Life Lesson #2 – Have Courage

Being brave and having the courage to stand by my values…

At the age of 8 years old, I slaughtered a big cobra by myself. Like everyone, I am fearful on a lot of things even though I grew in a harsh environment. I saw a black cobra in the kitchen when it was only a few meters away. Overcame by fear, I didn’t dare to move. A few thoughts flashed through my brain. I was thinking if I didn’t kill it, my family might be harmed. With this thought, I gathered all my courage, immediately grabbing a steel rod and killing it with all my strength. Whenever I think back, I count myself very lucky as the cobra was already facing me before I hit it. After doing some research myself about the cobra, I realized I could be killed as I was only a small boy. I think the thought of my family being attacked by cobra helped me to do the right thing at that moment.

When I was in my secondary two, one of my classmates taught us how to blow whistle using the grass beside the basketball court. It happened after school and I didn’t know I could get myself into trouble with whistle. As a first timer, I blew so loud that the school principal came out to catch the culprit. My school bus came at that point of time and I didn’t know about this matter. It was only when my classmate told me that another student was given a canning because he was caught by the school principal that I knew about this matter.

Knowing that, I felt bad about it and I decided to inform my form teacher about this matter. My form teacher brought me to see the school principal. Overcome by fear, I was worried about being caned by the school principal and my parents will punish me after that. Surprisingly, the school principal did not cane me instead he accepted my apology. He even praised me for being honest and having the courage to own up.

I didn’t have any friends during my Primary school as I was extremely shy and had no self-confidence. During my secondary school time, this behavior continued as I didn’t dare to speak in English reason being, I came from a Chinese Primary school in a Kampong. As a student, I was always one of the few who had consistently generated poor result as I needed to spend about 6 to 12 hours everyday at the farm land with my parents. I never had the courage to even say the word “achievement” after I finish my secondary school. In fact, I almost ended my life as I always received the comment that I was stupid.

Man Hunt Singapore

In August 2002, I saw an advertisement about signing up the “Man hunt Singapore” contest. It promised $15,000 prize money and a career as a model. This advertisement attracted me and perhaps it also attracted many youngsters during those days. At that point of time, I was very hungry to achieve something in my life and I wanted to give the $15,000 prize money to my father so that he wouldn’t be so worried about money. I decided to take part in the contest. This thought excited me although there were many reasons that I could easily fail. Besides the fear of putting on swimming trunks and performing cat walk on stage, one of the greatest fears I had was the thought of speaking English in front of the audience. I kept comforting myself that I was always not successful and I don’t think I would lose much even I didn’t win anything.

I worked hard every moment reading up, asking people for help, spending more than 12 hours every week in the gym, sticking to very strict diet and constantly reminding myself that I need to be positive. I emerged as a finalist of Manhunt 1993. Suddenly I realized something very valuable in life which is God or Buddha will only be there for people who believe in themselves. I continued this journey and after 15 years, I became the champion of Men’s Health 2007. Having that courage, being focused and having the thought of beginning with the end in mind is the key in transforming myself from an extremely shy Kampong boy to being able to speak.