Thursday, March 22, 2007

Disciplined thought and disciplined action

Vickie Eugenio-de Guia reminisces her ascent to Mount Pulag, "What inspired me first to climb Mt Pulag was my family—'bonding time.' Although we have lots of those, I was thinking it will be on a different setting.... mountains, forest, tent, nature at its finest. But after we've reached the camp site, I noticed that the focal point of my being there has shifted. If at my age I felt tired and worn out after hours of walking, what do you think a 77 year old man felt? But to my surprise, there's still that warm gentle smile that he always carries with him wherever he is, except that on that day at the peak of Mt. Pulag, there stood the man who brought us to the highest mountain in Luzon. Oscar M. Lopez did it by example, very quietly enduring the tiredness he must have felt. He did it again as always, leading his people to the top, making sure that no one is left behind."

As a backgrounder, we were supposed to climb early January, but due to inclement weather that posed a big danger to climbers, it was postponed to end of February this year. Of course, our climb was successful. This reminds me of a story shared by Justin Menkes in his book, "Executive Intelligence: What All Great Leaders Have."
He quotes Bob Davies, CEO of Church & Dwight, "We make heroes of CEOs who are decisive, bold, and brazen. We write stories about them. But an effective CEO must want the company to be successful far more than he or she wants to personally be seen as 'right,' heroic, or popular."

Menkes wrote that while this brazenness is often mistaken for strong leadership, the consequences can be deadly and not just to business success. He told the story of how American prisoners were liberated from their Japanese captors here in the Philippines.

"In January 1945, near the end of World War II, the tide had turned aggressively against the Japanese army. The Americans were sweeping across the pacific, and were preparing to take back control of the Philippines.

"At the Cabanatuan POW camp, the Japanese commander was under standing orders to slaughter all 513 American prisoners interned if the battle situation ever became 'urgent.' A rescue mission was launched ahead of the advancing American army in a desperate attempt to save the prisoners. With the help of local Filipino rebels, 121 US Rangers launched a surprise attack on the camp, freeing the men interned there. But while this initial assault was risky, the task of escorting the rescued prisoners to safety was even more daunting. Most of them were injured, sick and weak and had to endure a march of over thirty miles, with local Japanese forces giving chase.

"Of greatest concern was a battalion of one thousand Japanese troops that was stationed less than a mile northeast of the prison camp. The Japanese troops far outnumbered the American and Filipino forces and were in possession of tanks and other heavy equipment. But there was no choice—at all costs these Japanese troops had to be prevented from pursuing the escaping prisoners.

"US Ranger colonel Henry Mucci and Filipino rebel commander Juan Pajota led the rescue operations and approached the Japanese camp from the south by surprise. The Japanese commander, Tomeo Oyabu, immediately ordered his men across the bridge to confront the attackers, whom they outnumbered ten to one. But Pajota had positioned his forces in a giant V, focusing all their fire on Cabu bridge. Every charging Japanese soldier was cut down to a man. Yet, Oyabu never paused nor changed his tactics. He sent a second wave of men, and then a third. The totally ineffective, suicidal response of the Japanese commander continued, resulting in a horrible carnage until the entire Japanese unit was virtually annihilated.

"Oyabu was determined to confront his attacking foes with a fearless charge. His failure to think, in a situation where he had clearly been outmaneuvered, was his downfall. He did what so many leaders do when confronting a problem: he charged full speed ahead without pausing to consider the best way to reach his objectives."

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Why climb Mt. Pulag?

Elpidio "Nonoy" Ibanez, president of First Philippine Holdings Corporation and one of those who climbed the summit of Mt. Pulag effortlessly, says, "Why we did it . . . because it's there."

Indeed, I asked many of the 91-strong Lopez Group climbers, including the Mt. Everest Team and UP Mountaineers and the common answer was "it is there, why not?" Additionally, all of them said the view from the summit is incomparable. I was asked many times why I bother to climb mountains or take certain roads seldom taken. My stock answer is because it is there, there must be a reason why it is there and that appeals to my sense of wondering and wandering.

Let us explore some theories proposed by motivation guru Abraham Maslow about why we act the way we do. First, he said that people behave differently. Second, human behavior is the result of a motive—dream, ambition, unfulfilled need, want, desire, beliefs, values, others. Third, the fulfillment of this dream and the satisfaction of this need, desire, etc., is the goal of every human action.

So we all climbed Mt. Pulag not just because it is there, but because one of us dreamt of singing "The hills are alive" at the peak. No, she did not sing ala Julie Andrews but she sang with others to express their self-satisfaction.

Another climber, despite some physical hardships, considers reaching the top a triumph over her fears because she attempted twice before but did not come near the top. Personally, prior to joining the climb, I have this unexplained fear of heights that I could not even look down from the terrace on the second floor of my house without feeling nauseous. Sometimes, when I am walking along a bridge, I feared that my shoes would fall down or I might drop my purse or my legs will get caught between some cracks. But now, thanks to Mt. Pulag, I could look down from higher buildings bravely.

Several have climbed Pulag once or twice, but due to inclement weather, they didn't see the famous Mt. Pulag sunrise and sunset. At the top, they were even unable to see their own feet that was covered with fog. They said on those occasions, their conscious mind was preoccupied with fear of losing their ears to frostbite or dying of hypothermia.

