Sunday, November 27, 2016

Lessons from the Advent: Stay awake, be prepared

Today marks the Advent, or the time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.

From the Latin adventus, the Advent season is about waiting for the coming of Christ from three perspectives: As mentioned, the celebration of Nativity of Jesus at Christmas; in our hearts on a daily basis; and in the glory of time.

In his homily, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said Advent is about preparation; to know Lord Jesus Christ more.

But it is not enough that we know Him on a conceptual level. During this season, we must also transform internally.

We must also stay awake by being attuned to the signs of the times, especially the signals of Jesus' presence, the Cardinal said.

Let us also evaluate our quality of preparedness, the Cardinal said. "How focus am I on the Lord's words, presence, and [my] actions?"

Advent is also about fresh beginnings, as Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD noted.

"Let us pray today for the grace to live meaningful, beautiful lives. May we live lives spent for a mission for something or Someone greater than ourselves. May we not live empty and meaningless lives filled with selfishness, pleasure, and pride," Fr.  Orbos wrote.

Advent or not, it is important that we keep our focus; to feel the presence; to stay attuned to the signs the Lord Jesus Christ are revealing to us.

Advent or not, let us always strive to live a meaningful life.

Advent or not, let us always be spiritually --- as we do not know how long or short are we going to live or when is the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus, let us live a life of purpose.

Have a blessed week ahead.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

#BookwormLessons: Your seventh year

The first page on the "Seventh Year" chapter in the book The Power of I Am by Joel Osteen.

Pardon the 1-day late post. Yours truly have been accomplishing tasks for my clients.

= = = = =

For lessons learned from a book, I am sharing with you about a chapter in the book The Power of I Am by Joel Osteen (which sermon I previously shared with you here).

Here, Lakewood Church senior pastor Osteen shared Deuteronomy 15, a law God gave the people of Israel that said every seventh year, they had to release any Hebrew slaves. He wrote, "If you were a Hebrew and owed another person money that you could not repay, they could take you in as a slave and make you work full-time until you paid them back."

"But every seventh year, if you were a part of God's chosen people, you had a special advantage. You got released. No matter how much you still owed, no matter how in debt you were, in the seventh year you were set free."

A friend also told me recently about the so-called seven-year cycle. That after a cycle of difficulties, there is a cycle of abundance.

And that is what we are forgetting at times. Everything is a cycle. Not necessarily as long as seven years, but whatever difficulty we are into now, the situation is only temporary.

And this chapter of the book enforces that mindset change: "When you come into your seventh year, all the forces of darkness cannot stop what God wants to do."

"...You need to get ready. When you come into your seventh year, God is going to do more than you can ask or think. He is going to exceed your expectations. It's going to be bigger, better, and more rewarding than you thought possible."

This book by the way is not the be-all and end-all, but material like this comes in handy when we need some nudge, a kick in the butt, to realize that we can shift our mindset, change our situation, and trust that the Universe is aligning things for us, and much more, because we asked so. Not declare that the temporary difficult situation as it is already is, and therefore, it becomes permanent and drags as down.

I have not finished the book yet, I am sure this inspirational / self-help has more kick-ass lines to wake me up as I bask in my seventh year.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Lesson from Doctor Strange movie: 'It's not about you'

You have probably seen Doctor Strange by now, the latest offering from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

If you have not seen it, watch now and be amazed with all those visual, tantalizing illusions. And learn how to know that it is not always about you.

That is the lesson I am learning over the years, and more so lately.

Neurosurgeon Stephen Strange (played in the movie by Benedict Cumberbatch) had a tragic car accident, losing his ability to use his hands, ergo his ability to perform surgeries. Using all his resources, he tried to find ways for cure, but failed. Then he learned about the paraplegic Jonathan Pangborn who was able to walk again. From him, Strange learn about Kamar-Taj, and there, he met the master of the mystic arts Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who in turn, introduced him to The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).

There, Doctor Strange begged The Ancient One to teach him what she showed him: the astral plane and other dimensions such as the Mirror Dimension, among other mystical wonders. The Celtic mystic refused at first to teach him because of his arrogance, but eventually took him under her wing.

The movie, on top of the visual effects, has a lot to teach about humility, learning, and perseverance.


For one, Mordo offered Doctor Strange an unsolicited advice: "Forget everything that you think you know." The Ancient One also told the arrogant doctor, "You think you know how the world works. You think this material universe is all there is. What if I told you the reality you know is one of many?"

And as he insisted to be taught, "How do I get from here to there?" The Ancient One asked him, "How did you become a doctor?" And Doctor Strange himself answered his own question: "Study and practice. Years of it."


Such challenge, when met, will allow us to open ourselves to open to more possibilities, something Doctor Strange did not believe at first.

The Ancient One told Doctor Strange, "You're a man looking at the world through a keyhole. You've spent your whole life trying to widen that keyhole. To see more. To know more. And now on hearing that it can be widened, in ways you can't imagine, you reject the possibility."

And Doctor Strange haughtily replied, "No, I reject it because I do not believe in fairy tales about chakras or energy or the power of belief. There is no such thing as spirit! We are made of matter and nothing more. We're just another tiny, momentary speck in an indifferent universe."

