Monday, August 27, 2012

On Handling Criticisms

Have you ever been criticized? The answer would be a big YES! All of us have been criticized one way or another. But the kinds of criticism that many could not handle are those that are negative and put-downs. Although we would love to hear positive ones, yet we could not stop the other kind from coming our way no matter how we try. How should we deal with them then? Here’s a story to illustrate…“A farmer came into town and asked the owner of a restaurant if he could use a million frog legs. The restaurant owner was shocked and asked the man where he could get so many frog legs! The farmer replied, "There is a pond near my house that is full of frogs--millions of them. They croak all during the night and are about to drive me crazy!" So the restaurant owner and the farmer made an agreement that the farmer would deliver frogs to the restaurant five hundred at a time for the next several weeks. The first week, the farmer returned to the restaurant looking rather sheepish, with two scrawny little frogs. The restaurant owner said, "Well...where are all the frogs?" The farmer said, "I was mistaken. There were only these two frogs in the pond. But they sure were making a lot of noise!"

Next time you hear somebody criticizing or making fun of you, remember it's probably just a couple of noisy frogs. Also--remember that problems always seem bigger in the dark. Have you ever lain in your bed at might worrying about things which seem almost overwhelming--like a million frogs croaking? Chances are pretty good that when the morning comes, and you take a closer look, you'll wonder what all the fuss was about.

Keeping oneself in control of your response mechanism is a good way of reacting to criticisms positively. Here are some specific suggestions for you to apply; (1) Always hear first before you react, (2) Think and evaluate what was said before you react, (3) Give the benefit of the doubt that the person said it the best way he or she knows how, (4) Never judge prematurely that they are belittling you, (5) Lastly, if you are unsure of the meaning of the words spoken to you, seek to clarify it for your own benefit. If you are not able to do it, then receive it as a compliment. Do not over-analyze what you’ve heard.

Remember that people have always something to say. Although there are times that they may not know how to say it. And you could take comfort in knowing that they meant well. It is just too bad that they spilled the wrong words first.

We could glean some important teaching from the Scriptures from the one who was criticized so much but did not retaliate. In Isaiah 53:7, Jesus was seen by the Prophet Isaiah 700 years before he was born and described him as this: “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.” (NLT)

Jesus gave us a great picture of how should we respond to criticisms. Keep in mind that Jesus endured all kinds of criticisms in order to give us freedom from dwelling too much in them. He provided a canopy of protection for us to receive them with all love and understanding of those who gave them. When hanging on the cross, He was looked down and spoken down to. But he prayed a prayer that became a pattern for all of us. He said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” We could even include “even what they are saying.”

When we imitate the attitude of Jesus, I’m pretty sure that our perspective of listening and receiving criticisms will radically changed for the better. Never measure yourself with what people are saying but what God has declared in His word about us that we “were wonderfully and fearfully made.” Let the two frogs croak until they lose their voice while you keep doing what God wanted you to do.

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Monday, August 20, 2012


No copyright infringement intended

What make life so interesting are the little opportunities that come our way. There are those chose to become soldiers to serve their country in the best way they know how even at the cost of death. On the other hand, even people that have bad intentions looks for opportunities to do bad things. Thus, opportunities can become either good or bad. But here’s a story I found to illustrate what to do when given an opportunity even at a personal cost: “There is a nine-year-old student sitting at his desk and all of a sudden, there appeared a puddle between his feet and the front of his pants is wet. He thinks his heart is going to stop because he cannot possibly imagine how this has happened. It's never happened before, and he knows that when the boys find out he will never hear the end of it. When the girls find out, they'll never speak to him again as long as he lives. The boy believes his heart is going to stop, he puts his head down and prays this prayer, "Dear God, this is an emergency!  I need help now!  Five minutes from now I'm dead meat." He looks up from his prayer and here comes the teacher with a look in her eyes that says he has been discovered. As the teacher is walking toward him, a classmate named Susie is carrying a goldfish bowl that is filled with water.  Susie trips in front of the teacher and inexplicably dumps the bowl of water in the boy's lap. The boy pretends to be angry, but all the while is saying to himself, "Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!" Now all of a sudden, instead of being the object of ridicule, the boy is the object of sympathy. The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his pants dry out. All the other children are on their hands and knees cleaning up around his desk. The sympathy is wonderful.  But, as life would have it, the ridicule that should have been his has been transferred to someone else--Susie. She tries to help, but they tell her to get out. "You've done enough, you klutz!" Finally, at the end of the day, as they are waiting for the bus, the boy walks over to Susie and whispers, "You did that on purpose, didn't you?" Susie whispers back, "I wet my pants once, too."

