Friday, November 18, 2016

You May Delay, But Time Will Not.


I have always been intrigued by the term ‘deadline’ that we often use in our everyday lives. In the past this term seems to indicate the seriousness in completing the task on the agreed time. This is evident in the origin of the term itself. states that the noun deadline, meaning a limiting mark or time or line, was coined at the infamous Confederate prisoner-of-war camp Andersonville (Ammer, Christine. 07 August 2009. Fighting words: Inspiration from Annihilation at However, in another report to Brig. Gen. R. H. Chilton dated May 10, 1864, Confederate Captain Walter Bowie used the term to describe the line over which prisoners were forbidden to go. In it, Bowie wrote: “On the inside of the stockade and twenty feet from it there is a dead-line established, over which no prisoner is allowed to go, day or night, under penalty of being shot” (The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 2, Volume 7, page 137). Sadly over the years the importance of a deadline seems to be lost on far too many people. It is true that in many situations we do not intend to use the term so strictly as mentioned above, but the truth is meeting deadlines have implications on our personal image.

In my opinion, there are two types of deadline. The first is the one imposed on us by another person. In this case, the failure of creating realistic goals and measurements sometimes hinder people’s abilities to encourage peak performance. I used to and still dread any deadlines with critical and short timeline. I admit that there are times this type of deadline cannot be avoided due to the need to recover from unpredictable instances. But at the same time, if everything has been planned out well, the possibility of giving this unreasonable deadline can be minimized.

Another type of deadline is actually our own promise that we make to another. There are times that we are given the choice to highlight our own specific timeline in completing a task. However, even in this situation we sometimes fail to meet the deadlines that we ourselves set. To me, missing this type of deadline is worse because it shows that as individuals and employees we are not able to manage our time well.

We have to always remember that our ability to meet deadlines is going to indirectly reflect our own credibility. Exceptional leadership starts with our ability to make and meet commitments. This thinking should be embedded in us so that we are aware of the image that we create every time we are unable to fulfill our promises to others. A quote by Jon Gordon mentions that "missing deadlines is another way of conveying to others that you do not respect their time" ( Be it our superior, our colleague, our family or our friend, it is crucial to note that our promise matters. In fact I believe that they matter more to our family and friend than to others. For this reason, I find a short story shared in the by Alan Willett to be quite interesting.

"I really enjoyed playing racquetball with a dear friend in college. However he had a habit of almost always being at least forty-five minutes late to any event we were doing together. We often lost our court reservation because of this.
So I told him 2 o'clock and reserved the court for 3 o'clock. He came running in just a few minutes before the secret 3:00 PM reservation and started his painful apology cycle. I stopped him and just said, "It's okay, I have reserved the court for one hour after the deadline because I know you run late." I was surprised with how furious he was at that statement. He of course wasn't mad at me. He was mad at himself because he knew it was true.
He had lost credibility

(Willett, Alan. March 10, 2015. Commitments, Trust, and Credibility at

Time is something that we should not take for granted. Deadlines may not be effective in all situations. Still when we look at it positively, deadlines actually push us to our limit and allow us to really maximize the usage of our time. As much as possible stay away from being the victim to over-promising and under-delivering. Planning, prioritizing, and preparing are all important, but often the visible ones are those who execute. With both types of deadlines, there are still rooms for negotiation. We should know our limits and have the courage to say no if necessary. In a case where we have agreed with the given deadlines, but then discover the need for extensions, do say so. Keeping quiet, hoping that people do not remember is not an option. In many situations people will be willing to grant you some extra time. Just make sure that you do not wait until the last minute or make it a habit. In the end, be professional, respect others and take pride in doing your job well and delivering it on time.

“A promise means everything, but once it is broken, sorry means nothing.” – Anonymous

Friday, May 13, 2016

Leadership at its Best.

I always believe that things happen for a reason. Just like the other day when I was asked to represent my Director to the KPI workshop of UPM. It was a blessing in disguise actually. Before the workshop we were fortunate to be able to hear a very eye-opening presentation by Prof Tan Sri Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan from the Center for Islamisation (CENTRIS), IIUM on Integrity in Management. The context of the presentation focused mainly on how leadership to NOT be seen as an honor (tashreef), but instead as a moral responsibility (taklif). This is a very interesting notion as it indirectly shatters the idea that leadership is only about individual power and greatness. Tan Sri Kamal Hassan also highlighted the characters of past great leaders of Islam including our Prophet Muhammad SAW, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq RA and so forth. In Islam, human beings are the SERVANTS (Hamba) of God and the CARETAKERS (Khalifah) of the world. Therefore the intentions of the leaders must not be tainted with self-centred interests as it will be reflected in their behaviors.

We know that leaders come and go. But as leaders, they communicate values whether intentionally or unintentionally. Leaders need to recognize that their values shape their strategy preferences, which influence the organisation’s culture. Porter (1980) mentioned that the personal values and aspirations of senior management have been identified as a key component of competitive strategy. So, the question is how do we ensure that the right values are communicated in the organizations? How do we ensure that the right values stay in the organization? More importantly, how do we identify the right values? I believe that is the question that every leader must ask. Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch said, 'Leadership is not about you. It's about the people who work for you.'

Adakah kau rasa dunia isinya hanya kau yang punya
(Kau fikir kau siapa?)
Adakah kau lupa ataupun kau buta kau dan aku hamba
(Kau fikir kau raja?)

-Lyric of Kalah dalam Menang: Mawi and Syamsul Yusof-

Porter, M. (1980). Competitive Strategy, New York: The Free Press.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

With Mirth and Laughter Let Old Wrinkles Come...

9 December 2015; 11:45pm

Mitch Albom in his book 'Tuesday with Morrie' quoted Morrie to have said this, “As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed as ignorant as you were at twenty-two, you'd always be twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, you know. It's growth. It's more than the negative that you're going to die, it's the positive that you understand you're going to die, and that you live a better life because of it.”

Alhamdullillah. Another year, another set of memories carefully stored in my mind. From time to time, I will trace back my steps, and relive the moments. People say a picture is worth a thousand words. With the existing of new gadgets, the need to capture as many moments as possible becomes greater for some. However, I personally believe the best camera that I have is in my brain. All my happiness, frustrations, sadness, humiliations are recorded there, and the combinations of all those made me who I am today. Now at the age of 41, I just want to be myself and work in becoming a better person. Today I feel complete. Come what may, I pray that I be given the strength to face whatever Allah has in store for me in the future so that I will remain on the straight path. Ameen.

Surah al-Ahqaf - Verse 15

"And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents. His mother bears him with hardship. And she brings him forth with hardship, and the bearing of him, and the weaning of him [lasts] thirty months, till when he attains full strength and reaches forty years, he says: “My Lord! Grant me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds, such as please You, and make my offspring good. Truly, I have turned to You in repentance, and truly, I am one of the Muslims."

Note: This verse contains an instruction for anyone who reaches forty years of age to renew his repentance and turn to Allah with strong resolution – Tafsir Ibn Kathir.