The Best Part of Going Away is Coming Home

My week was spent in Manila, filled with 4 days of very intense and fulfilling days of training, facilitation and coaching via Potential Squared’s exciting Executive Presence program for a leading global strategy consulting, technology and operations client.

 

Over the 4 days, myself and a small team of facilitators worked with 51 highly motivated and talented leaders, in exploring and practicing the skills and behaviours that define and increase their effectiveness as leaders.  I was extremely moved by the level of hunger and engagement towards us and the material and, having run this program a number of times now, I can still say that the end of each run makes me want to do the whole thing all over again.  Preferably with a small break in between to recharge, as introverts go.  :-)

 

At the end of day 3, we were warned by our wonderful co-ordinators that our following day’s trip to the airport would take longer than usual because it was the week when year-end bonuses were paid out.  Thus the end of day 4 began a mad rush to pack our gear and head to the airport for a 2-hour crawl in traffic, which involved watching motorcyclists and pedestrians with trolley bags rolling by us on the pavement.  You know you’re in trouble when the vehicle you’re in struggles to overtake a lamppost.

 

Anyways, no stress over what cannot be controlled, I arrived just 5 minutes before the counter at the airport closed, got my boarding pass and gate, and proceeded to clear immigration and airport security.  My brain and body needed a boost so I grabbed a quick hotdog and bottle of water as I made my way to the gate, only to realize upon almost reaching it that, since my check-in, the gate had been shifted to, not so close by. Somehow, when you’re at the end of a tiring week, carrying luggage and in danger of missing your flight for the second time in an hour, a 10-gate distance is no small thing.

 

My adventure then involved me chasing after, and jumping on the back of, an airport buggy normally used to ferry the elderly and disabled, to take me back across the terminal, and the buggy stopping twice more along the way to attempt to take on board other passengers who were in the same predicament. At one point we were looking more like a public bus in India than an airline buggy at NAIA Terminal 3.

 

I thankfully made it to the gate and onto the plane not long before the doors closed and, despite a mildly evil look from a passenger with a hyperactive infant in the row behind me, and a ruckus from another late passenger who was almost not allowed to board – I heard him say something about a moving gate – I was finally safe, seatbelt buckled, ready to go.

 

Then, just as we taxied onto the runway, master hyperactive threw up in his seat.  Joy!  The attendants were about to strap in and barely had time to chuck Mr EL and his wife a large packet of paper towels as the plane threw itself noisily up the runway and into thin air.  So, as we climbed to cruising altitude, the EL family cleaned up as best they could while those in the immediate vicinity lived with the smell of puke and the fear that said puke would start migrating as gravity did its thing.  Talk about the mile-high cleaning club.

 

Not the funnest of times, but still loads of fun, and I would not exchange this experience for anything.

 

After a week away, this is the welcome home that I got from Dudley.

 

My welcome home

Caveat Emptor

Recently upgraded my fibre connection to 1GBPs via MyRepublic. A guy from NUCLEUS CONNECT (company who owns the network) comes to collect my old modem. He doesn’t give me a new modem, doesn’t test or set-up anything (all handled by MyRepublic guys separately).

Before he leaves, he gives me a form and says I have to sign it. I ask him to explain what it is I’m signing and why, since all he did was collect something from me. He can’t/won’t tell me. I ask for a copy of the form. He starts huffing and puffing and doesn’t want to give it to me, so I say, “if you don’t give me the acknowledgement, I’m not returning you the modem.”

Finally he gets angry, hands me the form and leaves in a huff. After he leaves, I read the fine print where I was asked to sign. It has nothing to do with the modem or service, but is instead:

A CONSENT TO ALLOW DISCLOSURE OF MY PERSONAL INFORMATION FOR THE PURPOSES OF DEVELOPING OR PROMOTING PRODUCTS AND SERVICES, RESEARCH, CUSTOMER BENEFITS AND OTHER MARKETING AND OTHER ADVERTISING ACTIVITIES AND PROGRAMMES.

#‎NUCLEUSCONNECT‬ your personal data protection policies are a joke.  Shame on you.

#‎mediadevelopmentauthority‬

‪#‎personaldataprotection‬

#myrepublic

Going Up

She slowly leaned forward to hold the door open for us, as a spritely old gentleman carrying a large plastic bag, entered just ahead of me.

“Thank you”, I said, and in silence, we pressed the buttons that would transport us to our floors. The doors closed.

“Perchah ah?” (“broken” in Malay), I heard her ask purposefully.

“那个门” (“that door” in Mandarin), he replied, and then stopped.

My back was to them so I could not see their expressions. In the awkward silence I heard a happy desire to share, frustrated only by a lack of common vocabulary.

I exited the lift with a smile as I greeted them both with a goodbye. Perhaps the keys to our future harmony lie in our past.

Electro Canto

In my seat on a very crowded aeroplane in Hong Kong, amidst the din of boarding passengers and frazzled stewardesses, I’m drawn to a steady stream of robotic sounds that vaguely resemble speech. The sound of words seem to be there, as is the cadence and emphasis, but any tonal variation is completely missing. Metallic, artificial, like a tone-deaf Cantopop loop meeting a stream of consciousness. I’m insanely curious. I search beyond the curtain of moving bodies and, in the next aisle, see an old woman talking to her companion in the seat beside her. The old lady looks about 90, gaunt, faded, preserved, hair newly dyed, with a sometimes serious gaze that stretches beyond the confines of the cabin. One hand is pressed against her throat, holding what looks like a grey tube that is hung around her neck.  Some sort of throat amplifier. Then the plane jerks as it leaves the gate and Electrocantopop grandma puts down her voicebox, brings her handkerchief to face, closes her eyes and sits in silence.

Relationships, HPB FAQs, Lim Biow Chuan and Pastor Lawrence Khong

Relationships are relationships. They are not heterosexual or homosexual. Relationships are not respecters of persons. Relationships are also not a statistic, as much as statistics are not facts. A sample size of less than 7 billion guarantees that.

A relationship is a state of being connected. An ever-changing, interchangeable flow of fact and feeling.  Romantic relationships exist between two persons. They exist, and are sustained, regardless of, and sometimes in spite of, race, religion, sexual orientation or sleeping position.

A religious leader who trumpets his personal beliefs in public is wholly entitled to do so. Everyone else who is not the religious leader, including his followers, is entitled to agree or disagree with his point of view. Each person, has the right, and perhaps the responsibility, to choose whether they want to begin or sustain a relationship with this religious leader, based on whether his values and methods mesh with theirs.

A government representative who chooses to speak out in a similarly public manner, using a shallow secondary school argument, against making potentially helpful information available for citizens, shows little capacity for qualitative analysis or human connection. The people who made this person their governing representative have a right, and perhaps a responsibility, to question how this shallow thought process affects his other decisions, which in turn affect them.

The people might also question whether this representative should be given the responsibility to lead them in the future. In other words, should their relationship with him as their representative continue? The choice is theirs.

Each one of us has a choice. That is how relationships work.