Saturday, April 29, 2017

Build Your Worth

28 April 2017
SMK Felda Purun, Pahang

I was honoured to be given the opportunity to share my experience with the students of SMK Felda Purun.

The main purpose of the sharing session is to empower the audience with confidence, especially in English speaking. This is an issue I find in almost all the schools/colleges/universities I've been to and it is something that I have dedicated my time and energy to in helping, specifically through the Speak Up! Project.

I told them about the voice in their heads that often times interfere with their decision making, trying to stop them from doing amazing things. The voice casts doubts into their hearts about their own potential. But, the voice can be controlled. You can be the master of the voice and not the other way around.

That's quite an abstract thing for me to get across. So I used my traveling experiences, and the challenges that went with it, as a vehicle to get the message understood.

I shared with them my travel experiences in university and after university, with the intention of empowering them that they should go out and explore. More than that, I want them to see that they actually can go out and explore, despite their feelings of insecurity.

I shared with them two ways to achieve that:

1. Study well and get good results.

Then, try to obtain a scholarship to study overseas. That's how I got the opportunity to study in Canada under JPA scholarship. I understand that JPA cut back a lot on scholarship these days, so that's why I urged them to go out and seek scholarship opportunities beyond the typical scholarships that they know e.g. JPA, MARA, Petronas, etc. There are many more out there that we don't know about.

2. Invest in yourself and show people your worth.

In my opinion, this is more important than the previous point. You don't have to wait for good results, because your character, your potential, and your contributions will outshine your exam results. There are people who are willing to sponsor you to travel if you show your worth. But first, you have to build it: find your skill, find your passion, and find people you can help using your skill and passion. You have to separate yourself with your exam results and focus more on building your worth in the community. Create a program, a project, an initiative, a charity, a movement, etc. That's how I got the opportunity to travel to UK last month for a 2-week leadership program under the Prince's Trust International.

Never heard of that name before? I didn't. But that goes to show you that there are other scholarship opportunities out there that you don't know about.

You just have to go out and find them.

But first, build your worth. Show the world what you're made of.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Are You Actually Depressed, or Confused?

Photo credit: MSUHEAP

I was at MSU Shah Alam today for a forum about depression. The questions and the feedback were interesting.

One thing that stood out for me was how casually we use the term "depression" in our daily lives, without knowing what it actually means.

Depression is a mental illness, listed in the official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Ed. (DSM-5). Depression is only diagnosable by a trained and certified professional (not Google!) and people with depression needs professional help to different degrees.

So when you simply failed a test, don't call that depression.

If you feel like you are depressed but you are unsure, then please seek professional help. They should be able to help you differentiate whether you are clinically depressed or just having a bad day. Try not to Google it, diagnose yourself with a serious mental illness, and start throwing the term around.

When we use the term willy nilly, the actual meaning of the term becomes faded. Just like the term "awesome". It is a great word with a specific meaning. But because we use it way too much and way too loosely, it loses its real meaning. The same might happen with the term depression.

Someone with actual depression might be cast aside as a result of this careless use of the term, and simply asked to shake it off or don't think too much about it.

But whether it is a typical sadness or clinical depression, either of them requires one essential thing from the rest of us: a listening ear. If we are not sensitive to people's feeling and nuances, we can't grow as a healthy community.

That is why programs like this forum is crucial so that we can increase awareness about the reality of depression, not the fantasy of depression.

Thank you MSU for hosting this awareness program. I hope to see more programs which tackles the misconceptions surrounding mental health.


Do you want to master your confidence?

Speak Up! Project focuses on creating a strong foundation of inner confidence. We apply the confidence in practicing essential soft skills: English speaking, public speaking, and debating.

Click here to get updates about our next confidence-upgrading programs.

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Month of April Started with a Failure

I cancelled an event that was supposed to happen yesterday on April 1st, and I want to tell you why.

A month ago, my team and I planned a Step ONE: Activate Your Confidence! seminar - one of the programs in Speak Up! Project. It was not the first time. The seminar was held many, many times before all over the Peninsula Malaysia. In fact, we already visited all the states in Peninsula Malaysia - from north to south, from east to west.

So why didn't it happen this time?

My diagnosis: We failed in our outreach to people. We couldn't get enough participation to pay for the cost of the program. Hence, we had to cancel it and it was the first time we had to do so. It broke my heart.

In the past, we had events where we barely broke even. We even had events where we lose money. But we didn't cancel it. We powered through. This time, we intend to do the same but we didn't have the financial strength to cover the loses.

So, cancellation was the option we opted for.

There are 2 lessons we took away from the experience:

1. Outreach to people is a make-it or break-it element of a program. 

We have little doubts that the program wasn't something that the community needed. We did our homework and the demand was there. The Speak Up! Project aims to empower the local youth with more confidence to speak up their minds, especially in English - a language proven to be challenging for a lot the students.

Even our government calls for more improvements in the English language among the students. So, the need is there and we believe we can contribute massively towards the goal of improving English, through improving self-confidence.

But, just like a restaurant, it's not enough that you have great food. People need to know that you exist. So, moving forward, we will focus more on making ourselves known to the general public, especially to the youth whom we are serving.

2. Helping people is a service, but it is not free.

In an ideal world, we would love to help people for free. We would love to organize events where people don't have to pay a cent and where there are not strings attached. We want to help people for the sake of helping people.

Just to see this world becoming a better place to live in.

But, we don't live in an ideal world. In this world, everything has a cost and you have to factor it in when you want to help people. This is not about getting rich by taking advantage of people - that is unequivocally wrong and reprehensible.

This is about sustaining a social enterprise that aims to help people. By sustaining, that means money. You can't help people if you can't help yourself.

I travel a lot by plane. Each time before a flight, the crew will demonstrate the safety procedures. Those who are frequent flyers will have these procedures etched in their brains. But, the crew reminds you of them every single time.

If you are a flyer, you are probably visualizing it in your head by now, right? In the demonstration, when it comes to the oxygen mask, all flights will have the same procedure: put on the mask on yourself first, before putting it on someone under your care.

Think about that for a minute. Isn't it better to put the mask on someone else? Are we being selfish if we put it on ourselves first?

If you put it on yourself first, you are not selfish. It is only selfish if you don't intend on helping others in the first place. If you put it on yourself first, you are being reasonable and realistic. You know well that your ability to help others is dependent upon your own safety and stability.

You can't help others if you yourself are gasping for air.

So, at this moment, we are gasping for air a little bit. But, the good news is that we haven't suffocated. We can still recover and stand back up again. Move on to the next thing on the list, through the lessons we learned from this failure.

I don't mind telling the world we have failed, because this is our stepping stone to success. Admitting failure is better than thinking that everything is okay.

Denial is the first step to running away from problems. Acceptance is the first step to conquering the problems.


Do you want to master your confidence?

Speak Up! Project focuses on creating a strong foundation of inner confidence. We apply the confidence in practicing essential soft skills: English speaking, public speaking, and debating.

Click here to get updates about our next confidence-upgrading programs.