Dear friends and colleagues
(doctors, nurses, paediatricians, researchers, managers, parents & children, NGOs, etc)
As many of you are aware I am retiring this month; this is my 36th year in the civil service. I have lived through the era where those who qualify serve as a single (or only other) paediatrician in a state, to the current situation where we have a huge team of specialised nurses & paediatricians in large numbers all over the country, with extensive growth in our services.
I have enjoyed working with many of you and especially have been grateful for the change we have been able to make together, to bring benefit to the lives of children, families and the community. There has been much struggle and energy required to achieve change and, as always, I had hoped that we could do more.
As I leave I would like to share 5 thoughts with you; I hope to inspire you to continue to sharing your lives to build our country. Remember that some things you do will only bring fruit much further down the line, and you may not be there to enjoy it. So we need to sow the seeds, plant the trees, plan the systems, build the characters of others, which may only bring reality and meaning in the future.
Our nation is facing a serious lack of good leadership; inspirational leadership. Many specialists and managers tend to be autocratic and living in the past. While other countries have moved on in leadership styles, I see that many senior staff in our country have not changed. The best leadership is a shared one. It is important that we stop thinking of other staff as “subordinate staff”; we are one team; there are no inferior or superior members of the team. Yes we may have different roles and pay grades but that does not speak of our character or functional abilities. We need to change to become a real team. Real listening is vital. We need to be receptive to ideas and change. Dissent (professional disagreement) must not be confused with a personal attack, and must be encouraged. It is important to be open to criticisms and constantly evaluate ourselves. We need to have insight about our strengths and weakness and always be open to change. Love much. Success as a leader is encouraging and enabling others to grow bigger than yourself.
Working Together with Colleagues
We will never find the ideal working environment or place. There will always be colleagues we perceive as ‘difficult’. Some will try and sabotage you, others talk behind your back, yet others may frustrate what you try to do by their sheer lack of commitment to the service. As colleagues we must be there for each other. Don’t give up too quickly or write off those you perceive as ‘difficult’. Extend grace to all colleagues – grace means giving undeserved love. Invest in people; the staff, children we care for and their families. The quality of relationships must be the core of any department and are a key marker of success. Try and see the potential in your colleagues rather than their negative points. Give up on hierarchal organisational structures and move to one that focuses (keeps at the centre) on the needs of children and families and communities.
Avoid Power, Fame and Wealth
It is tempting to gravitate towards power, fame and wealth. Over the years I found all these to be more harmful than helpful. I would suggest that our focus should be to do good work on the ground and avoid ‘name’ and ‘limelight’. Occasionally others may take credit for the work you have done but don’t allow that to annoy you. Keep your focus on the needs of children and families and communities and don’t chase the glamour. Occasionally responsibilities or job opportunities may be offered or thrust into your lap – remember that you need not accept all of them even if they appear exciting or ‘big; some are distractions from more important work.
Fight for what is Right
Avoid compromise in critical issues and always fight for what is right. Keep your heart focused on the big issues and advocate for them. Remember there is a price to pay for advocating, hence you need to count the cost before you do it. Don’t expect others to change or pay the price for change. You need to take personal responsibility for our nation’s change. We must become the change we want to see. We of course can share with others the burden and struggle for change, but occasionally you may have to go it alone. Remember that being blocked from doing something or being excluded from some work is not necessarily a negative thing; it offers us the opportunity to do new things. Never respond negatively when damaged by others.
For this Journey we need God
It is a tough journey that we travel and we desperately need God. Not God in an abstract, mental construct but in a personal, deep relationship. God will transform our perspectives and empowers us. God will enable us to invest in our own capacity/needs and avoid burn out. God is critical as our source of energy and direction. Remember we are too busy not to make time for God (read this statement again). The most powerful prayer to pray is not “God grant me the desires of my heart” but rather “God grant me the desires of Your heart”.
Remember that life is short and fragile.
Never lose an opportunity to tell someone you love them. So know always that I love and care for you and that I will continue to support all of you. My hope and dream is that all of you will grow to discover who you truly are and live in that reality. My prayer for you is that God will grant each one of you the desires of His heart.
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Senior Consultant Paediatrician (Community)
Head Paediatric Department, Hospital RPB Ipoh, Perak
Head Clinical Research Center Perak
Advisor, National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC)
Let My Country Awake
(Inspired by Rabindranath Tagore)
Where my country is not bound by narrow ethnic, social or religious differences;
Where greed is not the pursuit of the majority;
Where the country is led by selfless, meaningful leaders;
Where the poor, disadvantaged, disabled and marginalised are valued and supported;
Into this Truth
Into this Hope
Into this Freedom
My God and Father let my country awake.
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS