The Invasion of the Digital Babysitter

The Invasion of the Digital Babysitter

It Was a Dark and Stormy Digital Babysitter Night

Two rainy nights ago, I was treated to an interesting “incident” at a fancy restaurant in town. Even on a rainy Friday night diners entered the restaurant in droves. Inside the restaurant, I was seated adjacent to a family of four and a digital babysitter. Not one, but two digital babysitters.


A bespectacled man in his mid-thirties sat next to a boy of 10. Seated opposite the boy was her sister. Next to her, sat their mother, stoically dissecting a dead animal on her plate. 


For a packed restaurant on a rainy Friday night, this table is extremely quiet. Man in glasses had no expression on his face as he stared at the screen of his mobile phone. The kids had their eyes trained on their digital babysitter Ipads. Both Ipads were tuned to the same cartoon clip on a Youtube channel.


The kids’ eyes gazed intensely at the screens while mechanically shoved food into their mouths. This went on for the entire evening. The only sounds coming from this table was the abrupt laughter of the boy. Not unlike a mental patient on a psychotic break, the boy became hysterical each time the character on screen jab at his nemesis with a sharp object.


The Rise of the Digital Babysitter.

I observed that 80% of the children in the room has a tablet. Meanwhile, the grown-ups go about their food and social chatter. This may seem trivial to most onlookers but for social scientists, this is a field day.


According to a 2011 survey by marketing research firm Nielsen, 55% of parents use tablets to keep children quiet while they are driving. 41% of parents admit that they let their kids play with tablet PCs at restaurants.


A child’s continual exposure to the digital screen may result in health, mobility and psychological issues. Prolonged screen exposure may lead to poor social skills, depression and the inability to empathize later in life.


Psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman states that children in the UK will have accumulated an entire year’s worth of screen time by age 7.


He suggests that prolonged screen time will affect the production of dopamine, the brain chemical responsible for reward-driven learning. This can lead to reductions in attention span and the ability to pay attention.




Professor Lynne Murray, a developmental psychopathology expert, advocates zero screen time for children under the age of three. Although digital contents may be attention grabbing they are not appropriate for a child’s cognitive processes.



Is there a Question in Our Digital Babysitter Future?

English film critic and television presenter, Claudia Winkleman (ironically, she does not own a TV) criticized parents who spend their time on the internet or watching TV instead of talking with their children.


She warned that this obsession with technology is detrimental to their children:

“The children of the future will be in therapy going, ‘I never talked to my mum and dad as they were always online’ ”.


If this digital nanny trend continues, my work as a therapist will soon involve a new generation of clients with “digital gadget-related” issues. The UK Daily Mail had already cited Nomophobia as the biggest phobia in the world right now. Check out what this irrational fear is all about on The Phobia List


In a time where digital device is a norm and privacy a thing of the past, do ponder upon the impacts of the digital media on the next generation. Just imagine a toddler navigating an Ipad deftly with her fingers while her parents enjoys dinner with a sigh of relief.


Thank God for technology. Or not?

The Day Kobe Bryant Walked Away From The Game

The Day Kobe Bryant Walked Away From The Game

Two decades ago, the world witnessed a scrawny kid from Lower Merion High School, Philadelphia said in a cocky tone, “I’ve decided to skip college and take my talent to the NBA”. That high school kid, Kobe Bryant, is now 37 years of age and about to play his final game. 


Kobe Bryant, number 24, aka The Black Mamba, this is a tribute to you on your final game.


Because you have decided to call it a day.  To ride off into the sunset. And begin a new life sans basketball.



Kobe Bryant – One Last Time On the Court

13.04.16 @ The Staples Center, Los Angeles.


The very last time we are bedazzled by your on-court brilliance.  


The world salutes you and wishes you well.


Today, you will play your final game.


After this glorious day, the world probably will no longer be able to watch your wizardry on the parquet floor.


What remains forever are memories of your brilliance and greatness . . .



A Letter to Kobe Bryant: From a Legend to a Legend

And who better to pen a heartfelt farewell than our revered Hall of Famer Magic Johnson . . . 


Dear Kobe,

For 20 years, I’ve watched you dominate the game of basketball. From the Great Western Forum to the world famous Staples Center, you have dedicated your life to becoming one of the greatest players this game has ever seen. Through your commitment to success, outstanding work ethic, and winning attitude, each year you perfected your abilities beyond expectation.


