Dr. DARREN CHUA

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25December

2015

What Christmas means to me

For those of us who do not celebrate Christmas, this season may be a period of gifts exchange and hearty dinners with closed friends and relatives. For those of us who celebrates Christmas, we may just regard it as the day when Jesus was born as a baby in a manger. Yet what is mind-boggling is that while the birth of Jesus is an amazing and a miracle event, the significance of Christmas is in Isaiah 9:6

‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given… Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’

But what has Christmas got to do with our daily lives? Many of us understand why we exchange gifts during this season. The birth of the Savior’s son does warrant all of us to be joyful. And God did give us a perfect gift. But let us examine the gift. For the nature of the gift very often gives us the intent of the gift. If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator; If our greatest need had been technology, God would have given us a scientist. Yet God gave us a son to die for our sins.

The gift that was given to us was hope.

As an educator myself as well, this story greatly moved me. There is a self-made millionaire Eugene Land, who greatly changed the lives of a sixth-grade class in East Harlem. Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of 59 sixth-graders. What could he say to inspire these students, most of whom would drop out of school? He wondered how he could get these predominantly black and Puerto Rican children even to look at him. Scrapping his notes, he decided to speak to them from his heart. “Stay in school,” he admonished, “and I’ll help pay the college tuition for every one of you.” At that moment the lives of these students changed. For the first time they had hope. One student said, “I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me. It was a golden feeling.” Nearly 90 percent of that class went on to graduate from high school (secondary school'”.

And such is the power of hope.

As we continue to celebrate Christmas and march into the New Year, let us all remain confidently expectant of the future that lies ahead!

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26March

2016

Taking The Road Less Travelled

March 26, 2016Art of DeterminationEmpowermentHopeNo Comments

MANY people mistakenly believe that any form of vision-setting should be the CEO’s responsibility. That is erroneous thinking and not only limits the growth of any leader, but also makes his career much less exciting.

All leaders in any organisation, community or team are able to effectively manifest their vision (that is, “see” what they want to be) as long as they create specific and achievable goals while initiating positive actions and enlisting the participation of all relevant team members.

Of course, to reap maximum synergy and motivation from his team, a leader’s vision should be congruent with that of the company.

However, there are a few questions that beg to be answered.

As a leader, how important is it to set a vision? How should leaders rally their team behind that vision? What is the role of the leader in communicating and bringing out that vision?

Vision

A visionary paints beautiful scenes of the future and articulates them with great enthusiasm.

A visionary leader, on the other hand, brings that vision into reality and, thereby, impacts the space others dwell in.

Even though he was asked to leave the company he helped build, Steve Jobs never threw away his vision of what Apple could be. Instead, he dug deep, persevered and returned to Apple as its leader, impacting the company even more in the process.

As leaders, how ready and enthusiastic are we to share a piece of our dream with our team? More importantly, how determined are we to see our vision bear fruit?

“Buy-in”

Successful leaders should also be able to get positive “buy-in” from their teams. Therefore, we should concentrate on the various aspects of the buy-in process and manage them accordingly to reach maximum leverage.

As a business leader, I have had to invest time and effort to secure “buy-in” from various stakeholders.

I have come to realise that just because two potential partners have similar visions, it does not necessarily guarantee “buy-in” because the two parties may have different goals, and vice-versa.

It is good for leaders to help their team members “see the big picture” and understand how their involvement will help the team reach goals and also result in the growth of each team member.

After all, leaders are dream makers who know that dreams are made from future probabilities and never from past liabilities. The more we nourish our teams with possible visions of what they can achieve, the more dynamic and motivated they will be.

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Step-in and step-up

A successful “buy-in” process will often result in committed relationships within the team.

Engagement (step-in) is the primary product in all fruitful relationships. As leaders, we should steer our teams towards active participation and assimilate everyone into the culture of the company.

A healthy relationship between leaders and the rest of the team ultimately results in empowerment (step-up) of all involved. For empowerment to occur, constant feedback is needed. Gallup research conducted in 2009 shows that teams need constant feedback — not just yearly — from their leaders about how they are performing.

Effective leaders also need to receive feedback and to mentor their teams in a way that increases engagement and commitment.

Motivation

For teams to be highly motivated, everyone should be speaking about the same vision. It is essential for information to be received and transmitted in a clear and accurate manner.

It is useful to remind ourselves that the success of the team only occurs when everybody wins.

Here are some handy reminders:

* Always take into account your boss’s point of view

* Focus on the solution rather than the problem

* Communicate “upwards”; inspire “downwards”.

