Be So Good At What You Love To Do

I like to read two types of books. First, fiction books, such as action, adventure, crime, thriller and romance novels, with a captivating story that fuels my imagination. Second, non-fiction books, especially self-help books and biographies, which I read to reflect on and improve myself.

I started reading the book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport. It is a non-fiction book that says don’t follow your passion but let passion follow you in your quest to become so good that they can’t ignore you. I agree as well that passion alone is not enough to make it a career. To make a career out of passion, you also need to develop rare and valuable skills, also termed as career capitals in this book. When you gain the right skills and become so good at what you do, satisfaction and confidence follow. It is true to some extent that passion is a side effect of mastery. Being good at work makes you feel good. It is hard to develop passion for something that you spend so much effort and time in but not getting good at it. Instead, it can be frustrating and demotivating even if you are doing something you are passionate about. Nonetheless, mastery itself also does not guarantee happiness at work.

In order to feel motivated at work whether or not it is something you are passionate of, you need to feel that you are good at what you do (competence); have control over your day and feel that your actions are important (autonomy); feel connected to other people (relatedness). Besides, great work fuels your creativity, has an impact larger than self, plus you have control of what you do and how you do it. Control and mission are two important traits to acquire with your career capital when creating the work you love. People who love their work can often relate to these traits. Most importantly, in order to get so good at what you do, the book emphasises on deliberate practice where you deliberately stretch your abilities beyond where you are comfortable while also receiving immediate feedback on your performance. Cal also stressed on taking little bets in exploring and taking small steps that propel you towards a good direction. Lastly, he introduced the law of remarkability which says to get a compelling mission-driven career, it must compel people to remark about it to others using a venue that supports such remarking.

When I read this book, I reflected on my work and it resonates with me. I have full autonomy over how I want to spend my day. I believe that my actions in doing this research are important in producing meaningful work and an original contribution to knowledge. I sure hope that findings from my research can be applied in the conservation scene. Nonetheless, I sometimes feel a lack of motivation. It is common for PhD students to feel incompetent. Sometimes I do not know what I am doing and I wonder if I have what it takes to complete this. It is hard to feel competent when I have to keep revising my writing, not knowing when it will be good enough for submission. Furthermore, PhD students mostly work alone, having few, or sometimes no other people on their project, which can lead to the feeling of isolation. Everyone is doing independent work and nobody can help me write my thesis but myself. Looking at it from a different perspective, what I am doing is deliberate practice. Spending hours reading, writing, rewriting, revising, editing feels like a never-ending loop. It certainly does not feel comfortable. But I get constructive feedback on each draft and hopefully the revised draft is an improvement of the previous draft. So, on a positive note, I am deliberately practising to getting good at this. And as Cal says, be patient as it takes time and practice to be so good at something.

This book says following your passion is a bad advice. For me, it works both ways. Surely not everyone starts off with knowing what their passion is until they start exploring. Many people often stumble into a profession and end up loving what they do where their passion for work increase along with their expertise. There are also those who pursue their passion and continue to be better at making a career out of their passion. Either way, it is about getting so good at what you love to do, whether passion comes before or after expertise. It is not just to love what you do and do what you love, but to make it a compelling career.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

“It’s not what you will get out of the books that is so enriching – it is what the books will get out of you that will ultimately change your life”.  I read the book “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” by Robin S. Sharma many years ago and today out of the blue, there is an urge to read this book. Although I flipped through the same book, what the book got out of me this time is not the same as the last time.

Since I decided to further my studies, I worry constantly whether or not I can manage both my studies and the turtle project. This feeling has consumed me slowly, bit by bit. Every time when I am not working, I feel the need to study. If I do not do so, I feel guilty. Eventually the guilt builds up in me. I think what really tires me is that I do not have peace of mind because I worry all the time and do more than one thing at a time.

The mind focuses only one thing at any one time. I have experienced times when my mind is fully occupied on only what was in front of me and I do not have time to think of anything else except for what I am doing in that moment. The feeling of having total focus to do one thing in that very moment where everything else does not count is probably the moment I feel the most peaceful as well. I like to do snorkel survey as all I focus in is looking for sea turtles and my mind does not wander off thinking about the data I have to analyse, the report I need to write, the laundry I need do, the journal I have to read, etc. All that matters is continue snorkel and look for sea turtles. It sounds silly but I find joy in doing it, not entirely because it is fun but it is something I love doing and my mind is at peace.

