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How to keep and realize your lifelong dream? inspirations from Ang Lee

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Have you watched any the following movies:
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,
Brokeback Mountain,
Life of Pi,
Eat Drink Man Woman
?
If yes, you may wonder who the director is.
He is Ang Lee or 李安.

Recently, I read an article about him from a sharing of my Burmese friend through facebook.
Hearing about the Buddhists-Muslims violence spreads in Myanmar,
made me feel sad,
I can only pray that may peace prevail in Burma,
the land of gold.

Back to Ang Lee, although I do not like his movie Lust, Caution, the biography of Ang Lee is inspiring.

Ang Lee: "In 1978, as I applied to study film at the University of Illinois, my father vehemently objected. He quoted me a statistic: Every year, 50,000 performers compete for 200 available roles on Broadway. Against his advice, I boarded a flight to the U.S. This strained our relationship. In the two decades following, we exchanged less than a hundred phrases in conversation."

Often, people perceive the strong-willed as being stubborn, rebellious, as hard as a stone.
Blueroselady thinks that Ang Lee is among strong-willed people, and only the strong-willed can succeed against the odd.
But being strong-willed alone is insufficient.

Ang Lee: "Some years later, when I graduated film school, I came to comprehend my father’s concern. It was nearly unheard of for a Chinese newcomer to make it in the American film industry. Beginning in 1983, I struggled through six years of agonizing, hopeless uncertainty. Much of the time, I was helping film crews with their equipment or working as editor’s assistant, among other miscellaneous duties. My most painful experience involved shopping a screenplay at more than thirty different production companies, and being met with harsh rejection each time."
Blueroselady: we must have a THICK FACE to master THE ART OF ENDURANCE for rejection / humiliation / insult / fear / failure.

Ang Lee: "That year, I turned 30. There’s an old Chinese saying: ‘At 30, one stands firm.’ Yet, I couldn’t even support myself. What could I do? Keep waiting, or give up my movie-making dream? My wife gave me invaluable support."
Blueroselady: It is never too late to realize our dream(s). Colonel Sanders started selling his fried chicken recipe in his 60s, more twice the age of Ang Lee.
Think of 亡羊补牢.

"My wife was my college classmate. She was a biology major, and after graduation, went to work for a small pharmaceutical research lab. Her income was terribly modest. At the time, we already had our elder son, Haan, to raise. To appease my own feelings of guilt, I took on all housework – cooking, cleaning, taking care of our son – in addition to reading, reviewing films and writing scripts. Every evening after preparing dinner, I would sit on the front steps with Haan, telling him stories as we waited for his mother – the heroic huntress – to come home with our sustenance (income)."

Blueroselady: Behind every successful man, there is a strong woman. I also personally listen to this advice from the successful German / Switzerland entrepreneurs in 2009, 2010.

I pray that my sons, my brothers, my male readers will find a strong woman like Ang Lee’s wife, who love her husband and children.

I am grateful that my father has a strong woman – my mother.

"This kind of life felt rather undignified for a man. At one point, my in-laws gave their daughter (my wife) a sum of money, intended as start-up capital for me to open a Chinese restaurant – hoping that a business would help support my family. But my wife refused the money. When I found out about this exchange, I stayed up several nights and finally decided: This dream of mine is not meant to be. I must face reality."
Blueroselady: Ang Lee is a film-maker, a narrator of life.
Thre is a saying that 人生如戏 , 戏如人生.
Perhaps, only when one knows and experiences what sufferings mean, s/he can makes movies that touch human soul.
Sufferings are not always bad,
of course there are intolerable sufferings,
e.g. victims of the cruelty / crime of others,
but some sufferings enable people to leap / bounce higher than ever possible,
because these sufferings act as a spring with momentum.

