About Jeffery Wang
Jeffery is the founder of Professional Development Forum, an organisation dedicated to help young professionals find fulfilment in the modern Australian workplace for more than 13 years. Since its inception, the forum has hosted multitudes of successful, remarkable, and inspiring leaders. Through this journey, Jeffery developed a passion for empowering culturally diverse talent and unlocking their leadership potential. Jeffery is a passionate advocate of genuine diversity, servant leadership and mentorship and engages actively both as a mentor and mentee. Jeffery has almost 20 years of experience working as a sales and strategy professional in the IT Industry looking after enterprise and government customers. He has lived in Taiwan and New Zealand before migrating to Sydney where he currently lives with his wife and two boys.
Lesson 1: Nobody is thinking about you. 04m 36s
Lesson 2: See the good in everything. 08m 05s
Lesson 3: Run towards the fire 12m 58s
Lesson 4: Don’t lie to yourself. 17m 27s
Lesson 5: Finding fulfilment is more important than happiness. 24m 17s
Lesson 6: If you can’t argue from the other side, you haven’t understood the issue. 30m 15s
Lesson 7: Seek the truth and make it persuasive. 36m 37s
Lesson 8: Listen for context and meaning. 42m 01s
Lesson 9: Perfectionism is a Prison. 44m 10s
Lesson 10: Gratitude is the key to happiness.48m 58s
[00:00:05] Robert Hossary: Hello. Welcome to a special edition of 10 lessons. It took me 40 years to learn. my name is Robert Hossary and I’m your host for this episode. Our guest today is one of our own and the founder of Professional Development Forum, Jeffery Wang,
Jeffery, welcome to the show.
[00:00:22] Jeffery Wang: Thank you, Rob.
[00:00:23] Robert Hossary: Well, welcome to the show as a guest, I should say.
[00:00:27] Jeffery Wang: Yeah. And Robert in the fact that I don’t have 50 years, but nevertheless, I’m very honoured to be here.
[00:00:33] Robert Hossary: Thank you. I mean, the, the fact that you’re wise beyond your years counts for a lot Jeff.
[00:00:42] Jeffery Wang: Thank you. Or what I like to always think of that as a more due to the fact that I paid more than my fair share of stupid tax.
[00:00:50] Robert Hossary: Absolutely. as we all did and, we’re happy to have you, let me just tell you a little bit about Jeff. Jeff is a founder of the Professional Development Forum. So, 15 years ago, I think, or maybe a little longer, uh, Jeff decided to get a group of his peers together and try and make the world a little better for them, by increasing their personal development.
and he solicited many senior executives at the time, and he still does, to come and speak and share their business knowledge with, the members of the Professional Development Forum. So, this is a plug. If you haven’t gone to Professional Development, Forum.org. Do so, and you’ll be surprised at what you find.
So, from that background, Jeff has brought to 10 lessons it took me 50 years to learn his passion for sharing wisdom and sharing knowledge to make the world a better place. so as one of our hosts, I thought it was very important that you, our audience has an opportunity to hear some of the wisdom that we have.
So at least gives you a better understanding of who we are when we’re interviewing guests on your behalf. So once again, Jeff, thanks for making the time to be here, right now, during this time, uh, both Jeff and I are in lockdown. So, we found an opportunity to get out and do this. So, Jeff, let’s ask our, our first and main question is, can you remember.
The first and most important lesson, whether it’s business or a life lesson that you remember?
[00:02:33] Jeffery Wang: Look for me. My very first lesson is just, don’t wait around for, for good things to happen.
Um, you know, you could, um, you could be waiting for a very long time, you know, whatever you do, do something, try something, don’t be a victim of circumstance. You’ve got to try something to get control of your life. Um, I think I probably was a victim of waiting for too much of my life. And as I get older and the wiser, I get, the more I realize that I was always in control.
I just haven’t been able to see that.
[00:03:08] Robert Hossary: That’s I like that. How long did it take you? Do you remember when you actually, when that, when that thought popped into your mind?
[00:03:17] Jeffery Wang: Well, I think it’s a gradual process over time. I had control of certain parts of my life and the other parts of my life it took longer for me to realize that I was in control. I’ll probably just give a, an example in terms of my sporting pursuits.
I I’m a mad, mad lover of basketball. And when I was younger, I, I probably can’t see all the things that I’m able to control within the game. And as you grow, as you learn, as you get more experienced, as you, pile up the losses. The more you realize that you actually are in control where you don’t think you are, and sporting is just a small part of life.
Yeah, me, it’s a progressive process. The more I understand the world, the more I understand how things work, the more I realize that I’ve always been in control of a lot more than what I realized.
[00:04:10] Robert Hossary: Absolutely. This is, this is a very, very important self-awareness lesson actually. I understand this because I’ve, I went through it, and I remember clearly the day that I realized that everything in life is a choice.
And once I realized that I understood who was in control of that choice. So that is a very important lesson. And it’s a very wise one.
[00:04:36] Lesson 1 Nobody Is Thinking Of You
[00:04:36] Robert Hossary: Well, let’s get straight into the 10 lessons it took you however long to learn, to lesson number one, Jeff, “nobody’s thinking of you.”
I think of you, Jeff.
What do you mean by “nobody’s thinking of you”? What do you mean by that?
[00:04:55] Jeffery Wang: It’s not quite the way you think it means. What I was trying to get at is the fact that we shouldn’t get too overly hung up on things that just don’t really matter. Our ego, our pride are amongst the most useless things you can have in life. Yeah, it gives you no end of grief.
