Theng Kiat: Today I just want to introduce our second speaker; he will be very familiar to most of you. I want to introduce Mr Glenn Lim, he is a motivational speaker, youth specialise master trainer, he is also the founder CEO of GLC and he is also a founding member of many organisations such as architect of life, empowered parenting; so the parenting questions actually could be asked again, and seed collective. He is also a multi award winner for all his contribution to the youths in Singapore. He has won Singapore youth award in 2005, outstanding young Singaporean award in 2006 and if I read on it will take us all night, and therefore, I shall not. Today, he will share with us his wonderful stories overcoming adversities in life, something that I think before we introduce him, we will play a video which I think you may have seen on TV of him. Then I think he will take the stage. With that, the video, thanks.
Glenn: Good evening, just out of curiosity, how many of you have actually seen or viewed the TV commercial before?
So it’s been a long drawn campaign over the last one or two years, I’m pretty glad that they are winding a bit down, and yes, that’s the real me, and yes, that was my real form teacher, Mr Kumar, when I was in secondary three so that was pretty long again. Why only secondary three? Because by the time I was promoted to sec 4, things became really rocky and I was expelled from school actually. So as you saw in the clip, one would say that I had a very alternative educational pathway. I was kicked out of school, I went to the boy’s home and I was there for a short stay of 6 months and then even after that, I was transferred to the boy’s hostel. So I actually went to two institutions and after I graduated from that programme after 18 months, I was promoted to go to Changi prison. So I had a very alternative pathway, very very different.
I’ve always been a misfit, our earlier speaker as well as the facilitator, they call themselves four eyes. Is it four eyes monster? I am not four eyes, but I am just a monster. When I grew up, I was really rebellious.
Now what I want to do tonight is to share with you a little bit about my story, what cost me to turn around and I will base it on a particular model.
So just let me get back to the story you saw in the short 2 minutes clip, actually we don’t really get to see or at least hear the full story.
Mr Kumar by the way, you’re hearing from the horse’s today, he did not pass me a book. That was a symbolic poetic treatment. As the producer call it, to the whole narrative. So in a way that symbolize the words spoken to me. See Mr Kumar was one such guy who believes in me even before I clean up my act. He saw something in me, I think that was something I myself am challenged daily to look out potential in people no matter how they look like today or who they are today. I am constantly looking at the future itself.
So what happen was that he was my form teacher in Sec 3 and I gave him a lot of problems. Actually even before that, in primary school, a lot of things really happened in my life. Which I want to share with you, but before I do that, I want to talk to you a bit of my book. I believe that FRANK by OCBC has a couple and I am not sure what they will do with it, in a sense that they will be giving it out as a gift or contest prizes, something like that. It’s call wake up call and why is it called wake up call? This is my auto-biography. It traces my story and journey from a vantage point of a significant emotional event. And for me, as a psychologist today, a significant emotional event actually is in my book, properly the best way a young person learns, because he needs to wake up to the important things in life, just like I did back then.
So what happened to me? How did I wake up? It was around 95, 96 when I was finally arrested for drug importation. But before we lead up to the wakeup call, my past background, even in primary school, giving a lot of problems to my parents at home and also in school to teachers, actually stamps from a deep sense of emptiness. I realise growing up there was no sense of propose, I was pretty aimless and I was really trying to fill up this vacuum. I didn’t find it at home, in terms of my sense of acceptance, belonging or love but I found it certainly with my friends and I kept bad company in primary school. Even as a young boy in primary school, I was already playing truant with my friends and we got into gang clashes, stuffs like that, we didn’t have any interest in school; it was amazing how I even pass my PSLE to go to secondary school.
I wasn’t just a naughty boy at home, I was also a very angry young boy. I had anger problems and I realise that there were a couple of issues within me. I still remember anything that were made of glass at home, it could the mirror, or the window, window paints, whenever my parents made me angry, they could say some kind of maybe an unkind remark and I flew to this fits of rage and I couldn’t control myself. It often ended up quite violent, I would take the chair and smash all this, the window, the mirrors and even the TV set also kena smash by me. It was a bit silly, not very wise because I love to watch cartoon back then, so I couldn’t watch anything. But I grew up like that very frustrated and also very angry.
