Always Aim For The Top

“Never settle for rank 2 or 3! Otherwise, you will find yourself in ranks 4, 5 or worse at the bottom!

Always aim for the top!”

I first heard these lines from my High School Principal — Mrs. Lourdes Bartolabac — during our first flag ceremony when I entered high school. I would never forget these words. And I thought that it made sense. So I took it by heart. And, it served as my rallying mantra through high school, and even until now.

I remember that when I was in elementary, our class adviser in Grade 5 wrote in the board our class ranking from top 1 to 50. Twenty-fourth in the class, that was my rank.  I was cool with it because my best friend ranked 30th. So I told myself that I was more brilliant than he was since I was six notches above him. (Now, he is a lawyer!)

I thought then that what I was able to achieve was all I could give. Until I heard the pep talk of our high school principal. And, it gave me a realization that I would treasure my whole life — to never settle for JUST OKAY or mediocrity.

So in my first year of high school, I aimed for (and worked to be) number 1. When the first quarter ranking was announced, I couldn’t believe what I saw — I ranked 5th in my class. I outranked most of my high school classmates (who mostly were my elementary classmates). I think my classmates couldn’t also believe what they saw! Some were in wide smiles and some jaws were dropping. Among the names listed in the board, mine got the loudest applause from my classmates.

When I broke the news to my mom, she just gave me that do-not-pull-that-trick-on-me look. Her reaction was of course understandable. The last time I brought home an award was when I was 5th honor in Grade 1, which was not even in the star section. So telling her that I ranked 5th in the star section in the famous high school in the entire province was probably quite shocking. So when I was finally able to convince her, she just hugged me and gave me her widest smile.

My first year high school ended with me ranking 5th in all quarters.

When I reached my second year high school, I told myself that I could probably stretch myself some more. So I once again aimed for the top honor using the rallying mantra given by our high school principal. This time, I ranked 2nd in all quarters. I finally convinced myself that there is no limit to what you could do as long as you always set a high standard. So, once again, I told myself that I will push myself. I finally ranked 1st honor in the star section for all quarters in my 3rd and 4th years. Then I went to the University of the Philippines in Diliman to pursue Accountancy.

Friends, this is what I want all of you to take from this.

You all want to reach you dreams — becoming the best athlete, champion table topic speaker or hitting big in stock market –, then you should NEVER SETTLE FOR MEDIOCRITY.

Where you are right now is the result of your dreams and actions taken in the past. You might feel that there is a huge gap between your current status and where you want to be. That is okay. Don’t let the gap scare you — however, how wide it is. Always bear in mind that you can always reduce that gap as long as you set a better standard in all that you do. And the most important thing that you should never forget is you should complement your standards with actions.

Let me end this with these words from Les Brown for all of you to ponder:

“Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit.”

PS1: Featured photo was taken by Hannah Kirei Duran

PS2: Try these great selection of self-help books. Unless you look for good tools to help you and just simply rely on yourself, then you might find it hard to work on your dreams.

Material Things Don’t Really Matter

“In the eyes of a child, LOVE is spelled as T-I-M-E.”

This is part of my usual spiel every time I was assigned as a timer in a toastmaster’s club meeting. But in all those years where I was mentioning this, I failed to realize the true meaning behind these words. And, I learned my lesson the hard way.

As part of my daddy duties, I see to it that when my daughter wakes up, she would feel my presence before she fixes herself for school. I would prepare her breakfast, her lunch and her snacks. I would also ready her vitamins so that she won’t forget taking these.

My problem is when I have dragon boat training.

In a week, I target to attend three dragon boat and three boxing training sessions (alternately). I don’t have problems with boxing because the gym opens at 6 o’clock in the morning. My problem was dragon boat because the call time is at 4:30 am. I need to be there before then, while my daughter usually wakes up at 4:30 am!

To prepare my daughter’s meals, I would wake up at around 2 o’clock. Leave my condo at 3:45. And be at the dock site by 4:30 am. It is never in my nature to be late, so I need to be there before the call time. And that brought me back to my dilemma — I want my daughter to feel my presence when she wakes up.

