Upstream Field Guide: Lesson 4 Your Purpose Exercise 1

My Purpose

…and the self-assessment continues!

I must admit, this is getting really tedious and daunting for me. I thought I’m was done with data collecting from all the self-assessment exercises in lessons two and three but there’s more in this lesson! I want to cry! But I’ve come this far, I can’t stop now. So let’s move on….

I’ll pause here and share an excerpt from Tsh in this lesson. It encapsulates how I feel about starting this upstream paddling in the first place.

I believe a person’s universal purpose in life involves his or her Maker. I really like Catholic scholar Harold Koenig’s explanation of our universal life purpose: he says we’re all here to simply “to love and serve God, and to love and serve others.” He then goes on to say, “It’s really so very, very simple. When we are fulfilling that purpose, then that place deep down inside of us fills up and we experience peace and happiness. When we’re not, and we begin focusing on our own self and our own needs exclusively, then other emotions start flooding in.” In fact, I’d argue that part of our journey in life involves the very practice of discovering why we’re here on earth. In other words, part of our purpose on earth is to explore our purpose on earth. It seems like we were made to wrestle with this kind of stuff, to talk through it, to deepen our relationships because of it, to become more whole and alive and at peace when we pursue our reason for being here in a healthy manner. And I believe part of that health comes by knowing ourselves deeply, knowing ourselves well. That’s what we’re doing here in Upstream.

For ease, I like to think of the foundational, basic answer to the question, “What are we here for?” with that answer from Harold Koenig: “to love and serve God, and to love and serve others.” 

Exercise 1

Tsh recommends that the most direct way to understand our purpose is to understand our desires. What do we enjoy? What fuels us? What keeps us reading and learning more; what moves us to tears? I will now attempt to draw insights from the exercise I did on My Best Day in lesson 2 and see what they reveal about my desires. Because the entire exercise is based on a scenario birthed purely from my desires, there should be plentiful breadcrumbs to follow. To work on this more efficiently, I reproduced a copy of that exercise here and next to each clue I put down the desires they’re pointing to in brackets. I will then consolidate them and draw up the common themes that I see.

I start the day fairly early (intention) after a night of restful sleep (health). There is no agenda for the day (freedom, spontaneity) so I am completely free and unhurried (slow pace). Everyone else is asleep (personal space and time) and there is complete silence (peace). I tidy up the house a little and ensure my space is clean and uncluttered (intention, beauty, simplicity, minimalism, order). I down 2 glasses of purified water with some ACV to kick start my body (health) and puts the kettle on the stove for a cup of herbal tea (nature’s gift). I put a few drops of grounding EO blend in the diffuser (balance, stability, sensory, sensitivity, nature’s gift) and starts it while I take my shower. My bathroom is bright (clarity, optimism), clean and dry (sensory sensitivity). After a pampering shower (self-care/love) I step out to a lovely scented room (sensory) which I have all to myself (personal space) and starts to blow dry my hair (self-care). I change into something comfortable (comfort, sensory) and settle down on a cozy couch (comfort, home) with my herbal tea to start my devotional time with God and prayer (spirituality).

I put together a simple and healthy breakfast (health) and eats it while catching up on the day’s headline news on TV (overview, general knowledge) . Everyone else starts to wake and prepare themselves to leave for work and school. After cleaning up (intention, order, beauty), I head out for a hike in the mountains (nature, beauty, activity, sacred) with my daughter (companionship).

The fresh cool mountain air (sensory, optimism, clarity), lush greenery (nature, beauty, abundance) and scent of fresh dew (sensory, newness, fresh start) in the woods is grounding for my soul (stability, security, peace). I feel like I can hide away from the world (invisible, smallness, security); like a sort  of refuge (security, safety). My daughter makes good company (companionship). We chat about everything under the sun (camaraderie, connection, friendship) as we make our way up (exploration, advancement). After a while we seek out an open valley (beauty, nature, space) and take a break by a scenic stream (beauty, peace) surrounded by picturesque landscape (beauty, nature) and the gentle sound (gentle, sensory) of rustling leaves and flowing water (nature, sensory). We brought some snacks along and ate them (down-to-earth) as we enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings (beauty, peace, nature, comfort). For a change of energy (active energy) we engage is some people-watching (passivity, observation). We like that the crowd is just right, not too large (balance, moderation). We then make our way up to one of the peaks for the awesome view (space, freedom, openness, beauty, clarity). I soak in the liberating sensation of being on top of the world (freedom, in control, smallness). Feeling small and insignificant in such massive spaces (space, freedom) feels strangely comforting and reassuring (comfort, reassurance); like it’s OK to be imperfect and make mistakes (acceptance, ordinary, human) because the world is so much more than just me and my life (higher purpose).

