Quarantine Day 10

Four more days to go. It’s so close, yet it seems so far away.

Mom is lovely. I cherish every moment with her. But damn, I miss my kids. I miss hugging them. I miss my wife. I miss kissing her. I even miss Holly and her nutty face.

Almost there. Four more days.

I kept myself busy every hour of the day. Here is the distraction for today:

Five most important lessons from COVID-19 according to leading Canadian experts in disease control and epidemiology:

  1. Socio-economic and health inequities have made some people more vulnerable.
  2. Canada’s division of health-care responsibilities is inefficient.
  3. Centralized decision-making in health care stifles innovation.
  4. Lack of coordination stymied research.
  5. Good messaging and communication matter.

Great points, especially the last one.

Reference: Five big lessons experts say Canada should learn from COVID-19. Jan 26, 2021

Quarantine Day 9

Tom Brady! Tampa Bay Buccaneers!! The winners of the 55th Super Bowl!!! What a game! I watched the game from the beginning to the end. I’ve never watched a complete Super Bowl game before. Since we are in quarantine, I figured why not. I probably won’t get a chance to watch another complete Super Bowl game anyway. The Buccaneers’ defence was really something. They completely shut down the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes looked like a high-schooler trying to play with the pros. And this is the champ from last year! It just goes to show how great Brady is.

Tom Brady has definitely established himself as the GOAT in the NFL: 7 Super Bowl wins, 10 Super Bowl appearances, and 5 Super Bowl MVP, among other impressive football stats. The guy left his previous team, the New England Patriots, to join the Buccaneers in March of 2020. Within not even a year, Tom not only put this team on the map to be one of the contenders of the Super Bowl, but also won it all in the end while being the Super Bowl MVP. I mean, talk about individual excellence and the ability to influence others. Apparently he made a players only speech in the locker room right before the game. I wonder how that speech was. I don’t know that much about football, but I can see the parallels in other sports. Michael Jordan and LeBron James in basketball stood out for me. Like Brady, they did not only produce results on an individual level, but also impacted and influenced people around them to achieve outstanding performance, sometimes even more than what others could realize on their own.

I aspire to be like these athletes. I’m turning 40 this year, so I wouldn’t have a chance in the sports arena to be impactful. However, as a father to my children and a coworker to my colleagues, I believe I have what it takes to influence and lead by example.

Quarantine Day 8

We are now passed the half way mark of our 14-day mandatory quarantine. Mom and I are blessed that we are healthy and have no ill symptoms. Another week to go.

It was a sunny day today. Last week, my good friend David reminded me about spraying the fruit trees. I looked up the quarantine rules and that it’s okay for me to go out to my backyard as it’s a closed private property. Therefore, it was a perfect day for spraying. David advised to only spray the pear, plum, cherry and apple trees. They were more susceptible to bugs than other fruit trees on the property: fig, apricot and black currant. The spray was mixed from dormant oil and sulfur; a package I had purchased from GardenWorks last year in preparation of this winter’s spray. Since this is my first year spraying the trees, David warned me that the spray was stinky and to avoid getting it on my clothes. I was wearing two masks and was still able to smell how stinky it was. Following David’s advice, I was covered from head to toe, to prevent splashes and stains. I didn’t take any pictures. I was also told that it’s best for the fruit trees to soak in the oil spray for the next 24 hours.

The weather report said it wouldn’t rain until Sunday afternoon. I’m hoping the weather team was right.

Quarantine Day 7

There are highs and lows in life. Today was a low day.

I really messed up a role play session at my Crucial Conversations training today. We were given a scenario and asked to play our assigned roles to practice applying one of the techniques for creating a safe environment to foster a mutual purpose. I wasn’t confident in applying the technique, so I skimmed over the scenario and spent more time understanding how the steps within the technique could be used. I did a terrible job at the role play. I had completely missed the premise that I was an HR professional trying to come up workarounds for a missed target, and my solution was to schedule a meeting with HR to discuss options. My role play partners were like, but you are HR! It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my professional life. I couldn’t believe I bombed it.

This incident led to a series of self-reflection, regrets and introspection tonight. I anticipate this feeling to linger throughout the weekend. I will make peace with it. I know I will, but it’s just too fresh right now. I need to learn from this mistake and get better. I need to bounce back from this and be better. I can be better. I can, and I will.

