On Resilience

A friend sent me an article about resilience as we were talking about finding the centre of our lives (that’s for another blog post).

Rosabeth Moss Kanter defines resilience as the “ability to recover from fumbles or outright mistakes and bounce back… [One has] to learn from [one’s errors]. Those with resilience build on the cornerstones of confidence – accountability, collaboration and initiative” (2013).

Volatility has been constant in the past decade.  Organisations today have faced economic, social, political, technological, and environmental challenges.  These are aggravated by the interconnectedness of the world.  Changes anywhere typically result in changes elsewhere, making efficacious self-directed behaviour problematic at best (Bryson, 2011).

As we expect the unexpected, leaders, managers and organisations will fail at some point.  I agree that the challenge for true leaders (or people of character as more fundamental) is the acceptance of defeat with humility and have an intrinsic desire to try again.

APTOPIX Philippines Typhoon

I am writing this as my country is recovering from a disaster that Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).  Latest reports say that the provincial government of Leyte has said that at least 10,000 of its residents have been killed.

Filipinos are familiar with resilience.  Our love for being an underdog is rooted in our history of colonialism, and economic and political repressions.  We installed an action star as president before. We may be battered with various tragedies, still, we find a way to get up and continue on, if not for the better.

This year, we’ve been hit by several disasters – storms, an earthquake, a civil rebellion, and now, a super typhoon.  For a few days, we will traverse the horrors of the devastation; grieve over the deaths, and loss of property and opportunity.  As we move to relief operations, we, as a nation, have enough faith in ourselves that we will be able to recover.

Tragedies drive out the best and worst in people.  Distraught brings out our true personality as a nation.  We are gritty, and we show courage in the face of pain.

I hope and pray that we will get through this.  Let us grieve. Let us cry to the heavens. Then, let’s get up again and rebuild our nation as we always do.

10 November 2013 | Adelaide, South Australia

This essay is part of the requirements for the Transformational Leadership class under Ms Linda Chaousis, adjunct faculty at the Carnegie Mellon University – Australia.

We need all the help that we can get for the relief and rehabilitation efforts in the Philippines. Here’s the list of ways to help.



Social Innovation and Transformational Leadership

As part of the 2013 Australian Change Makers Festival, The Australian Centre for Social Innovation hosted a social innovation workshop this morning.  TACSI was created to tackle Australia’s tough social challenges such as family break down, child abuse and career stress.  The seminar was a four-hour interactive workshop that introduced tools where business, social science and design converge to create new solutions to complex social problems.


Challenging the Status Quo

The workshop introduced four key steps in social innovation. These are:

  1. Start with a question and not a solution.
  2. Everything is an assumption.
  3. Learn from people in context.
  4. Learn through making and testing.

These four steps guide TACSI as they create social innovation solutions for their cases.

During the workshop, I tackled an issue that I have been reflecting on this year – how to assist the fresh graduate/young professional segment in their journey of finding their purpose (and ultimately, themselves).  We went through the process of dissecting the issue and used tools that they have introduced.

For a four-hour workshop, I had some rough notes on my personal project, which I am happy about considering the time constraint.  Complex problems need creative solutions to be able to address the needs of the times.  Identifying the right tools is a challenge; moreover, locating the right issues is a work in itself too.

There was one statement from the workshop that reminded me of our transformational leadership class last week – constraints breed innovation.

Bernard Bass, in his article, From Transactional to Transformational Leadership: Learning to Share the Vision, highlights that as organisations continually change and re-strategize, leaders need to think of new ways to do things given their limitations.  In a changing environment, transformational leaders “inspire, energise and intellectually stimulate their employees.”

In the article, Bass illustrates characteristics of a transactional and transformational leader.  For a transactional leader, these are contingent reward, management by exception and laissez-faire.  For a transformational leader, these are charisma, inspiration, intellectual stimulation and individualised consideration.  Bass insinuates that 21st century organisations need transformational leadership, and transactional leadership leads to mediocrity.

I agree that in today’s changing markets, political instability and economic slumps; we need more transformational leaders that will be able to bring in the positive energy as organisations deal with uncertainty.  However, there would be some situations that transactional leadership, even though seen as old fashioned, may be needed.  There is this idiom, different strokes for different folks.

I think what characterises a true transformational leader is that he or she is able to adjust given different situations. Not all situations would ask leaders to be charismatic.  Organisations need bottom lines with results and situations may ask for leaders to be transactional (albeit cruel for some).

Innovation is not a mere bright idea but a continuing understanding and learning of issues that we face as leaders, organisations and societies as well.  There is work to be done and there is an urgency to create solutions.  Whilst it’s a demanding environment, organisations need to continually innovate to survive.  Leadership is crucial to that sustenance.

05 November 2013 | Adelaide, South Australia

This essay is part of the requirements for the Transformational Leadership class under Ms Linda Chaousis, adjunct faculty at the Carnegie Mellon University – Australia.


Winding Down

This week is midterms week for my last semester. I am on my last mini (about 6-7 weeks) before I finish my program. I begin to wind down and try to experience as much as I can in the city that has been home for me this year.