Even at the cost of personal sacrifice, she did what was right to lend a hand. What we may lose may benefit others in need and it will be all worth it in the end because people will know and recognize it with a grateful heart. Furthermore, the apostle Paul gave us an important admonition to, Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV)

We must make the best use of time to encourage and help others however we can and to the best of our ability. If we will wait for others to do the same to us, we may be missing many opportunities in the process. Don’t wait for one but find one. Alexander Graham Bell stated eloquently, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” There is a lot of it when we look around. Remember that our own sphere of influence is enough to see many opportunities. 

The most important principle to be aware of is this: “Opportunity only knocks once.” When we miss it, it will not come again even if we wanted to. That’s why, always be ready to grab it and never lose it. Many have become enriched by it although neither by money nor adulation but by fulfilling a humanitarian work that gives honor to God and blessing to many people. May God help us see the opportunities that are always around us to do good helping others. Find those opportunities, you will make a difference in someone's life.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Blessing of Irritations

Photograph: Getty Images Creative

There are many things in life that causes us to be irritated. Even the littlest of things can become a source of it. But what many of us do not know is this: Life on earth would not be worth much if every source of irritation were removed. Yet most of us rebel against the things that irritate us, and count as heavy loss what ought to be rich gain. Here’s a classic illustration in order to understand this: We are told that the oyster is wiser; that when an irritating object, like a bit of sand, gets under the "mantle" of his shell, he simply covers it with the most precious part of his being and makes of it a pearl. The irritation that it was causing is stopped by encrusting it with the pearly formation. A true pearl is therefore simply a victory over irritation. If we will allow this simple illustration to come ringing true into our hearts and minds, the result is clear: Every irritation that gets into our lives today is an opportunity for pearl culture. The more irritations the Devil flings at us, the more pearls we may have. We need only to welcome them and cover them completely with love, that most precious part of us, and the irritation will be smothered out as the pearl comes into being. What a store of pearls we may have, if we will![1]

The apostle Paul called it light afflictions but there’s an exceeding great promise if we go through it, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison”(2 Corinthians 4:17ESV). To put it simply, afflictions comes in varying degrees and temperatures. It can also be likened to the four seasons: summer, spring, winter and fall. But the most important truth to remember out of all this comparisons is the fact that they do not last long. It changes and shifts. Thus, we can be assured that even if we do not take notice of its arrival, afflictions will always leave us either better or bitter. When we see them in the light of what the apostle Paul saw them, we will have better perspective and see the blessings out from it.

Although, we can never choose the form of afflictions that will come in our lives, it should not matter. Why? Because we will discover that they can bring the best or the worst of us depending on who and what do you depend on. Here’s the bottom line: If you depend on man, disappointment will surely come your way because they will not know and understand what it is for and what you are going through. However, if you fully depend on God, it becomes a different story. There’s always a purpose in everything that He allows us to go through. Although we may not know it at the time, our faith in His wisdom will surely come in handy. Just never waver and lose your focus on the bigger picture.

