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I enjoy meeting new people and forming new friendship.  Most of the time, we meet up in cafes where the casual setting makes it easier to get to know one another.  Recently, I met up with a new friend at a tea lounge.  We ordered some tea and a small fruit platter to share.

While chatting and enjoying our conversation, I picked up a piece of cantaloupe.  Unfortunately, the cantaloupe escaped my grasp and landed on the table.  Without as much as a second thought, I picked it up and ate it (5 seconds rule, anybody?)  Boy, was that a mistake!  Not only was it not the most sanitary thing to do, my behavior probably thoroughly disgusted my friend.

The problem is, I developed the bad habit of eating off the table from the time I dine at home, alone, on my clean dining table!  While the behavior is relatively harmless in private (other than perhaps eating germier food than if they hadn’t fallen on the table), the repeated behavior conditioned my brain into an automatic response when I am out in the public with friends.  The result?  A poor impression is permanently burned into the minds of those I meet.  This can be especially bad when it takes place during the first meet-up!  Talk about a down-right terrible first impression!

What is the lesson here?  Private behavior can rear its ugly head in public, and if one is not careful, it can ruin a good thing!  It’s always best to behave well when nobody is looking as it is when everybody is looking!

Sarah Palin puzzles me.  I had previously written about her and why she scares me as the potential VP of the United States, but today I want to tell you a bit more of what I learned from her behavior that would hopefully teach us all a lesson about life.

Sarah Palin came from a humble enough background — no super rich family to help her out at the beginning of her life, no special connections to get her to where she is today.  She was just an average citizen like many of us.  She got to where she is today by her will to succeed, for the most part.  That accomplishment is in and of itself very commendable. In many ways, she is one of the success stories of the American life — if you believe in yourself and work hard at your goals, you will get to here you want to go.

In fact, Sarah Palin is one of the most confident women I’ve seen.  She doesn’t let obstacles bring her down, and she always has the self-confidence that she will succeed.  The problem lies in her self-awareness.  More specifically, her self-confidence is in no way balance by her self-awareness (or lack thereof).

In my opinion, self-confidence and self-awareness are two sides of the same coin — both sides are needed in order to move forward in life.  Self-confidence gives you the belief that life challenges are conquerable, without which every task in life would seem like climbing Mount Everest.  Self-awareness, on the other hand, is the feedback loop to let you know not only what it takes to get to where you want to go, but also how you are doing along the way.

To continue with the analogy of climbing Mount Everest, it is not enough to simply believe you can do it; you need to also know (and be honest about) your state of health to correctly assess whether climbing to the highest peak in the world is the right thing for you at this very moment.  If it’s not, there is one of two things you can do:

  1. You can ascend anyway but your chance of failure and death is astronomically large.
  2. You can train yourself to be in a better climbing shape and attempt the task once you have build up your muscles, expanded your lung capacity and increased your physical and mental endurance.

Sarah Palin, although full of self-confidence that she can be the VP of the United States, lacks the self-awareness to know that she is, at this very moment, NOT qualified to be one.  That is not to say she will not be qualified to be one in the future as long as she prepares herself between now and then.  But to prepare herself means to face the brutal fact of her current reality, and that is to be self-aware that she currently lacks the VP qualification.  Unfortunately, she does not appear to have that self-awareness that will propel her forward in her political aspiration.

So the lesson is:  ALWAYS balance your self-confidence with your self-awareness.  Too much of one without equal amount of the other can prove disastrous in accomplishing your goals in life.

Every Friday is Wisdom Friday.  It’s just a way for me to share with my readers the little gems of life that I’ve learned either during the week or living life in general.

One of my mentors once told me, “Think big, but start small.”  His advice at the time was to encourage me to take the first step because I had a tendency to just dream, but the value of the advice goes beyond just nudging me to get started.

Over the years, I’ve learned that by always starting small, you take the most important step to accomplishing anything in life — you started!  The second virtue of starting small is it keeps you from being frozen by the magnitude of your vision.  The third is small steps are easier to conquer, and by accomplishing a small step, you gain confidence in your ability to accomplish the next (small) step.

Next time you feel overwhelmed by your dreams or just the large task at hand, remember to start small.  The most important thing is to start!

Nope, this post is NOT about how to land a new gig post lay-off.  I will leave that to the experts.  Instead, I want to share with you a few lessons I learned from the recent slew of lay-off announcements about delivering bad news:

  1. Ignorance is not bliss.  Not for the bad news recipient anyway.  Despite all the emotions that go with getting the bad news, people want to know if they are “it”.  The kind thing to do is to not keep them in the dark unnecessarily.  This is especially true in situations where the bad news affect more than one person.
  2. When delivery bad news, be direct.  By being direct, I mean be straight-forward and don’t dance around the subject.  Bad news is just bad no matter how you look at it.  By sugar coating the situation, you will only come off sounding insincere at best, manipulative at worst.
  3. Give the bad news as soon as possible.  Ask any employees on the potential chopping block how productive their workdays have been since they learned of their companies’ layoff, and you will find that the bad news freeze person in their positions.  Instead of focusing on their work, all they can think of is “Will I be canned?”  That’s super unproductive for both parties.  Worse, it inflicts unnecessary pain on those who are not affected by the bad news.
  4. If you have more than one piece of bad news, tell them all in one go.  There’s nothing worse than being hit with one piece of bad news after another.  Death by a thousand cuts is an infinitely more painful death than a bullet to the head.  When given a choice, the recipients of the bad news almost always prefer to hear them all at once.

The bottom line is this: treat others the way you would like to be treated.  If the way you are delivering bad news would potentially inflict pain on you, then it’s a pretty safe bet it will inflict pain on others just the same.