Unlocking ADHD contributor Reuben Yue delves into the colorful life of multi-hyphenate Jack Sim, and explores how his story can be a conduit of hope to ADHDers and his strengths a shining light for the greater good.
Jack’s Background and Accolades
Jack Sim aka ‘Mr Toilet’, is a serial entrepreneur with many accolades under his belt. His enterprising spirit and tenacity have brought about much success in the corporate world and by the age of 40, Jack had founded 16 profitable companies.
In 2001, he founded the World Toilet Organization (WTO), which was enshrined unanimously by the governments of all 193 member countries of the United Nations (UN) to solve the severe shortage of toilets for 40% of the world’s population. The UN even declared World Toilet Day to be on 19 November!
Over the last 21 years, his passion and drive to serve humanity has created a movement that brought about proper sanitation to about 1.2 billion people in the developing world. This was an amazing feat by any standard.
Despite his multiple achievements, Jack did not rest on his laurels. In 2011, he started BOP Hub, a non-profit organization with the aim of ending global poverty for 4 billion people. BOP Hub serves as a business accelerator platform by supporting social entrepreneurs and business ventures for the good of society, a cause that he firmly believes in.
How has Jack been so successful in his ventures?
Behind the success of the man lies the unseen traits and qualities of ADHD, which are invisible to the untrained eye. It is said that often the people closest to us know us best. In Jack’s case, it was his astute daughter who brought to awareness the ADHD strengths that served him well throughout his illustrious career.
Although he has not obtained a formal diagnosis of ADHD, Jack believes that he has the traits and sees it as a gift in his life.
Leading with ADHD Strengths
His voracious appetite for solving complex problems and high tolerance of stress in chaos and diversity – traits highly associated with ADHDers – has given Jack an edge above the rest.
During the economic recession between 1998 to 2000, Jack’s businesses slowed down tremendously. Despite experiencing a period of restlessness, he did not wallow in self-pity. Instead, it was during these tumultuous times that led to his foray into humanitarian work where he founded the Restroom Association and WTO while simultaneously resolving company management issues to stay afloat. Jack’s ability to leverage on his strengths in handling crises and solving problems as they arise has served him well.
His hyperactivity trait meant that he had almost no saturation point in taking up new challenges. Such is his prowess that he is able to work on 80 to 100 projects simultaneously and manage multiple partners at any given time! Jack mentioned that he was able to utilize his hyperactivity and boundless energy by seizing opportunities as they emerged, which has brought about much success in his sphere of influence.
As an affable person, Jack was able to create meaningful conversations and connections with people during his travels. He attributed this to his trait of spontaneity, which allowed him to create a network of partners around the world to fulfill his vision to end poverty.
Creativity, a common trait in ADHDers, is a strength that Jack is naturally endowed with. He has the ability to come up with novel ideas in solving humanitarian problems. In cultivating the creative space, he shared that he has developed the skill to ‘empty’ his mind and access the relevant information when the need arises. To optimize his creativity, Jack adopted strategies and tools to reduce mental load so that he can focus on his creative pursuits.
These examples are a testament to Jack’s ADHD strengths, which were ultimately used for the betterment of society.
Struggles in the Early Years
The immense success of the man belies the struggles in his early years. Unbeknownst to many, Jack faced difficult challenges in his schooling years. He shared that in his primary school days, he was often daydreaming in class and would let his imagination run wild with images of cartoon characters and sword-fighting heroes.
As he often cracked jokes and laughed with his classmate who was seated at the back of the class, to prevent classroom disruption, his teachers often punished him by sending him out of the class. On the academic front, he failed his O-level examinations in secondary school despite being a student of potential and was not able to move on to the next level. These were truly dark times for Jack.
Notwithstanding these setbacks, he has developed resilience and fortitude, and did not allow these challenges to hold him back. He charted a new path for himself and used his strengths to rebuild his life.
The Healing Power of Reframing
Credit: Photo from Jack Sim
Over the years, Jack has come to embrace and accept himself for who he is – with or without ADHD – despite the trials of life. He has learnt that the highest office bearers may come from humble beginnings, a concept that is congruent with his life experience and gives hope to people like him.
As a student who struggled in school due to his ADHD traits, he understands the value of empathy in leadership. “I failed everything at O level because I was always sent to stand outside the class. Since I did not possess a degree, I became a Union Secretary at the Singapore Mercantile and Manual Workers Union of the Diethelm branch, the company I worked for in my first job, and learnt management from the other side of the table.” he says.
Jack has come to see himself as one who is loveable and of inherent value, which is not dependent on circumstances and the views of others. He normalizes rejection as a universal experience and finds comfort in knowing that he is not alone.
Instead of battling with bureaucracy, a common challenge ADHDers face, Jack has developed the ability to motivate the bureaucrats to transform society. Ultimately, Jack has learnt not to place his self-identity on position and power but to use his precious time on earth for service to humanity. In his words, Jack shared that “time is priceless. And service to humanity is the highest value of exchange for time”.
Jack’s story gives hope to those who are struggling with ADHD. It epitomizes the strengths of ADHD traits and the positive impact ADHDers can make to engender change and transform society. It also recognizes the struggles ADHDhers face on the journey of acceptance yet reminds us that we are all inherently beautiful and have something special to offer the world.
Leave a Reply