Personal Development

Feb 06, 2015 1 Min Read


Learning to behave and to possess an extent of humility is something that should be developed early on. This usually starts with development within the family system.

We argue because we want to defend our ideas and values, but humility is about being able to accept the truth.

If a father does not admit his faults to the observant son whom he wronged, he loses credibility and trust.

So, when the relationship with family members and close friends is not stable, how do we expect to forge strong relations with strangers or colleagues?

In today’s society, people develop egotistic personalities at such a young age, and this is due to the fact that expectations are placed upon us to be competitive and perform well.

Psychological egoism is not necessarily bad, as we are internally motivated to achieve something that is of our self-interest.

But what if we fail? What if, we do not meet these expectations and demands, that it hurts our ego in a way no one else can? Does this mean we are hurting ourselves?

Vigilance and attentiveness towards family and friends did not fall under my daily consciousness while I was younger. I would constantly neglect my responsibilities towards my family and friends, be it mutual or in the emotional attributes.

Not until I left home to pursue my education did I realise my shortcomings during those years.

Independence and freedom from the clutches of family is misused when we only do things for our own benefit, disregarding the interests of others. Moreover, ego kicks in when we are forced to admit our faults.

My personal development is far from being over. Suffice to say, the individual I am today is rooted in being able to accept my faults as a young person, and learning to see from the perspectives of others.

One of my many goals is to one day re-unite with the people I lost contact with, and tell them what great teachers they are.

Goal-setting ideas

Personally, my style of goal setting is still very rudimentary; hence what I usually do is to take the simplest and smallest step forward (complete anything that comes within my reach), and move on from there.

There does not have to be a specific goal in place all the time, therefore this method works for those who are yet to realise their ultimate goals.

There are many approaches to goal setting that one can adopt. One that we often stumble upon or hear about is the specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely (SMART) model.

Regardless of its unquestionable effectiveness, we can also use other goal setting models, such as GROW: Goals, Reality, Obstacles/options, and Way forward. This is a more direct approach used by countless life coaches.


  • Specific goals are meant to improve our quality of life, either directly or through our emotions and self-esteem. The satisfaction can be temporary if it is in a form of material, so make sure to prioritise these goals.
  • A learning goal is not the usual quantifiable achievement, like getting a better car or bigger house. They are skills and competency achievements that we set out to learn and apply for a whole lifetime.
  • Examples of learning goals are critical thinking, self-management and disciplinary knowledge, and moral awareness.
  • Our goals determine where we want to be. Our reality is something or somewhere we are, that we hope can be improved further. This is when you get to know yourself well first.

Failures and obstacles

Learning to adapt to the surroundings in terms of culture and language takes both effort and concentration. It is a constant challenge to learn about others and appeal to the crowd.

When we fail, we blame others for it. If that happens, we lose something called the internal locus of control, together with our opportunity to learn.

Personally, I’ve blamed a number of people on my way to university. In college, I would blame the teacher for being too strict, or the school facilities for being insufficient.

In university, the blaming continued, because I felt it was even worse than college.

But when I entered the workforce, things became different. My boss told me to find my own resources or else.

It is all about responsibility. When we possess the responsible attitude, we increase our internal locus of control. That is where self-esteem and belief lead us on.


In clinical social worker and psychotherapist Amy Morin’s article entitled 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, she mentions that the inevitability of failures and sorrow could lead to the engagement in self-pity, which is counterproductive to our development when we fail to act appropriately.

It was the best advice anyone could get, to exit the zone of self-pity, and learn to account for our own actions, during and after the time of that action.

The CEO (chief executive officer) of Leaderonomics, Roshan Thiran, echoes the same words as leadership expert, Simon Sinek, on what it takes to be a role model who inspire others.

We must constantly be aware that the people who work with us are the more important ones.

Leaders put the people first, and themselves last, not when it comes to taking the bullets, but when it comes to accepting the praises and standing ovations of those who notice their success.

When trust and cooperation are established, the system in which we work naturally becomes the perfect environment for productivity.

Who is to say it will definitely pay off, but one thing is for certain: we are constantly making progress, and that itself is an achievement.

Thomas Chan is a psychology graduate who aspires to become a certified professional corporate trainer. To achieve this goal, he is actively exposing himself to the corporate environment and engaging with some of the prominent leaders in this society. Drop us a line or two in the comment box below or email us at For more Starting Young articles, click here.

Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 7 February 2015

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Lay Hsuan was part of the content curation team for, playing the role of a content gatekeeper as well as ensuring the integrity of stories that came in. She was an occasional writer for the team and was previously the caretaker for Leaderonomics social media channels. She is still happiest when you leave comments on the website, or subscribe to Leader's Digest, or share Leaderonomics content on social media.

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