This time reading the book, it taught me to feed positive thoughts into the mind and to learn to live in the NOW! I have probably never always lived in the moment. Sometimes I dwell in the past and most of the time I daydream, dreaming of being elsewhere or doing something else, rather than savour the moments now. However, the mind can be cultivated to learn to live in the present.

We lose ourselves in book, we find ourselves there too. When I open and read this book again in the future, I may find what I will be looking for then. As Garrison Keillor quotes “a book is a gift you can open again and again”.

Laughter of My Day

I have read Reader’s Digest since I was young. I do not live at home anymore but I still come back to my hometown every year. Due to the nature of my work, I get to be home for about 1 month each year. My mum continues to subscribe to Reader’s Digest until today and after reading it, she will leave them for me. I have a collection of past Reader’s Digest on my shelves which I occasionally pick up to read when I am home. I even asked my mum if Reader’s Digest have a service for readers to return the magazines for recycling. She didn’t know.

Today, as I was reading page by page, I finally came upon my favourite section – Laughter, the best medicine. I still remember as a kid, I would always read this first. As I was enjoying the jokes and laughing silently in my head, I wonder if a joke may end up being published twice. Is there someone at Reader’s Digest whose work is to read and keep track of the jokes published? I thought what a wonderful work to be reading jokes every day. However, based on my experience reading journals, it is not easy to trace back a statement or sentences I remember reading among a pile of journal papers. It must be time consuming to go through every past month’s issues to check if a joke has been published previously.

I read this joke (March 2008):

A bank was held up four days in a row, every time by the same robber. After the fourth raid, the police asked the bank manager to describe him. “Well,” said the manager, “On each occasion, he was a little better dressed.” RON DENTINGER

I put down the magazine after finished reading and randomly pulled out another magazine. When I reached the page for Laughter, the best medicine, what a joke and coincidence that I read the same joke again! I knew I definitely just read this joke. I quickly looked for the last magazine I just put back not long ago and started turning the pages looking for Laughter, the best medicine. Once I found the page, true enough, it was the same joke. I wanted to know how far apart were these two magazine published that the same joke was printed twice. To my surprise, it was just 2 months apart. The first magazine I read was March 2008 and the second one I picked up was January 2008.

Maybe someone should be hired to read and remember all the jokes from Reader’s Digest. Or even better, if a lucky reader like Ron Dentinger whose joke was published twice, was paid twice! As I was typing this, my Mum came in, she said “Ling, you asked if Reader’s Digest recycle their magazines, they do recycle articles.” I actually paused a few seconds to understand the meaning behind her words and I finally understood she meant that an article might be printed again in later issue. I just find it bizarre that the same thing crossed our minds at the same time! We had a good laugh about it anyway! Whether or not a joke is published more than once, Reader’s Digest is a magazine that I grew up reading where my Mum and I would share about the stories and jokes we read. Today, it still is the magazine we both enjoy reading.

A gift

I wasn’t feeling that well yesterday night and lately I felt like my energy has been sucked out of me. I actually feel exhausted but with new volunteers coming in every week, there’s no excuse to be tired. My appetite came back when we went over to Kak Ani’s house for Malay dinner. She cooked Masi Minyak and it was delicious. I thought I wouldn’t feel like eating but I had a second scooping. It wasn’t until later at night that I remembered the Star reporter who arrived today gave me a parcel from a past volunteer, Gim Ean. I opened it up and to my surprise, there was a book! I felt really touched that she actually prepared gifts for the kids and me! It definitely has brightened up my day! Nothing matters more than knowing whatever we do here actually make an impact, be it small or big. Volunteers who came had a great time doing community and conservation work. Hopefully with the knowledge and experience they gained here, they can spread the words around so that more people actually travel responsibly!

A gift from Gim Ean!

