Desirable Traits

I’ve written down a list of traits I find most desirable in a human:

Discretion

Understanding

Uprightness

Love

Faithfulness

Discipline

Righteousness

Wisdom

Humility

A study of these and I find I have much to improve on.

It’s easy for us to forget these most important things when the things we chase after for which we can see the end result/return more easily/tangibly start to consume us.

Better to write them down, imprint them on your skin, sear them in your heart, then to forget and find yourself lost in the chase.

The chase is long. And the human race has proven time and time again that it’s a gigantic, messy blob prone to dissatisfactions, strivings, and wanderings.

It’s good to re-evaluate regularly what you are about, who you are, and why you are pursuing the things you are pursuing.

It would be a pity if you found yourself at the long tail of a track some day… having run all your life… having forgotten the why.. so far away from the person you initially dreamed you’d be.

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Musings & Tucans in Le Marais

I am sitting in a very pretty coffee shop called the Yellow Tucan.

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The cafe owner decorates the cafe with bright spots of yellow: oranges, tulips, architectural chairs, and truly brightens up the spirits of anyone stopping in.

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It’s been 4 days since I’ve arrived in Paris.

Outside of my meetings for work I’ve committing to a practice of solitude as that’s what I have been looking for as I chose to take this trip– to recalibrate and deepen my focus.

After a sprint of work here and finishing this letter, I will go out to meet a friend, Pierre, to do what’s perhaps some much needed socializing. We will be going to the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature. It will be my first time, and I am so very excited to go as I know the decorative art pieces there are splendid!

It hasn’t been difficult at all to find new friends here. There have been the hiccups of having to ward off men though. …on runs, during walks between meetings. But it’s nothing.

Work is going very well, although I’m shy to share with you the details of the project I have been working on just yet. It takes a lot of preparation, a lot of risk, and sharing sometimes feels scary because it feels like I am putting all my eggs in one basket, when I myself am not absolutely sure where this heading. But this I think is the scared me talking. 🙂

Things are moving very quickly forward though. It’s enough to excite me and frighten me simultaneously.

I hope I have the courage to continue on.  And if not, I hope I have the courage to take up something new again. To persevere, and also to be brazen when acting for the good things– the worthy things.

Arming myself for the days ahead.

Love,

Soo

 

 

 

Understanding a Marginalized Metric in the Arms Race for Success: Emotional Intelligence

In his delicious article “What Makes A Leader?,” brain and behavioral sciences expert and professor Daniel Goleman summarily tackles and identifies Emotional Intelligence as the fulcrum of the development and measurement of leadership within spheres of business and management.

First surfaced in 1985 via Wayne Payne’s doctoral thesis, “A Study of Emotion: Developing Emotional Intelligence”, EI was formally termed to account for the additional types of intelligence not subscribed in the parameters of technical and IQ modules.

Emotional Intelligence is an important quality to understand as how you measure up against these elements/pre-requisites are factors that can affect one’s ability to be a leader: managing a critical mass of people and ultimately creating high-impact value.

Out of the many models that have since been created by many scholars in their attempts to define EI, Goleman’s on EI has withstood the 2000’s and has served as the frame of reference for many educational and professional institutions seeking to understand this more deeply; I have likewise found his model for EI to be particularly useful, so I will continue on with reference to his model of five fundamental components:

Self-awareness is pretty by the book. It’s having a keen knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses, your needs, and your desires.

Self-regulation is the ability to maintain what can be simply described as the “emotional/professional poker face”, having the ability to yield reason over instinct despite certain situations natural eliciting a reaction that might be oppositional.

Motivation is the desire to achieve something. Often times, those who are motivated in the work place who currently hold decision making power have been observed to have the inclination to achieve for achievement’s sake regardless of there being a targeted goal or not.

Empathy, is empathy 🙂 Showing and successfully conveying genuine camaraderie and understanding for teammates, despite facing situational differences, deadlines/hard decisions being needed to make (i.e. corporate layoffs). Having the ability to treat each person uniquely and smoothly to best fit his/her emotional makeup and reactionary dispositions.

Lastly, social skills, i.e. being  gregarious – being willing to open up your time, resources, and mind widely. Studies have supported that people with great social skills often have  friendship networks that are very wide in breadth. Also, in the working space, high-leadership potential individuals can paradoxically appear to not be working as much because they more often than not recognize the needs to do things like allocate amounts of time during their work day to “chat ” and get to know their colleagues cross-departmentally.

