I remember vividly how I got myself caned in primary school. Being careless, I left a few questions unanswered and got punished because the result wasn’t perfect. I was trained that way since I was young. I wouldn’t blame the teachers and my parents. However, it was the environment I was in and the peer pressure that interpreted success as perfection. To me, whenever I failed to be perfect in exams or competitions, I was told that “Hey, you fail big time.”
I can’t remember how long that mentality followed me. I believe it was until I started working, something new set in. The brand new world called the corporate bubble and the wonderful experience of living in a foreign country, with everything on your bills was free. You were so keen to look at the world outside, as if there was nothing that could make you stay at home. You got subsidised for food, fuel and fun. The first time I came back to Malaysia from the States, was totally about the plan to go back as soon as possible. I wasn’t trying too hard to go back but I could feel that many of my peers and I were hoping eagerly for the opportunities. By then, success was almost measured by how frequent you get a business trip or relocation to the USA. “How many road trips have you made for your three months in Chandler?” “Is this your xx time in Las Vegas?” “Hey let’s take a picture of your rental car and put it on social media.” If you are not sure what these are, my friend, these are the Key Performance Indicators (KPI), in the currency of social expectations. Of course, not to forget, your annual appraisal and the raise you’ve got. To succeed is tough, when everything you need to measure is superficial.
Later in my life (ahem, as in a few years later), I thought being successful is having your own social enterprise. My 2012 Christmas wish was to have my own enterprise and here it is, 2015, I am working on building a people-first organisation. I don’t have a business. However, my life is finally taking its shape. I can recall so many “failures” I have stumbled upon since I work with “people”. I was told that I spoke atrocious English. I was informed that my plan wouldn’t work. I was told that I judged people and sometimes I was too quiet, too much an introvert if you want to succeed as a social entrepreneur. Thank God for failures. They made me feel alive. It’s through knowing I can’t be the person you want me to be, that I finally live.
Right now, if you ask me what success is all about, it is perhaps about making your friends smile when she is crying over the phone. It could be about taking a puff with two guys in the community who don’t speak your language, on the sidewalk. It is about making an eye contact with a stranger who hides from the others. It is about the simplest human connection that could change your life.
The most heartwarming happiness and success, always come in the smallest form. Don’t ever feel like you are too small or you are not doing enough. As long as it is received and felt by others, you’ve made it to the other side.