Then, Sarah Geronimo’s movie came to my mind — You Changed My Life. I realized that I could use love notes. I could use this to let my daughter feel my love and presence.

So every morning, after cooking, doing the laundry and cleaning the kitchen, I would write love notes to my daughter. I would insert the note in her lunch box for her to read. Then, once I arrived at the dock site, I would call her by 4:30 am to make sure that she is awake. And I would give her instructions and pep talk to keep her day going.

I always do this on days when I need to leave the condo before she wakes up.

Also, on weekends, I make sure that I make time to bring her to her soccer training. I cheer her during tournaments. I find time every night to talk with her about her day.

And this is what I realized…

These simple routines make her happier than receiving material things from me — which she often doesn’t like wearing/using.

Friends, here is what I would like all of you to take from this.

We all have relationships — parent/child, romantic, or what-have-you. And sometimes, we would feel that time is not that important compared to providing material things. We would sometimes feel that providing merely material things is more than enough to make people we love happy. Actually, it is not. More than the money, it is the time and quality of our relationship (and many more) with the people we care that matter most.

One thing also that we need to realize is that time is valuable, NOT JUST TO YOUR KIDS. Time is also LOVE to your other relationships — friends and family. Spend quality time with them.

As one person emphasized to me — there are areas/factors that are more important than material things.

Let us take care of our relationships. Make the people we care feel important — whether in doing small things like love notes, watching Internet movies with them or taking them on a date.

Let me end this with these words from Mary Kay Ash:

“No matter how busy you are, you must take time to make the other person feel important.”

You Are Your Only Limit

I have a dream of someday getting myself published.

As a book-person, getting published is one of my life-milestones that I am hoping to reach. I want to see my name displayed in bookstores together with, at least, other local authors. Meeting people in my own book-signing events. I want my words and stories reaching a lot of people and inspiring them.

I am looking forward for this to happen. And, I am claiming it.

Several years ago, I got an invitation to write books — all instructional. The problem, however, was my insecurities when it comes to English. In my blog entry “Action – the distance between your Plans and your Reality“, I shared that English was my Waterloo. And still is. For the longest time, this insecurity hounded me, and was stopping me to start anything to realize that dream of getting published.

In one conversation several months back, a friend suggested that I reduce my insights into written articles. She said that I was good with giving insightful advice because of the richness of my experience. She suggested that I could actually reduce these into articles. I was, however, afraid to start so I dismissed her suggestion.

The dream was shelved again…

Around July this year, I was notified that I need to audit the Marketing section of our company. In that department, what they do was maintain the company website and drive traffic to the site. I thought that auditing that area without getting a good picture of how they do things would not do justice to my project. So I decided to create my own site. I had no idea what to place in the site, so I just typed whatever thoughts I had in my head. In a span of an hour, I was able to come up with my first three articles.

Suddenly my issue with English came to mind. For a moment, I wanted to shelve the idea. Then, it dawned on me that I can reach to others to help me with my concerns. So I tapped the most helpful colleague who gamely agreed to check my articles.

She told me that the three articles are good, and she suggested that I proceed in creating the site. Of course, I had no following. So I requested two of my office mates to access this for me to understand the events happening behind the site. After two days, I realized that I had only two visitors. I felt that it was not enough for me to understand what our Marketing does. I told myself that for me to really understand what I need to look into, I need to get a bigger traffic. So I took risk and shared my third article thru Social Media.

Now, I couldn’t believe that there are people who would actually read what I wrote. I was amazed when I observed that from two unique visitors, it actually grew to more than 500 unique visitors and 1,000 views (in just three weeks).

(By the way, thank you for the personal messages. You all know who you are.)

Today, my experiment is now converted into a habit. I come up with two to three articles a week and share these thru Social Media. From how I see it, I know that I am still far from reaching that milestone of becoming an author. I believe, however, that by regularly writing, I am inching my way nearer that goal.

Looking at everything that happened, I would say that I took a risk when I decided to go beyond (what I thought to be) my limit — writing in English. Now it is flattering to know that there are people who are actually reading and getting inspired by what I share. Some articles are even getting more than 150 views in just a day.