And yet it doesn’t really serve much of a utilitarian purpose in terms of what, uh, what it gives your life. You know, there was a good saying that I really never really quite understood until more recently. But when they say in your twenties, you care about what people think about you, in your forties, you stop caring about people and what they think of you. In your sixties, you realize that they were never thinking of you in the first place.
[00:05:39] Robert Hossary: I like it.
[00:05:41] Jeffery Wang: Now, I’ll just share a little story about myself moving to New Zealand as a, as a young kid, as a 10-year-old, being in a foreign culture, operating in a language I didn’t speak in, I didn’t speak a word of English until I was 10. When I moved to New Zealand, um, you, you become very, self-conscious very quickly, you realize you’re different, you know, and that is something that you’re reminded of every single day.
So that mentality, pretty much stuck with me for most of my life. You know, all I wanted to do was to fit in and then I became obsessed about, speaking for example, because I realized that when I, as soon as I opened my mouth, I’m different, I’m reminded that I’m different. , and so all of a sudden I became obsessed about, you know, not making a fool of myself to the point that I worry too much about it.
And, you know, you miss out on living life, you miss out on all the other good things that happen. Now that carried over into my university and even my working life. And unfortunately, that doesn’t bode very well, uh, in terms of how I performed as a person, because I was too focused on me to be focused on the problem at hand or others around me.
Now, it’s only when I got older, then I had the realization that everybody, is fighting a battle that you know nothing about. You know, they’re not thinking about you because they’re probably more busy thinking about themselves.
And so, there’s a flip side to this lesson, you know, that’s, that’s just kind to people because, you know, it’s, it’s free, it doesn’t cost you anything to be kind, we should be kind wherever we can.
[00:07:15] Robert Hossary: Agreed. It’s a very insightful lesson that you learned, and it takes a long time to learn that. The fact that you learned it and you want to share it is, um, it’s pretty unique, actually. There’s not a lot of people that get it.
And you’ve got it. So, and, and you’re sharing it and I hope our listeners actually take the time out to think about what you just said, because it is important and it will, in essence, change your life. There is no doubt about it. Once you realize that you are in control, nobody really is taking the time to think about you and your problem because they’ve got their own.
So no, absolutely. Jeff I’m right there with you. Well, that’s a deep lesson.
[00:08:05] Lesson 2 See The Good In Everything
[00:08:05] Robert Hossary: Let’s move on to lesson number two, which is a, probably another deep lesson knowing you. See the good in everything. That’s a bit of a flower child, flower power type, a hippie outlook on life. Isn’t it? Jeff?
[00:08:20] Jeffery Wang: Well, yeah, it is, I guess.
Um, I be, I suppose, a, a more mundane way of saying that is to stop and smell the roses. Right. Um, again, as, as a kid, that probably is more privileged than I was aware of. I didn’t appreciate a lot of the good things that I had in life, you know, and I don’t pay attention to things that you take for granted.
And unfortunately, when you do that, you don’t get into a very positive mindset about a lot of things. And again, it’s, when I think back in life that I realized how fortunate I was to have the, the upbringing, you know, the family that I had and the situation that I was in now, bear in mind though, I was born in.
the late seventies in Taiwan, which is still a relatively speaking as a developing country, but it is, you know, becoming more economically advanced, um, which afforded us the opportunity to migrate to New Zealand back in the eighties. And when I reflect back on that, I realize how fortunate that really was for me to be able to essentially move to a new place, afford a world-class education.
And you know, being in probably one of the most pristine environments in the whole world. When I look up in the sky now, this is something that a lot of us take for granted, you see a blue sky. Um, I feel happy when I see a blue sky, because I know that there’s not one thing that you can take for granted in Taiwan.
It was when I was growing up in Taiwan, it was so polluted at most of the time, things are just grey, right? So just even something as simple as a blue sky makes me happy. Now, the other aspect of this particular lesson is the fact that we just should not take ourselves too seriously.
You know, now in growing up in Asia, we don’t necessarily understand or appreciate, the Aussie / Kiwi humour. And
[00:10:13] Robert Hossary: Tell me about it.
[00:10:14] Jeffery Wang: Yes, of course, because you, you have, um, you’ve spent quite a bit of time in Taiwan, Rob, so you can absolutely appreciate what I’m about to say.
In that when I, when I started living in New Zealand, there’s a funny thing that the Kiwis and the Aussies do, and that is the fact that when they like you, they take the piss out of you. And just for, for those of you that don’t know that term, when you take the piss out someone, that means it means that they make fun of you.
Um, and it’s actually an Australian lexicon that, um, may not be shared around the world. So, I feel like I have to explain that.
I, at the time, when I was 10 to probably about 15, I got very offended whenever somebody made fun of me and then reflection, I probably missed the opportunity for a lot of great friendships because I was too busy being offended than to, you know, see the good in everything and understand that people are just having fun.
[00:11:14] Robert Hossary: I. I. I’m silent because you’ve taken me back to my childhood. so firstly, I totally agree with, your description of Taiwan. I love Taiwan. I lived there for two years. I worked, for a Taiwanese company for five or six years. So, I, I love the culture. I love the people. I love the country.
The thing is that Taiwan is a very industrial nation, and it is still polluted even today. Um, and you’re right, the sky was not blue and especially not a New Zealand sky blue. So, children who have migrated into a country and are growing up in that country.
Like you have done, like I have done don’t understand the culture immediately. And yes, we go through exactly what you just said. And we would have missed out on a lot. But the issue that you are bringing up is not children. It’s not only children. You carry that into your adulthood, and you take yourself seriously, because you want to establish that you fit the norm, you fit the society.