Many of us avoid the responsibility of visionary leadership primarily because we are too sensitive to criticism and failure. But all these fears may fade away when we realise the impact our vision has on the organisation.

As American poet Robert Frost once wrote:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

Article by Dr Darren Chua, the chief empowering officer of DC Empowerment. He was awarded the Young Outstanding Singaporean 2011 and Successful Entrepreneur Award 2011. For more information, visit www.drdarrenchua.com

from: http://www.stjobs.sg/career-resources/workplace-success/take-the-road-less-travelled/a/85888

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1October

2016

The 7 Habits of S.S.S (Successful Stroke Survivor) for Victory!

I have been a stroke survivor since 2000. I remember my brain haemorrhage, which occurred when I was 24 years old. It was a life-changing event. Almost instantly, I was reduced from a doctor who had dreams of becoming a topnotch neurosurgeon to someone who could hardly speak (I lost the ability to communicate as a result of my stroke). I also lost my right visual field and was completely paralyzed on the right side of my body. Like many survivors, I asked, “Why must this happen to me?”

In my minibook, The Art of Determination, I share about how I refused to let this incident direct what desires I was able or unable to pursue. I believe as stroke survivors, we are all free to still chase our dreams and, more importantly, continue to expect success to come our way.

My experience with my condition has taught me seven habits that have been pivotal in helping me transform from someone who suffered a major disruption in life, to where I am now: an international inspirational speaker, a mindset leader, an educator, an author and national para-athlete.

Here are my seven habits that I’d like to share with you.

Habit 1: Start the day with visualization
Because I conduct mindset clinics, talks and workshops on leadership and empowerment, I am aware of the awesome power that comes from visualization. In fact, most elite athletes and peak performers in almost all professional fields use it now.

The reason why it is so effective is because of these reasons:
1. It activates our subconscious which will generate creative ideas that will achieve our goals.
2. It builds our internal motivation to take the necessary steps to achieve your goals.
3. It activates the law of attraction and thereby draws into our life the necessary resources that you need to attain your destiny.
4. It programmes your brain to a desired mindset needed to achieve our goals.

Habit 2: Live an inspired life
As stroke survivors, we can still expect and demand success in our life. After all, we are not defined merely by our abilities — or lack of. Rather, we are defined by what we do to each other and how we add value to those around us.

Inspiration is the force that drives things not only forward and upwards; it also elevates us to a newer and better place. It creates positivity, possibilities, and fulfils our purpose. Starting today, let us ask this question to ourselves continually, “How can I make the situation better?”

Habit 3: Be committed to self-respect
When we commit ourselves to have self-respect (and not respect from others), we naturally take pride in what we do and exude an aura of confidence. I believe this is the key commitment we need to have for ourselves. No matter what people may think or feel about the condition and how it has affected us, we must remain steadfast and know that in order to be successful stroke survivors, we must make the commitment to remain at the top of our game in every aspect of life.

Life may have changed. Our road to success may now have a few more detours, but our destination to wherever we want to go can still be reached. We just have to take daily steps to refine what is it that we want to achieve in an effort to be ready for decisions that needs integrity and forethought.

Habit 4: Thanksgiving
“O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness endures forever” – 1 Chronicles 16:34

As a stroke survivor myself, I know it is easier to lament about what has been robbed from us. Yet it is more beneficial if we focus on what we still have and to give thanks for them.

I find that such a mindset allows us to have a better perspective over our situation. I find that the more I focus on thanksgiving, I have more courage and determination to carry on with life’s journey. And this is because I realise that giving thanks is the fuel that builds up our hope. And I realise that to be successful stroke survivors, all of us need to be “prisoners of hope”.

Habit 5: Organize our priorities
Time management is crucial in achieving our goals. This is especially true for stroke survivors who aim to still catch their dreams. The key to time management is organising, planning, and prioritizing.

Prioritizing our work helps us to identify what things need to be done first. My pace of work has slowed down significantly after 2000, and it is more necesasry than ever that I make this habit of organizing my priorities in order to remain efficient and productive.

Habit 6: Re-education
As stroke survivors, we need to embrace learning. And depending on the extent of neurological damage due to our stroke, a certain degree of re-education is needed.

I have found that with this habit of re-education, the one thing that is necessary is a spirit of humility. As C. S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less”.

It is with this spirit that allowed me to ask for more help, expose myself with new experiences and dare to change certain fixed mindsets that I had.

