Values at Work

Values are those beliefs that we give weight as humans. Each individual has his own set of values in different areas of his life. What are the most important traits that you put so much weight when it comes to relationships, money, work, parenting and leadership?

I have said this many times, that one cannot claim that he knows himself absolutely enough. We would never know how we will react unless put in a circumstance for the first time. The proof of the pudding is truly in the eating, isn’t it? Thus, there is a need for us to be subjected to an entirely new experience to test how we will react or respond to the stimulus.

I have recently been confronted with a situation that tested my personal values.

The title of this post is “Values at Work” for it carries a double meaning to it: my set of values were put into action and it was tested at the workplace too.

I value respect for humans, period. It doesn’t matter whether one is a company president, a messenger, a clerk or a security guard or a less privileged garbage man. Every single human being deserves to be respected. And I wonder how some people can sometimes be so full of themselves that they can sometimes be so focused on their own grandeur to the detriment of how they should actually be treating the other beings.

To me, position or rank only defines a person’s role in an organization. I still believe that respect is accorded to the person, not the rank. For if one respects every single person equally, the rank becomes irrelevant for gaining respect. How can you give “more” respect to one over the other? Isn’t that respect is absolute? Less respect is disrespect.

Respecting people includes respecting how they feel. Every single human being has the capacity and right to feel the whole spectrum of emotions from anger, sadness to jealousy and envy and joy and love. I believe that every person has the right to be angry or mad; but that doesn’t give anyone the license to be rude.

Dignity of a person, rich or poor, must be preserved. And either I contribute to building that or destroying it.

I’m very glad that I have proven once again that I have been gracious in the face of a circumstance that would have hooked anyone to be less dignified.

I’m proud to say that I’ve responded well. I stood up for my rights without having to be like the other party. I stood tall and walked out of the jungle with pride intact knowing that I have a bigger heart and more giving nature.

I’m proud that I do what I preach. I know that I won the best battle this round for I have demonstrated to my followers and most especially to my children, my set of values at work — even without anyone watching my actions, reading my mind nor feeling what’s in my heart.

After all, the biggest victories in life are those that are won in private. I know who I am, what I am capable of and what I have done and didn’t do. After this incident, I won not only the respect of my family and friends but most especially, my own self’s.

When Kids Quarrel

I remember the day when my 3 boys were in an argument when they were still 4, 5 and 7 years old.

One would point to the other for being at fault and saying: “You destroyed my toy.” The other would say: “I got mad because of YOU.”  The other one would say something like: “I’m even angrier because of what you did.”

When I saw the 3 arguing, in a chaotic discourse of finger-pointing, I approached them.  I didn’t tell them to stop.  I didn’t shout.  I didn’t give orders.  Sure it was noisy with 3 boys practically talking at the same time.  But what good will shouting do if what I will achieve is momentary peace.  My objective is for my kids to BE EMPOWERED to handle these disagreements in the future.

I said to them: “Hi! May I ask you something?”  I addressed one of them: “Has your brother X done anything to help you in the past?”  The answer was a nod.  I asked brother Y: “Has brother Z done anything to help you in the past?” The answer was “Yes”. And what about you, Z, has brother Y ever done anything to help you?”  By this time, all three were saying yes while nodding their heads.

My follow up: “What did he do for you?”

Each recounted something good about each of the brothers.  A few more minutes and the 3 boys were sharing beautiful and happy experiences of help that they got from each other.  Smiling, laughing.

Then, I asked: “Why do you think that your brothers helped you or did all of those things for you?”  I paused and waited for their answers.

“Because they love me.” was the answer from those young boys.

“Yes.  You all love each other.  Then, why do you have to quarrel?  Everytime one does a mistake, you should recall all the wonderful things that your brother has done for you.  Because those mistakes were unintentional.  When you love someone, you don’t intentionally hurt the person.  If ever your brother makes a mistake we should understand that it was an honest mistake and we have to focus on all the loving and thoughtful things that each has done for one another.  Does that make sense?  Can you do that?”  Nods again from 3 young boys.  “You love each other so you should be showing love for one another.  Embracing, helping each other and not quarreling.”

