People and Books

This new year 2016, start surrounding yourself with people who will help you become a better person! Who you spend time with is who you become! Think of the 5 persons you always spend time with. You will see that you all have the same mindsets, mannerisms, manner of talking, even your salary range is the same! That’s why be careful who you spend time with!

Look for people whom you can learn from. Surround yourself with people who has the ability to encourage you and inspire you to become better. It would be great that in every facet of your life, you have someone to mentor you or coach you. You should have friends whom you can also learn from. There should be someone who can guide you in the area of spirituality, family, marriage, parenting, finances, business or to what career you are pursuing right now.

Invest also in books that will sharpen your mind and help you dream bigger dreams. Books allow you to reach endless possibilities. Books also give you unlimited connections to successful people. You can easily be ahead in your chosen field if you read books that are relevant in your life. Learn from those authors who have been there and done that. I always believe that experience is not the best teacher. Learning from other people’s experiences and mistakes is the best teacher!

Never stop learning. Never stop growing. Always grab that opportunity to educate yourself. Remember that rich people values education, while poor people values entertainment.

This 2016, invest on these 2 words: People and Books.

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The Significance of Celebrating 7th Birthdays

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Last Saturday, October 27, 2012, I was in Sofitel with my family and friends to celebrate Chantal’s (my one and only niece) 7th birthday. It was definitely a blast filled with touching and fun-filled memories. Our family’s effort in the preparation of Chantal’s event was never wasted. Chantal surely enjoyed her moment. You can see it in her eyes, in her laugh and in her smile. Her parents, Reggie and Skye, did a tremendous job putting up this event for their one and only daughter. And of course we, Paps, Momsy, Carol, Micah, Camille and I, were in full support for the success of Chantal’s birthday celebration.

But there is one thought that lingered in my mind. “Why do we celebrate 7th birthdays?”

Here in the Philippines, it’s automatic to celebrate an individual’s 1st, 7th and 18th (or 21st for men) birthdays. In this blog I’d just like to point out my opinion about the significance of celebrating such birthdays especially the 7th year.

For every 1st birthday, of course we’re celebrating the marvelous gift of life. It is the celebration of the birth and a new life coming to a family. That’s why we can see in every 1st birthday that we celebrate, the atmosphere is doubtlessly full of joy, happiness and gratitude. I’ve been to a lot of 1st birthday celebrations and the one thing common I observed is the joy found in every person present in the event. Well that should really be the case since we’re talking about a new life, a new gift, a new miracle given by God to a family. Imagine the time when we were born, or during our 1st birthday, I think it would be touching and noble, not naive, if people are happy because of are existence. Right? 🙂

18th (for women) or 21st (for men) birthdays meanwhile is a celebration of an individual’s adulthood. I believe it’s a milestone in one’s life that is worthy of a celebration. The logic is obvious why we celebrate debut here in the Philippines that’s why I won’t go in so much details about my school of thought about 18th/21st birthdays (maybe on Chantal’s 18th birthday I might blog about it). But 7th birthdays? Why?

Just my own personal thought, I strongly, energetically and carefully agree that an individual’s 7th birthday is as important just as his or her 1st and 18th/21st birthday. But one’s 7th birthday is more significant than those two. Why? Here’s my personal take on that.

Our 7th year is usually our age when we first enter a milestone. Nursery, kindergarten and preparatory is now over. It’s time for a more challenging experience, the primary or elementary education. But not just in terms of educational background, our 7th year is considered as the time where we enter the age of accountability. It is the time where we are starting to have a moral sense of right and wrong. Just like Batman. Our 7 years of age is usually the instance where we are exhibiting a bit of maturity and a starting to have a sense of responsibility.  And most importantly, this is the moment in our lives where we become susceptible in keeping the experiences in our minds meaning memories, constructive ones, are being saved by our brain.

The memories we have in this part of our life, particularly our 7th year of existence, make a lasting impact in our lives. Good memories are contributing factors on how a person perceives life. As I may put it, good memories in our childhood will translate in a positive outlook in life.

As I ponder about my life as we prepare and celebrate my niece’s 7th birthday, I went back to memory lane to visit my 7th birthday. Honestly, my memories of my 7th birthday are very vivid, detailed and profound. I guess an average individual would also remember his or her 7th birthday with so much details. I celebrated my 7th birthday in Jollibee. I had a kid’s party and a giant bee dancing Oh Carol to much delight of the guests. I remember everything from my 7th birthday. The food, the gifts, the people, and most of all, the feeling. Looking back at my childhood, I can say I had a fun, exciting and happy childhood. I’ve got to thank my parents for that. And I passionately believe with all my heart that all the good experiences and knowledge I had in my childhood, particularly on my 7th year, played a major role on how my life has shaped up now.

