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A Book Review: You Too Can Excel

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For a book title, ‘You Too Can Excel’ may sound too common. However, this is one book that is everything except common. I have written this book for a top civil servant who has over 35 years of experience where he shares his experiences through stories, insights, and hindsight for those aspiring young leaders who too want to reach the top positions in organizations.

As the book appears to have two names, allow me to differentiate between an author and a writer. A writer is the one who helps write the book, but the author is the one with the stories and the sharing of his views. The writer plays the role of interviewing to unleash what is inside the author and help write the book. Of course, there are authors who write their own books too. However, many people have books trapped inside them but do not translate their gems to be shared with the world.

One such individual, Datuk Ir. Amrullah has unleashed his trapped book into reality with his first book, You Too Can Excel. The book is written more in a style of self-improvement rather than a biography.

At the recent book launch at the Ark Event Space, Plaza Damas, Kuala Lumpur

This book is divided into 10 Chapters with Chapter 1 giving a good background of Datuk Amrullah Kamal describing the events that had shaped him. His years of martial arts training through Taekwondo, Judo, and Silat classes have developed a sense of confidence and discipline that serves him well. His scouting activities developed his leadership, and survival skills as well as inculcated in him a sense of independence.

His parents’ spiritual teachings have inculcated good moral principles and humility in him. His resilience and courage in his younger days certainly helped him in his later years.

Before introducing Chapter 2, there is a brief introduction on what are the 7 Majestic Step-Ups. The term, Step-Up means to do something faster and better with greater intensity to achieve the desired results.

The 7 Majestic Step-Ups approach are as follows:
Chapter 2: Majestic Step-Up 1: Engage foresight to develop a vision
Chapter 3: Majestic Step-Up 2: Have the guts to do what is right
Chapter 4: Majestic Step-Up 3: Develop superb communication skills
Chapter 5: Majestic Step-Up 4: Be hungry for success and performance-driven
Chapter 6” Majestic Step-Up 5: Execute well with massive action
Chapter 7: Majestic Step-Up 6: Follow through till successful
Chapter 8: Majestic Step-Up 7: Build a powerful and motivated team

Chapter 2 to Chapter 8 covers the 7 Majestic Step-Ups providing specific examples of how Datuk Amrullah had used them to excel. He rose from the rank of an executive engineer to the Director of JKR Sabah and then the Director-General Dewan Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu, and finally the President of Majlis Perbandaran Tawau, through using this approach to help achieve extraordinary results often with seemingly impossible tasks.

In many of his works, he had tapped into his foresight to develop an inspiring vision to win over people’s commitment. He had the guts to do what was right rather than what was popular. He had used his superb persuasive skill to influence his superiors to approve something that had never been approved before.

For example, he managed to get a huge budget for the development of rural roads in Sabah approved as well as for 45 fresh engineers despite the staff intake freeze policy.

In everything, one can sense that this man has a hunger for success and is performance-driven. He not only executed well with massive action, but his follow-through was relentless. To him, there is no such thing as failure unless one gives up trying. He did whatever it took, often outside his decision-making powers, using his influential skills to get a difficult idea approved and implemented.

He was quick to admit that he did not chalk up all the great achievements by himself. He had leveraged the motivated team that he had developed.

Perhaps his courage, tenacity, and perseverance could be best attested by his attending Tony Robbins fire-walking seminar 3 times and having climbed Mount Kinabalu to reach the summit when he was 51 years old.

Chapter 9 is an emotional chapter where he shares his greatest loss. It is heart-rendering to read about the loss of his father and yet inspiring to know of the great love of his family that motivated him to overcome the adversities he faced. The lessons of adversities are indeed useful gems, especially for the younger ones who have yet to face a great crisis in their lives.

In the final chapter, Datuk Amrullah shows us behind the tough and disciplined leader is a man who has a soft spot for orphans. His involvement in community and charity work while working full-time in organizations shows his love and care for helping others.

His definition of his purpose in life is indeed most magnanimous and selfless:

“The purpose of my life is to serve others and make a difference in their lives. In the process of helping others, I will improve myself, become a better and happier person as well as achieve a sense of fulfillment in my life.”

His active role in securing a wakaf land and the building, Rumah Anak Ar-Raudhoh speaks volumes of a man whose kindness has made a difference in the lives of the orphans.

In this book, Datuk Amrullah generously shares his insight, experiences, and strategies to help those working in the public as well as the private sector to excel in whatever they do through the 7 Majestic Step-Ups.

The Foreword of the book was written by Datuk Seri Panglima KY Mustafa, the Chairman of Public Service Commission, Sabah.

The list of VIP endorsements of the book is very long and impressive and it includes the following:

Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Sukarti Wakiman, Former State Secretary of Sabah
Datuk Seri Panglima Abdul Ghapur Salleh, Former Sabah State Minister of Finance
Datuk Seri Panglima Syed Abbas Syed Ali, Former Speaker Dewan Undangan Negeri, Sabah
Datuk Dayang Mahani Tun Pg Ahmad Raffae, Former Minister of Communications and Works Sabah.
Datuk John Lo, Member of Sabah Economic Advisory Council 2021/2022
Datuk Ismail Awang Besar, JP, Former Chairman, State Public Commission
Datuk Ir. Hiew Thien Choi, Former Director of JKR Sabah
Datuk Ir. Anjin Ajik, Former Director of JKR Sabah
Datuk Vincent Pung, Managing Director, Sabah Development Bank Berhad

This book is certainly a must-read for young leaders aspiring to reach top positions. You too can excel if you apply this approach in your work and in whichever field you are in.

About the Reviewer

Dr. Victor SL Tan is the Managing Director of KL Strategic Change Consulting Group and the author of 12 books. His passion is in consulting, training and writing. For more information contact him at victorsltan@klscc.com

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