But as you get older, it goes back to your first lesson. Nobody’s thinking of you. So, if you take the time to find the good in everything, God, you make your life so much more pleasant.
[00:12:44] Jeffery Wang: Doesn’t it?
[00:12:44] Robert Hossary: Yeah, absolutely does. All right.
Let’s go to lesson number three, because, uh, enough of this, um, wander down memory lane, especially for me, because I’ve got too many stories that go back that far.
[00:12:58] Lesson 3 Run Towards The Fire.
[00:12:58] Robert Hossary: lesson number three. Now, Jeff, this is a little wild “run towards the fire”. Can you explain that to everybody?
[00:13:08] Jeffery Wang: Well, that’s a very colourful language really, but what I was trying to get at there is the fact that, you know, we need to run towards conflict because that anything that’s worth anything in life is worth the conflict.
And the other thing I’ve learned through throughout my years is that when we push conflict further down the road, it will only make it worse. Now this was a very, very hard lesson for me to learn because I grew up in a culture that is a very passive culture, is a very conflict avoiding culture, you know, in Asia people don’t say what they mean, because that’s what they’re taught, because that’s a way you avoid conflict in order to be able to live with each other.
and yes, it is, there is a cultural element of this. but as I learnt in the Western culture to run towards the conflict, I’ve realized that this is a much better way to live. Because what you get to is an understanding of each other that you would not otherwise have if you were just to avoid conflict.
It’s difficult to explain, the mentality, but it becomes excruciating the painful, When we say anything, just to avoid that conflict. Now, if you have dealt with businesses in Asia, especially Japan, Taiwan, China, they would say also things other than saying “no” to your face. You know, they’ll use weasel words.
Like “I’ll try my best”, you know, “that’d be very difficult” in these cultures. People have to learn to read between the lines in order to live. Now, this became a very, very, very big problem for me in my working life. Because when I started working, I ran away from conflict. I use these weasel words. I just never, ever want to say no to customers, but only to disappoint them later down the track and created a much bigger problem when I’ve let them down with no time left.
Uh, nowadays I make a habit of just running towards when I can see a conflict, even, you know, even before conflict, when I can see a brewing, I run towards it. And I front up to customers. I front up to my colleagues, the people I deal with, because one thing I realize is that it’s very, very difficult to scream at someone when they’re genuinely making an effort to front up to you to address a problem.
And I’m happy to say that ever since I’ve started running towards the conflict, I’ve actually never had anyone scream at me.
[00:15:34] Robert Hossary: Why would you want people to scream at you? I mean, if you’ve got, if your customers are screaming at your Jeff, they’re the wrong customers.
[00:15:42] Jeffery Wang: No, but, but that, the point is the amount of angst that I caused by conflict avoidance leads to that sort of behaviour.
Whereas the reality is if you make a genuine attempt at resolving the issue and running towards the issue, Uh, you avoid that problem brewing to that extent in the first place. And that’s something that I’m a genuine believer of.
[00:16:02] Robert Hossary: Oh, look, it’s our job as hosts of 10 lessons it took me 50 years to learn, to sometimes take a, a contrary point of view, just to get more out of the point.
I’m not going to do that because I’ve lived my life. Exactly. with this lesson in mind, believe it or not, this was a sales course taught by Xerox corporation. And it was conflict management and how to deal with irate customers.
And I took that into my life. Address the issues, exactly what you said, address the issues immediately. Otherwise, you’re going to make the situation even worse than it is for everybody, including yourself and the anxiety and the mental health that goes with it. Come on. Uh, so Jeff, I’m not going to take a contrary view here because I am a great proponent of, of this lesson run towards the fire, run towards a conflict, get it resolved, have that difficult conversation.
There’s a lot of ways to do it, but the more you avoided the worse it becomes, would you agree with that?
[00:17:14] Jeffery Wang: Absolutely.
[00:17:15] Robert Hossary: Now this, your next lesson is one that I’ve also lived by. I mean, it’s going to be very hard for me to take contrary few to a lot of your lessons, but I will try.
[00:17:27] Lesson 4 Don’t Lie To Yourself.
[00:17:27] Robert Hossary: This next lesson, lesson number four, you know, uh, it, again, something that I have always lived by the way you phrase it though, makes me think a little deeper about it.
Don’t lie to yourself.
[00:17:43] Jeffery Wang: So, what I was trying to get at is around authenticity. So, a similar concept to Duff’s lesson. If you remember, “just tell yourself the truth” and potentially also Andre’s lesson. If you remember, he talked about “burning your masks”. So, I’ll relate this to a story about growing up in Taiwan.
And again, you know, you understand it’s a very indirect culture. So, an open expressions, you know, you don’t just say what you think because it’s considered taboo and bad manners. And I remember once I had a very open argument with my dad, When my dad never directly tells me what he wants, and he gets upset when I don’t do what he says.
And so, I explained to my dad, well,
[00:18:26] Robert Hossary: so, what you’re saying is, He’s a dad.
[00:18:28] Jeffery Wang: well, he’s an Asian dad and a high expectation one at that. But, um, when I, when I think about what my dad said, you know, when I challenged what my dad said, and I, I asked him to speak directly. He looked at me like I was from another planet.
He thought I was being so ridiculous and so childish that I would actually expect them to actually say what he thinks and that he’s, he kind of looked at me. And he made a comment about how that wouldn’t work in the real world. And that’s when I realized culturally speaking, that’s exactly the reality to them, but I chose a different path.
