Discipline

I was asked recently by a former colleague if I am still writing on my blog. I told him I couldn’t find time. Furthermore, I have to exercise even more sensitivity on the things that I write now since I have switched role to defence and some of the things are by nature more sensitive. He remarked that when he first joined my previous organisation, he got to know me through my blog. I am thankful to have people even reading it. =)

I have been wanting to write for some time but I really couldn’t find time. There are many tasks that I have yet to complete, such as the OBS Book that I am writing about. But today, I was doing a bit of reflection; It has been some time since I assumed my appointment and very soon, I will be on leave for a few days since my children are going to be warded soon. I have been wanting to write about this topic for a long time – Discipline. Sounds like something every military personnel would write about. But before you jump to that conclusion, perhaps let me share a little of my background.

If you were to know me right from the start, I am probably the last person one would associate me with discipline. Unless discipline is about how many times you appear in the discipline master’s office. I didn’t start out as a naughty kid though. I was rather playful, but I don’t think I got to the stage of making a name for myself. I was outspoken though, and this is a trait that has followed me since I was a kid. I know because it was what’s written on my report book in primary school. I did not know the meaning of the word until much later. When I entered secondary school, it was then a place where there were many secret society members. Being outspoken, I naturally attracted attention, and soon I became a target. I don’t blame this entirely for what happened to me though. As I have said, I was a playful kid as well. But as with all matters, all these factors converged and I soon became known in the school for the wrong reasons. I remember that my NCC teacher told me that I am like a wild horse – untamed. Discipline has never been a hallmark of me. I merely joined NCC due to my sister’s influence.

Yet, over the years, I began to understand discipline differently. As an entrepreneur, I struggled to adjust initially because suddenly, there are no boundaries and rules. I had to govern myself – what time I wake up, who am I going to meet today, what am I going to do with my time. And whether I fulfill these things will determine how much I bring home at the end of the day. I recently asked my NSF (it means a conscripted soldier for my global audience) who aspires to be a financial advisor – Who do you think requires more discipline? A financial advisor or a military personnel? Naturally, many would point to the military. But I told him exactly what I have experienced as an entrepreneur. I believe our conversation gave him a new perspective.

That being said, discipline is still the hallmark of a solider. Why so? Have we asked ourselves why is discipline always associated with soldiering? I remember asking my former commander Lieutenant Edison Oh about why do we do certain things, especially things that often doesn’t make sense to me. During our conversation, he told me: Discipline is not something you do only when you agree with it. It is something that you do regardless. It struck me because I always thought that we must somehow agree with something before we do it faithfully.

Today, when someone knows that I am from the military, they assume that I am saying all these because I am a military person. They cannot be more wrong. The entirety of my professional career was spent outside of the military and I only re-enlisted last year. In fact, signing up for the military was the last thing I thought I would do. My spiritual animal is the eagle. Why would I want to be caged?

Perhaps this quote that I have shared with another NSF nicely sums it up: The more we detest the military and conscription, the more we should partake in it. It gives us a glimpse of how our world would be like if we were to be smacked down, taken over and oppressed. I hated to be bounded. And I detest having to follow orders. But the nature of our work requires us to be so. When war breaks out, discipline is probably one of the key pillars to how we can win a war.

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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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