Sunday, September 30, 2007

all the more the truth must be told

For Kenji Nagai

For bringing the truth to your people from places no one dared to go.

For showing the world on behalf the Burmese people that they have been oppressed far too long. That truth in their country has been distorted and untold by their devillish overlords.

For being unrelenting even in the face of danger.

For using the medium of film to plainly tell truth.

For telling us we cannot sit by and do nothing for this world any more.

If you didn't die in the line of fire for this truth, journalism in and about Myanmar might never be revived in its honesty, like it is today.

Democracy might remain hidden and imprisoned for them.

You may be but one person, but you changed the world for moments such as this.

Thank you, Nagai-san.

what makes me cry nowadays

Bruce Springsteen's songs
When the UN envoy gets to meet Aung San Suu Kyi
Reading about the John Lennon assassination in 1980
And thinking about when Leslie Chung killed himself in 2003
The Vietnam bridge collapse
The monsoon rain-floods in India
The Japanese journalist who died in Yangon
The fact that I can't have solitude when I want it

showhand, and I feel better.

Dear Y

I promised you I will return to you with an answer in two weeks since we last met, as to whether or not I will return to work as per normal after this two-month unpaid rest. Here is my reply.

I have decided that I would like to resign.

As promised also, I will return in two weeks’ time at the end of my sabbatical, to serve out my notice.

You have asked me to share with you any reasons why I have been sick, stressed out and unhappy with my work situation. Because I respect you and the organisation I will explain the reasons why I feel this job is no longer suitable for me.

1. Decline in job satisfaction

I enjoy and excel in being a part of the conceptualisation and start up of new projects, for example, V-. I am aware that there are new plans ahead for me to implement as well. However I feel that much time and effort of mine are taken away from actually conceptualising and starting up, but are instead being overly channelled towards clerical administrative tasks such as collecting work assignments, processing payments, preparing and printing slides and notes etc. While I am capable of doing these tasks, I find that I have become unable to do what is really important, and also, feel injustice for the organisation that pays a senior executive to carry out menial tasks that a dedicated temp will be able to do just as well. I am also tired out by such unsatisfying tasks and thus, after weeks of overwork yet unable to do what is really important, I have fallen very ill from stress and lack of rest.

I also feel left out of the process of strategising and conceptualising new projects, as I would very much like to input ideas and create collaborative partnerships. I am excited by being part of collaborations such as with R- or W-, or in spearheading other new initiatives which I think of, such as starting a c- section in our department, or simply initiatives that make our current flagship projects even better. I am quite sure that I am adept at such tasks but I do not foresee that much opportunity will arise for me in such areas while I am in this position because it is not in my mandate to do so and I have no time to any of these even if I were to put in weekends and week nights.

2. Lack of professional growth and development

For the past seven months I feel that I have stagnated in my skills development. Because my job is not challenging enough, as a result I do not need to learn anything new or difficult in order to carry this out. I feel that if I stay in this position I will decline in my value as a professional. Thus, for my career survival it is essential that I find a job that plays to my strengths (this is related to point 1 above) as well as allow me to continuously learn. The ability to have to keep growing is fundamental to my job satisfaction as well, and because it is not necessary for me to learn anything new or to improve my strengths to do my job well, I am honestly dissatisfied with my job.

I also do not find anyone in the organisation suitable for me to learn from as a professional mentor or role model as I feel that the organisation has a subconscious tendency to keep mediocre staff while preventing talented people from joining, growing and staying in the organisation. This is a human resource management deficit and not a flaw in the characters of those serving in Y-. I am sure that all staff, present company included, desire very much to grow and achieve more in their career in servanthood but the developmental platforms to learn have to be ever-present, which is not the case in Y- in my opinion.

My career goal is to be involved in international humanitarian work, with impact in countries where the poorest and neediest populations are. I strongly believe in Y- as it has both a local and overseas impact. However, I feel that I have very little industry knowledge to gain in Y-that will benefit me in my professional growth in this area. Our IP department is currently more focused on school style trips, but I hope to learn more about developmental issues in the region, solving acute problems facing developing countries, contributing where the basic survival and spiritual needs are great. I do not foresee being able to impact communities meaningfully while being in my present capacity, or learning very much about these abovementioned issues while being in Y-. Having said all this, I still very much am supportive of Y-’s work as an NGO and as a social enterprise, and this direction is very much what I believe in strongly in the times to come. But I feel that there is much more to learn, and perhaps not while I am in this organisation.