Now, bear in mind, there is a journey of migrating to a different culture. and then, you know, living amongst that culture, what I’ve learned over the years is that living authentically makes me happier and more successful. The fact is I’m not spending a great part of my computing power in my head, trying to figure out what to say or how to mask my feelings.
I was just simply reacting more naturally. Um, and that is why I love my adopted culture in Australia and in New Zealand. And generally speaking, in the west, because we are closer to the truth. We are closer to understanding what people really want, and I think that gets to a stage where we understand each other better.
Now, the other side of that particular lesson, and it’s something that Andre has covered, uh, is about burning your masks.
[00:19:56] Robert Hossary: Now we’re talking Andre Alfonso one of our earlier podcasts.
[00:20:01] Jeffery Wang: He spoke about burning your mask.
What that tells me is that we have to forget the fake narratives that we tell ourselves things like, we’re after the wealth, the fame, the power and the status and all the things that you think you want, you know, these are the things that we think the society expects of us to want. And therefore, we conform to that. And unfortunately, when you become a slave to that desire, you lose the autonomy and the control that we spoke about earlier in, in, in my lessons.
So, what I discovered through my own life is that we, as human beings are relational creatures, that our existence, our purpose, our fulfillment depends on our relationship to others. You know, it, it doesn’t matter how rich or famous you become. You are not going to live a happy, fulfilling life without good relationships in your life.
And when I became aware of that truth with myself, you know, when I stopped lying to myself about what I really want, I am almost liberated to leave the life as I see fit. And I’m in such a better place because of it.
[00:21:13] Robert Hossary: Yeah. I understand exactly what you’re saying. I will take a, a sidebar and say as you’ve pointed out in Western culture, that this is the way to go, but in other cultures, this may not be the way to go.
Now, you know, we are listened to in over 55 countries and growing. So, for our listeners in non-Western, Capitalist cultures like where you have, that advice could, might not work as you personally experienced. So how do you balance then that, that authenticity, that truthfulness, with culture?
[00:21:58] Jeffery Wang: Look, I think the only solution is to develop a level of cultural understanding.
I suppose, I’m trying to look for a term that describes, it’s almost like a method of translation across different, you know, just, not just across different language, but across different cultures. Now the metaphor I would give in terms of how these cultures interact. So, in the example that I gave about my dad and how he spoke indirectly, yet we are supposed to interpret that it’s almost like we’re speaking in, in an encrypted code. Now so as long as people understand that and the share that way of encrypting our language, that we can come to a common understanding of what we mean, then that would be fine. Where it gets, um, dangerous is when people don’t have a common understanding of what that encrypted code is.
So, my view is that, you know, yes, it’s different when you’re operating in a indirect culture, provided that indirect culture does have a way of understanding each other correctly. So, the key there is so long as you can understand what people want and mean, then I believe that wouldn’t be an issue. My preference is not to encrypt our communications because it takes too much brain power.
[00:23:21] Robert Hossary: Absolutely.
[00:23:22] Jeffery Wang: And that’s wasted brain power as far as I’m concerned,
[00:23:27] Robert Hossary: I understand that, but the reality of the situation is that in some situations that’s not going to work. So, your advice there is pretty solid and pretty sound. actually, reminds me of Douglas Adams, his Babel fish in Hitchhiker’s guide.
If you can translate this as it’s going within your head, you still can be authentic to yourself, which is your lesson. Don’t lie to yourself, while still maintaining the cultural norm. And I think that’s important. Um, and that’s an important lesson to be aware of who you are and what’s important to you and don’t waste your brain power. As you say on non-essential fluff.
[00:24:17] Lesson 5 Finding Fulfilment Is More Important Than Happiness.
[00:24:17] Robert Hossary: Your next lesson, lesson number five, Jeffery, once again, you’re on this very spiritual journey, uh, with your lessons, finding fulfillment is more important than happiness. I’m not even going to touch that because once again, I do agree with you.
[00:24:40] Jeffery Wang: Look, and I wish I could say that this was something that inherently made sense. Because the reality is that didn’t, um, and in fact, it was only in the last couple of years that I’ve come to this realization, to quote the great, Dr. Jordan Peterson. One of his lessons in his 12 lessons for life is to “pursue what is meaningful and not what is expedient”.
Now it took me a while to, in reflection to understand this, because it’s about understanding what makes someone not necessarily happy but fulfilled. And when we all do, when we’re young, we think that, you know, our, the purpose of our life is to seek happiness.
And that’s a pretty common view of life, you know, to maximize the pleasure and minimize the pain. but that is just not a sustainable formula. And as we all, realize over time that everything that gives you pleasure, you take for granted later on, you know, the fact that we can talk to each other, in live time in high definition, this is not something that we should be taking for granted because I still remember the days where I dreamt about, oh, wouldn’t it be great if we can have a video conference over the internet only to realize that our 57 K modem isn’t going to give us that kind of quality and yet, we complain nowadays if there’s a little kink in the, uh, in the video stream, you complain. And so, I guess with this lesson here, I realized that it’s for us to learn what is meaningful to us, you know, and, and to quote the great Victor Frankl, “those who has a, why can bear any how”.
[00:26:15] Robert Hossary: Can you say that again?
[00:26:18] Jeffery Wang: ” Those who have a why can bear any how” there will be things in life which will be difficult, right?
But if is a purpose that you’re seeking, you can overcome a lot of hardships in order to get there. So, Victor Frankl observed in the Nazi concentration camps that the people who tend to survive are the ones that have something to live for.
