Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Office Politics

Since I was an intern, I was being warned of the existence of office politics. One of my mentors gave me the advice that no matter how open the the culture of a company is, there is likely to be bureaucracy and I will have to learn to live with it, or even better, to make good use of it. Last Friday, I walked into the office of the CEO and was trying to return some of the really useful management books; while once again, we touched on the topic of office politics.

He told me that he was once being told that to be outstanding in a company; you have to be the greatest politician. He despised that. But then as time goes on, he discovered that this is very true and to say this in a business way, it would have a new name -- "governance". What does that exactly mean? I would sum that up as the balancing of power with logic as well as human factors. You have to think of balancing each person's power in the most logical and efficient way with people's feeling in mind, as well as whether you will get the support you need.

Honestly, I cannot agree more with this theory and I did not understand the essence of this concept until recently when I stated working as a full-time employee. As a fresh graduate and a new employee of the company, I was assigned to be trained by a colleague at the very early stage, and the to a senior manager to give me guidance at work. Who is my direct boss? Who should I please and focus on more? Whose decision should I follow and whose comment should I pay my attention on? Tons of these questions come into my mind whenever there are contradictions between the expectation of different parties and I have to balance the two. I guess I haven't been doing so well as an "office politician" and there are definitely a lot more to learn.

My friends who are still at school asked me whether I like school more or work more. I once thought that the following answer is lame, but after experiencing it, it is really how I feel. I think the two things are very different in nature and I simple can't compare them. I enjoy work, because it is exciting with unlimited challenges and whenever I am off work, I have my own leisure time to focus on other things and I won't have assignments to take home. On the other hand, I love school, because it is a comparatively fair system. If you study hard enough, you go to the examination hall, and you are very likely to get the grade you deserve. You don't have to worry about how everybody thinks about you and you won't be assessed y people every single minute.

Not more than once that after a couple failures of getting the agreement I want or receiving some criticisms from a third party saying it's from my direct boss, that I discovered how office politics come into place and I successfully use similar tactics to cope with it. It is unavoidable that a big office has rumors and unnecessart comments going around affecting people's self-perception. No matter how good a company is, there are people who like using power and authorty to manipulate people instead of creating synergy. Figuring out how to live wisely in the middle of all these is not an easy task and it definitely takes time, but then everyone who works in an office should learn these techniques and my thought is that everyone would eventually find their own way to live with all these, so there is no general principles that can be provided.

Ladies and gentlemen, office politics can help or ruin you. Be aware and hope you can become one of the star politician in the office one day! Good luck!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Does Marriage Have a Price Tag?

During the morning chat today, my boyfriend (BF) and I discussed a topic which we have been discussing a couple times before -- does marriage have a price tag?
The two of us have been thinking of each other as a potential life long partner, so we have been exchanging our views on how we want our wedding to be in the future and how we want to allocate our financial resources on that.
I have friends who have alread started saving with their lover for the start of their marriage. I have no objection towards such plan. In fact if they are 100% sure they will spend the rest of their lives together, I think it is good for them to plan a bit earlier and see if the dynamic of the relationship changes once the concept of money gets in.

On the other hand, BF raised a fair point as to whether we should put a price tag on a wedding and work hard toward it, or we should put a price tag on our wedding based on what we can afford?

In the Asian culture, there is an invisible norm that most women would only marry a man when he is able to provide a place for them to live together once they are husband and wife. It is like a condition of marriage in that particular community. However, the economic structure of the society has changed and getting a property at the age range when people normally get married seems quite impracticale. How would this affect people's plan on marriage then?

For me, when it comes to marriage, I don't need it to be perfect or just like "The Wedding of the Century". However, I do want it to be a nice one. Therefore, I think I am starting to come to a point that I would want my wedding to have a price tag around a few years beforehand with regard to how much financial resources my fiancee and I have at that moment, then we can start saving more till the time when the wedding comes, so that we can still pay the bills if there is any discrepancies with what we expect and the reality.

Oh well ... it sounds way too early to think of such thing ... or is it?

Monday, November 8, 2010

How Much do Promises Weigh?

As a couple, my boyfriend (BF) and I give promises to each other from time to time. Though I have been very satisfied with our relationship, I wonder how much our promises weigh, or to be more specific, how much all promises in life weigh.

If we think carefully, we make promises way before we understand the weight of our promises. When we were little kids, we promised our parents that we would be a very good kid after an hour of scolding by them; we promised our teachers we would study hard after having a detention; we will promise our good friends that they will be our best friend FOREVER no matter what; and we promise our lovers that we will love them till the world ends. If you think back carefully, how many of these promises are you still keeping? If you think of similar promises that people made for you, how many of them are still kept by them?