Friends, this is what I want all of you to think and consider — THERE IS NO LIMIT TO WHAT YOU CAN DO.

We can all become what we want — say a successful fund manager, famous trainer or win big in stock market. You can be anything. Just claim it, be open to learning and work on it. What is important is that in your journey you don’t limit yourself (with your own self-biases).

Yes, we have our weaknesses, but don’t hesitate to reach out to others. I’m pretty sure that we can find potential mentors who can and will gamely help us take on our issues.

Just to put emphasis, there is actually no limit. It is all in your mind. You just need to start to inch your way to your goals.

Stretch Yourself…

To stretch or not to stretch…

I am a nerd. Aside from exercising my brain, I also exercise my body. I am now a firm believer of exercising after getting the results of my annual physical exam. LOL.

…I do dragon boat three times a week.

…I also box three times a week.

…I plank for four minutes and eighteen seconds straight daily.

…I also run for 20 minutes a day.

This whole routine started about a month ago (except for planking and running which I started more than three months ago). If you would want to know if it was easy, I’ll honestly answer that it was not. It was hard starting this routine. But believe me that it is all worth it, and these activities sort of complement each other.

I vividly can recall my experience with planking.

It was given to me by Wanna to push me to lose weight — the 28-day challenge she got from Social Media. I was hesitant at the outset. I, however, told myself that I had nothing to lose but the opportunity to be healthy if I wouldn’t try. So I gamely obliged.

The first day was fine — 20 seconds. The second day was good as well — another 20 seconds. The next was still okay — 40 seconds. Not until I realized that it rapidly stretched the time to 60… 90… 120… up to 240 seconds by the end of 28 days. There was a rest interval of one day every after 5 days. The pain, nonetheless, was real and agonizing every time it stretches.

I dreaded the day in the challenge where I know that the time would start to increase again. You see, the challenge will  let you start with several seconds but after a day or two, it will stretch you by increasing the time between 50% and 100%. Stretching myself was really hard. But I somehow sort of able to get the technique – I had to distract my mind.

I would think of anything that would take my mind away from the physical pain that I was experiencing. I distracted myself by thinking of happy thoughts (yes, like in Peter Pan). Sometimes I counted from 1 to 100 instead, then back again from 1. Sometimes I would think of the plans for the day — say lunch meetings. There were times where I sang a fave song in mind.

Until… the pain was gone.

Now I do this for four minutes and eighteen seconds straight. My body got so used to this that my day is not complete without doing it. And the result was amazing. Together with my other exercises, I reduced my pants’ size from size 36 to size 31.

Friends, similar in life, we have our aspirations — to become a famous trainer, successful businessman, or a well-loved homemaker. One thing that we need to realize is that for us to realize our dreams, we need to stretch ourselves. If we keep on doing the same tired, non-productive activities repeatedly, then don’t expect that your plight will improve.

You have to stretch yourself by trying things you’ve never done before. Explore doing things that would lead you closer to your aspirations. You may try a cooking class, join legitimate network marketing companies or attend a toastmasters meeting. Just make sure though that all of these are align to your life-goals.

I understand that for many it may be a bit scary and hard. This is because we are not certain with what will come our way with the things we will be doing. Also, it is hard because we will be pressed to do things we are not used to be doing. I am encouraging all of you though to not focus on the hardships and pains that come with it.

If it can help, try distracting yourself. How?

…Look at what is waiting for you at the end of the journey.

…Imagine the effect to your loved ones.

…Or, simply go back to your DEEPEST WHY.

What is important is that you stretch and do something productive (consistently) to realize your dreams.

Again, let me emphasize this… You need to stretch yourself! Test your limit!

Your Issue Depends On How You See It

“Lord, thank You for …”

Sixteen years ago, I got the highest score in my first ever Accountancy exam. I got a perfect score in part 1 of the exam which was problem-solving. I was so happy with it. I told myself that it was the mathematician in me that made it possible.

When the results of the second exam came, my score was still good. I was not the highest but my score was the third highest. I was again so proud of what I have accomplished.

