The True Master

January 31, 2023

“Oh, I’m still a student,” you may exclaim, “that’s why I keep asking questions.”

Here’s a revolutionary thought. You may already be a master. But you think you are a student because you have this mental model of the master never asking questions because he already has all the answers.

But given this fast-changing world, a master’s stock answers may already be outdated. There are always new developments that the master never dreamed of ten, five, or even one year ago.

Thus, the true master never stops asking questions. This is not in the sense of quizzing the student, but to fill the gaps of his own knowledge. In fact, in the case of reverse mentoring, the student can be the master and vice versa!

The story is told of a scientist who was lecturing in a university. To his chagrin, a Nobel prize winner, uninvited, entered the classroom and sat at the back row. He suddenly felt insecure. What if this genius were to poke holes in his lecture? What if this veteran were to ask him a question he couldn’t answer?

But to his surprise, the sit-in visitor took out his notebook, listened intently to his lecture, and quietly took notes. The scientist was humbled, because here was this world-class intellect picking up new insights from his class.

The true master is always open to new learning. It is a mark of wisdom, not shame, to admit ignorance and strive for deeper understanding.

In this sense, we are all students. And we can be each other’s masters.


Would you work for a corporation whose core values are respect, integrity, communication, and excellence?

What if I tell you that this corporation was Enron?

This cautionary tale teaches us that just having core values is not enough. Just as organizations should have strategies for business growth, they should also have strategies for implementing its core values.

One major reason why people have difficulty abiding by core values is that these are usually given as abstract ideas.

I love what Simon Sinek said in Start with Why, “For values or guiding principles to be truly effective, they have to be verbs. It’s not integrity. It’s ‘always do the right thing.’ It’s not innovation. It’s ‘look at the problem from a different angle.’”

Here are three suggested steps on making core values stick.

First, if you are the founder, owner or CEO, lay down the core values. But have your people brainstorm the desired actions. Ask behavioral questions such as “how do you know someone has [core value]?” or “what does [core value] look like?”

Second, ask for the opposites or contrast. Some people may identify more with what not to do rather than what to do. Thus, for each answer you get from the first step, flip it.

Third, post three Do’s and three Don’ts. Why three? Because of the Rule of Three; for some reason the human brain is satisfied with groups of three such as three blind mice or the three musketeers.

Organize the output like what you see in the photo above. Then post it on prominent locations such as the office wall.

To reinforce the core values, refer to them regularly in your meetings and in HR processes such as hiring, training and even firing. But that is grist for another post.

Yes, even this exercise may not deter the occasional bad apple in the organization. But this is a great start to make core values more understandable, relatable, and most of all, actionable.

#corevalues #corevalue #corevaluesinaction #ethics #corporateculture #principles #workculture



Life is Not Linear

January 18, 2023

Do you feel you have wasted a significant chunk of your time?

Did you take what seemed to be a promising path, only to view it as a mistake?

Are you wondering what will you do next?

It would be great if there is a straight line between where you are and what you want in life. While there is a blessed few who pulled that off, I suspect the vast majority realize that life doesn’t come with a road map, let alone a guarantee.

But life is not linear. And that’s a good thing. Because it encourages us to see ourselves in positive ways:

First, we are still pursuing. You’ve seen those movies where the hero sets out on a quest. Along the way, he encounters detours, dead ends, and setbacks. The payoff comes when the hero, against all odds, got what he wanted.

Now, we don’t want such movies to skip all the conflict and go straight to the happy ending. Where’s the fun in that? In the same way, our wrong turns are part of a grander story: your quest to the life you aspire for. Accept the dry spells as part of the journey and keep your eye on the destination.

Second, we are still growing. The reality is that our life goals can change over time. Perhaps your dissatisfaction means that your values have shifted or deepened. The classic example is that when we are young, we pursue success; but as we get older, we crave for significance.

So when you find yourself asking “is this all there is?”, perhaps what you have invested time and effort on was a good move given who you were in the past. But you have matured in the process. You have come to view yourself, people, and life in a new way. Now, it’s time for new directions.

