I Had An Epiphany. But It Was So Counter-Culture, I Initially Kept It To Myself.

Some months ago, after some conversations I had, I had an epiphany.

It could explain, at least in part, some of the nagging doubts I’ve been having throughout this year.

This is what I realised about myself, and I wrote it down in these words:

I DON'T want to touch as many lives as possible.

Before you frown any deeper, there is a second part:

I want to deeply impact a very few.


For so many years, I keep hearing advice about increasing my reach so I can impact as many lives as possible.

For example, I hear of music stars who record a single song and, because it reaches so many of their fans so quickly through so many channels, they earn a tidy income from the exposure. Their fans convert the people around them into more fans, advertisers can’t wait to sign them up for endorsement deals, and they get invited to exclusive events and perform on ever-larger stages.

It’s all about gaining leverage and using it to get yourself out of exchanging time for money. In the music star’s case, the recording of the song required spending time once. After that, it constantly ‘works for’ the star.


It sounded logical. And it was.

And I kept hearing this, especially from well-meaning fellow educators and trainers, especially those I knew from networking events and meetups.

Yet, there was always something about it that didn’t sit quite right with me. I didn’t know what it was, until recently.

It was the ‘volume’ of people that I was being told I had to reach that was bothering me. But why? What could have brought this on?

As I dug a little deeper, I was reminded of the times when I just started being a trainer and got affected by less-than-stellar feedback. Though these incidents didn’t happen often, every time they did, I felt bad.

Eventually, I learned to remove my focus on the negative feedback because they were the tiny minority. Most of my feedback was good. Some were great!

Good Feedback

Why should I have to feel low if I had already tried multiple times to engage the student who ended up deciding that he/she didn’t want to be there in the first place and was adamant about keeping a bad attitude about it?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on those who were eager to learn and apply themselves?

And these were the memories that made me realise that I had known all along that what I wanted to do was to focus - very sharply - on the very few upon whom I know I can have the greatest impact because we were compatible and we found each other at the right place at the right time. Sounds almost like a love story, doesn’t it?

Neon Laser

I was then reminded of three students that I taught. Two of them went on to pursue education paths in the subject matter that I taught them, one locally and one overseas. In recent conversation, they expressed their gratitude for my being part of their decisions to learn more.

Another one became my colleague - a fellow trainer - teaching the same types of courses that I do even today.

Out of the thousands of students I’ve had, of whom I still keep in touch with a few, these were three that pointedly remind me about why I do what I do.

This is what I want to keep doing - to find the very few for whom I can deliver the deepest impact and help them effect the greatest change.

Doubtlessly, it will entail a certain amount of ‘outreach’, but this recent realisation has sharpened my focus and it will feature strongly in my goals for the upcoming year.

2019 Begins

'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Thoughts Came.

Christmas has become something rather different from what I remember as a younger version of myself.

I remember it to be celebratory, joyous, and a relaxing time.

Though I never really had a family tradition to celebrate the season, my mom would sometimes buy honey baked ham and log cake (chocolate!). We didn’t really do presents, though we did when I was much younger, or have a Christmas tree, but this simple gesture was enough to remind me that it was a time to indulge in a little food and have a little fun.

As a teenager, I remember attending gatherings, going to Orchard Road to see the lights, and enjoying the days leading up to it with friends. We would brave the crowds and sit somewhere to talk about the simple things that teenagers talk about.

As the years went by, I felt the vice of commercialisation tighten. I started to notice the ‘SALE’ signs everywhere, the advertisements for Christmas-sy products, and the promotions for ‘Christmas lunches and Christmas dinners’ at restaurants.

I started to resent ‘Secret Santa’ gift exchanges, the mad rushes to find something vaguely suitable, and the near-useless ‘gifts’ that ended up in everybody’s laps.

It was no longer about spending time with people I cared about. It had become a sideshow, about showboating, about who got the biggest, brightest present and how ‘lucky’ some people were to win the office prizes.

After a few years of this, I made a decision. I would no longer participate in these pointless gift exchanges and I would either spend my Christmas Day’s where I want to or stay at home.

As it turns out, this was one of my favourite decisions. Some may argue that I’m being oversensitive about the whole thing and others have tried to cajole me into joining in their versions of ‘celebrations’. I never caved.

Christmases in the most recent years are nothing like the ones I had when I was younger. They certainly don’t look as laugh-out-loud fun, but they are less meaningless to me now.

I take the time to think about the year that passed, and the one that is to come.

And, in case you wonder about my faith, Jesus was not born on the 25th of December, and I have very strong views about the christianisation of this ‘holiday’. I am not completely against the celebration of this day, but only if it is done with careful consideration, with the knowledge and understanding that this is a substitute celebration, and not a ‘holy day’ as it were.