By the way, I just came then from a school term where I got the highest grades in my two Math subjects. I was so full of myself. I kept on telling myself that it was Math after all, so getting a good grade was really easy. Or so I thought.

(It didn’t dawn on me then that it was Accounting, and it was NOT JUST MATH!!!)

When the score for the third exam was released, I got a shock. I scored just 51% — from the highest scorer down to the bottom. And for a student who used to getting high scores, that was a heart-breaking moment.

I was dumbfounded. My classmates were comparing scores. When someone asked my score, I just smiled at the person. Deep inside, however, I was so depressed because I wanted to maintain high grades. And, getting that exam score was never acceptable. All I could think at that time was that it could bring down my grade. (What a grade-conscious student.)

When what happened sink in me, the first thing that came into my mind was my mother, and her usual line — “Kuya, Just pray…” So after dismissal, when I reached the main door of my college building, oblivious to the calls of my friends, I ran as fast as I could towards the nearest church. I approached the nearest pew, and knelt down.

And then, I prayed…

“Lord, thank You for helping me get a 51%. I know that without You it could all go downhill. Thank You, thank You so much for being there for me! It could have been just 10% but You stayed with me, and helped me do good! I also understand what You are saying to me that I need to study harder.”

Then, I stood up. Walked towards my boarding house carrying a wide smile drawn across my face. And, all the while thinking — “I was so lucky God stayed with me during that exam.”

So what’s my message to all of you?

Friends, we all play different roles — say students, businessmen or career-professionals. Together with each role is our life-goals. And as we pursue these, all of us will be confronted with challenges. These challenges can most of the time rattle us, and could most likely weaken our resolve to pursue our journey. What is important in dealing with these is how we take these.

…Look at these challenges positively.

…See these as mere avenue to help you grow.

…Think of these as means to bring out the best in you.

Always remember that how your issues in life will affect you will always depend on your perspective. So the next time that a challenge comes across your way, reflect and consider how you want that to impact your life — something that will stop your journey or something that will make you grow.

You decide!


Lift All to Him!

I am an auditor, and always proud that I am one.

As an auditor, the result of our work is sometimes scary as readers may interpret what we write negatively. Sometimes our words can cause some heads to roll. Sometimes people lost the opportunity to get promoted. There were also times when we find ourselves the receiving end of barbs because of what we have seen and reported. That is one of my scare in life that what I do would affect others negatively.

As a modern auditor, we are taught to veer away from fault-finding, and told to focus instead on how we can help our clients. The problem, nonetheless, is the execution. It is so easy to claim that we are there to help our clients but our executed procedures and reports are usually saying otherwise. This was how I felt in my early years of doing this job.

So the question is — how do we ensure that we can really add value?

Let me share my secret.

This will sound corny (for some) but I do this every start of any engagement. I would keep myself locked in a small room (usually toilet cubicle), and would pray and dedicate my work to our Heavenly Father. Yes, I raise all to Him — both work and non-work related. I would always pray that He guide me from planning the procedures down to writing the report. I would also always ask Him to etched in me the importance of helping our clients and stakeholders meet their objectives. Also, there will be instances where malicious people would try to inflict harm at me when I pry on their unscrupulous activities, so I also pray for protection.

Let me share with all of you some of the encouraging feedback from my auditees.

  • Thank you for making us realize that we need this process, now life at work is far better.
  • The risk rating that you gave in the observation was HIGH but it felt good reading the way you presented your observations and recommendations.
  • You really are brilliant… You were able to unearth the cause of the problem hounding my department for seven years. Not even our external auditors were able to find those, yet you just took a quick look and was able to find the issue.

Now what do I want you all to take from this?

Friends, I am not asking that you to go to church everyday — like this person I know and adore (which I will be sharing to all of you some other time). I am not also sharing this because I want to brag about the feedback of my auditees or how good I am at work.

What I am saying is that for everything that you do, dedicate that to Him. Be that at work, family, or your aspirations… Be that a simple milestone or issue dragging you down…

I am telling you that just being good and having good intentions in what we do are not enough. Because we are just humans, we tend to make mistakes and we need Him to bring us back to the right path.

