3 + 1 Lessons before Turning 31

A week ago, I was invited as a panel in a forum and the moderator introduced me as “one of the youngest wealth coach in Asia”. I jokingly replied, “Yeah! That was a many years ago.”

 

In the blink of an eye, I’m turning 31 years old. Hitting my 30’s has been a true transformational journey in regards to my outlook and philosophies in life.

Just as I was about to turn 30 last year, I was hit by the biggest challenge of my life. Ending my 6 years love relationship with Candice, my now ex-girlfriend and still business partner. Then the oil crash drastically affected one of the companies that I’ve worked with, causing our business to come to a halt, teaching me a whole new meaning of a “major business disaster”.

For the past 1 year, I’ve burnt the most amount of money in my life. I’ve had the most sleepless nights and this is probably the only year I’ve taken sleeping pills because my fatigue was affecting my daily routines. It was also the year I felt the most depressed as my integrity was being doubted by many of my clients and even my closest friends.

But… This is also the year I’ve gained the most knowledge in business, law (in Malaysia, Singapore and Canada), accounting and corporate finance. My spiritual being has gained tremendous bond and connection with my Higher Power as I wake up every morning praying for my clients and business associates who were affected by the crisis. I’ve had the strongest bond with my business associates who stood together during our toughest time in life and now I can proudly call them my buddies-for-life. Hard times will always reveal true friends.

 

The entrepreneurship world is like climbing a mountain. To use this simple analogy, many people dream of reaching the summit. With stories of Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, it makes the summit of the mountain sound like the perfect place to be. I was definitely one of them who dreamt of being at the top of the summit. I created a plan. I was mentally prepared to violate some social rules such as leaving my comfort zone in Singapore to set up my venture in Kuala Lumpur; built a team and promised them that we will do whatever it takes to bring everyone to the summit; aim for series of camps on our way to the top; make significant changes in terrains; thought that we were well on the way to the summit as I carefully calculated every step. But out of a sudden, a storm came and swiped us off the mountain. We fell. I looked at my team members. All of them were bruised. What truly broke my heart was when I saw my parents who were a part of my journey coughing blood.

In this post, I would like to share the 3 most important lessons I’ve learnt during the most chaotic year of my life!

1 Stay True to Reality

The market will make you look either smart or dumb. When the tide is high, it covers up a lot of mistakes. When tide is low, all your weaknesses will be exposed!

When faced with brutal facts, dare to make unpopular decisions. A leader’s role is to make hard and right decisions for his clients even if it’s gonna make him unpopular among several of his team members. In the words of Marco Rubio, “We live in a society obsessed with public opinion. But leadership has never been about popularity.”

Effective leadership is not about making charismatic speeches or being liked. The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.

2. Right People Doing The Right Things

The biggest nightmare of a Pharmaceutical business is when the top sales person tries to be a chemist. Just because he got a good track record of being a top sales person and he knows what the market wants, that doesn’t mean he knows how to formulate a prescription drug.

The old adage “Grow where you’re planted” means stick to the seat you know best and get the right butts on the right seats. The organization became fun for me to run when I started to be the dumbest person in the room. Instead of finding the right answers all the time, I started finding the right talent and spend time asking the right questions.

Then you need to evaluate all the key relationships surrounding you. Would you keep them? The toughest decision to make is when you need to make changes.

So when do you put a halt to a working relationship? Ask yourself, “Would you enthusiastically work with this person, knowing what you know today?”

This includes not only employees but existing customers, suppliers and other stakeholders in the business. It’s a painful question that requires one to face the brutal facts and make changes. It’s especially tough when the company or the situation has simply outgrown some earlier relationships

3. Work Hard On Your Routine.

Product failures. Getting your heart broken. What does it means? Give up? No way! It’s never in my dictionary. For every pain that is evoked, I asked myself, “What is the lesson to be learnt here?”

What doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. Over the months, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and discuss with many business leaders who failed and bounced back even stronger. And I’ve noticed that they all have 2 major attributes that brought them to greatness.

In times of good or bad, they are constantly looking for better ways to do things and to improve. They never sit back and let other pass them by. They have an insatiable desire to learn. Every challenge creates learning experiences. For every blessing that took place, they ask, “How can we do even better?” They have an unquenchable bias for action to attack issues and make things happen!

Most importantly, they create a routine to hold their daily hurdle and implement it with their respective organizations. They bring this crucial communication rhythm down throughout the entire organization. Your routines determine your results. In the long run, your routines will set you free!

The Last Lesson

At the end of the day, the true measurement of success is not recognition by the media, entrepreneurship award or financial wealth. What matters most in life are the depth of your relationships with friends and family; and the people you’ve served along the way. That’s the true measures of wealth!

As I grow older, I’ve also realized that I’ve become more selective of friends and business associates I work with. There are some people in your personal or professional life who are energy vampires – draining life out of you – distracting you from your higher purpose and goals. There is a space to form where you can note relationships you want to end gracefully.

True friendship isn’t about being there when it’s convenient. It’s about being there when it’s not. Learn to let go and focus on the few friends that are truly worth the effort. Pay attention to the faithful people. The ones you don’t have to impress. The ones who will always have your back.

 

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