the donkey in the well

•November 19, 2012 • Leave a Comment

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred – Forgive.

2. Free your mind from worries – Most never happens.

3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less from people but more from yourself.

You have two choices… smile and close this page,
or LIKE this and pass it along to someone else to SHARE the lesson.



•August 28, 2008 • 3 Comments

I’m still alive and kicking, chipper as ever, despite some setbacks. During the past month, I have been busy reevaluating and reorganizing my priorities for the time being.

Reasons always explain the purpose of actions/decisions and I’m not about to leave you hanging. The abrupt end of an almost decade long relationship left me questioning my life. I started losing sleep, my appetite decreased, and my work performance suffered ever so slightly but enough to be noticed. I guess I had set the bar pretty high because coworkers kept asking if something was wrong if I didn’t get back to them within 2 hours.

As I looked to redefine myself, I struggled to overcome the desire to analyze my emotions and took the advice of my mentor. Instead of herding the squirrels (emotions), I’m simply going to let them wander as part of the healing process. I liken it to sitting in your backyard, looking blankly without a care in the world at a tree trunk. Sooner or later, a squirrel will come into your vision as he goes about his daily business. I’ll just watch him do his thing, knowing he’ll be gone soon enough. I have the very fortunate opportunity to be able to allow myself some grievance time.

Unfortunately, this means putting a temporary hiatus on my pursuit of post grad. However, certain visions remain constant and the goal of attaining my MBA burns stronger than before. I am simply going to move the application process to the following year. This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop studying and preparing. Au contraire. The extra time gives me more time to tweak everything to a higher standard. I owe it to myself to be as mentally confident as possible and give nothing less than 100%.

I leave with this: The only good luck many great men ever had was being born with the ability to overcome bad luck.

Growing the plant

•July 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

For practice in reading comprehension, I read essays in The Writer’s Presence. Ironically, what was mandatory reading in college is now great bathroom read material (I take pains to limit my time so I don’t get, um, you know what). The book deserves more respect than its place on top of the toilet. It’ll get a space on the bookshelf once the admissions process is over with.

With a collection of essays ranging from pop to racial identity, The Writer’s Presence is the adult version of a children’s story book. The essay I read today is entitled “Just Walk on By” by Brent Staples. It speaks of the language of fear and control Brent possessed simply by being physically intimidating, and more importantly, of African descent. As he walked down the streets of Chicago, a graduate student at U of C, he noticed his “victims” would exhibit certain behaviors such as crossing the street rather than walking by him or speeding up their pace. The coup de grace was when he walked through cross walks and heard “Thunk! Thunk! Thunk!” of power locks being used. Talk about tough.

Brent’s first reaction was to pace the sidewalk, glaring brazenly, thinking to himself “Now I’ll show them how terrifying I can be!” The surge of power you feel as a male by being able to intimidate and frighten is something most guys can agree on. Thugs of both sexes embrace this. But then Brent realized he was a victim of circumstance. Life had dealt him a hand he had to play with. So Brent began to take precautions to make himself less threatening. It is with this action he grew from being a victim of circumstance to taking control of his situation.

The admissions process to a top MBA program can strike fear and intimidate many potential applicants with menacing figures of high GMAT scores and GPA’s, autobiographies of exemplary individuals who excel in both professional and personal accomplishments, incredibly famous alumni, and low acceptance rates. It is natural to think you cannot surmount these improbable odds and get into a good program. By doing this, you have become a victim to your own insecurities.

These episodic thoughts are not uncommon to me. What if I’m not good enough? What if I am too old or not accomplished enough to get in? What if there were a turtle the size of New York?

I have to force myself to remember I am control of my state of mind. By making myself more appealing to the adcom of the schools I’m applying to, I am taking control and maturing. I have to remember this the next time I’m faced with the 15 hour work day every Thursday (Regular 8-5 job, then I teach an adult communications course pro bono from 6-10:30). And when I have to wake up at 8am on the weekends in order to study and practice for the early GMAT test, I will remember that the sacrifice of a Friday or Saturday night bar session had a purpose.

With time and practice, I am learning to smother the insecurities as they would surely lead to madness. I’m not going to be the victim. I will learn to practice this in all areas of my life. I was not dealt with the sour hand in life that so many others fall curse to, and the smart ones don’t use it as an excuse not to grow. So each day, I must continue to water the GMAT plant. It is one of the roots to the admission process and it has to grow big and strong.

P.S. An SC practice session just handed me my a** to me with French fries on the side.