By the way, I just used my work as an example. However, this tip applies to everything — including our life goals. So again, always seek Him, and He will lay all that you need in your journey. Believe me!

Let me end this by a verse in a Christian song:

Seek ye first the kingdom of God. and His righteousness. And all these things shall be added unto you. Hallelu-hallelujah.

Pickup the Pieces and Just Bounce Back

If you can get a message across to a large group of people, what would you say?

That was a question thrown to me by a friend about a week ago. I actually had a hard time answering the question. I reflected on my life and tried to think of something worth-sharing. My mind zeroed-in at the time when I broke to my Mom that I was about to become a young father.

That year was really hard for my family. I was about two years shy from graduating in college. My father died several months before that. As the eldest, I was expected to help my Mom raise my six younger siblings. I was also expected to help pay the debts incurred by my family when the city government implemented some projects affecting my Mom’s business (where the promises failed to materialize). My Mom also got hospitalized and operated on from the stress of providing to a brood of seven alone (where we lost almost all of our properties).

I didn’t know how to break the news to her. The burden that I was about to give to her was really heavy — not to mention that what she was carrying was more than enough to put her down. It dawned on me, however, that it would not be fair to her if I kept what happened a secret. More so if I let her discover this from others. So I mustered what I could and broke the news to her.

I was expecting hurtful words from her. She, however, just smiled at me, kissed me and hugged me tightly. She looked at my eyes and said,

“Jake, you know that I love you and your siblings so much. We have to be thankful for what happened. Your father just died, and God provided us with this angel to ease our pain.

This is what I want you to do. Never forget that you are really brilliant. You have a lot of potential in you. I want you to bounce back. People will be talking about what happened. But don’t mind them. What is important is that you bounce back. Prove them wrong.”

Those words made a lot of difference. It was etched in my mind and my heart. I took my Mom’s advice seriously. I fought against all life challenges thrown at me — financially, emotionally and mentally. My Mom’s words was my inspiration and it served as a constant reminder every time I wanted to give up on something — I have to bounce back and prove them wrong.

Where am I now?

I cannot say that I lead a lavish life. But I am leading a life with reasonable comfort.

I was able to help my Mom pay for the college education of my siblings — including their allowances and miscellaneous expenses. Helping my mom now pay our debts. I have not only finished my undergraduate degree but I was able to pursue my Masters. Residing now in a resort-type condominium. Driving my own car. Holding management position in my employer company. I also thrive and hold respectable positions in various professional and volunteer organizations. Conducting training and seminars. I trotted the globe.

And, a lot more…

Now, if I can get a message across a large group of people, I will share my story and this lesson with them…

We often times will be confronted with challenges as we try to pursue our life goals. Some of these challenges can hurt us physically, emotionally and mentally. What is important is that we bounce back, and constantly hold on to your inspiration. Go back to your DEEPEST WHY every time you hit a wall. Constantly remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing.

Believe me! You will soon be able to pickup all pieces of the puzzle, and create a wonderful picture of life. These challenges are just part of God’s way of getting the best out of you.

And to our parents, LEARN FROM MY SUPERMOM. Your kids will encounter challenges that could hurt them. Yes, they sometimes need scolding. Don’t forget, however, to share to them that at the end of their life journey what is important is that they able to bounce back. Don’t add to their injuries. Show them your love and support. Lovingly remind them that life doors are not closing on them with every challenge they face. Remind and inspire them to gather the broken pieces and just bounce back. 


PS1: I learned when my daughter turned four-years old that my Mom actually went to my father’s grave after I broke the news to her. She shared that she broke down in front of my father’s grave and asked him why my Dad left her with so much burden. But she never showed this to me. She is always the positive, motivating and loving Mom to my brood.

PS2: I am encouraging you to read this self-help book on bouncing back. This may help you gather the broken pieces and start your life anew.

