I am a lot more affected by the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew than I expected to be. While I’ve enjoyed reading the various tributes and tidbits of his life, I am most saddened by the poignancy of life and the inevitability of death. I’ve suddenly realized, ah… Death also comes to such a giant as he; one day it will come to me as well. Perhaps that explains why I couldn’t finish reading the story “I’ll Love You Forever” to my kids today without choking up. One day, my children will grow up and I will grow frail and weak and will pass on, just like LKY.
I’m not a great wordsmith or writer but I just wanted to pen a few thoughts running through my mind today as I was obsessively going through article after article about LKY. Here are 3 things I noted about him as a man and what we can all learn from him.
1. LKY had vision and passion.
LKY had a vision of where he wanted to bring Singapore to while others couldn’t see it yet. With a clear vision, he was able to lead with boldness and conviction. With a clear vision, he was able to channel his passion and bring others along with him into making Singapore from third world to first.
It’s fortunate that having a vision is not limited to great minds like LKY. As ordinary people, we can and should have extraordinary vision and passion – for our families, our workplaces, our communities. Without vision (in other translations vision = revelation, divine guidance, prophetic vision) the people cast off restraint. If we don’t know where we are going or what we are supposed to be doing, then we are running around in our busyness like headless chickens. What is your definition of success? Do you know what you want to see in your children in 20 years? I may not see a teacher or a lawyer but whoever K and Z become, I hope they will find their divine calling, stay close to God and be generous and joyful.
2. LKY was not just a speaker but a doer.
LKY was a great orator. But more than a politician’s words, he made sure he and his people did the doing and the building. They built HDBs, set up government offices, schools, industries and multi-racial communities.
What am I building today that will last beyond my lifetime? Conversely, what am I tearing down with my words, my complaints, my sarcasm?
3. LKY was first and foremost a husband and a father.
His love story with his wife moves me most. That they were both esteemed so highly in each other’s eyes, that they chose to place each other’s needs above their own are beautiful building blocks of a successful and long-lasting marriage. That LKY and KGC were husband and wife and parents first stood out most for me. Am I the best version of myself to my husband and children?
While LKY is an exceptional leader, he was also extraordinary in the ordinary things – things that you and I can do. Unlike LKY, I won’t be a well-loved leader of a nation but like him, I can be an extraordinary spouse and parent. Unlike LKY, I won’t have a state funeral but like him, death will come upon me someday. Unlike LKY, I won’t have accolades pouring in from around the world, but like him, if I can be fondly remembered by a few good friends, my children and family can call me blessed, and my husband esteems me highly, I think I can be happy with that kind of a full life.
Thank you Mr Lee for demonstrating that 1 man, 1 family, 1 generation of pioneers and leaders, 1 small country, when imbued with a spirit of excellence and tenacity, can achieve great things.