After taking some Nat Geo worthy pictures (skillful, creativity, recognition) we make our way down, reaching the base in time for lunch at a cozy cottage style eatery (home, comfort, laid back) overlooking the valley (beauty). We sat outdoors (space, freshness, nature) and enjoy a nice leisurely lunch (slow pace) before heading home.

At home I catch up on some updates on social media (current, relevance, social), check my emails (on track) and watch an episode or 2 of my favorite k-drama (intention, Korean culture). The weather is beautiful outside so I hopped onto our garden swing (innocence, playful, novelty) with a soft blanket (comfort, home), a good book (intuit, absorb, knowledge, connect, inspire) and a warm cup of tea and freshly baked scones (home). Soon I am asleep (rest) to the gentle lull of the swing (comfort) and the sweet aroma of fresh flowers and herbs in the garden (sensory, nature). It was a short nap but I wake up refreshed and energized.

I head out for a walk (activity) in the neighborhood (familiarity) with my daughter. I love the juxtaposition of old and new (old & new, variety, novelty, roots) in this quaint neighborhood (charm, attractive, unique, character) and the mix of energetic vibe and creative air (energy, creativity). The people here are quietly warm and friendly (mild, warmth, casual, friendly), without imposing (privacy). The streets are filled with pretty and interesting things at every turn and corner (variety, novelty, unique, fun). We enjoy our stroll exploring the alleys (exploration) in this hilly (elevation) neighborhood. Interesting cafes and tea houses with al-fresco sitting and scenic patios dotted the landscape (beauty, charm, quaint, character, casual elegance, laid back). We stop by one to enjoy a cup of hot sweet potato latte (Korean culture) and some fine cakes and pastries (sensory pleasure). On the street in front there’s a young busker playing the guitar and singing a ballad from one of my favorite K-drama OST (sensory pleasure, music, Korean culture).  We reminisce about old times (nostalgia), laughed and joked about how silly we were then (laughter, camaraderie). After picking up some desserts for dinner later, we stop by a florist that looks more like a greenhouse (nature) to pick out a cute potted daisy for our kitchen window (home, beauty, cheer). It’ll add more cheer to the place! Next to the florist is a small art gallery (art, beauty). We spotted a piece of fine Korean art (art, beauty, hand-crafted) and thought it’ll look great in the dining room so we got that too.

The free market is on today! (carefree, vibrancy, variety, novelty, alternative lifestyle)  We can’t miss it! We love the vibrant, carefree and bohemian atmosphere there. The plethora of things to see, taste and hear is fun and exciting (fun, excitement, sensory pleasure). We pick-up a few interesting trinkets, accessories, handcrafted scents and wares and sampled some home-baked goods (hand-crafted, authentic, original). Soon it’s time to head home. We chose to walk (intention, activity, leisure) instead of taking the metro or public bus to avoid the crowd and congestion (space, privacy).

I look forward to meet my siblings and mom at my sister’s place for dinner tonight (family, home, roots). Each of us takes turn to host a dinner every month (balance, fairness). We enjoy catching up on each other’s lives as we bond over a home cooked meal (family, home, connection, camaraderie). I get some work done on my laptop (productivity), freshen up (self-image) and headed out with the family. We enjoy a nice meal together, laughing and chatting. After dinner we chill out at the patio with drinks and desserts (casual, connection, rest). The night went by quickly and soon we’re headed home. I do some end-of-day tidying (intention, productivity, tidiness) before winding down for the day. I diffuse a relaxing blend of EO (nature’s gift, sensory pleasure) and dim the lights as I prop myself up against the pillow on my bed and spends some time journaling and in prayer (reflection, spirituality) . I turn in early to ensure I am well rested for the next day (self-care).

