Eulogy To The Unknown Leader


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Leadership is everywhere - if you care to look.

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Eulogy To The Unknown Leader

  1. 1. The Unknown Leader: An Eulogy Ding Cheung Yue May 1929 - Sep 2009
  2. 2. Foreword Kwai Yu "Well my view is that you can't take it with you. Be it money, talent, patience, love. Whatever your gift is, you can't take it with you. So what are you going to do with it whilst you are here? Who have you lifted up? Who have you made better? Who have you helped out? Not how much do you have but what do you have? Some people have love, some have patience, some have money. Whatever your talent is, and we all have something, help your fellow man..... You do the best you can with what you have.” Denzel Washington on ‘what is your gift?’ My dad left a precious gift. He may not have seen it as such. He toiled and struggled throughout his working life - struggling to provide for his family. Yet, through it all, he demonstrated great self-leadership and leadership. His values and ethics never faltered. What a great 'living' gift he bestowed upon my two brothers and me. The gift of knowing and understand that .... you can remain who you are in spite of your environment and circumstance. So, what do you have? What gift are you bestowing upon others?
  3. 3. This is a celebration of a human being who, because he is a human being …..
  4. 4. He was not Perfect. None of us are.
  5. 5. He was someone who survived the rough and tumble that life threw at him. And yet, hidden underneath the imperfection is a ‘diamond from the rough’.
  6. 6. Before I talk more about my dad - let me tell you a little story of Dee Hock’s one horned mother cow, Lily. Dee is the former founder of VISA
  7. 7. Dee was working late one night at his farm when he heard the distressed call of Lily. Lily had escaped out of the barn and gave birth near a steep river bank.
  8. 8. The calf had been swept downstream, but it was beginning to drown through exhaustion when Dee found it. Dee pulled it out of the water and it revived a little.
  9. 9. Dee carried the calf on his back and began inching up the bank. So, what does a one-horned mother cow have to do with my dad?
  10. 10. Leadership! A true leader cannot be forced to lead. A true follower cannot be forced to follow. The moment we are forced, we are no longer leader or follower. We become superior or inferior, manager or employee, master or servant, or owner or slave.
  11. 11. Right Stuff! The first responsibility of any leader is to lead themselves; to manage their own stuff, the RIGHT STUFF!! What kind of right stuff am I talking about?
  12. 12. In te gr it y
  13. 13. C ha ra ct er
  14. 14. Et hic s
  15. 15. Wis do m
  16. 16. Temperament
  17. 17. Wo rd s
  18. 18. Ac tio n
  19. 19. This is incredibly difficult. We find it much easier to control others and because of this, we spend little time mastering our own right stuff. However, if you can’t lead yourself, you cannot lead others no matter how much authority you’ve got. I don’t know how much time my dad spent in leading himself – but he did a remarkable job
  20. 20. The second responsibility of a leader is to manage those who lead us. Without their consent and support, it can be difficult to do our stuff. Dee Hock says you should spend 25% of your time doing this
  21. 21. For most of my dad’s life, the only leader he had to manage was my mum. And he probably only spent 5% of his time doing that. Whereas my mum probably spent 90% of her time managing my dad. Now you know why it’s my mum who wore the trousers in our house. !
  22. 22. The third responsibility of a leader is to manage their peers because without their respect and confidence, it would be difficult to achieve anything. And my dad treated everyone the same. He always said, there is nothing wrong in opening the front door in my pyjamas … I don’t care whether it is the postman or the Queen at the door! !
  23. 23. It has been said that …… “Unless you are clear about your purpose and your values and are doing something that you really care about, it is difficult to act as a leader. You are unlikely to possess the will and the resilience that are needed to carry you through the inevitable uncertainties and setbacks.”
  24. 24. Right Stuff! So, a vital question is how to insure that those who lead are in possession of the RIGHT STUFF. The answer is to follow those who have shown they have the RIGHT STUFF. I’m thankful that my dad had the right stuff