“Those who has a why can bear any how” speaks to something about the way we’ve built as, as a person. What we need is not pleasure of maximization or pain minimization. What we need is something to live for, which gives us fulfillment.
And the difference between fulfillment and happiness is that fulfillment lasts. Right. And, and that, that is why I think we need to find the courage to pursue what is the right thing.
[00:27:08] Robert Hossary: Really, what you’re talking about is purpose.
[00:27:12] Jeffery Wang: Absolutely.
[00:27:13] Robert Hossary: In, in an episode with Jeremy Richmond, he was talking about “let a cause find you”.
And again, it’s pretty much the same thing, finding that purpose, having that. Why, why am I doing it? The, how will be easy, as you pointed out. So, finding that purpose and giving you that fulfillment will, will be greater than the search for happiness because let’s face it. What is happiness?
It is individual to each one of us. And as you said prior, if a million dollars is happiness, you’ve got the wrong scale, my friend, because once you reach that, you still won’t be happy. And there are studies that show that over a certain amount. And I think it’s 120,000, um, Australian. You’re not going to be any happier.
Additional funds will not make you happier. And that’s the point I think of your lesson, Jeff, you need to be fulfilled. And then that fulfillment, that purpose will, will give your life meaning.
[00:28:23] Jeffery Wang: And I suppose a side lesson to that is what gives you that fulfillment, right? When you talk about happiness, you tend to focus on things about you.
You know, it’s about a million bucks with me. It’s about all the things, you know, the pleasure that I can see for myself fulfillment comes. I think majority from outside. I’ll share another story about how I became sort of the loudmouth that I am now, when I speak out about what I really think.
In my younger days, I was probably a little bit more compliant in terms of, keeping my mouth shut and not rock the boat as is a very typical thing for, for a person of an Asian culture to do. And later on, I’ve found a bit of a voice. I’m a huge advocate of diversity as you probably already know.
Um, and the reason for my change was the understanding that if I were to do nothing, that my children would grow up with the same limitations that I had. Unsurprisingly. The point of that transformation came when I had my first child, when I looked into his eyes, when I looked into the face to face, and I realized that he’s going to grow up to look kind of like me.
And if I don’t change the world for the better, he will have the same limitations that I had growing up. And that is when I found purpose. And yeah, certainly, speaking up hasn’t been fun, but I realized that it was worth it, because there was a, there was a purpose to that suffering as it if it makes sense.
So, it’s a bit of, I suppose, a stoic approach to life. Um, but it is the truth and is something that I’ve found to be true through my own experience.
[00:29:55] Robert Hossary: Yeah. And that’s again for you and for me, and for those of us that follow this, that’s the purpose. When you have that purpose, then it does make your actions, worthwhile.
“If you have the why, you can bear any how”. Well, well said, well,
[00:30:15] Lesson 6 If You Can’t Argue From The Other Side, You Haven’t Understood The Issue.
[00:30:15] Robert Hossary: Lesson number six while I do sort of agree. I’m not sure how much I agree lesson number six, “if you can’t argue from the other side, you haven’t understood the issue”. Okay. I can argue from the other side, I do understand the issue and the other side’s still morons.
[00:30:41] Jeffery Wang: Well, I think it’s still speaks more to a mindset. So, this is something that my dad tells me, all the time, you know, as,
[00:30:50] Robert Hossary: Steve Zylstra. He said, “dad was right!”
[00:30:54] Jeffery Wang: well, dad was right! Um, look, I was a young, hot head as most people would be, and I was an arrogant, little, things that I can’t say on the, on the podcast. But in reflection I realized that. My dad would say, “if you can’t argue from the other side, you haven’t understood the issue”. Now at the time I disagree with him because in my head I was just thinking, well, that’s because they’re wrong.
[00:31:17] Robert Hossary: well, Most of the time they are Jeff.
[00:31:20] Jeffery Wang: Well, I’ve come to understand that. Uh, there’s generally a perspective that I have not thought of. And even if they are wrong, I have to understand why they’re wrong or I have not understood an issue. And I guess this is a very similar concept to, Stephen Covey saying, “seek to understand before being understood”.
And, and it’s true in that people do want to be understood. I found the most compelling way to bring someone across to your side is to understand where they’re coming from. And so, every time when I get into an argument, I do go through this process of genuinely understanding and not misrepresenting their view.
And when you do that, well, a couple of things happen. One is that you understand that you’re not actually that far apart in the first place. Or the other alternative is that they’ll come to see your point of view, and understand why their point of view is limited. Because once you’ve understood their point of view, they generally are more open to understanding where you’re coming from.
Now. It’s not easy to do that because most of us, don’t have the confidence or the humility to have an open mind. To be able to seek the other side, you have to be open to the possibility that I could be wrong. I don’t know the full story. So, for me, it’s recognizing that there’s ultimately a whole lot more in the world that I don’t know, then what I do know.
If I have that recognition and that understanding, I’m in a much better position to understand and grapple with the world. Now, again, you know, we often hear the saying that truth is somewhere in the middle. But it’s hard for you to find the truth if you’re so emotionally committed to a position or narrative to, you know, think about it critically.
I think that for me to strengthen my belief in a particular idea or position, I have to understand how it could be, criticized. I have to try and seek to understand exactly why it could be wrong. And if I don’t understand why, it could be wrong, then I haven’t understood that issue. So, I guess that that’s my philosophy.
And I found that it served me well in life, in business and in friendships. You know, I believe that we’ve, uh, got to disagree better as a society because…
[00:33:44] Robert Hossary: Agreed.