Quarantine Day 6

One of the great things working for CIHI is that the organization values its people and encourages continuous learning. Steve approved my request to take the Crucial Conversations course despite some hurdles along the way. I started my two-day course today. It was an early start (6am!), but it was worthwhile.

One of the biggest takeaways from today’s course was the STATE my path technique they taught us to use for expressing our views in a way that makes it safe for others to hear them. I really like the Fact – Story – Ask part of the STATE (Share your facts, Tell your story, Ask for others’ paths, Talk tentatively, Encourage testing). In a difficult situation and when emotions are running high, we can apply the Fact-Story-Ask template to share our perspective with the other party.

Fact: I saw… I heard… I noticed…

Story: I’m starting to think… It seems to me… I’m wondering if…

Ask: How do you see it? Can you help understand…? What’s your view?

To put it in practice:

Hey Griffin, I noticed that you didn’t put away your toys as I asked you to for three times now. I’m starting to think that you were ignoring me on purpose. I know it’s not true and that you love me. Can you help me understand why you haven’t put your toys away yet?

There are so many other good tips and techniques I like and will practice with real world examples.

Great course! Highly recommended.

Quarantine Day 5

Had a very emotional video call with the kids tonight. Before this quarantine, we sometimes sang songs together after dinner and while Anya’s at Oxygen. Tonight I figured I’d play the guitar and they would sing on the other end. It started out all good. I was just playing the guitar and the kids were goofing around. Serena likes the Lost Boy song by Ruth B. We started to sing that one. Just as we were getting into the chorus, Serena started crying, and then Griffin started crying, and then I started crying. It was an emotional moment for us. Then I tried to play something upbeat. It didn’t work. I eventually put the guitar away and made a few corny jokes with the kids. Then everyone was happy again.

Boy, am I looking forward to being done with this quarantine.

Quarantine Day 4

Last month, I read Ask for More: 10 Questions to Negotiate Anything by Alexandra Carter. I was pretty proud of myself for finishing that book in a month. I mean I started the book last year, but still. The majority of the book was completed this January. It goes to show when we dedicate ourselves to do something or commit our time to focus on doing something, we will achieve results.

I’m currently reading The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger. My friend, Leo, recommended this book to me last year. We were talking about having patience in our jobs and persevering for opportunities. Leo said I have to read this one.

I read the Prologue today. The book started out a bit slow with tragedies like the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando and the alligator attack at the Grand Floridian Hotel. Both incidents brought my mood down as lives were lost, including a two-year old boy. Iger picked things up as he concluded the chapter. Below are some highlights from the end of the Prologue:

“As I near the end of all of that and think back on what I’ve learned, these are the ten principles that strike me as necessary to true leadership. I hope they’ll serve you as well as they’ve served me.

Optimism. One of the most important qualities of a good leader is optimism, a pragmatic enthusiasm for what can be achieved.

Courage. The foundation of risk-taking is courage, and in ever-changing, disrupted businesses, risk-taking is essential, innovation is vital, and true innovation occurs only when people have courage. … Fear of failure destroys innovation.

Focus. Allocating time, energy, and resources to the strategies, problems, and projects that are of highest importance and value is extremely important, and it’s imperative to communicate your priorities clearly and often.

Decisiveness. Leaders must encourage a diversity of opinions balanced with the need to make and implement decisions.

Curiosity. The path to innovation begins with curiosity.

Fairness. Strong leadership embodies the fair and decent treatment of people. Empathy is essential, as is accessibility. … Nothing is worse to an organization than a culture of fear.

Thoughtfulness. Thoughtfulness is one of the most underrated elements of good leadership. … It’s simply about taking the time to develop informed opinions.

Authenticity. Truth and authenticity breed respect and trust.

The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection. This doesn’t mean perfectionism at all costs, but it does mean a refusal to accept mediocrity or make excuses for something being “good enough.” If you believe that something can be made better, put in the effort to do it. If you’re in the business of making things, be in the business of making things great.

Integrity. Nothing is more important than the quality and integrity of an organization’s people and its product. … The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”

I’m looking forward to reading this book.

Quarantine Day 3

Day 3. Back at work today. The house was weirdly quiet without the kids. Mom slept most of the morning. She’s still dealing with jet lag.

