Work Matters!: ‘The value of independence in our life’

It is national day weekend!

We came together 62 years ago, as a diverse group of people from different ethnicities to free ourselves from our British colonial masters. Malaysia’s history is rather unique because our predecessors obtained political, economic and social freedom, without any bloodshed.

People of all races that make this nation so beautiful have worked hard, collectively, for prosperity and harmony, in the face of our diversity.

Since our independence, the country has seen many glorious achievements. But the greatest achievement of all, is that generations of Malaysians have bought into the idea of “being Malaysian”.

While at home, we might identify ourselves by our cultural heritage, when we go abroad, we refer to ourselves as “Malaysians” first and not to the specific race that we were born into.

And, we beam with pride when anyone speaks highly of our rather modest Southeast Asian nation.

We value our independence and we stand up against anyone who tries to divide us. This is one of the most endearing features of Malaysia. We identify with and protect our independence, fiercely.

On a personal or work related note, we ought to be placing great significance to freedom, too.

There are very few virtues more important than independence. Independence is a requirement for charting your own life.

The best performing workplaces that I consult at, always have leaders who empower; do not micromanage; and learn to cope with their own insecurities, well.

This leads to well-adjusted office environments, with highly motivated and self-reliant teams.

Being independent does not mean that you do not need anyone else. That’s a myth. Everyone is reliant on someone, for something. Being self-sufficient simply means that you have the ability to add value to every transaction, because you have something significant to offer.

It means that you are able to take personal responsibility, and ownership for your actions and results.

At your job, you will need to be independent in order to endure the ever changing work landscape. Modern businesses are constantly making dynamic shifts of direction. Employees who survive the challenge are those who agile. And, this requires you to learn how to support yourself.

This is fundamental for your career growth.

Ultimately you will only succeed when you are secure with what you believe in. I know from experience that it is tremendously empowering to be able to control of your life and to choose your own destiny.

If every decision you make, or if every action you take has to be filtered through other people first, you will naturally find it hard to gain ownership of your life, and your decisions.

To become independent, perhaps you can start with things about these questions.

Do you like to work independently or do you need a very structured environment?

Sometimes, you will need a combination of both. In my interactions with the people I coach and train, nearly everyone wants some guidelines, and boundaries set up for them, by their leaders or bosses. But, at the same time, they plead for independence and dislike being controlled.

The best work environment is a collaborative one. This teamwork can only take place when expectations are discussed and matched. This has to be followed by people being allowed to function autonomously to achieve the agreed goals.

Are you self-motivated or do you need regular feedback in order to make actual progress?

Everyone requires regular and specific feedback to function effectively. As a manager of people, I give pointers frequently. As a restaurateur I act on the views that my customers offer, for improvement.

It is however important to note that many studies suggest that being a problem solver is the biggest feature that employers seek in new hires. Bosses actively look for staff members who exhibit this trait.

To be solution oriented, you must be innovative enough to generate ideas that will sort out any issues that arise. For this, y

ou need to be self-motivated and independent.

So, while it is necessary for feedback, self-motivation is what helps you progress, in the long run.

Finally ask yourself this; do you work best at your own pace or when nudged by others?

I know that at times I function more effectively under pressure. However in reality, as an entrepreneur, I have learnt that lasting success only comes with measured and consistent performance.

Significantly, I have also realised that when I am purpose driven, and invested in the outcomes of my actions, I work more steadily and reliably. Often, this gives me better results than when I wait to be prodded to do something, by others.

What does independence mean to me? It means being able to chart my life according to the core values and principles that inspire me and it also allows me to increase my value by adding value to others.

By Shankar R. Santhiram.

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