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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gluten Free Parmesan and Italian Herb Bread

The Loaf

The Crumb

The first time I made a gluten free loaf of bread, it tasted so bad that I went into a pique of anger so childish that I threw away all the flours that I had bought. I had to UNlearn many things from making normal bread, and learn new things necessary for gluten free bread. Like with anything, practice makes perfect I suppose.

Each new loaf is better than the last. Finally I have something that tastes delicious... as delicious as normal bread. Behold the parmesan and italian herb gluten free loaf! Here is the recipe...

Liquid Ingredients
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 egg whites
200ml of water
Enough of more water to make a very wet dough that won't hold its shape

Dry Ingredients
3 teaspoons of xanthan gum
1 teaspoon of guar gum
1.5 cups of potato starch
1.5 cups of tapioca starch
1 cup of sorghum flour
3 tablespoons of sugar
3 teaspoons of instant yeast
1 tablespoon of italian dried herb mix
5 tablespoons of shredded Parmesan

(1) Mix all the dry ingredients together in a kneading machine bowl. Use a wooden spoon to combine everything together very well. This is important. Else, you can get bits of gooey gum in various parts of the bread.

(2) Mix all the wet ingredients together. Use about 200ml of water at first to mix with the vinegar, olive oil and eggs whites.

(3) Start the kneading machine. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients. Add more water till the mixture looks like a very dense cake dough.

(4) Let rise for 2 hours.

(5) Preheat fan-enabled oven to 200 Deg C for 10 minutes. Bake the loaf for 5 minutes at 200 Deg C. Turn the oven thermostat down to 150 Deg Celsius. Bake for 40 minutes.

(6) NEVER cut the loaf when it is hot. The water vapour gets on the knife and you will get soggy bits of bread on each slice. Wait till the bread is entirely cool before you begin to slice.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Rong Cheng Bak Kut Teh

It seems everyone has their favourite bak kut teh places. People have been recommending me their favourites. I don't mind trying each one out systematically because I don't think one can get sick of bak kut teh. It just is not possible. This one is at Blk 26, Sin Ming Lane, #01-114 to #01-117.

The restaurant is very spacious. The marble table tops bring me back 30 years, but the place is newly renovated and very clean. The circular Chinese tea cabinet in one corner is chockfull of charming tea paraphernalia. Very inspiring you know! I am inspired to go out and buy me a clay tea set with the bamboo drainage thing so that I can do my own tea appreciation at home!

I got in there at about 10.30am... and had a great time eating, drinking successive pours of tea and working off my laptop. I left at half past noon.

The kettles of boiling water are placed against the wall

Charming marble topped tables.

My tea set.

The pork ribs were not fall off the bone soft. 
This is not quite to my taste but I do understand that some people like it this way.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Song Fa Bak Kut Teh

We are SO going back to Song Fa Bak Kut Teh at 11 New Bridge Rd, Singapore 059383. Nobody serves bak kut teh the traditional style anymore. Growing up, my parents and I frequented a restaurant at River Valley. The kettles sat on charcoal burners in the aisles. One had to be careful NOT to run around and knock down these kettles. I suppose that is why most hawkers don't serve bak kut the along with hot tea in charming clay teapots and mini Chinese tea cups.

The taste is different I tell you, when you take bak kut teh with a nice mouthful of strong Chinese tea after a few bites. The soup was fragrant and flavourful. I would have preferred the meat to be more fall-off-the-bone tender but that really is a personal preference.

The Tea

The Kettle of Hot Water

The bak kut teh soup

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Corporate Talks (Shell Singapore and Ascendas)

I have not been accepting speaking engagements because there was no telling how my body would behave. This week, I lined up 2 speaking engagements. I spoke at Shell Singapore in Metropolis Tower on Monday. Today, I spoke at Ascendas.

This morning was a nerve-racking experience. I ingested a bowl of Kelloggs corn flakes on Tuesday night. All of yesterday I was in bed racked with the symptoms of gluten poisoning. I can normally cycle about 10km but after 4km, I blacked out and had to push my bike home. The journey home felt like Frodo crawling through the mountains of Mordor, without Samwise Gamgee. 

I thought that corn flakes being made of corn, they would be safe to eat. I overlooked the mention of "malt sweetener". Malt is made from barley. Barley has gluten. Kelloggs cornflakes are sweetened with malt.