The Bounce Back Book: How to Thrive in the Face of Adversity, Setbacks, and Losses

“Salmansohn’s writing is bold, playful, insightful—with powerful metaphors that provoke and inspire. Her kinetic images amplify her message and take the book to a new level of literary experience.” – Deepak Chopra, author of Seven Laws of Spiritual Success

A bad breakup. A serious illness. The loss of a job. Life has a habit of throwing people curveballs. To which Karen Salmansohn says: “When life throws you curveballs, hit them out of the park.”

In The Bounce Back Book the dynamic author whose quirky self-help books—including How to Make Your Man Behave . . . and How to Be Happy, Dammit—mixes from-the-gut wisdom, humor, feistiness, and sophistication to create a hip, inspiring resource that will brighten the darkest mood. The book is grounded in happiness research, psychological studies, Greek philosophy. And it delivers: Here are 70 easily digestible, potentially life-changing tips on how to bounce back from adversity, each on a spread that’s as punchy in look as it is powerful in message.

“Shrink negativity into nuggetivity.” “Think of yourself as the type of person the world says yes to.” With its attitude, techniques, and advice on everything from exercise to staying connected, it is a full-on guide to moving forward with great positive energy.

Share What You Know

When I was in college, I would always volunteer every summer to teach Math in the Affirmative Action Program (AAP) of UP Lawod.

The AAP-Masbate was a UP Pahinungod program handed over to UP Lawod. From what I recall, the Pahinungod decided to stop the AAP in my province (for some reasons I could not recall). So for the love of Masbate, the club decided to take over.

Several of us underwent training with UP Pahinungod in how to properly handle our desired subjects to teach. There were several points shared to us. The one thing, however, that I would never forget was the message that was overly emphasized to us by the trainer. AAP is never a venue to showcase how good you are in the subject but it is an avenue to abet and help promising high school students enter the University of the Philippines (UP).

The whole program got me excited. I remember my first time to volunteer and the preparation I’ve done.

Racked my brain before the start of the program just to make sure that I understood the topics well. I would read my outline of topics and the materials several times just to be sure that I had a good appreciation of my subject. Pored over the materials once in the morning and once before going to bed. I did this for about two weeks.

(I find it mind-boggling though that I would exert so much effort in preparing to teach. While years before that, I would not touch my Math textbooks to study.)

I did this for several years…

The regular volunteer teaching experience in the AAP taught me the importance of putting the interest of others above mine. In this case, prioritizing my students’ learning experience over grandstanding just to showcase my Math prowess. Believe me when I said that it was new to me because before I usually pounce on every opportunity where I can subtly flaunt to others that I was better. LOL.

Also, my students’ feedback and the realization brought by these instilled in me the love for teaching. Few of them shared that they felt empowered with the way I taught the subject. Some even shared that they found renewed liking for Math. There were those who shared their hope for me to teach them regularly the subject. Hearing all of those encouraged me to take my teaching role seriously.

Aside from getting an avenue to helping my students, the experience helped me and sort of  changed my life in so many ways. Let me share three of these:

…It significantly improved my confidence in public speaking when I used to be a timid nerd (who would whisper the answers to my seat mates in a graded recitation). I got used to standing so many times in front of so many people that reporting in college up to hosting national conferences now seems to be not a problem.

…It whetted my appetite to never settle to what I just know. It encouraged me to continuously explore and read on different subjects. In short, it built in me the need to always keep abreast with the things happening around me.

…It helped me find opportunities to earn extra income when I needed it. When my mom had difficulty sending regular allowance after my father’s death, the experience helped me get a job as paid tutor to students from all levels. I earned extra from teaching basic Math to preparatory students to teaching Masters-hopefuls in answering their case studies.

These are just few of the things I gained from teaching. I can mention a lot more. However, I have no intention of enumerating all and brag about the things I have gained.

So what is it that I would like you all to do?

I am encouraging you to try your hand in teaching, or just share whatever it is you think you are good at — paid or not. Share what you know to people who are young in age, in experience or in mind. Believe me when I said that the experience can do a lot to change or improve your life — both financially and not.

But aside from improving our lives, I would like to emphasize the one best thing that you can gain from teaching (that I would say can never be quantified). Teaching can give you opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.

So go ahead and try this noble profession.


