Skip to main content

Serve To Lead 4 Change

The only constant in life is change, and the rate of change is increasing. With today's pace of change, there is an increasing need and demand for us to embrace agility, flexibility and adaptiveness in our professional lives. What are these characteristics in actuality?

  • Ability to move quickly and easily.
  • Ability to think and understand quickly.
  • Ability to be easily modified.
  • Ability and willingness to change or compromise.
  • Ability to adjust to new conditions.
  • Ability to be modified for a new use or purpose.
When I turned 13, I enrolled in the Royal Military College. Being an innocent young boy, I had zero expectations of the reality I was about to face for the next 4 years. Little did I know, this was a key tipping point in my life. Nevertheless, I distinctly remember my first day as a Putera or "New Boy" as we were fondly called. It was the day when the pace of change in my life accelerated evidently in contrast to everything I've experienced up to that point.

Me and 25 others were assigned to Charlie Company, where we were told that we will cooperate and stay together as a squad. Our Form 5's a.k.a the super seniors went on to explain the 4 rules to survive our military duty. Reflecting on times, I realised how we learnt to "Serve to Lead" or "Berkhidmat Memimpin" by clasping the idea and importance of change in our lives. I set out below the 4 rules introduced in Bahasa Malaysia which have been translated into English for you:

1. Tiada yang tidak ada (there is nothing you do not have)

When your superior asks for a Nasi Lemak Ayam at 1 am in the middle of the night, you are required to "produce" it. There is no such thing as saying you "don't have one" as an excuse. You will do whatever it takes to "produce" it, even if it means running across jungles and golf courses to "sneak out" of campus, get to a mamak restaurant, buy the Nasi Lemak Ayam and get back to your superior with his supper.

In a corporate setting, I learnt the value of coming up with solutions when there is a problem or issue in work projects. If you're keen on progressing in your career, don't approach your boss with just a problem. When you encounter a problem, go to your boss with an understanding of the problem and optimally have 3 proposed options to solve the problem. Problem-solving skills are highly sought after and you get better at it by understanding the nature and root cause of your problems and formulating prospective solutions to address them. It never gets easier, you just get better.

2. Tiada yang tidak tahu (there is nothing you do not know)

When your superior asks you what's Saturday's schedule of military training for his batch, you are required to find out. There is no such thing as saying you're "not sure" or you "don't know". You will locate and find the schedule wherever it may be, commit it to memory and provide the information to him flawlessly. In the event of further queries, you will provide an accurate response or scout for more intel on the matter.

In an audit context, I learnt the importance of fact-finding by soliciting information from documents and probing clients as necessary to obtain an understanding of any company. In performing analytical procedures to understand revenue trends of a company, you may not be able to explain spikes or sudden falls in certain periods. You can change your ignorance or lack of knowledge of the matter at hand by asking questions and seeking out sources of information to corroborate evidence. Fact-finding skills can be developed by tactfully asking the right questions, actively listening and keeping an open mind whilst exercising scepticism and professional judgement. You have two ears and two eyes and only one mouth. Because you will learn twice as much as what you will ever have to say.

3. Tiada yang tidak boleh (there is nothing you cannot do)

When your superior asks you to do his laundry, cook instant noodles and to grab a history textbook in his classroom whilst you are already on different superior's instructions to polish his shoes, you will make time to obey all instructions. There is no such thing as saying you're "busy" or you've "never done the task". Only once you have completed all instructions, you are allowed to do your own tasks. Being idle is not tolerated in the army. If you cannot do something due to lack of experience, you will learn how to do it and do it well.

In a professional context, I learnt the significance of upskilling to perform tasks which are new to me. Working in a project-based environment entails being exposed to new problems which require new solutions. To address these problems, a can-do attitude is crucial in learning new skills and understanding required facts. Laws change, accounting standards change and amongst others, people change too. Learning how to learn is competence worth developing. These ten 2-letter words capture the essence of personal change: "If it is to be, it is up to me."