1)  What you focus on magnifies – instead of talking about the causes of the quarrel itself and focusing on the negatives, I decided to focus on the world’s most powerful emotion called LOVE;
2) Energies are re-channeled or redirected but cannot be stopped – when people quarrel, there are a lot of negative energies within and just like anger, it would be difficult to stop a running train.  It would be smoother and easier to rechannel the discussion and feelings from being negative to positive sharings.  And by doing so, the feelings automatically follow.  When one visualizes positive thoughts, positive feelings automatically flow.

Which comes first, actions or feelings?

People would say, I feel bad and thus, I’m sulking. But the more you sulk, the worse you feel.  Try to read an inspiring book or watch a funny movie.  You will just suddenly realize after some time that you feel better already.  You might be surprised that you are already laughing while watching the movie.  The truth is, by changing our actions, feelings will follow.  When we talk about negatives and focus on the mistakes of our children or spouse, the angrier we get.  By shifting the thoughts to the positive  attributes of a person, we begin to feel good about the person again.

Parenting is not about one incident or few tips put together.  Parenting is more about leading by example.  It is a string of moment-to-moment decisions and judgments, the big things and little acts that will influence our children’s upbringing.

What do you think?

A Mother’s Purpose

If I could inspire a life to be a better person,
and to maximize his talents;

If I could just show one life his strengths
to build his self-esteem;

If I could lovingly point to him his weaknesses
so that he could improve on them;

If I could make him realize that he is great in his uniqueness
so that he knows he can be the best him;

If I could make him understand that there are people who are better than him so that he will remain humble;

If I could trust him and love him unconditionally
so that I can show him how to love others too;

If I could guide him to trust and love himself
so that he knows in his heart that he is special;

If I could help strengthen his wings and teach him to fly
so that he could safely navigate his own flight;

If I could have the courage one day to allow him to fly on his own
without fear nor doubt in my heart that he can soar higher than I have ever flown;

Then, I as a mother, have done well;
My purpose as a mother has been fulfilled.

Parenting — a Joyful Responsibility

Parenting — a Joyful Responsibility

Parenting to me is a stewardship of young lives, empowering them to becoming who they are destined to be.

Parenting is not deciding for our children but rather helping them decide for themselves.

A parent is a leader and a light.

A light is a beautiful image.  It softly touches us and is easy to follow.  We can see the light even when afar.  A light serves as a guide that anyone can decide to follow.  It attracts us to get close to it.  And a light is most important during the darkest moments.

I am a single parent of four children.  I am the breadwinner and I raised them consciously, knowing what I want for them.

Knowing What I Want for My Kids:

This does not mean that I decide what profession or degree that they will take.  Or where they should be or go.  Knowing what I want means that I know exactly what kind of individuals I want them to be — responsible citizens, conscientious Christians, respectful children, with high emotional quotient, principle-centered leaders.

EMPOWERMENT — What it is and what it’s not

Empowerment is giving the power to decide and to act.  It’s not commanding; nor manipulating someone to do something or to act because of fear.

Empowerment is equipping my children with the tools to succeed.  It is helping our kids to have the courage to decide on their own and teaching them how to consider the pros and cons.  It is immersing them in principles that they will imbibe so that they have the inner compass 24-7, everyday, everywhere, with or without me, even when no one is watching.

I’m blessed that I realized EARLY ENOUGH that I will not be with my kids all the time.  I cannot watch over them every moment of the day and night to protect them from external forces, from people who would intentionally or unintentionally want to harm them; from personal mistakes and wrong judgments; from hurts and harms.  I cannot tell them not to do the wrong thing because “I will get angry or get hurt” because that could be sending the wrong message that “it’s ok as long as mom doesn’t know. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt.”  I didn’t resort to punishments because I can’t punish if I don’t know.  This would encourage my kids to hide from me. And so I decided early on as a young mom then, that I should help them acquire the “internal compass” to guide them in every challenge and victory; pain and joy; rejection and acceptance; hurt and love.  So that they will decide on their own TO DO THE RIGHT THING ALL THE TIME.

