Wilson Ng started helping the family business since 9 years old. Since then, he had dreamt to be a successful entrepreneur, one who starts great businesses  ( he has started 7) from scratch with insight, guts and initiative. He keeps his focus on growing the business by creating value-- not on politics, or wasteful distractions. He brings the same focus to community service, teaching, life and family.

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  Monday, April 04, 2005

Rethinking your Goals   (on life)

Last year, I was studying some books for my MBA class when my son approached me. 

"Dad, " he said, "why are you studying this?   I thought you had your exam last week"

"Yes, " I replied, "We had our exam last week."

"Then, why are you still studying? ", he asked incredulously as if he could not believe what he heard.

"I studied because the subject is important, and what it is teaching us is important knowledge for the business. I was busy and did not have time to study before the exam, so I am studying after the exam", I patiently explained to him.

"But dad, the exam is finished. " , he kept on, still not quite believing why anybody would be so dense as not to see his point.

I saw his point, but he did not see mine.  After all, he has been brought up with the notion that you do your homework because your teacher assigned you to, or you study because you want to get good grades and get a degree.  Many times, there seems to be nobody to remind us in a matter-of-fact way the goal of studying is because you want to learn.

I remember way back in college when I set out my task to be the smartest person in class.  The way to do it, I convinced myself, was to read one hundred pages a day.  So I decided to keep a list everyday. I would record and document how many pages I read, and make sure it was at least a hundred pages.

The objective of reading that hundred pages a day became obsessive that instead of focusing on expanding my knowledge, I was more focused on the quantity of pages read.  The subgoal, originally conceived to achieve the original goal became a goal on its own, and the main goal was forgotten.  Even when I was tired, or the book was not interesting or particularly enlightening, I made sure I would keep that hundred pages. I read so much that I really did not have much time to reflect what I was reading.  Worse, I did not even care whether what I was focused too much on reading was particularly worth reading at all.  I was hitting my sub goal, but it did not get me nearer to my stated goal of becoming smarter.

This fundamental rethinking of goals is important... in business and in life.

In our industry, our competitors have become obsessed with selling more.  Of course, the fundamental reason you want to sell more is because  by selling more, you are supposed to make more.  But many businesses cut prices, or add on unnecessary expense in order to sell more.  Pretty soon, the goal of selling more becomes the main goal.  If you think about it, would you want to sell more if you knew you will end up doing more work and actually making less?

Many people want to earn more.  Because they think it will make them happier.  However, beyond a certain point, we do see (even statistically) that many people who makes lots of money do not really end up happier.  Money, it seems, can make you happier or more miserable, depending on how you manage it.

Don't forget to allocate time -- time to reflect, time to rethink our goals.  After all, success or happiness is just a matter of understanding and focusing what is really important to us in life.

The next time I ask my kid why he is not studying, he will most likely reply its because there is no exam or assigned homework.  Maybe I need to remind him that that studying is not for the teacher, the parents or the exams.  It is to learn something!

Can I challenge you to reflect and rethink your goals?


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