by Don Tan (Singapore)
When people think of Super Heroes, we imagine individuals with super natural powers; able to fly, equipped with super human strength, having the ability to communicate telepathically with others… Their sole purpose is to provide security and protection to the community, to serve justice and restore peace. Yet, everyday in our very ordinary and normal lives, there are amazing things happening everywhere. People with very modest abilities are changing the world as we see it. We neglect to appreciate these other Super Heroes in our midst.
These heroes nourish us with life experiences and educate us on our surroundings. They teach us the skills for survival and they arm us with weapons to attack and defend ourselves. These are the Super Heroes that provide us with the necessary support that we need. They draw on what they have learnt and encountered throughout their lives to pass on their knowledge in the hope that we will one day be the Super Heroes in our stories. These heroes live with us, amongst us and around us. They never fail to provide the assistances that we require. They remain strong when we are weak. And these Super Heroes live up to the true essences of a Hero.
In the past 14 weeks of my last semester in school, I was blessed to have been in the company of many heroes.
Professor Pamela Lim, a tough nut and serious educator, never bows down to failure and constantly pushes us to pursue the very essence of being human and entrepreneur. She teaches not only the technical skills of setting up a business but also life lessons. Through the many bouts of ‘creative’ discussions, my team had to deal with the shortcomings of our initial proposal of setting up an online bank. Stacked against the big players in the field, we sought to modify the idea into something a little more altruistic. We decided to move ahead with plans to establish an online donation portal to address the financial situation of families and individuals who are not as fortunate and are in need.
The proposal was hefty and there were many ideas flowing around. Professor Pamela was very focused and firm. She advised that we seek help from the government to work in collaboration with the community-related departments of the public sector. Through her extensive network, we managed to meet like-minded friends who were supportive of the plan and provided criticisms and compliments that helped to bolster our proposal.
We ran into a few hiccups along the way, but the experience though costly was important. It taught us to be cautious and careful of sharks lurking around the corners, leaning in close and ready to dine in. (Super Heroes are very prone to dangers, they attract a fair bit of trouble most of the time; especially when they are green and new to the scene.)
Ideas are aplenty but without the meticulous planning and effort in place to create a system that ensures that the idea works, a concept is simply a dream. Upon creating a draft of the system we had in mind, we sent a soft copy of our proposal to prospective investors and board members naively. Not knowing their intentions and clearly understanding their personality, we had stepped into a deep trap. (This is a classical case of trying to impress but not thinking about the repercussions. Reminds us of the many times when a greenhorn attempts to prove himself to the old bird.)
Just as how Batman saves Robin in times of trouble, we were fortunate to have the backing of our mentor and professor, step in to lend support. She anchored on her stand and promptly suggested that we stamp out the pests. She sent out emails to protect our interests and instructed us on the methods to avoid these similar hidden snares. I thought it was going to be difficult to get out of this messy entanglement, but as in every Super Hero flick, one always manages to solve the issue and move ahead a little tired and injured, yet ready to take on the world with a little more experience.
Never Giving Up.
This has taught me much more about myself and one of the many chaotic challenges that can spring up on you when you least expect it. Being hopeful and having the determination and passion to continue on the journey is definitely essential, because along the way we lose faith of our mission, vision and goals, but we cannot give up easily on ourselves. Pushing the boundaries and seeking to strive on in tough times is what makes us stronger and tougher.
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”- Christopher Reeve
As an entrepreneur, teamwork is equally important. Understanding that people that you work with ultimately do not have to see eye to eye with your beliefs and goals, but there needs to be in place a system and structure that allows this difference in opinion to be discussed. When a decision is reach, we all respect that decision and move on with the agreed outcome. At the end of the day, we work together and are on the same boat. I believe we each have our personal perceptions that we must respect. As long as we are working towards a common objective to drive the business, we work hand in hand to achieve results and prosper. Similarly, when anyone in the team makes a mistake, we work to overcome that error by ironing out the issues and capture that experience. Together we grow and enjoy the fruits of our labour.
“Success and failure. We think of them as opposites, but they’re really not. They’re companions – the hero and the sidekick.” – Laurence Shames
My final thought on Super Heroes.
They live in a world unashamed of their choices and live free to make those choices. Likewise, as entrepreneurs we should be free and take on calculated risks. Be comfortable with taking on the world and never be afraid to fail and thrive in our mistakes, only to come back and build success. If we fear the darkness of disappointment, we will never be able to live up to what we are truly meant for. Being a hero, as is being an entrepreneur, is about independence and freedom to live free without burdens.
With these tools in hand I want to stretch out and be my own hero. To build my own and keep it. This is a genuinely humbling and exhilarating experience that I will not forget and will hunger more of.
“Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story.” – John Barth