Common themes that point to my desires.
State of being:
freedom, peace, health, balance, stability, clarity, optimism, self-care/love, comfort, home, spirituality, abundance, newness, fresh start, security, safety, gentleness, down-to-earth, moderation, openness, in control, smallness, innocence, intuition, leisure, reflection, harmony, higher purpose, relevance, inspiration

slow paced, laid back, spontaneity, intention, exploration, advancement, active energy, passive observation, absorb, creativity, playful, rest, familiarity, fun, carefree, vibrancy, excitement, productivity, nostalgia,

personal space & time, beauty, simplicity, minimalism, order, sensory pleasure, nature’s gift, nature, vast spaces, novelty, old & new, variety,  elevation, quaint, character, casual elegance, laid back, music, tidiness, harmony, sacred

companionship, camaraderie, connection, friendship, acceptance, reassurance, recognition, warmth, casual, friendly, privacy, laughter, cheer, family, harmony

ordinary, knowledge, roots, charm, attractive, unique, character, fairness, self-image, Korean culture, art, hand-crafted, alternative lifestyle, authentic, original, quality, skillful, big picture, general knowledge, to be current.


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The Art of Simple


Upstream Field Guide: Lesson 3 Who Are You Part 3-4

What are my strengths?

Now we’ve come to the final bit of the self-assessment exercise – finding my top 5 strengths. It’s important to be aware of our strengths so we can to use them to our advantage. The new school of thought is that we’re better off taping on our God-given strengths and using them well instead of working to improve on our weaknesses.

Tsh recommends Gallup Strength Center for the strength finder assessment but since I’ve already taken a similar test at Truity for free, I’ll save on the USD$15 and use that report instead.

Top 5 personal strengths.

Strengths of Intellect
Wisdom 70% 
Love for learning  65% 
Judgment  63%
Curiosity  48%
Creativity 35%

Strengths of Self-Management
Prudence 73% 
Humility 65%
Perseverance 65%
Honesty 65% 
Self-control 63%
Courage 30%

Social Strengths
Fairness 63%
Forgiveness 58%
Social Intelligence 55%
Teamwork 53%
Kindness 50%
Capacity for Love 48%
Leadership 45%

Strengths of Joy
Spirituality 68% 
Awe 63%
Gratitude 60%
Optimism 56%
Enthusiasm 48%
Humor 38%

Strengths that I bring to my job
Organization and drive, good stress tolerance, emotional stability and resilience, able to negotiate a balance between meeting own needs and needs of others.


Upstream Field Guide: Lesson 3 Who Are You Part 2-3

What’s my Enneagram type?

Next up we explore the personality profiling system called Enneagram. I’ve heard of Enneagram but never explored nor try to understand it. It seems rather complex. According to Tsh, it is not based on hard science or even psychology but it is unique because it helps explain our behavior and outlook in different times and situations, particularly in times of stress. Both MBTI and Enneagram work well together because one is more about the way our brain functions (our core wiring), while the other tells us about the motivations behind what we do and how we think. It also explores our strengths and weaknesses. I’m certainly curious! It was suggested that one of the ways to figure out your type is to read up on each of the 9 types and see which resonates most. But me being me prefers more accuracy and less guessing so I paid a small fee to take the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI). It turns out I’m a Type One with a 9 wing (1w9). It’s a little surprising as One seems a little too driven for me. If I had to choose based on reading the type descriptions alone I’d be so confused. Firstly because there is so much data on each type, secondly I see a part of myself in a few types. So I’d really recommend someone to take a test for better clarity.

My top 3 scores are

Type 1 (Reformer) – 26
Type 9 (Peacemaker) – 23
Type 6 (Loyalist) – 18
Type 5 (investigator) – 18
Type 4 (Individualist) – 17

I scored highest for 1, followed by 9 and third highest is a tie between 6,5,4. According to RHEIT, my primary type is most likely the highest of these scores (which is 1) and most definitely among the highest two or three. That’s not helpful cos there are 3 types in a tie for my third highest! Together with my results, they also attached detailed descriptions of my 3 highest scored types (5 types in my case!).So I had to read though 50 pages of data! All in all, I think it is pretty accurate. Just bear in mind that we all will find ourselves a variant of a few types but our primary type should stand out most while our wing a close second.