Life is uncertain but death is certain

In the midst of sorrow…I started reading this book “Why Worry? How To Live Without Fear & Worry” by K. Sri Dhammananda. An unexpected incident occured in my family during CNY. None of us saw it coming. We did not expect him to go, instead we had hope that he will recover. However, the worst happened. My beloved uncle passed away on last Thursday. As long as I do not think about it, it is alright but whenever I think about him, tears start to fill up my eyes. I am close to him, besides he is staying next door. Of course I did not spend much time talking with him ever since I left high school. Whenever I were back at KT, I spent most time at home, instead of going over to his house. Even so, it still hurts to know that I won’t be able to talk to him anymore. He is different…in many ways. I used to ask advices from him. He has supernatural power…even until today, I cannot say I do not believe it. But now he is gone…I guess we all really need lots of time to get over it. The last time I saw him, he was in the hospital. He just had an operation, fortunately it was successful though the doctor said it was risky as he was weak to undergo an operation. I visited him a few times in the hospital but he did not talk much. My guess is he was too weak. He spent most of the time sleeping as he said he was tired. It shocked us all when we received the news that he was in a critical situation. He fell asleep and his heart just stopped beating. The doctor could not save him. When I finally reached KT, he was already been placed in a coffin. He looked peaceful, as if he was sleeping. I was being told, if I had anything on my mind or any wishes, tell him there and then as his soul was nearby and he would be able to hear me. All I could say is…I was speeceless, my mind was blank. I did not know where and how to begin. However, I realised that when I started talking to him, I kept on wondering would he suddenly open his eyes and look back at me. Deep down inside, I know he will rest in peace. He has been a very kind and helpful person, surely he has gone to a place where he deserved to be. Yet, I could not help myself from blaming him for leaving us without any signs. A few days before he died, I dreamt about him. I was not sure what it means. In my dream, my eyes hurt, so I went into the bathroom to take out my lens. As I did so, I saw that my lens were red in colour. It frightened me, therefore I went out of the bathroom to get a new pair of lens. When I wanted to go back, I realised that he was ready to go into the bathroom too. So I told him that I would like to go in for a while. He did not say anything, just nodded his head. So I went in to wear my lens. I wanted to brush my teeth too, but then I saw him through the mirror that he was already waiting by the bathroom door, with a towel hanging over his shoulder. Therefore, I went out and let him use. I do not remember seeing him entering the toilet but when I reached another bathroom, it was occupied. The next night, I dreamt about him again. This time I do not recall seeing him, but I bumped into my cousin’s cousin on the stairs and I asked if the toilet is occupied. He said he just had a shower and is heading back to Kuantan but my uncle wants to use it. That is all I could remember. I only told others about these dreams during the funeral. I was told that dreaming of someone going into the bathroom is a bad sign and my uncle did not speak as he was already too weak. After he passed away, we all hope that in some ways, he might appear in our dreams. There are so many questions unanswered. I myself think that he was not ready to go. Otherwise, “someone” has came and invited him to go. It sounds supertitious, but I do hope he is in heaven. During the funeral, many relatives came. It was like a sad gathering. Initially we planned to bury him but in Chinese tradition, we need to find a good location and the perfect day and time to bury him. None of us is capable of that since he is gone, therefore his children decided on cremation and scatter the ashes in the sea. Finally, we let him decides by throwing coins. He agreed during the first 3 throws and when we kept on throwing to recomfirm, he started to laugh. Lastly, we decided to temporarily keep his ashes in the temple he was cremated. So we all went to KB for the cremation as this service is not available at KT. It hurts to go through the whole process…it really hurts. Therefore, I read this book. It helps in certain ways but the pain and sorrow are still there. It is hard to bear the loss of people whom we love because of our attachment to them. When we develop attachment, we also must be prepared to pay the price of sorrow when seperation takes place. As the Buddha once said “those who have a hundred things beloved, they have a hundred of sorrows. He who has nothing beloved, has no sorrow. Such persons are free from sorrow”. This incident lead me to this question – What is life? Nothing seems important anymore when in the end we still die and leave our lives.

The Present

– Discard those items from the past for which you really have no use anymore. Much as you like to surround yourself with objects of sentimental value, the time comes when it is necessary to look to the future rather than dwell on the past. Time spent cleaning up and throwing out will release you from the past and allow you to embrace the future. –
When I read this, it reminds me of the book entitled The Present. There’s always a past, the present and a future in our lives. There’s a propotion of time period we take to dwell on our past, enjoy the present or plan for our future. We can only do one thing at a time. As for me, I don’t spend much time planning for the future. However, when I’m supposed to be in the present, I either wished it is like the past or hoped the present would be something better in the future. Usually I might not be enjoying the present situation but when it became my past and whenever I recall back, it is a beautiful memory. It’s not easy to give up my past, mentally or physically as that’s what shaped me into the person I am today. Life is too short and like the saying goes “you can never step into the same river twice”, it’s the same in life! We can never turn back time so every seconds count. That’s the reason why I’m taking the principle to live life as it comes.

