Category Archives: Motivation

What is the big picture?

What is the big picture?
Often times we are blinded by what we actually see; by what happens before our eyes, by wrapping up in details and we miss the big picture: the grand scenario that may happen upon us or the destination we’re wanting to arrive at.

Close your eyes and see it. Stepping back to see the big picture is so important.

(picture taken at W Hotel Doha)

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In Qatar, we’re just a dot inside Venn Diagram intersections

It’s said that around 36,000 Indonesians living in Qatar, majority of whom (19,000) are labor workers, and about 6,000 professionals and their families. But Qatar is so small that you will bump into the same person in many other occasions.Eventually we’re just a dot inside Venn Diagram intersections. Some may be present at intersections of two diagrams, some at four, or even more. Chances are you are a member of your ex-company associations, your professional association, your university alumni association, or hobby/interest associations.

Okay, let me give you my example. I am a member of ex-Unocal (once an oil and gas company before taken over by Chevron) alumni association, a member of Bandung Institute of Technology Alumni Association (IA ITB), a member of Petroleum Engineer Association (IATMI) Chapter Qatar, and a member of non-formal groups like Sand Dune Community, Fishing Community, Sundanese Community (though I’m not a Sundanese) or Hajj Group. Many of them are on the same two or more associations, making meeting the same faces is not unusual. Though I’m sometimes surprised to find new facts: “Oh, I don’t know that you are from….” “Hey…how come you are here?” “Sigghh…it turns out we’re linked..” .etc.

One thing for sure is that the more diagrams you have the wider social networking you own. And it surely will be beneficial for ‘staying strong’ in this foreign soil.

Venn Diagram of four ‘ellipses’

Weekend without malls?

I noticed that for couple of weekends recently I spent them accidentally without going to malls. Hmmmm…. so it’s possible, it’s doable to spent weekend without them. These weekends-without-going-to-malls are worthy exercise as those big attractive red banner hanging everywhere (read: SALE) – how do you know then? – inviting unnecessary spending 🙂

In fact, it’s no that difficult to pass the weekends without malls. Last weekend for example, I went for night fishing and dune bashing Thursday night till Friday morning, then went for gathering in the afternoon. On Saturday, I spent the whole day with my kids, playing board games, rearranging their toy rooms, and reading. This weekend, another example, I spent reading on Thursday night, went to Al Khor for photo hunting in the morning of Friday, visited a friend in the afternoon till evening. On Saturday, lingered the whole morning and then went to Corniche till late afternoon.

So, it’s possible.

Next big thing is a weekend without TV and then without internet? Is it doable?

I’ll let you know.

Man Jadda Wajada

The second book I read is an English edition of “Negeri 5 Menara”: The Land of Five Towers.

Man jadda wajada. He who gives his all, will surely succeed

Inspired by a true story, the book’s main message is one thing: that He who gives his all will surely succeed, or if you give it everything you’ve got you will surely succeed.

The story has it that Alif had never set foot outside of West Sumatra. He passed his childhood days searching for fallen durian fruit in the jungle, playing soccer on rice paddies, and swimming in the blue waters of Lake Maninjau. His mother wants him to attend an Islamic boarding school, a pesantren, while he dreams of public high school. Halfheartedly, he follows his mother’s wishes. He finds himself on a grueling three-day bus ride from Sumatra to Madani Pesantren (MP) in a remote village on Java.

On his first day at MP, Alif is captivated by the powerful phrase man jadda wajada. He who gives his all will surely succeed. United by punishment, he quickly becomes friends with five boys from across the archipelago, and together they become known as the Fellowship of the Manara. Beneath the mosque’s minaret, the boys gaze at the clouds on the horizon, seeing in them their individual dreams of far-away lands, like America and Europe. Where would these dreams take them? They didn’t know. What they did know was: never underestimate dreams, no matter how high they may be. God truly is The Listener.

The Land of 5 Towers is the first book in a trilogy written by A. Fuadi—a former TEMPO & VOA reporter, photography buff, and a social entrepreneur. He went to George Washington University and Royal Holloway, University of London for his masters. A portion of the royalties from the trilogy are intended to build Komunitas Menara, a volunteer-based social organization which aims to provide free schools, libraries, clinics and soup kitchens for the less fortunate.

At many points, I have reflections on the book as some of my life experiences proved that man jadda wajada:

– I was forced out of university taking sick leave for one semester due to sick after an expedition in Ujung Kulon National Park, 1995. Skipping one semester means that I must wait in some subjects to next year to complete certain subjects as they are interdependent: you can’t take one subject unles you pass pre-requisite subject. Then, I decided to focus on study (chemical engineering), to keep minimal extracurricular activities, and to catch up others. Finally I could graduate in due time, 4.5 years, with cum laude!

– I pursued my master degree in National University of Singapore. Although I got scholarship, all of my family expenses were relied on/supported only through my own savings that probably barely enough for 2 years. Given this tight financial situation I forced my self to complete master program in only 1 year (instead of 1.5 years for normal full time student). With all hardships, at the end, one year and good GPA were the results. Man jadda wajada.

Do you have the similar experiences?