I told them, “I don’t want you to do things because you want to please me.  Nor do I want you not to do things because I will get angry.  I want you to do things because they are the right thing to do and they are what is best for you.”

Internal conflicts and dilemmas can be avoided if one is clear with principles which are templates for moving towards a successful and happy life.  There is no conflicts if one lives by integrity.

In the end, they will be comfortable with oneself; be able to build genuine friendships; be self-assured to the point that they can laugh at their own mistakes; be humble to say “I’m sorry”; be confident to take on challenges; be generous with their time, praises and resources; have genuine relationships with God and have a happy, healthy life.

This site will discuss the principles that have worked for raising 4 unique individuals.

Welcome and I hope you will find my articles helpful in raising your kids, running your household and empowering children and achieving financial freedom at the same time.

I will include principles, anecdotes, experiences and tips.  I hope you will enjoy reading and I welcome your comments and questions.

Money Management: Need versus Want and Delayed Gratification

Parents everywhere I suppose have experienced the days when our kids would ask for something that we are not willing to buy for one reason or another. It could be because we don’t have the budget for it or we think that it’s just not important.  The usual reply of many parents would be: “We don’t have money.” Or “We can’t afford it.” Or “What do you think?  That money grows on trees?”

I have learned that WORD HAVE POWER.  And as a parent, I decided early that I don’t want my children to grow up with the mentality of lack.  So how do I deal with the situation when my kid wants something that I could not afford just yet?

I never told my kids: “We don’t have money.”  I tell them: “We have money for groceries or for your tuition fees and food right now.  Do you think we should buy that now?  If we buy that, we will have to divert the funds from other priorities. Which do you think is more important now?  Is that a need or a want?”

I think, it is right to treat our kids like adults; talk to them as adults; and expect them to be responsible even if they are very young.  Because, one might be surprised that kids today can be very smart and responsible.  It is wise to introduce our children to the concept of NEED vs. WANT.

If they learn this reasonable concept early on, we won’t have problems with young children, even as young as 5 years old, with throwing tantrums in shopping malls.

I’ve given my kids the power to decide and so far, they have not failed me to decide responsibly.

I remember one time when my 9-year old son wanted to buy an expensive toy.  I told him to think about it.  Just consider the pros and cons.  Whatever he decides, I’m fine with it. (Of course at that time, I already knew that years of need vs. want training has already seeped through his values.)  He decided to sleep over and the following day, he told me: “Ma, I decided not to buy it because anyway, it’s not something that I need.”

It would make every mom and dad proud when our child can already decide wisely on such things.  I tell my kids the story of “Marshmallow Experiment” every now and then since they were young:

A group of 4-year olds were given 1 marshmallow each and promised another piece if they can hold eating their marshmallow for the next 20 minutes.  Some couldn’t wait while some did.  About 30 years later, the scientist followed through with each of the children and found out that majority of those who were patient in waiting for 20 minutes became more successful than the majority of those who could not wait.

The lesson on delayed gratification is a major, major lesson in one’s success in life; whether it’s for one’s career, for relationships, for money or for health.

Delayed gratification encompasses discipline and diligence:  One must make a conscious choice whether you want to pay now and play later or play now and pay later.  If one is not able to put in everything one has while starting his career or business, he will not be able to take his plane to an altitude where he can already relax.

In relationships, how many times do people just could not stop themselves from getting back or just having the last say every time in any argument? Patience in this context does not mean just biting your tongue.  It means knowing that there is a better way of handling the conflict.  Why should you win the battle when you might lose the war? Which is more important? Sometimes losing the not-so-important battle is what it takes to win the war after all.  Is it really that important to have the last say? Or would it be better to delay your need to have the last say for the sake of better communication when both of you have calmed down and are in a better mood? Your relationship after all is more important than having the last say, isn’t it?