I was still running to the toilet every 30 minutes this morning and almost had to call in to Ascendas and tell them that I could not come in. I prayed for health and forged ahead. The talk went well and my stomach did not churn at all.

See! The power of a praying woman! Hah!

Parents at Shell.

Token of appreciation from Ascendas.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sembawang Traditional Claypot Rice

A new eatery opened at Jalan Tampang (in Sembawang), selling traditional clay pot rice. We haven't had good traditional clay pot rice in a long while so everyone was quite excited when this place opened. We've been back three times in 1 week!

The clay pot rice is good. Their double boiled soups are good too. The veggies are crunchy and smooth. We didn't quite like the mussels. The clams are better.

This photo was taken before the black sauce was mixed in.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Deterministic View of Ability

In the Straits Times of Saturday, 19th April 2014, Sandra Davie wrote the following words...

[The PSLE] also takes a deterministic view of ability and intelligence and flies in the face of recent research which suggests that ability, including academic ability, can be cultivated through effort.

What is the deterministic view of ability and intelligence? 
It is the mindset that one is born with a certain amount of intelligence and ability that would automatically determine one's level of achievement 20 years later.

Such a mindset is prevalent in systems that focus large quantities of resources on testing for the purpose of administratively sorting kids into categories. These categories next become THE REASON for why kids in this category are taught differently from those in another category. Such a mindset is prevalent in Singapore's education system.

Strong in Testing
For sure, we have a robust testing system.

4 times a year, all our teachers practise setting exams. Not surprisingly, "education experts have heaped praise on Singapore for its well-designed examinations that test higher-order skills..." Not surprisingly also, our country scores well in PISA. The kids are tested with well-designed exams 4 times a year, using questions very similar to those that come out in PISA. We have a high performing testing system that drills our kids for the PISA, so why would Singaporean students NOT do well at the PISA?

Add to this the gladiatorial competitive pressure to perform created by the bell curve. This gladiatorial competitive pressure creates an urgency for parents to buy external teaching for their kids (since preschool). 4 times a year, kids practice at sparring in the PISA-style gladiator fights (aka exams), train hard outside school for PISA style gladiator fights (aka exams).

At PSLE, they perform at THE PISA style gladiator event of primary school. With all that investment in external tuition and a never ending rondelé of sparring contests, why would Singapore not score well at the PISA?

Is it the Child or the System?
The funny thing is this. When Singapore as a country scores well at the PISA, the results are taken to mean that we have a robust education system. However, when a child individually scores poorly at exams (modelled on the PISA), it becomes a reflection of his/her own calibre/ability/intelligence, no fault of the system at all.

The said child is then sorted and categorised. Hey! You there! Yes, you! You... with the lousy exam results, you are low calibre and therefore dumb. You go here and we will teach you less academic stuff because you're not the sort that can manage.

(1) Very little attempt is made to troubleshoot the child's attitude and emotional state.
(2) Very little is said about the quality of teaching that had gone on that year.

Emotional/Attitudinal Troubleshooting
There are many cases of highly intelligent children who are underperforming for emotional and attitudinal reasons. We have a system that is hypertrophied in academic testing and atrophied in developing the socio-emotional aspects of our children.

I think it is because there is no PISA equivalent for evaluating socio-emotional development. 

Socio-Emotional Needs of the Mainstream Child
A few of my students are emotionally fragile. When rested and relaxed, they give me extraordinarily creative work. Yet, they consistently trip up at exams, frozen by fear. I need to give these children strategies to help them stay relaxed during exams.

Others of these students respond negatively to pressure. They drift off, daydream, dilly and dally. They demonstrate an attitude of passive-aggression. I need to get parents off these students' backs. They can do better but they refuse to put in effort.

Socio-Emotional Needs of the GEP
The GEP kids that are with me have some difficulty relating to mainstream children. They are faster and better and smarter but they have never been taught to use their giftings to help friends who are less well endowed. Worse, they have never been taught to use these giftings sensitively in teams composed of children with differing academic abilities. I have one who gets frustrated that his friends think so slowly and he starts yelling at them. He is also very particular about how fairly the workload is spread. I have another who takes it for granted that his answer must be the correct one and he won't allow the other 2 children to contribute answers.

