Twelve months have passed since I took office in April 2009. Much has happened over that period. It has been a thrilling journey, although the remit has produced extraordinary demands to deliver to the Rakyat. Just as I work and entrust my cabinet with greater efficiency to ensure speedy delivery, I too push and challenge myself to reach an exemplary level. Inevitably, thanks to these rigours, my days have grown longer and my nights shorter. It is perhaps because of such demands that I find great meaning in the small things such as warm genuine smiles and handshakes of common Malaysians, which sometimes give me as much a thrill as shaking hands with world leaders.
I am sure many of you agree with me that it is imperative for us to lead a life of balance between work and personal life. Not only does it allow us to spend some quality time with family and friends, a balanced life can improve productivity, thinking and decision-making. We all need downtime and I’ve found that physical exercise in particular has brought calm and energy to my daily proceedings, allowing me to better focus on important matters and achieve more productive hours.
Hitting the treadmill between two and three times a week also enables me to meet with greater confidence and comfort another considerable necessity associated with my job: travel. From time to time, I visit other countries for official visits, as well as different parts of Malaysia, and these visits can be very intensive indeed. In the international arena, we must continue to place Malaysia positively. This is important as we are a small open economy that relies heavily on international trade.
Of course, there are also periods of rest that do not involve cardiovascular activity, and I enjoy reading during these precious times. I normally read a few books at a time, the latest being Martin Jacques’s ‘When China Rules the World’ and ‘Blink’ by Malcolm Gladwell. Although the opportunity has become rare these days, whenever possible, I try to get in a round of golf or watch television.
As I look towards, and consider the important targets that we have set ourselves in 2010, I accept that it will not be smooth sailing at all times in the months ahead. However, I believe that by sharing the burden and paddling in the same direction together, we can achieve our goals.