Goleman doesn’t merely expound on or seek to heighten the value of pre-existing didacticisms, and this particular excerpt, amongst many, is very enlightening as it gets into the neuroscience of it all–showing where exactly EI growth is being activated and how we can push ourselves and our lovely comrades forward towards [higher command!] higher vision:

“With competency and leadership training programs provided in leading companies, it’s important to determine where exactly our emotional intelligence comes from. It’s a mixture of nature and nurture, but studies show that a large part of our development in regards to this as physiological: “Emotional intelligence is born largely in the neurotransmitters of the brain’s limbic system, which governs feelings, impulses, and drives. Research indicates that the limbic system teams best through motivation, extended practice, and feedback. Compare this with the kind of learning that goes on in the neocortex, which governs analytical and technical ability The neocortex grasps concepts and logic. It is the part of the brain that figures out how to use a computer or make a sales call by reading a book. Not surprisingly-but mistakenly-it is also the part of the brain targeted by most training programs aimed at enhancing emotional intelligence. When such programs take, in effect a neocortical approach, my research with the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations has shown they can even have a negative impact on people’s job performance. To enhance emotional intelligence, organizations must refocus their training to include the limbic system. They must help people break old behavioral habits and establish new ones. That not only takes much more time than conventional training programs, it also requires an individualized approach.”

And just how important are these for professional development and how do they add up to affect the trajectories of our careers and our lives?

An extensive study of data culled through the numerous competency models employed by top 500 companies of manager to C-level executives has revealed that out of the technical, intellectual and EQ abilities we can strive to develop, EQ is what’s most paramount to hinting at one’s growth potential as a thriving leader.

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There are people that would scream out in surprise, “what a coincidence! That this is so important to my success!! ..I suppose they would be the kind of people who forget that humans are the backbone to every problem and every solution found in this world, but this is only the opinion of one.

Cool stuff!

Anyways, I shall end my advocacy for EI for the moment, but I do hope you take the time to read Goleman’s article, “What Makes a Leader” when you have the time.

Bises,

Soo

***

See here for another benefit to EI form a cost/benefits angle as noted by a leading research team in the UK specializing in management training:

Benefits of early EI measurement:

Case 1: “When hiring recruiters, the government used an emotional intelligence test as part of the process. They found that the recruiters who performed the best were the ones that had scored the highest on the EI test– particularly in the competencies of emotional self-awareness, empathy, happiness, and assertiveness [hiring employees who have high levels of EI gives you a better chance of hiring the right people the first time and reduces employee turnover, resulting in significant cost savings”. The Air Force soon learned that it could increase the chances of hiring successful recruiters by three times as much if they used the EI test. They found that using EI tests saved over $3 million annually by being able to hire the right people for the first time. The results were so notable that the Government Accountability Office (formerly the Government Accounting Office) presented the information to Congress who in turn requested the Department of Defense use emotional intelligence tests in recruitment and selection in all the armed forces.”

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Read on to get better acquainted with the fundamental tenets of emotional intelligence as delineated here by Goleman: self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills, and see them presented through examples within the business sphere.

For additional content, feel free to go further with Daniel Goleman’s work on EI here, or here, to get his best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

Cal Newport on Measuring the Value of Connectivity

This is my second week of trying to abstain from all social media, and I have been failing gloriously.

I can’t seem to take my hands away from clicking that app icon.

I have uninstalled apps only to reinstall them. I am finding reasons to go back to Facebook or Instagram, because my mind tells me I have to share this one insight or reach out to this one person, or share this one thing, the message or communication of which [I apparently believe] can only be served through the means of “x” Messenger chat device.

I’ve turned off notifications, giving myself what I thought an acceptable and reasonable amount of distance and constraint.

I am a victim of connectivity.

How have I, along with potentially many of my peers found ourselves to be this way?

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A month ago, I finished reading a book called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, written by Cal Newport. It unpacks the professor’s studies on deep work and deep work’s place in our modern world of connectivity.

As Newport shares mind-opening insights in regards to facilitating deliberate practice and deep work, he questions whether social media and its perceived benefits are truly beneficial to one’s life and proceeds to ask us all to contemplate on whether it actually inhibits our ability to do significant and qualitative work.

In my support for his argument on social media not being beneficial, I am not claiming that one must do everything and justify it solely for its industriousness, its productivity level, or its potential for adding value to our society (That’s where the case for pleasure comes in, for pleasure’s sake.). However, his arguments were compelling enough to give me pause and think deeper about this waves arms around situation.

So, inspired as I was, I decided to embark on a personal project to apply the claims and suggestions I found to be relevant for my life.