Here’s a summary of the 5 types. Statements I identify with are in bold. [Source: The Enneagram Institute.] You can view a more comprehensive description of all 9 types here.

Type One in Brief

Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. They typically have problems with resentment and impatienceAt their Best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. Can be morally heroic.

  • Basic Fear: Of being corrupt/evil, defective
  • Basic Desire: To be good, to have integrity, to be balanced
  • Enneagram One with a Nine-Wing: “The Idealist”
  • Enneagram One with a Two-Wing: “The Advocate”

Key Motivations: Want to be right, to strive higher and improve everything, to be consistent with their ideals, to justify themselves, to be beyond criticism so as not to be condemned by anyone.

When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), methodical Ones suddenly become moody and irrational at Four. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), angry, critical Ones become more spontaneous and joyful, like healthy Sevens.

Type Nine in Brief

Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting. They typically have problems with inertia and stubbornnessAt their Best: indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts.

  • Basic Fear: Of loss and separation
  • Basic Desire: To have inner stability “peace of mind”
  • Enneagram Nine with an Eight-Wing: “The Referee”
  • Enneagram Nine with a One-Wing: “The Dreamer”

Key Motivations: Want to create harmony in their environment, to avoid conflicts and tension, to preserve things as they are, to resist whatever would upset or disturb them.

When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), complacent Nines suddenly become anxious and worried at Six. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), slothful, self-neglecting Nines become more self-developing and energetic, like healthy Threes.

Type Six in Brief

The committed, security-oriented type. Sixes are reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy. Excellent “troubleshooters,” they foresee problems and foster cooperation, but can also become defensive, evasive, and anxious—running on stress while complaining about it. They can be cautious and indecisive, but also reactive, defiant and rebellious. They typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicionAt their Best: internally stable and self-reliant, courageously championing themselves and others.

  • Basic Fear: Of being without support and guidance
  • Basic Desire: To have security and support
  • Enneagram Six with a Five-Wing: “The Defender”
  • Enneagram Six with a Seven-Wing: “The Buddy”

Key Motivations: Want to have security, to feel supported by others, to have certitude and reassurance, to test the attitudes of others toward them, to fight against anxiety and insecurity.

When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), dutiful Sixes suddenly become competitive and arrogant at Three. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), fearful, pessimistic Sixes become more relaxed and optimistic, like healthy Nine.

Type Five in Brief

Fives are alert, insightful, and curious. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent, innovative, and inventive, they can also become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with eccentricity, nihilism, and isolation. At their Best: visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.

  • Basic Fear: Being useless, helpless, or incapable
  • Basic Desire: To be capable and competent
  • Enneagram Five with a Four-Wing: “The Iconoclast”
  • Enneagram Five with a Six-Wing: “The Problem Solver”

Key Motivations: Want to possess knowledge, to understand the environment, to have everything figured out as a way of defending the self from threats from the environment.

When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), detached Fives suddenly become hyperactive and scattered at Seven. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), avaricious, detached Fives become more self-confident and decisive, like healthy Eights.

Type Four in Brief

Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity. At their Best: inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.

  • Basic Fear: That they have no identity or personal significance
  • Basic Desire: To find themselves and their significance (to create an
  • Enneagram Four with a Three-Wing: “The Aristocrat”
  • Enneagram Four with a Five-Wing: “The Bohemian”

Key Motivations: Want to express themselves and their individuality, to create and surround themselves with beauty, to maintain certain moods and feelings, to withdraw to protect their self-image, to take care of emotional needs before attending to anything else, to attract a “rescuer.”

When moving in their Direction of Disintegration (stress), aloof Fours suddenly become over-involved and clinging at Two. However, when moving in their Direction of Integration (growth), envious, emotionally turbulent Fours become more objective and principled, like healthy Ones.



Upstream Field Guide: Lesson 3 Who Are You Lesson Part 2-2

My favorite quotes.

In this exercise I take time to search, gather and curate quotes that resonate with me, to which I can say an emphatic YES! to.


“You have to let people go. Everyone who’s in your life is meant to be in your journey but not all of them are meant to stay till the end.”

Quiet people has the loudest minds.” – Stephen Hawkings

“Actions prove who someone is. Words just prove who they want to be.”

