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Alexander the Great, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Florence Nightingale, Konosuke Matsushita, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Thomas Edison… and Canon as a corporate ‘person’ are, in their own unique ways, masters of greatness.

They have left deep imprints in the soul of humanity. They are looked upon as role models and they will continue to inspire people for years, generations and centuries.

I call them PRAISE Champions because they lived by principles similar to those of the PRAISE model, even though they obviously did not know about PRAISE in the way presented in this book.

  • Alexander the Great once conquered ‘the world’ as it was then known to him. Yet his greatness was outshone by the benevolence with which he treated one and all.
  • Abraham Lincoln is considered to be the greatest American president ever. Over and above his great achievements, he is held in high regard for his strength of character.
  • Benjamin Franklin grew up poor and had limited education, yet he became one of the most brilliant minds of the 18th century, leaving legacies as a scientist, inventor, statesman, civic leader, writer, entrepreneur and much more.
  • Florence Nightingale is widely known as a nurse. She was also a great administrator who modernised the nursing profession and the design of hospitals, and improved the welfare of soldiers.
  • Konosuke Matsushita grew up in poverty, yet he died a multi-billionaire. More than being a successful entrepreneur, he is hailed as a ‘god of management’.
  • Mahatma Gandhi led India to independence from British colonial rule – through his lifelong history of defying unjust laws using non-violence. He is today an icon of peace.
  • Mother Teresa served “the poorest of the poor” in the slums of Calcutta, India. For that, she became one of the most respected and beloved women of modern times.
  • Thomas Edison brought forth the Modern Age with some 1,093 inventions but his greatest ‘invention’ is, in fact, the science of inventing!
  • Canon started off in 1933 trying to build a better camera. Today, it is building a better world based on the philosophy of kyosei – living and working together for the common good.

    How do we respond to these PRAISE Champions?

    One way is to think of all the reasons why we cannot succeed like them. We can say some of the people were born as geniuses. They lived in a different era and under different circumstances, and so on. We might even say some of them were lucky.

    Likewise we can say that a company like Canon had a good headstart, having entered the business in a world very different from today, when competition was less intense.

    How valid are these reasons? If you think Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison were blessed with genius genes, where did they get those genes from? Their parents and ancestors were not outstanding. Neither were their children. Where did their genius genes go to?

    What about Florence Nightingale who was born into an extremely wealthy family? If anything, that was more an impediment than an aid towards achieving her Prizedream.

    As for Alexander the Great being born a prince, well, there are thousands of princes and princesses throughout history. Yet only Alexander has been called ‘the Great’!

    Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Konosuke Matsushita and Mother Teresa had much more ordinary backgrounds.

    Canon, as a living, learning organisation, faced great challenges during its early years because of wars, economic recessions as well top management changes.

    If you think that they enjoyed special advantages, think again.

    Many of the great people had limited education. Today, even the average school drop-out would have six or more years of schooling. With the Internet, our access to information is greater than ever.

    Likewise, Canon operated with a host of obstacles and restrictions during its early years, including limited access to capital and curbs on the import of production equipment. Most companies today operate in a much freer environment.

    The point is not to compare. When we look at others, they will always be better off than us in some ways, worse off in others and yet similar in many ways.

    The point is not even to strive to be like others. There is – and can be – only one Abraham Lincoln, one Mahatma Gandhi, one Mother Teresa… one Canon.

    Every individual, every company is unique. Each of us has our own gifts, talents and abilities, and our own roles to play in life. If you seek to be someone else, you will fail because you are not that someone else.

    An appropriate response to a PRAISE Champion is to be inspired – inspired to achieve similar levels of success and excellence.The PRAISE Champions cited in this book were able to achieve extraordinary excellence and success despite humble beginnings.

    There is no secret. They did it by having a Prizedream and working hard for it. They lived by their own internal rules, such as being different, taking ownership and never giving up. They took advantage of opportunities; they also created their own opportunities, such as by networking with others who shared their cause.

