Accept and love yourself

flowerA flower blossoms under the sun. It shines and is happy with itself. The green grass waver in the wind, embracing the earth and sunshine. Nobody give them attention, but they are happy where they are. A tree stands there silently for many years, a deer crosses a valley gallantly, and a toddler waddles with giggles. None of them question their own lovability. Their existence is the manifest of love, God’s love.

Each of us is a still a child, in God’s eyes, and we are worthy and lovable as we are. Our lovability cannot be questioned, judged or withheld.

We may make mistakes. But that mistake does not make us less lovable. Our achievement in life does not make us more lovable either. In our core, and in every person’s core, is our lovability that cannot be added or reduced.

If you have made a mistake, guilt may prompt you to reflect and change your action next time. But this guilt should not make you lose respect for yourself. You are not your mistake. Thus the notion of “sinner” in Christianity is very profound. We are not perfect and we admit that. We ask for forgiveness and give forgiveness. We ask for a chance to redeem, so do others.

When we accept our imperfectness, we accept ourselves. In this state, we start to flow with life. We no longer have a “perfect” destination, we can expand our boundary much larger than originally imagined. We grow faster and without inhibition. We become truly creative because we believe in experimenting and accept possible mistakes.

Accepting ourselves is equivalent to loving ourselves. When you love someone, like a mother loves a child, you accept their shortcoming as a complete package. You believe, hope, work with, and trust that person. You embrace their humanity, including human weakness, and accept them completely. Sometimes it is easy to invoke such love for our family members or friends, or people from the same race. It’s spiritual awakening when we extend such love to all human beings, regardless race, gender or others things dividing people.

In a loving state, you are completely at peace. You have no need to argue with the universe, and it is never wrong. You completely accept others as who they are, and you completely accept yourself. This is what we call the “perfection” of God.

Loving yourself brings an exquisite feeling that can hardly be conveyed by words. It is like a rose blossoming in your heart. Its beautiful pedals start to open up. You feel healed and immersed in unspeakable warmth. You feel like coming to home, resting at God’s nest. His all-encompassing arms embrace the universe around you. You are safe and taken care of. There is no place to go any more. You may have wandered around, believing you are on a journey. Now you have come home.

Being at home, you can play like a child again. You can explore and make as many mistakes as you want. God is always loving you and that love is never withheld from you. Whenever you make a mistake, you admit and correct it right away.

For the same reason, you trust others too. You trust their good intention and their search for joy and love. You have less need to correct others or “advice” others as they have their own path and God’s love shines on their way.

Given that you completely love yourself, you no longer seek approval from others. You no longer interact out of the need to seek love or acceptance. Fame does not interest you any more, as fame is just recognition from others, people who you don’t know. Thus you become truly humble as you have no need to show off to anyone.

You feel completely loved in your own world, and you are fully validated by your own acceptance. Thus you become easy going, giving, and fluid with life situation happening to your spouse. When his/her work becomes his top priority, you support that. When his hobby becomes his obsession, you support that. You are fulfilled and you don’t need another person to fulfill you. Thus “playing at level 3” is not an artificial effort but a natural by-product of giving and sharing love. You have become complete, and you can now affirm others.

You made a “mistake” when you chose a less optimal path, and you can now do better. But you made the best choice given what you knew at that time, and that was the right choice. You completely accept your past, and other people’s past. There is no “forgiveness” but acceptance and love. You send the past “you” love, and you send the past people appearing in your life love. The new you  is more capable and wiser, and you will make better decisions, with love.

Then every moment is perfect, as perfect as the universe can be. Relish this moment, and bring joy to this moment. What you have now is the best for you.

You also become less dogmatic or deferring to authorities. You evaluate everything with a beginner’s mind and ready to question anything. You are irreverent to any existing beliefs. You seek original truth. You lose the need to prove yourself, and you are already complete. You are as perfect as God makes you, and as imperfect as a child that needs to learn and grow. You maintain absolute confidence in your self-worth, and have full permission to explore life.