Every beautiful thing made goes through a hard process before its beauty is seen. Afflictions therefore are one of those processes that we MUST go through for us to come into view as God desired for us to be. Remember Job? This is what he uttered: “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold (Job 23:10 ESV). Now we can choose to see the best with every affliction that comes our way. Whenever they come externally or personally, let it be transformed either as pearls or you can come forth as gold. Whichever, let afflictions become favorable to us. Don’t fear them; on the contrary welcome them with open arms if you understand what I’m trying to say.
Therefore, it is imperative to see that though they may come as pain at first, they can always be converted to joy by allowing God to intervene at the initial onset. When He does, this is His promise for us to claim: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness”(Psalms 30:11 ESV). Keep looking up for God’s help and you will never be disappointed.

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[1] Sunday School Times

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Clarity of Words

Let me share you a very popular nursery song and try to sing it if you can: “Scintillate, scintillate, globule vivific, Fain would I fathom thy nature specific. Loftily poised in the ether capacious, Strongly resembling a gem carbonaceous.” If you are unable to do so, it is very understandable due to the fact that without the familiar words associated with it, no one can decipher it let alone sing it. Isn’t it interesting how important clear words are in every level of communication even in a simple nursery song? I believe that the main reason why there are many “misses” in understanding, communication, interpretation, quotes and many others between people in every culture is the lack of clarity in words being spoken and clear messages sent to one another even with better communication technology. How sad yet very true indeed!

However, the opposite is also true that when one clear language is spoken, great things can happen. Here’s a biblical example of an event that made a huge undertaking possible due to one language that even God acknowledged its potential for greater things: “Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth." And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them” (Genesis 11:1-6).  

What happened next was this: God confounded their one language into many languages, thus the word “babbling” came about. It is when you do not understand what the other person was talking or “babbling” about. The tower they were building was abandoned and later became known as the “Tower of Babel”:  Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:9).

In a nutshell, you will find that the Lord’s reason for confusing the language was due to their pride of heart wanting to prove to God that they can do it alone without Him: "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth." Ironically, even without unified language, the pride of the heart is still very much alive today among many nations and even among individuals against one another wanting to “make a name for ourselves.”

What can be done today to improve this problem of any “misses?” Let us hear what the Lord Himself prescribed as given by the prophet Isaiah: Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18 KJV). If God Himself is willing to do this, then there’s nothing to stop us from doing it also with one another: to reason together with humility setting aside our pride for the sake of attaining unity; to agree to disagree and to know that no matter what, we all have our own opinions in the matter. And if we choose to become stubborn about it, not even God can ever change our mind about it. Humility is the only attitude that can diffuse any unstable situation. Try it and you will see its effect and power.

Before I forget, here’s the translation of the nursery song I’ve shared above: “Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are, Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky.”   

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What’s in a Name? The Origins of Famous Brands

