Recognise The Gift In Others To Effect Change

Recognising the “Light” in others can help effect change. Ms Cammy Teh from the Singapore Prison Service explains why

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free” is a famous quotation from the great Italian sculptor and painter Michelangelo that has inspired me.

Similarly, there is an “angel” in each of us, or what I would call “Light”. The word “light” has multiple meanings, with the most commonly understood being “a natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible”.

In change management, Light takes on a more powerful meaning, representing “gift, talent, strength or positive attribute”. It is associated with the notion that every human being has a gift that can be offered to those around us. Our Light need not be something big or magnificent. It can be as simple as taking an interest in others, or being caring and helpful.

Metaphorically, seeing the Light in oneself and in others is equivalent to cutting an apple transversely. We can see that the apple’s core has the shape of a star, which aptly symbolises the Light or gift in every one of us, waiting to be uncovered. Light can be uncovered and discovered when an individual reflects on moments when he was at his best or did something that others were glad for. Learning to do so can generate positive energy and maximise effectiveness.

Naming the Light at work

I have woven the concept of Light into my leadership journey. Every team member brings with them gifts and talents that they can contribute to the team. As leaders, we play the role of enablers, creating opportunities for our team members to shine their Light.

I applied the concept of Light when planning my branch’s reorganisation. I made efforts to appreciate each member’s strengths so as to achieve the best job fit. This was a small but necessary step to attain performance excellence and build greater confidence amongst them. For example, I assigned a team member the role of Fund Administrator as he is meticulous. He goes beyond his responsibility of assessing funding requests to highlight requests of similar nature, so there is no duplication of efforts and resources.

It is important to recognise and celebrate instances where team members manifest their Light at work. A simple email compliment or verbal encouragement does wonders as it emits positive energy and creates a ripple effect for the rest of the team.

Seeing your loved ones’ Light

Naming the Light of my loved ones, in particular, my two daughters, had been a muscle least exercised. In the past, I measured their worth based on their academic achievements. Such a flawed approach led to numerous tense situations, and dented our relationship. The sweet encounter with the concept of Light changed my life as a mother. I have learnt to look beyond academic achievements to focus on my children’s positive attributes.

In late 2014, I decided to adopt this new language of Light in a bigger way and build an affirmation culture at home. I introduced a “Name the Light” challenge. The whole journey was simple, starting with the making of an “affirmation board” for each of us. We created a ritual of spending five minutes weekly to reflect on the positive things that we had done or observed others doing. The reflections were written on Post-it notes and pasted on the affirmation boards.

Then, we had our first “Naming the Light” awards ceremony at the end of the year. We exchanged gifts to affirm one another’s good work in inspiring others with our Light. The journey of creating this culture was simple, yet so meaningful and impactful. The greatest gift I received was a simple comment from my 11-year-old daughter that I have become a better and more life-giving mother.

Seeing the Light of self and others is neither rocket science nor anything counter- intuitive. It just requires us to take the first step to embrace an alternative way of thinking and translate that into intentional gestures. So, start the Light trail today!

Ms Cammy Teh is Quality Service Manager and Senior Assistant Director of Organisation Development & Service Excellence, Strategic Planning Division, Singapore Prison Service. This is second in a series of reflections from participants of the Leading & Sustaining Change Programme at the Civil Service College.

    Mar 16, 2015
  • link facebook
  • link twitter
  • link whatsapp
  • link email