Ang Lee: "Afterward (and with a heavy heart), I enrolled in a computer course at a nearby community college. At a time when employment trumped all other considerations, it seemed that only a knowledge of computers could quickly make me employable. For the days that followed, I descended into malaise. My wife, noticing my unusual demeanor, discovered a schedule of classes tucked in my bag. She made no comment that night.

The next morning, right before she got in her car to head off to work, my wife turned back and – standing there on our front steps – said, ‘Ang, don’t forget your dream.’

And that dream of mine – drowned by demands of reality – came back to life. As my wife drove off, I took the class schedule out of my bag and slowly, deliberately tore it to pieces. And tossed it in the trash.

Sometime after, I obtained funding for my screenplay, and began to shoot my own films. And after that, a few of my films started to win international awards. Recalling earlier times, my wife confessed, ‘I’ve always believed that YOU ONLY NEED ONE GIFT. Your gift is making films. There are so many people studying computers already, they don’t need an Ang Lee to do that. If you want that golden statue, you have to commit to the dream.’

And today, I’ve finally won that golden statue. I think my own perseverance and my wife’s immeasurable sacrifice have finally met their reward. And I am now more assured than ever before: I must continue making films.

You see, I have this never-ending dream."

Blueroselady:
Never ever listen to naysayers that belittle our dream.
Perhaps, we do not have someone close to us who has the attitude like the Ang Lee’s wife.
You must protect your dreams.
Share your dreams to kind people who have achieved what you want.
They will share with you how they achieved it.
Do not share your dreams with naysayers.
When everything fails,
remember that as long as you are still alive,
you can fulfill your dreams
.
Sometimes,
you may have to struggle for years like Ang Lee,
you may have to take a detour,
but a dream that keep on coming to you,
is a message from God / the Universe on what you are meant to be and to do in your life.

For me,
I re-realize that I love to learn so much
(through reading, socializing, traveling),
then think and analyze,
then appreciate and feel,
and write and share my thoughts.

One of my big major dreams is
to write and share thoughtful, helpful, inspiring writings
to over a million of people
and they benefit (even in a little thing) from my sharing.

In order to achieve my grand dream,
I feel that I need to gain diverse experience,
so that my sharing can be thoughtful.

Sometimes,
as a human being,
I do have the concern of financial security,
because I have dependents,
to feed, to nurture, and to love.
But I decide that I am going to take the risk.

Now,
I am taking care of my baby,
and in a few months,
I will prepare myself for the next career,
in order to realize the grand dream.
Please support me.

See also:
How not to listen to non-constructive criticism?

If you find my writings are helpful to you, please donate to me by clicking here.

Written by blueroselady

March 25, 2013 at 7:10 am

Posted in career, choice, family, funding, movie

Tagged with ,

How to select Chinese name for your baby?

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Another post-dated note.

How to select Chinese name for your baby?
Methods:
Bihua
Bazi

How did we select Chinese name for our baby?
Thanks to my mentors MR and SM for teaching me the bihua method.
see my note in Mandarin_name_*.doc

There are many inconsistencies online.
The more I read, the more confused I become.

Finally, we decided on the bihua method alone.
I believe that although birth fate (as determined by bazi) does not entirely determine the fate of a person.

The attitude, hard work, and determination also plays important (perhaps of higher weightage than the birth fate) in determining the happiness and success of a person.

To elaborate a famous quote, I re-quote "Genius, talent and success are 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration"

Think of the 10,000 hours required to develop a world class talent.

Written by blueroselady

February 24, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Posted in choice

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Is PhD really a waste of time?

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I just finished reading an article in the Economist.

In life, we are facing multiple choices and making decisions. According to the Pareto’s Law, 20% of our decisions will affect 80% of our life. My decision to embark on a graduate study did significantly affect my life, I have learned things that I want to do and things that I do not want to do. I think the most important is, no matter what decisions you make, you tell yourself that you will enjoy opportunities to grow and contribute. It is not like decision A is wrong, decision B is right. It is more like decision A will bring you particular good things, decision B will bring you another kind of good things, so you will never fear in making decisions and regret whatever decisions you made.

