Monday, February 28, 2011

How do you measure success?

This thinking process all started when during our mini-reunion last November 2010, one of my classmates suddenly remarked: "I am really wondering how come you are not that rich as I expected you to be.  There are several of us who have always looked up on .... what's your problem?"

I knew she meant well when she made this remark.  She is now a successful businesswoman, engaged in import-export business, drives a new car, and even has another house being constructed a few meters away from her home. And she also looks back to where she started, a typical employee in a trading business in Manila.  Then, as she narrated it to us, she started exporting a particular brand of a herbal soap ... and the rest is history.

After staring at her for a few seconds, I replied to her query and said: "Well, unlike you who dreamt of getting rich while we were still in high school, I only entertained the idea of having a regular income 20 years ago.  And it was only 12 years later since then that I started thinking that maybe it would be good to earn a little more than enough so I can have some savings.  And yes, it was only on the last quarter of 2010 when I told myself, hey I want to get rich!"

Pretty soon we were with the bigger group as everyone was excited to hear and share stories; laughing and teasing each other about how we look now, what we used to do way back in high school ...oh our stories were shifting between how it was then and now!

While chatting with another classmate after this reunion, I mentioned this exchange and how I felt about it.  I was surprised, felt relief actually when I heard him say, "It's not just money.  Being successful is not just about money.  Look, I may be earning a lot in my present position with a bank but my work is very stressful.  I'm taking several meds for maintenance -- you know, for the heart, to control my blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc...etc... I am now thinking of having an early retirement, maybe 5 years from now, and pursue my involvement in the things that you have been doing in your work."

"You mean, development work? Working with poor communities?" I asked him, just to be sure I heard him right.

"Yes.  Our group at Gawad Kalinga is into helping several poor communities build their houses, re-build their communities...It really feels good to be able to help in our own small way," he continued while cruising his Revo through the heavy traffic at V. Mapa.  I just sat there silently while listening to him telling me about their experience of constructing those houses which, by the way, are also painted with different colors. :-)

Stepping inside my home, I found myself feeling a lot better, could even feel a smile touch my face.  I know and I agree that there are several ways to measure success in life.  Getting rich is one, feeling proud and fulfilled with what you have done, that's another one.  But for me it's a combination of many things, mostly intangible ones, non-material things ... that really make me feel happy with the choices I've made in life.

How about you?  How do you measure success?  What is it that sustains you in what you are doing?  As a movie title once asked:  Are we there yet?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

It's fun to find your own voice in writing

I love freewriting when I am about to write a technical report. That’s when I just let my fingers type on the keyboard, creating a direct connection between my thoughts and what appears on the monitor, and not getting processed by my mind yet.

I had to do it fast before my ‘Censor’ wakes up and start editing everything that appears on the monitor.

I’ve done this before and I used to call it ‘self-brainstorming’. Literally, it’s really talking to yourself. Allowing your ideas to flow freely, not minding about your grammar and spelling.

A few years ago, it took me several pages of freewriting before paragraphs and ideas start to take shape. Writing at that time was such a difficult task. It took me several pages of writing and re-writing but I still could not articulate what I wanted to say.

Writing used to be my master, and I was the slave. The only thing I was aware of was the difficulty in writing and the running thought that I am not a good writer.

It was only years later when I started to write in a flowing manner. I read a lot. Wrote a lot, practiced a lot in my journal notebooks until writing became second nature to me.

I guess it’s like having a part in a play wherein one goes through several rehearsals first before one gets a feel on the role being played.  The same thing also happens when you are a musician who continues practicing until you become one with the instrument and start playing from the heart .

I write that way, too. 

I was on the third paragraph in this freewriting when I started to notice different ‘voices’ coming out. 
I tried stopping this 'dialogue' before it distracts me from what I was writing. But the dialogue (inside my head) persisted.

“I think you should include a discussion about … in this report. ”

“But those are not my views and ideas about this. Besides, I didn't get any data that supports that... I believe I was contracted for this project to have an independent view about this matter. I hope I got that right.”

And a long silence followed.

I started writing again, this time following on an inner urging to express the 'silent voice' that was hesitant at first, but gained a stronger tone as my writing continued.

I know some people are expecting me to write something that resonates with what they have in mind.  But the resonance inside my being was far stronger than that.  I can hear that voice very well, when it's allowed to speak.

But yes, there are instances when we are unable to articulate what's truly inside our hearts. Not that we intend it to be so, but sometimes it’s more of not knowing and not having found our ‘own voice’ yet.

Or if we have discovered this already, for certain reasons, we simply cannot afford to ‘hurt’ or trigger negative reactions from those who might read it. Maybe not yet.

Finding one's voice is basically finding our own self. It's that small voice that gets louder only when we pay attention to it.

And once discovered, we have to be prepared to provide the venue for its outpouring. You might be surprised to discover what you didn't know you already know... a wisdom that actually resides deep inside our being.


Related topics:
  1. Finding your voice
  2. How to put your own voice in your writing