You are an example to your teammates and fans all over the world through your extraordinary achievements on the court and extensive philanthropic efforts off the court. As a 5-time NBA champion, 18-time NBA All-Star, NBA MVP and 2-time Finals MVP, you led your team by example and showed them how to achieve greatness. As a 15-time member of the All-NBA Teams, and a 12-time member of the All-Defensive Teams you continued to over-deliver, but it didn’t stop there. You earned the 2nd greatest scoring performance in the NBA with 81 points in a single game and became 3rd on the NBA All-Time scoring list, forever etching your name in NBA History.


Every night you played, I couldn’t wait to watch knowing that I would witness an unbelievable shot or move that I had never seen on the court. I marveled at the skills and loved the energy you brought to the game wearing that purple and gold uniform. You never disappointed the city, Laker fans, and basketball fans worldwide. All you cared about was winning games and championships and that’s why so many people love you.


You will join a legendary list of Laker greats and Hall of Famers. Their jerseys hang proudly from the rafters in Staples Center and soon yours will shine next to them; from Gail Goodrich, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Jamaal Wilkes, James Worthy and Shaquille O’Neal.


Very few people have changed the game of basketball but you will be recognized as one of them alongside my “Dream Team” teammates, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan.


I’ve enjoyed every minute of your career. Thanks for all the fantastic memories. There will never be another Kobe Bryant!



Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises



Epilogue: A Storybook Ending

It was a storybook ending indeed.


In a 101-96 win over the Utah Jazz, this is Kobe Bryant’s final stat line:

42 minutes played, shot 22-50 from the field, shot 6-21 from 3-point range, made 10-12 free throws, pulled down 4 rebounds, tallied 4 assists, had 1 steal and 1 block.


He had 60 points. That sums up his 1,346th regular season game. And Kobe Bryant rides off into the sunset with 33,643 career points. A fitting way to close out his storied 20-season NBA career.


Thank you for the memories, Kobe Bean Bryant. Happy retirement. We are going to miss you.

The Problem with New Year Resolutions

The Problem with New Year Resolutions

What is the link between new year resolutions and epitaphs?


Are epitaphs commemorative inscriptions to reflect the life, legacy or the personality of the faithful departed or a message left by the living to their dead?


The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an epitaph as:

“something written or said in memory of a dead person; especially : words written on a gravestone”


In most cultures, death and epitaphs are a taboo subject, so I better get to the point fast . . .


Making New Year Resolutions (that work)

2015 is coming to an end and a new year beckons. It is usually a time when resolutions are made (before most are broken).


Most resolutions don’t stick because it clashes with your values and internal view of self. Trying to make positive affirmations about yourself that you don’t really believe in would not really work but in the long run may do harm to your self-esteem and can be highly demoralizing.


One effective way to make resolutions effective is to build it around a personal mission statement. A task that may take days or even weeks to complete, depending on how resolute you are to come up with one.


Look at a personal mission statement as a long term goal. A 5-year goal. 10-year goal. Or maybe even a 20-year goal. A personal mission statement is the glue that keeps these plans going long after you have set, tried or even forgotten your New Year resolutions.


Unlike New Year resolutions that works beautifully for two weeks before they are gone and forgotten, a personal mission statement encompasses your core values and highest goals.


Resolutions Begin with the End in Mind

So how do you begin creating a personal mission statement?


In Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s classic text on living a fulfilled life – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – placed the second of the seven habits as “Begin with the End in Mind”.


Habit 2 is about creating a reality which begins in your mind because all things are created twice. One in your mind (mental) and the end product or result (physical). Any neglect on your part to consciously visualize what you want in life and who you truly embody as a person will result in a “life by default” situation where outside circumstances and other people shape you and your life.


Habit 2 begins with a personal mission statement and Dr. Covey suggests that you visualize attending a funeral – YOURS – and observe what your family, friends, colleagues, other attendees say of you.


This brings us back to the epitaphs. Because in formulating your personal mission statement, you need to begin with the end in mind.


Yes. That End. The very End. Of your life.


I guess this is no different from the working-backward approach. By beginning at the end, you gain a better understanding of where you are now and the steps you need to take to get you to the direction you are heading.


Your Personal Mission Statement

A personal mission statement is defined by your values and your own uniqueness based on personal, moral, and ethical guidelines in your life.


