- You work FOR a boss. You work WITH a mentor.
- A boss issues instructions. A mentor issues wisdom.
- A boss gives commands. A mentor gives advice.
- A boss leaves you in the dark. A mentor helps you find the light.
- The only thing a boss cares about is that you meet the objective. A mentor not only needs you to meet your objective, but also expects you to learn something from the experience.
- Success is a boss' best teacher. Failure is a mentor's best teacher.
- A boss passes on responsibilities. A mentor passes on knowledge.
- A boss's job is to make you produce output. A mentor's job is to make sure you succeed.
- When you look at a boss, you get reminded of stress. When you see a mentor, you get reminded of life.
- A boss demotivates. A mentor inspires.
- When you work for a boss, all you think about is the pay. When you work for a mentor, you actually think about doing the work.
- A boss is goal oriented. A mentor is career oriented.
- A boss can only see one year down the line. A mentor can see five.
- A boss views employees as expenses. A mentor views employees as assets.
- A boss receives credit. A mentor passes on the credit to where it is due.
- A boss is indifferent. A mentor is sympathetic.
- You always get this feeling that you are smarter than your boss. You never get that feeling with a mentor.
- For a boss, the goal is the priority. For the mentor, the employee is the priority.
- In a job interview, a boss sees an applicant. A mentor, however, sees potential.
- A boss can never be your friend. A mentor is a friend for life.
It was the middle of a lazy Saturday afternoon, and the same was emitting a soft glow, signalling that the day was almost done. As the rest of the world got ready to party the night away, there I was, standing in the taxi stand in my expensive Jusi Barong, eagerly waiting for a taxi to come by. There was something about weddings in Manila that fascinated me: they were very elaborate, obviously expensive, and extravagant. The actual ceremony wasn’t really much; it would be attended by a significant few, with the church usually half, if not fewer, full. But the receptions were another story: everyone goes to that event, and it usually serves as a status symbol of one’s achievement in his career or the capacity of the families involved. Anyhow, I was there, getting ready to enjoy another feast in celebration of another union.
After a few minutes, I was able to get on a taxi. The driver seemed decent, yet I can see in his eyes that he was already weary of the road and the traffic. After telling him my destination and his agreement of it, we started with our journey. And as usual, a discussion began between the both us.
Driver: Are you off to an event sir?
Joh: Yes, actually I am going to a wedding reception.
Driver: Where would you like me to pass sir? The main road would probably be full at this time. Would you like me to pass by the alternative route?
Joh: That would be alright... as long as you can take me there. By the way, why would it be congested with traffic at this time?
Driver: Ah sir, there are many graduations happening right now. Some of the malls are also hosting them, and we might pass a few of them.
Joh: Oh, okay. (Good to know)
Driver: Even my daughter is graduating from high school today.
My heart sank. Why would he even have to be on the road a few hours before his daughter’s graduation? Wasn’t he supposed to be preparing for some sort of celebration?
Joh: Oh, so you must be very proud. But why are you still driving? Aren’t you supposed to be celebrating?
Driver: Yes, I am very proud of her. At the same time, I feel relieved that she has finally graduated. However, I still need to work so I have enough money to pay for the celebration. I want it to be special for her, even if I have to work extra hours to do so.
I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed. There I was, ready to enjoy a night of good food and friends, and there he was still toiling hours away from a celebration he rightfully deserves to enjoy. We usually associate celebrations with extravagance and splendor that we forget the reasons why we are celebrating. Commercialization has exacerbated the essence of our celebrations that they have to be better, bigger, and more magnificent than the other in order for us to say that it was a great celebration, even if we were just celebrating the same thing.
This Lent, we should start looking at the true essence of our celebrations. We should ask ourselves why we are celebrating, and not only on how we are going to celebrate. Are the excesses necessary, or are we a victim of the forces that govern the way we think in society? What do we really need to celebrate something?
As we drove through bustling streets in that lazy Saturday afternoon, I couldn’t help but smile. In the end, we will both be celebrating something special tonight.
There are many sources of power in a situation, but many of them are not that obvious to identify. Because of our lapse in judgement, we tend to lose sight on who really is in an advantage. We dwell too much on the noticeable that we fail to notice the other essential factors in the situation, such as the mental models and behaviors which are imperative to the situation. For example, in marketing a tween shampoo, despite the parents having the money and ultimately the last say on what to shampoo to buy for their kids, advertisements still entice the kid because it is the kid that dictates to their parents what shampoo is supposedly the "best" for them.