In contrast, I have 2 high ability children from neighbourhood schools demonstrate perfect poise in such situations. They know how to proffer suggestions and delegate non-threateningly. They feel proud to lead in a team and do not complain that others are slow. They delegate gently and don't make the slower children freeze up and withdraw. They know how to hang back and observe their friends, before saying that one thing that would convince. They know how to ask clarifications from their friends and thus doing, they pinpoint the area of misunderstanding... and THEN they say that one thing needed to convince. They know how to do a little bit more to buy their friends' cooperation and love. These children are popular team mates. Everyone wants to work with them.

For sure, both the GEP and the high ability children have arrived at the answers way before their team mates have. Both pairs of children have cognitive bandwidth left over after solving the questions. However, unlike the GEP, my high ability children use their extra cognitive bandwidth to troubleshoot their socio-emotional environment.

They can both DO and LEAD.

If I had a deterministic view of ability, I would write off the most intelligent students in my centre. However, that is not my view. In my experience, these students can learn socio-emotional intelligence  with some effort and enough exposure.

Followers not Leaders
To some extent, the top echelons of Singapore's MOE are followers, not leaders. Our system is atrophied in its ability to manage the children's socio-emotional development.

I think it is because there is no PISA equivalent for evaluating socio-emotional development.

If there is no precedent elsewhere... if there is no international benchmark... if there is no international ranking, then it is not worth pursuing. Someone somewhere (in the past 10 years) has been too insecure to chart a path of excellence through common sense and first principles. Instead, there is a need to justify MOE's existence and worth through international benchmarks, whilst completely ignoring commonsensical educational principles.

It's like the Emperor's New Clothes. Some international wise men said that the Emperor's clothes is of this loveliness and that beauteousness. The common man, however, can see that the Emperor is naked. Every mother can see that Singapore's schools are poor in socio-emotional education. The very basics of loving, living and caring are missing.

The Emperor is naked. He just thinks otherwise.

Deterministic View of Ability Has Nefarious Effects
Of course, as Sandra Davie mentioned, recent research no longer supports the deterministic view of ability. You basically take a number from a test. Use this number to decide that Child A can learn BlahBlahBloo... but Child B cannot. Then, at PSLE, you test both Child A and Child B on BlahBlahBloo. Hmmm... unless Child B has access to tuition, there is no way he or she can do better than Child A.

That is bad enough in itself. However, when we consider the lack of socio-emotional education here, there are even MORE nefarious effects on our children and future workforce.

(1) Plenty of children with socio-emotional gaps are pushed higher and higher towards success and rewards. They (and society) will only come face to face with their own weaknesses when they join the workforce. One XXX scholar (Ivy League) cheesed off an entire team within 1 week of joining the firm on an internship. Another XXX scholar (also Ivy League) is still studying and thinks nothing of taking a $7000 loan from his parents to fund an lifestyle so extravagant that his generous scholarship is insufficient.

(2) Other children are under-taught because their socio-emotional gaps interfere with their academic performance. Performing poorly at exams, these children are considered unable to handle certain material. They are thus placed in classes where they are not taught certain material. The future workforce loses out on the vast potential of these children - these diamonds in the rough.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Me and My Unicorn

A castle kennel refers to this...

30 years ago, the cost of living in France was about 3 times that of Singapore. Today, we have reached parity. Indeed, far out in the little French villages, the cost of living can be a fraction of Singapore. Of course, you are not gonna get easy access to internet, deep in the rural regions of France. Distances will be larger so your nearest neighbour might be 5km away. A 1 hour drive into town through country roads without street lights, will also be considered short. The ambulance might take a while to arrive too.

But ohhhh... imagine living in a real French castle. Of course, no one in their right mind wants to stay in a castle anymore, which is why they now cost very little indeed. For SGD$1 million, you could buy yourself a castle with a Rapunzel tower. The catch is that you'll have about 8000 sq feet of built-in space to clean, within the castle itself. Add to that a 2000 sq feet caretaker's house, a row of stables and a large kennel. Errr... that is a lot to upkeep because what the French call a large kennel is like the one above. With labour costs so high in France, good luck to finding domestic help to upkeep the place! Then too... most folks don't really speak French so even if you could hire domestic help, you can't communicate with them.

French castle with a Rapunzel tower. 
This part of the castle dates from the early 19th century. See HERE.