Here are things that I am grateful for from my PhD days:

Fulfilling a dream
. Idealistically, PhD is an abbreviation for People Have Dreams. Not everyone has the opportunity to pursue a PhD. One needs good undergraduate records. Honestly, I meet many people who have higher IQ than me (I know that based on how fast they understand concepts / think of answers), but I was diligent and committed to do well in my academic study. None of my parents had enjoyed college or even the basic education, so being able to complete a study until the highest level is a personal and family dream for me during my school time. Then, after I passed my viva, I learned that there are Doctor of Sciences beyond PhD. The person who told me that is one of my supervisors, a professor with Doctor of Sciences. Like the saying, there will always be a higher mountain. However, completing my PhD makes me believe that I can fulfill any dream that I have in life.
Note: some universities may award very prominent leaders in business / government an honorary degree, this is another path to PhD.

Learning to trust my intuition. I made a crucial decision in the beginning of my study, though I had to say sorry to some people (in order not to upset them), I know deep inside I made the right decision. Those people kept on telling me that I would regret, but I have no regret now. I agree with Tim, regret is past-tense decision making. I am glad now that I made the audacious decision at that time.

Meeting friends of lifetime from around the globe. You can also meet international friends if you work in international firm, but PhD students are ‘slaves’, at least according to the Economist article and suffering people find consolation in each other. We have been super good friends.

Living frugally. I could survive without meat for a week until the next free meal opportunity. I managed to save a little from my PhD stipend for my parents. Unlike a senior MR who straight away went to set up her business and honing her sales skills, of course my earning was not comparable to my senior. After all, PhD stipends, if not self-funded, are often from generous donations of charitable organizations, philanthropists, and tax payers money. It does not seem right to be rich from stipend money, whereas it is laudable for my senior to earn 6 digits in her first four years of business.

More academic learning somehow enhanced my analytical and writing skills. It was during my PhD study that I produced writings that won me tickets to inspiring meetings not related to my thesis topic, but more on global issues. I met a friend of Warren Buffett who is so friendly and inspiring. I listened to so many enthusiastic entrepreneurs, decision makers, world leaders. Those are my happiest holidays. I seldom took time off, because I did not know how many days per annum I was allowed to take vacation. In fact, I could be considered over-worked.

Unleashing my courage and becoming a calculated risk-taker. I did some activities that I would never want to take before, I did not know how I managed to gather my courage but I know it has to be from within.

Surviving a hardship. As mentioned in the article, seven-day weeks, ten-hour days, and low pay are for PhD students. It takes great mental and physical strength to survive life like this. But what does not kill you, makes you stronger. Is it always true? But I witnessed how some surviving PhD students, with their white hair, wrinkles at merely 30s moved on to post-doc and continued the hardship, with greater responsibility and demands from their bosses. Indeed, I am concerned with a friend continuous fatigue just after completing his PhD with a supervisor whose interests are to squeeze as much juice as possible out of his students. The article also mentioned that the misaligned interests of academics / universities versus those of PhD students. The academics need cheap labors (PhD students and postdoc). Ideally, these academics play a mentoring role, but in real life, they are like slave drivers. Seeing how a mentor of mine do things, I do not want to be like him, squeezing poor PhD students. Fortunately, I also encounter two nice mentors.

My beautiful alma mater, an open space museum and garden. For the reputation of my alma mater, people like to "wow" in words or eyes, sometimes I feel like carrying an LV bag, that is why I swear not to buy any LV bag. I prefer high quality, non-branded, sometimes ethnic bags, with their own identity. I want to be regarded based on my character and the quality of my work, not based on the bag I carried (the school I went to). A matter of brand aside, I love the fresh air, the grass, the flora and fauna, the romantic architectures, the history, and many people whom I encounter there.

Thank you!

