Activism, Changeology, Equality, Freedom, Human dignity, Justice, Leadership, Motivation, Personal meaning, Stories from life, The world around us

Being remembered brings Hope!

Sorry for the delay in getting this post out. As those of you who have been following me know I am in the country of Timor Lest now and the internet here is a bit dodgy :-).


Today I met a superstar. He drove into the parking lot in his blue mini Moke (like a dune buggy). It had shiny chrome role bars that matched the color of his greying hair. His handshake was firm and his smile winning as he, in a warm baritone voice greeted me with a friendly, “Bom Dia”. And while he seemed like an ordinary citizen, short of stature and slight of build, José Ramos-Horta was something considerably more.

Timor Leste had been a Portuguese colony for more than 400 years. When it received its independence in 1975 young José had played an important role in the independence movement. One might have expected then that, when after a few months Indonesia invaded and annexed Timor Leste, young Ramos-Horta would be called to also play a role in the in the new independence movement. Instead he was sent away by the country’s leaders, called upon to serve as Ambassador for the Timorese to the world. It was a difficult time for the young man. His task was a lonely and seemingly hopeless one.

Only after nearly twenty-five years of exile he was able to return home to a free country. On his return he was amazed at all the people who recognized him and wanted to shake his hand as a hero. Believing that it should be the ones who had stayed behind and fought battles on the homeland who should be welcomed in such a way, now middle aged José asked why he had been greeted so. The answer came, “Because you gave us Hope! When we thought the world had forgotten us we would hear your voice on the radio pleading our cause and we knew that we could hold out a little bit longer. Thank you!”

For his efforts in the peace process that ended the war with Indonesia and gained Timor Leste its independence, José Ramos-Horta was awarded, together with the Catholic Bishop of Timor Leste, the Nobel Peace prize. He went on to serve his country as Prime Minister and President. And since his ”retirement” from public service in his homeland he has served as a UN Special Representative to Guinea Bissau and more recently on a committee to evaluate the UN Peacekeeping force.

From the parking lot I led him to the hall where he would be speaking. I don’t remember all that he said, but his main message was – When everything seems impossible. When you feel as though your courage and strength will fail. Remember, there is still is Hope. Never give up Hope!”


Creativity, Personal Development, Personal meaning, Perspective

Change your proverb, change your perspective II

Check these out. A few twists on some old proverbs. Take a few minutes to ponder each. What do you think?


  1. While some would say, Never change a winning team – It seems to me that the best Winning teams always change
  2. In our world of more, more, more, the day to day life for many has to do with, Keeping up with the Joneses – But perhaps we would be better served by, Slowing down with the Smiths
  3. Many are keen in The pursuit of happiness – Yet, many more could benefit from enjoying, The happiness of pursuit
  4. While it is certainly true that, Two wrongs don’t make a right – I would still wager that in our arrogance, Too much right, makes a wrong


Creativity, Motivation, Personal Development, Personal meaning, Perspective, Strategic planning

Mastering Mastery –Take care of your SMiT

Sorry for the delay. Am traveling again and long stretches in the air plus lack of access to the internet made it difficult to get yesterday’s post out in time. I did write it yesterday on the plane, but didn’t have access to the net until today :-).


In an earlier post I wrote about how leaders (or employees themselves) could help employees to be better versions of themselves and experience more fulfillment in their work( )In that post I used the acronym AMP as a tool tell help remember the most important elements; Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Today I’d like to take a closer look at what contributes to mastery. I propose that we could all benefit from taking care of our SMiT.

In addition to many hours of practice, the following can be of great help:

  • Play to your Strengths.
    • Look to engage in tasks that fit your skills and desires.
    • Too often we are told that we need to strengthen our weaknesses, but perhaps we should also work on strengthening what we are already good at.
    • Especially early on in your career, it can be wise to not jump on the best paying job, but rather take a job that will allow you to learn as much as possible


  • Get yourself a Mentor.
    • Follow in the path/steps other masters. Many of us are too proud to seek the advice and help of others, but most of us will learn better and faster if we are humble enough to allow ourselves to be mentored.
    • In addition to a concrete mentor you can also learn from masters by reading about those who have gone before. Learn from their successes as well as their mistakes.
    • Like seeking advice from a local when arriving in a new city, we should listen to the advice of those who have more experience.


  • Develop your own independent and creative ways of Thinking.
    • Be open to your inner child. Childlike curiosity asks lots and lots of questions.
    • As you begin to master new skills allow yourself to explore new ways of approaching or applying those skills, experimenting with your own special methods and techniques.
    • Teach what you know to others. The challenge of teaching requires an internalization of new knowledge and skills that will increase your own mastery.


Inspired by the book Mastery, by Robert Greene.

Activism, Changeology, Cultural diversity, Equality, Freedom, Freedom of Religion or Belief, Human dignity, Human Rights, Justice, Leadership, Minority Rights, Personal meaning, Stories from life

A tribute to India’s greatest leader

He came from humble means, but went on to become a giant of a man, inspiring millions, especially those at the bottom of the social and economic ladder. He studied abroad earning several advanced degrees. He was a lawyer and the main author of the Indian constitution. Think you know who he is?