[00:33:45] Jeffery Wang: Now this is a very key point. Our opinions are not our identity because…
[00:33:50] Robert Hossary: that is an insight and an epiphany in itself, which a lot of people will not share with you because they don’t understand what you just said.
Do you want to repeat that again? So, people can think about what you just said because I totally agree with this.
[00:34:07] Jeffery Wang: Well, okay. So, so what I said is that our opinions are not our identity, because it evolves, our opinions evolves with time and experience. And you expect that too because you get older and wiser.
what we have too much of is, this, um, digging in because they see their identity as more like a team sport. It’s like a colour, uh, and you can’t change as soon as you start wearing this colour. Um, and you know, you tried to double down on it, or you refuse to hear anything contrary to that particular world view.
And I think that’s why most people find themselves in such a bind most of the time. But if you just have enough confidence, if you just have enough humility to be open to possibilities, you will become a wiser and better person.
[00:34:51] Robert Hossary: I agree with you. As far as identity, let me try and give, some sort of an analogy, that will help maybe our listeners understand what you said about identity in the seventies and eighties, men, males, especially males would identify with their profession. So, it was always a case of, so what do you do for a living?
And I think in the States system, a lot of that still exists. today males do not identify with their profession. And so therefore they’re more flexible to, to then learn more skills and do more things. Back when I was a young sales cadet, it was exactly that I am in this industry. I do this and the problem there was, if you lost your job, it would be devastating because your identity is gone.
And it’s the same thing that you just mentioned if you’re so wrapped up in your dogma, that that has become your identity. Once you’re proven wrong, you’re shattered, and people will double down because they don’t want to back off on that. So, I, I agree with you, Jeff, it’s really hard to do anything, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, to accept the fact that you thoughts are wrong and don’t make comments, don’t make a decision or don’t make, uh, judgments on things when you don’t have all the information. And today we have too much information. So, it takes a while to sift through it.
[00:36:32] Jeffery Wang: Absolutely.
[00:36:33] Robert Hossary: All right. Well, let’s move on because again, you’ll get in very deep, man.
[00:36:37] Lesson 7 Seek The Truth And Make It Persuasive.
[00:36:37] Robert Hossary: So, let’s move on to lesson number seven, “seek the truth and make it persuasive”. What do you mean by that, Jeff?
[00:36:44] Jeffery Wang: Well, in our last lesson, we spoke about being open to seek the truth, right? What the truth is, you know, the truth is the truth. Um, there was no my truth or your truth. There is just the truth. Um, but it takes an absolute open mind, humility, and a whole lot of integrity not to let your own biases and perspective and pride clouds you from that truth.
My belief is that we need to seek that truth with an absolute open mind to try and understand what it is. Now. I don’t think we can ever get there. All we can do is get as many perspectives as possible. So, you sort of close in on the truth. But we absolutely have to seek it with, again, as we spoke about without the biases, without the commitment to identities and all that, clouding us from that truth.
But once you’ve got, got a good grasp of what the truth could be or should be, you have to understand that that is actually a very powerful thing, but it also takes a whole lot of courage to tell that truth. Now, this is something that takes, it’s taken me a very, very, very long time. To come to the realization that I need to seek it and I need to tell it.
And it’s a bit of an item of faith. I mean, we hear about this cancel culture that’s going on right now. You know, people fear telling the truth because when you say something that’s not politically correct, you can have your livelihood destroyed. You could have your reputation in, in tatters, you know, you get sacked from your jobs.
All sorts of things could happen to you. You know, if you were to say something that doesn’t correspond to the popular narrative, part of it is conflict avoidance. Part of it is, you know, me afraid of losing friends and relationships and all of that. what I’ve grown to realize is that when you seek the truth and you tell the truth, there’s so much power in the truth, because people deep down know what the truth is.
Even if they are pushing a particular narrative because of their circumstance, deep down, they know exactly what the truth is. And I should have had more faith in people. Um, even those who I think would disagree with me when I tell the truth in good faith, you know, and I tried to tell it as persuasively as possible.
Um, people have a way of being drawn to that. And I found myself being a lot more influential as a result of telling that truth. And I think there’s something much deeper to truth telling than I potentially realize when I was younger.
[00:39:14] Robert Hossary: So, let me ask you what happens when you tell the truth, persuasively people believe you and, get on your side, and then you discover that that wasn’t the truth.
[00:39:25] Jeffery Wang: Then you’ve got to tell people that you’re wrong. I mean, our opinions are our understanding of the truth will change when new facts emerge, that’s what you’ve got to do. People change their minds all the time. I mean, there was a time when the popular opinion was that the earth was flat.
[00:39:46] Robert Hossary: Jeff, uh, is there a still people now that believe that crap
[00:39:49] Jeffery Wang: That’s right. But the truth is the truth, whatever they believe.
[00:39:51] Robert Hossary: I hear you. I will take issue with, you know, deep down people know what the truth is. I don’t think they do. And you see this, you see this in all the misinformation that’s out there because people will enter into the popular term echo chamber with like-minded people, like-minded peers and never leave.
And therefore, they’re not exposed to anything other than their own truth. So, I understand your lesson and I understand your point. I just don’t think it’s ever going to happen.
[00:40:28] Jeffery Wang: So, I think, I think I probably, I’ve probably chosen, I should have chosen woods a little bit more carefully. No,
[00:40:35] Robert Hossary: I think you’ve chosen the right words.
I just think that your faith in humanity is a little overstated.
[00:40:44] Jeffery Wang: It’s an article of faith that I believe people with deep down know what the truth is. Now what I will say to the example that you raised is that people deep down know. They they’re doubling down on something that is not rooted in facts, but rather is an article of faith.
