" and probably "fast forward". But all in all I like my life, as imperfect as it may seem, I wouldn't want anything changed, paused or fast forwarded. It's perfectly playing right now, the way it is.

So enjoy life. Enjoy every moment that we have as part of our life journey. Enjoy the people that we meet and the lessons that us learn. Don’t take any of it for granted. Embrace the present, work hard, love life, and build our future.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Cube

Here's a theory that I've been kicking around for a while: life is like a Rubik's cube - sometimes you have to make it worse before you can make it better.

There is only 1 correct answer and 43 quintillion wrong ones for Rubik's Cube. God's algorithm is the answer that solves the puzzle in the least number of moves. One eighth of the world's population has laid hands on 'The Cube'.

Named after its inventor, Ernö Rubik, the Rubik’s cube was first invented in 1974. Unlike most toys available on the market today, Ernö Rubik did not set out to invent a best-selling puzzle, but instead to solve a complex structural design problem. To teach his architecture students, Rubik developed the cube as a model to understand how blocks could move independently without falling apart. After twisting the multi-colour blocks in the model, Rubik realized that returning the model to its original configuration was not a light task. After a month of trial, error and incremental victories, Rubik solved his puzzle.

Anyone that’s tried to solve a Rubik’s cube before knew there are really hard.

The truth is I’m not a genius and I couldn’t solve a Rubik’s cube on my own, at least not without putting in ridiculous amount of time that would be a waste to spend. Believe me, when I was younger I tried to solve one for hours and hours but I never got close. After solving one side of the cube, I could never fathom how to solve the next without destroying the first. My brain is just not as geared towards this kind of special thinking, the algorithms definitely don’t come easy to me.

Eventually I'd get frustrated and give up. At this point, there was always a part of me that wanted to just remove the stickers (or take the pieces apart) and replace them so it looked as if I completed the puzzle, but I knew this would have been an empty victory

But does the fact that I wasn’t born with this kind of brainpower mean that I should give up on ever solving one if I really wanted to? Should I just accept my fate, put my Rubik’s cube at the back of my shelf and never touch it again? Of course not! If there are resources and willing people out there to teach me how to do something I can’t, why shouldn’t I take advantage of them?

Through our lives we often point to our own natural abilities as the reasons for our shortcomings. We make excuses such as not being smart enough to explain why we can’t accomplish certain things, and because of these excuses we give up early, and don’t preserve using every means at our disposal.

The truth is we don’t need natural talents and abilities to accomplish great things or succeed in our life; we just need to approach things the right way. We can save ourselves the time and struggle and pain of trying to solve life’s algorithms by ourselves and instead learn from others. 

I’ll admit there are some areas of our life where we may want to figure something out for ourselves to have the deep understanding of it that we may need. If we have the natural ability to do this, without spending more time on it than it’s worth.

Be efficient with our life, there’s no reason to struggle and suffer trying to reinvent the wheel when someone else has already done it for we and can show us how. In life results tend to be what matter and if learning from others can get us better results in shorter time there’s no reason not to take advantage of it. Don’t give up on something that’s too difficult for us, there’s always a way to accomplish what we want, even if we have to ask someone who’s already gotten it how. Identify the difficult Rubik’s Cube areas of your life, and learn some algorithms to master them.

Note: My work is like solving Rubik Cube;You think you're getting close to figuring it out, but then someone comes along and mixes it up again, and takes some of the stickers off while they're at it.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Credle of life

Malaysia’s vision is to become a developed nation by the year 2020. Central to the fulfilment of this vision is enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of the country. This will involve both moving up the value chain into higher value-added industrialization and services, and developing new areas of competitive advantages. A major precondition for competitiveness is the availability of skilled workforce through the provision of education and training. 

Recently, Malaysia is preparing national level education reforms based on tactics pioneered in the US that are successfully raising student success throughout the school system, from very early childhood through completion of university or college.

The "cradle to career" approach of the Strive framework involves, among many measures, identifying specific interventions such as day care or home visits by social service workers that best prepare a child to start kindergarten on the right foot. The students are then helped to meet carefully tracked indicators of critical progress in, for example, math and reading proficiency along their educational journey.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister proposed reforms would help ensure every child enters school well prepared, eliminate disparities in academic success, and link the community and family supports available to students—all important steps in the transformation of Malaysia's economy with greater human capital in science, technology, and innovation.

But despite the Malaysian government’s concerns, surprisingly, very little is being done to rectify human capital issues. They are being drawn up on the assumption that skilled workers are readily available: the areas specified for moving up the value chain are those dependent on high-quality labour.

On top of all this, there are complaints that fundamental education reforms have diluted the spirit of nationalism and the rights of the majority. In 2002,  the direction was that science and mathematics be taught in English, with the medium of instruction otherwise remaining in Bahasa Malaysia. The reason for this sudden shift was so Malaysians could be better equipped to keep abreast of developments in science and technology, making Malaysia more globally competitive.

But now the teaching of science and mathematics is revert back to Bahasa Malaysia. This is representing yet another flip-flop in the government’s education policy, is also unprofessional in its approach towards strengthening the level of English. Again, the resulting implications for the development of human capital are not good.
Nevertheless, the quality of undergraduates remains an issue in Malaysia, since the students find it difficult to grasp the English language. Private sector companies in Malaysia continue to complain about graduates’ communication skills in general, and English skills in particular.

Poor English standards may affect Malaysia’s international competitiveness, saying that multinational companies may struggle to find graduates with good English. Our generation will have to face international standard and competition in terms of job market, as part of globalisation.
A labour force that is educated, creative and innovative is the foundation for economic growth. Unless education reforms, including the teaching of science and technology in schools, are approached in a realistic and far-sighted fashion, it may be difficult to achieve substantial changes.

Note: Still speaking broken "kele-lish" (Kelantan English) in Australia