Excellence for us is not a luxury; it is a necessity.

I was thinking about my second child, who is in NICU, as I typed this, scrolling through LinkedIn, when I saw a post by CCS, one of our ministers. He spoke about BHAGs – big, hairy, audacious goals and how Singapore has always set itself for big things. It made me wonder and reflect on my own experiences.

Setting high goals is not something we can take for granted. Many people would say that as a small state, we should behave like what a small state “should be” – mediocre, minding our own business, hoping that we can survive with the scraps from the other more significant nations. Instead, we chose the opposite path. And on hindsight, I think it is tremendous foresight of our pioneering leaders.

So what’s the impact on the ground?

Today, my child has access to world-class medical facilities because we decided to make ourselves a hub. Talents engage us because we have a system that’s attractive – efficient, clean, and generally corruption-free. If we aimed simply to survive, we wouldn’t prevail when the storm hits us.

It drives in the point that excellence doesn’t seem to be an option for us. It is a necessity. I often thought of excellence as being a “nice to have”. But today, I hold a different view. Hence, regardless of which field we are in, I hope we all keep in mind that we form part of the system. Whatever we do well (or not do well) impacts someone else in the community. Or, like what I have shared – Your blissfulness is someone else’s suffering. So don’t aim to be blissful. Aim to make a difference in someone’s life. We are only somewhat blissful today because someone before us took up the challenge of making lives for the next generation better.

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By ben@sgben.com

Hi, I am Benjamin. I am a Singaporean son, born and bred. I came from a modest background, just like most Singaporeans and went to mainstream schools like most middle-class Singaporeans. What makes me different is my unconventional choices and journey in life, giving me a different insight into life. I share my thoughts not because I think I am right but to be corrected if I am wrong. I am not too concerned about who is right but what is right. Drop me a PM or leave a message and I am happy to talk about anything!

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