Right? So, people know that they’re doubling down on something that can’t be proven, and that’s the truth. Because they really don’t know what the truth is. Now, if they aren’t committed to seeking for that truth, then they’re, they’re easily, uh, going to be swayed into doubling down on whatever their preconceived position is.
This is the reason why they’re so desperate to cling onto their positions is because they know that they don’t know the truth. And that’s why they need to double down on something that’s ultimately not rooted in facts.
[00:41:39] Robert Hossary: I suppose, to, to add to your lesson, if you are not prepared to change your mind, If proven wrong, then it’s not the truth.
[00:41:50] Jeffery Wang: Absolutely.
[00:41:52] Robert Hossary: So, I get that. And, once again, very deep, very controversial, which is good, which is what this podcast is all about.
[00:42:01] Lesson 8 Listen For Context And Meaning.
[00:42:01] Robert Hossary let’s move on to lesson number eight. Uh, “listen for context and meaning”. As a salesperson. I know what you’re saying, but could you explain that for our audience?
[00:42:12] Jeffery Wang: All right. So, I suppose in reflection in my life, um, it’s no surprise that I ended up as a salesperson because as a child migrant with very little English, I, um, I learned how to listen beyond words, um, because I didn’t understand what the meaning of the words is, but as a 10 year old child, there’s a lot of things that you can understand without actually understanding the definition of each word.
Now, that carried through with me through my life. I became more astute, deriving meaning, uh, from things which are unspoken. Now, part of that is because of that experience, living in a different culture with a different language, part of it is living in a, um, when I was growing up in Asia, living in a indirect culture where people don’t say what they really mean.
And so, you get very good at listening between the lines. Now, there are different levels of listening. You know, you listen for words, you listen for meaning you listen for context. Um, now I say that you’ve got to listen for what people really mean, and that is not necessarily what they say. Know what’s interesting here is what they say is sometimes not even close to what they mean.
And that’s why listening is a lot more than just making sense of people’s words. You have to make sense of what they’re thinking. And so very often I hear arguments between lots of people that, you know, don’t realize they’ve got so much in common that they agree on if they just bothered to listen to each other.
[00:43:37] Robert Hossary: Yeah. Yeah. I’ve been there, seen that happen. A lot of our guests, have great anecdotes to back up this point, Diana White, uh, Jeremy Richman, listening is, I think the most important, lesson that will help society will help humanity, listen to each other, and listen for the meaning as you’ve just pointed out, because that is important.
No. Excellent lesson Jeff. Excellent.
[00:44:10] Lesson 9 Perfectionism is prison
[00:44:10] Robert Hossary: All right. Lesson number nine, perfectionism is prison.
[00:44:15] Jeffery Wang: So that’s something that took me a long time to learn.
As with a lot of people, you know, we are obsessed about trying to be perfect, and I would probably argue that that is more prevalent in some cultures than others. Truth be told, I’m still trying to overcome this obsession with perfectionism. Now, understand that mistakes are necessary in order to learn, failures are necessary as part of growth.
Um, this is similar to why you should let kids be kids, let them fall over and let them learn from their experiences. You know, it’s easier said than done. Now that I’m a dad, I realize you’re trying to prevent them from, yeah, this is a problem with what we call a, you used to be helicopter parenting. Now it’s called lawn mower parenting, where you, you, you get everything out of the way for them just so that they can have a smooth ride. I can understand the desire to not let your kid get hurt, but the reality is you need to let them play. Do you need to let them fall? You need to let them grow and learn.
I could probably say that potentially because, you know, due to my upbringing and childhood, I’m probably a victim of helicopter parenting. The problem though, is that later on it manifested itself as this obsession to perfectionism that, you know, because I haven’t failed a lot in my life. The thought of failure is very, very scary.
It took a while for me to understand that that perfectionism is actually holding me back in a huge, huge way in the fact that I don’t take risks. And as a result, I miss out on growth.
I’m a mad basketball player. And I used to pride myself when, I shoot 90% in terms of field goals. It means that every 10 shots I make nine of them, I used to think that was a great thing until coach actually reminded me that well, actually, no, that means you’re hurting the team by not taking enough shots. In fact, what you got to do is you everyone’s got to hit about the same percentage and the more talented players has to take more shots, um, in order to maximize the points.
And once I came to that realization, I realized that I was holding the team back because I was too afraid of missing shots that I wasn’t even taking anywhere near enough. And that’s, that’s quite a shock to my system, but it still took a couple of years until I realized, that perfectionism was what’s holding me back.
Now, the most liberating day of my life was the day when I realized that I was thoroughly spectacularly and breathtakingly average.
I was able to just let go of this delusion of grandeur. You know, it gave me a permission to fail, and failure is, as I said before, it’s a necessary part of success, because we’re venturing into the unknown. We’re venturing outside of our comfort zone. You can’t have growth without it. In hindsight, of course, I wish I knew this earlier, but here I am today.
[00:47:12] Robert Hossary: Do you see this ties back to lesson number four, you were lying to yourself.
[00:47:17] Jeffery Wang: Oh, I was, I wasn’t aware of that though.
[00:47:20] Robert Hossary: But look, your point is incredibly valid as a sales professional, as a marketer, as a business executive, as a business leader, I have, had the privilege in my career to implement a lot of stuff.
And I’ve been in IT for a long, long time where the, the code is written by the programmers for a client. And it’s perfect. The code is perfect, and the client uses it in a way that it was never intended to be used as end users do. There is no such thing as perfect. As Guillaume Lucci said, it’s a poor destination, as you say, it’s a prison.