The Wall

•July 10, 2008 • 18 Comments

The Wall

My parents are overachievers. Both my father and mother attended the most prestigious university in Taiwan, and attended Columbia for graduate school (Father for Medicine and Mother for Law) when they immigrated to the US. It’s an understatement to say that from an early age the bar was set high. Subconsciously, I knew I would be walking in my parent’s shadow until I could fill my own shoes. The problem was my parents unknowingly bought shoes 5 sizes too large.

I grew up in secluded rural New Jersey. I rarely saw my parents due to the nature of their professions, but my parent’s financial success afforded me the luxury of private school and safety in an affluent neighborhood. I was raised by nannies that had turnover rates reminiscent of call centers. Without strong parental supervision in my life, I wandered aimlessly — a mental nomad. My teachers told my parents I had behavioral issues. Ironically, my parents had issues of their own. At the age of 8, my parents filed for divorce because of extramarital affairs. Fast forward a year, and at the age of 9, I was in my father’s custody and moved from NJ to Southern California.

I began my formative years in Los Angeles, during a time of racial tension and intolerance. I was the only Asian male in a predominantly Caucasian/Iranian Jewish school district. I was picked on for being different. I ended up getting bullied everyday in 4th and 5th grade and received numerous detentions for my frustrated outbursts. I asked my father for advice, but since he had no experience with bullying, simply told me to do more homework. My father believed studying would solve everything for me as it did for him. My principal and counselor said I was the new kid. New kids got picked on. I was sad and my grades suffered. I just wanted to be liked.

Towards the end of 5th grade, I remember my bully approaching. Experience told me to defend myself and for the first time, I triumphed in physical combat! My glory was short lived. This was the first and only fight my principal witnessed and was proof that my behavior problems were my internal and not externally influenced. I was suspended and sent to military boarding school.

I’ll never forget the first day I was dropped off. I was scared. In a delinquent child’s case, it was often a choice of sending him to juvenile hall or military school. The poor had no choice. The ones who found the financial means sent him to military school.

After the initial fear wore off, I began to grow accustomed to the structure. I finally had parental figures in my life. They barked orders at me, but secretly this pleased me because someone cared. I started doing well in school and got a 3.9 GPA for the first time. I graduated eighth grade 4th in command of the entire school with a rank of first lieutenant, won the speech contest, and was valedictorian. Finally, my parents had a reason to proud.

I returned home and started high school. My father saw how a rigid routine benefited me so he copied the structure. I had a 9 pm bedtime and could not use the phone nor watch TV. Tell this to a child growing up in high school where everybody around him is watching MTV and experimenting with drugs and sex.

It was a surreal experience starting high school in my old neighborhood. My old enemies feared my new reputation and attitude. Rap music was coming of age and glorified gang activity catapulted me up the social ladder because I knew many former gang members from military school. I was liked, but more importantly, I was cool. Or at least I faked it.

My grades did not suffer too much and I maintained a decent GPA. I enjoyed the popularity but nostalgically and physically defended nerd culture. It was my upbringing! How could I ignore that!? I ended up applying to the UC system and was accepted into UC Irvine.

Finally out of my father’s house, I had no practice in responsibility. In the past, the rules were set. Now I had none. I stayed out late and participated in all of the activities denied in high school. I rarely attended class and wound up academically disqualified my sophomore year. I was having too much fun to care. I moved to SF to be with my brother who was attending UC Berkeley.

The period between the ages of 19 and 26 is a blur. I don’t remember much except that I had the best girlfriend in the world. When I was 27, I injured myself skiing and put on 40 lbs. I was overweight, a college flunkee, had a dead end job as a print server technician, and no future. It was the lowest point of my life. And it was about to change.

I was in LA visiting my friends. We went out drinking that evening and walked back to my friend’s place. There was a stone wall that was about 7 feet high and no breaks. It was a fine piece of construction that surrounded my friend’s apartment complex and literally and figuratively kept the garbage out. We decided there was no point walking around it and one by one, began to scale the beast. I was too heavy to get over so I reached up and asked my construction worker friend to pull me up. I felt his strong grip secure my hand and began my ascent. What happened next was the miracle that changed my life.