PS1: I taught before at UP Diliman and Far Eastern University. And now, I just accepted a teaching load at DLSU-Manila. I am exploring the culture of our different universities, and would like to know what will work with my style. Probably I’ll do this full-time.

PS2: Try these teaching resource.


“Don’t wait for teaching to become fun again: plan for it! Unshakeable is a collection of inspiring mindset shifts and practical, teacher-tested ideas for getting more satisfaction from your job. It’s an approach that guides you to find your inner drive and intrinsic motivation which no one can take away.  Unshakeable will help you incorporate a love of life into your teaching, and a love of teaching into your life. Learn how to tap into what makes your work inherently rewarding and enjoy teaching every day…no matter what.”



Based on Dave Burgess’s popular Outrageous Teaching and Teach Like a PIRATE seminars, this book offers inspiration, practical techniques, and innovative ideas that will help you to increase student engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life as an educator. You’ll learn how to:

  • Tap into and dramatically increase your passion as a teacher
  • Develop outrageously engaging lessons that draw students in like a magnet
  • Establish rapport and a sense of camaraderie in your classroom
  • Transform your class into a life-changing experience for your students

This groundbreaking inspirational manifesto contains over 30 hooks specially designed to captivate your class and 170 brainstorming questions that will skyrocket your creativity. Once you learn the Teach Like a PIRATE system, you’ll never look at your role as an educator the same again”

Do Something Crazy To Improve Your Outlook

One Friday night (around August 2014), I took a 7-hour bus ride from Guayaquil to Baños (in Ecuador). I knew nothing about the city, how to get there or where to stay so I was a little bit afraid. But I decided to go for it and had an adventure.


Early that day, while working on my engagement, it dawned on me that all my life I’ve done nothing that can really be considered as adventurous. All I do day-in and day-out are work, work and work. I felt that my life (if to be compared with music) was really monotonous. Yes, I visit so many countries but all I do during those trips is either read books in my hotel room or visit museums. And merely reading books and looking at paintings without experiencing the events behind those stories/paintings seemed really lousy.

So I took my brochure of suggested places to visit in Ecuador (the one I got from the airport). Did a search for the best place to visit for an adventure, and I found Baños. I also Googled for a place to stay in that city. I found and booked a non-posh, US$5-room (it was non-peak  season and it was given at a promo price). Then, from my research, there was a bus departing for Baños at around 12 midnight that day. I immediately requested the CEO’s secretary to arrange a taxi from my hotel to the bus terminal (at around 11pm).

My colleagues were against my plan, and nobody would like to join me. To allay, however, their fears, I pretended and just repeated to them what I read from Google as if I knew the place well.


It was an experience that I would never forget. Aside from enjoying the breath-taking sights in the city — the church of “Nuestra Señora del Agua Santa” and the  facade of the old buildings in the city itself — I had fun with adventure sports.

…I did bungee jumping at San Francisco bridge. The bridge was around 100-meter high above  the river. And, I tried it several times.

…I also explored white water rafting in Pastaza River. I was made as the tour group’s captain because I can control the paddle well. This I owe from my dragon boat training.

…I tried as well the “Swing At The End Of The World”. It will take you out of the cliff with little safety protective mechanisms in place while you sit on a plank of wood. It was bucket-list-worthy. And the view was pretty amazing.

…I tried Canyoning down four waterfalls. The experience was really astonishing. By the way, I almost jumped off without any protection because I thought that the Spanish-speaking guide was telling me to jump. He was actually telling me to wait until he secured me to the rope. Fortunately, there were English-speaking Ecuadorians in that group. Whew!

I wanted to try paragliding as well, and I actually already paid for it. However, I was told that I was the only one interested that day, and the minimum number required for the sport was four people. I waited for others who would like to try it, but none arrived.

The Chiva’s ride to the different waterfalls was really good as well. It gave me an idea of the places I need to visit and the things I need to try in that city. Also, in the evening, the panoramic view on top of the mountain with the volcano spewing lava was picture-perfect.

