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ROUGH LIFE Ume first appeared when I was nine. “Why are you crying?” “My teacher punished me. She made me walk round the school field because I wore black socks. I said my white socks were wet and my mother had no money to buy an extra pair, but my teacher scolded me for lying. It’s so hot and I am so tired. I want to faint…” “Don’t cry. One day you will have money.” And Ume gave me a long hug. Warmth and love enveloped me. All my sadness melted away. Ume was a strange looking man. He was short and fat. His smile made me feel very comfortable, even though I had never seen him before. “Who are you?” “I am your teacher.” “I’ve never seen you in school before. Are you my new teacher?” “I am not your school teacher. I am your life teacher.” I just looked at him. 

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“When you grow up you will understand.” “Who are you?” “My name is Ume. Ume means You and Me. You and Me, we are One. When you grow up, you will understand.” I still did not understand. I only knew that he was the kindest and most loving person I ever met. I felt good with him. The school bell rang. Recess was over. I ran towards the assembly area. I remembered Ume. I turned around. He was no longer there.

Soul guide Ume kept his word. Whenever I felt down, he would appear. He appeared during my happy moments as well. Most of all, he appeared when I had important decisions to make. As I grew older, I began to understand that Ume was not a real person, but a soul guide. Yet he appeared so real, I could touch him and hug him. I learnt a lot from Ume. The most important lesson he taught me was how to turn my life around. From being a failure in primary school, I went on to top my professional diploma and master’s degree classes at age 27. From growing up in poverty and in the company of gangsters, I found career and entrepreneurship success. Ume taught me all this in a life skills model called PRAISE. “It’s time to share the PRAISE model,” Ume said to me one day in September 2004. “Haven’t I been doing that?”

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“Not quite. I am talking about sharing it with the world.” “How?” “Write a couple of books.” “What? I am not a writer!” “You haven’t learnt your lesson, have you? Don’t you know by now that you can achieve far beyond what you achieved in the past?” “I did try to write in 1996 but got stuck after a few pages.” “That’s history. You should know better than to let your past influence you. If you did that, you would be the Godfather of your neighbourhood mafia by now.” “���������������������������������������������������������������� “Ha ha! Don’t remind me of childhood. I can laugh about it now, but those were painful years. To be honest, I have been thinking about writing. But everyone tells me not to waste my time.” “You still haven’t learnt…” “I know. I know. I should not be influenced by negative people.” “That’s better. Starting tonight, you shall be a writer. You have an interesting story to tell and a powerful life skills model to share. Has it ever occurred to you that you were being prepared for this for the past 46 years? “So just get started, okay?” Anyway, I think you’ve had enough negative feedback. You will get plenty of positive feedback from now on.” “That would be good! Everyone needs encouragement.” 

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True enough, writing about my life and about PRAISE was not that difficult. In three months, I finished three books and I still have another half-completed manuscript. True enough, I found help and encouragement along the way. The very fact that you are reading this shows already that I have succeeded in getting my book to you.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK This book introduces PRAISE as a life skills model that will help you unlock your potential in order to achieve excellence and success. PRAISE embodies six key concepts for overcoming life’s challenges: q

Prizedream

q

Rules

q

Analysis

q

Invincibility

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Strategy

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Excellence

These key concepts give us the Success 6 Principles: • Set the Prizedream • Use internal Rules • Conduct Analysis • Cultivate Invincibility • Execute the Strategy • Sustain Excellence… and achieve Success Unlimited

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In turn, these six principles give us six lifetime SUCCESS formulas: q

Lifetime Change formula

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Lifetime Creativity formula

q

Lifetime Passion formula

q

Lifetime Fulfilment formula

q

Lifetime Learning formula

q

Lifetime Excellence formula

Before we can apply PRAISE, we need to identify the influences that obstruct our quest for excellence and success. From a young age, many of us have been programmed – by our parents and other adults as well as by unhappy or traumatic events – to develop negative attitudes that stop us from achieving our full potential:

Self-pity q Arrogance q Distractions q Daydreams q Laziness q Exaggerated fear q

These six attitudes spell out the word SADDLE. They easily prevent us from developing our potential to the fullest. The purpose of learning PRAISE is to re-programme our minds, so that we overwrite and erase the SADDLE programming. However, that takes time. It is important to be aware of the above negative influences, so that we are constantly on guard against them. This first chapter, Rough Life, gives a brief introduction to the book and an idea of what to expect in the pages that follow. 

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SADDLE – The Success Robber is an introductory chapter that prepares you for the rest of the book. Before you learn the PRAISE model, you need to be aware of SADDLE, the negative influences that rob you of excellence and success. The main body of this book is divided into six sections, with four sub-chapters in each section. These sections discuss the six key concepts of the PRAISE life skills model: I. II. III. IV. V. VI.