You interact with similar energy and you stay in your own world comfortably. You don’t have to go anywhere. In this state, you energy is aligned with people who are like you, and you gain more momentum when moving forward. You lose the fear of rejection. Others are adults who have their own opinions, which are imperfect as yours are.

You throw yourselves into creative endeavors without worrying too much about the future. You become less rigid on where you have to go, or how to get there, even though you still have clear goals and clear ideals.

Peace is with you wherever you are. “You are beautiful, lovely and precious”. Contemplate these words deeply.

You have arrived. You are home, at God’s home.

The poetic nature

2014-01-03 12.48.16Rachel Carlson loved nature. You can feel that love in her poetic description of nature, “In autumn, oak and maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pine.” and  “foxes barked in the hills and deer silently crossed fields, half hidden in the mists of fall mornings.” The idyllic town and the picture of harmony beckon you to visit.

I have never been a nature person. Growing up in a city block, I only saw a single tree in my neighborhood. The description of plants and various animals in children’s books seemed so far away. Since age 7, the tender age of starting grade 1 in China, I have been absorbed in book reading, exams and competitions. That’s the school life I had, and the only life I knew. Occasionally I visited the city park, and was awed by so many trees and grasses. But that seem a remote world, existing outside my normal realm of life.

After arriving in the United States, I felt like being in the park of my childhood. Everywhere you see are trees and grasses. Squirrels roam around and birds are flying in the sky. Nature surrounds me with its generous greens. However, I was still absorbed with classes, school exams, and making new friends. There is little time to slow down, and smell the fragrance of nature.

It was only until recently, after I started taking daily picture for the social app WeChat, I realize the amazing variety in nature. I saw high-rise pine trees touching the sky, birch trees stripped bare in this winter season, maple trees with reddish leaves hanging on the branch, and bright yellow daisies shine under the sun. It was the first time that I start to open my eyes to the nature, and feel connected to trees and plants. I notice their silent embrace of the sun, the earth and the space. I admire their tenacity of living long and holding on, even though they can be cut down and destroyed by humans at any moment. I started to wonder if there is soul in the living trees.

I have always believed that there is a soul in every animal. Since very young, I was a friend of hens and chicks raised by my grandma. I was eager to catch an egg after a hen laid one. I moaned at their fate of being butchered. I had my pet hen, a pure white gentle hen who I loved dearly. Today I have my cat, who follows me, nudges me, and begs for my massage, and whose joy and sorrow are so transparent. How can he not have a soul?

The concrete-made buildings and streets have alienated us from the nature. The city dwellings, with its many social activities and human interaction, absorbed our attention. There is no time to gaze at the star, or listen to the chirp of insects in the evening. Living in the air-conditioned rooms, we lose touch with the breeze that is supposed to come in. We are comfortable, protected from nature’s heat, rain, coldness, and storms. We are void of insect bites, animal infestation, and other things plaguing our ancestors. But we also lose the joy of that affinity with nature, where you can smell the earth, hearing the flying buzz of insects and seeing the flickering dragonfly. In that living, we are part of nature and we are at home. With deep longing, we look at nature today as if an estranged cousin. We can visit, but we still live in a totally different world.

Let us come outside. Let us smell the flower, the grass and touch the trees. There is poem, and magic in this world where our ancestors lived.

Commit to Success

Each year, skyscrapers are built, companies go public, fortunes are made, books are published, and battles are won. None of these can happen without determination, hard work, and commitment. Despite our circumstance, intelligence or personal traits, the only thing that matters in the end is success. You either made it happen or did not.

When one dabbles on various projects, years pass by and time is wasted. You end up with nothing while others build upon success after success. Therefore every step you take must be solid. Every project you aim at must be done with success. There is no other option.

Success is full commitment until you achieve the goal. Such absolute determination will move mountain. It requires hard work, mental concentration and overcome your personal weakness. It demands hard work mentally and physically.

It is natural law that you will encounter great difficulty on the road to success. It is how nature filters out the weak and preserves the strong. Only selected few win in the end.  Therefore any difficulty calls for further commitment, further determination and continuous effort. If you stay at it and win that battle, you will emerge triumphantly and much stronger. But you have to stay at a battle and win that battle.

