To my young readers and followers, I hope you are inspired by these two stories. One is about being a resilient primary school student; the other is about 15-year-old Kyle Tomlinson, a come-back contestant at the Britain’s Got Talent 2017 show. During an earlier audition, Kyle was told by judge David Walliams to go and get a singing teacher. Undaunted, he came back two years later, sang again and earned David’s compliment: “Glad you came back and proved me wrong.” Always strive to scale greater heights!
Way back in 1959, my Standard 5 class (or Primary 5 in Singapore schools) started the new year without a Maths teacher. The school must be congratulated for quickly resolving the problem by designating Mrs Goh, then the much-feared vice-principal, as our Maths teacher. The students knew her as “fierce” – for in those early days our vocabulary was rather limited and that word was a literal translation from our Chinese word (惡 in Cantonese and 兇 in Mandarin). Corporal punishment was allowed then and she was the “official” disciplinarian as well.
Weeks passed and our Maths lessons went on in an obedient and quiet class. One fine day, I was asked to stand up and was accused by her of copying. I explained that what I did was skipping one step (by doing that missing step in my head). She simply would not accept my explanation and insisted that I had copied someone else’s answer – which I did not.
So it became a confrontation, one whose outcome was obvious! She had the authority and the power to dish out the punishment for copying (or lying if that was in her head).
To her credit, she decided not to use any physical action! But for the rest of the year, I had to stand outside each time Mrs Goh came in to conduct her Maths classes. As a child, my sense of justice prevailed. It was an indelible life lesson for it motivated me to be the best in her class. Resilience was not a word I knew then but it certainly contributed to my resolve to score well in the final Maths exam. I achieved a perfect 100.
Years later, as a grownup and as a executive in the corporate world, I would give my colleagues the benefit of the doubt rather than exercise the power or authority I held. I had no wish to pre-judge. From my legally-trained friends, I learnt about how and what evidence I can or cannot apply. No speculation. A man must stand up for justice; better still, don’t be a purveyor of injustice.
Why did I spend time to put up this post on a Sunday afternoon? There were two reasons. During our after-dinner coffee last night, a young friend recounted her tough times in her new job. Specifically, she had a bully for a boss. And so I shared this story: be resilient and strive to create results that speak for you.
The other reason came from an inspiring video which was sent to me from one of my WhatsApp groups. Watch how a resilient 15-year old Kyle Tomlinson came back to compete after having been told by a Britain’s Got Talent judge at a past audition to get a singing teacher! Even Simon Cowell praised Kyle with these words…”It shows you Kyle, when someone grinds you down and says you are not good enough. You come back and you come back and look them in the eye, and you go – I am good enough.”
A Life Lesson: Strive to be Resilient, Scale Greater Heights & Show You Are Good Enough 🙂