In our everyday existence, most people are too engrossed in the busy-ness of life which includes pursuing larger paychecks, attaining higher societal status and acquiring more material possessions.


This immersion with the ‘chase’ keeps us too busy to notice what really matters in our lives. A personal mission statement will keep your life in check and align you with what really matters to you in your life.


Take the first step this New Year to build a fulfilling life of liberty and happiness. Instead of writing a New Year resolution like you usually do, begin by crafting your personal mission statement.


An ideal way to start is to go to the Personal Mission Builder which provides a step-by-step guide to build your personal mission statement.


All the best to you. Here wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New 2016.

Are You Re-Living Groundhog Day?

Are You Re-Living Groundhog Day?

If you woke up today feeling like it was yesterday and you woke up yesterday feeling like it was the day before yesterday, chances are you are re-living Groundhog Day  . . .


Phil: What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?
Ralph: That about sums it up for me.


This quote was from the 1993 Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day. Murray plays the role of arrogant weatherman Phil Connors who reluctantly go to Punxsutawney, Philadelphia to cover the annually celebrated Groundhog Day. An unforeseeable blizzard forced Phil to stay the night. What he did not anticipate was waking up the next morning to re-live Groundhog Day over and over and over again.


According to Wikipedia, the popularity of the movie rendered the phrase “Groundhog Day” as a common reference to a continually occurring unpleasant situation.



Re-living Groundhog Day

I wonder if you ever get this feeling I get from time to time – that you are re-living the same day over and over and over again. There are times that my life take a strange turn in that direction.


Well, to echo Ralph’s sentiment, there are days when it about “sums it up for me” too. All of us at one point or another, will have our Groundhog Day moments.


Ever been in a work situation that you don’t like but the situation kept repeating itself? You hate it but you seem to be stuck. Feel trapped in a mundane repetitive job situation? Check. Want to pack your bags and go live and work someplace else but can’t seem to move elsewhere? Want to put an end to a relationship but don’t know how (or can’t)? Check. 


I have pondered these questions at each phase in my life. In a metaphorical sense, it seem like we are a game pieces in a computer game. Inside the game, we are required to pass certain “tests” to progress to the next level. And we have stay at the same level repeating the same play sequences over and over again until we do.


On the bigger scheme of things, life and death seemed that way too. We are trapped in this body, on this planet and in this dimension until we pass certain “tests”. In death, we progress to another dimension or a higher level. The Chinese used the word “guoshen” to describe death which in literal sense means “passing of the body” or that the soul had moved on to another form or entity.



Neural Pathways

I have had clients who repeatedly face similar work situations no matter how many time they job hopped. Strange as it may seem, each work situation consist of the same troubling elements. The “office line-up” includes bitchy co-workers, boss from hell, apple polisher and the backstabber. 


Does this vicious repetitive loop exist in the subconscious mind?


Your subconscious mind is nothing but a series of neural pathways formed by past conditioning and beliefs. The subconscious mind does not discriminate between right-wrong or good-bad. Everything you consciously feed it, it accepts and thus a strong neural pathway is created.



Everything is Created Twice

Your life event begins as a mental creation before its manifestation in physical form. If you are re-living your version of Groundhog Day, it can only mean you brain is still running on the old neural pathway which constantly reinforces your current reality. Sound familiar?


Everything that is manifested in your life begins at mental level before becoming a reality. To change your reality, you must begin by breaking the old habit patterns that you no longer need or want.


Dissociate. Disengage. Disconnect from old unwanted habit patterns.


Easier said than done. Because the neural pathway is so used to the old negative pattern, it will go into a withdrawal mode. Think abstinence from your favorite food or the absence of nicotine in a smoker trying to quit smoking.


Try telling your subconscious a different story and see the loop eventually get replaced by a whole new and different experience.

Wise Men Fashion Themselves

Wise Men Fashion Themselves

“Carpenters bend wood. Fletchers bend arrows. Wise men fashion themselves.”
– The Buddha core values



What Do You Stand For?

Core values are guiding principles that dictate our behavior and action. Just as a carpenter shapes the wood in the shape he needs and the fletcher creates a straight arrow. And the wise control their mind and shape it as it should be. 


Living in today’s “almost transparent” world of information is just a Google click away. Thus, it is essential to ‘stand for’ something. Many a times, in order to adapt a variety of situations, we take on a variety of personas.