Massive actions come from our commitment. When you commit, you will automatically find many ways to make things happen. You will go full step instead keep looking for way out.

It is time to build your mental and emotional muscle. It is time to practice success session. After all the toil and tears, you end up with the outcome—you coveted prize—and your deep pride. You also gain better position for the next adventure. You become stronger in the process. There is nothing comparing to success. Therefore it is a must instead of luxury.

The path to success may be tortuous. You do not reach the sky like a rocket, you rise up by climbing the mountains, or upward ladders. Many people have slipped away, but you have to keep moving up. A better metaphor would be going through hazard-filled jungle and reach your destination. Many people are deterred but you keep moving forward.

What separates a winner from a loser is a thin thread, a simply decision to stay in the end or not. That will make all the difference. You can cry, beg or pretend. You can be a better friend, funny person or pious believer. But none of these matters. The only thing that matters is final success. When you succeed, you make tremendous contribution to this world. You capacity increases in many folds. Then you have much greater room to be a better friend or giver.

The quality leaps awaits you and you must step up. “Life will never be the same” once you commit to success.

Quotes from Steve Jobs

  • Stay hungry, stay foolish.
  • Great work comes from loving what you do. If you have not found it, keep looking, don’t settle.
  • Your time is limited, so don’t waste it on living someone else’s life.
  • Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the results of other people’s thinking.
  • Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinion drown out your own inner voice.
  • Have the courage to follow your hear and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.

The beautiful PayPal Campus

Everyday it is such great pleasure to walk toward the main entrance.
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Ever evening I came  out of  building with deep satisfaction.
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One “green building” on PayPal campus, with solar panel.
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This is a photo taken by David Marcus a few months ago, before he became the president of PayPal. 20120424-033548.jpg

Play at Level 3

Tony Robbins told us there are 3 levels of relationship: The lowest level is Level 1, which is all about “me”. People at this level are only interested in satisfying their own needs. They are not interested or not aware of the other’s need. A higher level is level 2, where you give in order to get something back. The relationship is treated as an exchange.  People at this level are considered good community members, but they are unhappy when others do not return their favor.

A person at level 3 puts his partner’s needs above his own need and does everything to meet that need. He tries to meet the other’s needs in every way: Physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. He expects nothing in return. That’s because he has internalized his partner’s need. He is happy when his partner is happy. There is no feeling of “sacrifice” as it is pure joy to give.

When two people play at level 3, they will find ways to help each other. They will go out their ways to make each other happy. The relationship gets better and better. It is exactly as described in this Song:

   “Standing here beside you, want so much to give you This love in my heart and I feel it for you

   I’m so glad I found you I’m not gonna lose you Whatever it takes I will stay here with you

   Take it to the good times See it through the bad times Whatever it takes is what I’m gonna do

   Let the world around us just fall apart Baby we can make it if we’re heart to heart”

With such love, a person will do “whatever it takes” to make another happy and make the relationship work. Level 3 is the level of pure giving. You do everything you can to meet another person’s need. Play at level 3 is the key to a wonderful relationship. It solves most of the relationship problem, as often times it is not because “incompatible” but failing to meet another person’s need.

Playing at Level 3 applies to intimate partner, family, and friends. It also applies to your work relationship, with your supervisor, colleagues and subordinates. It further applies to the organization you work for, and everyone in that organization. Ultimately, it applies to everyone you interact with in this world. It is easier to play level 3 with your boss or important family members. But it is harder to play level 3 with those who are remote. For us to truly step up to be a leader, we must play level 3 with everyone. This means having the patience to understand another person’s need. Be extremely patient and take time to know other people’s need. It is remembering no matter how important your own need is, another person has his agenda. At level 3, you should be keenly aware of this fact, and support others as much as you can. Playing at level 3 means we give ultimate respect to every other person, trying to understand and support at much as we can. It is not taking anything for granted and seek to fully understand another person’s motives.

When you play at level 3, magic things start to happen. Your kids start to respond to you, your colleagues are happy to see you, and your relationship with everyone gets better. As a result, you are much happier.

