Dr. DARREN CHUA

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11December

2015

Why I Participated in the World Strongest Man Challenge

So, there I was. Me vs the machine

This was going to be a variation of The World Strongest Man competition which was originally developed in 1977 for CBS by Langstar Inc.

Vehicles such as transport trucks, trams, boxcars, buses, or planes are pulled across a 100-foot (30 m) course as fast as possible. One variation sees the competitors pull the object with a rope toward them. Another has them attached to a rope which is attached to a vehicle, while they use another rope to pull themselves down the course. A third involves no ropes, with the competitors pulling the vehicle while connected to a harness.

With this version, The Inclusive Strongman Challenge, the challenge was simple enough. To pull the car with me seated down in my wheelchair and strapped to the vehicle and, just pulling and moving it.

When Bee, a friend, approached me I was so honoured and delighted to have this opportunity. Not to show off since, to tell the truth, I believe many other para-athletes will be able to pull the car over a further distance. But, more importantly, it is to drive home a point:

Disability is of the mind and never about the body.

And so there I was on 28 November 2015 and the challenge given to me and, I pulled. But that was not the point. What was more important was that from this challenge, to anybody who saw it that day and many more that will see it in the various media forms, they will all see one thing:

Hope.

Through my interaction with many disabled and even among the abled bodied, even before there is a breakdown in lives, there is almost always a crash of hope.

I am someone who talks about The Art of Determination.  Yet the spirit that drives determination is hope and we must live life as A Prisoner of Hope.

I lived a significant portion of my life trapped within my own body as a stroke survivor and I know what it is like to live in a ‘prison’. But what is more devastating is not a physical prison but a mental prison.

It is hope that gives us courage to believe in a better tomorrow. It is hope that gives us the audacity to think and plan of a better future. It is hope that says, “I deserve better because I am and I can”.

And oh, by the way, it moved approximately 1.5 meter.

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14December

2015

Celebrating the extraordinary

The 8th ASEAN Games, which was played in Singapore from 3rd to 9th December was my second time participating in the Games as a wheel chair table tennis player.

The 7 days saw 1185 para athlete fr 10 countries compete in 15 sports (largest to date) and old records were erased as new sporting excellence was reached. Throughout the event,  National, Games, Asian and even World records were broken and each of the 476 event saw people supporting their favorite athletes.

Looking back, it is amazing how powerful and indomitable the human spirit is when we are determined to reach not just any goal, but a meaningful goal that touches us.

But what is determination?

I often speak to The Art of Determination. In fact I even have a mini book of the same title. In it I stress on the facets that enables an individual to be more self determined  so that we are all able to be ordinary people achieving extraordinary feats.

Through my talks and conversation with people regarding this topic, I begin to see that while many people desire to have determination as one of their strong suit, not everyone possess it.  For determination is not of the mind. It is a habit. It is what we consistently do till we achieved what we desire to attain.

1 of the most vital ingredient in developing this Art of Determination is to have a plan. The plan has to be changeable and refineable as circumstances change, but this also has to be done in a concrete fashion and with an eye firmly fixed on the goal. The plan should have a realistic, changeable timeline with milestones and completion date. The other important consideration is that every step of the plan has to be reachable from the previous step and one has to know how; otherwise it’s not a plan but a vague statement of intention that’s not of much practical use.

And it is through this Art of Determination that allows ordinary people to celebrate extraordinary moments that last a life time.

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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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6December

2016

The Three Choices That Helps Shape My Destiny After Stroke

As stroke survivors, life may seem painfully unfair. For some of us, we may be at the height of our career when the brain attack occurred. For others, we may be celebrating some of life’s treasured blessings like the birth of a new-born or having the keys to a new house. Or perhaps, we are just looking forward to enjoy the fruits of our labour with our partner after retirement.

Regardless the backdrop, stroke is a life-defining moment. For most of us, it will have affected our lives significantly.

But while our life story may define us as stroke survivors, our life destiny can only be determined by the choices that we make. And much of these choices deal primarily with the belief and mind-set we have as stroke survivors. It was the leader of the Indian independence movement during British-rule, Ghandi, who uttered these words:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
 – Mahatma Ghandi (1869 – 1948)

There are three decisions I choose to make daily which reminds me that as stroke survivors, our lives can still be meaningful and impactful.

