Attitude & Performance

One’s writing skills depend more on attitude/mindset rather than linguistic talent. According to ICL&W, 70% of a person’s articulacy in writing comes from his confidence rather than any linguistic aptitude. Often times we mentally focus too much on producing quality work that by the time when we are actually ready to type up the work, fatigue has already claimed most of our energy. The end result is then a so-so work, and we often being judged or otherwise graded by such writing. However, the more I write, the more types of writing I engage in, the flow and the sense of ease I get from different writing seem to see eye to eye with ICL&W’s findings.

The quality of one’s writing also seems to depend on who one’s targeted audiences are. Composing an email to my colleague professors often takes a much longer period of time in comparison with putting together a longer blog on my personal website. In hindsight, it is the pressure we put on ourselves to produce quality work that interrupts our writing flow and negatively impact the overall quality of our writing. Therefore, it seems to be reasonable to conclude that placing too much pressure on producing good quality work can backfire and be counterproductive.

With cautious steps let me take this argument bit further. A person’s performance is largely predetermined by attitude/mindset than it is by aptitude/talent. At a specific setting, with a particular individual, or during a certain period of time, one’s performance (i.e., articulacy, writing, sporting, etc.) may set a new record at either end of the spectrum. Often time we attribute such peak/trough in our performance to the concept of luck or level of our physical and mental energy. It is hard to deny that energy level does influence our performance. By putting attitude/mindset of the performer in the spotlight, I do not intend to downplay the importance of other factors. However, attitude does influence our performance at a maximum level that I wish to candle a lively discussion regarding both the role of attitude in our performance as well as how to best de/reconstruct the right set of mind that will allow us to be at our best.



Where to Call Home

Emile Durkheim’s functional view of society suggests that the social environment we live in shapes our personality. Does it or does it not? I think it definitely influences, if not casts, one’s personality. My personal journey from a rural county in Tibet to world-class higher learning institutes in the US enables me to have a deeper level of understanding of the importance of where I call home.

Upon graduating from universities in the U.S, I often spaced out into long spins of deep contemplation: where to call home. Where should I pursue a career and start a family?

China? Regardless of all the debate about its total corruption, moral failure, political totalitarianism, leading role in energy consumption and carbon emission, it’s still where my childhood memories along with my beloved family members live. It’s hard to imagine distancing myself away from my parents when age deprives them of physical vitality and every additional month seems to deepen their wrinkles and harden their joints.

Yes, with the modern transit system and cutting edge technology we are fully wired. In theory, I can visit and contact my relatives at anytime and from anywhere. However, it is also this very notion of fully wired that excuses us from shouldering our responsibilities as a son/daughter and reduces the role of parents into a background voice, a clip of video and a holiday visit. So, should I call the great wall home and return to work in China?

If I do, am I failing the generations yet to come, who will address me us their father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Frankly speaking, the great wall is not necessarily a great place to live. It’s dirty. A short walk in any urbanized part of China, all senses are bound to fall victim to urbanization. The smell, the noise, the ever-jammed traffic gridlock, and the stuffed public transit hardly leave any healthy room for me to welcome my kids when everyone else is trying to immigrate to elsewhere.

It’s rude. A person is often judged and treated by his dress than qualifications. Hyper-frequent public spitting and toss of trash is nothing out of the ordinary. An increasing number of Chinese people are falling in love with pets. However, the difference between westerners and Chinese people walking their dogs is while the former bag up and get rid of dog drops, the latter rush their pets and walk away from the scene as soon as job is done.

It’s unfair. The disadvantaged ones are always trapped in a cycle of poverty. A poverty that is not situational but generational, which Dr. Ruby K. Payne describes as a cycle that passes from generation to generation. Opportunities are circulated within the social elites. It is even true with employment opportunities. Some work up from their bootstrap and successfully complete college degrees or even achieve higher credentials and only find themselves being sent to some rural villages to idle away the rest of their lives, while others don’t even need to complete high school degrees and are already promised with highly paid government jobs in the main town seats or cities. It’s beyond startling to witness the level of indifference and apathy government officials hold towards corruption and injustice. It is a system that operates on cash and connection.

The list goes on, but let me end it with one last comment about its lack of safety. Theoretically, everyone is equal in front of the rule of law. However, rule of law are made and operated by people. Therefore, corruption among people infects the system and distort rule of law. Lives are constantly lost at the hands of those who are supposed to safeguard people’s lives. Public facilities often claim lives due to their ill design and poor qualifications. There is also an increasing number of cases in which second-generation-elites, as it is often being called, sport with people’s lives. What is happening in China between the bourgeois and the proletariats is no less cruel than what has happened between the whites and the blacks in the history of U.S. Different level of lynching can be seen and read day in and day out. Therefore, if I call China home, I am depriving my kids of the freedom and safety they otherwise can enjoy elsewhere.

