I remember the days where everyday I feel like I was on the verge of a great discovery, constantly looking forward for the sight of the moonlight for me to start working on my project: To shed light to my everyday question, “What next attribute of God might I learn next?” I remember those days, the nights where I would scour book after book, page after page, asking questions one after another just to go down deeper into the rabbit hole, hungry to learn more about God and his mysterious attributes, like a hungry hiker who’s dying to behold the beautiful scenic view of the summit that lies just right after the needed arduous hiking. Those were the days where I was constantly learning about God. The days where the learning was intentful and adventurous.
Tonight I sit in my chair as my books collect dust. My pursuit of knowledge seems to have plateaued as compared those days. This unfortunate event means something to me because I discovered that engaging my mind in the things of God somehow fans the flame of my faith (and also that I have a pile of interesting books collecting dust). And yet, in spite of my recent cold inactivity, the Lord is faithful still. Like a father who continues to guide and instruct his child towards good upbringing, He keeps on teaching and guiding me still. When these new knowledge is not delivered through books, they are delivered to me through experience.
I feel recently that the Lord is teaching me something important: I feel The Lord is teaching me to learn to give up control.
As a person who’s self-aware of his want of total control, this is a hard thing; When you believe you believe you can do almost anything and can overcome almost anything, relieving control and giving it to someone else is nail-bitingly hard. But through hardships, through towering responsibilities, and through friends and family, I was forced to surrender my hand. And surrender I did. And through surrendering I discovered new things: I discovered the light yoke that was waiting me, the responsibility of the need for skillful delegation, the courage to rely on someone, and the faith needed to let God be God. And the ringing reminder that at the end of it all nothing is of value apart from the eternal things.
Maybe someday I’ll finish my stacked books. Maybe someday I’ll gain stronger control of things yet still be willing to give it up. And maybe fanning the flame isn’t just through to the feeding of the mind; Maybe fanning the flame also means experiencing it and living it.
I can do one-hand pushups!
Given my lanky ectomorph body, this fact almost always surprises people!
Yet it’s true. I spent almost a year studying, dieting, testing, and training my body so that it can finally be able to do the targeted feat. To be able to do one-hand pushups was one of my yearly goals that I set last year, which I set because I wanted to learn how I can better take care my body.
It took me around eight months. Muscles cracked. Joints snapped. I started from normal pushups, to varied forms of it, to core workouts, then I started dieting, and then slowly I focused my efforts on pushups that isolate the stress to just one arm.
Pursuing goals without sharing them is difficult, thus I also asked a friend to by my accountability partner. I shared my goal, I set deadlines, I made training schedules, and I designed consequences. Luckily my friend was more than willing to participate.
The experience taught me a lot of things. From the human body. To diet. To discipline and consistency. To motivation. To mindset. Yet the most valuable thing that I got out of it isn’t one of them.
The most valuable lesson that I got out of it is this:
The mind gives up twice as times earlier than the body does.
I think I read this out of a book, or a workout magazine, or a blog. I’m not sure anymore. But I was eager to test out that theory.
When I was in pain, I cheered myself.
When I felt lazy, I pushed myself to just do it.
When I feel like my body can’t endure it, I just recited that the mind gives up twice as times earlier than the body does.
And then I discovered, my body indeed can take more than what my mind suggests.
The mind gives up twice as times earlier than the body does.
And this knowledge continues to allow me to push myself just a little bit harder.
The 21 Common Sense Business Development Truths are points of business truths coined from the book “Financial Times Guides: Business Development – How to Win Profitable Customers and Clients” by Ian Cooper.
These down-to-earth truths, as Ian has coined, offer much wisdom on how to develop your business, whether you’re just planning to start out or you’re already running in traction.
The 21 truths in it’s entirety are titled as follows:
- Focus your efforts on turning your enquiries into business and not just on generating leads.
- Exceed customer or client expectations.
- Speak to potential customers or clients … and speak to them nicely.
- Be open for business.
- Don’t let your admin get in the way.
- There’s no job more important than helping customers or clients part with their cash!
- Don’t let technology get in the way.
- Quality and word-of-mouth count for everything.
- Actively strive for consistency.
- Recruitment is part of business development.
- Keep in touch with your existing and past customer and clients.
- Master social online media.
- Test your ideas, concepts, and prices.
- Plan, but keep things simple.
- Take complaints seriously,.
- Make your customer or client environment appropriate.
- Train your people to spot opportunities.
- Get out of your office or premises and mix and mingle.
- Find a niche and specialise.
- Model what works best.
- Be squeaky clean – you need to be trusted.