There was an audible splat. I was disoriented and found myself on the ground. I looked up and asked what happened. My friend said he let go of my hand because I was too heavy. Here was a construction worker, who does manual labor for a living, telling me I was too much of a lard ass to be pulled over a wall. Wow. I told them it wasn’t a big deal. Inside, my heart ached. As I walked the 2 miles around the wall to my friend’s apartment, I had significant time to reflect. I decided from that day, I would kill my former myself and emerge new and improved. The wall represented every obstacle in my life. The next time I would face it, I would climb over it, with or without anyone’s help.

Upon my return to the Bay Area, I signed up for classes at a local junior college and vowed to graduate in 3 years. I got straight A’s at a local Community College and worked at an engineering firm as a HR Intern. When I finally had enough units I transferred to SFSU. It was difficult to get classes. Missing a prerequisite meant attending school for another semester. When I was faced with this situation, I took charge and transferred to USF. I graduated in 3.5 years, earning a 3.75 GPA.

During this time, I realized how fun corporate America could be. My title changed from intern to HR Associate after 3 months. After 1.5 years, I found another position at a larger company as an HRIS Administrator. My prior job as a printer server technician actually gave me the computer skills I needed to succeed in the new role. A little over a year later, I was promoted to HRIS Analyst. That’s 4 position changes in 3 years. When I graduated, I had 3 years of progressive experience and emerged a player in the work force that did not have to compete against new graduates. It was part of my strategy all along.

I was successful at what I did but desired more challenge. I am now at an even larger company in downtown San Francisco. My boss quit the second week I was there, but by then I already knew I had to go to graduate school in order to make up for my lost years.

I have a vision where I am a principal technology consultant at a world renowned consulting firm, specializing in HR technologies. Every quarter, I look for this magical position on job boards and copy the requirements to a word document where I study them and use it as a guide for my career growth. The position is the pinnacle achievement in my profession and I know I can achieve it. Each day I work towards it. Getting an MBA is one step towards success and the next wall I must climb.

I started coaching communications at Dale Carnegie. Along the way, I ended up losing 30lbs, ran two ½ marathons, volunteered at the local food bank, coached a Japanese exchange student to transfer to UCLA (she graduated last week), and directed road races with one of the oldest running clubs in San Francisco. I even ended up having one of my articles published on a popular sports website. All of this in the past 4 years.

I now know with enough work, I am smart enough to get into a top school. This is why I must try. Because of my past, I have a lot to make up for.

Many of you applicants are better academically and better off career wise than me. I hope you did not have to go through the same experiences I had to growing up. For this reason alone, I know you are in a much better position to succeed. But I’m not giving up.

When life is tough and people around you tell you can’t do it, they’re simply testing you. When you get into a good school, your friend who told you it was impossible will be the first one to congratulate you. Everybody loves an underdog.

Just keep up the studies. Apply. You never know what will happen. And when the wall stands before you, unlike my friend who let me fall, I won’t let the same happen to you.

B-school analyzer

•July 1, 2008 • 4 Comments

Motivational quotes and story

•June 29, 2008 • 1 Comment

“If people only knew how hard I work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” Michelangelo Buonarroti

“It’s like driving at night in the fog. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” Edgar Lawrence Doctorow

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Thomas Edison

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”
Maya Angelou

Daffodil Effect:

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, “Mother, you must come and see the daffodils before they are over.” I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead.
Going and coming took most of a day–and I honestly did not have a free day until the following week. “I will come next Tuesday.” I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call.

Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove the length of Route 91, continued on I-215, and finally turned onto Route 18 and began to drive up the mountain highway.
The tops of the mountains were sheathed in clouds, and I had gone only a few miles when the road was completely covered with a wet, gray blanket of fog. I slowed to a crawl, my heart pounding. The
road becomes narrow and winding toward the top of the mountain. As I executed the hazardous turns at a snail’s pace, I was praying to reach the turnoff at Blue Jay that would signify I had

When I finally walked into Carolyn’s house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren I said, “Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these darling children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!” My daughter smiled calmly, “We drive in this all the time, Mother.” “Well, you won’t get me back on the road until it clears–and then I’m heading for home!” I assured her. “I was hoping you’d take me over to the garage to pick up my car. The mechanic just called, and they’ve finished repairing the engine,” she answered. “How far will we have to drive?” I asked cautiously. “Just a few blocks,” Carolyn said cheerfully.

So we buckled up the children and went out to my car. “I’ll drive,” Carolyn offered. “I’m used to this.” We got into the car, and she began driving. In a few minutes I was aware that we were back on Rim-of-the-World Road heading over the top of the mountain. “Where are we going?” I exclaimed, distressed to be back on the mountain road in the fog. “This isn’t the way to the garage!” “We’re going to my garage the long way,” Carolyn smiled, “by way of the daffodils.”

