Here is a story about how I almost dropped out of university, only to have landed a job at a large multinational IT company, and eventually coming full circle to discover my core purpose in life.
Chapter 1: Burning House
I never thought I would admit this but I was a naughty kid growing up. Back then, I only eat fast food and I always have this weird desire to take apart everything I can get my hands on. My dear sister had to endure my destruction. Even until today, we still gather our courage to talk about the time I burned half my parent's house down. It did not stop there. I spent half my time out of school because I like the excitement of it all and I like being outside my comfort zone, even until today. When it was time to enter university, I did what most of my peers did and enrolled myself into an IT degree programme. As I went along, my grades started to drop, to the point where I was convinced of calling it quits. My dad made me think twice. He gave me a piece of advice that propelled me into the IT corporate world, away from failure. That amazing advice which I kept until today is - to do great work, you have to learn how to enjoy it first.
Chapter 2: Corporate Dancing
I love the corporate life and the company I used to serve. It had all the benefits that anyone needs to survive in this world. Who wouldn't want a stable income, growth, insurance coverage and consistent doses of challenges throughout the whole year? I was covered for greatness. After 14 years of management experience and countless projects, I left it all behind to find myself again and to explore the unknown world far beyond the corporate walls. It was easy for me to make the decision at first. I was at the peak of my profession and I have accomplished what I had set out to do 14 years ago. To be honest, the hardest part for me after that was my growth trajectory. I was not growing in the way I wanted to and I was certainly not interested in the future job prospects that were laid in front of me. Everything lined up soon after. I packed my bags and I took the leap of faith, without realising that there was a deeper void already brewing within me.
Chapter 3: Meeting Myself
The first six months being at home was rough and lonely. There was enough 'alone time' for me to think deeply about myself. At the same time, I was working on a new technology startup with my partner and my personal growth started to pick up again, but there was this unknown deep void within me that needed addressing. The process was painful and at the same time disappointing. You see, while I was being busy in the corporate bubble, I almost never had the opportunity to just be with myself without thinking about work. I never learned about who I really was deep inside as I hardly listened to myself. Now that I was alone, I had the opportunity of finding out what was really going on deep inside me. Among the many things I found out, the most troubling one was the inner void that was left un-managed over time. I was without a mission, stripped of values, lost without purpose and had zero personal branding. I used to have all of those but they were the company's version of it which I left behind.
Chapter 4: Picked Up By A Giant
While I was consoling myself, I found very little satisfaction from what I did in the past. I never taught twice about the projects, achievements and companies I created over time, no matter how memorable it was. It did not bring me the deep fulfilment that I thought would help solve my inner void. Now, why is that? Were they the examples of materialistic achievements that we all take for granted as we look on to get more off? I knew I had to think deeper and I needed someone who can guide me. I was fortunate enough to meet a giant one day and what he shared with me eventually became my foundation through life. He told me to put aside all my worries, doubts and desire, all religious beliefs, all the books that I have read because everything we collectively know today points to the same two core purpose we share and practice every single day. I asked him to tell me what it was and he gave me big smile in return. Are you ready or have you forgotten?
Chapter 5: Embracing Our Core Purpose
What he said to me was very simple. We all have to strive to create value and build meaningful relationships every single day. The more value we create for others the more opportunities we will receive in return, and with more opportunities comes more growth. Growth caught my full attention at this point. From the point of relationships, we might take our personal relationships for granted because we don't realise that our lives are actually built on relationships, whether we want to or not. Think of your family, your life partner, business partners and customers. They are all relationships that we grow with as we go through life. We will even reflect on them when we leave this world. So with these two core purpose, I could see through all the confusion to build my personal mission, values and work on. All of my efforts and interest have since been evaluated on these two core purpose - create value and build meaningful relationships. My life quickly pivoted right after.
Chapter 6: Being A Value Creator
As I applied these two principles every single day, my life changed from a predictable and slightly safer one to a more challenging and unpredictable one, filled with new opportunities that offer a mix of interesting growth and experiences. I got to build a technology company with my partner, launch a storytelling company to help people connect through stories, wrote a few books and started a coaching company to help people realise their purpose, passion and pursuit in life. There is more work to be done and this is just the beginning for me. Being a value creator is a lifelong journey. Once we fail to create value and build meaningful relationships, our lives will quickly become irrelevant.
Thank you for reading my story, I encourage all of you to never stop creating value for others and remember to always build meaningful relationships throughout your life. With respect and love from me to you, I wish you all the best.
DATACOM, Strategic Consultant and Ideation Lead
Sunway University, VUBB, Academic & Industry Advisory Board Member
HELP University, Information Technology Industry Advisory Board Member
Regular speaker at Sunway University, Sunway Innovation Labs, Center for Asia Leadership