My parents thought I was kuku and they brought me to go and see a psychiatrist, who diagnoses me to have a number of problems like ADHD, you know what’s that right? Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I had RBS, Reactive behaviour symptoms. I had all this problems that had prescribed medicines, you know, I was under medication for quite a number of years just to suppress and calm me down.
So I grew up like that feeling so lost and by the time I was in secondary school, I was very drawn towards music. Especially the hard type, the hard core, heavy metal kind of music, you know who were guns and roses right? They were my idols back then and I was quite musically incline back then, because I could play the piano but the piano also kena smash by me, nothing to play. I thought smash guitar look quite cool. Now that’s a guitar here in this place, because I fell in love with this instrument. It could adequately express (7:29) my anger and my frustration especially through that genre of heavy metal, so I pick it up, I save money, I bought my first electric guitar, I replace all my homework time playing, eating guitar up to 5, 6 hours a day. I became pretty good. We join band and we won couple of band talent time. I mean in school, talent time and also outside band competition.
We became quite well-known and I thought this was it, you know, I will focus and channel all my energy and pursue this rock and roll mecca, so to speak. So that was what happened that led me to being expelled from school finally because I was severely under performing and I played truant to the point where I didn’t go to school for about two, three months at one go. That was then. So I was really a rascal.
Anyway, cut the long story short. In between my stay or residency in the homes or hostel and then my national service, all that kind of thing, I was actually playing part time in the weekends, hard rock café, a couple of days, pubs and bars, small times. All this while, trying to fill up this vacuum inside of me, trying to fill up with an idea, sense of direction, a sense of purpose and meaning.
Whatever my friends did, even in the musical circle, the music industry, I would follow them because I was lost, I hated being a misfit and whatever is it, I would follow. Started smoking, chain smoking. As a musician you get free flow of alcohol, I would be getting myself drunk and silly, and very soon I was exposed to drugs, and that was the beginning of my downfall.
So what happened, when I completed my national service term, I became a full time musician and a band agent actually bought us together, form us into a band and brought us overseas, I thought to myself; hey, this would be a great chance for me to strike it overseas with better prospect and who needs Singapore, who needs education, who needs family.
I had such a hostile relationship with my family. You know I often ran away from home, so I decided to cut off all ties. Talk about parenting, parents disowns the kids, I did the opposite, I disown my parents. I was pretty proud of it back then. So I left home and strake it on my own and they brought us overseas to play in Asia. So we were touring Asia circuit, particularly in Malaysia, Thailand, you know Pattaya those kind of places and I thought this was it and I gave my heart and soul to it.
Once you’re in overseas, things are slightly different in terms of landscape, especially with drug offenses. You know in Singapore, once you get a criminal record, that’s it, drugs. But once you’re overseas, things are so much cheaper, the drugs, and they are very accessible, no need to check IC you know, just go uncle can I have one. Usually when I share this part of the stories to students in schools particularly I have to warn them, I am not teaching them how to get drug, because I am an anti-drug ambassador today.
But the fact is, the reality is, it’s so easy and so accessible out there. I was abusing drug on a daily basis. Remember this emptiness and I was trying to fill it with more music, more parties and more drugs, that’s what lost people do by the way. And today when I counsel young people, I work with even the juvenile courts; there are a lot of aimless and bored young people. That’s why you need to find a purpose and that’s why you develop a meaning and that’s what I don’t have.
So anyway, I would be coming back to Singapore with stashes of drugs, because during my off days I would come back and not because only that I could sell them at a profit, I was actually quite popular. They made me popular; my friends would actually call each other up and they would be saying Glenn is coming back this weekend, let’s throw him a party, because he is a party mam. He got the stuff and I wanted that sense of attention. So I brought back larger and larger quantity of drugs during my off days until one final fateful day when I was crossing the woodlands checkpoint, you know where that is right? You know Johor Bahru coming back. And the year was about 95, around New Year’s Eve, so you got to remember I was coming back for a New Year’s Eve party, it was a huge party and I had to bring in my largest quantity of drugs ever brought in to Singapore before. And when I cross that border, I still remember so carefully.