How do we play at level 3? First, it requires true appreciation and gratitude for people around you. This is the starting point of playing at level 3. Whenever you find yourself resentful, you cannot truly play level 3. You are much less willing to meet another’s need when you feel resentful. Second, we must deeply understand what others need. Then we do everything we can to meet that need.

The diligent nature of a leader

A leader is always at the front. As the day comes, he gets up the earliest. As others go to sleep, he is awake thinking. He is the hardest working person among all. He never stops.

Those who admire the achievements of leaders, be it wealth, fame, or exciting products, forget the simple fact: None of these comes easy. There may be people who find fast way of accumulating wealth by speculating. There may be people who gain fame by sheer luck or notorious act of crime. But these people fade quickly. What last are those true leaders who keep growing their wealth and increasing their reach. Behind such people’s achievements are constant innovation, unyielding attention and countless hours of wrangling. Thus their achievement captures our imagination, simply because it is very hard to duplicate their efforts and devotion. As Steve Jobs, “It is really hard. It’s a lot of hard work and it’s a lot of worrying, constantly.”

A leaders work longer hours than anyone else. Such long hours are not necessarily in the office. It is in all the activities he does and all the thinking he does.

Diligence is both mental and physical. A leader thinks far ahead and creates unassailable position to win.

Here are Steve Jobs’ words at All Things Digital (D5) in 2007, in response to an audience’s question:

“People say: You have to have a lot of passion for what you’re doing. It’s totally true. The reason is that it’s so hard that any rational person would give up if he doesn’t have passion. It’s really hard. You have to do it over a sustained period of time.

If you don’t love it, you’re not having fun doing it. If you don’t really love it, you’re going to give up. That’s what happens to most people, actually.

If you look at the ones that ended up being “successful” in the eyes of society and the ones who didn’t, often times it’s the ones that are successful love what they did so they could persevere when it got really tough. The ones that didn’t love it, quit.  Cause they’re sane, right? Who would want to put up with this stuff if they don’t love it?

It’s a lot of hard work and it’s a lot of worrying, constantly.

If you don’t love it, you’re gonna fail. So, you’ve to love it, you’ve got to have passion.”

The innovative spirit of a leader

A leader is a trail blazer. He invents and creates. Others follow and repeat. A leader has to innovate when existing path does not exist.

A leader dares to be different and dares to be the first. When being so, he may look strange to others. As Steve Jobs puts it, they are “the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes.” It takes significant courage to be such a person, particularly in a large organization where you could easily lose your job for being too much of a troublemaker.

The fact that organizations force confirmation on individuals implies the innovative spirit is repressed and sorely lacking in such a place. The abundant resources in a big organization do not guarantee innovative products. It at most produces mediocre products. Thus we see continuous appearance of new startups in Silicon Valley even when Google and Facebook are still growing.

The good news is that there is infinite way to innovate. You never have to worry about running out of ways to improve existing systems. The bad news is that you have to find your unique way in this crowd of innovators.

If you work in a large organization, you can still find ways to beat the bureaucracy of the system. You can move fast and in doing so shake up the system in small or big ways. You may encounter a lot of resistance and it may take tremendous energy to get even small things done. This begs the question: Why do people stay at such large system when their innovative ability is at its peak?

Large organization offers a large playground. It offers supporting environment for long-term R&D. For data scientists, these are ideal places to conduct both research and development of large-scale data products. While in a small organization (unless it is a startup built on innovative data mining ideas), you never get the time to build sound and solid products.

Many large Internet companies still preserve the spirit of innovation: Consider Apple and Google. While Apple’s innovation is driven top down by its deceased founder Steven Jobs, Google’s innovation is bottom up. Google gives a lot of room for engineers and researchers to come up with new ideas and get funding and resources to work on those ideas. This is due to fact that they hire top tier computer science engineers and researchers. These people by nature are highly motivated, self-driven and independent. Thus they bring leadership to the organization. – Thus Steve Jobs’ advice to Larry Page on “focus” is misguided. While Apple emphasizes “focus” due to its top-down structure, Google’s innovative spirit is best realized in its free exploring culture, where excellent products like Gmail, Google News and Google Maps were created by a small group of enginners. When Larry Page gave up his own model and imposed Jobs’ top-down approach, his pet project Google+ failed miserably.  (Check this article: Why Google Plus is a failure March 13, 2012)

Outside Apple and Google, in any other company there is still a lot of room to innovate. You can innovate in the space of engineering methods, or you can innovate in marketing approaches and so on.