These truths pack a lot of punch. Without getting into the nitty gritty of things (I advise to read the book for details), I will summarize them into five points:
- Customers first. Your business exist for your customers. As much as possible, exceed their expectations. Ask their feedback. Take their complaints seriously. Talk to them and build your relationship. Make their life better and easier.
- Goals over processes. It is harmful to get short-sighted by focusing on the processes and procedures without thinking long-term and asking the following questions: What is our business here for? What do we value? What are our goals?
- Test your ideas, concepts, and prices. “Business is not, as some think, about taking wild risks. It is about making sensible and sound judgments based on information that is usually available. Test as much as you can, so you have as much information as possible. In this way any risks you take are calculated ones, which then ‘stack the odds’ in your favour.”
- Model what works, but find a niche and specialize! “If something has been consistently successful in the past, there is a reason for it.” At the same time, it is being different that makes businesses stand out.
- Build trust. I’ve built Progressia with zero financial capital, instead I built it all just on the economy of trust. Be clean. Have strong values. Be honest. Be a person of utmost integrity. In the smallest of things, realize that it’s an opportunity to practice your character. And then you will attract people who will want to help you succeed and do business with you.
I have a really weird name.
My name is something that makes people scratch their head. It stumbled my teachers, blundered cashiers, confused my then-be-managers, and baffled my business partners. Other than being a one-of-a-kind name, it purely consist of consonants, making people unsure how to pronounce it. It is weird to pronounce and equally weird to spell and write. To make things worse, people would think that it’s not my real name but an acronym for something.
But my father named me Pyl (pronounced as “pill“) for a reason.
Even though the explanation doesn’t make total sense to me, but I am told I was given such name because my father wanted a “unique”, “special”, and “futuristic” name for me. Even before I was born, I am special to him.
I was named with a purpose.
He wanted uniqueness; He wanted me to be special; He named me after the future. Maybe that explains why I’m kind of aloof, a bit prideful, and hell-bent on working towards a better brighter future.
But more than that–more than what my earthly father did–is what my Father in Heaven does. He knows my name and calls me by it. He planned me and formed me with my name in mind.
And I’m sure He doesn’t stop for a second to scratch His head, if he has one, whenever he sees or hear my name.
How comforting could that be?
I think I am a weirdo.
My age is something that I prefer to not bring up–if I can just forget it and cast it into oblivion. But I think I cannot just do that. I have to yield to it at some point, and probably even to reality. Most especially since I have a feat that I need to drill into my thick skull: That I started a startup in my twenty three years of living. I am a twenty three year old CEO. And the startup that I started, which I started with zero financial capital, still lives after almost one year of being founded!
This experience is something that I want to poke at, to think about, to learn from, to dissect, to treasure, and yes, to write on.
These points that I will be sharing may be jumbled, but here are the lessons that I learned from this crazy of an adventure that you might also learn from.
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur who plan to juggle a dayjob and a startup, read on!
This may not be an important thing if you have your hands free for your startup (or your dayjob), but when you have a dayjob and a startup, pro time management skills is a must! You’re working two jobs at the same time! The other has a distinct clear future and it pays your bills; The other is a high-risk-high-reward venture that may not pay anything yet.
I believe some of the actions for this then is to develop effective time management strategies and a commitment to be purposeful in the usage of time. And last but not the least, to not just work hard, but WORK SMART.
A GREAT part of the strains of startup is psychological stress. I think this is highly the case if you’re also the CEO of the group. There’s only so much that you can handle. The stress, your thoughts, your emotions, and your physical weariness — these are heavy and they will take a toll on you.
Some of the actions then, just like above, is to develop effective strategies for dealing with stress. Your self-talk, your feelings, your thoughts, your determination, your vision, your habits, your systems, your environment, your faith, etc. Most of them basically revolves around how you manage your self. I believe self-management is a very important part of this experience.
I think that in terms of technical growth, personal and character development, and networking opportunities, I am growing faster than most of my peers. I’m working more than the standard 40 hours a week. I’m being exposed to more technical problems and solutions. I’m meeting and talking to more people. I’m solving more problems crossing across diverse natures and disciplines. My speed of gaining experience and the areas where I gain experience is much more demanding and robust.
This also became evident with my dayjob. As a result, I had been entrusted with more responsibilities, I had more confidence, I was faster, and I also became more inquisitive of how the systems, processes, and business of our company work, which to me previously was hiding from plain sight.
This is also the stage where I came face to face with my own immaturity and lack of experience. When you’re twenty three and you started an initiative with people who are more experienced than you, you can’t help but see it. But it is how you take it as a learning opportunity that I consider to be most important.
