When we focus on immediate returns, we inevitably miss out on what is more important and lasting. Perhaps we need to step off the carousel and consider how we can impact lives through caring

Updated: Sunday November 24, 2013 MYT 7:49:55 AM

The choice is in our hands

BY SOO EWE JIN

Perspective is everything. When we focus on immediate returns, we inevitably miss out on what is more important and lasting. Perhaps we need to step off the carousel and consider how we can impact lives through caring.

A DEAR friend, in the last stage of a terminal illness some years back, wrote to me that it is not about how long we live, but how we live, that makes a difference. How true. Today, we have the phrase, “Live a legacy, leave a legacy.”But legacy by itself is a neutral word. It requires an adjective to give it meaning, otherwise we will not be able to differentiate between the legacy of evil left by Hitler and the legacy of love left by Mother Teresa.

And it is also wrong to think that living or leaving a legacy is the sole monopoly of famous people currently in the public domain.

Even the most maverick of politicians who gets quoted for the stupidest things regularly is not guaranteed a legacy that transcends time and space.

When it comes to public personalities, it is always better to let history be the judge of the real legacy they have left behind, no matter how popular they may be at any point in time.

Likewise, we have to be careful not to classify an entertainer who can command 300 million views on a single titillating YouTube performance as a living legacy. It is only a matter of time before someone else comes along and wipes off her record.

Closer to home, we know that every life leaves behind a legacy, for good or for bad.

Our parents may never have made it into the news, but if they had lived well, you can be sure that their legacy lives on in us, our children, and even in the generations to come.

Then there is the legacy of ordinary people, total strangers who create an extraordinary impact in our lives even if our paths cross but for a fleeting moment.

Many of us, however, are missing out on such moments because we are trapped by the desire to be remembered here and now.

So even when we are doing good, we want to tell the world about it for we fear our good deeds will be forgotten.

And when our good intentions are misread, we go to great lengths to correct any misperception.

In both instances, I believe we are still focused on reputation, which is for the present, instead of legacy, which is meant to be forever. In short, such deeds are still premised on seeking out the applause of men and immediate rewards that we can enjoy immediately.

Perspective is everything. When we focus on immediate returns, we inevitably miss out on what is more important and lasting.

The world is such that we are constantly urged to chase after a moment of fame – breaking records, winning contests, gaining a celebrity status. The “feel good” moment lasts only until we are unseated by the next winner.

Perhaps we need to step off the carousel and consider how we can impact lives – e.g. through helping a neighbour, street feeding, volunteering weekly at a centre for the disadvantaged, giving free tuition, etc. Quietly, away from the glare of publicity, such efforts will bear fruit that last through time.

Which legacy do we wish to live and leave? The choice is in our hands.

Soo Ewe Jin (ewejin@thestar.com.my) salutes Sabahan AJ Lias Mansor for donating his winnings from the recent Malaysia National Feather­weight Championship to the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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