Welcome to Sharudin Jamal Blogspot

More than a decade ago, I was diagnosed of having a peculiar illness known as Bipolar Affected Disorder. My world as I known it crumbled; I lost my business, then my job and later my sense of purpose. It was during this dark moments I rediscovered the joy of running and writing. Most of the articles here are about my rekindled pleasure of hitting the tarmac, my coming to terms with the illness and my discovery of the meaning of life.

I always on the lookout for inspirations to write in these three areas with the hope that they will shed new ray of hope to others who are in the same position as I am.

Do keep in touch if you feel connected through these essays.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Ten Lessons in Conformity

Often we heard that to stand above the crowd means getting attention and getting noticed.  This is not however how the masses get by.  Since the early days, children had been trained to conform.  It means you got to play by the book.  It is a safe passage to adapt to the demand of the society as the kids assimilate.

There is safety in numbers too when you conform.  The opposite of conformity is individualism.  I looked for quotes on conformity and I ended with more quotes on not to conform.  Twenty years ago,  if you asked me about conformity I will bluntly discard it as a hogwash.  What?  Me a conformist?  No way Jose.  I am my own man, a gunslinger, a shoot by the hip kind of guy.  A rebel.

Then I realized that the majority rule.  I learn and adapt especially after witnessing the landslide victory of Donald Trump presidential election.  Yes, indeed I learned my lesson.  The majority always have the upper hand.  It was during the rare occasions that the few courageous individuals like Lech Walesa or Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. shined.  For most of the people, it's living on a prayer.  That's right folks, instead of taking action, most people are more than happy prostrating on a prayer mat asking for the all mighty God for unreturned favors upon favors.  Never thinking about what they should do in exchange.

Let's face it, conformity is not all that bad.  That's how the majority survive.  It's the name of the game in town nowadays.  Just stay below the radar and be safe.  To most people, that is living under the shadow of reality.  So enough ranting and let's look at the ten list of what to do if you are a conformist: 

Lesson # 1 Obey all rules - This is the first step in conformity, rules are meant to be obeyed.  Otherwise, why have the rules in the first place?  A simple policy you can start with is to be on time all the time.  You cannot imagine how liberating it is to be a law abiding citizen.  Things seemed to flow towards your favor every time you follow the convention.  Even scientists follow rules.  A breach of this protocol generates chaos.  We don't need too much uncertainty though slightly bending the rules once in a blue moon can be quite disengaging.

Lesson # 2  Do not rock the boat - why pick up a happy baby?  If it ain't broken why fixed it?  Let a well-oiled machine runs.  Nobody likes instability.  It throws us out of sync.  There goes the routine.  When that happens, we are no longer in the auto mode.  Everything has to be calibrated.  With all that comes surmounting pressure.  Who needs calamity when we can have serenity?  

During the olden days in Europe, there were royal map makers who charted the land.  At the fringe of the territory, they will post a sign that says, "beyond this point there are dragons".  It helped to make life easier for the map makers.  There will be fewer issues of people getting lost at the point yonder.  Hence by doing so they had less headache before the map got completed.

Lesson # 3 Play safe - maintain status quo.  Do you know that the most time-saving strategy is to say no often?  By doing so, you will then have less thing to worry until the next waking hours.  Just say no.  Less thinking.  Less action.  Less commitment.  Ahhh... can you smell the coffee in the pot?  Just another day in paradise.  This is why we have the conservatives, the naysayers.  Status quo is security.  
There was a study made where they follow preschoolers around for a whole day to observe the most common vocabulary that the children use.  On the average seventeen times, the word "no" was uttered.  No, turned out to be a safe haven for us growing up.  Do not be afraid to say no often.  Maybe someday that word may even save you your life.

Lesson # 4 Avoid penalties - short term pleasure, long term pain.  Penalties were designed to be costly.   If you don't believe me try being truant with the municipalities once in a while.  Better still go eat at restaurants with 10% service fee.  These barriers are there to toll you unnecessarily.  There are tolls that cannot be avoided like the road toll and the GST.  You don't need to burden yourself with more self-inflicted elusive ones.  Penalties are bad for the wallet and a bane for long term harmonious living.  It takes the mojo out of simple pleasures.