Habit 7: YOLO
You Only Live Once.

While some may view the above catch-phrase as a reflection of a reckless living among the youth of today, I believe as mature adults who understand the value of life, we can use this manta for living a meaningful life after stroke.
By the grace of God, I am given a second chance in life after my near-fatal stroke attack. And rather than living life being overly cautious, I am determined to live life and experience the possibilities that may come my way.

It is with this spirit that I went into wheelchair table tennis. I was never a sporty person in school. Yet after my stroke, I was determined to push myself and test my limits given my physical limitations. And together with all the other habits listed above, I am privileged to have been able to clinch the gold-medal in the 8th ASEAN Games in 2015.

In conclusion, with these 7 habits of starting the day with Visualization, living an Inspired life, being Committed to self-respect, Thanksgiving, Organize our priorities, Re-education and YOLO; we can be confident of living a meaningful life in V.I.C.T.O.R.Y as successful stroke survivors.

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12October

2016

Leadership Mindset

As leaders, have we ever reflected upon how the role of our mindset plays in the way we approach our leadership, as well as our leadership styles? 

A mindset can be defined to comprise the entirety of our attitudes, beliefs and expectations we hold that act as the foundation of who we are – which in turn shapes how we lead and the ways we interact with our team. Our mindset determines how we think, as well as how we interpret the situations occurring around us. It impacts the quality of our relationships, as well as moderating the way we live and lead our lives.
Over the years of both working with as well as honing various leaders, I believe there are four important perspectives in a mindset we need to adopt in order to be a good and effective leader.

I call these the S.T.A.R. mindset:

S – Sight
A leader’s sight enables us to be excited about the future, and they allow the team to be able to see the vision that we dare to place upon ourselves. It is the end in mind; the goal in which the team strives towards together with the leader.

T – Testament
It is almost a cliché, but also a truism that great leaders must not only “talk the talk,” but also “walk the talk”. Actions speak louder than words. A good visualization of the team’s success and heights the team can reach can only be achieved through concrete, actionable steps and actions taken in order to inch towards the end goal in mind. Without actions, ideas would remain afloat, and visions would only remain as dreams.

A – Assurance
One of the foundations of good leadership is the assurance and the determination we give to our team members. The amount of commitment that you bring as leaders sends a powerful message of commitment to your team mates. Leaders lead by example and lead a group together by trudging forward with them, whereas bosses only give directions for his subordinates to follow.

R – Responsibility
As leaders, we take the lead in all aspects of the team’s functioning and performance and we are willing to be accountable for our actions and results. A good leader will take ownership of the actions and decisions made by him or herself, as well as those of the team – shifting of blame or finger-pointing is extremely detrimental for team dynamics, and would not attribute to good leadership as it slows team growth and progress.

Edited by Ms Sakeena Tan

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5November

2016

Mentality Trumps Ability

On 4th Nov, I attended the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme (LED) Symposium 2016 held at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel. With the SMEs in Singapore in mind, LEDS was mooted by Minister Lim Swee Say back in 2015 with the following objectives:
a) be more manpower efficient/lean;
b) develop a strong Singaporean Core and
c) enhance the quality of our workforce.

Mr Lim also spoke in this event and on that day he reminded Singaporeans that “With ageing and low birth rate, our local workforce is growing much slower, and may stagnate in the next decade. So in other words, 10 years from now, the local workforce will stop growing. With foreign manpower growing much slower too, our challenge is to ensure that this sharp drop in our total workforce growth will not become the bottleneck in the future growth of our economy and also for your businesses.”

Many other industry leaders spoke that day and a few common themes seem to stand out. One of which was how we can use technology in increase our work efficiency and efficacy. Another is the need for our workforce to be able to add value in what they are currently doing as tasks become more multi-faceted.

As I listen and lean in to what the speakers have to share, there was one word that was repeated throughout the various presentations.

Mindset.

More than one speaker spoke about it was how they changed the way they look at the problem that caused a change in perspective that finally led to a breakthrough in results generation.

I am convinced that as we move into 2017, one thing will bring us out from the current sluggish economic climate and that is our mental attitude and disposition that will predetermine the interpretation of and the respond to the situations we face.

After all obstacles are but opportunities for us to lean and grow as leaders. What is needful is then a mindset shift that helps us to refocus and look through the same situation but with a different lens.

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15December

2016

Pursuing Purpose

Recently I had the pleasure to meet a new friend who is also a stroke survivor. Both of us had our brain attack due to an AVM (arteria-venous malformation). Over coffee in the afternoon, we shared how our lives were affected because of the bleed.

