In Year 2006, I was among the shortlisted few for Valedictorian of the graduating class. I was required to give a sample speech & I also had to go through an interview.
I guess I did pretty well overall until the interview. During the interview, they asked what am I going to do after my graduation. My answer was, “To be a financial planner & one day, be among the top financial professional in the nation.”
The interviewer asked me, “Are you going to be an insurance agent?”
“Yeah! It’s definitely one of the plans,” I answered.
The interviewer was disappointed and said, “Why study so hard to get into an industry that anyone could be in?”
My answer was an obvious disappointment to the interviewer. Well, I can’t blame him because after all, I was graduating with a Bachelor in Computer Science. However, there was a question lingering in my mind back then, “Did I make the wrong decision to pursue my passion?”
The Marathon Run
During my third year of my career, I was in Singapore and my mentor enrolled me for Adidas Sundown Marathon. It was a 42-km marathon that begins at 12am midnight.
Prior to the 42-km midnight marathon, I could only do 1.6km on the treadmill in the gym. I had only 6 months to practice. Before the official marathon, the furthest I’ve run was 12km.
At first, I hated my mentor for doing so but I later understood clearly why did he enroll me for the 42-km run.
During the 42-km marathon, I was not physically ready. But I guess I’ve managed to pull it through because I had the determination to complete. That night, I’ve learned that the moment you want to slow down is the moment you got to push yourself to accelerate. It was a 5 hours 50 minutes training of conquering pain with the mind.
It was a lesson that I carry with myself in life and business until today. The moment setbacks hit you in the face; it’s time to learn. But you will only learn if you push and persevere.
The Emotional Fuel
Today, when people congratulate me of the success that I’ve enjoyed over the years, I always believe in giving credits to all the failures & setbacks that I’ve experienced as well. To be honest, at one point of time, I wanted to give up almost every day. It wasn’t easy to be working and studying at the same time. What has really kept me going wasn’t my determination alone. To be very honest, it was Passion. Passion is the emotional fuel that drives my vision.
Passion is what keeps me going when my ideas were challenged and people turn me down, when I was rejected by ‘so-called experts’ and even when people close to you are against your vision. I had a vision to revolutionize financial education. I wanted to redefine the way people think about money.
Looking back, I sometimes wonder if I would be able to replicate my works in the IT industry, the major I’ve done in university. Honestly speaking, I really doubt so. The only difference was Passion. Passion can’t protect you from failures but it ensures you that every setback is never final. When you live with passion, setbacks become learning experiences, giving you a chance to refine your vision and rethink your strategies. It becomes a reminder to how much your dreams really mean to you.
My Message To You
Today, when I choose team members onboard, I do not look at their resumes alone. I want people with energy who are excited to pursue their passion. I’m always on the look out for people who are excited to make a difference. The reason I do so is because I’m convinced that I’ve made the right choice not to listen to the ‘so-called expert’ during my failed Valedictorian interview.
I’ve made one mistake in my life when I choose my college major simply to satisfy my parents. For 4 years in college, I was bored in class. If only I choose the major I was interested in, I guess I will be energized by every lessons taught in class.
That lesson taught me this important 6 words – FOLLOW YOUR HEART, NOT THE CROWD!
“Passion is the genesis of genius” – Anthony Robbins