Good morning Bishop John Tan, the Saint Andrew’s Board of Governors, Principal
Mrs Lucy Toh, Vice Principal Mr Goh Boon Pin, invited guests, parents, teachers and
Thank you for this opportunity to be your guest speaker for this sacred event and it is
indeed my greatest pleasure to share the following news...
Yes, I’ve both good news and bad news today... And being the square peg in the
round hole that I’ve always been, please let me first share with you the bad news.
And that is, “There is no such thing as a perfect leader.”
There is no such thing as a perfect prefect either.
Only God is perfect. So don't kill yourself trying to do so.
However, the good news is that “we can all learn to be authentic leaders.” To be
an authentic leader is to be whom we really are... To be an authentic leader is to be
firm, fair, friendly and flexible... To be an authentic leader is to be someone who
learns from feedback and apologizes when the need arises.
Now, it was nearly 14 years ago that I stood at that pedestal... declaring the prefect's
charter out loud.
And it had been a great journey from that eventful day until today. I faced many ups
and downs in my career and personal life. And ultimately it was the "downs" in my
life that moulded me to what and whom I am today. As I continue to grow as an
authentic leader, I learned that I must find my strengths to overcome my weaknesses;
I learned that walls were placed in my path to test how badly I wanted to reach my
goals because I would climb over or go around these walls to reach my goals; I
learned that by making the right move, I would be able to achieve anything I set my
heart, mind and soul to. Because whatever my mind conceives, my body achieves.
So even as you are seated in the pews today, I want you all to raise your index finger
and place it on your right temple. Tap gently and ask yourself out loud, "What is my
next MOVE?" One more time, "What is my next MOVE?"
Let me now share with you what your MOVE may be in order to start growing as an
How do you spell MOVE? That's right. M... O... V ... E
1) M: Motivation.
Being motivated is to find that desire to continue to do what you want to do. Is it
peer pressure or parents? Is it your own drive to always achieve excellence? Is it
passion for something? And so how do you stay motivated in what you do?
By finding the reason or the “why”, in doing things.
Once you find the WHY, you’ve effectively found the fuel to push yourself when the
chips are down. Once something becomes worthwhile to you, you would be able to
climb all obstacles to reach your goals. Is it the smile on your parents’ face? Is it the
thought of being the first to reach the finishing line? Is it because you want your
grandparents to be proud of you?
I knew a clerk who created a superb computing programme that enabled us to input
and analyse loads of data and it won an award for great productivity. I asked him,
“What led you to come up with this efficient programme?” He shrugged his shoulders
and replied, “I was lazy, and didn’t want to go through so much paper work.”
What motivates me to enrich people’s lives? Freedom. Because I want people to
see that they too can achieve something that they never thought they could do, and
in doing so achieve freedom.
Some critics say, “But motivation doesn’t last!” Well... neither does bathing. That’s
why motivation is recommended daily. Be obsessed with your WHY. Paste your
whole room with your objectives and what motivates you! Set reminders in your hand
phone! Write it down on your books!
Authentic leaders are able to constantly motivate themselves daily because
they know the WHY in what they do. Since different people have different
reasons for their “why”, your challenge would be to find that out fast.
2) O: Objective.
Every successful person reached where they are because they started with a vision,
and then they took concrete steps to reach it. How many of you use Face book?
Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of Face book didn’t become the youngest billionaire in
the world by accident. He had an objective, and that was to give people the power to
share and make the world more open and connected.
My SAJC civics tutor told my class we would never find a job when we graduated
because we were in the arts faculty and Singapore was facing its worst recession in
1999. He was right. We could never find a job because as creative people, we
created businesses for ourselves.
Do you know who JJ Lin is? Well he was my
SAJC classmate for the first 3 months, and he didn’t want a job. He created his own
life because he knew his objective, and that was to be a famous singer.
What is your objective or goals in your life now? And it better be more worthwhile
than watering your crops in Farmville.
If you already have an objective set for the year, good for you. If you don’t have any
objective, one way to start is to look at what you are good in currently. Everyone has
a talent. If you think if you have more talents, you are right. If you think you don’t
have one, you don’t. Either way, you will live into your story. Now, you may be
wondering why people do such a thing to themselves. And that’s because all of us
have a built in mechanism which always gives us “excuses” such as “you
are not good enough, you are worthless, don’t think you are so smart...”