My colleagues were happy for me about Mom’s safe arrival. I could tell everyone was concerned about my health and me in this quarantine. Such kind and awesome people I work with. I belong to a great team.

When 7pm rolled around, I automatically started to get things ready for kids’ bed time, only to realize kids weren’t around. I miss these guys so much. Serena was sad today about us not able to spend Chinese New Year together this year. We settled on having a celebration on the weekend when we complete this quarantine and they are able to move back into the house. Thinking of CNY, I went back to last year’s photos and relived our Chinese New Year celebration in 2020.

Chinese New Year, 2020

Quarantine Day 2

Today went by with some meaningful activities:

  • I finished the Ask for More book.
  • Mom and I cooked brunch and dinner together. Brunch was noodles with beef and dry beans, and dinner was a three-dish meal: fried ling cod, spinach, and beef, snap peas and red pepper stir fry.
  • A full body workout, followed with a Tai Chi lesson from Mom.

Tai Chi was fun. I’m hoping to keep that up throughout the quarantine.

Below are some of the good lines I enjoyed from the Ask for More book from Alexandra Carter:

  • We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers. – Carl Sagan
  • When you ask the right questions, of yourself and others, you open a window to create value far beyond what you can imagine. Leading your negotiation with questions not only helps your bottom line, but it helps you connect to people in a way that can transform relationships, personally and professionally.
  • When you change your questions, you change the conversation.
  • The first negotiation in any situation is the one you have with yourself.
  • In my work, I teach that negotiation is any conversation in which you are steering a relationship.
  • Everything you see, hear, and feel helps you steer with accuracy toward your goal.
  • So what happens when you treat negotiation like steering a kayak? First, it means you don’t wait until the contract comes up to negotiate with your boss or client. You don’t wait until your relationship feels like it is in crisis to have a conversation. Instead, you are continuously piloting those relationships in every conversation you have. And second, you take in the right information to help you steer toward your goal. You ask great questions. You use advanced listening skills to get information that helps you shape your deals. In sum, you approach those conversations intentionally. You treat them all as part of your negotiation of that relationship.
  • “Tell me” is a magic question that opens up an entire world to your view.
  • The best negotiations, relationships, or client interactions start with you – a process of self-discovery that helps you get clarity on who you are and what you want to achieve.

The above are some of the highlights from the Introduction chapter. It’d be impossible to share everything I liked from the book. There are too many! Though I do want to share the last two sentences of the book:

  • When you stay curious in your negotiations and relationships, you’ll see that other people start looking to you as a model, and do the same. In this way, good negotiators become leaders – at home, at work, and in the world.

Here is a handy checklist of the 10 questions to negotiate anything by Alexandra Carter:

The Mirror

  • My definition of the problem/goal (What’s the problem I want to solve?)
  • My needs/what those look like (What do I need?)
  • My feelings/concerns (What do I feel?)
  • My previous success (How have I handled this successfully in the past?)
  • My first steps (What’s the first step?)

The Window

  • Their definition of the problem/goal (Tell me…)
  • Their needs/what those look like (What do you need?)
  • Their feelings/concerns (What are your concerns?)
  • Their previous success (How have you handled this successfully in the past?)
  • Their first steps (What’s the first step?)

Great book! Highly recommended.

Quarantine Day 1

Today Mom and I started our Day 1 of the 14-day mandatory quarantine. It was a pretty quiet day. We got up around 9am and had breakfast around 10. Breakfast was called “baba” (粑粑), a Korean rice cake like main dish. Mom taught me and we cooked it with beef and veggies. Last time I had this was in Hunan. Mom brought it for nostalgic reasons as we can’t buy this in Canada.

The highlight of the day was seeing Anya and the kids from a safe distance. They stopped by for a quick wave before kids CrossFit. I’m going to miss hanging out with these guys.

I read most of the day. Almost finished the Ask for More book. Mom unpacked and did her daily routine with singing, dancing, praying and meditating. We had two meals and I already felt like I’ve gained 10 pounds. Mom’s food is so good, and I’m going to cook with her every day during this quarantine. I also did a core exercise routine. I intend to exercise every day from home. It’ll be something different.

Breakfast.
Nainai loves Serena’s writing and drawing.
Dinner.