Building Tomorrow’s Leaders
Unlike many success stories that one reads about, Outward Bound Malaysia arose from passion to serve its community. In 1954, the Malaysian founders of the Outward Bound School set their sights on long term goals to cultivate leaders of our society. Today we gather to honour and celebrate fifty years of that vision. As Patron of Outward Bound Malaysia, I am delighted to be present at this occasion, and to share some thoughts on a focal theme of the Outward Bound School, which also happens to be a topic close to my heart – Building Tomorrow’s Leaders.
2. An effective leader is someone who has vision; someone with charisma to influence; someone with knowledge to share; someone who inspires and supports; someone who is accountable and responsible.
3. The young are the generation from which tomorrow’s leaders will emerge. Great people create great nations. In our pursuit of becoming successful, we must prepare the way for this next generation.
4. Our youth are becoming the most educated generation in the country. They are fiercely independent. They are innovative. They possess inquisitive minds. They are adventurous by nature. They have vast amounts of energy. They focus on doing things better, faster and in easier ways. They are very comfortable with information and technology. They think, learn, and communicate differently from other generations and feel left behind if they are not incorporating both information and technology into work and play.
5. The young want and expect change. They learn in an era of tremendous innovation. They need to be trained in offering creative solutions to problems. They want a team of parents and educators who do not just criticise constructively, but who will be there to hold their hands. People who neither walk ahead of them nor behind them, but beside them, teaching and learning from them. People who will believe in them and who steer their dreams into reality. If parents and educators are able to nurture and align the personal goals of this ingenious generation to strategic national goals, a highly productive and ambitious future population can be developed.
6. Becoming great is a learning and continual process, not a one-time event and not a status born into. Some people begin to exercise potential and manifest influence early. Some may refer to these as born leaders. On the contrary, I subscribe to the argument that leaders are made and not born. No one is born into greatness; however some do begin an early journey towards greatness. The key is in identifying and recognising talent and nurturing it to release its full potential. It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. Likewise potential leaders need a team of visionaries, planners, motivators and mentors to raise them to their peak. Instilling basic fundamental principles such as honesty, perseverance, humility, gratitude and ambition will guarantee the birth of exceptional leaders. While it is the responsibility of society as a whole, it is specifically the responsibility of the educational community, to include leadership preparation in its curriculum as the foundation that will support tomorrow’s leaders.
7. The measure of success is often synonymous with academic achievement. This underplays the importance of the non-academic realms such as sports, aesthetics and charity. In order to be most effective in cultivating leadership qualities, the right strategies must be in place. In this third millennium, a comprehensive and well-rounded education system is needed to help our young meet the challenges of a very different future, and a much more competitive one. The new Asia sees nations transforming themselves and transforming the world. To remain relevant, our education system must move from a focus on quantity to one on quality. We must continually work towards improvements and innovations in curriculum, and in the use of technology. More broadly, we need to move towards a more flexible and broad-based education system.
8. We have to promote diversity – a diversity of talents, interests and passions amongst Malaysians. We need to nurture Malaysians with all-round strengths, while providing space for those with special talents to go as far as they can. Such flexibility in education will help us groom talented young Malaysians who are dynamic, flexible and global-minded.
9. Equally important, a sound education system must also focus on building strength of character among our young – character that does not lose sight of traditional values in the face of modernisation; character that comes from self-belief and does not succumb to peer pressure; character that is concerned with doing what is right; character that is not afraid to let go of the familiar and forge ahead into new territory; character that puts others first and strives to contribute towards societal betterment.
10. In Malaysia, youth development strategies must aim towards creating gracious young men and women who care for the community at large. Our young are the key to continued peace and harmony in Malaysia. The values of multiculturalism that they imbibe and practice in school, at home and in the neighbourhood are critical in securing Malaysia’s future. In our multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious society, we need leaders who strive towards uniting such a diverse nation towards achieving common national objectives.
11. Finally, the young must be encouraged to dream. Great people throughout history have been dreamers, and as a result of dreams great cities, cultures and nations have been built. A good system of education must never limit, stifle or confine but must cultivate the ability to dream. Dreams will turn into goals. And goals will turn into measurable achievements. Young people must constantly receive the encouragement to pursue their dreams with faith, hope and optimism.
12. We must reaffirm the vision of Outward Bound to provide unique educational experiences which are challenging and demanding. Over the last 50 years Outward Bound Malaysia has taught numerous Malaysians the meaning of one of the greatest sentences in any language: “I can”. The school has carefully designed tasks that take pupils out of familiar environments and provide challenges which inspire courage, ambition, confidence, responsibility, self reliance, teamwork, compassion and community service – all qualities of good leadership.
13. Our meeting today is testimony to the investment Outward Bound Malaysia has made in the future generation of Malaysia. Many people today talk about reaching the young, but Outward Bound Malaysia has proven itself to walk the talk. You made the decision to share your time and efforts with our youth, and I commend you for that.
14. Outward Bound instructors are a key element in the success of the school. They are men and women who have had their own lives shaped by continuous challenge and who now wish to share their enthusiasm and skill with others. I look forward to seeing Outward Bound Malaysia continually evaluate and update its methods to fulfil the needs of tomorrow’s generation and by so doing continue to build tomorrow’s leaders. It is not an easy job, and one that requires immense amounts of patience, diligence and hard work.
Congratulations and thank you for your contribution to our society.