Here is the back of the castle. The architecture of the back dates from the medieval times (which could be anything from the 5th to 15th century) so it looks quite different from the front of the castle.

Hmmmmm... the interior of the castle has seen better days.

For some reason, inside... it doesn't look very castle-like at all.

Strange how Princesses don't have to deal with issues of castle upkeep.

As an impecunious student in France, I often walked longingly along this or that castle's corridors and parks, visualising in my mind's eye me and my pet unicorn. Of course, everyone knows that to be a real princess, one must be blonde (with errr... all due respect to Kate Middleton and practically everyone in the British royal family for... They. Are. Not. Blonde.). Anyway, back in those days, in my imagination, I gave myself long blonde hair and a long white gown cinched at the hips.

This is NOT a real princess because she isn't blonde, but you get the idea about 
the gown cinched at the hips? Picture taken from HERE.

Look! Petunia's pet unicorn! Picture from HERE.

SGD$1 million is quite affordable for any Singaporean living in a condominium. Some of us in HDB can also think of upgrading to a castle, no? So... who is up for dressing up as princesses to ride unicorns through forests? The local French populace would probably freak out though when they see us living out our childhood dreams. If your budget is smaller than SGD$1 million, you can buy cheaper castles like this...

Picture from HERE.

Seriously though, it pains my heart to have the figments of my childhood imagination smashed into smithereens. Sometimes, a little dream that cannot come true is key to happiness. By dint of being Singaporean in this day and age, I now discover I can afford to buy a French castle. In the same moment of knowing that a dream is achievable, I now know that it ain't great to be staying in one.

Gee... I hate growing up. Don't you?

Anyway, here's a tip when buying castles. Buy the Spanish ones. They're even cheaper and Spain gives away citizenship to those who buy enough stuff inside Spain. The weather in Spain is also better.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How To Motivate in the Face of Failure: Part 2

This post is the continuation of the post HERE.

Strategy 2: Derive Learning from the Failure

Few people realize this but it is a natural response to feel excited when you learn something new. Some adults, with bad experiences learning in school, may tell me that they don’t like learning. Yet, these are the same adults who tell me that they are quite excited about their new job because they get to do new things. New things to do, bring new learning, no? It’s nice to learn something new. 

Professor Don Vandewalle examined the effects of having a learning goal orientation on motivation. He found that students with a learning goal orientation redoubled their efforts to perform after being given negative feedback. In contrast, students who had a proving goal orientation tried hard before they were given negative feedback. However, they stopped trying after being given negative feedback. The negative feedback had served to prove to them that they were simply not up to par, and so it was no point trying. The worst off, however, were students with avoiding goal orientation. These students were so afraid of failing that they used half their brains to worry about how to avoid failure and whether they can avoid failure. They only had half their brains left to learn with. Necessarily, these students were so focused on failure that their failure came to pass.

In my Dr Pet’s English Enrichment Centre, a child came one day who had such a strong avoiding goal orientation that he stared at an English comprehension question for five minutes and then began to cry. Since Jerry was busy feeling distraught, he could not follow my attempts to guide him through to an answer. Predictably, Jerry failed to find the answer to the comprehension question despite my attempts to guide him.

In the subsequent weeks, I began class with Jerry by announcing that students must not fear failure. I explained that failure was a natural part of learning. If children could do everything perfectly well then it meant that they already knew everything, and therefore, there was no need to learn. I emphasized that I expected the children to learn from their failures. They were to squeeze every ounce of learning they could from every failure experience. Then, every time they made mistakes, I praised them for the courage in the face of failure. Then asked them “What did you learn?” They were all more than happy to share with me their learning points.

At the end of every class, I made Jerry grade himself on his own fear of making mistakes. On the first week, he graded himself 2 upon 5. He was thus made aware that he was afraid of failing at things. I smiled at him kindly and said “Well… at least it is not 0 upon 5.” On the second week, he graded himself 3 upon 5. One day, I warned him before returning a marked composition to him. I said “You know you failed right? You know that some of my comments may make you feel sad, right?”

Jerry’s mother and I jubilated when he replied, “Yes, Dr Pet. Everyone fails sometimes. I think I can learn a lot from your comments inside my composition.” The composition he passed up the week after, addressed most of the issues I had identified in his failed composition. He had taken most of the negative feedback, converted it into positive learning and felt good about having learnt something. 