On Pain, On Grit
I have to admit that a lot of days I just want to give up: Mornings where I wake up and start the day by questioning my own existence: Nights where I cry out of pressure: Vacations where I can’t take my mind from work, etc.
The days then will come where you will start to question everything. Your motivations, your actions, your plans, your life. But from there, I found a solid foundation upon where my motivations and dreams are laid. So I find the grit to press on. And I find a stronger source of light that lives within.
One of the lines from a successful entrepreneur that I can’t forget is this one: “Running a startup is like eating glass and staring into the void.”
Running a startup is painful. But it also develops a stronger will, a stronger mind, a stronger heart, a stronger grit.
One thing that I also learned from this experience is this: That I need to practice grace. Not only towards others, but most especially towards my self. Ideally to be gracious as how the Lord is gracious.
After all, we are just beggars of of grace.
On Moving Forward
My sister said that I now achieved a childhood dream of mine: To be a CEO. I really hadn’t thought about it. But if I now think about it, it is kind of true to a degree. I am indeed living the dream.
The doubts, the struggles, the weariness, the uncertainty, they all contribute to the pain that keeps me from practicing gratitude. But having a mind for gratitude is important.
And from this gratitude, I’m moving forward. Despite the struggles, I’m learning more about the world. I’m getting progress.
We initially named our startup “Progress” because we want to have progress.
After wanting to revise our name, I suggested to name us “Progressia” because I want our startup to become a symbol of progress: A group of people who are working towards progress, not just for ourselves, but for our people and our nation.
We want change.
We are working towards progress.
In the case that if we fail, we will actually not since we stand as “people who are working towards progress.”
Win or lose, we will still win.
It’s a win-win scenario.
I think I am well acquainted with fear.
I have heard friends say that I am too courageous, probably nearing to the degree of recklessness. I make decisions involving obvious risks with personal consequences. I make decisions that would make my knees and jaw tremble. I desperately move forward, making decisions that will push my self towards the outside of my comfort zone.
Because I am against fear, I will attempt to write some of my thoughts about it.
Fear Amplifies Humanity
I believe I can achieve any thing as long as I set my eyes on it. And it is not just me, but I heard mentors say that I’m the type who’ll excel at whatever thing that I’ll set my eyes on.
But fear. Oh, fear.
Fear is one of the many things that makes me realize something most important: That I am just human. That I am dust, weak, stupid, fragile, sick, dependent. And luckily, this fact helps me to stir my ship away from the pit of conceit. It helps me to bring me to my knees. It amplifies my humanity. It makes known to me the great disparity between man and God, and with it reminds me of my great dependence to God.
Fear Shows Direction
The human brain is amazing. It has different regions, with different functions, with different natures, with different “sub-brains”. And out of all the “sub-brains” of our whole human brain, the one which I blame to be the cause of fear the most is the “Reptilian Brain”. The Reptilian Brain is the brain responsible for giving us “instinct” and is most attributed for our survival.
But the thing with the “Reptilian Brain” is that it can be really selfish.
It clouds sound judgement. It twists logic. It pollutes morals and ideals. It makes our vision short-sighted and our decisions weak, concerned only for the Now instead of looking ahead for a greater better Future.
That is why the moment that I notice myself feeling fear is most of the time the moment that I know what action to pursue: That I should all the more do these things that makes me feel fear.
When confronting my own fears, my inner dialogue usually goes on like this:
Pyl: “Do you feel fear?”
Pyl: “Well. My knees are trembling. I definitely feel fear.”
Pyl: “Why do I feel fear?”
Pyl: “I feel fear because I don’t know what will happen. What if I’ll embarrass myself? What if I’ll make enemies and make people dislike me, even hate me? What if I’ll be alone? What if I’ll fail real hard?”
Pyl: “Why am I afraid? Didn’t Jesus said that Perfect Love casts out fear? Then why am I afraid? Shouldn’t I not be afraid of evil even through the valleys of death, because His rod and His staff gives comfort? Does running away from this justify this fear? Or do I want to just run away so I can selfishly save my own skin? Why this fear???”
Rationalizing against fear can work. It allows me to detach myself from the feeling and allow me to see the hard facts. It makes me stand strong despite with trembling knees. Also, knowing God’s words on fear is a tremendous boon.
This is then why fear gives direction when decisions are hard to make.
Fear Gives Courage
Without admitting fear I think there can be no development of courage.
It is when we realize that we are afraid that we can identify our self. And then from there take steps to quell our shortcomings and develop our character.
Of course, I think fear can be never ending. But I also think fear is something that is worth fighting against.
Finally, there is absolutely every reason to feel fear for things. But I also know something that will make a great daily reminder: That our most deep seated fear should be reserved and be realized for Someone most worthy.