Journal, Leadership

We remark at what a great man and leader Lee Kuan Yew was. I’m intrigued at his leadership, benevolent dictatorship, a mix of fear and power.

On some level, he managed to rally an entire nation to his vision, not just his cabinet, but the populace. At the same time, he also removed every (political) distraction so that Singapore in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s would be accelerated, and provided enough of a head start when the 90’s started.

Looking at that, he wasn’t interested in being a politician. Politics was just the means to give him the position, authority and influence to shape Singapore according to his vision. And that vision ultimately translated and trickled mostly to the pioneer generation that came before me. My grandparents, and my parents.

Lee Kuan Yew led the vision, but it inspired many others to sustain that vision and also tow that unbearable burden. It takes a certain kind of leader, and a certain kind of team (read: all Singaporeans) to wade through the uncertain mire, to stand up even when we fall, to always look towards tomorrow, that it is worth building.

I say, remember Lee Kuan Yew, and also, remember the generation before us, the sacrifices everyone made. Singapore did not arrive, an era has passed, but the story is still being written.

We close a chapter, dedicate another man to history, but we have not stopped writing history.

This message is also not just for Singaporeans, it’s not a nationalistic emotion I feel. This message is for every startup I’ve come across, every family and friend who face our own struggles and insurmountable mountains. May you find your strength and purpose, just as this man did.

Thoughts on Lee Kuan Yew

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Leadership

Leading yourself to lead others

This rather cliched thought came to me in the middle of a walk home as I was thinking about the team I was leading. I hated that it was cliched, but the more I let it percolate, it made sense to me.

I still stand by that a leader isn’t someone who outranks you because of seniority or position. Conventionally, it is role-based, but in reality, it is attitude-based. A leader takes the initiative and acts on situations, not react to them. Couple that with grit, ability and trust in team mates, and a leader can lead their team toward the goal.

So the question posed to us then is this: Are we waiting for someone to lead us? Or are we taking active steps to set our goals, and lead ourselves toward those goals through planning and motivation. Because if we aren’t planning our own lives and motivating ourselves to push forward, then we’ve lost the initiative, and we cease to lead others effectively.

Before you can lead a team, you must be able to lead yourself

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