Over the course of our conversation, one theme cropped out often and that was about our life’s purpose. Maybe it is because stroke at our relatively young age makes us realise just how fragile life can be. Or maybe it is because we both appreciate and acknowledge how grateful we are for God’s unmerited favour over our lives. As I relaxed and enjoyed the time with my new acquaintance, it reminded me why it is so important for us to seek out passionately what our purpose in life is.

It was Dr Myles Munroe (1954 – 2014) who was a pastor, inspirational speaker and international author of numerous books that wrote, “The value of life is not in its duration, but in its donation. You are not important because of how long you live, you are important because of how effective you live.

And so I shared over our afternoon coffee why it is so important that we have a duty to live out our life. Paul (5 – 67 AD), the apostle who taught the gospel of Jesus Christ in the first century, had the privilege to complete his life’s destiny when he wrote these words, “My life is being poured out as a part of the sacrifice and service… Yet, I am filled with joy, and I share that joy with all of you.” – (Phil 2:17)

How absolutely wonderful it must feel to know that we have impacted others through the lives we have touched!
As we go into the final few days of the year and we look forward to 2017, let us ponder as consider the purpose of our lives and how we pursue. it.

Perspective
One of the best ways to develop a healthy and positive approach towards life is to be intentional about our mindset and the thoughts that we dwell upon.

Again, it was Paul the apostle that reminds us that “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” – (Phil 4:8)

Authenticity
To live a life that is meaningful and rewarding, we need to be real and authentic about who we are, what we have done, where we want to go and how are we going to reach there.

One of the most important thing we can do to develop our purpose to be be self-aware of our talents, abilities, gifts and inclinations. And this is what I routinely do for my workshops and talks.

Service
When we are determined to live a life where we are continually giving, we act with respect, care, and mindfulness for the well-being of everyone and not just for our self-serving interests. When we serve others first and be a leader second, we help individuals achieve worthwhile results while keeping the best interest of those we serve before our own.

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29December

2016

How to Develop a Successful Mindset for 2017

What is Mindset? The dictionary defines it as “the established set of attitude held by a person”. In other words, our mindset refers to our mental inclination, tendency and habits. It is our way of thinking and opinions. Through our mindset our attitudes, moods and disposition is established. Moreover, this mental frame of mind; which we term mindset; drives our ideas whenever we approach a situation. Mindset is important because it refers to our thought, actions, results and beliefs.

It was perhaps the Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu who first wrote about mindset and its significance more than 2 500 years ago with these words:

“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

Stephen Covey (1932 – 2012) was an American educator, author and businessman who wrote The Habits Of Highly Effective People; and it was he that coined the idea of abundance mindset contrasting it with scarcity mindset. For Covey, he believes that the emergence of an abundance mindset creates a mentality that gravitates towards enough resources and successes to share with others.

In 2006, Carol Dwerk (1946 – present) published her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success in which she postulates that individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of where ability comes from. According to her book, there are those that believes their success is based on innate ability and she termed them as “fixed mindset” vs those who believes that success is based on hard work, learning, training and doggedness whom she termed as “growth mindset”.

I believe that mindset is the key that unlocks the treasure that is stored within us. As we move into 2017, let us remember together some keys that will open up our possibilities as we position ourselves for a great year ahead!

Why are we doing what we are doing?
One of the most important thing we can know in 2017 for ourselves is what is important to us? As the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) so profoundly said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Our purpose drives our reasons and reasoning.

We can accomplish almost anything when what we are trying to accomplish is what we are passionate about. Let us be focused and disciplined to a cause and purpose that connects with who we truly are. All of us bear a unique voice that is longing to be expressed so let us start living sincerely though this expression.

What can we do to achieve transformational results?
All of us have the responsibility to deliver to the world the potential that is trapped in each and every one of us.

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister of Great Britain ran the first sub-four minute mile. In fact, he ran it in 3 minute and 59.4 seconds. Before this feat, it was thought to be impossible to run a mile in under four minutes. Interestingly, two months later, he raced his great rival John Landy of Australia and won that race, with both men going under four minutes, and within three years 16 runners had gone under the barrier.

What can we learn from this? The moral of the story, of course, is that so often our limitations exist only in our minds, and when someone erases the mental limits, performance takes off.

What are we believing today about our performance?

Where are we going as we move into 2017?
How do we reach our destiny? After we discover our purpose and recognized our potential, we have to realize our destiny can only be reached through determination, dedication, persistence and perseverance. In other words, the fulfillment of our destiny is decided by us.

