Breathe

Breathe in. Breathe out. Just watch your breathing. Take a minute or two not to worry about your life or your problems and just breathe in and out. The way the air goes through your nostrils and into your lungs, and how it goes back out seamlessly through your nostrils again. Breathe in again, but try holding your breath for a few seconds and observe your body carefully. Do it once, then twice, then just keep going.

That very moment when you breathe, each moment, is all we have really. We get caught up in all the worries in life: work, family, spouse, friends, health, wealth; it’s endless. Try breathing and look inside. Wherever you go the only constant thing you bring is yourself. Learn to live with you. Breathe.

White tee

I don’t want to worry about what I wear everyday. I have other (better) things to worry about and it seems most appropriate to narrow the choices. I decided with one apparel.

The white t-shirt.

It’s classic. Clean. Versatile. Sensible.

When I get home after work, I will change into a white tee. The weekends? White tee. Casual dinner? White tee.

I own about 5 white tees for normal use, and another 4 for sleeping. The ones I use to sleep are either baggy or tight, with a scoop neck, worn out, old, or any other ugly form that would make me refrain from wearing it in public. The normal ones are the ones with good fit.

Of course, the white tee cannot replace my entire wardrobe. I cannot work in an corporate environment with a white tee (unless you work in a uber-cool company). I cannot go to a wedding with a white tee. And I probably shouldn’t do gardening with a white tee.

But for the rest of the time, I can. It’s a sensible default and it’s versatile. If it’s cold I could just put on a jacket or hoodie. I can pair it with blue jeans, black jeans, salmon chinos, khakis, you name it.

I still wear casual shirts and different coloured tees, depending on the occasion and mood. But my default would be a white t-shirt. Simple.

The goal is to narrow your choices and use the best available option (this applies to any product or service you use) and then not worrying about it. It becomes a part of you.

Now you can focus on making better, useful, and remarkable decisions.

Applying for jobs

I remember the couple of months after I graduated when I was looking for a “real job”. It was hard, but not just because I was joining thousands of people looking for jobs using conventional methods. The system is flawed.

My qualifications were in a Hospitality field and I was aiming to enter the hotel industry. I did not have any previous experience working in any hotel, having only worked at restaurants and fast-food joints.

I then asked myself, how am I going to beat other people who have:

  1. Better qualifications at more prestigious and well-known institutes.
  2. People who have practical experience in a hotel environment, or just those with more experience in the Hospitality field.
  3. Proving to the HR staff with a piece of paper that cannot show them my ability to deal with customers, be proactive, clear communication, positive attitude, enthusiasm, patience, body-language, and so forth. Worse, it might be a software that’s filtering me out of the thousand applicants. (Sure our human qualities can be shown during the interview process, but if we’re already cut off before given the chance, it all goes to waste.)

I might sound like I’m whinging, at first I thought I was too. But I couldn’t settle doing menial, average work. I couldn’t stand surrounded by negative people who complained about their jobs, their bosses, the governments, how they’re not getting paid enough, and how their life is shit, without even wanting to make a change, all talk. I couldn’t settle with trading my time to get paid at an hourly rate, doing repetitive work that can be replaced by someone else, just because I have to pay the bills, just because society told me to. Deep down I believed there’s more to life than being average, fitting in doing mediocre work just to pay the bills, just to keep living. (Living? Are you really living? Or are you just robots doing the same thing day in day out?)

These thoughts surround me but I did not know where to go at that time, so I followed the road frequently travelled. I compromised my ideals and took the traditional route. I continued on to revamping my resume and sending them out to employers, which managed to get me a couple of interviews at hotels. But I was unsuccessful. In fear of having no income week in week out, I accepted a job as a team member at a local burger joint which paid me enough to live by. Yes I did learn something, from specific cooking skills to managing the business, but to a certain extent you can only learn so much because you’re limited to the framework, the system.

After nearly two months, I was fortunate enough to be given a job opportunity by a friend working in an information management company. I then entered the corporate environment, thinking that this was my first “real job”. It was the same average, repetitive work, paid by the hour, following instructions, and keeping your head down. No. This wasn’t it. Yes there was job security and a steady paycheck, but if the tradeoff is having to become an easily replacable cog in a gigantic machine, then no. This is not where I want to be.