I took the Strengths Finder exam by Tom Rath and my number 1 theme is Positivity. People regarded with a theme of positivity is an individual who is light-hearted, energetic, enthusiastic and never loses hope no matter how bad the the circumstances are. Those descriptions from Tom Rath actually ring a bell on how I am as a person. I really consider that my childhood allowed me to have that kind of perception and perspective about life. If I had a lousy childhood or a sad 7th birthday, I believe I am a different person than I am today. Big thanks to my Dad and Mom who really made sure that I, along with my 3 sisters, had the best childhood any kid would have. I thank God for my parents.

That’s why today, I commend my sister Skye and my brother-in-law Reggie, for putting up the best efforts to give Chantal a memorable, special and big, big celebration for her 7 years of existence. I am pretty sure Chantal will have a positive outlook in life no matter how difficult it is to live in this world. She had an awesome birthday. She is having a not so bad childhood. I believe that will help her on how her life will shape up few years from now.

That is the reason why I am convinced 7th birthdays are significant and crucial. I hope I made a point. I believe every child deserves a great childhood and a 7th birthday celebration. It doesn’t need to be expensive. It just needs to be the best of our means.I pray that parents would really make a conscious effort to provide kids with the best childhood that they can have. Only parents will have that kind of ability and also, responsibility.

And I pray to those who haven’t had the chance to have fond memories from their childhood that caused them to have a different outlook about life and family. I pray that God would heal their eyes, and their hearts, that they will always look at life as something that is good and worthy to be thankful for. I pray they will always be full of optimism and hope.

Life is good. And our God is great. To my Dad and Mom, this blog is for you. Thank you for the childhood you have given me! And to my niece Chantal, happy 7th birthday! 🙂

It’s About Time to Claim What’s Ours

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2000 plus years ago, God has already done everything He’s going to do. He has won everything that needs to be won. The Bible clearly says,

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

– 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV)

another verse from the Scripture implies,

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

– 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

If we want spiritual growth, if we want success, if we want provisions, if we want healthy relationships with everyone, if we want healing from sickness, if we want breakthroughs, if we want promotion, if we want a clear direction in life, if we want another chance at something, if we want wisdom, if we want favor and fulfillment, we have to do more than just believing, daydreaming and hoping. We have to claim everything in the Name of Jesus by speaking faith-filled words of victory over our lives.

God want us to live a life of abundance, happiness and faith. He is very much willing to give us everything we need in life. It’s time to claim what He has greatly prepared for us. 🙂

Leadership Lessons from Mr. Kenshin Himura and Little Yahiko

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Who would agree that sometimes it feels good to be nostalgic and browse some of the good times from your childhood and glare at it for a few minutes? And I happened to do that by squeezing my all-time favorite anime series, Samurai X, into my personal play jar.

Samurai X is a story about a manslayer who vowed not to kill again and help other people to atone for the sins he committed in the past. He is Kenshin Himura, popularly known as Battousai the Slasher. For a more detailed synopsis of the anime series, you can google it. 🙂

Kenshin meets new friends on his journey as a wanderer. They are Kaoru (his love team), Yahiko, Sanosuke, and Megumi. This is really a classic series for me. Epic I must say. As a young boy watching this anime sure gave me fondest of memories as I imitate his moves back then, and a fresh feel good feeling every time I see Kenshin defeat his enemies. But as a grown-up, trying to watch it again in his spare time, it just gives me a new perspective about life, and also in the area of leadership.

After dinner, I watched some few episodes and then I stopped at episode 18, entitled:“Run Yahiko! Get the Reversed-Edge Sword Back”. This story tells us of young Yahiko putting the life of Kenshin in danger because of his ego and immaturity.