Written by blueroselady

December 25, 2012 at 11:13 am

What is next? the art of detachment

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A mentor from Singapore sent me a transcript by Dr Richard Teo Keng Siang.
He was a 40-year-old millionaire and cosmetic surgeon with a stage-4 lung cancer.

Below are what I learned from the sharing which I integrate with my growing thoughts.

Medical aesthetic is a growing field. Richard viewed his patients (sources of income) as vain women, but I empathize with women with low self-esteem. Some people simply do not have the opportunity to grow their inner strength, to detach from the influence of media that worships celebrities and the superficial opinions of other people around them. Sadly, the other people can include parents, spouse, lover, and friends. I remember how my mother’s sister suggested that I should go for a surgery. I was just a primary school kid, and her words did hurt me. Fortunately, I did not listen to her! Later in life, I learned that my attribute is desirable by men whom I am attracted to. Of course, there are also people who have not grown to the stage to accept themselves as a gift from universe. I do not mean to judge, but I respect that different people have different perspectives in life.

A good friend is a gift.
Richard’s friend, Danny offered to extract Richard’s wisdom teeth, went for a 2-day fast for Richard’s recovery.
Danny is a man that goes all the way for his friend.
I want to be like Danny for my friends.

Hebrews 12:7-8
"Endure hardship as discipline as God is treating you as His children"

Cancer patients told Richard that many times, people tell them to stay positive.
But those people do not have the same experience as the cancer patients.
However, Richard, being a cancer patient himself, has the license to encourage cancer patients.
While we have positive intentions to encourage people, sometimes our words / actions may not be received well.
Sometimes ago, I volunteer to work with cancer patients. A lady told me that she needs not help after finding out what my profession is. I felt slightly discouraged, but I respect her perspective.
I also remember when I wish someone "Good Luck", and she said "no need".
Similarly, we often hear angry mothers telling their husband "you will never understand the pain of labor".
In contrast, in countries like Singapore and Switzerland, we also hear angry men telling their women "I have to waste n years of my life doing military services, while you enjoy faster progress in education and career".

It is important to have a trust / belief / faith. For Richard, Danny, Blueroselady, and many people, this includes the belief in God. There are people who do not believe in the religious God, but the act of respecting nature / universe, is a form of belief as well.

It is important to love and make service / contribution to others.
To quote Lusi Lim, "while we are celebrating the glory of human success, we must not forget: One day, our wealth, fame and power will all become irrelevant because it will all come to an end…"

According to Richard, many people are blessed with good wealth, but cannot handle them. The more people have, the more people want.
According to Matthew 19:23, Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."
Hard does not mean impossible.
In the mass that we attended on the same day we celebrated our anniversary, I learned from the priest that church teaching does not forbid us to accumulate private property, but we must not be attached to our materialistic wealth.
Therefore, Blueroselady strives to master the art of detachment.
Wealth on its own is neutral, but the master of the wealth can use it for different purposes, e.g. to build hospitals, schools, to help the poor versus to show off by purchasing lavish luxury things (cars, bungalows / villas).
Moreover, there are also different kinds of wealth, we need to achieve a balance in acquiring each aspect of wealth.
Too much focus on materialistic wealth may compensate the growth of spiritual and wisdom wealth.
If one has dependants e.g. children and old parents / relatives without sufficient social security, a total neglect on the acquisition of materialistic wealth (in the basic form of money) is also against our God-planned purpose.

Written by blueroselady

October 24, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Focus on strengths more, fix weaknesses less

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We have been conditioned (trained / taught) to focus about our weaknesses.
For example,
1. parents scan the report cards of their children to focus on subjects their children need improvement, the failing grades are written in red, screaming for attention. Fortunately, my parents did not bother to look at my report cards.
2. teachers mark our homeworks, assignments, and exam papers with red inks. They do nothing on the correct answers, but our errors are marked with crosses.
3. bossses discuss on our weaknessess at annual performance review.
4. media loves to report stories of people who overcome their weaknesses to achieve great things.