FPHC VP Ben Liboro shares this observation: A couple of years ago, very few of us had ever heard of Mt. Pulag. But then it became the focal point of our Chairman's quest to match himself against the challenges that nature has to offer. Mr. Oscar M. Lopez has always had a love of trekking in the cooler mountain climes and the tallest peak in Luzon held an irresistible charm. This has brought him to, among others, Mt. Fiji, Japan; the Bavarian Alps, Bhutan; Mt. Sto. Tomas, Baguio City; and most recently, the foothills of Mt. Cook, New Zealand. The ascent of Mt. Pulag became the centerpiece of the Lopez Lifelong Wellness Program for 2006-2007 developed by Raffy Alunan, Gani Velazquez and Rico Demanzana.

Maybe some climbed because the big boss was there. Some used the opportunity to bind with their family and officemates.

Kelly Perkins became the first heart transplant recipient to reach some of the world's highest peak, including Mt. Kilimanjiro in Africa. She continues to climb not only for her personal pleasure but also to raise awareness for organ transplantation and donation.

For the same motives, others might do something else than climb mountains.

ASTD 2007. Join the American Society for Training and Development International Conference & Exposition this June 3-6 in Atlanta, Georia, USA and find out new products and services for unlocking the knowledge in your organization and converting them to business excellence and results at the Expo participated in by some 700 exhibitors. Please log on to or email for details.

(Please visit Moje at or email her at moje@mydestiny

Friday, March 9, 2007

Radiant thinking and mind maps

Learning & Innovation – March 10, 2007
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Continuing with learning from our Mt. Pulag Trek, I look back and saw incomparable work of natural art. Most trees such as the mango trees all around us are so full of leaves and fruits, you could only see the leaves and the trunk. The trees at Mt. Pulag are mostly skeletal, but nonetheless beautiful. They are not all leaves and fruits and flowers. You could easily see the outline of the whole tree and identify individual moss-covered branch and twig against the backdrop of clear blue sky. Each tree is a natural wonder of the world.

This brings me to think about mind maps. Think about your mind and how it works. Picture in your mind a robust bare tree and imagine the natural architecture of the millions of brain cells connected to one another as part of the "neuronal embraces" throughout your brain.

When you think of brain mapping, you think of Tony Buzan, one of the world's experts on the brain, thinking and learning skills and the one who invented mind mapping.

In their The Mind Map Book, Tony and Barry Buzan write: "What happens in your brain when you taste a ripe pear, smell flowers, listen to music, watch a stream, touch a loved one, or simply reminisce?

"Each bit of information entering your brain—every sensation, memory or thought (incorporating every word, number, code, food, fragrance, line, colour, image, beat, note and texture) can be represented as a central sphere from which radiate tens, hundreds, thousands, millions of hooks.

"Each hook represents an association, and each association has its own infinite array of links and connections. The number of associations you have already 'used' may be thought of as your memory, your database, or your library. Within your mindis a data-processing system that dwarfs the combined analytical capacities and storage facilities of the world's most advanced computers.

"As a result of using this many-hooked, multi-ordinate, information-processing and storage system, your brain already contains maps of information that would have the world's great cartographers gasping in disbelief, could they see them.

"A quick calculation will reveal that your already existing database of items of information, and the associations radiating from them, consists of multiple quadrillions of data associations.

"Some people use this vast database as an excuse to stop learning, explaining that their brains are nearly 'full up', and that for this reason they are not going to learn anything new because they need to save the precious, remaining space for the 'really important stuff'. But there is no cause for concern because that even if your brain were fed 10 items of data (each item being a simple word or image) every second for 100 years, it would still have used less than one-tenth of its storage capacity.

"This astounding storage capacity is made possible by the almost unbelievable sophistication of the intricate pathways that constitute our metabolic processes. Your brain has the ability to make patterns using the data it already possesses.

"From this gigantic information processing ability and learning capacity derives the concept of radiant thinking of which mind map is a manifestation."

Wow! And double wow because we will be privileged to learn more about these concepts from the master himself when Tony Buzan comes here to lead and facilitate a two-day workshop on March 26-27 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, aptly titled "Unleash the genius of creativity and innovation for a competitive edge." For details, call Ms. Serely Alcaraz at 887-7428 or email

ASTD 2007. Join the Learning & Innovation Team at the 2007 American Society for Training & Development Conference & Exposition at the Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA, USA, this June 3-6. There will be some two hundred concurrent sessions on career planning and talent management; facilitating organizational change; leadership and management development; learning as a business strategy; measurement, evaluation and ROI; performance improvement; and personal and professional development from which you could make your own agenda and conference sked.

For hefty discount on conference fee, please feel free to use Delegation Code 20070256 and email for affordable travel package.

(Please visit Moje at or email

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Website Up-To-Date

We would like to announce that this Learning & Innovation Website is now up-to-date. You can now read all past articles from my Learning & Innovation column and more!

We are trying to find a way to have an e-mail alert function so that you don't have to keep visiting the site to wait for new articles. You can just get alerted by e-mail.

Meanwhile, stay in touch with the website for new articles. I will talk about our recent climb to Mt. Pulag in the next few articles.

You can also check out the Book Reviews. Click on the "About P&PC" link to find out more about Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp.

Remember, on this website you can post your comments to individual articles, past or current, or send links to individual articles to your friends via e-mail.

Have fun!