Now today, of course I work with the government and the authorities, CNB (Central Narcotics Bureau) and I know thatmodus operandi, they don’t just randomly catch you on the street and say nah, follow us back to the station. It’s not like that. They set people up. In a way I kenasabo you see. So they set me up months ahead of time. They knew who they were looking for, and so when I join the custom queue at the woodlands checkpoint, I got my passport stamped and over at the end of the queue, there were two custom officers who were actually waiting for me. And when they saw me and stop me and they say excuse me sir, can you follow us back behind, to the body stripe search room, and all my concealed drugs uncovered in that one instance. That was my wake up call because I had with me my largest quantity of drugs and those of you who know the laws a bit, and today I am very familiar with it, in fact. I did added information bonus tips for students who study social studies, because of the judiciary system all that which keeps evolving.
Anyway, when you’re caught for or arrested for drugs in Singapore, you’re charged one out of three categories, cat A, B and C. Category A is where you possess drugs, you’re charge for possession, consumption. That’s the most basic. Category B is when you are arrested and caught red handed selling drugs and undercover officers, you’re immediately charged for trafficking, serious offenses in Singapore, people get the death penalty.
But mine was neither A nor B, mine was C, the most sever. Whenever you’re arrested for drug entering into a country through an entry point, the airport or in my case causeway checkpoint, immediately you’re charged for importation. And I brought with me quite a large quantity, importation which carried with it a mandatory death sentence. Or at best, if you’re lucky, heng, you get life sentence. Either way, prospect are deem and I was faced with this prospect. Needless to say, I was in my lowest point in life. But the wakeup call is such, that’s designed over a context of crisis or personal tragedy in your life that causes you to wake up.
I wasn’t in my locked up room thinking about what movie to watch the next day. No no. I was screening through the memories, the varying my memory, the landscape of my memory, looking out, searching for significant moments and people who made an impact on my life. One of them was Mr Kuma, the other was my father, so there wasn’t many people. But these were the ones that sowed some seeds which begin to bear some fruit at that point of crisis.
I remembered I was handcuffed, in a locked up room, on a metal chair in that room and in front of me was this small little table and on this table was a weighing scale, a weighing machine. And the weighing machine was supposed to weigh my drugs. And these two stupid custom officers, they were weighing the drugs in front of me as if I was not there like that. I was barely two meters away; I could see everything and hear the conversation. They’re conversation, they were discussing jokingly about my fate. Okay, the conversation went something like this:“Eh, ah seng uh, what do you think about this guy behind? You think he can get hang or not uh?” And I was there freaking out right, and they were there talking about whether I canget hang or not. The other guy replied and said:“I don’t know la, I don’t know about Singapore law. But eh, drop drop, make heavier a bit, make heavier a bit.”
My whole life flash before me right, and this was the first time encounter the law and I was looking at the death or the life sentence, so I had one phone call to make, it was 3am, and I called my parents. Now, it’s amazing how I still remember the number, I left home for 3 years already. And my father pick up the call and I told him what happened, he just broke down and cried. The next day, I was charged in court. Subordinate court in Singapore. My parents came to bill me out, for the first time, I have seen them in three years and they have to see me like this in this state. In court, they broke down, they went down on their knees and they were crying. My mother said this, what have you done with your life my son, one foolish mistake and your whole life gone. I told you, it was my wakeup call.
Now, when I was out of bill, the day I was charged, to the day I was already sentenced, not yet la, it was a window of 4 months. So what did I do with these 4 months? Many things could cross my mind. I could run away then I would be what we call the original Mas Selamat, the new people in Malaysia. I could take my own life, because I was very close on the brink of suicide, I was depressed. But I decided to own up to my own responsibility, take ownership and responsibility over my state of affair and I went into this place called the teen challenge. Not sure whether you all have heard of teen challenge? Because during the boys hostel days, I was admitted to the boys programme. But right now, they have an adult programme as well. So I called them up and said I need a chance, a second chance, I need help and I only got 4 months, I need to straighten up my life and they accepted me in.
