A photo taken at a rain forest in Kandy, the hill capital of Sri Lanka.
This is a photo taken during a nature walk with my team. I remember sitting down on this bench to take in the energy of the beautiful rain forest. As I reflected I felt the paradox of the place; the sounds of nature and the voices of people, the trees and the cement bench, the forest and the road, the cool wind and the warm sun rays. One of my colleagues had taken this photo at that time and I was fascinated with the rays of sunlight coming towards me, as if the universe was sending me rays of enlightenment.
The place which developed thousands of boys to be men of stature for over 165 year, the place I had the good fortune of being nurtured, St Anthony’s Collage in Kandy, the hill capital of Sri Lanka. The picture speaks of the nurturing location on the banks of the Mahaweli river, the space provided for sports signifying the importance of the development of the body in addition to the mind. To write about the great men produced by St Anthony’s will take a few books. All I have is gratitude for my alma mater.
With the celebrations of winning the world T20 2014 Cricket title still riding high and the entire nation positively charged, it would be a good time to reflect on the leadership lessons.
Lesson 1: Never give up: After having won the cricket 50 over world cup in 1996, Sri Lankan cricket has had ups and downs. Ups, mostly because of the cricket infrastructure in the country producing brilliant talent and downs mainly attributed to cricketing politics and administration. Sri Lanka has come to the finals of many a world level tournaments and ended up runner-up. This time around too, many were having fears of another loss in a final, but things went Sri Lanka’s way, not by accident but by design. Therefore leaders keep learning from mistakes, growing with challenges until they reach the target.
Lesson 2: Team work : While Sri Lanka became the world T20 Cricket champs no Sri Lankan player featured in the top 5 run scorers or wicket takers in the tournament. This is due to all players contributing their very best when conditions required them. Therefore a player like Kumar Sangakkara who failed to score much during all the games during the run up to the final, showed up and became the match winner at the final. A player like Rangana Herath who bowled Sri Lanka to victory in the crucial match against New Zealand was not very suitable for the conditions in some other matches. The player of the tournament was from India, the runner-up. Therefore there are no individual winners, but the team wins. Continue reading “Big Leadership Lessons from Little Sri Lanka”→
When I feel blessed about what I have achieved my mind automatically takes me to people and events that I am grateful about. Whilst having a deep sense of gratitude to my parents, family, friends and social contacts, one major aspect that made the difference to me is my Alma Mater St Anthony’s College Katugastota in the hill capital of Sri Lanka.
One can’t ask for a better place than St Anthony’s to shape up a young mind and body to become prepared to take on the world. I believe great products from college would have felt the same. Beneficiaries of our alma mater are old Antonians of the calibre of Sir William Gopallawa, the first President of Sri Lanka, Mr. T B Illangaratne, renowned politician and dramatist, Justice Asoka De Silva, World famous professionals such as Prof. Malik Peiries, Dr Patrick Nugawela, Dr C. R. Panabokke, Prof C Suriyakumaran, World class sportsmen such as Mr. Muthaiah Muralitharan, Entrepreneurs such as Mr. Sumal Perera & Dr Lawrence Perera, Musicians such as Mr. Rookantha Gunatilleke & Mr. Stanley Peiris, Military officers such as Colonel A C Lafir and hundreds of other Ministers, Officers of the armed forces and police, academics and business people.
As I look back with an attitude of gratitude to St Anthony’s, I get a deep urge within me to do what I can to help the college continue to do the good work it has done for me. This was further reinforced when I was honoured as one of the top 100 Old Antonians during the 150-year celebrations of the college. Therefore when the opportunity came for me to be a part of the Antonian Rugby Trust, I was delighted to take it; I continue to serve in the advisory committee. I also had the privilege of providing mental toughness training to the rugby team.
The motivations of different people are different. Some do it for the gratitude, some do it for the glory, some do it for social status and others do it to develop business networks. When the motives are different there is bound to be conflict. Such conflict can make those who do things with nobel motives disgruntled. When this happens some feel like walking away, minding there own business and not doing anything for the college and some others decide to persist. I always believe such obstacles helps us to further develop our goodness. Such opportunities help us to help others to become better people. Such opportunities strengthen our resolve to be more generous.
We all belong to various religions and philosophies and we learn the need to give back to the world, do good to others and do our part to make the world a better place. When we split due to differences we lose the opportunity to accumulate goodness credits. On the other hand when like minded people like us who have walked the nooks and corners of the college, who have sat in the same class rooms, who have listened to the same teachers and who have sung our college anthem proudly gets together we can do wonders. So lets get together re-energize ourselves with nostalgia and do what we can do to uplift the standards of our alma mater so that we can celebrate the successes from a far and accumulate stories of before, during and after our time to tell our children and grandchildren.
