More Thanh Words

"My name is Thanh and I'm a Blogger". Now that I have admitted to that, I can say that I'm a stereotypical "geeky" Engineer who enjoys sci-fi books and movies and into all things technological. I also love music and have a passion for FOOD. I'm a social person and like to talk to people. I hate people who are fake or overly aggressive. If you're also into some serious discussion, with a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of real emotion, then please read on.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Benefits of Failure

I read a transcript of J.K Rowling's speech to this years Harvard graduates. I must admit that I haven't read any of her books or am a fan. But I have to say that her speech was very inspiring.

I've heard bits and pieces about her life and how she was divorced and raising a child alone previously. In her speech, tells of the extreme low in her life where her marriage had just failed, she was a single mother without any money or job. That low though, helped to make her stronger. I know it's a cliche, but unless we are in that situation, we'll never really know what its like. We can only empathise, as J.K describes, which is an invaluable skill that humans have.

J.K talks about how being at her lowest meant that she lost all her fear. There was nothing else more to lose. It made her see the essential things in her life. It also helped to weed out her real friends from those who were trying to gain from her. I guess this is the classic movie plot. She has lived it. She was at her lowest, and then makes it good by hard work, a bit of luck, and having determination.

For most of us, myself included, life isn't too bad. We drift from day to day, doing what is expected of us and what is easy. How many of us can really say that we strive for our goals and really do what we are passionate about. I know that I constantly say how I want to be involved in food and the food industry in one form or another. But apart from a food blog and lots of eating, what have I really done to achieve those dreams.

I think one aspect that is stopping me is fear. It's much easy to drift along as an engineer and make fairly decent money. If I really wanted to pursue a career in food, I've been told by others already doing it that it isn't easy. There isn't a lot of money to be made and breaking through is a lot of work. That hurdle has already scared me off it. That's what separates 99% of people from the ones who "make it". The definition of making it can vary for everyone, but lets assume that it involves doing what you enjoy and also being comfortable financially so that you have options, then very few people have the drive to make it. Those people, some maybe like J.K, may have experienced failure many times, making them strong each time and more determined. So maybe we should all try and take some more risks. Whether those risks work or not, you will still benefit for the next time.

Clothes Maketh The Man

Clothes maketh the man is a common espression about how appearances count for a lot. We dress up differently for different occasions and situations. Unless you are a very confident person and feel ok to wear anything, most of us will dress "appropriately" for the situation. The level of appropriateness will still vary according to the individual.

Today, I had to go into the city for a meeting. I was dressed in my wool black suit and looked quite sharp I thought. It was a strange feeling, both negative and positive. On the one hand, I rarely need to wear a suit, so was slightly uncomfortable since it is something foreign. I'm an engineer so can get away with just wearing a button up shirt to work. The suits at the company are the sales and marketing guys, always dressed up to the max to impress clients.

So putting on the suit meant I was slightly uncomfortable since I rarely have to wear one. It was made a bit worse when I was on the train as I really stood out from the rest of the non-peak hour crowd. But after a short period of time, I relaxed and felt really good in my suit. Clothes really do maketh the man. What we wear can really affect our own confidence. When I am wearing something that I think makes me look smarter, more authoritative, thinner, more attractive, I definitely act differently to when I am uncomfortable with what I wear.

I tend to be very casual with my clothes and wear jeans and t-shirts most of the time. I know that when I'm in my work clothes, I feel more confident even when I drop by the supermarket afterwards. I think it's the feeling that I am dressed for success already makes me think more highly of myself. So when I was in my suit today, I walked with an air of confidence after my initial awkwardness.

It's a pity in a sense that modern society with has become so relaxed with attire. We rarely get the chance to dress up and boost our own sense of self slightly. I've started to wear a nice shirt to restaurants as it feels good to wear good clothes. I'm still not at the stage where I want to prance around in a suit unless it is necessary. And as much as people may argue about how you shouldn't be defined by how you look externally, it is still a vital part in many situations. You might not be able to change your face structure, but you can change your clothes. We all get judged on first impressions and conveying the right message through our clothes is vital.