Where I call home is a generational concern. Should I take care of the ones ahead of me or should I prepare for the ones yet to come?

Now, U.S has often been described as the land of opportunity. Americans do enjoy, for the most part, a higher level of freedom that we all dream for. It’s reasonable to argue that the legal and educational systems in the U.S are far more advanced and better crafted than anywhere else. If I were to become American citizen, I can have my voice heard and opinions shared. As long as I don’t violate the rule of law, it’s a powerful defense weapon that can provide my family and me with security and justice. So, should I call U.S home?

In the eyes of westerners, Asians equal Chinese and Chinese are born cheap. For any cheap product and service, China town is the place to go to. Racial discrimination will always be there. Yes, U.S is working hard and has made amazing progress in shaking off all sorts of discriminations. However, a level of overdone often spells discriminatory residues in the activities day in and day out. Be it a joke, a random conversation, a flint of eye, a subtle gesture, discrimination is still omnipresent in the U.S. So, am I going to await my kids to fall prey to such discrimination?

What about Europe? What about an island? What about a village? Where is a home and where can I call home? Where would Emile Durkheim recommend anyone to live?

A More Livable Future

As urbanization and industrialization accelerate in China and across the globe, low carbon development and the concept of sustainability seem to attract more attention than they used to. Human induced global climate change has made it impossible for anyone to deny or even question its existence and seriousness. This summer alone has reset many climatic records. To name only a few: New York City suffered from record high temperature in late July and bashed by unprecedented Hurricane in late August. Chongqing Municipality in China has experienced one of the hottest summers in its history.

Even though Chongqing is known as one of the Chinese furnaces, local residents fans with disbelieve of the sustained high temperature. Local primary schools in Chongqing postponed their fall semester by a full week in order to avoid the heat dome.  Those climatic abnormity and subsequent results hit residents without AC and students who are returning to schools in those cities the most.

During and post Hurricane Irene, most of the public transits in New York City were temporarily stopped. The cancellation of flight and train services left many students returning from summer holiday stuck on the road. Those students do not have enough time to return to their home places given the approaching school year. Equally, it is too expensive to assume, even for a short period of time, the role of an airport resident in any part of the world. In clarification, let me reiterate their situation, many students waved their reluctant goodbyes to the caring ones and boarded various flights to continue their academic journey. At the first stop upon departing their home countries, they were told that all flights to NYC were cancelled. To some, like my poor girlfriend, the odyssey didn’t stop there. Her first stop was in Tokyo and she was being told that her flight to JFK was cancelled. So, there was no way that she could continue her journey. She was also told that she couldn’t stay in Japan, because she did not have a proper visa. As a result, she was put on a flight headed to Chicago. To the Japanese, it’s out of country out of their concerns. However, my poor girlfriend had to detour to Chicago. After spending a night there, she was once again put on another flight to DC.

After two more nights in DC, she was compelled to cancel her flight and she switched her travel plan to Amtrak. Tickets purchased, hotel checked out, and she was once again confronted with transit cancellation. Amtrak was not running due to track damages done by Irene. After spending close to a full week on the road, she finally made it to Bard. However, none of the flight companies offered any compensation as they were obligated to.  

Therefore, the inconvenience and damage done by climate change does not limit to or confine within a physical sphere. Climate change also opens up loopholes for moral and political corruption. It adds on to the list of excuses dummies breathe with.  

(To welcome and direct public criticism towards such poor service, it was Continental who refused to cover the additional costs it imposed on those poor students.)

Climate Change associated misfortunes does not limit on the road. Back in Chongqing, the unprecedented heat dome forces many impoverished local residents to crowd in the hall way and aisles of big malls to avoid the heat at the risk of being beaten by the so-called security-guard (

There were news reports about lives being claimed by the historical high temperature. It goes without saying that local hospitals are packed with heat patients. 

It is the helpless residents in Brooklyn, NY; the crowded aisles in Chongqing; China; the victims of increasing climatic calamities and the lives lost at the climatic abnormity that demands better stewardship of our shared and only home planet—earth. It is no longer a mere political rhetoric, nor is it in the future tense. It’s happening as we speak.  

So why low carbon? Why sustainability?

Unprecedented climatic abnormities do not occur without any reason. The thin air hardly gives birth to a warmer planet without additional heat trapping green house gases. In order to minimize climate change related casualties and economic loss, low carbon development/sustainable development seem to be the only path that shall lead us, and many generations of us yet to come, to a more livable future.       

–by Chad Tupgon