Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mountbatten, Bruce Lee, Energy, Success

Malaysians are energetic people.

The only problem is that the energy is not channeled constructively sometimes. More so, lately.

For those Malaysians who want to direct their energies positively, read on... As for the others, well, do what you must....

To succeed in business and in one's career, one must learn to harness one's energy and channel it carefully.

Lord Mountbatten is credited for having uttered this reply when asked about the secret of success. He said, success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

You must have a burning ambition. You must have the hunger for success. You need to have a desire, a craving for success.

For most of us there is no magic formula. Most of us don't have rich parents. Most of us don't have sincere mentors. Most of us don't have government grants.

So, we have to struggle. We have to think hard. We have to crave to learn and to improve our skills. We have to dare to take some risks.

If success is defined as opportunity meeting preparation, then, the key word is "preparation".

Preparation means having the passion to pursue the field that we want. Read everything available on the area. Study how the people who have succeeded in your chosen field made it. Learning never ends. Talk about your chosen field with passion.

Many Malaysians try to be "cool". Many of us are thin-skinned. We feel embarassed to ask seemingly stupid questions. Because of this, many Malaysians miss out on learning vital lessons.

Those of us who have had dealings with the Japanese never fail to be struck by their constant note-taking. Even the most superficial remarks uttered by us are noted down. And, take it from me, the Japanese ask the most rudimentary and most obvious questions. No embarassment. Just fact-finding.

That is a very important thing to remember on the path to success. Be prepared to ask stupid questions. That's the first step to genuine learning.

Bruce Lee said that a wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer. To re-jig the Great Bruce's piece of wisdom we may say that, by asking foolish questions a fool will become wise.


Antares said...

Folly and wisdom, greed and lack - two sides of the same coin! A good read, CT, thanks.

de minimis said...


First of all, I apologise for not having recorded my best wishes and prayers during your hospitalisation. I read all the posts by your neighbour, zorro, Pat and Lita to follow your recovery.

Thanks for dropping a note, bro.

walla said...

Inspiring post, especially Lee's quote.

It's time then to ask some stupid questions:

- if we are so good at making molotov cocktails, why can't our chemical prowess be channeled to extracting cellulose acetate from coconut husks to make photographic films where one is readily available as throwable byproduct and the other is a fairly expensive product which can yield good pocket money?

- if we are different from other countries, which sect do we practice and if our sect is more severe than those of a neighboring country, won't that mean we will have to chop off hands which throw molotov cocktails and also excommunicate an entire state which seems not to follow the sect that we have officially been explained to have in order to explain why we have been so energetic in destroying places of faith which have a common One?

These are extremely stupid questions. So if we can ask them, we must well be on the way to making our first big bucks.

Channeled energy, stupid questions and wisdom are not just the must-have of individuals. They should also be adopted standard practices of governments.

A govt which can send a contingent of 50 so-called educationists to snow-covered London just to view how to teach after fifty two years of mega-billion spending to tweak an education system may be said to have channeled its energy...but to what end? If one person cannot observe all and draw the right conclusions, fifty will only observe the lights of London and draw conflicting conclusions. But since it's just taxpayers' money, we should all be the usual big-hearted Malaysians and not trifle over another lawatan-sambil-belajar. However woe betide if a parent asks how come educationists still need to belajar? Defenders will say that's a stupid question. By their so saying, success is thus imminent.

walla said...

The wisdom is this: there are ways to do something. Once the standards aimed for are established and agreed upon, the next step is to implement the best way to achieve them. In making the decision of which way is best, there are factors and imponderables which can cause sacrifice on one part and reinforcement on another. These are however arched by consideration of time, resources, strategic intent and a no-fuss assessment of the competitive environment. Anything that hints of playing hostage to the brinkmanship of sensitivities must be held suspect because it implies that low standards are preferable to the task of educating, mentoring and progressing limited minds to be part of the process towards their real actualization measured by global standards, not standards actuated by local sensitivities.

In a manner of speaking, it all boils down to one and one consideration: global results.

If something is wrong at the start, it will only be a miracle if it can be right in the next steps. The errors and scandals which come out are but signals that the method used is wrong. Putting in spins, denials and specious counter-recommendations with hidden agendas will not make wrong things right. They will only make people stupid. And stupidity auto-creates. A country which is run on auto-stupidity thus runs on auto-pilot but downhill all the way.

Today which commanding height have we mounted to proudly stand on with arms akimbo, heaving with a deep (and real) sense of pride looking at the unfurling flag blowing in the south sea winds?

Our successes are illusions.

Standards and rationality are the mark of improving nations. Weak-willed, spineless, half-baked, blur-visioned and sly antidotes are the works of febrile minds formed by fear cooked with mediocrity and run on hypocrisy. Mr Molotov will certainly disapprove such adulteration of his brew.

The japanese are masters of observation and mistresses of information acquisition. Their inquisitiveness hides calculating and cunning minds. How else can one explain why they should hide their cleverness behind apparent stupidity? It is their ability to make sense and form coherent story-lines of the market and the interplaying factors of success from their digging and observations which strike them as formidable proponents of single-mindedness.

As in most of all we do, we appear to be on the other end of the pole. We start energetically without full-cycle costing and really clear planning and then make-believe as we go along that we are doing swimmingly well, even while inside people leave one by one or bolster their own morale by closing their eye to the disintegration before them day after day. How can anything end well if this continues in every corner and nook of the country?

But that's just another stupid question.

mlseepyhead said...

Great thoughts there. There is no replacement for hardwork:

From the NY Times: Rising Above I.Q.

mekyam said...

great entry, ct! :D

and wonderful complements from walla, as usual. you gents are the best.

before i forget, would like to wish you both a wonderful 2010!

a bit belated i know, but rest assured you both were in my thoughts when the new year was greeted. mutely in parent-in-laws'living room but raucously in the rest of the inn tal.

mekyam said...

walla: "...bolster their own morale by closing their eyes to the disintegration..."

and then there are those who bolster their own bank accounts before the wreck is complete...

one set is in denial, the other, indecent! :D

msleepyhead: thank you for the link. i get such a kick rereading that. btw, always enjoy reading your comments and have made it a point to do so in the blogs we visit commonly. happy 2010!

de minimis said...


Hi there! It's been ages since you dropped a note. Happy belated 2010 to you too. Walla is always a best friend any blogger prays for. His incisive insights always make my nonsense posts look intelligent.

Mrsleepyhead is always a welcome visitor with pinpoint views.

walla said...

And a happy new year to you and yours, dear mekyam! Hope this year brings cheers to everyone here.

Patricia said...

Much food for thought here, CT. Both in your post, and as usual, in the stellar comments from your visitors ;)

msleepyhead said...

Thank you mekyam and de minimis.

Best wishes to everyone too.

Born2Reign said...

Great article. No substitute for desire and focused work.

KL said...

Allow me to be a bit picky. I believe the 1% inspiration 99% perspiration was Thomas Edison referring to genius.

Well written article as usual nevertheless.