Have we ever stopped to realize that focusing our strengths is more productive than improving our weaknesses?
Both Tim Ferriss and Chu Chin-Ning (whose books I read in autumn 2012) advocate us to focus on our strengths.

Yes, we can improve our weaknesses, but at slower pace.
The end results may be slight improvement, yet still mediocre.

Types of strength:
achiever / has stamina to work long hours
intellect / thinking
strategic / intuitive
futuristic / what can one does
relater / can relate with people
belief / has strong core values that one wil not compromise / stubborn

Note that a strength can also be a weakness, depending on the situations.

Remember that:
1. the key to success is to work with the way God designed us, focus on our strengths.
2. combine our strengths to create synergy and achieve greatness.
Many people may share the same individual strength as ours, but a combination of strengths shapes our uniqueness and identity, makes us outstanding if we can unleash the synergistic effects.
3. There are always abundance of opportunities for our particular combination of strengths. Jobs that do not make use of our strengths, require things that we are not strong in, are exhausting. If we have tried our best and still do not see desirable results, perhaps it is time to change jobs / career.
4. Every knife requires sharpening, similarly we must hone our strengths with knowledge, skills, and practice.

Written by blueroselady

October 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Media diet a la Blueroselady

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Have you ever felt overwhelmed by information (e.g. news)?
If yes, you may be interested to go for a media diet like what I do.

Recipe for 1-week media diet:
1. No newspapers. Most (negative) news e.g. wars, crimes, gossips, are bad when read in the early morning and before sleeping. Instead, have a morning breakfast of inspiring notes from the books we have read.
2. No magazines.
3. No non-music radio (but some radio channels have ads for upcoming events), so no radio seems better. I listen to my collection of pre-downloaded music in mp3 format.
4. No fiction books.
5. No newsletters (e.g. from credit card companies, alma maters, community organizers).
6. No web surfing unless it is necessary to complete a work task for today.
7. No news website (I prefer Gmail to Yahoo mail because after I signed off from Yahoo mail, it always annoyingly directs me to news, which I have to quickly shut down with strong will. No Yahoo mail.
8. Throw advertising flyers immediately.
9. Use a-max-of-5-minute important news update. Ask "anything important happening in the world today / this week?" Even if I do not ask, I will hear important news from my family, co-workers, and friends.
10. No TV, no serial drama, except for 1 high-quality 2-hour movie.

PS: I first started the 1-week media diet in the 4th week of Oct 2012.

Recipe for 1-month media diet:
Steps 1-10 of 1-week media diet plus
11. No facebook. I succeeded in surviving alternating months in 2012 without facebook at all. On my laptop screen is a note "no facebook until end of a particular month".
12. Set a time slot (on a day of the month) to collect news related to topic of my interest.

Related:
Blueroselady’s not-to-do list
Time management plan in 2011

Written by blueroselady

October 22, 2012 at 11:16 am

How not to listen to non-constructive criticism?

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This article is inspired by John Gurdon’s experience on criticism. He received Nobel prize in 2012. Though I have never met him, I counted a blessing that in a period of my life, I walked / cycled passed the Gurdon Institute (named after him) regularly.

An Eton teacher of John Gurdon wrote that the then 15-year-old John Gurdon wouldn’t listen, couldn’t learn simple biological facts and, horror of horrors, "insisted on doing work in his own way". In one test, Gurdon scored a miserable two out of 50.

The report made John Gurdon disheartened, but fortunately one of John Gurdon’s early decision on not to listen to non-constructive criticism indeed played an important role in his subsequent research work, including the discovery that mature cells can be converted to stem cells (and ended up winning a Nobel prize).

How not to listen to non-constructive criticism?

