Holistic development of adults will reap rewards

Office workers walking along Shenton Way, on April 14, 2015.
Office workers walking along Shenton Way, on April 14, 2015. PHOTO: ST FILE

I followed the Budget 2016 debate with great interest, as a Singaporean deeply concerned about our nation's future and also as an entrepreneur concerned about our ecosystem for innovation and enterprise.

The speech by Nominated MP Kuik Shiao-Yin was especially heartening ("Fear, scarcity vs innovation, generosity"; April 6).

We often hear multinational corporations and start-ups lamenting that Singaporeans lack the soft skills to take on leadership and management roles, or lack the fortitude and risk tolerance required for entrepreneurship.

To create a more entrepreneurial and innovative society, we have to address the root of the problem, which lies not in our political environment, but in the hearts, minds and souls of Singaporeans.

We need a radical shift in the way businesses operate. To drive that shift, we need willing, bold and innovative Singaporeans - both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs.

We can change this by supporting not only people's professional development, but their personal development as well.

In school, I had always dreamed of starting my own business and becoming an entrepreneur, but I chose to become a salaried worker instead.

Then, I chanced upon an entrepreneur and life coach, who mentored me. Through the coaching I received, I mustered the courage to embark on the journey of entrepreneurship.

SkillsFuture is an important national movement. But it looks only at the technical and skills development of individuals, neglecting to consider that human beings are also motivated by emotions, attitudes and beliefs.

As a life coach, I have seen many clients who, when liberated from their limiting beliefs, gain the energy and courage to pursue what really matters to them in life.

They break out of their comfort zones to create, lead and shine.

That is what our nation needs - more people fully expressing their talents and making maximum contribution to society.

We all agree that students should be developed holistically - the Education Ministry's move towards holistic education is a promising example - but seem to have forgotten that adults require holistic development, too.

Professional athletes and chief executives use coaching to maximise their performance, so perhaps our workforce can also benefit from high-performance personal development tools.

Lifelong learning should encompass not only skills, but also the holistic development of the individual - self-awareness, courage, compassion, leadership, love, joy and graciousness.

These are the qualities that hold the fabric of society and the economy together.

Once we unleash the potential and passions of individuals, the innovative and entrepreneurial society we dream of will automatically actualise.

Augustine Chua Shang Yan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2016, with the headline 'Holistic development of adults will reap rewards'. Print Edition | Subscribe