You are free to do on this day as you please, just as you are on all the other days of the year.

As am I.


Tired of Posting on Social Media? Yeah, Me Too. So I Stopped.

Something about social media never quite sat well with me.

Is it the fads and the pretentious-ness?

Had a bowl of raw fish doused in soy sauce on brown rice and surrounded by ‘super-colourful’ shredded vegetables for lunch? So has its culture of origin, for a long time.

Colourful Food

What about that dessert made with a purplish ‘berry’ that is touted to be one of the greatest ‘superfoods’ around? Just to let you in on a little fact - the fruit of the Açaí palm is a drupe, not a berry. You’ll also get similar nutrients if you regularly consume colourful fruit and vegetables. And the reason you’re paying so much for it is due to marketing hype.

Acai Bowl

And please don’t get me started on the drink that costs as much as a meal, made with milk (which you can easily get from any supermarket) and black sugar (easy to get on a nearby island off the most populous country in the world).

Black Sugar Milk

Maybe it’s the narcissism.

Five selfies of yourself at different angles in the same spot, accompanied by a post like ‘Shrimp cocktails are my favourite appetiser.’ that has nothing to do with the picture? About as much sense as using chopsticks for picking up water.

Or perhaps it’s just the sheer volume of it all.

Over and over, the same types of mundane, senseless, boring posts surface and flood our devices. I found that I read about 10% of the ‘posts’ that come up on my Facebook timeline, maybe 15% of my Instagram feed. If even that. I’ve never seen the point of Twitter.

And yet, I keep hearing people tell me how important it is to post regularly on social media, how it has brought them leads and clients, how it is essential to maintaining an engaged audience.

And they’re not wrong. It’s true. These aren’t opinions. They do work. In some cases, very well indeed.

And yet, I couldn’t escape from this growing thought that I had - social media, at least the version of it that I saw, held vastly different values from me.

I’m not interested in putting my life on display, much less hope that others will find it even vaguely interesting. I’m quite satisfied just knowing that I’m interested in what I’m interested in.

I don’t see the need to tell everyone what I’m thinking all the time.

Validation? No, I hardly care whether others like what I say. More often than not, they don’t, because I like to look at an issue from multiple points of view while a large number of people just want to keep the narrative they have in their heads.

So I did what I thought was most logical. I stopped posting for the sake of posting.


And now, I feel free. I no longer have the nagging thought of ‘It’s been 3 days since I last posted something! Get something on the web before you are forgotten!’

I did post a couple of pictures on Instagram a few days ago (or has it been a week?) only because I felt like it. And I noticed that the engagement level of each post wasn’t very different from when I posted (more) regularly.

Which means to say that nobody particularly cares whether you’re posting or not. I’d say that’s because there are lots of posts anyway. Yours, unless you are some sort of celebrity or public figure, hardly makes a blip on others’ radar.

One thing heartened me, though.

A very few people noticed. And they, in a concerned tone, asked me about my absence. I didn’t tell them all the underlying thoughts I mentioned here, but I am grateful that they cared enough to ask.

It gave me a slightly different perspective on this whole social media thing.

My posts don’t matter to the vast majority of people. But they have managed to capture the notice of a very few.

And because I recently had an epiphany, which I’ll talk about in my next post, I’m not about to quit social media. I will, however, be posting only with a purpose, not just to satisfy the ever-hungry content machine.

Social Media Posting

A Grey December - Looking Towards A Brighter January

December for many is a month of celebration, gatherings, parties, feasting, and all-around cheer.

Especially considering the weather this December is unusually cool, apparently even going to drop to 22°C in the first half of the month, I’d say it’s a fair use of the last month of the year.

I have to say, though, that this was not a great year for me.

Professionally, it has been exceedingly slow. Although there is certainly some movement in the right direction, most things seem to either be at a standstill or appear to be going backwards. It’s hard to explain what happened exactly, but I imagine that 2019 will almost definitely be an improvement.

Although I do feel like I’m slightly stuck, things will get better.

Goals-wise, I’ve missed a few, I don’t mind admitting. Though I could come up with all sorts of excuses, I’m pretty much responsible for not following through on them. I’ll have to do some tweaking of these goals for next year.

One thing I’ve learned about goal-setting is that it takes a lot of effort to stay on track. As such, I’m going to make fewer ‘big picture’ goals and more ‘step-by-step’ ones. Also, I’m going to have to make ‘review and update’ a step in and of itself.

In a few weeks, I’ll be sitting in a familiar spot planning goals for the year of 2019, coming up with another Word of the Year, and looking forward to a brighter January.

Until then, it’ll be a Grey December.

Sunrise On a Rocky Beach