There is currently 7.4 billion people here on planet earth and it is my belief we are all born to do something valuable and be an impact to the environment around. Our existence is proof that there is something important for us to deliver that made our presence necessary.

Fishes are meant to swim. Birds are meant to fly. Seeds are meant to grown. Our destiny is hard-wired into us. Yet, fear and false identity too often robs from us our success and the full expression of what we are capable of.

As we enjoy the last few days of 2016, let us all be committed to a mental frame of mind that will reap the results we are aiming for in 2017!

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16January

2017

In The Pursuit Of Purpose

Mankind is facing a tipping point. In almost every culture and social systems, we are struggling to find our place in a fast-changing world. In many societies, dramatic changes at the workplace has left a significant number of people discontented, disconnected and disillusioned. Indeed, in our current world which is internet-driven, our postmodern world can be so easily caught in a worldwide web of confusion.

Change is often the cause of uncertainty. And this uncertainty can very often lead to fear and anxiety. The 21st century has brought upon us an unparalleled acceleration in knowledge and information; and has led us into a maze of new paradigms and uncharted waters of social and cultural convergences.

I find that the key to stabilising our lives is in finding our purpose. Purpose is the key to life. Without purpose, life has no meaning. We find that it is so easy to be busy making a living even though we may be experiencing very little in life. Without knowledge of purpose, life becomes an endless string of activities with little or no significance.

Everything in life has a purpose. Everyone who is reading this blog post is born with and for a purpose. Finding this purpose creates our source of meaning. Purpose, therefore, is the original intent in the mind of the creator, in the mind of God. And it is this reason why I believe we are all hard-wired and we have an in-built system that tells us that we are born on purpose and with a purpose.

I have come to realize that nothing is truly ours until we understand it. In other words, we will never be fulfilled until we find out what is the reason for our existence. Vague goals such as “I want to be rich,” “I want to make the world a better place,” or even “I want to be happy” are not helpful and nearly useless. In the final analysis, our life purpose must be answered with the question, “What is the reason for my existence?” and the answer always invariably is linked to our talents, ability, gifting and inclinations.

Recognize that we are unique, special and that God did not make a mistake in creating us. This ought to give us confidence and assurance in living out our lives. Be determined to pursue our aspirations, dreams and goals deliberately and consistently.

Once we have found our purpose, remember to cherish it. In life, there will be many people, including well-meaning friends who may try and remake us according to THEIR plans, purpose and intention. Let us remind ourselves, today, not to let anyone prevent us from becoming, being and doing all that we are born to be and do.

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3February

2017

On Purpose

We are all meant to lead in an area of gifting. After all, if God did not make a mistake at Creation; it implies that we are destined and designed to fulfil a purpose in life. Whether or not we are aware of that purpose does not negate what has been bestowed upon us.

Very often I get asked this question, “Where and how do I find my purpose?” I have come to realise that the purpose that we have been called to fulfil and the assignment that we have been tasked to carry out is very closely linked with the talents, abilities, giftings and inclinations that we all possess.

Just this week, I had the privilege to be part of a forum with a group of final year students from the Nanyang Polytechnic, School of Chemistry and Life Sciences. Over the course of the 2.5 hour sharing, I had the opportunity to remind the students that we are not defined by the courses we study or the jobs we do. Rather, we are defined by the impact that we have on the lives of those we touch. Chasing after job titles and positions will not give us the satisfaction, joy and accomplishment that we all desire compared to a life that is intentional in using our talents and giftings to the best of our ability for the betterment of those around us.

Fishes perform best under water. Birds perform best during flight. Big cats perform best in the wild. We also thrive, and not just strive, when we are allowed to express our talents, abilities, giftings and inclinations in a manner that is not apologetic in anyway.

Because of our culture and formal education, many of us may not be aware of our talents and giftings even though we are very good at our job. When I realised I could no longer continue as a doctor, I too had to do a certain amount of soul searching before it dawned on we that talents and giftings that I was blessed with was bigger that the job of doctoring, noble as it may be.

Many times when I share with stroke survivors and people who may have met with a physical impairment, and as a result who have also lost their job placement, many feel that they have lost their life as well, figuratively. I have to remind them that even though the job and the position may be lost, their intrinsic abilities and inclinations are still present, waiting to be exploited.

Ultimately, disability is only in the mind! As long as our mind can perceive it, we will be able to conceive it.

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