My name is Yihan and I reside in the sunny island of Singapore. I am from a family of six; I have three siblings, a twin brother and one other younger brother and sister.
I’m 24 this year, and I’m studying in one of the top business schools in Singapore, Singapore Management University. I have currently pursuing a degree in Business Administration and I’m in my final year of school. I will be graduating at the end of 2009.
I have had various experiences in leadership when I was serving in the Singapore Armed Forces, but I would say that my real leadership journey began in Jan 2007.
In late 2006, my peers invited me to serve in the leadership of University-YMCA. As the name suggests, University-YMCA is a subsidiary of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), an Christian organization whose mission is to develop individuals in mind, body and spirit.
University-YMCA Annual General Meeting: That’s me in the center with the blue shirt
My leadership journey began as the Vice-President of University-YMCA.
Before this, I had never stepped up into a formal leadership position before.
However, my peers saw something in me that they believe could move University-YMCA forward: passion.
Although I lacked the experience and the confidence to take up the leadership initially, my peers saw that I was someone who was hungry for greater things.
I was initially very apprehensive about taking up the position, but I chose to take a step of faith and agreed to rise up.
When I first stepped into University-YMCA, the organization was not in a very good shape. This was partly because it was a new organization: systems, processes and standard operating procedures were not in place yet.
So beyond the name, it was really a youth group who gathered once a while for meetings and activities. While we were a happy group of people, but I felt that something was missing in our organization.
We were not a very united bunch of people and we were not making a lot of difference in our community.
In late 2007, I chose to step up as President. I felt a call to raise this organization to a position of leadership in Singapore Management University.
I wanted this organization to change the dominant culture in the University.
To put it into context, Singapore Management University was made up of individuals who were driven, motivated, grade-focused and inward-looking.
It was a University that had a culture of me-myself-and-I. It was about studying extremely hard to get good grades, and getting a good job.
As a result, students continually competed to be the best; but in the process lose sight about caring for the community and serving others who need their help.
I felt that things had to change, so I took up the Presidency with this vision in mind:
To change the mindset of the typical Singapore Management University student.
I chose my team of Executive Committee members: 10 of them.
I shared the vision of changing culture with them and I instilled the passion in them to want to see the same change in school.
However, things were not as smooth sailing as I thought it would be. There were several problems that surfaced during the year 2008.
There were Executive Committee members that were more focused on their other responsibilities and put this organization’s vision at a lower priority and as such, they did little to further the cause of the organization.
It was then that I realized that it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I began to realize the work required to change a dominant culture in the community was going to be real hard work.
How can a small group of individuals hope to change a whole community?
Was it even possible?
There were a lot of times that I felt extremely discouraged; times that I felt I was fighting this battle alone; times that I wanted to give up.
There were days that I just went down on my knees, cried and prayed for a breakthrough to happen.
Thankfully, things began to pick up again at the end of 2008; my leaders began to catch on to the vision of changing culture once again and they started running with me.
During this period, I also identified several new leaders that could rise up to take leadership positions in my organization.
In 2009, the organization began to take off in its level of influence in the community; we also grew in the number of camps/events we organized to 15.
My leaders became more independent as they began running their community outreach programs with little or no assistance from me.The club began to grow in size as well. From a membership of 80 people in the year 2006, today (April 2009), the club has 500 members in its mailing list and about over 50+ sub-committee members and leaders.
Through all this time, I have managed to gain a lot of experience in leadership. From someone who was afraid to stand up to take a Vice-President’s position in 2007, I have become a person of influence that people look up to; a leader in my community.
In this book, I will continue to share with you specific experiences that taught me the principles and lessons that I hold in my heart till today.
Once again, I hope this eBook will greatly benefit you in your own leadership journey.
Move on to Chapter 3: Vision in Life