Friday, September 12, 2008

It's the little things

Way way back in 2004, I remember a certain Colonel had asked the 5 of us who were on course what would we like to achieve in the navy.

Some wanted to command a ship. Some wanted to command a squadron. Those were the answers by the other 4 of them who were from the same squadron. Mine was a simple "To do my best in my next appointment."

The Colonel was disappointed.

During his days as a junior officer, himself and his peers dreamed of becoming the Chief of Navy, Fleet Commander and the likes. He said they were hungry for success. Which he deemed was lacking in the current generation of naval officers - this ambitious drive to be recognised.

I took offence.

We went into a little discussion that continued over two weeks and culminated one night as we were returning to base after a sea sortie for a live-firing exercise.

My argument was that the measure of one's success is not about the accolades that were lauded upon him/her. Rather it is how we have conducted ourselves within our capacity, to the best of our capabilities and be contented that we can be sure that we could have given no more. I struck a nerve when I continued by mentioning that while every dad may dream of becoming the best dad in the world but really it's about how your sons or daughters think of you that matters most. No "Best Dad in the World .... Ever!" is going to count for anything if your own children don't think that way of you.

It struck a raw nerve because he related to us how he found it difficult to be around for his son, especially so when he was a single parent.

I said that one will be held in high esteem if he took care of the minutes, the little things, because the hours will take care of themselves. There is no point in being the Chief of Navy or Fleet Commander if you were not remembered for being a good shipboard officer, department officer, executive officer.

That night as we were going into harbour, he conceded that my point was valid but it should not stop one from dreaming big. I agreed of course as that was never an intention, doing one's best is not incongruent to being lauded.


vulnerable toes said...

while i agree very much with u in that the small details matter, much like the journey matters more than the destination, it seems to me that without a destination in mind, there can hardly be a journey to speak of.
so maybe a balance between having ambitions (does not have to be ambitious) and still doing as well as u possibly can along the way.
sadly, the society seems to accord more to ple who dream big.

Chuang Shyue Chou said...

Will you be a fleet commander then?

.::: .: :.:. :.: ... ::: :. .::. .: :. ::. said...

I was thinking of the Chief, of Navy, no less. Was originally considering Chief of Defence Force but have to review my ambitions at the loss of the nation. Especially since I did not do particularly spectacular in "O"s and "A"s.