An enlightenment I obtained from this class is also what power is not: it is not more resources, better technology, superior military strength, high-level intellect, higher positions, or grand motives. It is this insight of many that may put the students of the course in an advantage from those that have not in various situations. In organizations, the structure would be so rigid that we tend to associate power with formal authority. But, as it turns out, this may not always be true. Power can come from the simplest of sources and even from the lowest of job positions, if one knows how to weld it. To my knowledge, the structure of the organization may not actually be the basis of power. It may be there to promote order in processes, but in the end, it will depend on who “delivers the goods.” And the organization's structure does not always dictate this. Think of it this way: in a rowboat, is it not the rowers that drive the boat forward and not the one banging the drums for the beat, despite him being the "leader" of the situation?
Power is gained when one establishes their own rules in the situation. This just proves that power in the situation is dynamic and not solely held by a single party all the time. This dynamic view of power tells us that power can always be obtained in a situation, regardless who is in the advantage; it will all depend on how one can maneuver himself in order to get that power. And there are also times when people know that they have the power; they just do not know how to use it to their own advantage. More so, because power is dynamic, one must be very conscious of the situation and his or her role in it to better understand how he or she can “play” along or differently with the common tune. Just like in relationships, at any point in time, either the guy or the girl has the power, depending on who makes the decisions for a certain dilemma.
One very powerful insight I got in the class is the way value judgement influences the way we view things. When I look back at the many discussions we had in this class, it has always been value judgement that made it hard to analyze a certain situation. Even in everyday engagements, we fail to see the bigger picture because of the many preconceived notions on the matter at hand, which has either have been built and nurtured by the thoughts of society and by our own personal morality and opinions. When analyzing power in any situation, an open mind is definitely needed to see the real story and to better understand it. In any decision we make, this is a common theme: remove biases and look with an open mind. It is only this way that the truth will be revealed and true insights gained. Just as those written in the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers and the Art of War by Sun Tzu, insights are not lessons on rocket science; rather, they are simple and practical things we think we know but often overlook because we judge first before thinking (on the side, I highly recommend that you read these links; they are wonderful and very practical pieces).
We all know that power is very important in any situation, but we never got the time to think deeper into this statement. As we discussed different cases in different subjects in the course, I realized that many businesses that survive and become successful all knew how important power is and used it to their own advantage. These companies “changed the rules of the game.” And because they did so, they practically “owned the game,” with competitors forced to play along with them, and these companies became successful doing it.
In the end, what really matters is what we do with power. Because power is highly dynamic, it can be sourced so easily and maintained. The use of power instils in it the ability to change people and nations and make normal people heroes or enemies of the state. That is what this course made me realize: It matters not on what we know, but on how we act on what we know. Sourcing power is only part of the exercise; controlling the use of power is harder to learn and apply in the real world. And this needs a lot of wisdom and insight gained from practice and experience.
In life, knowing is winning half of the battle. This is what the class has offered me: knowing power, how to find it, how to obtain it, and eventually how to use it to my advantage. Now, I just have to apply this learning. And no, no superhuman strength, laser eyes, and flight on this one.
Now, technically, the walls were mine, because it was my paint covering them. Aligned with the beliefs of college life that you are now more individualistic and in charge of your life, I thought of doing a little redecorating. Besides, I was supposedly a different person from the one that graduated from our high school. I had a new life here, in a land where nobody knew me, where I did not have to be someone people expected me to be. So, to the walls, I bought myself my own paint (yes, now with my own money, the color I chose was red) and wrote on the walls. Yes, I wrote on the walls what I wanted to be labelled in my next 3 years of college life. "Silliman's Sweetest," the wall beside my bed said (just so you know, the name of my school was Silliman University). What made it even interesting was that when people from outside looked up (my room was on the third floor), they could see the text in bright red on a dull yellow wall.
Now, as I look back at it, the memory did seem special. Not because it was the first time I vandalized a wall (under normal conditions, I do not do these kinds of things), nor because it was the first taste of being independent. It was because I left my mark. I added something that made it worth remembering.
In our everyday experiences, I guess we should leave our mark on them. It doesn't have to be a vandalized wall (I am not promoting the action, so please don't vandalize anything!), but it could be an action that makes you own that moment. A kiss, a hug, a smile, anything that can make you treasure that moment forever.
When I had to leave that room, my heart sank. I was going to miss the memories of freedom in that room, and all the ghosts and goblins that I grew to love in it. I couldn't help but ask myself,
"Shucks, now who is going to pay for the paint?"
Inspiration is like a spike of adrenaline in your system. It makes you feel alive, like the wind on your face on a motorcycle ride or the bass line of some Hiphop song in the club. It makes you move, it makes you breathe. It makes you thankful you are here, in the moment.
