A story to inspire your 2021

2020 has indeed been a terrible year for many of us. It is finally gone and hopefully 2021 will be a better year for all of us!

Hope however, is rarely a good strategy. On the other hand, personal development, hard work and perseverance is.

A few days ago, I had coffee with an old friend and his story inspired me once again.

Thirty years ago, this friend of mine was a “hokkien peng” in the SAF. His life was messy and he was clearly a troubled person.

Wanting to change his life for better, he signed up to be an officer and went through a gruelling officer cadet course. He succeeded and became a technical officer in the SAF.

As an officer, he had a better pay but without a degree his career progression is limited. Once again, looking to change his life, he took up part-time studies and after several years earned a degree in finance. Alas, the SAF did not recognise that degree and his efforts seemed in vain.

It was as though fate threw a spanner at him and his future is still limited.

Unfazed, he made a life-changing decision. He quit the SAF, moved to Australia and took up an Electrical, Electronics and Engineering degree in a renowned Australian University.

After several years of hard work and surviving on his savings, he not only earned an Engineering degree, he also completed a PhD in Electrical Engineering!

What a transformation! Hokkien peng to a PhD holder. That is only half the story.

My friend went on to become a lecturer in the same university and within a few years, was promoted to the head of the engineering faculty. At last, life began to look promising!

Unfortunately, his wife was later diagnosed with a brain tumour and needed significant care for basic life needs. My friend quit his job to look after his wife as his wife is more important to him than anything else. Once again, he had to survive on his savings.

His wife fully recovered after a long and tough battle. My friend’s Tender Loving Care paid off. He started to teach part-time again to make ends meet a few years ago.

In a year of COVID-19 whereby there were massive job cuts in the universities (which were heavily reliant on overseas students for revenue), my friend not only did not get laid off, he was hired and promoted to the permanent position of Director of Studies in the university!

Absolutely unreal. Hokkein peng to a Director of Studies in a top university. Wow wow wow! How many times did life throw a spanner at him? How many times did he step out of his comfort zone in search for a better future? How many times did he say no to the path of least resistance, and instead took the path that is paved with difficulties and obstacles?

It took 30 years of transformation, but he did it. There are many people I admire, but he is top by far.

Whenever I need some inspiration, I will recall his amazing story. Whatever challenges I felt I had would seem minuscule when compared with what he had gone through.

It is likely that the next time I write about him, he would be a “professor” instead of being just a “Dr”. He is living proof that hard work and perseverance will pay off.

A simple story to inspire you to aim high and work hard, not just for yourself, but for your loved ones too.

What would you do this year, that will massively improve your life?

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