“Carolyn,” I said sternly, trying to sound as if I was still the mother and in charge of the situation, “please turn around. There is nothing in the world that I want to see enough to drive on
this road in this weather.” “It’s all right, Mother,” She replied with a knowing grin. “I know what I’m doing. I promise, you will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.”

And so my sweet, darling daughter who had never given me a minute of difficulty in her whole life was suddenly in charge–and she was kidnapping me! I couldn’t believe it. Like it or not, I was on the way to see some ridiculous daffodils–driving through the thick, gray silence of the mist-wrapped mountaintop at what I thought was risk to life and limb. I muttered all the way.

After about 20 minutes we turned onto a small gravel road that branched down into an oak-filled hollow on the side of the mountain. The fog had lifted a little, but the sky was lowering, gray and heavy with clouds. We parked in a small parking lot adjoining a little stone church. From our vantage point at the top of the mountain we could see beyond us, in the mist, the crests of the San Bernardino range like the dark, humped backs of a herd of elephants. Far below us the fog-shrouded valleys, hills, and flatlands stretched away to the desert. On the farside of the church I saw a pine needle-covered path, with towering evergreens and manzanita bushes and an inconspicuous,
hand-lettered sign, “Daffodil Garden.” We each took a child’s hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path as it wound through the trees. The mountain sloped away from the side of the path in
irregular dips, folds, and valleys, like a deeply creased skirt.

Live oaks, mountain laurel, shrubs, and bushes clustered in the folds, and in the gray, drizzling air, the green foliage looked dark and monochromatic. I shivered. Then we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped.

Before me lay the most glorious sight, unexpectedly and completely splendid. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes where it had run into every crevice and over every rise. Even in the mist-filled air, the mountainside was radiant, clothed in massive drifts and waterfalls of daffodils. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each different colored variety (I learned later that there were more than 35 varieties of daffodils in the vast display) was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. In the center of this incredible and dazzling display of gold, a great cascade of purple grape hyacinth flowed down like a waterfall of blossoms framed in its own rock-lined basin, weaving through the brilliant daffodils. A charming path wound throughout the garden. There were several resting stations, paved with stone and furnished with Victorian wooden benches and great tubs of coral and carmine tulips.

As though this were not magnificent enough, Mother Nature had to add her own grace note–above the daffodils, a bevy of western bluebirds flitted and darted, flashing their brilliance. These charming little birds are the color of sapphires with breasts of magenta red. As they dance in the air, their colors are truly like jewels above the blowing, glowing daffodils. The effect was spectacular. It did not matter that the sun was not shining. The brilliance of the daffodils was like the glow of the brightest
sunlit day.

Words, wonderful as they are, simply cannot describe the incredible beauty of that flower-bedecked mountain top. Five acres of flowers! (This too I discovered later when some of my questions were answered.)

“But who has done this?” I asked Carolyn. I was overflowing with gratitude that she brought me, even against my will. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. “Who?” I asked again, almost speechless with wonder, “and how, and why, and when?”

“It’s just one woman,” Carolyn answered. “She lives on the property. That’s her home.” Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory.

We walked up to the house, my mind buzzing with questions. On the patio we saw a poster. “Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking” was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. “50,000 bulbs,” it read. The second answer was, “One at a time, by one woman, two hands, two feet, and very little brain.” The third answer was, “Began in 1958.”

There it was.

The Daffodil Principle. For me that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than 35 years before, had begun–one bulb at a time–to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top. One bulb at a time. There was no other way to do it. One bulb at a time. No shortcuts–simply loving the slow process of planting. Loving the work as it unfolded. Loving an achievement that grew so slowly and that bloomed for only three weeks of each year. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, had changed the world. This unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.

The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration: learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time–often just one baby-step at a time–
learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.

Doing what’s best for me

•June 26, 2008 • 1 Comment

After Tuesday’s wake up call, I decided to call MGMAT and switch teachers. The class opened my eyes to what I really wanted out of a prep class. I do best with a teacher that I can connect with.

So I’m retaking the course, starting with session 1 on Sunday. This is a serious set back, but MGMAT gave me a great discount. I think this is the best choice for me. I want to fully take advantage of the course and I know I can only do this if I am in sync with the instructor.

I’m disappointed, but that will be short lived. In life, it’s best to recognize limitations and move on. I’ll be glad I made this choice in the end.