Learning something new infuses the human psyche with positive energy. There’s that little bit of thrill. When Archimedes figured out the Archimedes Principle, he was so happy, he jumped out of his bath tub and ran naked down the street. When I learnt that I had failed to make a good brioche because I had added butter at the wrong time, I was so excited I could not wait to get started on a new brioche.

All it takes is a simple mental paradigm shift. This is not a failure. It is a new discovery. The moment the psyche envisions these new discoveries, a phoenix rises from the ashes of failure and hope is reborn. Failure can be motivating. We need to only touch it with the wand of learning goal orientation, and the substance of failure changes from dirty stress to clean motivational energy.

Our children’s attitude to failure will define their success in life. Life spares no man failure. Not even the most intelligent person is exempt from failure. In turn, parents define their children’s attitude to failure. Parents who treat every failure as a judgment of ability will also teach their children that attitude. Parents who receive failing marks and sit down to discuss action plan and learning points, will also teach their children problem-focused coping and inculcate a strong learning goal orientation.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Electrified Mosquito Racquette

This thingy is so cool that I cannot wait to share it with my readers! It really has improved my quality of life immeasurably. When you live close to a clump of forest, mosquitoes are a daily part of living. You can minimise their impact but you can never completely get rid of them. Mosquito hunting with bare hands can take half an hour or more.

Since I bought this lovely little mosquito racquette, it suffices to wave it in the mosquito's general direction and voilà! There is a satisfying "zzzzzzzt" and a spark or 2. Mosquitoes fall on the floor, completely KO, but not dead. It suffices then to administer a lethal slap to each mosquito.

I zapped 2 mosquitoes this morning, saving myself from many bites. In the past, I would have resorted to switching on the odourless wall plug-ins. They may be odourless but I have an inkling that they're not good for my health. I end up breathing in the same pesticide that knocks out those mosquitoes. Now, I don't have to breathe all that junk in. I just wave the racquet around like Gandalf the Grey. Given the mosquitoes' habit of flying in a zig-zag pattern, the random waving is very effective in making contact. I don't even have to try very hard.

Please don't use this thing in a kitchen that uses gas. The sparks are real and will ignite any flammable gas in the vicinity.

Mosquito Racquette

Squished mosquito - caught it in less than 3 minutes.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bone Broth

Bone broth is everything that appeals to penny-pinching Petunia. Firstly, it is made with stuff that one would ordinarily throw away. Secondly, compared to more expensive dishes, it is far more nutritious. 

Bone broth "contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons--stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.” (Quote from HERE) Best of all, bone broth contains all the minerals I need to restore my adrenals and thyroid in a form that is easily absorbed. It's much more delicious than popping supplements into my mouth.

Before I started cooking with the thermal pot, broths were a hassle. You had to boil them for hours. Meanwhile, someone had to tend the fire. Of course, energy costs went through the roof. With a thermal pot (or in my case, TWO 7 litre thermal pots), it really costs very little to make bone broth. Best of all, there is no need to tend the fire.

My bone broths are boiled for five days. The thermal pots need to be re-heated for 5 minutes every 6 hours. Other than that, they sit calmly in the insulated holders cooking the goodness out of bones, cartilage, heads of this and feet of that.

For 1 hour, I soak 2 pork bones + 1 fish head + fish bones, heads and tails, 
in water with 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.

Odds and ends of vegetables, plus some.

After 5 days, everything but the largest bones become reduced to a mush. I strain the broth.

A thick and viscous broth results. I pop it into the fridge and then skim off the congealed fat from the top. The broth turns to jelly when cold. I scoop the jelly into containers and freeze for use.

One container of broth became mushroom soup. I added evaporated milk, dill 
and 2 punnets of button mushrooms.

One container of broth became pumpkin soup. I added pumpkins, tomatoes, onions and celery... boiled it in a thermal pot for 1 hour. Then I blended the lot.

Another container of broth became fish beehoon soup. I added blue ginger, yellow ginger, onions and lots of Chinese parsley.... boiled it in a thermal pot for 1 hour, strained it... added evaporated milk, fish and vegetables.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lovely Surprise Today!

This boy is in a class of students who qualified for GEP but rejected their places. 
The competition is stiff indeed.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How to Motivate in the Face of Failure: Part 1

Do you enjoy failing?