As life goes on, I am starting to have less expectation on other people's promises as well as trying to avoid giving promises when I know that with the uncertainties involved, I may not be able to keep them. I guess it is like a preventive measure, that I am trying to mitigate the effect of people breaking their promises by adjusting my expectation and to minimize my chance of breaking a promise.

I have learned to understand that for most people, promises are more like an expression of their emotion at a particular moment. What I have learned to appreciate is a promise being made genuinely. A genuine "I will love you forever" means that the person loves you a lot right now and it is so much love that they think it can last forever. Such affection touches me and I am glad that a guy once wanted to commit into our relationship. However, I also learned to realize that when hurdles of life come by and temptations try to get its way into a relationship, there's no point to look back and blame the person who made such a promise.

Don't get me wrong, I am not losing hope on love and promises. I just started to understand life, people as well as myself better. I still hope that one day, I will find the man who lives up the vow of a marriage with me and be my partner for the rest of our lives. However, before that actually happens, I will never know who that man is. And when that actually happens, it is not because of the promise this man made in the wedding ceremony that he decided to stay with me, it is more because of the love we have for each other.

Do promises really matter?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What Do I want to Do Today?

This morning, I sat down at my desk, organized the documents next to my desktop, checked my schedule for the day and made a cup of English Toffee to clear my mind, then a question came to my mind: what do I want to do today?
It is not that I don't have work on my desk. Instead, I have a couple projects that I have to deal with in due course. There are a lot of things on my plate which I would have to handle without too much delay. Howeer, I would like to think about what I actually want to do today if I don't have all these obligations. Do I genuinely want to work on these documents on my desk? What are the differenes between what I want to and what I am supposed to do?

Therefore, I wrote a "Want-To-Do List":

(1) Spa / Massage: my shoulders and legs have been hurting for quite a while

(2) Skype: I always wish I can spend more time talking to my boyfriend (BF)

(3) Sleep: I woke up at around 5 am this morning without any reasons

(4) Read: I have been reading a book called "Outrage" and really want to finish it

(5) Meeting with Mr. Boss: I want to convince him in letting me go on a business trip

(6) Shopping: there is a present that I have been wanting to get for BF

(7) Exercising: I ate chocolate truffle cake for breakfast, pasta for lunch and sushi for dinner last night

(8) Be a pillow: Just lay in bed and pretend that I actually belong to the bed

Here's my "Supposed-To-Do List":

(1) Finish project #1

(2) Finish project #2

(3) Finish project #3

(4) Finish project #4

(5) Ok ... this list will never end if I keep doing this, so let this item be "finish other projects in hand"

(6) Bring part of my salary home for my mom as omestic expenditure

(7) Contact my insurance agent

(8) Iron my clothes for tomorrow

All these make me think of this song:

"When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

If your heart is in your dreams
No request is to extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do"

Disney lies ... as usual ... I have been dreaming to work on my "Want-To-Do List", but now I have to start crossing out items of the "Supposed-To-Do List" instead!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Toffee Nut Latte

Every year, when Halloween has passed, I would start looking forward to Christmas. This year is even more so because I will be having my Christmas with my boyfriend (BF) and this is going to be our very first Christmas together! Other than that, there is also an all-time reason for loving Christmas - Toffee Nut Latte from Starbucks!

This cup of magical beverage has been my favourite Starbucks drink since I entered University. It is a seasonal drink of Starbucks and it only appears after Halloween and before New Year, which is the time when Starbucks uses its Christmas design cups.

Strictly speaking, Toffee Nut Latte is not a coffee drink. It has caffeine in there, but the whole point of this drink is the very rich cream that can allow you to skip lunch if you have it in the morning, the sweetness in taste and fragrant of toffee that gives you some indescribable satisfaction, the graphics on the cup that reminds you of the arrival of Christmas and numerous celebration with your loved ones and the warmth from "extra hot" request that makes you feel so lucky when you walk around the chilly open air holding the cup in your hands.

When I first had that drink, I fell in love with it, and I wondered how great it would be if I can walk on the street with my lover's arms aroud my shoulder and we would talk, laugh and share a large up of Toffee Nut Latte on a perfect Christmas Day. However, since BF doesn't really drink coffee unless it becomes the last resort, I think I will still have a perfect Christmas with him - just about Toffee Nut Latte. I guess I will drink enough before I fly there that I won't even want this cup of perfection anymore.

It is also a part of my university memory. I remember that during winter term, I would also grab a cup of Toffee Nut Latte before class and it gives me the energy to survive through lectures even in the cold winter mornings.
After all the waiting since October, I finally had my first cup of Toffee Nut Latte this year and it is so satisfying!! Let's welcome our lovely Christmas!!