Just Do It, Take Action!

“Just do it! Start something! Even if it’s not perfect.”

I heard these words of advice while I was visiting Drum Publications in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, where some of my friends are working at. Drum Publications publishes Karen and Burmese language books and dictionaries and is “an independent Karen community based organization dedicated to promoting education and preserving the cultures of the peoples of Burma”. (Taken from their website)

My Karen dictionary. i really need to start learning the language once I find the time...

My Karen dictionary from Drum. i really need to start learning the language once I find the time...

That’s when I met Tim and was inspired by the story of Drum Publication’s growth.

“We didn’t know anything about publishing dictionaries, but we felt it was the right way to go, so we just did it.” Tim explained as he excitedly showed me recent classification systems he had painstakingly devised for the new edition they were in the process of compiling.

Tim said the early years were tumultuous and he was literally writing to and begging all kinds of NGO for grants. Drum has became independent over the years through the sale of its publications, is able to pay its employees local minimum wage and can further focus on providing educational materials to schools within Burma free of charge. Drum Publications is a pioneer in the sense that they can afford to be independent, for most community based organizations are usually community backed.

That wasn’t the first time I’ve heard that advice. Martin of Yayasan Prima Unggul (YPU) too had said the same thing to me. He had no idea how to progress when he first had the idea for YPU, but he knew he needed to start something. “When you have an idea, just take action. If you wait till you have the perfect idea, you’ll never get started.”

I think there’s a reason why Nike’s slogan is so popular. It really does apply to human lives so well and over the past few years, I have been fortunate enough to meet inspiring people who have reiterated the idea to me. My favorite story is the one of the famous landmark – Candi Borobudur in Indonesia. Built in the 9th century in what was estimated to be a construction time of 75 years, the monument has served as an inspiration and awe for both visitors and pilgrims alike.

Sad confession: I haven't been here. But I am planning a trip there this year :)

Sad confession: I haven't been here. This photo is by my Cambodian friend no less. (WHAT KIND OF INDONESIAN AM I?!) But I am planning a trip there this year 🙂

The message to take away is that you don’t know how many people you will help and inspire in the future. Don’t underestimate what you are doing, writing or any activities you’re involved in because you don’t know that you might be building the next Borobudur. Even the rulers at that time may not realize how many people the structure would later go on to inspire.

In the words of Coach Herman who guest-taught to the students at YPU, “Everyone has their own talents. Instead of trying to be someone else, focus on your strengths. Take action even if you don’t have confidence and improve from there. Don’t say there are no opportunities out there for you, you have to create your own opportunities.”

I’m so glad I have the advice of giants to guide me in the path ahead.