The Sunset and Horizon

As I wrote in my leadership paper for a management class recently:

Moving Forward: A Continuing Leadership Transformation
I tend to make meaning of all the experiences I’ve had this year – living in a new country, being exposed to the best practices in the world, and seeing the overwhelming gaps of the global problems that we have.  These are opportunities for a continuing reflection and locating leadership possibilities. I continue to see leadership as a gift where leaders are asked to transform themselves for the benefit of their teams, their organisations and their communities.  As the world opens up and teams diversify, essential thoughts as breaking barriers and commitment to quality results emerge.

How do I make sense of what has happened this year?  How do these add up to the greater scheme of things?  What lessons that I will take home? What memories will I be keeping? Have I changed or remained the same?

It’s the last kilometer before going home. I begin to slow down. I become more aware of my surroundings as I now take my time, making sense of this whole experience, as I see the end.

22 October 2013 | Adelaide, South Australia


Double Rainbow

The world is charged with the grandeur of God. – Gerard Manley Hopkins 

I love rainbows.

It was a Sunday afternoon. I was in a bus heading home.  As it began to rain on that sunny afternoon, I noticed there were rainbows among the clouds.  At that moment, I smiled at how beautiful the sky was.

Rainbows occur as rain pours during a sunny day, caused by the reflection of light in the water droplets, resulting in a spectrum of colours appearing in the sky.

Fantasy literature depicts adventures of princes and princesses as they seek for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  When I was young, I imagined myself joining that quest, looking for that end.  They say that many have failed to do so and I daydreamed of one day bringing home the treasure.

A former student of mine called me up for a chat, while on her break from mission with the rural poor in Northern Luzon.  For a few months, she was working for a small school that was based in a community of farmers and fishermen.  She was describing how her life was very much different this year with her life in the city.  It was much simpler in the province with a slower lifestyle unlike in the fast-paced, stressed city life.

She began to have a desire to stay and work for the school after her mission work because of the appeal of an uncomplicated, meaningful life.  Yet, her ‘real life’ was in the city; her family and friends were all waiting for her to come back.  She asked if it was possible to bring that plain and unembellished way of life in an environment that is demanding and impressionable.

It was a dilemma for her, in which she would choose a certain conduct that is different from that of the surrounding she is in.  It would be frustrating when conflicts arise with not conforming to the norms.

The challenge is to be comfortable in such situations. There is tension in choosing values that would go against what the world depicts.  Life isn’t in plain black and white, and there will always be grey areas. 

We are asked to find consolation in these, as various options tend to pull us in different directions.  Accepting that we will always have that unsettling, misfit spots in our lives will lead to clearer, more confident and tranquil decisions. 

Like a sunny day experiencing rain, our grey areas will eventually yield a spectrum of colours in the sky.  Eventually, we will find our own pot of gold.

13 October 2013 | Adelaide, South Australia


Thank you God in All Things for letting me share my thoughts and reflections.

God In All Things

This is a guest post by Boom Enriquez.

mapI’m not good with maps.  Ever since I was young, treasure hunts and orienteering have been my least favorite games.  When I need to meet a friend or colleague, I’d rather set the meeting place thinking I would stress myself if I don’t know the location of the meet.

I’ve been living in another country for a few months now and it’s been frustrating for me to depend on maps to go places.  Even when my mobile device has the technological tools to make transits better, I can’t help but be gasping every time.

Once, a friend invited me to their home in the suburbs to celebrate a momentous event in their lives.  They couldn’t pick me up so I had to take a bus.  For some reason, I missed the stop that was instructed to me and I got lost.  I…

View original post 416 more words



I saw you today.
A glance I stole.

I didn’t speak.
Lost words.
Looking for courage.

You went away.
Not coming back.

I think of you.
Every moment.

I am consumed.

14 August 2013 | Adelaide, SA

Photo c/o Tonia Bonnell.

How Much Can We Love?

One of my favorite children’s story is Sam McBratney’s Guess How Much I Love You.  It is a poignant dialogue between a mother and child, where the little one asks her mother to show him how much love one can give.


The mother patiently answers her playful son through various examples demonstrating how she loves her more than he does. She ends their day with a very touching metaphor.

“I love you right up to the moon – and back.”

One of the core messages that we share to the young participants of the Ninoy & Cory Aquino Leadership Journey is the invitation to love unconditionally, where we give ourselves to someone or something greater than ourselves.  In order to do that, we have to locate in our lives where we experienced that kind of love.  

One common experience for most is the love of parents for their children.  Look into our past and we realise how they have done so much, even extending themselves and their capabilities just to provide everything & prepare a better future for us.  As we come of age, we discover how hard it would take to provide, especially when it has become a routine to ask from them and expect that they will give what we need (and want).

My Mom would always wake up every single day to prepare breakfast and see me off.  In my line of work the past few years, I had to take the early morning local flights; thus, I had to leave the house at 2 or 3 am. During these mornings, there she was, awake to see me off.

She came from work the night before and had to prepare for another day at work.  Yet, every single day, she would find time to see me leave the house.  It is in these small routines that I come to appreciate the capacity of a person to love others more than themselves.

The invitation is to remember these, from the mundane everyday gestures to big momentous life events. It is in these experiences we understand what unconditional love is.  It is in these experiences we draw our own capacity to love back – to transcend ourselves and share that immense experience of love.

Then, when the right moment comes for us, it would be our turn to say, “I love you right up to the moon – and back.”

3 August 2013 | Adelaide, South Australia

Pictures care of Kid Spot, The Electric Reader and Tumblr. All retrieved last August 3, 2013.

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