4 Things We Learnt from our Getaway


Work hard, play hard! – a mantra we chant in our heads as we navigated through a year of challenges and successes. We recently lived out that adage by taking a few days off for a staff retreat in beautiful Krabi!

Our deepest gratitude to a Heartware Network donor who sponsored the retreat so that we could unwind, recalibrate, and replenish our energy. We are now in top condition to deliver our very best to our youth and beneficiaries in the upcoming months!

But even in our moments of repose and recreation, we took away many learning points we wish to share with you. Here are 4 biggest lessons we gained from our time-out:

The only way out is forward

Our most memorable experience – if you leave out the delectable banana pancakes we stuffed ourselves with almost every meal – was kayaking at Ao Thalane. This is a mangrove sanctuary that lined a magnificent bay of picturesque limestone cliffs. What a beautiful journey it was, to meander through the mangroves under the call of tropical birds in calm weather (at least at the beginning).

StaffRetreat2-20171020-154801 Us on a mini island in the middle of adjacent limestone cliffs.

Unbeknownst to many, this tranquil scene hides a deeper struggle. Can you imagine steering through the waters with hefty paddles against the current in low tide for kilometers? Or being stuck in a heavy downpour, stranded on a sandy island in the middle of the sea? What was supposed to be an enjoyable time became grueling and intense with these unplanned turn of events. Our arms were as heavy as lead, and our bodies extremely vulnerable to Mother Nature. Secretly, we wanted to give up.

Here’s the hard truth: There was no good in throwing in the towel. Had we not picked up our paddles and given it all we’ve got, had we not made light of the uncomfortable situation, we would have been stuck in that sea with a miserable mindset.

So we laughed off our fatigue, waited for the calm to get back onto the kayak, and listened to our guide to avoid shallow waters. We made it back to land with aching arms and a story to tell. It is important to persevere and stay positive even when the odds are against us. So, chin up! The only way out is forward.  

Don’t just ‘do it’…own it!

We proudly declare that we are all now certified in basic Thai cooking! Yes! We are talking about authentic Thai Green Curry, Tom Yam Goong, Pad Thai, and Papaya Salad, whipped from scratch.

StaffRetreat3-20171020-154827 Just look at the size of that knife! We all had our turns bashing chillies and lemongrass with it.

Most of us have almost zero skills in cooking, if you ignore our fried egg and instant noodle expertise. So seeing these exquisite dishes being served on the table and knowing that they were concocted from our own hands was an amazing and humbling experience. Not to mention they tasted absolutely fantastic.  StaffRetreat4-20171020-154903

In clockwise from top left: Pad Thai, Tom Yum Goong, Papaya Salad, and Green Curry.

Whether it is cooking or managing our programmes, we learnt the importance of having the right ingredients, and trusting our abilities to deliver a satisfying product. We take ownership of what we do, and feel a sense of pride over the fruits of our labour! We reap what we sow.

Think ahead

It’s not all fun and games in our retreat; we continued to put our heads together through envisioning exercises for our programmes and brainstorming our role in community building. These light-hearted exercises affirmed who we are as a charity organisation, where we stand in the face of other competitors, what we can uniquely do, and how we can strategically help our beneficiaries in a 3 year timeline.

StaffRetreat5-20171020-154931 Heartware’s newest recruit, Elysia sharing on her S.W.O.T. (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of the National Day Parade Hospitality Management.

StaffRetreat6-20171020-154944 The team did not hold back in expressing each other’s strengths and rooms for improvement. Definitely helps in strengthening bonds and understanding one another better!

When we thought about our wishlist and the future of our programmes, we saw a vision we wanted to turn into reality. We dispelled amateur thoughts about how we were already doing okay; we now have a burning passion to do better. Look forward to us executing our purpose with greater poise, and creating an even greater impact in the lives we reach out to, together with our youth!

Live in the moment

Being away from our laptops and office pressure allows us to smell the roses with greater mindfulness, and to live in the moment. In this novel setting, there was just us, a beautiful view, and some mosquitoes. We looked to each other, laughed till our bellies hurt, and learnt to slow down.

Check out the video below to watch how our great getaway transpired: 

We’re now ready to enter our next working phase in our best state possible. Till our next retreat!  


Signing out,

The Heartware Team <3