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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

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

More readings:

A student photographer’s note

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A year ago, on September 27th, 2009, I attended a talk by a photographer named Yang Shaoming (杨绍明).

7-minute of presentation has summarized his 50-year of photographic work.


Photography is to capture moment.

Taking pictures in historical perspectives.

艺术是无国界的。(I love this! Arts enable us to connect to people across nation, geographical, and cultural boundaries.

To have our own thinking, even when we are taking photos.
The curious eyes of children, the mind of philosopher.

No matter what 职业, we must not forget daily life.

When we care for people feeling, we will get inspiration for 拍照。

Nikon is faster than Canon.

P.S. I think Master Yang looks like Jackie Chan.

Written by blueroselady

September 27, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Posted in beauty, photogprahy

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Alan Macfarlane’s talk and Darwin dinner

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This evening, I attended a talk by a social anthropologist, Alan Macfarlane.

Anthropology is a field very new to me.

To the a great number of Chinese-ethnicity audience, Alan said, ‘I know it’s impossible for me to know China as you know.’ His humility appealed to me, hence I focus more on his talk than I expected. Dear teachers and aspiring teachers, we have to always remember, in order to spread knowledge, we must let our students like us first.

His movies are on my to-watch-list, as well as his recommendation: ‘China: Beyond the Clouds (1994)’. He kindly wrote my name, when I asked for his autograph. I am a desperate data collectors, so I collect signatures, photographs, basically everything collectable and veritable.

Alan said Cambridge is a miniature of English system. How do I fit into this system? I am not a son of foreign dignitaries. In my humble opinion, Cambridge is undergoing an evolution, by accepting more people which would be denied decades or centuries ago.

Alan is a curious scholar, admire his learning spirit. When it has become too familiar for him, then Alan would find another place which will be a surprise. Yes, I love surprise too. By attending his talk, I found new knowledge.

Interestingly, Alan briefly compared the China-Tibet and the England-Scottand relationships.

Love Alan’s strategies in researching:
# After giving a talk at Peking U, he requested audience to recommend him 3-4 books he should read in order to understand the Chinese societies, or to suggest places he should go.
# Alan said a Cambridge biologist described many Cambridge academics like cobras. When they have eaten a big animal, then they would slowly digest it for the rest of their life. We have to keep on climbing, find a subject we are interested in and working on it.

Dinner at Darwin College. Love the green carpet to the dining hall, perhaps I have not been to Cambridge colleges for some time. They accepted no cash, so my friend insisted to treat me. Thinking of how to return her kindness? Had a good chat, interesting Chinese girls of 21st century. They complained about the visa difficulties in getting to other European countries, they talked about what they are going to do after graduation. Cappucino after dinner, good chat. Darwin’s portrait, flowery-pattern wall papers, but too dim for me.

W.Z.’s friend who is going to work for the International Olympic Committee at Lausanne this summer, thought that I am an undergraduate. Happy, especially such a remark comes from an Asian woman. People said many Europeans tend to underestimate the age of Asian girl.

Upcoming tasks:
1. I spent entire day to make a figure today. Must finish this manuscript.
2. Our present to you is the past.
3. 聖地牙哥加利福尼亞大學, I am coming, ready to learn as much as I could, and as my neuro teacher said, to synthesize knowledge. I want to see Roger Tsien with my own eyes, of course my supervisor and team members.

Written by blueroselady

May 14, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Posted in food, study

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The Chemistry of the Philosophers’ Stone

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Attracted by Harry-Potter-related title, I attended a history of science talk on alchemy at my department in the evening of Feb 12th. It’s snowing again tonight, I won’t go if at other departments. Actually, alchemy is not and was not science. The style of speaker is quite different, the speaker will read from a script, unlike lecturers or speakers in science that I have attended so far. Unrelated to the talk, my mind draw connection on what happened many centuries ago. Those alchemists are trying to find answers, to make gold from less precious metals. We researchers today are trying to find answers to many natural sciences questions, we do not know if our techniques are good enough, if our results are accurate enough. I believe that many new techniques are and will be developed. Our results are based on the results of many others before us and our peer, whom mostly we do not know personally. It’s like standing on the shoulders of giants, but those alchemists were also doing the same. They refer to previous textbooks written by authority. In a college mass I attended this month, I met a clinical doctor who abandoned his medical career, to pursue a research career. He said by doing research, he would be able to help more others. However, how are we going to know if what we are researching on, if the techniques we are devoloping on, will be useful to many others? We don’t know, but if we never try, there will absolute nothing. Thus, we just keep on trying and doing our best~!

