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16th March 2021 17:57:46 Hours

Keynote Speaker in ICASC Explains Dimensions of ‘Discipline’ for Success

The 35th International Chartered Accountants Students’ Conference (ICASC), themed ‘Break the Frontier - Be the Change’ this morning (16) honoured General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff, Commander of the Army and Head of the National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) by inviting him to be the Chief Guest and the keynote speaker where over 100 Chartered Accountants and Chartered Accountancy students were present.

The conference, held at Hotel Kingsbury attracting more than 1000 online virtual participants across the globe, including South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA) delegates has invited the Chief Guest to deliver on the topic, ‘Are Students Ready for a Disciplined Future’.

The 35th International Chartered Accountants Students’ Conference, organized by the Chartered Accountants Students’ Society of Sri Lanka, chaired by Mr Danushka Chathuranga at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka at Colombo 7 began its sessions after lighting of the traditional oil lamp and the inaugural address made by the President of the Chartered Accountants Students’ Society before the students of the society launched their new website and the 17th edition of the ‘Fusion’ magazine of the students.

In his motivating and convincing keynote address as the Chief Guest for the occasion, General Shavendra Silva focused on the ‘young generation of the modern society’, ‘way to become professionally disciplined’, ‘balancing of professional and personal life’, etc.

Upon culmination of the Chief Guest’s speech to the occasion, Mr Danushka Chathuranga, President of the Chartered Accountants Students’ Society awarded a memento to General Shavendra Silva as a symbol of their appreciation and gratitude.

Mr Manil Jayasinghe, President, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka, Mr Reyaz Mihular, Patron, Chartered Accountants Students’ Society and a few others contributed to the inaugural session.

Following are the extracts of General Shavendra Silva’s keynote address to the occasion;

“Demand for today’s speech has taken me to a different dimension. Therefore, I thought of constructing my speech around three areas. First, I will speak on the aspect of self-discipline, then I will move on to speak about professional discipline finally, I will throw some light on how to achieve the balance between professional life and personal life”.

“Talking about self-discipline, the first and foremost question to be asked from ourselves is, ‘who determines whether you are self- disciplined? Well, it is none other than you, who can judge yourself better. Have you ever been exposed to a situation where you have had a choice to select something between what is right and what is most easy at the moment. Now everyone would say “yes I always chose the right thing over personal comfort’’ but is it true? If it is true, why do we see the water is polluted, the air is grey, rivers are blackened, and forest cover is diminishing and prisons are overfilled with defaulters?, So now speak to yourself and ask whether you make the same choice when you are not being observed by anyone. You can find the answer for yourself”.

“Therefore, I would like to define Self-Discipline as the behaviour of a person which is accepted as ethical when he is not observed or controlled by someone else. To understand the meaning of discipline better, I will speak a few words about discipline in the military.”

“In the military, discipline is considered the most demanded and important aspect of a soldier’s life. Have you ever wondered how a civilian after joining the military is dared to march over minefields or face the enemy’s machine gun or a tank, knowing that he is in danger?. It is nothing but discipline; they have been made disciplined to focus on their objective rather than own self; they have developed their self-discipline to a level that they believe the cause they are fighting is important than even their own lives. I hope this keeps you in a position to understand what discipline means.”

“When a civilian is absorbed into the military, initially it is required to separate his or her attached emotions and be filled with real values of life. This is achieved through systematic training. Consequently, through self-discipline, a person nurtures his path with confidence, inner strength, and self-esteem, leading to satisfaction and happiness.”

“Your day-to-day practices which you do not give much prominence become your habits automatically. These habits practised over a long time become your character. Every action you perform is a reflection of your level of discipline. What accounts most for someone’s discipline are the practices that we do not give much attention. Therefore, to develop self-discipline, one must understand his or her weaknesses first. Then, an own strategy should be developed to overcome the weaknesses and fill life with better ethos, values and qualities.”

“The professional discipline is a widely spoken subject today. You may be personally a disciplined person. But if that discipline does not rhyme with your professional life, you could soon be alienated as an inverted, selfish and self-oriented character which is not at all healthy for your future.”

“You dedicate your education, your career, and years of your life to your profession. Your professional position is just a temporary licence that you have got to act within the frame. But your reputation, competence and your integrity are the elements of your future and your life. Therefore, I will stress upon a few points from here that you may incorporate into your personality to be a professionally disciplined person or a student.”

“First, be present; your attendance in your workplace or classroom is a must and not optional. Irrespective of your position, you need to be alert, focused, and ready to handle your part in the organization or learning curriculum. It reflects your character and your commitment to your responsibilities.”

“Second, never take the job for granted; if you take your job for granted, you are blocking your road to progress. You must set your priorities right according to the demands of your profession rather than seeking personal comfort frequently. You need to inspire yourself and thrive to align your organizational goals with your aspirations. If you can do this you don’t have to worry about your success.”

