From Commando Medic to Social Entrepreneur: How One Man's NS Experience Transformed His Social Enterprise

From Commando Medic to Social Entrepreneur: How One Man's NS Experience Transformed His Social Enterprise

Photo contributed by Tan Chin Hock

Despite being little known to the public, our founder, Chin Hock, is a former commando medic and self-taught photographer. His experiences during his Full-time National Service (NS) as a commando have been critical in shaping his approach to running Holdinghands Studio. Throughout his social enterprise journey, he has applied three valuable lessons that he learned during his NS days. These lessons have been instrumental in his success, and we are excited to share them with you and hope that you could pick up something useful from this post.

Lesson #1: The importance of teamwork Chin Hock learnt the importance of teamwork during his NS days, where he underwent grueling training that tested not just his physical endurance, but also his mental resilience. During one training exercise, his section was ordered to evacuate an "injured" section mate under simulated artillery fire. Despite being exhausted, they worked together as a team, taking turns to carry their injured comrade to the finishing line.

The experience taught Chin Hock the importance of teamwork, not just in military operations, but also in any endeavour that involves working towards a common goal. When he started Holdinghands Studio, he knew that he couldn't do it alone and reached out to like-minded photographers and organisations like the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST) and Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) for support and collaborations.

Lesson #2: Expect the unexpected and keep moving forward
Another lesson that Chin Hock learnt during his NS days was to expect the unexpected and keep moving forward, even when the going gets tough. He recalls a "turn-out" in the middle of the night, where the instructors wreaked havoc in their bunk, pulling down their cupboards and spraying water at them. They had to do countless push-ups, sit-ups, and other physical activities, all designed to test their resilience and break their spirit.

Despite the physical and mental challenges, he and his platoon mates encouraged each other to hang on and keep moving forward, knowing that every step brought them closer to their goal. This lesson has served him well in his social enterprise journey, where he has had to deal with challenges such as sustaining operations, reaching out to migrant workers, and securing resources, all amidst uncertainty and numerous rejections.

Lesson #3: Every failure is an opportunity for feedback
He quipped "every failure is an opportunity for feedback and improvement." During his NS days, he and his platoon mates had to undergo countless drills and training exercises, many of which they failed. However, instead of seeing these failures as setbacks, they used them as opportunities to learn from their mistakes and do better the next time.

This approach has also guided his social enterprise journey, where he sees every setback or obstacle as a chance to learn and improve. He is determined to keep moving forward and expand the outreach efforts of Holdinghands Studio to include more people in need.

Read the entire article here.


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