With enough effort, an average person can achieve excellence in a chosen field instead of remaining mediocre. But most people prefer to be comfortable and enjoy what they can. For many Malaysians, death is secondary to losing face, inconvenience or missing out their favourite foods.

Those with over inflated egos have died quarrelling over trivial matters. It is common to see parents ferry more than one kid on their motorcycles, and the unhealthy enjoying like there is no tomorrow by gorging down food and drinks with excessive sugar, salt, oil, preservatives, artificial colouring and flavour.

Although most Malaysians have attended at least secondary school and memorised the Rukun Negara, healthy living and eating have been thrown out the window, and so have courtesy and morality, the fifth principle of our national philosophy.

The fact that we cannot even keep our public toilets clean clearly shows that education has failed miserably in our country. However, Malaysians are world champions in crafting policies and plans, but rock-bottom in implementation.

Recently, the National Cleanliness Policy was introduced by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. Its implementation focuses on five clusters, namely awareness of cleanliness, environmental sustainability, circular economy, good governance, and enforcement and quality of awareness among the public.

Fourteen strategies and 91 action plans have been developed to achieve the objectives through implementation by the federal government, state authorities, local governments and other agencies. All these are as mumbo jumbo as grandiose vision and mission statements when members of the public had to endure filthy toilets at many government facilities.

Where standards are low in public or private sectors, it is easy for anyone determined to excel by trying a little harder. All it takes is some desire, effort, observation, curiosity, see the big picture, look for opportunities and eager to learn, adapt, share and help.

All these would be made easier with better interpersonal communication skills, which is grossly lacking even among graduates. Mastery of a language empowers one to think, feel, read, write, understand and apply what have been learned. Embracing English enables us to have a global outlook and outreach.

Face-to-face interaction with others, including colleagues and customers, is communicating more than information, as feelings are more important and are reflected by facial expression, body language and tone of voice. Many people do not realise that we are communicating with others even without speaking a word.

Whether we are aware or not, our attitude affects our behaviour, which can be positive, negative or neutral. In most instances, the overall situation can only change for the better over time, regardless of how we feel. If that being the case, those who are smart should choose to feel happy instead of miserable.

When conducting training, almost all participants have no idea whether they dream in colours or not when I posed this question. It was meant to let them know that there is a whole new world for them to discover if they open their hearts and minds a little wider. After reading an article 55 years ago, I have been dreaming in colours ever since.

More surprising was none of the thousands of participants have heard of Johari Window, which has nothing to do with Encik Johari. The name is a combination of two American psychologists Joseph and Harrington. In 1955, they developed a technique to help people better understand their relationship with themselves and others.

I gave my own interpretation by using the white board to draw a large square and divide it into four. I described the top left square as Open, the part of ourselves known to us and to others; the top right square as Blind, the part that others can see but we cannot see; the bottom left square as Secret, the part hidden from others where we keep our secrets; and the bottom right square as Unknown, the part that no one knows.

I will then explain all four parts are not equal in size and varies according to individuals. As for me, the Unknown square can cover more than 99 percent, meaning my full potential could be at least 100 times more than what I have achieved so far.

Knowing that I have only tapped so little of my full potential can be humbling and it motivates me to excel.

At the same time, I believe others too have huge potential and they can be vastly different if they put in the effort to excel.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.