How many websites have I put up in my career? How many CRMs have I implemented? Uh, you don’t wait until they 100% correct before they launch, get them out there. And this is a business model. You get it out there, you tweak it. Fail fast and fail quickly or, or whatever the saying is. So, you’re spot on Jeffery.
Um, being perfect is more harmful than good, being perfect will hold you back. So, if you’re aware of what everything is and how it works, then you can tweak or you can make adjustments on the fly and that is the road to success. And that’s what you’ve found. And that’s, that’s a great lesson. Uh, perfectionism is a prison.
Great lesson, Jeff. Thank you. All right, we’ve come up to Lesson number 10. And you’ve left a big one to last.
[00:48:58] Lesson 10 Gratitude is the key to happiness
[00:48:58] Robert Hossary: So, Jeff lesson number 10. Gratitude is the key to happiness.
[00:49:07] Jeffery Wang: Again, this is a lesson that I wish I had learned earlier in life. Similar to seeing the good in everything.
Gratitude is something that I never appreciated the value of. Right? We see things that we pay attention to. Yeah. Right. If I tell you don’t think about a pink elephant, you see a pink elephant. If you bought a red car, all of a sudden you drive on the streets, you see red cars everywhere.
Unfortunately, if you focus on things which are terrible, you’re going to see more of it as well. So, if you’re someone who’s obsessed about racism, guess what? You’re going to see a whole lot of racism. And I guess the reverse is also true. Um, when you focus on all the good things in life, because I believe this is the way we’re wired.
This is just the way we are. Let’s say now DNA now. Um, if we choose to see the things in life, you will see more of it. Now I realize one day last week that I was incredibly lucky to be blessed to live in Australia. Now, prior to the big lockdown in pandemic, we used to go for a run during the lunchtime.
And I used to run past the Sydney Opera House to see a bunch of tourists taking pictures. And I was just thinking, they’re going, wow. Like this is my life. People have to fly 10,000 miles just to be here to take a picture. I run past it during lunch because I need exercise.
Now I have two beautiful boys. I’m so lucky to be blessed with these two little beautiful souls. It’s hard not to be happy, just thinking about that. And you know, there’s a reason why Christians say grace for what seems like very mundane things. You know, they give thanks for food, you know, who doesn’t have food right?
But then you realize that we don’t think about all of the things that has to go right. Just for us to have food on the table. If the rain stops, if there’s a drought or pests, if we don’t have farmers, if our local supermarket is closed, if the chefs can’t cook, if our Uber drivers, um, don’t want to deliver, then you know, we wouldn’t have food on the table.
You don’t have to be religious to find utility in gratitude. When we focus on good things, you feel happy, and that is more valuable to you, then, you know, half the stuff that you can’t get.
[00:51:25] Robert Hossary: Yeah. No, it’s very true. We’ve, uh, we’ve had on this show, many, psychologists who have backed this point up with, research that gratitude is better for your mental health. It is better for your physical health, and many of them have, advocated journaling, at least, you know, between two and 10 minutes a day, just focusing on what happened that day. Good and bad. But when you write down the good things that happened to you, focus on that as you’ve just said, and you start seeing that, you know the day wasn’t as shitty as I thought, it wasn’t as bad as I thought these are the good things that happened. You know, I found $5 in an old pair of jeans or what have you, who has $5 and an old pair of jeans, but, um, you’re right. These are the kinds of things. And it has been there there’s research that backs that up.
So, you are spot on Jeff and, and it takes a while to understand that gratitude is more than just giving thanks. It’s being grateful. For the life that you have, it’s being grateful for the situation that you’re in. And there’s a lot of people during the last, 24 months with this pandemic, this global pandemic, that have lost their lives, that have lost their jobs, that have lost their businesses.
And there’s a lot of other people that have not, there is a lot to be grateful about. There’s a lot to, to be mournful about, but, you know, focus on the good things that have happened is what you’re saying. And that will increase your mental health. That’ll increase your physical health in the long run.
And that has been proven. I don’t have the studies, but listen, somewhere on other podcasts, I’m sure you’ll find them there. So, Jeff that’s that concludes our 10 lessons. So let me ask you the same question that we ask everybody with all of these 10 lessons that you’ve learned and all the other lessons that you’ve learned over your, your existence.
What is the one thing that you may have unlearned in all that time?
[00:53:53] Jeffery Wang: Well, I think I’ve already alluded to this earlier is that I don’t need to be successful in the conventional sense to be happy. and in fact, life isn’t about the maximization of pleasure and avoidance of pain. Um, and in fact it’s a terrible strategy to employ in the long term. Right. Um, the second thing about that is that I realized that my definition of success came from my environment and not from within me intrinsically, or at least not at the start of my life. Um, it was a bit of a dark time try as I struggled to reconcile what people tell me that I should be, and what I should be seeking, versus something that ultimately gives me, you know, fulfillment.
And so, it took a lot of courage to start living authentically and to stop trying to live my life, to impressing others. Um, and that realization ultimately ended a pretty dark period in my life.
[00:54:49] Robert Hossary: Yeah. Uh, that’s, that’s a good thing to unlearn because it just makes your life better.
And thanks, Jeff. We’ll finish on that note. You’ve been listening to 10 lessons. It took me 50 years to learn now guest today’s our very own Jeffery Wang. This podcast is supported by the Professional Development Forum. PDF provides seminars, podcasts, webinars, parties, anything you want, everything you need, and best of all, it’s free.
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