I packed up my room, my stuff and belongings; I was waiting for the death or the life sentence. Now in teen challenge, I had a lawyer to help fight my case. He took up my case. Actually there’s nothing to fight, all the evidence there, guilty is charged, waiting to be sentenced. All he could do was to help pleaded for leniency and appeal in mitigation to the court. And so all the reports were put together.
The day came for me to be sentenced; 4 months had come and gone. And I still remember so vividly I faced the judge, in the dock and he pointed me while flipping through all my case files and notes and he said these:“Glenn, I read through all your appeals and I am deciding to do something that I never done before. Nor in the history of the court book in Singapore. I am going to drop your initial charge of importation, death sentence, life sentence, right down to a first time procession charge.”
Now I still got to pay for the consequences of my crime, but even with that, he use the word unprecedented, sentence you to 6 months. No strokes of the Rotan, no squad free, no whatever probation, no whatever. 6 months. 6 months compared to death or life sentence, 6 months was like a holiday you know. I was so happy and nearly jumped up for joy; I still remember after the whole sentencing procedure, I was one in a queue, in a single file of prisoners behind the court rooms, hand cuffed, and loading up into the prison van. And I was the only one in the queue smiling, I was so happy with the sentence. All the other prisoners look at me, “siao uh? We are going to prison, what’s your problem.”
I was just thinking to myself, “wow, what a close shave, what a second chance.” And that’s why I am an advocator of a second chance today. So anyway, 6 months came and went, it was a breeze. It was surprise to say that during that time of hardship, sometimes I look back and I ask myself, 6 months, you know, why 6 months. You know, why god 6 months, you give me 6 months. It’s a miracle. But 6 years would have been equally just been a miracle. So is 16 years, right? So why 6 months?
And I wonder to myself, how sometimes we go through life and the hardships and the difficulties, for that temporary window of time, if not for us to cultivate something or to see something for ourselves, and to develop a new sense of purpose and destiny. For me, when I was there, I saw all my old friends; I’ve seen and they were my content print. Some of them you know,lost their life, because of overdose, or they got the death sentence and I told myself I am not going to end up like that, I am going to help them you see. So there was a nice sense of purpose for me, a new drive.
So once I was relisted, I could have gone back to my old ways but something click inside of me. I knew there was no turning back and I decided to stay on in teen challenge to complete my re-habitation in one year and evenafter that continue to stay on, got myself educated, equipped, became a youth counsellor, I was very passionate about youth work because all of us were pretty young back then and bands and drunks all that kind of thing and I told myself I needed to help them.
So that was many years ago, after that, I had an opportunity to work in a faith base environment in church and become a ministry intern, what they called it an outreach worker and I grew from there. And today, I am proud to say that I am serving my passion, serving my purpose, I ran a couple of businesses, and a few social enterprises as well and non-profits. And this is what give me the greatest satisfaction.
Now, my challenge to me constantly and to us hopefully tonight if you allow me, is to help discover, or allow yourself to discover your purpose, a noble purpose, a higher goal, in terms of career, or whatever, or you know somebody was talking about Singapore system right, to find that and use that whatever season of life that you’re in. Because like it or not, earlier I was just telling her you can’t sustain yourself forever. One day you’re gonna be extinct like the dinosaur. But for that period, what can we do to make a dent or a impact positively on society. Now if you don’t mind me, I have about 8 minutes more to go and later on we will pick up with some Q&A.
I like you to take a look at this.I am sure some of you have seen this before. Can I ask you a question? Is the train moving out of the tunnel or inside the tunnel? Who sees it going out of the tunnel? At first glance. Who sees it going in the tunnel? Okay. Who can just swap the thing? The direction, every now and then. Good, your left right brain congruency is there.
But the point is, this is one of the many many opticalillusions, called the motion binding effect. It plays on brutal perspective to create misjudgement of speed and motion. Basically this is a reflection of the way your mind works. In a sense that it tricks you, what you see is not what you get. So to speak.
And as a behaviour psychology today, I work very closely in the coaching field in helping people utilize their potential and discover their purpose. It has got to do with the mind. And in layman’s term, the mind has two parts, the conscious level which is ten percent and of course the 90 percent is what you call the subconscious or the unconscious, basically that’s what it governs you. That shapes you, gives you your character, your personality and frankly speaking it gives you your direction in life.