Third, we are still learning. If you are being haunted by a poor decision you’ve made, think of it as a valuable lesson. Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times while inventing the light bulb, but he famously said, “I have not failed 10,000 times—I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”

But here’s a catch. It is not true that we learn from experience. We learn when we reflect on our experience. Someone can go through years of experience and never become a better person out of it. So redeem that difficult phase of your life by asking questions such as “What is this experience teaching me? What is this saying about myself? What will I do differently next time?””

If we are lamenting over our past or worrying about our future, take heart. We may feel that we should have zigged when we zagged, waited for a better moment, or thought things through. We will have our shares of ups and downs, epiphanies and letdowns, peaks and valleys.

That is life: it is not linear. But we can keep on pursuing, growing, and learning. Someday, when we finally grasp what we have set out for, we will look back and realize that our missteps were actually signposts. And instead of drowning in regret, we will swell up with gratitude.


No, this is not about what hard or soft skills you will need in your career. While there is a case for, say, critical thinking or collaboration, we need to be good at four basic attitudes about work:

  1. Work hard. There is the cynical saying that hard work does not lead to success. If that were true, why are there so many industrious people who remain poor? But that doesn’t negate the fact that many people prospered because of hard work. So go ahead, give your job your all.
  2. Work smart. Have you seen a machine operator who kept on producing defective products? He then tells you, “I know our yield rates are terrible. But don’t worry. I’m working really hard!” Coupled with elbow grease should be brainpower. Are there ways to make your work faster or simpler?
  3. Work solo. There will be times when we hunker down on our desk and finish a task. Yet if we are like many people, we are too easily distracted such as (gasp!) social media. The result is that, yes, we are by ourselves, but either the work never gets done or it was not done in the best way it could be. Learn the discipline of focus, even when you are alone.
  4. Work together. Even if you don’t have direct reports working for you, you are still working with bosses and peers. This is where being a team player comes in. Give value to the people you work with. Initiate, participate, and cooperate.

Work hard, work smart, work solo, and work together. Do these four ingredients well and you will never lack of opportunities. Now, that is a great way to go through this new year!

#careeradvice #careercoaching #work #collaboration #criticalthinking #individual #hardwork


So thankful to God, my darling wife Lucy Cheng-Dy, and friends for making 2022 my most rewarding (and busiest) year ever.

How can I count the ways? Here are some highlights. Meantime, enjoy the jpegs!

  • Started the year as covid positive. Thankfully, I recovered without ill after-effects. Lucy met my every need, even putting the food tray at the doorstep of my isolation room!
  • Turned SIX-OH. Oh my goodness! Is this what being a senior citizen feels like? I am still in denial…
  • I am supposed to retire and thus leave my employer. But my employer retained me as a consultant at least until the end of 2023.
  • Got certified as a transformative coach, thanks to the amazing instructors at the Coach Masters Academy. But I’m not done yet. I’m pursuing advanced training so I can give the best service to my clients. (This explains the eyebags on my eyebags.)
  • Found great mentors this year. Due to strategic secrecy, I’m not telling. (But they know who they are!)
  • Thankful for the trust extended me by LJMB Training (the indefatigable Louie John M Banta), SEATSI (Dynamic Dina H. Loomis and Debonair Dino Hermosisima Santos) and PSTD (privileged to have worked with amazing trainer/coaches).
  • Would you believe that I gave my first-ever speech in Toastmasters way back on November 28, 2012? That means I have been with this fine organization for ten years! (And counting.)
  • Lucy and I were one year short of celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. Can’t wait for next year!
  • Sadly, my mom passed away last May 16. But I cherished how much she loved and took care of me.
  • Two of my books were voted into two top ten lists in the recent Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards. (The two are Regret No More and Is This All There Is: Why Purpose is a Journey and Not a Destination, published by OMF Lit and Anvil, respectively.)
  • Speaking of books, the virtual launch of my 12th book, Broken Faith, was held last April 2. Thank you, OMF Lit family!

For those who believe in me, opened doors for me, shared their wisdom with me, thank you! To honor each of you by name would turn this into an even longer post. What I do aim for is to give you value just as you gave value to me.

Last but not least, I am filled with thanksgiving to the Lord. Yes, I was digging my well before I get thirsty. But He is the One filling the well with water! My cup overflows…

#grateful #yearinreview


Looking for a specific
topic? Search below,

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors