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The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.— Winston Churchill, November 12, 1936
Tao Kae Noi
Top: “I feel like I haven’t been giving much thought to my actions.”
Uncle: “If you had thought about things, you wouldn’t have gotten so far.”
Tao Kae Noi means little entrepreneur/boss in thai. It is also the famous brand of crispy seaweed, an immensely popular snack in Thailand and the region. So flammable is its demand that the 7 year old company exports to 27 countries, runs a farm in South Korea, employs 2500 staff, distributes to over 6,000 convenience stores in the country and makes about 1,500 million baht or approximately $61 million SGD in annual revenue!
Yet more remarkable is the story of the founder, Top, who overcame wretched odds to raise a seaweed empire at the young age of 19. At that age, you’ll find most Singaporean young men planked to the floor, giving their next 20 pushups for national security. But Top defied the well beaten path of education-work-success. His school is that of hard-knocks, good ol surivival instinct. I am inspired by his,
- Teachability – He may not think ahead or even exact much planning, but he responds to criticism and inadequacy, sportingly and enthusiastically, tipping any chance of failure into a slim win. He does so step, by step, steadily.
- Perseverance – Circumstances and luck may rain on him but quitting never seemed to cross his mind till the exhausting final moments. Yet this is a distinguishing trait, the never-say-die, the raging heart. This is the power of Fail Up, that blesses you with endurance greater than life’s lemons.
- Guts – Talk about leaping into whatever moves you. Pouring yourself into beginnings, doing things no one around you has done. Walking the uncharted journey.
Now to turn inspiration into action.
How often have you denied a chance, a fresh proceeding, a new experience because you’re uncertain of what’s next; the angst as you approach the sharp corner of doubt. From the midday meal to the profound mystery that is your life tomorrow and ahead. You hesitate, glance away, as your heart whispers, “I’m not sure” and slowly submerge into the mediocre moment. Paralysis exacted by a lesser picture in the mind, a future lost in the dark of inaction. How often are we wasted by the venom that is fear.
I’m not talking about activating your Carpe diem-ic side to make the most of now. I’m talking about the kid in you who doesn’t raise his hand because he’s afraid to speak his mind, and is terrified of going to the blackboard ‘cos he could be wrong in front of everyone. I’m talking about dread staring down hope, its brave heartening voice swallowed, and the butterfly effect of apprehension. And for the last turn on this broken record, about getting nowhere because the sail isn’t raised.
How can we have a healthy appetite for dreams, success (or fulfilling kitchen ventures evident in the better rösti I’ve made) if we cannot stomach mistakes. The dreamer must overcome setbacks and the voices that scoff, “it won’t work”. It is about raising your hand, it is about going to the blackboard. More importantly, and steadily personal, it is about faith – pressing closer towards the Father and His everlasting promises for us, one tottery, humble step at a time.
Per Fidem Intrepidus
It’s been raining for almost forty-eight hours straight. The floor is cold, much like the skin of my couch where I am parked writing this. Lifting my eyes to admire the wet city beyond my window – I can’t see the rain but I can hear her dance. It’s at least 24 degrees Celsius outside, with the north-easterly wind taking it down a couple of notches more. The perfect setting to catch some Zs. I imagine most of my neighbourhood curling up in bed. I usually end up so, (especially after a good dinner) on a chilly Sunday night as such. Obviously I am not comatose. Something is different this moment.
The West Wing Season One, disc 6, is spinning in the Playstation 3. There’s this scene where Leo McGarry had an explosive discourse with President Bartlet. The latter was reading Mandy’s damaging memo about the administration, which was now in press circulation. He reads about a portion which implies the degenerating performance of the current White House is caused by Leo’s innocuous policies and guarded stance. Jed proceeds to assure Leo he disagrees with that statement, “It’s says here you drive me to the center. That’s not true.”
Leo said, “No sir, you drive me to center.”
It led into how Jed has been straddling neutral, dangling their feet in the water, backing down from the fights. Leo got him to see history right and urges him to lead and unleash men who showed up to lead, willing to walk into fire, waiting for the battle horn. Then Leo, as White House Chief of Staff, summons his senior staff, “If we’re gonna walk into walls, I want us running into them.
The water is cold and it is impossible to see what’s out there. Gazing from this height is paralysing, because the bleak consolation of such a fall is little feeling for the numbing waters before one final loss. But. If I want to fly. I got to leap. To ransom my passion.
A new chapter is beginning. I am thirty three.