Having said that, I’m grateful. Not just for the experience but for the assurance that I was right, bringing my principles stronger in resolve. I don’t want to work for somebody else.

I still work 9-5, but I now use my spare time to educate myself with books and guides from people who have the same mindset, who don’t conform and give in to the status quo. Who aim to do remarkable work rather than being average. Who aim to take action. Not just talk.

Everyone doesn’t need to be an entrepreneur or freelancer, and we can’t. But surely, we can step up and start doing remarkable work rather than just being a cog in a giant machine.

People get tired

…too easily.

The results you expect are proportionate to the effort you put in. And most people just don’t want to put in the work. Discomfort is uncomfortable but necessary.

I’ve heard people complain about rich people who seem to have everything spooned ever since. No. You don’t know the story behind the hard work and effort they put in to reach the amount of wealth or power they have achieved. The sleepless nights and perseverance. The patience. The determination. The focus.

Don’t rest. Take a break, but push on. Forward.

Jack of all trades

My mother’s little brother, or uncle as we call it, told me once: “A guy needs to be able to do everything.” He was a handy guy who was able to do everything from cooking, fixing cars, tinkering with sound-systems, painting, swimming, dancing, seducing, and more.

But there’s a problem. He didn’t master any of those. He could do everything but he wasn’t an expert in any one field.

It got me thinking, the greats of this world didn’t arrive there by being a jack-of-all-trades. They all had one thing they had mastered or created, to be remarkable. Above others. Indispensable.

Imagine if Michael Jordan stopped midway and started his career in Baseball or Golf early. He wouldn’t have been the Basketball great we all know today.

Knowing your way around everything, a man should be. But to become an indispensable great, world-class, remarkable, you will have to be master at one thing. Become an expert beyond all means in that one field. And successful you shall be.

Commercial with a conscience

Creatives often have the dilemma between creating commercial work or one that sticks to “true” art and ideals.

I had a chat with @VeHandojo today and I realised that it doesn’t matter. It’s a never ending argument. It all goes back to what you enjoy most and the willingness to sacrifice either money or your soul (some feel that being commercial is like making a contract with the devil). Ve’s production company aims to create in a year either 2-3 commercial movies that is profitable, and 1 idealistic movie that might not sell. And that’s okay. Ve makes good money and he doesn’t feel like he’s sold his soul. He also boils it down to communicating with the market. No use creating an idealistic art but not being able to communicate with the mass. And to be realistic, at least aim for a way to breakeven your work to the production costs. A person’s gotta eat.

If you enjoy doing it and don’t mind sacrificing more money, then do it. Don’t fight against your values. But be realistic. You have to eat, you have to pay the bills.

Be commercial with a conscience.

21

I’m officially a Blackjack. For my 21st birthday, I want to share twenty-one things I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Lead and make decisions. Take initiative in every situation possible.
  2. Talk to everyone and treat everybody the same.
  3. The world does not revolve around you. Don’t be too self-conscious about what others think.
  4. Money is important. Work hard on your career or business so you have the peace of mind for the more important things in life.
  5. Aim to be the person who buys lunch for others, not the other way around.
  6. When you say you’re going to do something, do it.
  7. Success only comes to those who give 110% in everything.
  8. All the troubles and struggles you went through in the past made you the person you are today.
  9. Nothing worth having comes easily.
  10. People who wake up early have more opportunities.
  11. Meditate.
  12. Read books and educate yourself constantly.
  13. Don’t spend too much time on social networks. Get off Facebook.
  14. No more excuses. You’re better off using the time to improve the situation.
  15. Shut up and exercise.
  16. Dress well. Looking stylish says a lot about who you are and how you value yourself to others.
  17. We are all salespeople, whether it’s selling products, services, or our skills and expertise. Learn to do sales, it’s essential.
  18. Don’t be too picky.
  19. Spend more time with your family and friends. As in more, more and more. Keep in touch constantly.
  20. Find a significant other that can support and encourage you towards your goals.
  21. Take it easy and have fun.