Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Make Reading a Habit

La Liseuse (The Reader), 1776, by Jean-Honoré Fragonard

La Liseuse (The Reader), 1776, by Jean-Honoré Fragonard

One thing that I wish I had developed more as a child is the interest of reading. I was particularly an imaginative kid, full of daydreams about different worlds, changing personas, and composing conflicts and resolutions just for escape. Looking back, I find it as a wasted opportunity that, having that ability to create fantasy and wonder, I was not given a crutch to support that throbbing desire to dissolve into another world or cast a net to let my wandering mind be more directive. Large texts intimmidated me because at that time I really did not want to read textbooks assignments from school because I largely relied on the teacher’s explanations because of my preferred visual acquiring of knowledge. I always resorted to daydreaming instead of reading. Although I think that daydreaming is good, little did I know  back then that not habing the habit to read proved to be detremental to learning.

When I reached high school, I was submerged into an unfamiliar territory. I came from a school being a high achiever, mostly relying on teachers’ lectures and explanations, and eventually ended up as one of the top students of the batch. Now, at that high school, students were carefully selected for my high school and we were known to be a collection of smarts. I entered this revered science high school, mingling with people who were always on top of their games: know a lot, absorb information a lot, asked questions and raised hands for answers a lot, did homeworks and readings a lot. My lack of reading habit started to backfire. Everyone was raising their hands and excelling well in their studies. And I was lead into a dark path for relying most of the time upon teachers’ and classmates’ words of mouth. I lacked initiative, my mind did not understand complex information well despite the amazing visual memory I had. I could not connect cosequential and relating facts and not grasp reasoning well. I graduated high school, still not acquiring the habit to read and felt very miserably stupid.

College came, and the same attitude of still not wanting to read still persisted and consequences had became rough exponentially. It was the time in life when I was extremely conscious of my future, as it was a crucial transition from the educational phase to the decisive phase in future career directions, adding the fact that that future career would most likely be the source to feed myself. I had a hard time internally and officially branded myself as intelligent but really really stupid because of the same prevailing problems: lack of focus, inability to connect and build understandings among scattered yet related facts, and inexistent initiative to think.

Fast forward to two years before, I realized how I, joining a writers’ guild and befriending few artsy people, have surrounded myself with those who are interested with stories of escape and fantasy, same as I, but all of them seem to be faring well in their lives. I wondered why I possesed the same imaginative and inquisitive mind yet I don’t seem to grab information quickly.

It took a long time to observe everyone’s ways and like a glass crashing to the ground an internal breakthrough suddenly pinpointed the difference: everyone who I know reads. They read anything. It doesn’t matter if it is fiction or non-fiction. They read. It doesn’t matter if it is a textbook, a novel, or a self-help book. They read. But more than that… they read books with substance.

Aha! Then and there I vowed myself to read books as successively as possible. I challenged myself to read books of varying nature. I consulted self-help books, fiction, history, and also some academic textbooks and add to that a few internet and newspaper articles every now and then. Slowly did I noticed the changes that occured.

Reading taught me to communicate. The more I read, the more I can communicate. It is not just about the vocabulary that I hone everytime I read a new sentence and encounter a new word which can be looked up in a dictionary. It is not just about applying the same word in writing essays or in conversing with people. It is not just about to understand jargon and cultural context in varying situations. It is the full knowledge and confidence I gained that made me think highly of myself. Every time I read, I feel my brain getting heavier and I imagine the mechanics of my brain getting more complex.

Reading taught me to be imaginative. It taught me to construct from something as limiting and abstract as typed symbols into fantastical worlds and visions, it helped me imagine concepts and how one theory ties in with another theory, and most importantly, it helped me to feel and understand new situations and enter into a renewed kind of perspective. It taught me about each varying person’s socio-economic context. It to empathize and think. It taught me to think and be ideal. It taught me to translate those ideas into action and spark change.

Lastly, reading taught me to aspire for more. I have met individuals along my soul-searching and found out (and was intimidated by) how less I have learned through the years. I found out that reading creates a multi-faceted person because of the open-mindedness it cultivates. I found out that we can break tradition and norms in so many ways possible. I found out that it empowers you by knowing a wide range of possibilities ahead. It has, at least slowly as it is, changed me into a determined, active, and directive person.

I remember my professor back in college who encourages us to read if we feel we do not grasp any theoretical concept. At the time, I had shallow understanding of what she meant. As her advice resonates within my head I defenitely know now why she encouraged us so. Although I realized how lacking I am still when it comes to a multitude of information, knowledge, and skill, it is not too late for it gives me a drive to be a better person for now I have found out a secret weapon. It is through reading that our mind’s gears are turned, not matter how unoiled and rusty it may seem. Constant reading polishes the system of thinking, a manner which, if practiced perpetually, will make the gears act upon themselves, and, eventually, curiosity, initiative, creativity, and resolve will come after.