As a whole, it was a wonderful experience. The whole thing helped me became better at my job. I took risk when I was trained, as an auditor, to veer away from the things that could go wrong. It taught me not to be afraid to explore and experience the world around me. It taught me how to appreciate the intricacies beyond the theories contained in the words I write as recommendations to my clients.

In relation to life, it gave me a fresh outlook in the way I see things. It made me appreciate life behind the books I read or the paintings I saw. It also made me realize that I can do more beyond my perceived limitation. And what is really important was that it taught me that actual experience is far better from the stories you read or hear.

Now, why am I sharing this to you?

Friends, we often times are stuck in our daily routine. We keep on doing the same tired things repeatedly every day. Sometimes it leaves a feeling that we are actually not moving or progressing — say in our careers. It is important that you realize that a lot of potential is lying dormant inside of you. And that you fail to see that because you are too focused on executing your daily routines. What you need is to take a few steps back, and try something crazy or different before you continue tackling what you do.

A break in your routine can do a lot of things in your outlook. So, go ahead, explore and experience different things around you. Just make sure that these are not illegal.

PS: This is a must read for all.

Wondered how others have reached their goals?
Wanted to be more engaged and present?
Wanted your life to be filled with adventure?

Get Matthew Walker‘s “Adventure in Everything: How the Five Elements of Adventure Create a Life of Authenticity, Purpose, and Inspiration”

Rest But Never Quit

More than a year ago, I had a sudden urge to skip dragon boat training.

At the hindsight, my brain cautioned me that I never skip weekday training (except when I was assigned abroad). A part of my brain, however, suggested that it was justifiable because a lot of more seasoned members were skipping training, too. The other part argued that it was never in my nature to miss training so I should not do it. But somehow a voice soothingly ended the arguments in my mind by justifying that it will just be ONE TIME.

So I have decided to skip one weekday training.

The problem was…

…I liked the feeling of not waking up really early.

…I loved the absence of pain allover my body after the training.

…I  was also not missing the foul Manila Bay scent that filled my car’s interior.

With these, that one day absence became a week. It became a month. That month became a year. Until I eventually stopped attending training.

One time, while doing some errands for my daughter, I met a team mate. She asked me when I was coming back. I just smiled at her. Seeing my team mate, however, brought me to the time when I was regularly attending training. I went back to the reason why I joined that sport.

Joining that sport was a long-time plan to help me conquer my fear of waters (which, by the way, I did) and to improve my health. And, it dawned on me that a part of myself misses the sport and my team. So, I made that decision to go back.

It was really hard going back because it felt like starting from zero — physically, mentally and emotionally. My body was not used to the rigorous exercise anymore — not to mention that I now weigh almost 20 pounds heavier. I tried to cope with the other members but I ended throwing up several times during land training.

One realization occurred to me. I had to start again — from the bottom.

Friends, we all have our life goals. The journey, however, to realizing our goals is not easy. It is not as smooth as we hope it should be. It can actually be compared to the challenges in climbing Mt. Everest — or probably can be 100 times tougher. These challenges are sometimes too Herculean that we justify quitting under the guise of resting.

Always bear in mind that the temptation to quit is stronger as we inch our way closer to the peak. I encourage you, nonetheless, to fight that urge to quit. Never let those temptations destroy your resolve to pursue your life goals.

Yes, it is okay to take a rest. However, just take a rest to recoup your strength and revisit your plans. Never make that pit stop the end of your journey. Otherwise, you will find yourself where you have started, or could be worse. And you will have to do things all over again.

I’d like to end this with this poem, by Edgar A. Guest. This is something for you to ponder.

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many a failure turns about

When he might have won had he stuck it out;

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–

You may succeed with another blow,

Success is failure turned inside out–

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

And you never can tell how close you are,

It may be near when it seems so far;

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–

It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

~ Edgar A. Guest

PS1: I started attending again weekday training starting August 29.

PS2: I am strongly abetting you to read Never Quit by Edwin Cole

“Stress. Change. Crisis! Everyone know what it’s like. Everyone has been tempted to walk away, forget it, give up. “Crisis is normal to life,” best–selling author Edwin Louis Cole teaches.”