His name, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. While Mohandas Gandhi (a contemporary of Ambedkar)is the Indian most non-Indians admire, it is Ambedkar the 100+ millions of Dalits, or untouchables, of India recognize as India’s greatest hero, towering far above Gandhi.

In recognition of his greatness I’d like to share with you some of Ambedkar’s quotes.

  • Unlike a drop of water which loses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives. Man’s life is independent. He is born not for the development of the society alone, but for the development of his self.
  • I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity.
  • I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved.
  • Equality may be a fiction but nonetheless one must accept it as a governing principle.
  • In India, ‘Bhakti’ or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship plays a part in politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other of the world. ‘Bhakti’ in religion may be a road to salvation of the soul. But in politics, ‘Bhakti’ or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.
  • Cultivation of mind should be the ultimate aim of human existence.
  • Religion must mainly be a matter of principles only. It cannot be a matter of rules. The moment it degenerates into rules, it ceases to be a religion, as it kills responsibility which is an essence of the true religious act.
  • A great man is different from an eminent one in that he is ready to be the servant of the society.
  • Life should be great rather than long.
  • Political tyranny is nothing compared to the social tyranny and a reformer who defies society is a more courageous man than a politician who defies Government.
  • For a successful revolution it is not enough that there is discontent. What is required is a profound and thorough conviction of the justice, necessity and importance of political and social rights.
  • The relationship between husband and wife should be one of closest friends.

Quotes found at – and

Activism, Changeology, Equality, Freedom of Religion or Belief, Human dignity, Human Rights, Justice, Minority Rights, Personal meaning, Women's rights

What matters most to you?

Today I met a woman who was in prison, off and on, for more than 23 years and now lives in exile. In order to avoid arrest, another woman traveled for 15 days just to be able to take part in the conference I am attending. The trip would normally have taken no more than 15 hours. Many of the participants have been in prison and/or tortured.

The reason for all of this? Because they belong to, and peacefully practice, religions that are not sanctioned by the government of the countries in which they live. The government cracks down on unsanctioned religious activity deeming it “a danger to the security of the state.”

When talking to these people I had the impression that they didn’t look at what they had been through as hardship, but rather as an unfortunate consequence of choosing to remain in their faith. Each and every one expressed gratitude and joy at being able to participate in the conference. They took comfort from being able to share their experiences and hear of similar experiences from others. There is a sense of shared burdens, which become half burdens, and shared joys, which become twice the joy.

The aim of the conference is to share knowledge and build connections between people; activists and adherents of religious communities (including those who have no belief whatsoever) from all the ASEAN countries. For more on the conference click here:

Creativity, Human nature, Leadership, Motivation, Personal Development, Personal meaning, Perspective, Strategic planning

Experiencing Experience

I wrote a post a few weeks ago entitled, One year of experience 10 times (, that I’d like to expand on.

I think many would agree that in its most basic sense, experience means doing things. And that time passes. That seems fairly straightforward. Objectively, I experience the world around me as time passes. In that sense we all “experience” things. But the point I was making in my earlier blog post was that experience also has a subjective side to it; what I actually take away and learn from the experience and that I can then apply to future situations. It’s this subjective sense that I’d like to briefly explore here.

I haven’t seen the research on this yet (although I’m sure there is some), but from my own experience I claim that there are at least three things you need to do in order to cultivate your experiences; in other words learn and benefit from them.

  1. Prepare your mindset. Tell yourself that you are going to learn something new today. You may want to even say it out loud. Research does show that self-talk affects our behavior.
  2. Hunt – Look for signs in your everyday life for learnable situations.
  3. Be present – Actively focus on what is happening around you and what you are doing in the present moment. Are you experiencing something that can increase your knowledge and skills? Heighten your focus on these things.
  4. Harvest – Actively collect and store your experiences. You can do this by making notes of the things you seen and done during the day. Some like to keep a journal. I draw mind maps of important meetings, lectures or encounters.
  5. Use it or lose it – Look for opportunities to practice what you have learned. Give a lecture, write an essay or tell a friend. The key is to act on what you learn. Make it part of yourself.

The key take away here is: Be aware that you must do something with your experiences in order to benefit from them. You must experience your experiences. Otherwise, experience just happen to you without you learning much.

And remember, enjoy :-).

Creativity, Motivation, Personal Development, Personal meaning, Perspective

Don’t sweat the small stuff part V

It’s been while since I last wrote a reflection post. So, here comes one now :-). From my bathroom bookshelf, and the book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all small stuff, by Richard Carlson PhD, here are five new suggestions for de-stressing our lives. Enjoy and remember to take time to savor each suggestion. Maybe even implement it in the course of the coming week.

  1. Choose your battles wisely
  2. Practice random acts of kindness
  3. Tell three people (today) how much you love them
  4. Practice humility
  5. When in doubt about whose turn it is to take out the trash, go ahead and take it out