Written by blueroselady

February 13, 2009 at 10:28 pm

French Onion Soup

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On 18th Jan, I went to buy milk and was given a plastic of old veggies, there were 2 onion, some carrots, a parsnip, and some tomatoes inside. I kept only 1 of the 4 tomatoes, as they are damaged. Then, I got this idea why not make a French-styled onion soup on 19th Jan. We love the Winter Paris French Onion Soup very much.

My recipe is very simple.
~ Cut the onion, fry with olive oil until it softens.
~ Cut carrots.
~ Boil hot water, put 2 cubes of beef-flavor OXO
~ Put onion, carrot into the soup. Add some garlic pepper powder.
~ Heat wheat sliced bread with left-over olive oil on frying pan, put a bit of French Smiling Cow cheese on top of bread and let it melt.

It took me 1.5 hours to prepare and eat. The most time-consuming part is cutting the onion and carrots. Honestly, the taste is not as good as the one I had at Disneyland, but it’s not bad for first timer. Perhaps if I replace the water with red wine, it will taste better, and let it cook slowly to allow the aroma to get in. I also like the bread!


Written by blueroselady

January 19, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Posted in food

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Today is my day, I climbed to the top of Senate House

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I just finished a lecture at 12 noon, my stomach has made noises – very hungry. The lecturer is very good in teaching, a big shot professor in his field, but my hunger distracted me.

Then, F called, asking if I can come to the City Centre. I asked him to give me 15 minutes, for dropping my laptop, getting my camera & props, and cycling (I didn’t know that I can be so efficient!).

I thought we are going to climb up the St. Mary Church Tower, I’ve never been there as I am too stingy to pay 2 pounds :(, I think I will go there sometimes when the weather and light are appropriate for photo takings – anyway the $ will go to preserve the church.

Note added in 2013: Finally I brought Dad and Mom to climb up the Great St Mary Church Tower when they traveled to England for the first (I hope not the last) time to attend my graduation. That climb was my first climb to the GSM Church Tower. Sometimes, I cannot believe how frugal I can be. I can be very patient, really!

Back to 2008. But we didn’t go up the St. Mary Church, instead to my surprise, we went up to the Senate House rooftop. My greatest honour indeed.

First, I went into the Senate House before my graduation, Senate House is used mainly for degree ceremonies and not open to the public.

Second, I climbed up to the roof, at inner triangle roof (suitable for horror movie site) seeing some marks left by people dated as far as 17xx. Nowadays, not many Cambridge students are allowed to go up beyond the roof of the Senate House. The view from top is spectacular, I can see the St. John’s Tower, King’s Chapel, Caius Tower, and of course GSM tower.

The way up is okay as compared to monkey climbing in Fansipan, just that I am carrying my prop, bag with camera, etc – but they are not a problem. The way up to St. John’s Tower is longer as it is higher and I have done that! The custodian stayed with us and patiently waited while F and I are working. I am so blessed!

This is the best volunteering event I have done with my current university, considering I don’t do much as I am very occupied with my research – a desperate research student.

In my undergraduate, I served in 1st-aiding, mentoring primary school kinds, fund-raising for needy students, organizing university-wide events (I skipped the entire week lectures for 1 of them).

Once I was discussing with my course mate (SC) who now works as an investment banker, he proposed we grow bacteria that produce gold, I proposed we form a dream-realizing team, we do whatever things to realize our client’s weirdest dream, e.g. climbing Everest or taking videos of the Mariana Trench (oops…need to be trained in oceanography?) to bride hunting. Join force with me & let us be dream achievers!

Note added in 2013: I discover that I love to ascend, to climb, and to fly. Whenever and wherever I travel, I always like to climb a tower / an observation / a hill to gain the bird view.

The excitement aside, I received a newsletter from the Prison University Project. Inside it, there is a news on a former student who was shot while talking to his friend in San Francisco, he is 23 and has children to support. I am sad to hear that. We are very fortunate, living in a much safer environment.

Written by blueroselady

November 26, 2008 at 4:27 pm


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Since I have learnt very basic photography, I have become very light-sensitive. Just now, I saw few seconds of glorious moment of my hand today, it’s like a blessed hand. It’s because my favorite library has a Louvre-like pyramid rooftop & sunray fell at certain angles on top of my laptop and right hand. I can’t resist not to stop analyzing data, I took a quick shot of the rays on the hand. Beautiful rays are rare or fast to pass in a day, that’s why we are always chasing for those moments 🙂

Written by blueroselady

October 22, 2008 at 4:36 pm

Posted in photogprahy

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