3. Job-fit

I have come to understand even more strongly now that I need to be in a capacity where I can lead, as this is part of my strengths. I have an ability to empathise with people, understand their strengths and weaknesses, establishing relationships, and motivating others towards challenging goals to make the organisation excel. Be it in leading youth, having an impact in a team, mentoring people, this aspect of being able to lead through serving others, is fundamental to my job satisfaction and performance. I may not make the best leader yet, but being able to perform and grow in this strength would help me get there, which is not present in my current job. I enjoy making others succeed. I do not have much opportunity to carry out any of these in my present position and hence feel that this job is not suitable for me. I recall that you and D asked me in my interview if I minded being in an executive role despite coming from a management role. I do not mind the job title or lower pay or the absence of credit to my name – this is not an ego or pride issue - but I do have a basic need of being able to work in a position which plays to my strengths.

4. Poorly-designed organisational structure

Because of my analytical nature, my management training, and my relationships with and observations of people in the organisation, I have come to conclude that the organisation’s structure is flawed in many ways, in my own opinion. This weightily impacts job design, mine and others, and this is a source of de-motivation to me.

For example, I feel that we ought to have a fundraising department, one that takes care of fundraising, charity and community events, strategic corporate partnerships, donor relationships. At this moment, these chores are seconded to staff volunteers around the organisation, or confined only to management to perform. As a result, many are overworked and there are no dedicated personnel to make our fundraising efforts go one notch up towards excellence. I also feel that our organisation needs to have a membership focus department, and not at present being controlled in various locations such as CA , IH and LP. As another example, our CS division can also be better organised, but at its present state with headcount deficits, it is causing organisational performance gaps, leading Y- to perform at a subsistence level instead of excelling as it should. I desire to belong to an organisation that excels and hopefully even be a part of making it cutting edge, and not belong to one that subsists at the mediocre level, which is why I feel professionally frustrated - this organisation can do better just in the way the structure is built, but I am not in a position to make any change in this aspect. The performance gaps caused by a flawed structure are being met by other people beyond their own job scopes and daily SOPs, perhaps even by those who do not wish to or do not excel in these areas, which is not an ideal situation. Such organisational deficits demotivate me and I recall leaving my first sales job in a printing firm because of this very reason. That company I left is still functioning at the mediocre and does not appear on the map of its industry any longer even though the economy has recovered since then.

5. Organisational culture

When I first joined the organisation, I have felt extremely satisfied and motivated by the organisational culture, where there is consensual decision making (as in almost all NPOs for accountability purposes), genuine work relationships, shared values, and respect for one another. However, of late these things have changed. I find that decision making is now more top-down than ever; work is done based more on mandate than through relationships; values such as the value of people, empathy, selflessness and servanthood , are no longer same across the board; and mutual respect for one another in the Y- team has now been eroded. These aspects are what make Y- a truly unique and memorable place to work and excel in, what makes Y- Christian on the inside, and if I could, this work culture is what I would like to protect. But I am not in the position to be able to do anything about it, except to fight its erosion to myself. And those who are able to effect change may or may not realise this or maybe, situations limiting, are unable to do so, which I completely understand. While an organisation cannot be perfect, a good environment is always a motivating factor for any staff.

I hope this explanation suffices. Thank you for everything, for the value you have placed on me. I am sorry to have let you down, but it is my self-preservation, and my desire to be fair to the organisation, that has led me to this decision.



Thursday, September 27, 2007

new bookshelf of sorts

Not sure if you can see this picture clearly but I have found new space for the books that cannot find space on my already-full book shelf. I think they give my lounge area a quaint, book-cafe style look! I am hip and happening!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

  1. Stress undoes me. I really cannot do stress now, even in the form of making decisions fast, or having a lovers' quarrel. My cognition is slow even with chocolate or coffee or with having slept sixteen hours.
  2. I will do housework, starting with my admin. I will. I will...
  3. Badly need new books. Really do. Am suffering actual withdrawal symptoms from having nothing in my house that I would like to read.
  4. Please don't ask me how I am. I know I am not a good friend right now but the idea of having to explain myself stresses me out.

Friday, September 21, 2007

via Daphne

1. List seven habits/quirks/facts about yourself.
2. Tag seven people to do the same.
3. Do not tag the person who tagged you or say that you tag whoever wants to do it.

  1. I buy flowery-printed toilet paper for my flat.
  2. I have about 7 pillows on my bed.
  3. Now that I am on leave I play WoW everyday. This is me.
  4. I stayed off alcohol for about 6-7 weeks till I had a glass of single malt 2 nights ago. Before that I was a beer a night.
  5. I hate crowds, slightly agoraphobic, and moderately claustrophobic. Crowded trains make my heart beat hard and fast and I panic for no reason.
  6. I hardly eat lunch nowadays.
  7. I have been on a chocolate binge since C's mother brought home Galaxy chocs from London. Cannot do without Chocolate.