4. Setiap yang bermula, pasti akan berakhir (this too, shall pass)

When all is said and done, my 4 years in the Royal Military College did come to an end upon my passing out parade. The daunting early mornings and late nights of blood, sweat and tears were not indefinite. The joy of camaraderie and the animus of physical and mental torture is but a memory to me. Time changes everything.

In life, you can change by choice or by chance. Either you disrupt or you be disrupted. Men are not creatures of circumstances, circumstances are creatures of men. Thus in any circumstance, you have 3 choices: to accept it, change it or leave it. If you can't accept it, then change it. If you can't change it, then leave it. Life is your story, you choose the contents.


Interesting Reads

Explain Like I’m Five: Data Science

"Hello, World!" was my 1st computer program, 10 months ago as I began my journey in data science. Learning from online & offline resources, I grew exponentially as a professional to face digitalisation.

For your benefit, I’ve written 10 key-takeaways on insights I gained from being a data scientist:

1. Never too old to code, never too smart to code

Coding (a.k.a. programming) is prerequisite to be a data scientist. The good news is, learning to code is easier now than it was 1 nor 10 years ago. There’s plenty of programming languages to choose from, plus the newer ones are simpler yet feature the powerful capabilities of older complex languages. Python (most popular language) would take you just a couple of hours to grasp the basics. Heck you don’t even need a computer - I learnt Python on the SoloLearn App on my iPhone during my commutes to work. If you can afford classes to learn programming, by all means go ahead. Only ignorance is bliss, which will result in you blami…

Life Is A 4 Letter Word

Ahhh.... Life, the physical, mental, and spiritual experiences that constitute existence. Beautiful yet confusing. A good life is a main argument. And with a lil' research, I've compiled a few ways people define life in general:
Career - Studying your ass off, getting good grades, later a good job at a good company with a good paycheck, getting married, having kids and finally dying. Perhaps this is the most famous way of defining life. I find it really pretty "interesting". And the best part of this life, is that you're constantly in an unstable battle to reach financial stability. It's really a struggle most part, but I suppose that's the beauty of it. Life is difficult after all.Money - I suppose this one's really pretty popular in today's world. This one's really confusing though as there really is like two ways people look at it. Some will be like, money is everything in today's world, whereas others say money can't buy you everyth…

An Act of Faith and An Act of Gamble

Let's take a moment to stroll through your thoughts, the very first ones you had today... the particular thoughts you had when you woke up from your deep slumbering state of sleep.

Now, why did you wake up today? What is this urge that drove you out of bed?

The Japanese call this "Ikigai" which translates to a reason for being or more specifically, a reason for getting up in the morning. The French have a similar word, your "raison d’être".

This fundamental question to answer will set you on a journey for a life of meaning. The journey itself is the point, in the same way, you don't go to a musical concert or a play just to see the ending.

Ask yourself: What do you expect from life? Feel your innermost desires and compulsion for being, and why does this matter to you.

Then ponder upon this: What does life expect of you? Your ups and downs, trials and tribulations, successes and failures have led you to this unique moment in your life.

Was it only your expe…

Embracing Diversity and Cultural Differences: Choice & Chance

I fully embraced diversity and cultural differences by choice and by chance in weathering through 4 years in the Royal Military College, where about 90% of student demographics are Muslim, whereas I am a Hindu.
A choice was made when I decided to enrol at the Royal Military College. Barely a teenager at the time, I survived and did my best in the 7-day interview of which we were told that only 150 students will be enrolled from around 20,000 candidates from all around Malaysia.
By chance, I received an acceptance letter to be enrolled. Given the odds, chance had definitely favoured me in making the cut. Again by chance, I was born a Hindu – allowing me to embrace life as a non-Muslim in a Muslim majority environment.
4 years of strict upbringing, discipline and being ragged with other Malaysians is a mix of choice and chance. The different upbringing and genetics of friends exposed me to different personalities and traits. I met them by chance but made a choice to befriend them.