“Third, be presentable; as a professional, you should always dress decently according to the organizational decorum and project a professional image to regulating your way of talking and behaving and handling conversations. This facilitates building trust with your peers, subordinates or customers.”

“Fourth, self-control; self-control stems from self-discipline. A sensible and disciplined professional always takes a break only after completing the due tasks. So you must plan the assigned task to meet the deadlines rather than frequent procrastination the work load. This is a real measure of your efficiency and dedication.”

“Fifth, be punctual; Punctuality is a sign of professionalism and helps you stand out as a reliable and trustworthy employee. Not to forget that this has a great impact on your personal life too. It helps to finish the work early and leave office on time and gives space for personal recreational activities also.”

“Sixth, be prepared; when you arrive at the workplace or learning institution make sure you are ready to handle your assigned tasks and duties. Daily reflection, review, revision, and remediation are the keys to be prepared and spend a useful life.”

“Seventh, be proficient; always look for ways to improve your performance and turn your mistakes and failures into learning opportunities. Feel good about your successes and accomplishments, but don’t “rest on your laurels.” As you develop confidence and competence in your professional competencies, strive to excel in your field.”

“Finally and most importantly, never settle in lesser standards; we tend to give exceptions timely, financially and emotionally. When we lower our standards, it may lead to deteriorating the image as a professional. Therefore as disciplined professionals, we must never settle in anything less than the necessary standards and neither allows the subordinate any exception.”

“As the final part of my speech, now let me take you to a different dimension; ‘balancing personal and professional life.’ This is a very pertinent topic as we amply see many high reputed professionals have unsatisfied and exhausted personal lives. Today, we spend increasingly busy lives. Often our job demands extensive hours of work leaving no room for rest. However, it is only narrow and negative minded people who believe that they do not have time for personal life.”

“This negative feeling may lead to job exhaustion, disruption of relationships with family and friends, loss of enjoyment, and increased stress. It has been identified that the people who are constantly tied to their jobs deal with the symptoms of stress and burnout. If a person doesn’t have time to relax and recharge, their efficiency in the job decreases and their performance level suffers. Also, when a person cannot resolve the conflicts at home due to excessive work, he or she will lose both aspects of life. Usually, when home becomes a chaos, workplace becomes a hell.”

“Despite there is no concrete definition of ‘work and life balance.’ I think you all agree with me that work-life balance is all about satisfaction with one's entire life during work and at home. However, if you are a very positive person, this satisfaction can be attained; even you are one of the busiest people. I can share with you as an example how I achieve the work-life balance in my life.”

“First, determination of priorities; spend some time seriously reflecting on what is most important to you, and make a list of your top priorities at work and home. Then analyze, your time by asking yourself these key questions of what do I need to start doing? Stop doing? Continue doing? Do more of? Do less of? Do differently?, etc.”

“Second, setting of specific goals; take your list of priorities and turn them into concrete and measurable goals. Block time into your schedule for activities allowing ample time for must-dos and less time for may-dos.”

“Third, a flexible work schedule; having a flexible work schedule is important to maintain a good balance between work and life. Further, it helps the employees pay equal focus on their personal and social side of life, like that of their work. Such a schedule can positively affect an individual's performance at work and serves as an alternate stress management technique.”

“Fourth, establish boundaries; set fair and realistic limits on what you will and will not do both at work and home. Communicate these boundaries to your supervisor, co-workers, partner and family. Additionally, set aside time at home during which you will not check or respond to work-related activities.”

“Fifth, nurture your family and relationships; Relationships with family, friends, and loved ones are, by far, the greatest source of inner satisfaction. By making your personal relationships a priority, your productivity and effectiveness on the job will eventually increase.”

“Sixth, encourage hobbies; A good work-life balance is not only limited to giving importance to work and family, but the things you do at personal level as hobbies. So, have a hobby and allocate some time for yourselves whilst managing work and family.”

“Last, work smarter rather than harder; use of time more efficiently is an important skill that everyone must excel in. Remember, it is not the time of hours you spend in work place matters, but useful output. Adopting the right combination of time- management practices can cut stress and save you a substantial amount of time a day. This may include the use of technology to become more organized.”

“It is my personal view that the easiness of achieving the balance between life and work depends on how you look at it. You may complain about the workload and other commitments that you have been assigned are beyond your control and does not permit you to think of the personal life. However, with all restrictions, responsibilities and assignments ahead of you, there is one thing we can control; that is our choices, as the old proverb says “the requirement has no limitation”. Therefore if you can determine what you want from your life, rest all is a matter of choice.”

“I’m sure those who have messed up and those who have reached professional success at the expense of the personal life have never given a thought to what he needs in his life as well as it is too late when they realized that they have ruined the personal life. Therefore, be sure to distinguish what you want from your life, irrespective of the destination that your profession is trying to carry you.”