Most people do not. Failure stimulates a roiling mess of unpleasant feelings. This would be a boiling concoction of anger, frustration and anxiety. These are all emotions that sap motivational energy. If you have been feeling angry, frustrated and anxious over a few months, you would feel depressed and burnt out.

Yet, there are some adults who are able to take failure in their stride. They come back stronger after each failure experience. They seem to be able to absorb motivational energy from failure, instead of letting failure sap their energy. These adults turn failure into clean motivational energy in the same way Singapore’s Newater plants turn sewage into clean water. Such people go through life like the mythical Hydra, a three-headed snake who was formidable because every time you chopped off one head, two would grow back in its stead. The more it failed, the stronger it became. I call this the Hydra mentality. We are not merely discussing resilience to failure.

We are discussing the capacity to turn failure into motivational drive. 

Given that our adult attitude to failure is largely defined by our childhood experiences with failure, what can parents do to inculcate the Hydra mentality?

Here are some strategies derived from published psychological research that can help change the debilitating stress of failure into a store of empowering resources. These are a series of easy to implement psychological processes that work to transform dirty stress into clean motivational energy. Dr Norman Parker and Dr James D.A. Parker developed a taxonomy of strategies people use to cope with stressful situations such as failure. There is task-oriented coping, emotion-oriented coping and avoidance- oriented coping.

Strategy 1: Task-Oriented coping
More often than not, when a parent receives news of a failing subject, the immediate reaction is emotional. Parents become angry. Very quickly the situation degenerates into a maelstrom of blame. “You must work harder! You should not play so many computer games! Why do you work so slowly? Why are you so careless?” This is the classic and most common emotion-oriented coping. It is also the form of coping with failure that is the most damaging because it gives free rein anger, anxiety and frustration. This mode of coping with failure leads to burnout.

As the parents’ negative emotions break in waves upon their children’s heads, the children go straight into avoidance-oriented coping. An invisible shell grows up around them that protects their fragile psyches from the waves of negative emotions that break upon their hapless heads. These children look like they do not care about their poor results. Yet, deep down inside, they do very much care. In fact they care so much that if they did not have the invisible shell up around them, these children would break from the sheer force of the waves of negative emotion.

To protect their hearts and prevent their hearts from breaking, such children go into avoidance-oriented coping. They try to do as little as possible. They may seek to copy homework relating to their failing subjects. They try to quickly complete work tasks relating to their failing subjects so that they can put them aside. This mode of coping with failure leads to a steady downward spiral in grades.

You cannot improve in a subject that you try to avoid. 

Presently, we examine the notion of task-oriented coping. In this mode of coping, attention is drawn away from the roiling anger, frustration and anxiety that flares up whenever a human being is faced with failure. Instead, the attention is channeled to a problem analysis and solution generation. Once one is drawn into this mental path, the fires of anger and frustration naturally die down for want of attention.

This was the exact mode of coping with failure that I explicitly modeled for, and taught my own son. In Primary 5, he was second last in class for Chinese. I looked at my very demoralized son and moved swiftly to extinguish the fires of his frustration and anxiety. I said, “Second last in class, is better than last in class. Last year, you were last in class in Chinese. This year, you are second last. You have improved.”

Next, I gave him a specific task to focus his attention on the problem. I asked him to go through his Chinese exam paper, and identify on a piece of paper (in point form) his weaknesses. When he came back with his bullet points scrawled untidily upon a piece of scrap paper, I asked him to explain to me his views. Then, I asked him to type out his points into the left column of a table. Together, we filled out the right column of the table with an action plan. The following table illustrates one problem area he had identified and the action plan that we next worked out together.

Once the table was filled out, the action plan looked easy enough. I saw a burden lift off my son’s small shoulders. His daunting failure had shrunk into a problem that could be easily resolved. If I had yelled at him and put fear into him, his daunting failure would have grown into monstrous proportions, looming over his head, invincible and unconquerable. Faced with a challenge of monstrous proportions for which the child has no solution, the child predictably avoids the problem by escaping to the pleasant realm of play.

In essence, I managed my son’s failure in the same way skilled managers in organisations manage crises. In a crisis at work when millions of dollars are at stake, the best managers keep their head, analyze the situation, calm their staff and move them into action.

The second motivation strategy useful in the face of failure is found HERE.