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” – Sigmund Freud

“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”–Carl Jung

“I love having context that’s so much bigger than I can fathom. It’s fantastic to realize how insignificant you are.” – Benedict Cumberbatch

“If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
– J.K. Rowling

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep for the sake of what he cannot loose.”

“An intention is brought to completion only by a decision to fulfill the intention.”

“The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we let our minds dwell upon.”

“Every human relationship is a tool for character formation.”

Spirituality is living the ordinary life extraordinarily well.”

“I freed 1000 slaves. I could have freed 1000 more if only they knew they were slaves.”–Harriet Tubman

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”–Marcus Aurelius

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”–Steve Jobs

“Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don’t know.”–Bertrand Russell

Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate to others the things that seem important to oneself.”–C.G. Jung

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”–George Bernard Shaw

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”–Charles R. Swindoll

“Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than material force, that thoughts rule the world.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you.” – Parker Palmer





Upstream Field Guide: Lesson 3 Who Are You Part 2-1

What do I find beautiful and why do I love them?

This exercise is meant to help me be more aware of the beauty around me, whether tangible or intangible and take time to appreciate each one. I will then use a few descriptive words to describe why I find them beautiful.

  1. Reunions with my mom and siblings- being myself, warmth, bond, acceptance, nostalgia, authentic, loyalty, home, camaraderie, belonging
  2. When a co-worker/ acquaintance spontaneously buys me snacks with no strings attached – unconditional, kindness, thoughtfulness, not-forgotten, generous
  3. When my daughter takes care/ does simple things for her older brother without complaining –  family, kindness, thoughtfulness, loyalty, innocence
  4. Being on the same wave-length with another person in a conversation – connection, understood, not alone, encouragement
  5. Exploring the alleyways of Samcheongdong-Bukchon – novelty, culture, surprises, adventure, familiar but different
  6. Vast open plains of Jejudo – freedom, free-spirited, renewal, largeness, abundance
  7. Being on the peak of Seoraksan – hope, transcendence, invisible, on-top-of-the-world
  8. Hiking thru the mountainous forest of Kamikochi – spiritual, inner sanctum, grounded, hidden, solitude
  9. Curve lines of the eaves and roofs of Hanoks – quiet elegance, simplicity, character, bold
  10. Wood grains and bright color of Hanoks – cheerful, fresh, newness, character
  11. Korean stone walls – symmetry, raw, unrefined, safe, authentic, elegance, character
  12. The smell and sound of rain and thunderstorms- cozy, rest, refreshing,




Upstream Field Guide: Lesson 2 Who Are You Part 1-3

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What is my MBTI type?

In this lesson I work on figuring out my MBTI type. I’ve struggled with this for years and keeps revisiting it whenever I feel stuck and lost in life. As mentioned in my intro post to Upstream, I’ve recently typed as INFJ after 2 years of thinking I was INTP! Oh well…At least I can get straight to working on this exercise since I already have the answer to this one. How long will it stick before I start doubting myself again is another matter! Over the years I’ve read multiple personality sites and took the free test on their webpage. There are a couple that I find offers more depth and clarity. One of my favorite is Personality Hacker. It was here that I first thought I could be an INFJ after all! Their INFJ info page cleared some of my doubts. If you’re curious what your type is, you can take their free test here.

My MBTI type is  – INFJ

These are some of the key characteristics of INFJ that resonates with me.

I – Introvert.

Craves and thrive best with lots of alone, uninterrupted time. Withdraws to my inner world. Socializing and small talk is tedious. Networking is stressful and makes me feel phony. Intense. Easily distracted and overwhelmed by too much environmental stimuli (highly sensitive). Uncomfortable with attention.Thought before action. Communicates better in writing than in person.

N – Introverted  Intuition (Ni).

Perceives meaningful connections between thoughts, concepts, events, occurrences and feelings in my life and my environment. Highly sensitive to beauty. Draws meaning from it. Feels the need to create beauty/immerse myself in it. Cares a great deal about meaning of life, purpose and passion. Concerned with big picture; tries to understand the whys behind events, feelings etc. (usually intangible things). Looks for meaning and tries to identify root causes behind them. Dives deep into things that interests/intrigues me, researching the subject/object of interest to death! Able to reconcile paradoxes and contradictory evidences. Highly aware of body language, facial expressions, tones of voice, that may reveal something about how someone is feeling. Picks up copious amounts of details from the world around and people, absorbing and storing them haphazardly in my mind while constantly scans for clues or patterns, drawing connections between them. Over time more and more pieces of the puzzle fits and a vision/understanding starts to appear.

