Knowing your failures

Dear Boys,

You will become aware and learn about this great man Thomas Edison. He is the person who ‘invented’ the light bulb (although the details to that remained arguable) (

More importantly, I want to bring to your attention, the number of times he attempted before he was successful in his invention. He was famously reported to have ‘failed’ 1,000 times. Of course we can did the truth and historical about that; that wasn’t my point. I’m not going to blog into a ‘success story’ thing. You boys are going to get a lot of that on your way growing up.

What is more important is Mr Edison’s ATTENTION TO DETAIL. Let’s be frank about it, how many people can go around with a record of 1,000 attempts? The point is, Mr Edison, makes an accurate records of his attempts failures, tries and tribunals. He is clear, lucid and very specific about his work. In his try, trying, and tried, he never lost sight of where he is going and where he will end up.

How many of us, document our failures? We all want to document our success! Failures, attempts and tribunals are like the dark, little ugly siblings we don’t want people to see, much less document them, and talk about it. But Mr Edison, uses that as his source of motivation. He documents them, counts them. (I’m very sure he did, otherwise how he is famous for the 1,000 failures? why not 2,000? 2,314?)

He counts them, because every mistakes counts, and contributes to his success. We all need to count our misses as much as we count our hits. perhaps more so! Because most of our lives will be filled with misses, not hits. How we get our hits, will depends on our attitude when we miss.

And we need to remember how we miss, so that we find a new way to get the hit. I don’t think Mr Edison will subscribe to the mantra ‘don’t make the same mistake twice’, because simply, no 2 mistakes are the same, they may look the same, but they are not, and Mr Edison, knows that, and makes that differences. At any given space and time, nothing stays the same and happens the again at the same spot and circumstances.

I’m also quite sure, that Mr Edison, analyse his mistakes and argues that they are not the same! And even if the mistakes looks apparently ‘similar’, his learning from the first mistake will implanted him with an experience that will change the way he looked at the second mistake. and  he builds on that, the third, the fourth, and so on.

He also knows when he has succeeded. The final product of a light bulb, could, of course, be improved, could be another mistake, he could have gotten so addicted to counting he mistakes, he failed (pun intended) to see his success when it comes knocking on his door. He didn’t

He know very clearly his Eureka moment, that ‘A-ha!’ and ‘I got it!’ and stops his count. At 1,000. Well, perhaps, it was 1,300. perhaps it was 1,050. The media gloss over the details, but the we get the drift, I hope you boys gets the drift too. Knowing our failures will be the single most important fulcrum in our ascend to success. Our failures counts as much as our success, Mr Edison is a testament of that formula.


Loss for words

Dear boys,

For a user of WordPress, it seems terribly embarrassing for me to admit that I can run out of words for this blog.

It happens, as in this case I was ‘away’ from my this blog for about 2 months.

There is plenty to write, the antics and behaviours you two do on a day to day basis leaves me with plenty of experiences, as a father, as a parent, as a man, as a human being. It is just that the words didn’t find my fingers.

But I have to continue and tell you boys about things that is happening and let you boys know about the things that has happened from your dad’s view and continue to hope that it can make a difference when the both of you becomes an adult and a father, a parent in the near future.

Be Victorious

Dear Boys,

Your dad is not a competitive person, there is no medals at home to boast about your dad’s winning. I’m just average, competitive yes, but not to a level where I am first, second or third.

I’ve never find a need to do that, frankly, because there is no value I can associated with a piece of metal hanging around your neck. if you lose everyone makes a big deal. My ego is frail, perhaps, I’m not a brave person.

Well, whatever it is, you must, as a human being, be victorious. This is more important than winning. When you compete, there is only two outcome, you either win or lose. But victory is another thing altogether. You can lose and still be victorious.


As long as you measure you against your greatest enemy; you. Whatever you do, do you best and measure it against yourself. The other guy just happened to be there. And if the other guy happens to be better than you, well, that is where he wins. But if he wins and he remains unsatisfied, he will not feel victorious.

Similarly, if you fight a good fight, you did your baddest best, and you prepared, came prepared for all contingencies, and yet you still fail, you still lose, then walk away learned, but never feel that you have been defeated, because there is always an element out there that you cannot factor in. That is Murphy’s Law. The more you go out there and fight, and compete, the more you will get ot know about Murphy’s Law and the more you know about Murphy’s Law, the better prepared you will be, in experience and in skill. So you will be victorious, as long as you tried your best, winning is a by-product of a well prepared, well executed game plan. if you lose, don’t lose that victor’s attitude. If you can do that even in defeat, then you have already won.

We are your memory

Dear boys,

We are your memory, period. We remember things for you long before you can remember them, which is what parents and grand parents are for.

There will be events too young for you to remember, situations, and embarrassing moments caught in memory. Things you did unwittingly and wittingly! Those ‘candid camera’ moments.

Sure there are cameras, and video cameras to help along with that. we can see the pictures and watch the videos, but who is the one who add some context to the pictures? And give more than the sights and sounds?

Parents and grandparents tell stories about you and the deeds done, more than that we tell you stories about our struggles and pains, the trials and tribunals of our lives, we give you our ‘been there, done that’ epiphany so that you can have some perspective. Not every challenges you faced are new, and sometimes in our stories, we are able to share our solutions and how we handled our lives’ difficulties.