The real leadership lesson from Steve Jobs is innovation. Without innovation, a company will be stagnant and eventually die. Without innovation, a person cannot truly be a leader. Let us embrace our own innovative spirit and step up to be a leader.

W Mitchell

This is a man who was burned beyond recognition, losing all fingers and a normal face, then became paralyzed in a second accident. But this man went out to the world, became a mayor, an entrepreneur and a millionaire. He served in several boards of directors, and got married with the woman he loved. If W Mitchell can do all of these, what more can other people do?

The power of human will and the power of taking control of your life are fully demonstrated by W Mitchell. What a life he has lived! When he made the mental decision that he will be as normal as anyone, he learned every move to get around, to open the door with a fingerless hand, to dress and to live independently. With a disfigured face, he decided he will go out to the public and face whatever out there. He then settled in a small city to live where his inner beauty can be recognized by others through deep interaction. He was fun, friendly and passionate to help others. He learned to fly airplanes with his fingerless hand.  In W Mitchell, life is a sequence of doing, sharing and boldly taking risk.

How can we complain about our life when we don’t take full actions to control our own destiny? How can we allow others to belittle us and drag us down when we have so much to give? How can we wander around aimlessly, but still complain?

The true lesson is that life is in your own hand. If you decide to go for it, you will get what you ask for. Dare to ask, forget about any limitation. Simply push yourself, have no self pity and have no self limitation. You have to behave and act with greatness if you aim for greatness.

How can we not live a full life when W Mitchell has seized life by its tail? How can we make half-hearted attempt when W Mitchell went all the way and succeeded in everything he set out to do?

W Mitchell’s story demonstrated the power of love: the around-the-clock care of the hospital and the nurses, the caring and support from his friends, his girlfriend and her mother. He rose up in the loving care of all the people around him. When he got paralyzed, people drove for 5 hours to visit him in the hospital. People encouraged him with his own words. In the process of fighting a mining company and preserving the environment, he got help from lawyer friends and many others in remote places of this country who came to help.

Seize life with both your hands. Live life with all its possibilities. Do not settle for less. Give abundant love and cherish all the friendship. Take full responsibility and full control of everything that happens in your life. Then you are just one step away from your dream.

Plunge yourself into life, and take your destiny into your hand. Life is yours to make. No one can determine your fate except you.

The magic feeling

The first week after I came back from Tony Robbins’s week-long seminar Date with Destiny, I was in deep sense of joy. As I walked on the beautiful sidewalk on quiet streets, I saw magic in every tree and every flower greeting me.  What I felt was exactly as Henry D. Thoreau described, “life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal”. It is the feeling that you have arrived. Life is here and now, and there is no more destination to go to. Every day is magic.

The success we chase, be it fame, money, or love, is an attempt to reach that blissful land of contentment.Yet it can be illusive to us: As we reach our goal, we find another goal still ahead. Thus life becomes constant striving. The real reason is that we have not made peace with ourselves. We need to prove to ourselves and others that we are worthy or lovable.

When you have finally made peace with yourself, knowing that you are already worthy and lovable, you stop chasing that illusive state called “success”. You are no longer defined by what you do, what you get, or what you look like.  You are precious simply as a being. You are already successful simply for being here today. You are a miracle of God.

With such deep love and assurance, you can finally enjoy what is surrounding you: the sunset, the morning air, the jogger, and the mother with her baby. In your joyful moment, you are deeply connected with everything on the earth. You feel so content and happy that you have no fear of death any more. That’s highest form of existence: Void of fear of death. You have no regret, no wish list and you are experiencing the full magic life offers. What more can one ask?

Here is the full quote from Henry D. Thoreau:

“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success.

All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man.The true harvest of your my life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.”