James and Ann Sy: How Do You Guard Your Walk While Pursuing Excellence? Part 2

It started when one day, I was taken by surprise that a staff member who had been on board for many weeks was tasked to count thirty pieces of bread for our sandwich order.  And the count was wrong.  I have made it clear that we can not be putting sub-standard ingredients in our food and I saw some lettuce with bulok parts sitting in the tray for the sandwich assembly.

There are cute sexy sultry Grrrrrrrr’s” and then there are ugly Grrrrrr’s.  I had the latter.  As I’m talking to this person, I’m having an inner struggle about how to express the need for quality while being filled with the Holy Spirit’s kindness and edifying words when we are running after the deadline.  I failed.  I was more like a pressure cooker regulator cap. I think I am a Daughter of Thunder kin to James and John.

Malu Ortiz is asking me to help her facilitate this Inner Beauty discussion and I’m seeing just how ugly I am when I am impatient.  Lord help me!

So began my quest for answers on how people are able to be victorious in this area.

[For Part 1, please click Here.]

I had a chat with business couple James and Ann Sy who are Managing Director and Operations/ Business Development Manager respectively of the trading company Basilur Tea, Philippines whose goal is to bring affordable excellent high-quality, value-for-money products to the Philippine market.

James and Ann Sy of Basilur Tea Philippines

James says that as an entrepreneur, he oversees everything but when there are gaps, he tries to see how he can help in different respects of the business.

I asked them how can they balance the pursuit for excellence and still guard a good testimony…

ANN SY (AS):  Prayers and Control.

JAMES SY (JS): Give me a copy of that video for accountability.

BUTTERFLYINTHESPRING (BITS):  Yeah, we all need to be accountable no? 🙂

AS:  It’s really hard…. We used to have an employee in Accounting.  I was irritated but on the other hand, I also gained compassion.  I told her to just focus on her strength.  I tried to help on what her struggles were.

BITS: Are you able to process it immediately when it happens?

AS: No.  I need a breather before I face it again because if I face it immediately, I might say things I will regret.

BITS: That breather in between probably makes a big difference…

AS: Yes, because when you’re so irritated, after two or three hours, when you face the situation again, the anger fades a bit.  It was really hard for us… I told the person that I didn’t want to have any gap or grievance against her because she and I are both believers. It’s not nice that we are the ones fighting.  I told her that she can improve her job.

BITS: Did it have anything to do with dishonesty?
AS: The quality of work.

JS:  It’s not from her heart.

AS: Yeah. Eventually we had to let her go.   I really need to stop and have a breather.

BITS: Have a cup of tea

JS: Chamomile so she can relax more… [Laughter]

AS: When you think of it, God places people in our lives to mold our character.  Sometimes it’s irritating but it is a way for us to learn.  I was on leave from work for health reasons but when I came back, I was thankful. It gave me an opportunity to be more hands-on and I found better ways to improve the operations and different aspects of the business. With your own personal touch, it’s better.  That was God’s blessing.

 Through CCF messages, I learned to change my perspective on people according to how Jesus would see them.  Sometimes I struggle with emotions like irritation… The breather really helps.

BITS: You also can’t sacrifice excellence or quality no?

: You have to lead. You have to choose the right person suitable for the job. If it doesn’t work out, separate ways peaceably.

JS:  For me, Pause. Don’t react immediately. Evaluate the situation, evaluate the person — where s(he) is coming from. After that, explain.  It boils down to building relationship; that’s important for  a more cohesive team.  Some people are competent but not cooperative in working towards the team goals.  What I mean by being a team player is the person does what s(he) should be doing properly and s(he) knows the impact of doing the job well and the consequences of not doing the job well. This has to be explained to him/her.  If not, s(he) will not know why or what she’s doing.  If she makes a mistake, allowance can be made once or twice but if repeatedly, there must be something wrong… Training might be lacking.  We need to equip them properly and adequately to do the job well.  

AS: If it still doesn’t work out, I think it might be a mismatch between the person’s strength and what’s required.  If you can’t move him to another job, you will have to let that person go.  It’s key for the person to have the heart for that job and perseverance to pursue it despite challenges.  If the person doesn’t know much about a job but the heart is there, there will be determination and perseverance; eventually that person will learn to do that job well. 

BITS: Teachability?

AS: Yes. If that’s not there, you can’t squeeze the good output from the person.  You can teach and teach but if the person has no heart for excellence…

JS: If you force to squeeze out excellence from a person who has no heart for it, that person might break down…

BITS: Do you think you can apply here not giving up on people that you can give them a chance to become better, looking at them as how Christ sees them after He’s worked in them?

JS:  In terms of being a Christian, you can be forgiving and compassionate but it is important to be excellent in the work you do.  God gave us talent, blessing, so we are expected to make use of these to the best we can.  If we are given a business, we need to be good stewards of this business.  We can’t neglect it and allow it to have poor quality.

BITS:  You mean, in being a good steward, you can’t keep settling for mediocre work?

JS: It’s your responsibility as an employer and also to your employees that your business is profitable and doing well.  After giving an employee the proper time and training, you need to let that person go if the job is not suitable for him/her and he is unable to give a good output.  You need to be focused on the goal of being the best of what God has set for you.

BITS: Alangan nga naman you’ll set out to do business so you can aim to be a mediocre entity putting out so-so products and services…  In pursuing that excellence yet having employees who might be incapable or inadequate or doing the work wrong, how do you preserve being a good testimony of Jesus Christ? [ang kulit ko]

JS:  How you handle yourself with your employee, you don’t break down.  The person can see in whatever struggles you have— how do you solve your problems, how do you think…  how do you evaluate a situation— you can be a testimony of Christ.

BITS: How do you handle discipline?

JS: The bible also says that justice is good.  When someone does something, it’s not good that you ignore it.

AS: The employee handbook will be a guide.  When they cross the line, discipline needs to be meted out… because if you don’t, it sets a bad precedent.

BITS: What tips do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? 

JS: Truly follow your passion.

AS: Utilize your God-given talent. When you experience challenges or fatigue, doing your job for the Lord will help to keep you going.  You need to count the cost, calculate that you are committed to do what it takes to pursue this job and do it excellently. Once you are committed, no matter what hardships you encounter, you need to persevere.  Don’t give up.  If ever it succeeds or fails, you will have peace that you did your best and you won’t have regrets.


Thanks so much James and Ann for sharing your wisdom on this matter, how to guard your walk while pursuing excellence. I am so blessed to know you both! I thank God for allowing me to meet fellow sojourners who want to please Him in business who are willing to share what you are learning.  May The Lord continue to bless you, your family, your business, and all your endeavors for His glory in Jesus’s name amen!

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