Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ideals & Vision

Presidential Opening Address
By Nathaniel Koh Kim Kui, DTM
President, Tampines Changkat Toastmasters Club
21st June 2007, Thursday

Good evening Fellow Toastmasters and Friends,

This is my final opening address as Club President.

I want to say thank you to my Executive Committee, Coen, Foong Yin, Kelly, Kervin, Cheng Lee, Bao Lun, and Virginia.

This committee has been a very passionate and committed bunch. Throughout the term, their will and passion are not exhausted.

I am very lucky to have them with me. To help me along as I tackle my other position as Division Governor, and my studies in SMU. Without them, my term of office would have been exhausting.

They are not just executive committee members. Foong Yin, in her introduction said that she is here to catch up with her friends again. They are friends. Friends whom you have grown to know and love.

And this is how our club should be. A club of friends. And as a club, we have just about to reached that level.

It is an ideal level. And if the next committee can have a vision to reach that ideal of being a club of friends, and when through this vision, we truly discover bonds of friendship, then that will be the day when we truly belong together.

I want to share my personal vision and ideals.

I am 23 years old, going 24 this November.

I have been with Toastmasters since the year 2000, about 7 years.

It’s about one-quarter of my life. And one-quarter of a person’s life is a very long time.

Especially when that one-quarter is a time when the first digit of the age changes from 1 to 2.

When you are 18-19 years old, and into your early twenties, it is a period when you feel grown up, you feel mature, you feel you can take on the world, but yet you are still a child.

And this is a situation which I have been in for the past few years, even till today.

Despite all the high-level positions I have held in Toastmasters, despite all the sagely advice that I dispense about delivering speeches, or holding appointments, I have to realise that there are many things I do not know, that I have not experienced, that I need guidance in.

Things like work, earning a living, affairs of the heart, and many other things that many of you are much more experienced in than me.

And to know that I don’t know everything is a very humbling thought.

Toastmasters has given me a lot of opportunities, and I have taken them, I have learnt a lot from the experiences that I have gained.

And I feel that my greatest contribution to Toastmasters is yet to come. I feel that my greatest contribution to Toastmasters will come from outside the organisation.

I feel that it will be a great disservice to the movement if I do not use what I have learnt for the greater good of society.

I do not know yet what kind greater good I want to do. It could be a political agenda. It could be a social agenda.

I know I need to take incremental steps. But I have not gotten the push to take those steps.

But even though I do not yet know what to do. Even though I do not know what steps to take. What I do know is that I have a vision for myself. And that vision to do something for the greater good of society.

That is my vision. What’s yours?

If you have a vision, clearly articulated or not, that’s great. If you do not have a vision, it is ok. Because I did not have a vision.

When I chose to leave Serangoon JC after the first three months, and I entered Temasek Polytechnic instead, I did not have a vision to enter university because at that time, average poly students were not known to enter university, especially local unis. I just did what I had to do academically, and I was prepared not to enter any university. I was so prepared that I did not even bother to apply for a place when I could do so in 2004. And in 2005, I applied to all three universities just for fun of it, to see how it goes. And all three accepted my application.

When I paid my membership fees to Temasek Polytechnic Toastmasters in 2000, I did not have a vision to become a whatever Toastmaster or be a whatever governor. I did what I had to do consistently meeting after meeting, month after month, year after year, and somehow I found myself in positions of leadership in the past few years.

So you ask, if good things happen to me when I did not have a vision, why should I have a vision now?

Perhaps those were the days when I did not need a vision. Those were the days when my path was clearly set for me. In 2000, I did not have to face the world out there for at least the next 6 years, 3 years in poly and 2 and a half years in National Service.

Times have changed. We grow older. Situations have changed. And I find myself needing a vision to set my direction in life.

And this vision to do something for the greater good of society did not come overnight. It came from the interaction I have in Toastmasters. It came from extensive readings in newpapers, books, magazines, internet.

And it came because I do not want my life to revolve around the making of money forever. Yes, I may start a business, or work in a corporation and build my career. But I may not derive satisfaction from those. Money is important. It is necessary. But it is not what life is about.

It may sound idealistic because it should be. Ideals are the reason why our species has lived for so long. Ideals are the reason why the opposition PAP won the 1959 elections. Ideals are the reason why Toastmasters was founded and has spread around world.
But ever since a couple of months ago, our sense of idealism has become warped. Money is now the new ideal.

But money and cash do not make a country. Cash makes a corporation.

Compassion, charity, care, and concern, make a country.

And we must bring back those values and ideals before we simply become economic digits.

If it sounds like a political speech, maybe it is. But it doesn’t matter.

The main message is to find your ideals, hold true to your values and beliefs.

The ideal for this club to for us to truly discover the bonds of friendship.

My vision is to do something for the greater good of society.

What are your ideals and what is your vision?

1 comment:

Gwen Goh said...

Thank you Nat for this entry.