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Communicating at Work

"Line of Communication"

“Through the Line of Communication”

A lot of us do not seem to invest our time in practicing professional communication. Yes, it is a non-universal rule and is not set in stone. Yet, there seems to be a culture developed that is founded on both courtesy and efficiency that corporate behavioral experts eventually compiled into books and applied into today’s corporate institutions. Be it oral or written form, it is more appealing if one masters good communication skills. It becomes a way of gauging one’s work ethic.

It helps if you become clear and concise with the message you need to come across. A single string of words can be interpreted into so many meanings. You must bear in mind to be selective and direct with the words you use. We have a tendency to think that using highfalutin words would make us more impressive and intelligent. However, such pompous words convey a sense of desperation for attention in delivering the message through lots of loops, turns, and hangs which are unnecessary. Also, it is helpful to equip yourself with a good roster of jargon in the field you are discussing to save you from being embarrassed since you will have better knowledge and understanding of the topics.

Another tip is to employ courtesy at all times. You do not want to appear rude to a colleague or boss. Lines of hierarchy and function must still be observed at all times because conflict must be handled smoothly and, as much as possible, non-aggressively. This is to maintain harmony and efficiency at work. However, assertion must not wane despite being polite. Too much respect can translate into being submissive, pointing all faults to yourself. Maintain your pride while admitting responsibility so your dignity remains intact.

Lastly, I suggest that in all interactions you do, be the best you can be. It is helpful to hint at your capabilities in order for people to remember you. For example, you may want to add some humor in your conversations so they can see your wit and cunning, or you may offer help when necessary to show that you are an accommodating person, or you can also write e-mails to indirectly advertise your good writing skills. A few hints of your personality, whether direct or indirect, are helpful to maintain your credibility.

Communication is the most obvious and accessible tool to get to know the kind of person you are and the value that you put into your profession. You must show behavior that exudes respect and clarity in your ideas create a smooth flow of activities in the workplace. Reading books on corporate culture and ethics will help. It is better to know a few references beforehand than to appear blind to these social cues. Nevertheless, experience is still the best teacher. So go ahead, learn to communicate competently and build your credibility as a professional.

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Roland Andre Malic is a creative writer and blogger who took writing and speech courses in TalkShop, under the guidance of Sheila Viesca, CEO and Director of Communication. Still finding out his niche in life, he is on the way to self-discovery by traversing creative ventures, a step at a time, which include writing and blogging. He also finds joy in watching mind-boggling films, reading about art and history, and exploring musicians and artists from eclectic genres.

Grace Yourself with Social Graces

Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

Have you ever wondered how you appear in your workplace? Do you often think about how people perceive of your competency in your profession? It may be that you have the potential to perform well, better than what your company expects of you and become the best representative in your current field but if you appear lousy and off putting, that might damage your chances to hone in on your capabilities. One of the solutions is being mindful in presenting yourself everyday and creating a good impression to others who may need your professional help.

Social graces are important in promoting yourself. This skill set boosts your credibility as a professional and may increase your opportunities in advancing in your career. Social graces are reflected in the manner of how you interact with the people around you. They echo the culture that you are exposed to and shows you’re the role you assume in the workplace.

Learning social graces transforms you into a respectable and dignified individual. It makes you wary of how people interpret the slightest of movements. It is important to understand the corporate culture and review which actions are. You will learn the right way to dress up for certain occasions. You will know which topics are appropriate to talk about. Most importantly, you will know the right words and behavior to communicate in certain situations, and make a lasting impression in others. Of course, that does not mean that you have to change yourself wholly. You just have to find a way to adjust your habits that might send negative signals to others. You must aim to make them refined and collected.

In the process, you will build your self confidence. It makes you appear more composed and less stressed.  You will not appear shy and awkward once you are able to practice in social situations and you will find ways to present your ideas in manners that are both appropriate and impressionable. You will be able to sail smoothly and master talking to the people who can help you in the future. In a way, you present the best version of yourself – the one that is passionate, competent and reliable. Once people see and hear about your expertise, you will leave a good impression. You become memorable for the right reasons and may even become their reference in their later endeavors.

To be taken seriously, you must observe how you act around other people and identify the impressions you might be creating. Learning which words, which behavior, and which choices you have to act out reflects the kind of values you possess. Social graces teach you not only to respect others but also refine your dignity and credibility as you traverse your way into building networks to help you become a human living.

Find Power in Practicing Power Presentation

Command attention and your message will surely be ingrained in your audience. Photo courtesy of TalkShop Facebook page.

Command attention and your message will surely be ingrained in your audience. Photo courtesy of TalkShop Facebook page.

The world faces issues that negatively affect all of us. We are responsible in maintaining an effective system that promotes harmony, well-being, and security. I am sure that everyone has intentions to help make his society better. What better way to resolve problems than to think creatively? Each of us can make a difference for the power to change is in our core. A point of view different from what is accepted is a promoter of change.

Influence is important to build a strong community for your intended cause. However, it is an unfortunate reality that most of these ideas are not heard of or not given attention because of the distracting manner of its delivery. If you do not possess good presentation skills, chances are, your purpose and ideas become hidden in technicalities and, as a result, may appear as less convincing for the intended audience. Honing your presentation skills makes you a smarter person. It challenges you to make a stand by being keener and more thoughtful in your opinions.