In the process of pleasing the people we encounter in our daily lives, we often confuse ourselves. Do you know yourself? Are you able to communicate what value you can bring to your organization? Family? Partner? Social circle?


Successful people are the people who have gotten their act together. They know who they ARE deep within themselves, what they stand for and what they want from life. It is about being authentic. Authenticity will not take place if you try to be someone else or living up to someone else’s expectation.


Do you have a personal mission statement? What qualities or characteristics that you possess sets you apart from your competitors or your colleagues? If you were to write an elevator speech how does your bare bone summary of what you do sounds?


What do you value most? In your work? Relationship? Life? Community? The boundaries between work, relationship, family and community are not as clear-cut as they used to be. In this age, they must somehow be aligned with one another. Authenticity means that your life is aligned and your thoughts are congruent.


How do you want to be perceived? Is it congruent with how you are perceived now?



Examine Your Core Values

WHO are you? WHAT do you stand for? Core values are part of who you are. It guides your behaviour and thought patterns. One of the biggest hurdle in our pursuit of happiness, career success, and social interactions is the lack of clarity about our values.


The preoccupation with cultural, societal and media values distorts our perception of who we really are. The first step is to embark on the process of self-discovery. It just requires you to think hard and examine, among other things – your core values, your mission in life and your vision of your own future.


This exercise requires you to suspend judgment and cast aside all the usual descriptors at work that you depend on to fit into an organizational structure.


In short, forget your job title. And the little letters that comes after your name. Forget about the LLBs, BAs, BScs, etc. Instead, ask yourself: “what are the personal accomplishments that make me proud, ignites my passion and gives meaning to my life?”




What Do YOU Want To Be Famous For?

Once you have answered that, ask yourself one more question. Yes. That Tom Peters question. “What do I want to be famous for?”


Be astounded by the process of this exercise because once you know yourself better, you know your place in this universe. Management guru Peter Drucker once noted that:

“Successful careers are not planned. They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their methods of work and their values. Knowing where one belongs can transform an ordinary person … into an outstanding performer.”

Job Security Is a Complete Myth – Re-Invent Yourself Now

Job Security Is a Complete Myth – Re-Invent Yourself Now

Job security is dead.


According to business psychologists Timothy Butler and James Waldroop, authors of Discovering Your Career in Business (Addison-Wesley, 1997), the company you work for no longer dictate the moves you made. 


Fast forward to 2014, the author of The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization, Jacob Morgan posits that “Job security is a complete myth, as is long-term employment. Companies lay off employees in droves…by the thousands!”


In the last millennium, the work cycle is similar to a tree – join a company, grow roots, and stay put. Today, the tree has been replaced by surfer. You are always on the move, falling into the water again and again but getting back up to catch that next wave.


Today, the job security/loyalty scale is balanced by the question of “who is responsible for your career?” Before the turn of the century, a social contract went along with a job. And organizations accepted some form of responsibility or another for their staff.


The validity of a contract is questionable today and YOU are responsible for shaping your own career within an organization. (Or to put it more appropriately – between organizations).



Work Redefined

Butler and Waldroop describes the evolution of work using three words that tend to be used interchangeably – job, career and vocation.


Job is the most specific and immediate of the three: your job designation, employer and job specification for the next 6 months or so. In this post-information economy, describing what your job will be beyond 12-18 months is moving into the realm of uncertainty.


The word career is the one most commonly heard today. Webster’s Dictionary defined it as ‘a swift course’, ‘one’s progress through life’ and ‘a profession or occupation’. Aptly enough, it’s intransitive verb definition is ‘to rush wildly’. Like most of us in our hurry to accumulate wealth just jumped into what we think will become our career.  


You can have different careers at different points in your life. You may aspire or have a career as an engineer or banker but it isn’t the same as your calling.



Making A Difference

Which brings us to the third and final definition of work – vocation. The word vocation is derived from the Latin word “vocare”, which means “to call”. Doing things in life that makes a difference to you. Something you can look back upon in later years to see the impact you have made on the world.


A calling is something you have to listen for. It won’t come as a writing on the wall.

the death of job security

To further challenge your paradigm – look closely to the word career. The word originated from the Latin word for cart and the Middle French word for race track. If you have come across financial guru Robert Kiyosaki’s Cashflow Game, you will know what that means – going round and round real fast inside a hamster wheel – but NOT getting anywhere.

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