For October, I set for myself the goal of abstaining from using all modes of social media for a month. I haven’t not tried this out before, but the cool thing this time in re-embarking on a [Social] Media diet was that Cal Newport’s proposal for  quitting social media suggests we mentally approach this trial period as a means for observation, rather than see it as a time in which we make the drastic decision to quit forever and live a Luddite life for the rest of our lives.

I’ve outlined for you some salient notes that I found key to embarking on this low-commitment period of self-exploration—it’s already yielded some valuable personal insights for me and hopefully you will find this helpful to you too:

Allez vous!

Cal Newport suggests the following guidelines for measuring the value of our connectivity:

“Set a 30 day goal for self-imposed network isolation. After those 30 days, “ask yourself the following two questions about each of the services you temporarily quit:

  1. Would the last thirty days have been notably better if I had been able to use this service?
  2. Did people care that I wasn’t using this service? (p. 205)”

“The Any-benefit Approach to Network Tool Selection: You’re justified in using a network tool if you can identify any possible benefit to its use, or anything you might possibly miss out on if you don’t use it.” How do you perceive the value of the tools in your life in relation to this?

After two weeks of following his suggestions, I came to certain, undeniable revelations about myself. I determined I have a very dependent relationship with certain media devices. I also apparently have more of a lack of self-control than I had previously thought (whether this characteristic is exacerbated from being a millennial or being genetically pre-disposed, I do not know). And most importantly, I’ve realized just how distracted I could be as opposed to seeing how focused or not distracted I was. This project was intriguing to me because although I’ve long developed a wariness towards the effects of technology and its byproducts, I was seeing things in a whole new light thanks to Newport’s tips & tweaks.

Ending notes: 

Sometimes, social media tools are very necessary to me, and I find Instagram in particular as a very enjoyable way to spend some portions of my day. But is the amount of time I dedicate to these platforms truly necessary, and ultimately even healthy for me et mon existence as a huuuman?

That is something for me to continue thinking about.

For more, hit up Cal Newport’s post on September 21 on quitting.

Arnold Bennett’s Mind-Warp Fundamentals For Seizing Your Day

The “great and profound mistake which my typical man makes in regard to his day,” “he persists in looking upon those hours from ten to six as ‘the day,’ to which the ten hours preceding them and the six hours following them are nothing but a prologue and epilogue.”… “utterly illogical and unhealthy.”” – How to Live on 24 hours a Day. – Arnold Bennett, English Writer

Bennett pleads to all of us salary men: Think of the hours beyond your 9-6. Think of the potential. Revisit your dreams. Create things. Create things again.

Nurturing From the Inside Out

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It’s the third full season of fashion week for me, and I’ve yet to tire myself out of this world– miracle?.

Yesterday, I had a weekend day free of any fashion related duties and spent the morning volunteering for a pantry kitchen where we served breakfast and handed out grocery goods to approximately 600 – 800 guests.

The organization through which I had registered for this volunteer event was affiliated with a New York based church, but the volunteers’ profiles were not limited to those with particular religious affiliations.

I was allocated this time to valet duty. Valet duty in kitchen terminology is defined as the setting aside of guests’ dolley carts in designated spots within the boundaries of the sectioned off roadside curb (Hello makeshift NY parking lot!).

A cursory glance made this role appear very simple and essential.

However, I quickly came to realize that it demanded all my skill-sets. It required a steady performance via my social intelligence and client facing skills –going way beyond engagement of the physical.

Over the span of 3 hours, I was honored to make the acquaintances of  many Chinese immigrants, New Yorkers, the occasional young couple, and a spirited French man who was owner of decayed teeth, perfect skin, highly swollen legs, a poorly taken care of stitching job, and a brilliant and poetic mind.

I spoke mainly in English as I directed our patrons to and from their possessions, often attempting to speak in my broken Mandarin Chinese as the need frequently arose. This of course didn’t always come across effectively as the entire Chinese diaspora had presented themselves, and upon exchange of a couple of words our disparity in dialects became apparent.

From the multitude of human interactions I had, most of the time spent in communication with our guests was non-verbal. Nevertheless, the value of the exchange was tantamount if not greater than if I had conversed with them over a dinner table.

The connection shared upon us offering to one another our respect, love, and our dignities was affirmed in such a strong and powerful way– channeled through the simplest of gestures, a beautiful smile, or as an observant person that morning noted, “I looked into your eyes and for a moment I saw your truth.”

I was humbled, blessed, enriched, and invigorated by the love we all presented each other with and in the re-realization that we all clearly have an amazing and huge capacity for giving and receiving good things.

I’m excited to serve the city of New York again.

Bises,

Soo