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Owning my mistakes: 6 Ideas I’ve changed my mind about

Inspired by one of my favourite writer Jason Connell, I decided to replicate the angle of his latest post and talk about the things I also changed my mind about.

Jason is a man of many fields – from magic to speaking, to coaching. I first got to know about him when his post on why he lost faith in Tony Robbins (and most life coaches) went viral.

I enjoy reading people who can cut through the reality distortion field and provide clarity on what things are all about, given that I am a sucker for the superficial.

Back to this post, it will be about the things I hold true before but changed my mind on. Some may view this as hypocrisy but as his friend pointed out: But without hypocrisy, we can’t really grow.

1. Prefer to deal with people than tech

When I started on my HR Tech journey, my main motivation was to deal with tech rather than people.

It mainly came from the ones I had to deal with during my recruitment business.

As with all sales-oriented organisation, there are plenty of prima donnas.

Constantly on the search for (re)validation and offerings on their pedestal (rhetorically), it was draining for me even though I may be the one running the show.

On one hand, you are dependant on them to drive sales; on the other if I have a gun in my hand and there are no one around…

The overwhelming sucky feeling made me burn down the entire forest just to immolate one tree, completely forgetting the great friendship I have also built along the way.

Even though I am now knee-deep into HR Tech, the highlights of the day in my daily journal revolves around speaking with a person and not with another chatbot.

Me with my Army buds

The key is to sharpen your toxicity detector and block those people before they get any closer into your life. Something I think I am getting better with age.

2. It is nice to be important, but it is also important to be nice

There was a stage in my life when I present myself as straightforward and curt.

I won’t even write Hi in front of your name and my signature is too cool to have Best Regards spelt out. (It’s BR instead)

I was trying to be more direct with people and maybe trying to channel Steve Jobs into me, thinking that if I behave more like him my business might be as successful.

Something I was reminded of as I got involved in a mentoring programme. The instructor was being Simon Cowell in his critique of an exercise someone is presenting and defended himself as being straight and direct.

That is not direct, that is just being an asshole.

I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel

Maya Angelou

3. Habit change is possible

There is a Chinese saying that how you are at age 3 will be how you are when you are at age 80.

For the longest time, I thought so too. I live with all my bad habits and almost became an alcoholic and a chain smoker.

There was a time when I need to have a beer just before I sleep and at least a pack a day is easy to go through.

The smoking pairs well with the 5 coffees I have daily.

Today I am off caffeine, my last stick was in Feb 2019 and I only drink socially and within limits.

If I have to attribute one thing that really helped, I would think it is my mindfulness practice.

I see it as bicep curls for your brain and thus giving you more willpower to say no to things that are logically bad for you.

If you are struggling with habit change, start by reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

4. Multi-tasking is not a superpower

I used to have think my superpower is multi-tasking.

The way I Alt-Tab is better than others and switching from one thing to another is how I can do twice the amount of work with the same amount of time.

Dead wrong.

Switching cost is expensive.

According to the American Psychological Association, doing more than one task at a time, especially more than one complex task, takes a toll on productivity.

Although switch costs may be relatively small, sometimes just a few tenths of a second per switch, they can add up to large amounts when people switch repeatedly back and forth between tasks.

Multitasking may seem efficient on the surface but may actually take more time in the end and involve more error.

Even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 per cent of someone’s productive time.

This is something I try to be more mindful of as I got to learn about Professor Cal Newport.

He is a computer science professor but he might be more known as the advocate of Deep Work – the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.

5. Health is wealth

During high school, my friends and I would go to free flow buffets and eat until one of us puke.

We will wait for him to recover and continue again.

That nonchalant approach to dietary was inherited into my later years until my late 30s when I realised I have put on so much weight.

It made football sucks and physical activities became a chore.

Coinciding with my interest in mindfulness, I dropped sugar from my diet and go down to my smallest size when I was on Keto (No carb, no sugar).

Now I try for more balance as Valter Longo mentioned in his book ‘The Longevity Diet’, a good diet is the one that keeps you alive for the longest.

I’m also exercising daily to “oil the joints” and have never been fitter in my life.

Me at F45 Downtown East

With four young kids, that helped me to keep up with their bountiful energy so I can maximise their childhood experience without becoming a roadblock.

6. Budgeting is key

Money is something I also sucked at – personally and professionally.

At one point in time, I owed the bank close to $1mil dollars on overdraft.

I had put in money for the business when it needed but bore the opportunity costs.

Personally, it was much more detrimental since being in debt is a financial prison.

After many hours of Dave Ramsey podcasts, I reluctantly did my first budget and faced my own demons.

It helps that I discovered Spendee – an app that not only helps me track my spendings but carries the ability to retrieve transactions from your connected bank accounts.

With these in place and a whole lot of discipline, I am six months away from becoming debt-free (with exception to my mortgage).


It is tough for one to admit wrongdoings especially as one becomes older and mistake acquired beliefs as wisdom.

Fortunately I have seen my fair share of these in other people during my public outplacement days as unemployed PMETs continue on the path that are no longer there.

There comes a time when mindset change has to come before anything else and it might start by dismantling your mental scaffolding and evaluate them.

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