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By Janice Sheilah Casaclang

I’m shy. I clam up right away when I’m in a room full of strangers and even when I’m with people I am close to. But do I let it hamper my personal and professional relationships? Do I allow it to get in the way when I deal with clients or talk to a friend?

We live in a world that thrives on interaction and where reaching out can be daunting despite its necessity in building relationships and forging close relationships.

Have you ever felt this way? How do you deal with your shyness?

TALK ABOUT IT I find that talking about my weaknesses does not make me less of a person; rather it makes me more human, more able to reach out to others despite my faults. At one point in my career, the head of the station manager of a local FM radio station wanted to hire me as a disc jockey. ”You’re kidding, sir,” I said. I’m an introvert and I can’t talk a mile a minute! Still, I was put in that position. Emotionally, it has been the most challenging job I have ever had, but I had to do it. Along the way, I’ve met a lot of leaders who realize that letting other people know what is going on in your mind is so much easier than not letting it out. And most of the time, the things that we make up in our minds are not as big as a deal as they actually are.

REACH OUT TO OTHERS Leaders are the most misunderstood people in the room. Some people think that they are the most outgoing, charismatic and visible, yet this turns out to be a very narrow perception of what they actually are. What is the key challenge here? Go beyond the woodwork. Get beyond the surface of your colleagues and you will be surprised to discover that there are introverts embedded within your organizations who are born to lead. One thing that’s true is that extroverts may get places faster but for introverts, it’s all about working at a suitable pace yet never forgetting to perform at one’s optimum level.

BE AUTHENTIC Changing who you are to adapt to what’s required won’t work as effectively as embracing one’s true essence and working well with what you’ve got. When I turned 40, I discovered

that the best thing to do was to tell everyone I worked with that I’m shy. People are not mind readers and you need to let them know. As the months progressed, I learned how to develop a short script that became an intro on who I am and what I do, where I come from and what I expect everyone to do in order to be effective at what they do. I have been doing this for over a year and it really does build a strong sense of trust and surely gets beyond trivial topics that others talk about that come off as superficial. People will figure things out sooner or later, anyway.

CHERISH ALONE TIME Lastly, find time to be on your own. For the better part of my teaching career, I always had very short breaks between classes to recharge and do anything unrelated to teaching. I called it my “un-teaching mode”, sitting quietly in the corner of the faculty room and closing my eyes to think. Introverts get more energy by having quiet, sacred and uninterrupted pockets of silences whenever possible.

Being shy and admitting itis not the end of the world. There are fruitful steps you can undertake to overcome this challenge and to finally come out of your shell.


By Janice Sheilah Casaclang

You’ve heard it countless times before: Filipinos continue to reap accolades both locally and internationally. We also have our own share of not-so-good reviews, but what shine forth are stories of hope, courage and love.

And we love these stories. They are real, they are inspiring.

Former MILF Commander now Peace Builder Bai Linda Eman of Cotabato on PEACE She spent her early days as a commander in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but was driven to become an instrument of peace despite her bitterness and pain when she experienced love in the hands of a perceived enemy.

Now a full time Regional Coordinator for Gawad Kalinga for Southern Tagalog and Muslim Affairs, her courage and sense of patriotism taught her life’s greatest lesson:

“My dream is to walk anywhere with my head up, without being judged as a terrorist; to show to the world that I am a Muslim-Filipina. I can help anyone, I’m free to walk and I can be a friend to anyone. I can love any person in the Philippines; they will accept me who I am, being a Muslim-Filipino.”

Congresswoman Aliah Dimaporo on the YOUTH She was the youngest legislator participating as guest and resource speaker in the World Youth Parliamentary Forum in Mexico City and she championed a cause to improve health services for the youth, ranging from access to universal health coverage to efficient delivery of services.

Was her voice heard amidst countless groups vying for attention? Dimaporo successfully sent her message across; her contributions were accepted in the areas of education, health, technology, innovation and security.

Mature beyond her thirty years, she reveals her youth and idealism: “(The power I wield, the position I hold today) is only temporary anyway.”

Atty. Xilca Alvarez-Protacio on BEING FILIPINA “I think what’s unique to the Filipina is that she’s one person who has b*lls —meaning, you have this Filipina, this woman who can take on everything, even a male’s job and still have the love, compassion, care and understanding, that’s enigmatic to a Filipina.”

Never one to shirk from hard work and a delicious challenge, she turned her back on her law career and instead became a social entrepreneur. She set up not just one but two business enterprises that depended largely on the communities in Sulu: Gourmet Keso, a line of locally-made cheeses from goat’s milk, and Café de Sug Sulu Coffee, packed coffee made from Sulu-grown cacao beans.

Her advice to would-be entrepreneurs: just bite the bullet and teach others how to dream big.


By Janice Sheilah Casaclang

Working online has its perks:

1. You get to spend a lot of time with your family while working (assuming you work from home and if you happen to live with your loved ones)

2. You work at your own pace wherever and whenever you want (provided you are not working on something urgent and/or location-specific)

3. You don’t have to dress up grandly or go out of the house to check email or touch base with your virtual team.

But there are days when, to borrow my Mom’s term for it, “you just can’t hack it”. What are the most delirious ways you can come up with to survive a day (and night!) filled with fiery deadlines, nerve-wracking feedback and migraine-inducing colleagues?

DITCH THE GADGET You do work online, but the Internet must not rule your business and your life. I travel with just an iPhone and it’s all I need because this way, it leaves room for bottles of formula, water, baby diapers and baby clothes that I always lug around on one arm as I carry my baby on the other arm. During breaks, I put my phones on silent and get back to them as soon as I resume work. The world doesn’t end if you fail to answer an SMS or call for JUST a few minutes. Do remember however to return calls and messages as soon as you get back to your work chair and shift to work mode.

BOOK AHEAD OF TIME When my family and I go malling or stock up on a few grocery items, I always multi-task and bunch together a few tasks. The day before, I confirm the travel schedule with Brother #3 (whom we hitch a ride from) and proceed to plot our itinerary in my head. If someone needs a haircut, I book an early appointment and as soon as we reach our destination, that person goes to the salon while I do the grocery and my brother settles his business. We find this setup extremely stress-relieving, time-saving and cost-efficient.

We also do the same thing when eating out we order ahead of time most of the time (provided we have already made up our mind where to eat).

LET THERE BE LIGHT First thing I always do upon waking up is drawing the curtains and letting the morning sunlight in. It never fails to light one’s mood up!

TIPPING POINT I learned a valuable lesson from Brother #3 and Sister #2: always leave or give a nice tip. Most of the time, I get good service because Filipinos are inherently hospitable even to strangers. On occasions when I come across someone mean or intolerable, I report the staff immediately to the supervisor and don’t leave a tip.

UPGRADE What is the secret to getting an upgrade? It’s no secret, really. When traveling, try to utilize as few providers as you possibly can. You will attain a certain kind of privileged status and they will exert a special kind of effort for your comfort because they know you’re a valued consumer.

And one bonus tip:

OWN YOUR JOY Live your life as if your life depended on keeping yourself and others happy. Find reasons to be positive even in the direst situations. I have a friend who laughs at her bald reflection every time she looks at herself in the mirror. She is currently undergoing chemo and she has never relinquished her joy to the cancer cells slowly ravaging her body and her hair strands.

At the end of any stressful day, it all boils down to one thing: did you live it to the fullest knowing you did your best?

What are your survival tips?