Do you think a monkey ever thinks that it doesn’t have enough talents and decide
not to swing from tree to tree to search for food? NOPE! Because it’s only humans
like you and I who always find excuses for ourselves! It could be our parents telling
us, “don’t waste your time doing this... just study...” and it could even be us seeing
someone who failed before and we get scared.
Whatever it is, if you believe in these “excuses” that you created, you will not be able to dream up of any worthwhile objectives for yourself, and you will lead your life
trying to fulfil the dreams of others. Replace these negative thoughts with positive
And so as authentic leaders, know that you are worthy and talented. Create
objectives to fulfil by using your gifts, so that your life becomes purposeful.
3) V: Value Adding.
My mentor told me that at birth, he was worth 2 tins of Milo, 4 trays of eggs and 6
cans of luncheon meat. His mother didn't want him because he was the 3rd boy of 3
children. She wanted a daughter. So she wanted to sell him. When his mother
shared this story to him many years later, he vowed to increase his own value by
becoming a business man.
What about you? What is your value? Is it the 65 marks that you got for your
geography paper last year? Is it the 80 marks that you got for Design & Technology?
Partly. All these results are merely your output in what you studied so hard for. Or in
some of you… so little for.
Don’t fret, because these short term results are not who you truly are. These results
are a snapshot of what you can produce within 2 hours. It’s just one dimension of a
human being. The academic dimension. You still have your physical, mental,
spiritual and sociological dimension to explore.
Some of you may really love gaming. Some of you may really love sports. So how?
By being the best that you can ever be! How many of you all really understand what
“up and on”, our school motto really means? It means that we must “Rise Up to any
Occasion” and to be “On the ball” all the time! This is the mentality of authentic
leaders and champions!
But by doing well in our academic dimension, we are practising and learning
discipline in everything we are doing, and will do in the future. Because how we do
anything is how we do everything. If you find that you want to be the fastest winger in the rugby team, you train harder than anyone else. If you find that you want
to do well in your papers, you study smarter by focusing on what you don’t
understand, and asking the teachers.
So be the thermostat instead of being the thermometer. A thermometer merely
measures the temperature of the surroundings. In other words, you follow the crowd.
If you are a thermostat, you set the temperature in the room or region. In other words,
you innovate, and people follow you.
I have the opportunity to spend large segments of time in airports because I travel
frequently. I always see people rushing from point A to point B. I find it incredible that
so many people devote their whole lives to other fields of endeavours that others
tasked them to do, and yet not to their own natural talent and gifts within them.
Be the unique person that you are meant to be.
Therefore as authentic leaders, add your own value by constantly expanding
your knowledge so that you become consistently good in what you do.
4) E: Execution.
Just do it.
Since everything that we see is a result and results are an output. It is brought about
by first having vision and then massive action. So what this means is that even if you
have the vision but no action, you will never achieve it. But if you have the vision,
and start action, you will be on your way. Even if you meet with setbacks, these are
all just feedback, because there are no such things as failure, only feedback. For
example, a trashy mid-year examination result doesn’t mean the end of the world. It
shouldn’t devalue you as a human.
I should know that. I had to drink tea with my principal Mrs Belinda Charles, while as the SAJC Arts Faculty Leader.
The important thing here is that you must learn from the feedback and not repeat.
Because if you do the same things over and over again and expect different results,
you must be insane.
You know what Saints... Heck it. Just do it. Authentic leaders just do it, and
don’t wait around waiting for things to happen. You make it happen.
So this is it, M.O.V.E, Motivation, Objectives, Value Adding and Execution. This
move has brought me to where I am and will continue to assist me as I advance in
my life goals. I sincerely hope that change will come to you all as well as you
remember this MOVE.
So please raise your index finger and place it on your right temple once again. Tap
gently and tell yourself out loud, “I know my next MOVE!”
Up and On!
Business Developer, Leadership Coach,
Author of “Discover Your Leadership Style”
25th Feb 2011
Saint Andrew's Cathedral