Inspiration is a powerful drug. It can make people do great things, and yet feel like they've been doing it all their life. It keeps the victors humble, yet motivates them to fight for the cause they aim to achieve.
However, inspiration is not easy to find. Nor is it easy to obtain. It is a result of some random object whose essence runs through you, that touches you, that gives you enough hope to keep on going. It may be anything: a cause, a relative, an event that hurts you yet makes you smile; A face. A smile. Yes, it may be her. For some reason, it may be her.
Yet, inspirations may not last forever. We are human, and we were never blessed with the gift of contentment. We will move on, looking for the next best thing to inspire us. It takes so long for us to die that we need constant reminder that we are alive. We need that steady fuel that runs through us, to keep our minds settled. Then you remember that face, that smile. Adrenaline pumps in.
You are inspired once more. It is truly great to be alive.
Usually, the greatest lessons can be learned from the most unlikely places.
However, I had fun being with OLLH. I was impressed that with such a small company, it had the fighting spirit to rival any of the giants. They didn't need flashy uniforms, large drums, colorful props, loads of funding, and lengthy preparation time to develop that spirit. Somehow, it has been embedded in them. Despite their chances winning against the stronger teams being slim, they still stuck it out, never backing down from the challenge. This spirit was well observed by the competitors that they too cheered them on in their events, even if their teams were competing. "It doesn't matter if we lose, as long as we had fun playing the game."
They taught me that it wasn't winning the game that was important; it was playing it. You wouldn't really understand the feeling of victory if you haven't played the game. You technically did not have to be better than the competition, you just had to be great being who you are. If you understand that early on, no problem can hinder you to become who you want to be. And most of all, nothing can replace the power of a fighting spirit: it picks up a wounded man after every fall, it gives strength to a mother to deliver her child, it inspires the weary traveler to continue on the journey.
As the events ended, I couldn't help but smile. The results were now irrelevant. For me, I knew who the real champions were, and I didn't need to see the medals to convince me otherwise.
I recently was in a discussion with a friend in the office. She was a fresh graduate, and after 8 months in her first job, she was already feeling the tension of the real life of work, and was already ready to transfer to another company. I learned, in my further discussions with her, that she always did not see eye to eye with her boss, and she always seemed to fall short from the boss' expectations. To make the long story short, she was unhappy. She knew she was better than how she was treated, and she could maximize her skills somewhere else.
I have heard many stories like this in my one year of managerial work. And it seems that it's the employee's fault all the time. She or he is, after all, the perfect fall person. And I have been in a similar position, both on the manager's side and on the employee's. Because my experiences are still rather fresh, I could remember each perfectly. With that, I shared to her some of' the things I learned from these experiences, especially those I got while doing work in Human Resources:
- It is not always the employee's fault. The direct supervisor is just as much to blame. These squabbles usually arise because expectations were not set for each of the parties involved. Whenever you get a new job, in the interview or the first day of work, make sure you ask what is expected of you and how the supervisor can assist you in reaching that expectation.
- When you get a job, always choose one with a training program before actually working. I like to look at every talent that comes into a company as a diamond in the rough; the employer should invest to smooth out the rough edges. This small investment may turn out to bring out the true value of an individual. After all, it is still a diamond.
- If the employer cannot train you, ask to be mentored. Mentoring has been practiced ever since the dawn of man: fathers teaching their sons to hunt; masters teaching their students to become the greatest fighter; artists passing on their skills to the younger generation. In short, mentoring is a tool that has been poorly utilized yet is cheap and effective. Experience is useless if not shared.
- It is always better to inspire people than to insult and degrade them. I have seen an inspired workforce perform a whole lot better than one that has been put under the whip. Anyone with a workforce below them should understand that inspiration generates performance and ideas with better quality. Also, an inspired workforce tends to take initiative because you give them that leeway to decide and learn from any consequence that comes from it. I know a lot of managers are afraid to do this because it also ruins her/his performance, but I assure you that it gets a whole lot more work done.
- Your employer needs you more than you need them. I know you'd wonder why there is a lot of unemployment if employers need their employees. The unemployment in the country usually arises from the fact that there is a mismatch of the demand of skills and the supply of the workforce. In other words, many are not qualified for the jobs in the market. Which makes it even harder for employers to lose any of their workforce: it is hard to find people. More so, it is expensive to retrain and reinvest on new hires. As an employer, taking care of your people is key in long-term success.
As we ended our discussion, I could see she was satisfied. She was now ready to move.
[Picture was taken somewhere from AIM... can't actually remember; edited by me ]