When I was studying for my Bachelor of Economics in University Malaya back in 2007, most of my professors were old-timers who were excellent in their respective field of expertise. They were the G.O.A.T y’all!
One of them was Professor Yew or simply Madam Yew, as she’d like the students to call her.
Madam Yew was one of the few professors who have etched a mark in my life, both professionally and personally. She taught me Macroeconomics and Malaysian Economy.
One of the striking things about her is how shed like us, the students, to address herself. Unlike other professors, she simply wanted to be called as Madam Yew. Not Professor Yew, or Dr Yew - just Madam Yew.
And just by that, my respect for her quadruple in an instant. Her humility couldn’t veil the vast accolades, achievements and knowledge she’d harboured after decades being in the field.
Anyway, I’m not going to talk about her but one significant lesson she had taught me outside of the lecture hall.
There was one time when we were assigned for a group assignment but unfortunately only half out of the four group members did the job. Madam Yew was known for being very strict and demanded a thorough result of everything she assigned to us, not a half-baked one. So, I decided to take matters into my own hand and report to her about my non-performing group members and how tiring it was doing the job of four people in a group assignment.
Instead of asking for the names of the students who didn’t do their part and being sympathetic to our predicament, she merely smiled at me after I’ve presented my case to her. Then she said:
“Don’t you think it’s your fault instead? Don’t you think you’re being too rigid and being a perfectionist? So what if they don’t do their job? So what if they did only a portion of the work? The main thing is you do your part and if they didn’t do theirs, then let them be because it will show on them, not you. You can’t change and control everything in life. Whatever thats beyond your control, let it be.”
Ten years on, I still held on tight to that simple revelation - LET GO OF THE THINGS YOU CANNOT CONTROL. Don’t sweat yourself over issues, or people, or situation in which you have no say on.
Life is like a winding, rocky river. You need to be flexible and not rigid in order for you to keep moving with the flow. Once you have decided to not be bothered by the things unmovable, you win. You’ll be at peace, you’ll learn to look at the brighter side. You’ll learn to see the bigger picture and plan for the road ahead.
Yes, you’ll win.
So, do not be easily bothered by small, petty things that comes your way. On top of that, do not let any issue gets bigger than you. Once you pull your vision away from the very thing that troubles you, everything will become clearer and less frightening.
We need to compartmentalise our stress into the things that we can do something about and those we can’t. Acknowledge them, detach it from ourselves and we’ll be much at peace.
As for issue I had with my group project, everything went fine. At least for my part of the presentation. Madam Yew gave a me a huge smile after we’ve finished the presentation, although she wasn’t happy at how incoherently our presentation was.
I still got an A for it though. I always did. Winks.