bo October 2012 | Pieces Of My Mind
Thursday, 25 October 2012

A Self-Discovered Path

In February, I left Kuala Lumpur to study in University of Melbourne for a couple of months, studying NOTHING RELATED to my Bachelor's degree, except for one: Usability Engineering.

I was everywhere in Melbourne, from volunteering in sporting events, attending technological and design conferences, visiting animal shelter home, watching trainer talking about how they train police dogs, renting a car with a couple of friends on a free-and-easy trip 400km south of Melbourne to the famous 600-km Great Ocean Road, travelled around Tasmania during the Easter semester break (basically drifted on their roads with a van, and unfortunately ramped into a possum crossing at a pitched dark highway on one occasion), drove 600 kms to Grampians as well as backpacked in Sydney alone and had a tough time after getting pick-pocketed by thieves in a bus, saw a false alarm sea rescue operation that involved dozens of police personnel and helicopter, where the "victim" finally re-appeared himself from a corner rocks after an hour.

In August, I flew back to Singapore with 50+kgs of luggage in 4 bags, finally managed to own, and brought in an archery set into Malaysia. And in September, my family and I experienced the most thrilling monsoon vacation in Phuket, Thailand.

I caught a number of my pals asking me this question on different occasions: "Why are you so wild, and you are almost everywhere? Why can't you be focused? Where is your direction?"

Personally, I will always be anywhere where exposure and opportunities to learn lies. I would agree that I am unfocused, but I will  also ask them this question:
Would you be an expert in what you do or someone who knows many things and be able to apply them as a complete package?

It's been great living in Melbourne with people from different parts of the world.
Believe it or not, everyone in this photo is doing a totally different Degree/ has a different mindset, focus strength & weaknesses. Over here, we have future biologist, English linguistic expert, actuarist, machine systems engineer, psychologist, tech expert, meteorologist, accountant, civil engineer and auditor.

As with the issue of my direction. It will definitely be moving forward, but in an unconventional way, which I call 'Branching forward' / Forward-Chaining / Backward-Branching. Being multidisciplinary focused instead of unidisciplinary.

Let me enlighten you with an example: If you are a worker in a hypermarket, everyone has his/her roles and responsibilities, tasks are segregated, and there is very little chance for a person to master all the skills needed to operate and maintain the business. Compare this with a person who works in a mini market, he/she has to make purchases, make promotions, organise counters and keep track of the inventory while knowing the market trend and purchasing behaviour of its customers. Who do you think will be able to solve problems better during an economic crisis? Who will be able to change his/her direction to sustain his/her family's life and move on in the shortest possible time?

And based on the abovementioned example, there is nothing wrong with being unfocused, grabbing all possible opportunities to learn, even though  it is outside of his/her scope/field. All you need is a little courage, the ability to speak to others, ask questions (there's no such thing as a stupid question), do not ever feel embarrassed and lastly, be courteous and thank someone for the opportunity to further enhance your knowledge.

For me, I would discover my potentials and derive goals from all the things that I have picked up along the journey, instead of working and learning towards a predefined/generic goal(s). Hence, multidisciplinary exposures are essential for me to grow forward.

If any of you have the similar traits that I have, let me share with you 2 more key strategies: always be informed (be in the lookout for information & opportunities to learn) and be at a strategic position where you can learn the most using the easiest way at the shortest possible time.

Takeaway for the day:
Ask this question: who would you rather be? The person who works in a hypermarket and be an expert in his/her role, but know nothing about the other roles; or the one who works in a mini market and learns everything, even though he/she may not be an expert in every aspects?

It's all up to you on how you would choose your journey, nothing is right or wrong.