In money management, debts that are bad are incurred because of having low EQ (emotional quotient) or emotional intelligence.  Actually, delayed gratification is a manifestation of having high EQ. “I gotta have that NOW!” is one major reason for many credit card debts.  The practice of delayed gratification is not only good at getting us out of indebtedness, but it also helps us get more out of life.  How?  Think of the marshmallow experiment.  If you can just save and invest the small amount of cash that you have now and continue saving and investing; instead of buying just one new gadget now, you can maybe buy a better gadget and a new laptop with the compounded earnings because of your savings and investments.  Don’t you think that it makes sense?

Delayed gratification is just a phrase.  But truly, this is a powerful tool to use for financial freedom, for career growth, for responsible parenting and having a healthy family.

Do you think delayed gratification is important in our life?  When do you think parents should start teaching kids the concept of Need versus Want?

Leadership as a parent

I have always believed in Ghandi’s statement: “We should be the change that we want to see.”

Parenting is truly a huge responsibility and it takes leadership from within in order to raise successful kids without huge troubles.

Which parent doesn’t want our children to be honest, responsible, successful, respectful, abundant in every area of his or her life? (When I talk about abundance, it’s not just about being financially free but in other areas like health, spiritual growth, intellectual and emotional aspects as well.)

“Your actions speak so loud that I can’t hear what you’re saying,” is very much applicable in raising kids not only for teens but most especially for very young tots.

Young kids start to consciously remember what they observe even as young as 3 years old.  But they learn their values and habits way much earlier than that.

The best way for us parents not to have trouble with our teens is to follow certain leadership principles ourselves:

1)  Begin with the end in mind
This is one of Stephen Covey’s famous leadership quotations. True, if you don’t know where you want to go, you won’t know how to get there. So I suggest that you write down what you want your children to be (not in terms of what career but what kind of person) and what values you want them to acquire as early as possible. If you have the chance to mold your children’s future from the day they were born, so much the better.  This “vision” that you have for your kids will be your guide in your day to day decision-making challenges.  Example statement could be:  “I want my child to be a responsible global citizen, manifesting Christian living, generous, helpful, excellent in whatever he/she does and become the best that he/she is meant to be.”  The values I want my child to live include: unconditional love, gratitude attitude, excellence, respect for parents and elders, generosity for siblings and others, integrity.

2) You cannot give what you do not have
Leadership is not something you show.  Leadership is not leading or controlling others.  Leadership is having power over self.  Because once you do, you will exude this aura that others will be attracted to follow.  If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy.  If you want your children to put their stamp of excellence in their homework, you should be doing the extra mile in your work.  There is no shortcuts in being a parent.  You cannot hide from your children.  As a parent, we cannot preach integrity if our kids overhear us tell our spouse to lie for us: “Fred is not here yet.”

Our children see the “values at work” in our behaviors.  How we treat our neighbors, our parents, friends, workers; how we give our best in everything that we do; how we worry over nothing; how we spend our money; how we max out our credit cards; how impatient we are; how we apply delayed gratification for a bigger and better objective; how we give importance to our Creator; how we belittle the government; how much we value further education; how much reading we do; what reading materials we prefer; what words come out of our mouth; how we complain and do nothing over certain matters; how lazy or hardworking we are… all these things have an impact in the way our children’s values are formed.

With these 2 basic fundamentals, parenting is a career by itself.  Funny but it’s really life’s biggest educational flaws:  We have to study all our lives for courses to become expert on things like engineering, math, cultures, languages and arts.  But no formal educational institution teaches us a course on the most important skills in life — raising a family and personal financial planning.

Many professionals have garnered masters and PhD’s but only to have kids on drugs, children turning against parents, or being in huge debts without any idea what hit them.

I’m glad that nowadays, people have become more and more aware of this “lack” and this awareness is the first step in searching for more knowledge to make up for what we missed during the many years of formal schooling.