Not having perfect eyesight should not hinder you from a successful, fulfilling life.

LAST weekend, I was invited to give a motivational talk to members of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Albinism Association (KLSAA), of which I am also adviser.

Albinism, according to Wikipedia, is a congenital disorder characterised by complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. It is associated with a number of vision defects such as photophobia, nystagmus, and amblyopia.

Not having perfect eyesight (as some KLSAA members demonstrated) should not hinder you from a successful, fulfilling life. One such person is Siti Hajar Ismail, a final year Masters student from the Malaysian Technology University. She spoke briefly about her journey which was by no means, an easy one. In primary school, she couldn’t see the blackboard even when she sat in the front row. To copy the teacher’s notes, she had to rely on other students. Yet she scored As in all her UPSR examination subjects.

Siti Hajar then went on to study in one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the country. Again, she relied on others to catch up with what was taught in the classrooms. She admitted to feeling envious of other students who were able to be active, but she quickly turned things around by focusing on her strengths, not her weaknesses.

She discovered that she was a “self-smart” person — viz, one who understands feelings, emotions and the inner self, a realisation which led her to pursue a degree in psychology. Amazingly, amidst all the difficulties and seemingly impossible challenges, she thrived. Today, Siti Hajar is almost done with her Master’s degree, and soon on her way to a PhD (she is well on course to be the first Malaysian albino to obtain a doctorate).

Another person who shared her story was current KLSAAA president Nurulhuda Mohamad. Like Siti Hajar, she engaged a friend to read to her what the teachers wrote on the whiteboard. She also focused on her interpersonal skills to overcome all other limitations. She is now a teacher who can speak four languages — Malay, English, Arabic and Thai. How awesome is that?

Another inspiring person I met was the founder and former KLSAA president, Maizan Mohd Salleh. She had to work very hard and overcome all odds to become the first albino lawyer in the country. Today, she is the proud owner of a thriving firm, Maizan & Co.

During the talk, I spoke about the power of vision and the strength of character to overcome the challenges hurled at us. All great leaders are known for their equally great visions: The ability to think long-term and create steps to get there.

A visionary person is someone who can think creatively while balancing it with logic and common sense. Strategic thinking skills are also a very strong trait he or she possesses. Visionary people are in touch with their external environment as well as their inner self and can see how success looks and tastes like. I saw a lot of that in the albinos who shared their stories that day; they may lack good eyesight, but their vision is clearer than ever.

Zaid Mohamad coaches and trains parents to experience happier homes and more productive workplaces. Reach him at

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