Here’s a very interesting article that I came across that I wanted to share to all of you….Enjoy…. (No copyright infringement intended!)
Our lives are full of brand names and trademarked products that we use every day, from the Apple computer I turn on every morning to the bowl of Quaker oatmeal I eat for breakfast. At the birth of every company that makes a product we can’t live without, somebody trying to come up with a memorable and successful name was present. Many of us know that a real Ben and Jerry, Wendy, and Ford exist, but the funny-hatted man on my oatmeal box is a figment of the founders’ imagination, thought to evoke images of honesty and value. Although many brand names are simple acronyms or versions of their founders’ names, some of the companies we trust every day actually have fascinating—and surprising—back stories.
  • Starbucks
. It seems fitting that the most famous coffee brand in the world would take its name from one of the world’s greatest works of literature. In his book Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time, original owner and current CEO Howard Schultz revealed that the inspiration for the name of the coffeehouse came from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. The founders’ original idea was to name the company after Captain Ahab’s ship itself, but they eventually decided that Pequod wasn’t a great name for coffee, so they chose Ahab’s first mate, Starbuck, as a namesake instead.
  • Kinko’s. 
In 1970, a man named Paul Orfalea decided to open a small copy shop near the University of California, Santa Barbara, to help college students save money on paper and printing costs. He named his shop Kinko’s after his own nickname, which his friends gave him because of his thick, curly red hair.
  • Chef Boyardee
. There may not have been a real Betty Crocker or Aunt Jemima, but there was a real Chef Boyardee. Hector Boiardi emigrated from Italy to the U.S. in 1898 and found work in the kitchens of New York’s Plaza Hotel. In 1929, he opened his own restaurant, Il Giardino d’Italia, in Cleveland, where he also sold ready-made portions of his famous pasta sauce. He adopted the spelling Boyardee to make it easier for patrons to pronounce his name, and when he sold his business, the name stuck. The new owners kept his picture on the label, too.
  • Google.  
Dreamed up in a Stanford University computer science building, Google was originally called BackRub, for the way it mined links in every nook and cranny of the Web. In 1997, when the founders of the company were searching for a new name for their rapidly improving search technology, they wanted a moniker that suggested a huge amount of data. A friend suggested the word googolplex, which prompted Larry Page to counter with googol. Both are words for incredibly large numbers—a googol is ten to the hundredth power, and a googolplex is a number ten times as large as a googol. When a friend tried to register the new domain name, he misspelled “googol” as “google,” and the misspelling stuck.
  • Coca-Cola. 
In 1886, a Georgian named John Pemberton developed a carbonated beverage that he sold as a health tonic and intended to cure everything from migraines to impotence. The product’s name reflected its two main ingredients: cocaine, derived from the coca plant, and caffeine, from the kola nut. Originally, the beverage did contain hefty doses of cocaine, but subsequent versions phased out the drug and by 1903, it had been removed completely, though Coca-Cola still uses derivatives of the coca plant for flavoring. If you think that’s shocking, consider this: Pemberton’s very first iteration of his beverage not only contained cocaine, but also was alcoholic, called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca.
  • Yahoo! 
In 1796, Jonathan Swift wrote in Gulliver’s Travels of a fantastical race of beings called the Yahoos, who were vile, slovenly, and stupid. In 1994, as Stanford PhD candidates Jerry Yang and David Filo looked for a better name for their information-indexing Web site, which they were calling “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web,” a quick search through a dictionary reminded them about Swift’s Yahoos, and they loved the idea. Officially, their search engine’s name is an acronym of “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle,” but Yang and Filo professed that they liked the name Yahoo! because they saw themselves the way Swift saw his own Yahoos: as rude, unsophisticated, and uncouth.
  • Nike
. Originally founded as a distributor for Japanese running shoes, the company was originally named BRS, or Blue Ribbon Sports. In 1971, BRS introduced its own soccer shoe, a model called Nike, which bore the now-iconic Swoosh. (Nike is also the name for the Greek goddess of victory.) By 1978, the company had officially rechristened itself as Nike, Inc.
  • Häagen-Dazs
. Is it German? Is it Swedish? Dutch, maybe? It might sound luxurious and European, but its origins are distinctly American. Häagen-Dazs ice cream was originally cooked up by Polish immigrants in the Bronx in 1961. The name is actually nonsensical—designed specifically to make Americans think that it’s Scandinavian. But even Scandinavians are fooled by the curious spelling. Since the words don’t mean anything in their languages, people from Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway often assume that they must be German.
  • Apple Computer
. The apple is a deeply mystical, meaningful symbol—it’s the Old Testament manifestation of knowledge and temptation, as well as the impetus for Newton and his theory of gravity. Despite these profound philosophical connotations, Owen Linzmayer’s book Apple Confidential 2.0: The Definitive History of the World’s Most Colorful Company suggests that Apple most likely got its name simply because in 1976, cofounder Steve Jobs had been spending a lot of time working with friends on a commune (perhaps tending apple trees?) and liked the way it sounded. Although the founders toyed with other, more technical-sounding names, they couldn’t think of anything they liked more than Apple, so the name stuck.
The right name is integral to a company’s success. No one would be interested in sipping a hot, steaming cup of Pequod coffee, and the Southland Ice Company didn’t hit the big time until it renamed itself after its new, extended operating hours: 7-Eleven.
A great origin story is just as crucial as a great product—one more thing that keeps customers guessing, wondering, and buying.