Practicing your skills presentation helps you to think quickly and systematically. The trick here is to capture your audience’s attention, guide them through the points you want to state and stand by, and eventually close with an impact that generates reaction. The art of effectively organizing thoughts is needed for your audience to follow you one step at a time instead of rummaging through ambiguity and confusion. The science and art of your speech content and delivery can be honed through proper guidance.

It also makes you become more confident and outstanding. It is true the nerves can get the better of you. However, once you gain confidence what you want to say, you can mitigate stress. This is a chance to embrace your preferences and open up to knowledge. Along with your purpose, your uniqueness and personality will be identified. You will never know the corresponding repercussions it might bring to the people affected. The key is to believe in yourself and to speak your mind. Do not restrict yourself by trying to please every person in the audience. You speak because you have a voice that has to be heard.

The point is to exercise speaking from your core beliefs. What you believe will flow generously for it comes from your personal trail of thought. How you feel and what you think comes from the experiences you attach meaning to. What you have gone through, along with the lessons you learned are embedded in your personality and so, become your point of view. On the other hand, it is hard to speak out of pretense. You do not know which experiences to reference from because you do not have them or you cannot find faith in them. Authenticity spawns firmness and certainty.

Each of us has the power to make a difference. Voicing out our ideas through the manner of speech is one of the means to achieve it. You do not want that your opinion, in spite of all good intentions, appear lacking, unintelligent, or worst, irrelevant. Do not let it be taken for granted by learning and practicing power presentation. Practicing the organization of thought and its delivery can command attention, and ultimately the respect of others.

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Roland Andre Malic is a creative writer and blogger who took writing and speech courses in TalkShop, under the mentorship of Sheila Viesca, CEO and Director of Communication. Still finding out his niche in life, he is on the way to self-discovery by traversing creative ventures, a step at a time, which include writing and blogging. He also finds joy in watching mind-boggling films, reading about art and history, and exploring musicians and artists from eclectic genres.

Learn to Lead the Way

Pathway to Greener Fields, Sunshine Lighting Your Way

Pathway to greener fields, sunshine lighting the way

Back when I was still a student, it was always a requirement to attend leadership seminars every time I got appointed as an officer. Of course, being a student who wants to participate in such social activities, I thought it was all about meeting different kinds of people. I thought that leadership skills are all about handling people and leading them to the right direction. However, as I pondered about the thought of leadership as holding the steering wheel to navigate the waters, I realized that leading is not the only sense in it. Now, I see honing leadership skills as a way to empower myself.

How could you lead people if you do not know where to go? It all comes down to your decisions that stem from acknowledging what you really want to accomplish. It helps you narrow down your focus and strip everything down to the main purpose. All leaders have a vision of where they would want to go and there are many possibilities and paths that can be encountered along the way. Many can be promising distractions and many can be challenges that might detour the path to your goals. It all comes down to remembering where you want to go and what you want to achieve.

Once you are clear about what you want, you become smarter in strategizing and making decisions. As mentioned earlier, the means to achieving a goal has endless possibilities. It is up to you to make adjustments on your trail if needed. Although rigidity can help you focus, welcome spontaneity and improvisation a few times. You need to be flexible and open to change while holding on steadfastly to your vision. You may not achieve your goal exactly as you visualize it, but the lessons and achievements brought by the inconsistencies and surprises you meet along the way can themselves be gratifying.

Once you learn to make smart choices, you trust yourself and become more confident. Keep in mind that leaders influence their subordinates. What a leader does and envisions will be the motivation of his followers. The people you want to lead will find inspiration in this attitude and will have a better platform to realize the goal. Organization and camaraderie in the team starts with a unified vision that is ultimately defined by the leader.

Whenever I socialize with professionals, I often see their eyes light up when they hear of leadership seminars. I did not think that it was all that important before because I saw it only as a chance to talk and chat with new people and less of building character. I came to realize the purpose of learning leadership skills. If you want a team that is united, efficient, and effective, you have to start with managing yourself. The significance of acquiring leadership skills is to effectively empower yourself to influence others.

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Roland Andre Malic is a creative writer and blogger who took writing and speech courses in TalkShop, under the mentorship of Sheila Viesca, CEO and Director of Communication. Still finding out his niche in life, he is on the way to self-discovery by traversing creative ventures, a step at a time, which include writing and blogging. He also finds joy in watching mind-boggling films, reading about art and history, and exploring musicians and artists from eclectic genres.

Aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda

There have been so many things happening that I cannot find time to update my blog. One of them is the effect of the accumulated catastrophic natural calamities in certain parts of my country.

Our country is in need of help after the devastating Typhoon Yolanda and instead of blaming the corrupt government officials for providing meagre amount of help and at the same time riding on that as election propaganda, we, the more fortunate and capable ones not damaged by the typhoon, must lend a hand.

Yes, foreign donations are a great blessing but it is up to us countrymen to provide direct help.

You may comment links here about volunteer stations and organizations. I hope we could find time to be more generous, productive, and proactive human beings.