After Yahiko played hero’s part in a town restaurant, he quickly gained overconfidence about his sword skills. Yahiko uses a wooden sword and now that he thinks he’s a hero, the young lad feels it’s now time to use a real sword. But Kenshin thinks otherwise and told Yahiko to stay humble, not feed his ego, and still continue to learn and master the Kamiya Kashin Style with a wooden sword. But Yahiko didn’t agree with Kenshin and still believes that he is more than ready to use a real sword. This became a window of opportunity for Gohei Hiruma, an old foe, to finally find a way to defeat and get rid of Kenshin. Gohei tricked Yahiko into a real sword fight leading the young, impulsive lad to get the reverse-edge sword of Kenshin as his weapon. Then after bringing Kenshin’s sword, Yahiko was tied up by the stronger Gohei. Now Kenshin is left to save Yahiko without his sword and now facing a disadvantage. Gohei hired the Onizaki brothers to ensure Kenshin’s defeat. But Yahiko, realizing that he committed a big mistake, found a way to escape and bring the sword back to Kenshin immediately, allowing the protagonist to win. In the end, Yahiko apologizes to Kenshin, reflects on his mistakes and vowed to correct them and never again commit them.

Typical story right? Good guys always win at the end. It’s a relief in this world having that as a fact. But looking at the story and how Kenshin and Yahiko responded at the situation, I believe we can pick up some valuable lessons from both of them.

Yahiko showed immaturity, overconfidence, ego and impulsiveness in the story. Not to mention stubbornness as well. Not to take anything from him, Yahiko is a very talented, passionate and strong-willed young lad. He is in the making of a great swordsman like Kenshin, or in a sense, an up and coming leader. We can learn from the mistakes of Yahiko. Immaturity, overconfidence, ego, stubbornness, impulsiveness, we are all guilty of that once in a while. And I believe looking at the consequences of someone who made this kind of mistake, we can now prevent it from happening in our own personal lives. Yahiko showed us how severe this petty mistakes bring. We can definitely avoid it from happening. Lesson here is to always remain humble. Never let compliments get inside your head. Compliments should be like a perfume. It is meant only for smelling not drinking. I remember a good friend once told me that when someone gives you compliments or praise, receive it like a flower being given to you and say thank you. Every compliment, every praise, just receive it like a piece of flower and collect each and every one of them.  Then once you have a bouquet of flowers, offer it to God and give Him back all the glory, honor and praise. Because the starting point of humility is your personal relationship with God and an awareness that every good thing that is happening in our lives is orchestrated by Him. I believe humility can be the solution to the shortcomings of Yahiko, to our shortcomings as well. Humility dissolves our ego, stubbornness, impulsiveness, immaturity and overconfidence. With humility, we will have no problem listening to the advice of others. With humility, we can always come before God and ask for His guidance. With humility, we will not feel good about what great things we have done, rather we will feel good about what great things our God has done.

Kenshin, as always, is a library of life lessons. He exemplifies the meaning of second chance. But right now I’d just like to highlight how he responded to the mistake of Yahiko. Clearly his life was jeopardized by Yahiko’s mistake. But how he responded and treated the young boy after the mistake, is just worth the blog. It’s human tendency to bark at other people when they commit a mistake. Yelling would sometimes be an understatement. Some go to the point of humiliating the owner of the mistake. Believe me I’ve seen a lot of it in many people in real life. Kenshin may be  just a cartoon series but his response can still be realistic, and possible. Kenshin didn’t yell at Yahiko, or scolded him or even mentioned ” Hey boy I told you so”. He didn’t even use the silent treatment. What Kenshin did was he listened carefully to Yahiko, allowed him to assess his mistake and realize it on his own, encouraged him, smiled at him, and of course, gave him a hug. In other words, he showed Yahiko that he is more valuable to him than his actions and performance, and his forgiveness and understanding will always be available.

I know it’s easy to get disappointed and look at other people’s mistakes. I guess it’s an innate talent of human beings. But  I also think it is something we can overcome. Kenshin, being the leader of Yahiko, or role model, or big brother, as we can say, showed us how we can respond to other people’s mistakes, especially to those who are close to us. Here are some points that I got from him:

1. Willingness to forgive.

He has forgiven Yahiko even before the young boy asked for it. I believe it’s important for us to always forgive. I’m not saying to forget because in forgetting we forget the lesson, but to forgive. Always be willing to forgive. Forgiveness is a key in keeping relationships intact. Forgiveness allows the second, third, fourth and nth chance at everything.

2. The individual over his/her performance.

This is very important for me. Mistakes are inevitable. Disappointments are part of life. And our common mistake is that we dwell too much on these things that we forget the individual who is more important. People should be valued. We are designed to be valued. No amount of mistakes should depreciate the value of a person. Never ever choose his or her performance over the individual. That’s why I would always say, that’s the reason I love Jesus Christ so much. Despite of my mistakes and shortcomings, he still values me so much and I know it would never change. That’s what He says in His word and that’s how he makes me feel. He never lets me lose sight of my identity even if I have  shortcomings. He reminds me through the cross that I am the one valuable, not my performance. I believe that’s what we should do. Choose the individual rather than his performance. Because he or she will surely come to terms with his or her mistakes. He or she will surely realize it. Consequences will surely come. An individual will definitely know his or her mistake.

