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Monday, 21 March 2011

Travel light, cut down the baggage

Monday Starters - By Soo Ewe Jin

IN my years in the workforce, some of the most poignant moments have been that of people leaving the company, either to take on a new job or when they retire.

Do they get a big farewell party or do they just quietly slip away? What are the things they need to take along? Can they be placed in one box? Or do they require help to cart away cartons of stuff accumulated over the years?

What do we bring along when we start work at a new place? Do we bring with us stuff from our former job, or do we just come in with nothing but a family photo to place on our new desk?

I have had the privilege of hiring people in the various places I worked and one simple piece of advice I give them is that we should wipe our slates clean and start afresh.


File picture shows a migrant worker carrying his baggage on the way to the railway station in Qingdao city, in eastern China's Shandong province, on 19 January. China begins the annual passengers transport during the Spring Festival from 19 January. An expected 2.85 billion passenger trips are expected to be made the 40 days. Planes and trains have been added to cope with the passenger surge, which is 11.6 per cent up year on year, according to the Ministry of Transport. - EPA
I recall the time when one staff member came up to me to suggest that I should not hire someone because of his past history. I gently told her that if I had listened to others telling me about her, I might not even have hired her.
Give everyone a chance, I said. You may be amazed how people perform under different circumstances and different bosses. We need not view the world through tinted glasses. It is healthier to approach each new situation with unprejudiced eyes.

These thoughts come to mind as I reflect this week on why some journeys we take simply wear us down because of the baggage we bring along, be it emotional or physical.

I like to travel light. In my younger days, I backpacked for two months through Europe in winter with just one haversack. Even for family vacations now, we pack as little as we can, and we never bust our baggage limits when we fly.

It is quite a sight when travellers haggle with the airline stuff because they exceed the weight limit. I often wonder why there is a need to bring so much along, not to mention the additional load on the journey home.

The tragedy still unfolding in Japan reminds us that whatever we have can simply disappear in a moment. For the survivors, they have to live day by day, not even sure if there will be food on the table or water to drink. In moments like these, it is hard to even think of the things they have lost.

Japan is such a developed country but this tragedy has literally brought the nation to its knees. And at times like these, we realise that it is not the buildings destroyed, or the icons demolished, but the faces of people that reflect the real loss.

Are you, in your own journeys, travelling light or heaping burdens onto yourself with each step of the way? Are you working to forever pay the bills or coming to a realisation that to be happy with little is far better than to be miserable in much?

Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin thanks all readers who wrote him encouraging email after his previous column. The kind thoughts and prayers are giving wing to his feet on his new journey.