The Motto of our alma mater ‘Lux De Coelo’ means light from heaven and was taken from a prayer sent from the Vatican when college was inaugurated. I consider this true when it comes to my life. So let the light from heaven that has brightened our being continue to shine in us, our families and the generations of Antonians to come. May god bless you all.
LMD, Sri Lanka’s leading business magazine should be congratulated for launching the ‘Sri Lankans Overseas’ blog to provide a forum for Sri Lankan’s living overseas to contribute to the nation building effort. Link to the blog: http://lmd.lk/?p=11555
Sri Lanka’s post-war renaissance is in need of the shot-in-the-arm from Sri Lankans living overseas. I would like to summarize the key points made in the various comments made so far;
Wherever we live Sri Lankan’s are Sri Lankans… blood is thicker than water and this is a fact we can’t avoid.
Each of us has our own dreams and goals and for this reason we may have migrated and this is an important factor we need to respect.
It is not about getting everyone to come back to Sri Lanka, it is more about seeing how we can contribute. Some may come back if the opportunities are good and returning meets their life goals, some others can continue to live overseas and help building Sri Lanka.
It is important for us to have Sri Lankans all over the world so that we can sell Sri Lanka through them.
There is also a role to be played by government to facilitate this process by allowing tax breaks, making the process of getting dual citizenship easy etc.
The idea is for someone to create a; Sri Lanka Node to connect all businesses run by Sri Lankans in Sri Lanka and overseas so that we can share resources, share information and help each other to make Sri Lanka one of the best places to live and visit; a little miracle that is happening …
The run up to the day of the US sponsored UNHCR vote against Sri Lanka, the results of the vote and the aftermath had been an emotional event for many Sri Lankans around the world. As I was pondering on the details, an incident that happened 60 years ago came into my mind. It was the ‘Treaty of Peace with Japan’ between Japan and part of the allied powers officially signed by 48 nations on September 8, 1951, at the war memorial opera house in San Fransisco on April 28, 1952.
According to Wikipidia, a major player in providing support for a post-war free Japan was the delegation from Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka). While many were reluctant to allow a free Japan capable of aggressive action and insisted that the terms of surrender should be rigidly enforced in an attempt to break the spirit of the Japanese nation, the Ceylonese Finance Minister J. R. Jayawardena spoke in defense for a free Japan and informed the conference of Ceylon’s refusal to accept the payment of reparations that would harm Japan’s economy. His reason was “We in Ceylon were fortunate that we were not invaded, but the damage caused by air raids, by the stationing of enormous armies under the South-East Asia Command, and by the slaughter-tapping of one of our main commodities, rubber, when we were the only producer of natural rubber for the Allies, entitles us to ask that the damage so caused should be repaired. We do not intend to do so for we believe in the words of the Great Teacher [Buddha] whose message has ennobled the lives of countless millions in Asia that ‘hatred ceases not by hatred but by love’.” He ended the same speech by saying “This treaty is as magnanimous as it is just to a defeated foe. We extend to Japan the hand of friendship and trust that with the closing of this chapter in the history of man, the last page of which we write today, and with the beginning of the new one, the first page of which we dictate tomorrow, her people and ours may march together to enjoy the full dignity of human life in peace and prosperity”.
Sri Lanka’s future is in good hands! This is the feeling I had as soon as I walked into the ballroom of Colombo’s Galadari Hotel on the 17th of March 2012. This feeling became stronger as the day went by to see the enthusiasm with which the 270 CIM students participating in the conference absorbed the wisdom dished out by the 4 Chartered Marketers of the Chartered Institute of Marketing [CIM] who had reached the top in organizations and the panel discussion that followed.
Deepal Sooriyaarachchi who spoke first outlined what it takes to be a ‘Future Proof Marketer’. He talked about the importance of knowing your strengths and improvement areas and making sure that marketing is the right profession for you. Then he went on to talk about the importance of knowing your job, profession and the company well so that you can market your products with confidence. Managing your career with the 4 essential steps of learning, mastering, managing and leading was highlighted as one of the essential requirements. Knowing your team was highlighted as essential for success as it is vital to have good team work for success. To top it up it was important to know your market and the world we operate in. While all of these aspects were important, I felt the key message was the need to have a firm set of ‘values’ and live by them remembering that we are human and we need to add value to humanity all the time.