And so the neurosurgeon had to eat his humble pie, start anew, as he opened himself up to more possibilities.


Time is a recurring theme here in this movie --- from the watch Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) gave to Doctor Strange with the inscription, "Time will tell how much I love you," to The Ancient One telling him that we do not get to choose our time: "Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are numbered and your time is short. You'd think after all this time I'd be ready. But look at me. Stretching one moment out into a thousand ... just so that I can watch the snow."

And wasting time obsessing about things we have no control of, or dwelling on the past that is already behind us, is no good use of the short time we have on this Earth.

We can argue, like Doctor Strange did, "This doesn't make sense," "I'm not ready." To which The Ancient One taught him throughout his journey that "Not everything [has to make sense]. Not everything has to, and that:

"Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all: It's not about you."
That is true. We are so consumed with thinking we are the victim but what we are forgetting is that it is not all about us at all times.

That if we want the situation to change, we must do our part and be a player or a team player.

Enough of pity party. We have a choice to do better and be better. "We never lose our demons, we only learn to live above them," The Ancient One wisely said.

And more than teaching him mysticism, The Ancient One taught Doctor Strange life's lessons that we can all relate to.

It is not all about us. There is so much unlearning we have to do to open ourselves to possibilities, while staying humble in the process.

Movie quotes from IMDb

Friday, November 04, 2016

From victim to player mentality

Image from Pinterest

Last week, I completed courses offered via LinkedIn through its "Week of Learning" campaign.

The courses I took vary from life skills to leadership and management to project management and branding.

One of the interesting courses I completed on communication and coaching was titled "Powerless to Powerful: Taking Control," conducted by Fred Kofman, philosopher and LinkedIn's vice president.

The course overview reads, "victimhood means blaming other people or outside circumstances when faced with life's challenges. This "it's not my fault" mentality can scale to teams, organizations, and societies. But why shift blame when you can take control? "

And Kofman made interesting points, among them:

  • The price of innocence is impotence
  • The victim only focuses on what is happening outside his / her control
  • If you are arguing that you are innocent and other people did it to you, then you are not going to have the power to change the situation

Avoiding responsibility

Victim mentality, or "the acquired (learned) personality trait in which a person tends to regard themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others, and to behave as if this were the case even in the lack of clear evidence of such circumstances," can be replaced with a better means to respond to a situation and to adopt a player mentality.

Kofman pointed out that:
  • On response-ability, if you are suffering, it is your problem
  • The victim avoids responsibility
  • The victim avoids response-ability

I at times succumbed to victim mentality. And as I got deeper into believing that I have not done anything wrong, that I have not contributed in worsening the situation, the more I felt I was powerless. Good thing I have friends who kicked me out of the s*** I let myself believing into by being brutally honest to me. Yet, at the same time, they have not left me and still, helping me stay above my demons.

That is why if I know someone who fell prey into victim mentality, I also kick them (not literally, but if push comes to shove, kidding!) As Kofman said, we must refuse to feed the victim mentality that are already crippling our loved ones.

Some questions that we ask and let the victim mentality take hold include:
  • What happened to you?
  • Who wronged you?
  • What should they have done?
  • What should they do now?
  • What punishment do they deserve? 

Be a player

One thing that we must accept is that we are not in control of all the things happening in our life.

We must ask ourselves, "what did I do? How did I participate?" 

We must realize our behavior in order to create a positive outcome. Let us have a warrior attitude that everything is a challenge, Kofman said.

When we feel we are hurting, let us stop and think a way to respond, and ask further:
  • What challenges am I facing?
  • How did I contribute in this situation?
  • Could I have done something differently? (Could is a player word; should a victim word, Kofman said)
  • Can I do something now?
  • What lesson can I learn from this experience?

Become a hero

And once we take the warrior stance, the player mentality, the next thing to do is to become our own hero, Kofman said.

That we must always keep in mind that some things do not work out.

That without a challenge, you cannot prove what you are made of.

In the online course, Kofman coached John on how to let go of his terrible experience when he was starting in his career. He pointed to John that the latter was a hero of his own when he walked out of the situation, that he refused to be the victim anymore (though through the years, he was still feeling sorry about it); that he chose not to stay in a place that he was not recognized --- a somehow similar situation I had also.

And like John, I chose to walk away, to tell how debilitating the system was to those responsible for it, and I could only wish that those people oppressing others in such workplace have learned their lesson, like I learned and learning mine.

Kofman said the hero stands for the truth, that they choose to do the right thing, and display their values no matter what.

And for us to empower others to become players then heroes, we must:

  • Listen emphatically
  • Engage in a conversation to pivot from victim to hero
  • Know the truth of the external situation
  • Know the truth of the internal pain

Also, ask:
  • Would you like to do something about this?
  • What is within your control to make the situation better?
  • What must you do to be proud of yourself?
There are real victims out there, and they have become survivors because they chose to rise to the occasion.

And overall, what is important is that, yes, we had a painful experience, but we got through it.