Lesson # 5 Pay bills on time -  A path towards frugality.  It's a basic time value of money concept.  Pay for today what you spend today or at least the past thirty days.  Your money is of more value now than in the future.  That means you are not living on long-term credit.  The problem with credit is that it accumulates.  With it comes the interest you need to pay for the money's future value; the time value of the money when it is spent.  Though you may not pay interest on late charges, you are already borrowing against your future.  If that's not enough, there is the cost of inflation to worry about.

Lesson # 6 Steer away from vices.  Everybody has their favorite poison.  It could be cigarettes, cigar, alcohol, gambling or illicit sex - they are all bad.  Sooner or later your vices will catch up with you.  Either it will burn holes in your pocket or it will come as a higher health care bill; vices are bad news.  

While these are examples of the glaring vices, there are less obvious ones you need to be wary.  The biggest culprit is passive investments.  There are many schemes out there to separate you and your money faster that you can spell "R" "O" "I".  Oh yeah, there are many scoundrels that can sweet talk you into making the right moves.  The only right thing about it is they end up the one getting rich.

Lesson # 7 Embrace the herd mentality - go with the flow.  I cannot believe I'm saying this, but it's true.  By being the herds, you stand a higher chance of survival.  Uniqueness comes with a price.  You are the subject of trial and error.  On the other hand, the herd just follow the proven formula.   I learned this lesson when I first bought my luxury car.  I wanted to be different at that time.  So I purchased an Alfa Romeo designed by Pinin Farina, the designer of Ferarri.  Boy, do I regret that decision.  Bad components, bad after sales service, bad resale value, you name it.  I might as well call it the automobile out of hell.  It was a nightmare.  Now both my wife and I drive Ford, the people's car; case closed.  

Lesson # 8 Encourage group think - MLM anyone?  What?  Objected the many many management consultants that preach about group dynamics over group think.  Aren't these the fascists and the cultists we are are talking about?  Well, I had my reservation too, but when an MLMer friend of mine said he earned RM80K a month just by selling prepaid telephone cards, I got to hand it to him.  Maybe group think works!  It didn't work for me, though.  I cannot garner the crowd.  So I'm not going to be a sour grape and say MLM sucks.  It sucked for me but maybe it's a gift from heaven for somebody else.  

On the plus side, group think creates harmony.  Think of countries like Japan, China and Korea.  They strive on this concept.

Lesson # 9 Respect law enforcement - no parking and speeding tickets.  It's like the story Christmas Carol,  the ghost of your past will haunt you.  Imagine living life as a fugitive.  When the least expected, your little negligences will someday catch up with you.  So stay clean and drive safe. 

Lesson # 10 Use fear as the motivator.  Probably you had heard it before, F.E.A.R. is False Emotion Appeared Real.  Fear is not real but danger is.  It doesn't matter.  The mind cannot separate what is perceived and what is conceived.  What the mind perceives it can conceive.  So fear can be a tool to get you motivated.  By focusing on the worst case scenario, you are more well-equipped to face unexpected outcomes.  Otherwise, you may be lulled into complacency and before long you will realize you are heading towards a waterfall with a boat with no oar.  Scary isn't it?

It's better to be afraid than to be courageous.  Everything has its place.  What it takes is the power of anticipation.  By being afraid, you prepare ahead.  In my younger days, I was reckless.  It got me into a lot of troubles.  Now that I am older and perhaps wiser, I realize that the decisions can be avoided if I had instilled more fear in my heart.

Epilogue:  So I guess conformity too has its place in our society.  There's nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.  With that I will depart with this story: 

I wanted to change the world

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.

I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.

When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family.

My family and I could have made an impact on our town.

Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.
Written by an unknown Monk around 1100 A.D.

I love all versions of this song.  I hope you like them too:



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