No, I had not met Mr Lee Kuan Yew personally and neither did he know me! The ‘close association’ is more of having his shadows’ guiding me in most of my adult life and life decisions till this very day.
Over these years, I pick up 2 of his most important principles.
The first one is on personal conviction with a strong and unwavering self-belief in myself. This I used at the turning point in my life when I wanted to be my own man, owning my own coaching school with my own brand of coach certification programs. The odds were heavily stacked against me at that time. Not only was Coaching a totally new and unheard thing, but to have my own brand of coaching products was to many, ‘doing things out of this world’. From them to me, ‘how could you succeed in an unknown business without a good brand name’?
If I didn’t have a strong conviction there was every chance that I would have melted under such weight of discouragement. Now when I look back at those times 15 years later, I’m so glad that not only am I seeing success in my coaching school, but also it has become one of the largest in Asia!
This was similar to LKY’s experience when Singapore has to fend for itself when it was kicked out of the Federation as an small outpost to become a thriving metropolis. It was his strong conviction and strong self belief that brought him the magic!
The second principle is the 80/20 rule of good leadership. What it means is as long as the majority of people agree or benefit from your decisions, you need not be too bothered about the other 20% who may dislike what you are doing.
In this regard, I have my own vision and brand of leadership style to set up and grow MACC, the first and national coaching association. I wanted not just the strengthening of MACC but also sustaining it for a long time. To make this happen, I did a ‘controversial’ thing; which was factoring in its constitution that directors of CCA are the board of directors too who have the powers to ensure the integrity of MACC’s vision as a home to coaches, with special care for CCA coaches and coach students who will always be protected and safeguarded. This became a very controversial act that provoked grievances of unfairness and nepotism among a few dissenters. I was right when I looked back now. MACC is the biggest and most solid coach organization that anyone can be proud of. It has a large membership and large cash reserves too.
This was similar to the iron rule of LKY which saw doing this as the most effective way to develop a nation fast and solidly too. Discipline and single-mindedness to this cause were important. Although some hated him for his dictatorship but it was the right thing to do. Look at Singapore today; its system, living conditions and wealth couldn’t have been possible if not for this. He ignored the 20% for the 80% of his people.
Thanks to LKY, for he will continue to be my shadows in guiding me in my personal and professional life.
May he rest in eternal peace.