Why was I labeled as a borderline son by my father?
“Being a father means being a worthy example.” A lesson that my dad taught me in one of the most unconventional ways. Being labeled as a borderline son by him during my younger days wasn’t as bad as I had thought.
“Sakthi, your academic grades, performance in sports, and attitude in life seem to indicate that you have a special affiliation with borderline. My advice to you is to start a career defending the borderline of Singapore.”
These were the harsh words from my dad prior to my enlistment in National Service. Nevertheless, it was the starting point to jump-start my quest to be better than a borderline son.
After enlistment, my sole purpose was to achieve Maximum Performance just to prove my dad wrong. 5 years on and I was a Commissioned Officer achieving countless confidence courses with Ranger Course being the toughest one.
It was during the graduation ceremony, that dad told me his intent to label me as borderline was not because I was not capable but because I was like a half-full glass with a lot of room to achieve greatness but simply too stubborn to realize my potential.
These were the words from my wise man while donning the RANGER Tab on my uniform that day. Though he’s not with me physically today, his words and my experiences with him have been the guiding light for my journey in taking on different roles whether as a husband, father, a leader, or a person.
Today, being a business owner, ‘DOING IT BETTER’ is not just a motto but my way of life because the things we are capable of achieving would literally astound us. Being labeled as a borderline son by my dad wasn’t as bad as I thought after all.
If there is one thing I could relive, it would be my last dinner outing that I had with my dad in April 2019 before he passed on 2 months later.
We had a deep conversation about his life that night over dinner. Never did I imagine that the lessons and stories he shared that night were his final gift to help me lay the foundation, to live and age gracefully with clarity of my purpose in years to come.
As mentioned earlier, being always labelled as his ‘Borderline son’, we had a hearty conversation about the life lessons he had learned over his 70 plus years. That night, he reaffirmed again with a smile that his intent to label me as a borderline son was not because I was not capable but because I was like a half-full glass with a lot of room to achieve greatness but simply too stubborn to realize my potential during my younger days.
Here are 4 key lessons that he shared with me that night:
1. Enjoy your Borderline journey
Dare to be a Borderline person as it’s the only thing that will remind you, that you always have a lot of room to do things better, consistently learn and grow to your potential. It’s not your job to call yourself an expert so let others do it. Your job is to be better than what you were yesterday and learn to be humble as you always have a long way to go.
2. Rise Above Mediocrity
At my age, people don’t regret what they have done but regret what they have not done. Don’t procrastinate because others tell you or you feel that you are not good enough. The truth is, you will never be good enough until you do it and improve. Dare to experiment, implement ideas and do things differently. What is the worst that can happen to you?
3. Aspire to Inspire
Don’t bore your kids and others with your advice and lectures on how to live their life or to excel in something. Lead, show, and inspire them instead on how to live life by your design so these lessons will never be forgotten by them long after you are gone.
4. Pay it forward
Your talents and skills are meant to make a difference in others so when you receive, be prepared to give. The more you give without expectations, life has its way of giving you what you need at the appropriate time.
I understood the magnitude and importance of these lessons especially when facing challenges during the Covid Pandemic. The biggest challenge I set to myself is to live life by design and make an impact on others while enjoying my journey. We can't deny that someday, it will be our turn to share our borderline stories with our next generation so why not make it an exciting one with loads of adventures to share. The good news is we all have a choice. As my wise man said, “What is the worst that can happen?”
Sakthivel Thevar is an award-winning leader in Financial Services and a highly sought-after international speaker and Maximum Performance coach within the business and corporate circle starting his career in the most challenging way possible, as a military officer and Airborne Ranger in the Singapore Armed Forces.
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