Life is more than reinventing the wheel. We are telling stories for your memories, so that you can see while you may have encountered some new developments in your lives, nothing in life is really ‘new’. The ‘new’ in this equation is perhaps your input into your situation, your action and decisions, to an age old problem.

Our stories are like recipes, some bake wonderful cakes, and some are for disasters. Sure you can get the recipes easily (during my time, we “Google” what we want to find out, you grand parents’ time, the good old brick and mortar library, perhaps?), information is everywhere. but who is to give you the experience? Our Recipes gives you the taste, the experience of texture, timing. You’ll need to see the level of the creaminess of the cake batter, the colour of the rise,  how long you let the cake set. we know and we know how to work the recipes.

And we are your walking dictionary and encyclopedia of life, we have baked, we have danced, we have failed, we have triumphed , we have lost, we have gained, we have loved, and hated, we have all been there, and now we will bring all that in a wonderful, versatile package of information, ready for your access.

So use us, we are the memory of a life you didn’t remember, those memories will give you life context, help you make sense of who you are, and how the world was like before you are more, we are you link to your past. Talk to us and learn, miss that and you’ll miss the past you have but never knew.

Penmanship is not Handwriting!

Penmanship BookDear Ian,

When I bought this book for you, I was hoping that with practice, you can write better.

Frankly speaking, your handwriting is terrible!

Yes, we are at the digital age, we type, we ‘QWERTY’ a hell lot. and in fact, academics and other experts who is bothered with handwriting, is bothered that the quality of our handwriting is deteriorating! In short, penmanship is a dying art!

Here is one dad, trying in vain to stem that trend, well at least my 2 kids.

Penmanship is important. It is you.

Like what I told you last evening, Your attitude towards this book is that of ‘handwriting’, you are aiming for the mirage of perfection. What I saw was you, copying letter for letter. I don’t see a practice of writing, I see an attempt, a lousy attempt by a human boy to do a computer’s job. There was almost e-q-u-a-l spacing between the letters, there is no word, there are letters.

What I want is ‘PENMANSHIP’ not handwriting, what I want is writing, not copying letter for letter. what I want is READING, reading the phrases and transferring them into the book.

Writing as I mentioned, has everything to do with reading. you cannot read properly, you cannot write properly, period. You read it wrongly, you’ll for sure, write it wrongly!

So please, I hope by the time you read this, your penmanship is at least up to speed and in decent character and dignity. And you can read this post, in retrospective, in amusement.

Thinking for yourself vs thinking selfish thoughts

Dear Ian,

There is a difference in the two ways of thinking. Unfortunately, most of us, are often stuck in the latter, instead of the former.

These two thought processes seems rather similar.

But they are not.

When you think for yourself, it means that you are able to tease apart, the ‘you’ from the ‘self’. More often than not, the ‘you’ or the ‘me’ as in the personality,the ego is always wanting pleasure, always wanting, wanting. In my opinion, thinking for yourself, is the ability for the ‘self’ to tell the ego, prioritise, make choices, and sacrificing the pleasure, now, for the greater pleasure later. Thinking for yourself is in my opinion, a selfish act, for the greater good. your own good.

That means that you are able to think on a high level, not just being a whiny little kid.

Well, thinking selfish thoughts needs no introduction. It is the impulse-like decision-making. seeking the immediate pleasure, sometimes at others expenses. Which means you do things with only consequences for yourself.

Looking at the now, now, and when you cannot get it, you fret, instead of thinking about ways to get it, perhaps seek help, perhaps collaborate. perhaps, helping others get what they want, so that they can help you get what you want.

Selfish thoughts, is all about me, me and me.

So I hope that by the time you read this, you’ll have already made a habit of choosing the former, over the latter.

Reality and Perception

Dear Boys,

Recently, there was a couple of news breaking event. A Malaysian Airline plane, MH370 went missing, and it is a Boeing 777, which was supposed to be a very sophisticated aircraft. Last year, in December 2013, there was a riot in Little India. It was one of the worst civil unrest in recent history. And lately, there was some breach in the ICA (Immigration Checkpoint Authority) at the Woodlands check point. A Malaysian Teacher drove into Singapore with being stopped, by the time the alarm was raised she was long gone, only to be arrested a few days later. And the another uncle drove his Mercedes Benz through a ‘Cat Claw’ which is a vehicle barrier. What was supposed to stop the Benz, apparently failed.

We living in Singapore, has the best of everything, best of the Airport, best of the shopping centres, Best ports, and a lot of other best things. And this makes us a rich nation, very, bloody rich. But one thing we need to remember. When we are this rich, we can buy the best to deal with the worst.

We have the resources available to handle the worse situation, or so we think.

The failures is a reflection on how we think we can deal with reality and what reality really is, reality is really a big fat ugly bitch. There is no negotiating it, it is unreasonable, it will upset every thing you have in mind, ala the Murphy’s Law.

We still need ingenuity, spontaneity, and creativity to deal with reality. The best equipment will fail, process will capitulate, structure will collapse. What is left behind is every single individual one of us to come up with something creative, something that is us, and through a collective ‘me’, then we can have a sustainable ‘us’.