    They possessed leadership qualities, such as wisdom, sincerity and benevolence. They further devised strategies to turn setbacks into advantages. They worked hard for success until success became their habit and a part of their character. They achieved success unlimited.

    These are ordinary things that you and I can do.

    There is a PRAISE Champion in each person and organisation. What the masters of greatness did was merely to nourish that PRAISE Champion and allow it to manifest itself. You can do it too.

    This is not to say that it will be easy. Just as there is a PRAISE Champion inside us, there is also what I call a ‘robber’ inside us who would deny us our potential for success and greatness. If we are not yet successful, it is because this robber has been ruling our lives. It is not easy to remove this robber; it may be very deeply entrenched.

    Like many people, I was once ruled by this robber. I was very, very far from achieving success and excellence.

    In a small way, I was like Benjamin Franklin – I failed my Arithmetic when I was in school. I was also like Konosuke Matsushita, who grew up in extreme poverty. But because I had a strong desire to excel, I slowly climbed out of my failure and misery.

    The least you can do is to make a start towards excellence and success. Move in the same direction set by the PRAISE Champions.

    I don’t believe in making false promises, and telling you that just because you have read this book, you or your organisation can become an instant, extraordinary success. It is going to take time. And lots of hard work.

    Dream big, start small What’s important is that you make a start. Start by aiming for small successes. They will give you the confidence to move on to greater achievements and higher levels of excellence.

    PRAISE will help you get out of mediocrity and conformity to lead yourself to accomplish your own unique vision by unlocking your hidden potential.

    To summarise, applying PRAISE consists of the following steps:

    Set the Prizedream. This will initiate the process of change and lead you to discover a lifetime change formula.

    Use internal Rules. When you are guided by your own internal rules, you learn to think out of the box. This gives you a lifetime creativity formula.

    Conduct Analysis. Examine the factors that are for or against you and identify the higher cause that drives you. This is your lifetime passion formula.

    Cultivate Invincibility. Acquire the virtues that lead to invincibility. These virtues give you a lifetime fulfillment formula.

    Execute the Strategies. Learn from your failures. Turn setbacks into opportunities and weaknesses into strengths. This on-going process equips you with a lifetime learning formula.

    Sustain Excellence. Achieve it not once or twice, but over and over again in a cycle of success unlimited. Acquire a lifetime excellence formula. And…

    Success shall be yours, without limits.

    PRAISE is a life skills model that helped me achieve excellence and success for more than 20 years, in different facets of my life – studies, examinations, career and entrepreneurship. It also helped me overcome other life challenges, such as when I decided recently to climb Mount Sinai, the ‘Mountain of Moses’.

    PRAISE enabled me to embark on a new adventure to become a writer and publisher. It transformed my rough life into a rich life.

    Yet I was, and I remain, very much an ordinary man. My achievements are nothing compared to the achievements of the PRAISE Champions. I am just a small drop of water in a vast ocean.

    My life has been marked by more setbacks than successes. But this is precisely why I am sharing my experiences. I dare describe myself as ‘successful’ only because of my ability to overcome setbacks, not because of my ability to build massive, powerful empires.

    Because of this, I hope to touch and inspire the many people who, like me, have to struggle through life. I want you to know that you, too, can turn your life around – over and over again. I want to encourage you to give yourself a second chance and never give up.

    I also believe that everyone of us has the ability to inspire others. My mother, despite being uneducated and illiterate, left many imprints on my soul. I call them ‘Soulprints’. All of us can leave ‘Soulprints’ in the people whose lives we touch.

    My wish is to inspire you to draw out the PRAISE champion in you. And that you might inspire others to do the same, by leaving your imprints on their souls.

    When we touch the lives of others, even in small ways, we make a difference to their lives. We leave them with ‘Soulprints’ that they will always remember and cherish.

    If each of us does a small part in inspiring others, together we can make this world a more peaceful, yet more exciting, place. We shall leave our ‘Soulprints’ on humanity.

    Let us inspire each other!