#DisabilityIsOnlyInTheMind

I choose today to believe that disability is ONLY in the mind.

Our state of ability is the degree of how empowered we are. Henry Ford (1863 – 1947), who founded Ford Motor Company, was absolutely spot-on when he said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right”.

We are as disabled as we think we are. In other words, we are also as abled as we think we are.

My stroke left me with a certain amount of dysphasia – an impairment of the ability to communication resulting from brain injury. I remembered during my acute stay in the hospital, I was unable to talk and I could only recognize the first 13 numbers. This was a huge blow to me as I was always a ferocious reader and I love communicating with the people around me. Hence, regaining my language ability was topmost in my priority.

As a doctor, I understand that our brain in plastic. Neuroplasticity, or brain plasticity, refers to the brain’s ability to change throughout life. The human brain has the amazing ability to reorganize itself by forming new connections between brain cells. And I know that despite the brain attack, I am still able to relearn back what I lost.

As a prisoner of hope, I started relearning English and since my stroke, I have under my belt a MSc degree, a few other certificates, run and manage a learning centre for youth (Potter’s Clay Education), and I am a professional inspiration speaker and a mindset transformation coach.

#WinningMindset

I choose today to focus on having a winning mindset and not on excuses.

Events occur in life that is not our choosing. After all, I believe none of us desired to have a brain attack. But after an event such as stroke, we are responsible for the thought which we choose to dwell upon.

While I am the first to admit that there are many things that I no longer am able to do. I can no longer swim as freely as I used to. Neither am I able to do a 2.4 km run under 10 minutes. But that has never limited me from aiming at goals and reaching them.

As survivors, our dreams can still be realized and we need only to focus on these four keys:
1. Vision that aspires
2. Inspiration that fuels our love for life
3. Passion that anchors devotion
4. Purpose drives meaningful exploits

#TheArtOfDetermination

I choose today to develop the art of determination.

Determination is our strength of pursuit. I have always termed determination as an “art”. Art is referred to as the expression or application of human exploits. Living a meaningful life is therefore an art form as we decide how to best express and apply ourselves in this world while we are in it.

As a stroke survivor, our art becomes even more delicate yet it can still be worthwhile. It all depends on what we are determined to will forth.

Therefore, today, I choose #DisabilityIsOnlyInTheMind. Today, I choose #WinningMindset. Today, I choose #TheArtOfDetermination.

What do you choose?

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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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6March

2017

Living Life with a Passion

All of us desire to be ALL that we are destined to be. All of us aspire to maximize all that we could be. No one, other than ourselves, has the passion to fulfill the dreams lingering in our hearts.

I strongly believe the key in fulfilling this desire is in living out our future. Yet many find it difficult and even inconceivable as to how to live our future. However if you ponder just for a minute, we realize that our future is not only found next year, it is the next hour. In fact our future is our next minute. Yes, even our next second is our future.

In other words, to live our future is to live our present, intentionally focusing on what else we can do rather than focusing on what we have already done. Because we can, in error, focus on what we have done and live a life that we have already lived rather than questioning what else we can still accomplish

Our past can be a threat to our future if we continually focus and dwell on our failures and mistakes. Yet our past is also an opportunity for us to learn from our mistakes. What is crucial is how we view our past. The way to move from our past into the future is to perceive all of our past and view them as learning points and growth opportunities.

In fact, when we view failure as an opportunity to start again, then we see it as a temporary experience gearing towards our eventual success. In other words, we cannot stop a man who has decided he is going to win. We have to live life according to our terms if we want to be effective and successful. Life has everything we desire in it but we need to live it with our passion and intentions.

Our past can also be a threat to our future if we continually focus and dwell on our past accomplishments and remain too comfortable in that space. While we should celebrate our triumphs, we must also continue to reach for brighter stars and bigger goals.

What makes life interesting is that there will always be challenges awaiting us. For us to live our destiny, we need to confront these challenges, subdue and overcome them.

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