3. Listen. Listen. Listen.

Listening is what we need more rather than advise. With listening, we can assess if we still need to give an advise or if the person really learned the lesson. Through listening, we can also let the individual know that he or she is valued and cared for. By just listening also and letting the person explain everything, it is a chance for the individual to reflect on his or her mistakes. Thus, the individual determines his or her mistakes without us mentioning it.

4. Mistake gives us room to grow.

In the earlier episodes I heard Kenshin say a similar line like this. And the mistake Yahiko made, in Kenshin’s point of view, can be a building block for the boy rather than a stumbling block. I strongly believe that this should be our mindset when someone makes a msitake. It is an opprotunity for us to grow, a window for us to improve, a new lesson being earned and a chance for us to become better persons.

5. End with a hug.

Well this is optional. But there is really something in a hug that soothes all the pain, bad experience and awkwardness. Hug is a proof of love.

Samurai X gives me not just entertainment but life and leadership lessons as well. It’s just a matter of looking into perspectives. With the help of my favorite cartoon series, I vow to make myself a more sensitive, caring and loving leader, and as a whole, a better person than before.

I guess it’s time to finish the series again and pick up some new life lessons on the process.

Words of Wisdom from The Big Fundamental

Inspiring words to start the day from 4-time NBA Champ Tim Duncan:

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.”

A good reminder for today and for every day. Always strive for excellence. Never rest until we’ve given our best. Our own effort is our yardstick.

Thanks Timmy!

The Perks of Being “The New Guy”

Last night I watched two good games from the PBA. The first match was between Alaska and Meralco. The second game was between Barako Bull and Petron Blaze. It was a pair of exciting games. Meralco won against Alaska, Petron defeated Barako Bull. It’s my first time to watch those teams this new PBA season. But there was someone in the first game that really caught my attention, the “Cliffhanger”.

Cliff Hodge a.k.a. The Cliffhanger is Meralco’s top pick, No. 4 overall, in the PBA 2012 Rookie Draft. Last night, he had his very first win in the PBA and his very first Player of the Game citation. He literally did everything on the floor. He scored 20 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, played suffocating defense and became the hustle guy that every basketball team needs.

But one thing that I definitely remember about the Meralco – Alaska game is the many times that Cliff Hodge kissed the floor and the physicality given to him. If all the hit that he took will be counted as game statistics, he would have gotten a triple-double. From Gabby Espinas, to Sonny Thoss, To Tony Dela Cruz, even Dondon Hontiveros, everyone gave him a not-so-warm and rude welcome in the PBA. In his first game against Talk N’ Text, he also experienced that kind of physicality. In his second game, even more. We saw a bloody Cliff Hodge on the second half because of the sharp elbow thrown by Gabby Espinas. This kid is really being tested by the veterans. The not-so-young guys gave the Cliffhanger a baptism of fire.

Am I a fan of Cliff Hodge? No. But there is something in his situation that we can all learn from. There is really something in our society today that I believe we should address. And that is making life difficult for a new guy. Not just in basketball but in any society, in school, in government, in sports, in any workplace or industry, this world is unwelcoming, tough, tight and rugged for all the newbies.

Yes I believe in hard work, in perseverance, in patience, in walking your way up, but do we really need to make life a lot more difficult for a person because he’s new? Have we ever thought that the adjustment itself and that being of a new guy isn’t difficult enough? Do you think the experience, the years, the expertise will make us a better person than the new ones that come along? Does experience give us the right to do anything we want to another person?

Then what’s next? After the new guy gain experience, after he graduates as the newbie then what’s next? He’ll do also the same to the new people that will come along. He’ll make life difficult also for the new guys so that they can also experience what he has gone through. It will be a never-ending cycle of power-tripping, bitterness and revenge. It’s a rotten practice that we should all change.

I know that respect is needed to be taught, but respect is needed also to be earned. That’s the danger of leadership and experience. People think position and experience necessitates respect from others. Actually it is still not. It is still something to be earned. I strongly believe that this is a major reason for power tripping on a new guy. We want to impose respect. We want to be regarded as of higher value. We want people looking up to us. We want to feel better. We want to feed our ego.