Reflecting on feedback... Tell me, why?

All of us spend a significant amount of time working, yet strive to balance our personal lives. What if there are ways we could optimise the way we work and make our lives easier?

Reflecting on the choices I've made, a significant amount of my personal change was exemplified by actively soliciting feedback from my bosses, peers and subordinates.

In particular, having a structured approach in seeking feedback will promote clear, concise and effective observations which can help the recipient consider to improve him/herself. A structured feedback session should also include mandatory and proposed action points including next steps so their self-improvement journey continues post-feedback. A structured feedback session should optimally be performed at least on a monthly basis to foster a high-performance culture with continuous improvement (a.k.a "Kaizen").

All of us constantly provide feedback to our bosses, peers and subordinates, distinctly in each case... either direct…

HABITS: Choose your future. Choose life.

As I'm writing this, 2017 is coming to an end and soon we'll be ushering in the New Year 2018. A New Year for new beginnings and of course - New Year's resolutions.

Reflecting on the past year, I grew as an individual - physically, mentally and spiritually.

And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got habits?

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit"
With the digital revolution, I'd like to share on my personal journey of making and breaking habits - with lifehacks and tools which you may use to your advantage too!

Firstly, start with asking the right questions to prime your mind in looking at the world in a different way, in a different future, in a different life. Josh Kaufman, the #1 bestselling business author of the Personal MBA has laid out 49 Questions to Improve Your Results:

Do I use my body optimally?
What is the quality of my current diet?Do I get enough sleep?Am I managing my en…

4 traits from a Millennial career

You've probably read an article or heard someone voicing out their opinion on the performance of Millennials (a.k.a. Gen-Y) in the workforce. Most of them share a common message, about how Millennials need soft-skills which are necessary to progress and climb the corporate ladder or survive in the world of business. Yet, year-on-year we also hear of a different theme of "Top Skills for the Year" and we flock to learn more about them... when history has again-and-again proved to all of us that the only constant in the world is change.

I was inspired to do a write-up based on my final slide shared during my "Why Corporate Finance?" presentation at Multimedia University (MMU), Sunway University and Brickfields Asia College (BAC - pic related). In my final slide, I had coincidentally shared on 4 traits necessary for Millennials drawn from my experience of being a Millennial myself exposed to professional working environments in Malaysia since 2008 (when I was bar…

5 Lessons from my Life

Hi there. I was recently given the opportunity to share 5 chapters of my story of life. Proceeded to write the below article.

1. Chance & Choice

Things always happen either by chance or by choice. It is by chance that you are born of a certain race, religion, skin colour and social class. Some get lucky in the genetic lottery, some do not. Tough luck, but you can make choices in your life to make things happen. Take a chance, be bold in your choices and may lady luck be in your favour.

2. Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned

If you have principles, never break them for anyone - not even everyone at all at once. Stand by your beliefs, show strength and warmth - you will be admired. This doesn't mean being ignorant - always take advice when given, but think for yourself. It's your life.

3. Ambition, Hardwork, Destiny

A simple framework to achieving in life. Ambition is literally your mind in action, you could set a goal of achieving anything you want at this very moment - it'…

Opinion: Ride-sharing (Uber & GrabCar)

Uber/GrabCar effectively transfer "customer risk" to drivers (quality control is entirely up to the drivers and the driver alone can make and break your experience).
And also vice-versa, transfer "driver risk" to customers (they don't train drivers, do full police checks nor even consider them employees - the word contractor is used for legal reasons, that being the exemption from paying retirement benefits, social security, other "employee only" costs like health and dental benefits and also for easier termination of services).
It's a joke, the "real" Uber is about lawyers choosing the right word (in this case "contractor" instead of "employee" and "ride-sharing app" instead of "taxi company").
The "real" Uber is a myth, loss-making... I don't buy it.
A taxi company has assets being motor vehicles.
Uber does not have motor vehicles as they boldly claim (i.e. the biggest taxi company …