I am going to use a model, postulated by Robert Dilts, some of you may have seen this, but it really helps me both personally and also in my coaching and using it as a tool for modelling for success. So very quickly, I am going to name you the six hierarchy, the six levels and then zoom in to one, which is how I want to end this. Those of you who are familiar with my training, you will understand I need participation, to keep the energy going and I want to repeat after me. The first one is called environment, can you say that?
Glenn: Thank you very much; this is like a training class already. So environment is what actually, would you say environment is what influence you? The place or the context in which you are present influences you, any of your decision. Isn’t it true? But, we have not explored the second one, which is called behaviour. Everyone say behaviour.
Glenn: Now, which influences which? Does the environment influence your behaviour? Which could be your response? Or the other way round. What if both? Yes, and it really depends just like the train. It really depends on what you want to focus on. I work a lot with drug addicts as well as offenders in prisons today. They always tell me: “Sir sir, we are okay, we are clean. Because we are here what, in prison right?”So my question is, when you’re out, what happens? When you are in a different environment, how does that influence your behaviour? Yah?Because that would be the more important question.
The third level is what we called the capabilities. Let’s say it.
Glenn: Your skills, your knowledge, your experiences of life. These become your capabilities. And in the wrong environment or in the wrong place with a pretty negative responses or behaviour, it may affect your capabilities or your sense of wanting to learn something right? But if you have the right skills or the right knowledge, maybe that could reverse the whole sequence, isn’t that true? But this is just three levels. I want to point out to the more important, deepest structure of these three levels. The next would be beliefs and values. Let’s say that. Beliefs, Values.
Crowd: Beliefs, Values.
Glenn: Is this important? Of course, but we seldom talk about it, we may not even know that it recites somewhere in us. Do beliefs and values drive this thing upwards? Drives your behaviour up. Drive your sense of wanting to achieve maybe? If you believe that you are a loser, does that affect your behaviour wherever you go? But if you believe you’re a leader, does that change your demeanour. Of course. Your belief is so important, they are your driving force. And after belief would be identity. Can we say that?
Glenn: Who am I. I am. Someone said “I am” is the two most powerful words in the universe. Anything you place after that shapes who you are. Isn’t that true? I am a loser. That’s it, you’re gonna go out there, unconsciously searching for evidence to support that, you understand that right? So identity is so powerful. So now we come to the last round. This is called purpose. Let’s say purpose.
Glenn: One more time with more emotion ah. Okay, Purpose.
Glenn: Very good. Because this is the important level that totally disrupt the whole chain. Anything before purpose does not build a noble person. Probably if you’re just focusing on this level, you’ll end up very selfish because it’s all about me. But purpose causes you to think beyond yourself. Beyond our selfish and devils. Cause you to say with the limited time I have here, 80, 90, 100 years, what do I do with it? And young people like you guys; you have a term right, your favourite term called YOLO. Isn’t that true? Yah? I know you use that as an excuse to do crazy things. But anyway, if you only live once, at the end of your term, what are you going to show about it? And how are you keeping your life accountable to that purpose.
On the contrary, many young people don’t know their purpose in life. And therefore they squander it or worse they end up like me. So very quickly, I would like to make two distinctions; this is what we call the conscious level. You can see it’s very tangible. Everybody say conscious.
Glenn: Yah, but these are the sub-conscious levels. Remember the ice bergs metaphor? You don’t even know that is not there sometimes. Unless you begin to peer into it examine these things. And I can tell you sometimes the greatest challenges of life, the times when you hit the brick wall, the times when you’re down and almost out, you begin to wake up and begin to examine these areas. Because these are below the ice bergs, they are invisible arenas of your life. For me, as I look back and recall, my time bring down and out, I realise that there was instead a blessing in disguise. Cause once I found out my purpose, which was to help and to influence the immerging generation. My whole life turns around after that. So my challenge to once again to you and I is; Hey, in your short time on earth, and before you get extinct as dinosaur, be a Mr Kumar to someone. Okay. And with that, I thank you.
April 29, 2015