038 To Live Longer, Enjoy Work A Little More

I have long discovered that skilful performance at work is a great source of happiness. This week, I would like to share a personal experience about discovering joy from work.

  • Ready Or Not, The Heat Was On!

My voice was broadcast via the FM radio waves four days ago. It was supposedly a 10-minute interview strictly based on pre-determined questions. Nothing to be worried about. I was constantly reassured prior to accepting the interview.

But it turned out to be an exhilarating 20-minute-conversation that was totally un-cuffed from the onset. Just minutes before stepping into the studio, the affable DJ said,

“I am thinking of taking this angle for our conversation. Tell us about the onslaught of technology on education. And how your company stays relevant with all these changes.”

Great questions. The only problem was I had no answers on the spot. Time to think on my feet quickly. Ready or not, the heat was on.

  • A Triumph Over Personal Shortcomings

More questions came fast and furious. Thankfully, my thoughts flowed logically and words came out coherently. At the end of the interview, my mind blanked out like a flattened battery.

Throughout the interview, friends and family were cheering for my better-than-expected performance.

I decided that the clear-headed thing to do was to listen to the recording carefully myself. Be my own critic. Not surprising, I found problems: traces of Chinese accent, pronunciation errors and awkward pauses.

A good friend and the best English teacher I know, Christina Yee who often corrects my English at my request, was delightfully candid in her comments,

“You sounded composed and confident. Diction was clear too. (But) there were grammatical errors. As for pronunciation, since you’re in the education business, there is one word, you must get it right. Children is to be read with a “d” sound, and not to be pronounced as chilren.”

That was exactly the kind of feedback I needed most. I am not someone easily embarrassed by mistakes. I had experienced more embarrassing moments.

Another friend Jessie reminded me of the problems I had with the sounds of “l” and “r”. Seven years ago, when I asked students to clap for others in an award ceremony, it sounded just like I was saying, “Crab, please.” Oh no! (laughs).

Nonetheless, I have found great satisfaction in this triumph over my flawed spoken English. Finally, I did it!

  • Joy At Work Comes From People Who Mattered

Preoccupation with my short-coming, however, created unnecessary anxiety that almost distracted me from focusing on what’s truly important. What mattered most was for who and what I had to say.

That was the sound advice from a friendly neighbour Gillian whom I spoke with at the gym a day before the interview. Citing an example of a pastor who is less-proficient in spoken English but wins over his congregation with clear messages delivered with conviction, Gillian cleared the clouds in my mind.

Taking her advice, I cast my misgivings aside and focused at organising my thoughts in concise words, which paid off handsomely in the end.

A big thank you to my supportive friends and families. Special thanks also go to those at the workplace who have helped make this interview a success! I feel so blessed to be in the company of so many wonderful people! And the feeling of continuous self-improvement because of so many people is simply great!

William W.K. Tan

31 March 2018, Saturday

11:00 pm

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