I believe we can live in a world of respect, success, obedience, unity and cooperation without making life difficult for any person at all. I believe as leaders or people with more experience, we can teach younger guys through example. It’s easy to teach with words but it’s more difficult with actions. With actions, we can easily adapt, we can easily mimic, we can easily learn, we can easily make the lessons part of our lives. But with words alone, any new guy won’t have a clue.

John Quincy Adams once said,

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” 

It’s a powerful statement. But it’s actually true. As leaders, as elder statesmen, as someone with much greater experience, our actions should be inspiring for others, especially for the new and younger ones.

We want to teach respect, let’s show them how to do it. We want to teach perseverance, we can show it how we do it ourselves. We want them to work even harder, let’s inspire them to work even harder, We want them to know about loyalty, we show them how to earn loyalty.

Let’s not make shortcuts in teaching the younger ones the essentials of life. Sometimes that’s why we make things difficult for them because we don’t want to take the time and effort to teach them or impart to them the lessons we need to teach.

That’s why I always love Jesus. I always look up to Him not only as my Lord and Savior, but as my mentor, my teacher, my role model. In Philippians 2:5-11, the Bible says,

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Imagine our God who is in heaven, still made time for us by coming here in human form to save us, relate to us, to teach us about love, humility, perseverance, obedience and forgiveness. God Himself choosing to spend time with us. That’s why He was exalted as Name above every name, because of His humility. Humility is thinking of others first before yourself. He thought of us so deeply that He came here for us. Jesus took the time and effort to reach us.

We could learn a lot from Jesus, especially in terms of treating others, and the new guys. As He always say, we should love others as how He loved us, and treat others as how we want ourselves to be treated.

Last unsolicited advice, in Romans 12:10, this is what the Bible says,

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

I hope and pray that the world of new guys will soon get better.

Choose God’s Will Now

Choose God's Will Now

But there are some things that you cannot be sure of. You must take a chance. If you wait for perfect weather, you will never plant your seeds. If you are afraid that every cloud will bring rain, you will never harvest your crops. – Ecclesiastes 11:4 (ERV)

There’s never a better time to start doing what God meant for you to do than right now.

Never Lose Confidence

Never Lose Confidence

So don’t lose your confidence. It will bring you a great reward. You need endurance so that after you have done what God wants you to do, you can receive what he has promised.

– Hebrews 10:35-36 (GW)

Change is constant, so is God.

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Have you ever heard the saying, “The only thing constant in this world is change” ? Well that quote is trustworthy. Everything in this world changes.

The prices of commodities change. Our age is new every year. Fashion trends evolve. Stock market is always unpredictable. Mark Caguioa’s hairstyle is ever changing every PBA conference. Colors fade. Batteries get depleted. There’s a new iPhone every year. TV series ends and a new one comes along.

Everything changes. Today is a lot different than yesterday. Tomorrow is exactly as different as today.

People also change. One day you’re with them, the next day they are gone. Today they may care, the next day they may not. Today they may not care, tomorrow they may. Nothing in this world is bankable. No one on this world is constant. Everybody is changing. Maybe for better, may be for worse.

It may sound negative, or pessimistic, or bitter I guess. But you know, everything and everyone may change, for me it would still be okay. Really, really okay. Why? Because we still have God.

God will always be the only constant presence in our life. He is our fortress. Our immovable rock. He is the uniqueness from all the mediocrity. He is the good news from all the bad news. He is the stability from all the chaos. He is the hope from all the disappointments. He is the one that is the same despite all the changes. Because He truly never changes.

In Hebrews 13:8, the Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  Also in Malachi 3:6, God said, “I am the LORD, and I do not change.” That is God Himself defining Himself. He doesn’t change! He is always the same! He is truly reliable and trustworthy!

I believe that people change and everything  is temporary in order for us to appreciate our God even more. So that we will rely on Him not on people. That we will count on Him rather than the riches of this world. That we will not take Him for granted rather we will be excited about Him.

The uncertainty and unreliability of this world just makes our God stand out. And as He stand out we can know Him in a fresher way. We can love Him in a deeper way. We can worship Him in a more intimate way. And we’ll have an ever growing relationship with Him.

So people may again change and the world may be square tomorrow, it’s okay. Because we have a God that doesn’t change. Great is the faithfulness and goodness of our Lord! We can bank on it!

Freedom is to Love and to Serve

Freedom is to Love and to Serve

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. – Galatians 5:13-14 (MSG)