1. Be prepared that in life, no matter what we do (including noble actions), some people will criticize us. To protect ourselves against these peace robbers, we can
# enhance our inner strength by reminding / focusing ourselves on our strength
# have a thick face

2. Be aware of the reasons why people give non-constructive criticism

# jealousy and justification attempt. They are jealous of our achievements and attempt to gain self-importance by criticizing us. They justify themselves at the expense of us. Do not fear those who criticize us because of their jealousy. Perhaps, those who criticize us suffer from low self-esteem and meet their need of having self-importance by criticizing, instead we can be kind by giving them empathy and sympathy.

# ignorance and inexperience. For example, you want to attempt a new venture and you seek advices from people around you. Those who never start up a company or those who have failed will project their fear and criticize you. Do not listen to these naysayers. Instead, consult those who have successfully achieved what you want to achieve.

3. Be mindful of your perspective (mind), emotions, and body

# Must be able to see the BIG PICTURE
When I was a primary and junior high school student, I accept the fact that teachers are role models. I did not question their authorities. They were the grown-ups with more knowledge and wisdom than me who was only a fledgling individual. I did not realize that teachers are also human beings, subjected to human conditions (both positive and negative attributes). Few of my teachers had ego and misused their authorities. They criticized students who refused to follow them, e.g. if a student refused to learn bad words, he would be labeled as self-righteous. Fortunately, I moved to a better school and I learned a lot from my kind teachers – those who teach for the passion of teaching and nurturing the next generation more than for earning an income (of course everyone has to earn a living). Looking back, those teachers who criticized things I thought as right, did no longer matter.

Then, when I started my study in a famous place, an unhappy professor told me that the only reason I went there was because of the fame. Well, while that reason honestly contributed to my decision, I had bigger reasons why I fought all my ways to gain admission there. At that time, when such a professor with his authority / power and perceived superiority (in knowledge, ability, etc) said such things to students, the impact could be huge. However, I did not listen to him. I shifted my focus to my purpose (FOCUS ON YOUR PURPOSES). I managed to work with more successful (and more generous and kinder) professors, produced results, and graduated. My mentor CNC loves to say that success is always the sweetest revenge (without harming our past offenders).

My learning journey then brought me to meet inspiring entrepreneurs. In some aspects, I look up to entrepreneurs who create jobs for many people and excellent products / services with great values, more than to professors who care only about their tenure, publications, and self-importance in their fields (of course, there are always kind professors, I was fortunate to meet and work with few of them). My experience with the entrepreneurs unleash an inner desire of me: to be an entrepreneur. That is why I am working everyday to prepare myself for my venture, to provide values to my customers. I believe that I will be invited to teach / give talks at universities because of my expertise, instead of having to apply and fight for limited faculty positions.

To summarize, I have met more people and seen the world, my perspectives have changed. When you climb a mountain, your standpoint / perspective has elevated, you can see wider and hence the bigger picture.

# Must be able to be the master of our emotion
Often, when one is criticized, one will end up feeling sad, shameful, worried (worry is a kind of fear), or angry. All these emotions are of lower consciousness.
Be aware of your emotion, then you can shift those of lower consciousness to those of higher consciousness (e.g. courage, patience).
For example, you can manage your anger through techniques such as loving yourself, Siberian North Rail Road, and detachment.

# Learn to relax our body
Criticisms from people whose matter to us (e.g. parents, teachers, bosses, co-workers, or even peers) can result in racing heart, sweating, shaking, flushing face.
When you are aware of these physical reactions of your body, use relaxation to calm down. Breath deeply. Visualize / imagine serene places that you remember from your travel. Recall prayers that you have said countless times.

"Let nothing disturb you,
nothing frighten you,
all things are passing.
God is unchanging.
Patience gains all;
nothing is lacking to those who have God:
God alone is sufficient."
St Teresa of Avilla

Related:
How to Handle Criticism and Nonconstructive Feedback by Nicole Wolfe
*Davidson_not_hopeless* (in my ref folder)

More readings:
http://www.economist.com/node/21564525
http://www.talentsmart.com/articles/