  25. 25. Right Stuff! He showed us the RIGHT STUFF through his sense of community; through finding meaning to his life; through his vision of a future, our future; and through his ethical principles. He had lots of RIGHT STUFF.
  26. 26. Wrong Stuff! Mind you, he had some of the wrong stuff too …. !
  27. 27. Everyone was born a leader. From the moment of our birth, don’t we immediately lead our parents, siblings, and peers? Watch a baby cry and the parents jump.
  28. 28. We were all born leaders; that is, until we were sent to school and taught to be managed and to manage.
  29. 29. Perhaps that’s why my dad never lost much of the RIGHT STUFF. He had very little schooling or education. He had very little Chinese education and taught himself to read and write. At 80, he still wrote beautifully.
  30. 30. He failed to master English in his 45 years in England. That’s not quite true, he knew the names of every race course, jockeys, horses and bookies …. And more importantly, the words ‘each way bet’ !
  31. 31. When my grandfather was killed during WW II - my father was chosen by the family to trek 200 miles from Guangzhou to Hong Kong to ensure one member of the family would survive the Japanese invasion. He was 12 at the time. He made it to Hong Kong and had to fight for himself ever since.
  32. 32. Prior to the Japanese invasion, we were a very wealthy family - we had land in Canada that required crop spraying with a plane and my grandfather operated a rural bank. That was all gone.
  33. 33. In all of this, my dad never lost his dignity, self-respect, self-esteem and a sense of honesty and integrity. He's never once moaned about how bad life has treated him. He is the embodiment of purpose, hope, humility, courage and resilience.
  34. 34. But what about Lily, the one-horned cow? Dee Hock managed to get onto the edge of the bank. As he paused to gather his strength, he heard an enraged, heart- stopping bellow.
  35. 35. Lily was staring at Dee; who by now is exhausted, thigh deep in raging, icy water and with sixty-pound junior wrapped around his neck. He knew what Lily was thinking, that he was taking her baby home for lunch.
  36. 36. In that brief instant, the essence of leadership for Dee Hock was simple and clear.
  37. 37. First: manage myself and get mind, body, and emotions under control before they ceased to exist.
  38. 38. Second: manage the one-ton of enraged cow that most certainly had power over him.
  39. 39. Third: manage the environment and get the hell out of here.
  40. 40. Fourth and by far the least important, manage his only subordinate, the 40kgs living, breathing scarf wrapped around his neck. The moral of the story is simply this: if you keep your wits about you, you can learn everything you need to know about leadership from a one-horned cow.
  41. 41. My dad may not have had the education or formal leadership training, but he kept his wits close to him. There were only 3 things that got closer to my dad than his wits. They were my MUM …..
  42. 42. The TV Remote Control
  43. 43. His Malt Whiskey
  44. 44. …. And sometimes, not necessarily in that order !
  45. 45. Some of you will know that I have formed the Leaders Café Foundation. As I speak, there will be 100,000 college students who will hear of my dad’s story of hope, courage and resilience. This is a precious ‘gift’ from a man of simple means, simple tastes and simple pleasures. That’s why today is a celebration
  46. 46. Emigrating to the UK in 1970 and not speaking any English - getting a grade C in English is my greatest achievement to date. I’m proud of this because it reflects my dad’s leadership.
  47. 47. My dad was a great believer in education. Here is my certificate for successfully completing nursery education in Hong Kong - aged five. When I finished my secondary schooling at 16 and got my ‘O’ levels. I wanted to stay in the same school for my ‘A’ levels but my family needed to move to another area 35 miles away.
  48. 48. Yes, this is Kwai - aged 5 My dad decided to let me stay at my old school. He had to pay for my food and shelter and for extra help in the new takeaway shop 35 miles away. He needed to replace his 16 year old chef (me) because I was also the chef of our takeaway.
  49. 49. The following sums up what my dad did for my two brothers and me ….. “If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” He toiled and struggled as the ‘shipbuilder’ himself. But he always got us to focus on the horizon. Going peacefully was his just reward.