[Photo Credit: Getty Images via BBC]
“Dedicate your life to a cause greater than yourself, and your life will become a glorious adventure.” Internet entrepreneur Lim Der Shing pays tribute to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew by reflecting on what it means to live a fulfilling life of purpose.
Words by Lim Der Shing
I feel much sadder than I thought I would at the demise of Singapore’s founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
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I must have shed tears at least five to six times in the last few days as I read his speeches and saw his life photos. Not the type of tears one sheds for a beloved family member, but tears shed because his was a life worth living, and it is sad that such a well-lived, meaningful life has to end just like any other life.
As I reflect on what Mr Lee represents to me, I realise what I’ve learnt most from him is that it is possible to dedicate one’s entire life to a single greater purpose and have no regrets at the end of it.
Mr Lee was clearly extremely intelligent and eloquent. He was also a natural leader, knowing when to play nice and when to be tough.
But there are many other people in the world who are extremely intelligent and who are strong leaders. It is a genetic lottery and there is not much to respect or learn from that. Mr Lee himself believes that over 70% of a person’s ability is determined at birth. I totally agree.
What sets Mr Lee aside is his amazing strength of will and alignment of his entire life to the idea of a strong Singapore.
The closest approximation to this I have experienced is the way a good entrepreneur sacrifices and obsesses over his business. But we entrepreneurs do this because we own the company, and so we tap into our basic human nature to love what we possess to drive our obsession.
Mr Lee is too smart to not know that he does not truly own Singapore. Yet, he still consistently chose to subordinate his life towards what he felt was best for Singapore.
After reading all his books and looking at images of his home and lifestyle, I can honestly say I don’t believe he did it for any monetary reward or creature comfort. His sense of purpose and benchmark for personal achievement is the Singapore story. This explains his now famous quote about giving up his life for Singapore.
He had so many chances to take it easy but he never did. It could be because he had aligned himself so much with Singapore, he couldn’t let go even if he wanted to!
So it all boils down to this. That this intelligent, thoughtful, eloquent, and happily-married individual can, at the end of his days, reflect and say that his life of conviction and service to Singapore is a life worth living, for which he has no regrets.
This is a very unique viewpoint as most people at the dusk of their lives do not reflect on business or politics, but instead wish they had travelled more or spent more time with their family.
Mr Lee Kuan Yew has demonstrated another path for those who seek purpose in life — that it is possible for a highly-talented man to devote his entire life and talents to a greater non-monetary good and be engaged throughout with it as it grows and evolves. And, at the end of that life, have no or little regrets.
This article originally appeared on Lim Der Shing’s blog and has been republished here with permission.