May 2003 Issue
Are we more resilient?
Sunday, May 25th marked five years to the day that the 1st Singapore Everest Expedition succeeded in scaling the Big Hill. At 830am Singapore time, Edwin Siew stood on the summit, followed 30 minutes later by SC Khoo. The relatively calm and windless morning ( a perfect summit day for Everest ) did not mirror the tribulations the team had to endure to get there. Apart from the four years of raising the funds and training at all hours of the day, the first attempt for the summit on May 19th was unsuccessful. Our return in June 1998 and the numerous accolades and commentaries that followed echoed a recurring theme: That we had been resilient.
But resilience does not magically appear nor is it necessarily hardwired into our thinking processes. Our ability to overcome adversity is based on several factors, all of which we can cultivate; a key one being a mindset that contains the hardship. Containing hardship requires us to believe that a particular hardship we are facing is temporary - and that we will triumph in the end or the event will pass. This is a practised mindset.
For those living here in Singapore, the past two months has seen an unending stream of media stories on the effects of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome ( SARS ) virus. SARS has arrived on the scene as part of a triple whammy; on the coat-tails of the recession and the Iraq War; blasting to pieces any degree of complacency we might have had about being cocooned in safety in our small little island state.
On May 22nd the Straits Times newspaper reported on a gathering to issue cheques to the survivors of the virus from the Courage Fund.
Nurse Ashirdahwani Asmawi, 24, who was warded from March 16 to April 12,
described it most graphically: 'I felt as though I was dying... as though I
was drowning. I needed oxygen and I realised how precious oxygen was.'
Said 31-year old cardiologist Lim Ing Haan: 'Before this, I thought I was
young, healthy and invincible... suddenly I was no longer in control and I
had to take orders from other people.'
Fear, loss of control - all key elements of events that test our ability to cope with adversity. Consider working on improving your "containment" skills to avoid pre-programme " helplessness" in face of negative events
The gathering of SARS survivors was also a milestone in their lives. In Dec 2001, I wrote about the importance of milestones in ones life. Re-visit that article http://www.everestbusiness.com/mot/motdec01.html
Milestones help us move on , and when remembered, strengthen us for future hardships. Are we more resilient? I think we are.