F – Extraverted Feeling (Fe).

Understands and empathize with others emotions, feelings and moods. Able to quickly size up the mood/energy/emotional atmosphere of the environment. Able to sense what others are feeling at the moment. Helpful, obliging, supportive and encouraging. Form of help rendered may be less practical and more insightful. A good listener. Can feel used/taken advantage of. Knows how to put people at ease and make them feel better. Works to maintain a sense of harmony in the outer world. Have a harder time understanding own emotions. Needs to throw feelings out into the world (by talking or writing) to help process them effectively. Desires to make people feel understood. Make choices that takes other people’s feelings and needs into consideration (uses harmony to drive decisions). Understands social dynamics, unwritten social rules, and culture.

J – Judging

Refers to how I approach life in my outer world. Prefers a planned, orderly way of life. Organizes my world to achieve my goals and desired results in a predictable way. Gets my sense of control by taking charge of my environment and making choices early. Self-disciplined, task-oriented, decisive, seeks closure in decisions, prioritizes work before play, good time keeping. Specific and clear with requests and expects others to follow through. However, inwardly (in my inner world) I am curious and more open-ended than how others perceive me to be on the outside because I my dominant function is i perceiving function called introverted intuition (Ni).


Upstream Field Guide: Lesson 2 Who Are You Part 1-2

Who do you admire?

Next, I am to think of at least 3 people I admire, why I admire them and in what ways am I similar and different from them. This is going be a tough one because at this point, no one comes to mind. I’ll have to search my memories of past and current people who’s made a strong, positive impression on me, enough to deserve this place of honor. Tsh says it can be a real person, living or dead or even fictional.

So here’s my attempt to shortlist these 3 admired individuals.

After a little research, I managed to come up with more than 3 names actually! None of them I know personally. The first is almost cliché but deserves the spot. The other 4 are actually people whose blog I have followed (i actually scrolled through all the blogs in my IE favorite folder!). Their blog is the gateway to their personal stories, motivations, hopes and dreams and their fears.

#1 Lee Kuan Yew (the late founding father of modern day Singapore)
My admiration for him was first influenced by my late father who regarded him very highly even though we are Malaysians, not Singaporeans. I am now a Singaporean and I think I can better appreciate his legacy then younger natives especially when I contrast it with the leaders in my own country. For the purpose of this exercise, I shall go straight to the point. Why does he deserves my admiration? He was radical with the reforms that were needed. He stood his ground for what he believed in and argued his case before naysayers and oppositions. He has great foresight. He did was was needful for the people, not what gain him the most love. He is willing to get his hand dirty an walked his talk. He conducts himself with honesty and integrity in both his personal and public life. His love for learning and personal development. His relentless efforts to improvise and stay relevant. His no-nonsense decisiveness and his well known devotion to his wife.

Similarities: stands firm in my beliefs though on the outside may appear to be more open, comfortable with being different but dislikes drawing attention, can predict outcomes of small scale matters, love for learning and personal growth, mostly honest and integrous, devoted to my children.

Differences: afraid of standing out, drawing attention and being criticized for being radical, avoids conflicts and arguments, won’t say i have great foresight, struggles between doing what is needful and what creates less conflict, idealistic but may lack drive to walk the talk, uncomfortable with change, could be more decisive.

#2 Seth Barnes of  Radical Living & Eugene Cho (formerly Beauty & Depravity)
Both are great examples of people who not only know and live out their calling but that they align it with the greater purpose of serving the cause of Christ. That I think is not only deeply meaningful but also powerful. Imagine the efforts you put in on this earth reap rewards that count not just for the here and now but for eternity. They are laying up treasures above while changing lives below. Barnes’s genuine passion to empower and inspire the body of Christ to live up to their higher calling shines through every blog post. He focuses his efforts on discipleship mentoring, missions, christian living and leadership. Cho is a relevant, edgy pastor of Quest Church in Seattle. Imbued with an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to inspire and rally this generation to action, he also founded a grassroots movement to alleviate poverty and a non-profit community cafe and music venue. I admire both for their single minded focus and commitment to their cause, their genuine love for people and the body of Christ, their ability to not only understand the issues and what needs to be done but also have the courage and drive to lead and inspire change. I also admire how both are able to remain relevant despite the changing landscape, leveraging on multiple platforms to reach their audience while being in tune  to their heart’s cry. They are then able to lead them to heed the greater cry, the cry to live radically for Christ.