* the book is now filmed under the same title. See on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/FilmNegeri5Menara*

Saving is not enough. 100 steps not to become poor

Amidst the busy vacation, I forced myself to complete reading books. One of the five books is about financial planning. The title seems intriguing; opposite to what normally best sellers have, things like how to become rich, super duper quick ways to become rich, financial freedom in very flash time, etc.

The author, Ligwina Hananto, talked about strengthening the middle class. Middle class is like most people in Indonesia. Average of us: have income, can live proper, can go shopping, able to take vacation once a year, able to spend time in cafe, able to watch movie in cinema. Middle class feel they have enough about their financial issues as it turns out they don’t have proper plan and their power of purchase are not maintained with ability to sustain the life style for longer term.

In summary she recommended that we should have:

– Educational Fund, that enough to compensate for tuition fee increase and inflation. Here she wakes me up that saving does not solve everything. Though I have had two educational saving plans, I still have some homeworks. That I must invest in moderate to high risk instrument for long term plan to be able to meet the always increasing education fee.

– Emergency Fund, that addequate to cover our living expenses during hard time (lay-off, unfortunate events, etc.). For a family with two children, 12 months emergency fund is recommended. This fund is not necessarily achieved in one go. Putting money into gold investment may be a good idea in here. Another homework.

– Pension and Protection Plan, through insurances and pension plan. I think I get them covered although pension plan to be increased to ensure that the current life style can still be maintained in retirement life.

– Personal Fund, for vacation, sharing, charity, or religious intention. 

Ligwina also provided readers with 100 steps/checklist financial action plan, from separating monthly expenses with weekly expenses, pay all credit card bills every month, own the first house, to starting to own active asset, and ensuring pension fund achieved, so forth and so forth.

The book makes me scared. But scared that gets me think and take action! Thanks for “pinching me”, Ligwina!

Lessons of Life: Be Grateful

“I have been working here for 13 years, brother”  he answered  when I asked how long he has been in Qatar. “I am coming from Bangladesh”. Then, story flows from what his job is, his work routine, to his accommodation and food conditions.

I rarely give a ride to a stranger, due to potential liability should there be – God forbids – accident happen, but one Saturday noon after attending Train Shutdown activities, I gave a ride to this Bangladeshi man from Ras Laffan to Al Khor. It turned out that this man is working as a cleaner in a mosque in one of the companies in Ras Laffan.

“My work routine is from Sunday to Thursday, until 3.30pm. Then on Saturday until 12noon. Friday I am off” explained him in broken English. The cleaning service company provides him with an accommodation in Al Khor Industrial Area, and food for dinner. “But the dinner is not good”. “At work I sometimes have my lunch at canteen. But only after 2pm, after lunch time for employees is over. It is actually prohibited to have a lunch at canteen. Mudhir (read: boss) gives me this”. Okay, so he gets leftover from canteen, I am trying to digest his explanation.

“My salary, sir, is only 850 riyals. Never increased since 13 years ago. “

What! I was stunned. Really stunned.

I dropped him at safe road side near Industrial Area. My driving time back to Doha then was filled with afterthought. Life is really hard. This man is hailing from as far as Bangladesh only for meagre salary and hard life. I must appreciate his endeavor.

I oftenly give an example to my kids about the unfortunate people, such as low-income workers. Not for looking them down but as a reflection, a lesson of life to be always grateful, always be kind-hearted, charitable. I frequently emphasize to my kids how education and generally competencies can make a difference, and that I can’t tolerate them like to being ignorant to school or study.

What seems to be a simple ride was giving me valuable lesson of life.

Some Islamic quotes:

“What actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart of human beings, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the sufferings of the injured.” (Bukhari)

“When you see a person who has been given more than you in money and beauty, look to those, who have been given less.” (Muslim)

“Whoever is kind, Allah will be kind to him; therefore be kind to man on the earth. He Who is in heaven will show mercy on you.”(Abu Daud: Tirmidhi)

“Allah does not look at your appearance or your possessions; but He looks at your heart and your deeds.” (Abu Huraira: Muslim)

“The perfect Muslim is not a perfect Muslim, who eats till he is full and leaves his neighbors hungry.” (Ibn Abbas: Baihaqi)

Ignore!

Really true! The below wise words from Mario Teguh pacifies me whenever bad behaviors from others done to me. Like for example when I am being humiliated or intimidated on road here 🙂 by those who give flashing from behind though I am obeying speed limit or just 200m from roundabout, those who are cutting the lane abruptly, and those road users that have no sense of respect.

What harmful from
the bad behavior of others done to you,
is not the behavior, but their impact
to your peace.

… Your frustation and angry 
can ruin the mood,
and encourage you to
be as bad as them
with plans to retaliate.

Ignore.

Some of us is just a test for us.

Live for your better future,
although without them.

Be patient.

—-

Yang membahayakan
dari perilaku buruk orang lain kepada Anda,
bukanlah perilakunya, tapi dampaknya
kepada kedamaian Anda.

…Rasa kecewa dan marah Anda
bisa merusak suasana hati,
dan mendorong Anda untuk
menjadi seburuk mereka
dengan rencana untuk membalas.

Abaikanlah.

Sebagian dari kita adalah cobaan bagi kita yang lain.

Hiduplah untuk masa depan Anda yang lebih baik,
walau tanpa mereka.

Bersabarlah.