Law of Attraction

If anyone has ever read the book or watched the video – THE SECRET, one would probably know what is the law of attraction! Means everything happening around us is attracted to us as we are like magnets. Thoughts become things. Our thoughts can be so powerful that we can actually be what and who we want! The law of attraction doesn’t happen when we do not have the feeling with us! Our feelings have to be in allign with our thoughts, then can it happen!
It’s a book that must be read! Knowing it is easy but to apply it…that’s the whole meaning of the secret. This is why 5% of the population is earning 95% of the wealth as they know the secret and most importantly is they are applying the secret in their lives!
I’m trying to apply it in my life as well. After reading the book, I realised, unconsciously there were times where I did apply the secret in my life. It’s all about asking and receiving, having the feeling so strong as if I’ve alr achieved it. That’s how it works…no matter how, everything is connected to each others. The basis of the Universe is energy! That’s why we can actually send out signals with the right frequency to get to what we want or be who we want to be! The Universe always says ‘Your wish is my command’!
THE SECRET – a secret to success!


有钱人认为 “我创造自己的生活”, 穷人深信 “命中注定”。
“人身最大的风险就是永远不冒险” - 谚语

Homo sapiens

Human belong to the species Homo sapiens…so women and men are apparently the same species but different world. Here are some interesting facts about the differences of women and men! Kinda true, in fact very true!
Women are naturally intuitive…as an example a lady can see a blonde hair on her husband’s coat but she hits the garage door when she parks the car!! However, a men would have to witness tears, a temper tantrum or be slapped before he’d have a clue anything was going on! Haha…true huh!
Women rarely get caught ogling other men due to their superior peripheral vision but men have ‘tunnel vision’. That explains why they’re always so obvious when looking at other women because they have to turn their heads!
Men can find his way to a pub but can never find things in the fridges and cupboards! However men can read maps and recognise the way, in short have a good sense of direction whereby most women seem to get lost or can’t recognise the road!
Women can detect emotions through tone of voice but unfortunately men can’t…that’s why people say women tend to be sensitive…
Women can multi-tasks!! But men can’t, they can only do one thing at a time.
Women are good conversationalists…this explains why women can spend hours on the phone. Men, in the other hand, aren’t so good at talking.
Women discharge their problems by talking but men choose to stay away and be on his own.
Women talk differently as men. Why? Ever realised a man’s sentences are shorter than a woman’s and are more structured, with a simple opening, a clear point and a conclusion.
A woman reads the meaning of what being said through voice intonation and the speaker’s body language. Typically, a woman will respond with different facial expressions. However, the biological objective of men when listening are to remain impassive, so not to betray his emotions. They usually have a same range of facial expressions. Hmm…for example, when watching a touching scene, a woman may cry easily but man do not even though both woman and man experience the same emotion.
The majority of women have limited spatial ability whereas it is one of the men’s strongest abilities. Spatial ability means being able to picture in the mind the shape of things, their dimensions, proportions, movement and geography. So now you can understand why most women are not good in reading maps and why most engineers are men. Girls are excellent at seeing 2D but boys are far more able to see a 3D.
If a woman is unhappy in her relationships , she can’t concentrate on her work but if a man is unhappy at work he can’t focus in relationships.
Women admit their mistakes but men find it hard to apologise!!
Women’s sex drive is like an electric-owen – it heats slowly to its top temperature and takes a lot longer to cool down. Male sex drive is like a microwave – it operates at full capacity within seconds and be turned off just as quickly when the meal is cooked! Hehe…
The sexual peak for women is between age of 36-38 but for men it is around 19…this explains the older woman/younger man combination.
The sex drive of a man in his 40s is compatible with a woman in her early 20s, which partly explains the older man/younger woman combination.
Female menopause – gain weight and get hot flushes.
Male menopause – get to date young gals and ride motorcycles.
A woman wants lots of sex with the man she loves but a man just wants lots of sex! Pretty true huh??
Most women prefer sex in the dark – they can’t bear to see a man enjoying himself but men like sex with the lights on – so that they can get the woman’s name right! I wonder how true it is…haha
When a woman sees a man naked, she bursts into laughter but when a man sees a woman naked, he becomes stimulated and aroused.
Women : sex is the price to pay for marriage
Men : marriage is the price to pay for sex
Kinda interesting to know these facts. If you wanna know more, check out from the book from Allan + Barbara Pease! But despite of these differences, men and women still fall in love. Haha…what a wonderful world!