Similarities: Christian, believes in the centrality of the cause of Christ, agrees that aligning our purpose to God’s is the best way, understands human issues and in tune with peoples needs to some extent

Differences: lacks a cause that motivates me enough, focus and commitment may wane over time, does not love people and the body of Christ enough, lacks courage and drive to lead and inspire change, uncomfortable with change.

#3 Gordon Atkinson of Real Live Preacher
What endears me most to Atkinson is his writing. A reviewer of one of his books puts it succinctly, “Due to his honest, unique, and characteristically “unstuck-up” Christian ways, Gordon Atkinson’s blog became an online haven not just for people of the faith but also for those that have none…..He makes no attempt to hide the messy realities of faith; as such, he is able to transform the insignificant, the unlikely, and the problematic into something genuinely beautiful.” Yes, these are what I love and admire most about Atkinson. His “unstuck-up” Christian ways and brutal honestly leaves no room for whitewashing the abuses of religion, or sugar coating answers to the problem of unanswered prayers, or insisting that a victorious life free of the curses associated with living in a broken world is the entitlement and reality of every believer. It is a refreshing change from the ra ra Christians who pretends and propagates that such a life is served on a silver platter garnished with a personal note from God “How can I serve you?”. Atkinson is an honest skeptic who had battled his own demons and journeyed through a faith crisis. In all his writings is an underlying theme about the God who, he confesses, may or may not be there yet not one he can ignore or forget for He continues to pursue him! Atkinson helps me feel comfortable with my doubts, that it’s OK to question matters of faith, OK to linger on the fence. No one says I need to have everything figured out and put in boxes!

Similarities: plagued by doubts, skeptic, willing to question and challenge set beliefs, OK to sit on the fence and mull things over till the jigsaw fits better, battled my own demons, not wiling to just follow the heard and ignore nagging doubts, loves writing.

Differences: less comfortable to share and be open about my doubts with others, processes them internally instead, tries to have issues figured out and put into boxes.

# John Steele (photographer)
I’ve followed Steele’s photography for a few years. First got to know of him when a photograph of South Korea which I am a big fan of caught my eye. I do not know much about him as a person since his blog is a photo blog mainly showcasing his work. All I know about him is contained in this post, How I Became a Photographer. So why do I admire him? I guess there are plenty of skillful and well known photographers out there but John is different to me because I have followed his growth not long after he started and saw how he progressed. I admire him first and foremost for his photography skills and the fact that he is living his craft in my favorite place. His love for S Korea and the beauty of the land, the people and the traditions and culture are evident in his photos. I also like how he started as a photographer. He was just like any regular person with a point-and-shoot camera with no special training, sharing his travel photos with family and friends. One day a  friend tossed him a used DSLR and his started taking his first landscape photo 2 months after and uploaded it on FB. The first likes motivated him to take more photos and improve his skills. So you could say that I admire his small, modest beginnings and that he did not just stop at a few likes on FB but he dug deep to learn what he can about the craft and keeps refining his skills. So I admire his persistence, his curiosity, his drive to constantly improve. I assume that he does not shy away from saying yes to photography requests and assignments. He probably used them as a platform to hone his skills. That’ll require courage to face the fears of not meeting expectations.

Similarities: Loves South Korea, enjoys taking photos especially landscapes, humble beginnings, received compliments from family and friends, can be curious, motivated by approval and recognition from others.

Differences: non-pro skills, not living in the land of inspiration, limited language skill,  did not refine my skills despite having a DSLR at home, lacks persistence, driven to improve but lacks action, lacks confidence, fear of failure and rejection, unlike Steele, I do not live alone with lots of space and time to explore and hone the skill, do not have a pet companion.