Sunday 9 February 2014


Reflection: Two Sides of A Coin

I have long known that my quality of being highly efficient is also my greatest weakness, but motherhood has taught me that my other qualities – exceptionally high dose of effectiveness, hard work, goal-orientation, results-orientation, thoroughness, follow-through, completeness and determination can be detrimental too, and I am humbled. Every quality is a double-edged sword, and the stronger that quality is, the sharper the sword.

For example, I could sit down with single-minded focus to practice the piano again and again and again and again until I have perfected the piece before moving on to the next. I would not grow tired or bored. No matter how boring or mundane a task, I could make myself love it by challenging myself to like it and to do it with pride and the deep feeling of liking the task usually follows. I usually succeed, except for sewing.

Translating to J, my thoroughness would point out every single mistake (and achievement) J makes when he is practicing the piano (wrong finger used, wrong note pressed, wrong tempo, etc.)  and request him to practice the piece from the beginning to the end. My determination will ensure that he repeats playing the piece again and again until he has mastered it. Perhaps I did not even give him a chance and enough time to gain effectiveness and self-motivation.

My Significant Other reminded me again that I am treading the foot-steps of his mum. His mum is a highly respected and accomplished French teacher. She would have the same high expectations with her children. When my Significant Other was a young student learning French, she would point out all the mistakes my Significant Other made. It was very discouraging and although My Significant Other did like French, he lost the joy of learning French as a result.

I am trying to teach J the quality of determination, thoroughness, efficiency and effectiveness, but by doing so, I might be achieving the opposite.

J likes to play the piano, this he told me several times. But my qualities imposed on him may eventually cause him to dislike playing the piano. And the same goes for everything else - Montessori, Chinese, etc. and even the Grocery Store Play that J likes so much – because I am so thorough with it and my qualities are getting in the way.

It is sad to see things ruined potentially in this manner by me, and could drive me towards despair – how can I possibly mitigate these weaknesses?

The silver lining is that I am better able to laugh at myself now (hey, that is an achievement! I have improved!) And acknowledging my weaknesses is the beginning of taking steps to work at it. Thanking my Significant Other for reminding me and thanking God for making me realize it, my next step is to figure out how I can work at it, and this needs much prayer to the Lord.

J loves me, but will he remember his childhood as one full of laughter, or will his childhood memories of me to be a mom whom he loves dearly, but who was always upset with him? Dear God, I sincerely want to change and correct this tendency, yet balance is not easy to achieve. Swinging to both extremes are no good. Thus, please help me to have the wisdom to know the difference.

I have to work on accepting occasional unproductive time, cultivating the ability to do absolutely nothing for an hour a week, but just filling the air with laughter and love.

* My inner self-motivation fuels my determination and perseverance, which in turn help me to focus single-mindedly, even if I have to work through days and nights to achieve my goal.

For example, at the age of 14, I had my very first job as a crew at KFC. I determined to do well, and put in much hard work in labor and customer service – clearing and cleaning table, sweeping the floor, making burgers in record time and being polite to customers all the time. I was awarded the Best Employee of the Month in just 2 months of being employed and I took pride in it. I thoroughly enjoyed my work, because I took pride in it.

At the age of 21, as a student help allocated a very boring and mundane task of letter-shopping. I set myself to develop liking for the task by bettering my record number of letter-shopped per minute. I finished the work in record time that no other employee had achieved before.

I made a switch from Arts to Finance and Econometrics, subjects which required quite a lot of Maths, and my self-motivation enabled me to put in all the hard work that resulted in a high GPA in my master degree. I still remembered the tears and hardship I went through especially the first year, making the switch from Arts to Maths. But my qualities served me well.

And I realize that all the above qualities are the traits of someone who is a perfectionist.

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