Prizedream Rules Analysis Invincibility Strategy Excellence

Each of these sections introduces the key concept through an episode of my personal life story – like the earlier part of this chapter that you have just read – using Ume as a fictional character to make an easier and more enjoyable read. This is followed by a detailed discussion of each concept, illustrated by examples. Finally, each section ends with profiles of ‘PRAISE Champions’ – historical and contemporary personalities who achieved outstanding excellence and success. They left deep imprints on the soul of humanity. They continue to impart their secrets and timeless wisdom. We draw inspiration from them for they, too, were ordinary individuals like you and I. We may never become as great as some of these PRAISE Champions, yet all of us can, in our own small ways, leave behind our imprints. Perhaps you came up with a more efficient way of doing things that was adopted by your company. Or you started a recreation

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club in your neighbourhood. Or you brought friends together by organising regular dinner parties. Or you helped someone who was in need. Or you are a model parent to your children. In these and many other ways, we leave our imprints by making a difference to the lives of other people. When we touch their lives in a deep and profound way, we leave imprints on their souls. These may be called ‘Soulprints’. My mother, despite being an uneducated, illiterate woman, left me many Soulprints through her love, sacrifices and wisdom. In the same way, all of us can leave Soulprints in the lives of the people we touch. The chapter titled PRAISE – The Success Champions examines how we might respond to their achievements. The final chapter, Rich Life, puts all the six key concepts of PRAISE together as one complete model. This chapter illustrates how I had applied the model in studies, career, entrepreneurship and other life’s challenges. It recaps how I transformed my rough life into a rich life. PRAISE is a universal model that can be applied to people of all cultural backgrounds, in all professions and life situations. After you have learnt about PRAISE, you may adopt it whole-heartedly, adapt it to fit your unique situation, or just draw useful tips from it.

PRAISE books Rough Life Rich Life is the main reference book of PRAISE. A pair of related books, Red Marks to Flying Colours and Scholars’ Secrets, discusses how we can apply the PRAISE model to achieve excellence in studies and examinations. 

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These two books draw from my personal experiences, and the experiences of scholars and top students at some of the world’s top universities – Oxford, Chicago, Imperial College, Peking, Australian National University and National University of Singapore. PRAISE Champions examines the Another book, Benjamin Franklin – A bright spark!, ������������� life of a founding father of the United States of America, and one of the greatest scientists, inventors, statesmen and civic leaders of all time. It was ������������������������������������������������������ launched on 17 January 2006 to commemorate the 300th birth anniversary of Benjamin Franklin. The book has drawn high praises from academics, scholars, friends and fans of Franklin, many of whom felt that the PRAISE model gave interesting and important new insights into his greatness and what lessons Franklin’s life holds for us even today. Roy Goodman, Curator for Printed Materials at the American Philosophical Society – which Franklin founded in 1743) and President of The Friends of Franklin, Inc, wrote in his Foreword: “As America and the rest of the world celebrate the 300th birth anniversary of Franklin, there will be many books, conferences, exhibitions… dedications to a man who clearly ranks among the greatest in history. However, there may not be a tribute as valuable as Benjamin Franklin: A bright spark!” Ralph Archbold is an actor well-known for his portrayal of Franklin, and is considered ‘the official living Benjamin Franklin’. He is a member of the US Federal Commission appointed by President George W Bush and Congress to oversee Franklin’s 300th birth anniversary celebrations.

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Archbold, too, was impressed by the application of PRAISE to Franklin’s life. He wrote: “I have read and re-read this magnificent book about Franklin. In all of my years studying Franklin and reading everything I can find that has been published about this extraordinary man, I have never found a book as important as this… Every person should read it and, for the sake of their future, every parent should make sure their children read it.”

Soulprints Finally, you may read my life story in Soulprints I - BreakThrough. This covers my difficult childhood, growing up in extreme poverty and being badly abused by my father, to the time I left school. This book, Rough Life Rich Life, thus forms part of a larger collection of books that will help you unlock your potential in order to achieve excellence and success. Congratulations for having this book in your hands. May your process of transformation begin; may you continue to advance towards towards success unlimited! Whether or not you have had a rough life, I wish you, A Rich Life!

GEORGE TAN 7 February 2007

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The Success Robber Self-pity Arrogance Distractions Daydreams Laziness Exaggerated Fear Does SADDLE deprive you of excellence and success?


Rich life “Look back at your life. What’s the biggest thing that has changed?” “Everything!” At 47, I looked back to the time I was seven, 17 or even 27, and saw that I had really come a very long way. At seven, I was so poor that I had to sell my champion fighting spider to buy my first pair of slippers. I was beaten severely by my father. I was addicted to gambling and the 3Vs. By 17, I had curbed my addictions. I was on my way to finishing my pre-university and would later earn a place at university. Yet life wasn’t smooth. I had just emerged from a depression so severe that I contemplated suicide. At 27, I was triumphant. The year before, I topped my Diploma in Personnel Management. Then, I topped my Master of Arts in Human Resource Development in a class filled with corporate chiefs and senior managers. I achieved this whilst holding a full-time job as a naval officer and pursuing my diploma programme concurrently. I was feeling on top of the world. Little did I realise that many more challenges and setbacks awaited me. 3 7 2 Ro u g h L i f e R i c h L i f e


“So what has been the most significant change?” “Well, I’m no longer struggling with life.” “And…” “And my future looks bright.” “Exactly. When you change your life, you change your future.” Today, I look to the future with confidence. I still have a fair share of struggles. But I am confident that, should any setback occur, I will be able to rise and, at least, stand up straight. This confidence comes from more than 20 years of applying the PRAISE model and using it to overcome one setback after another.

Re-programming the mind Applying PRAISE was a form of re-engineering. It transformed my life until I became a totally new person. “The greatest change has been in the way your brain is programmed. Your brain is like a highly advanced computer that can run the most complex and sophisticated programs – without any need for upgrading or replacement of spare parts. Like any computer, it can be damaged if you don’t take care of it. But as long as it is in good working condition, you can install any program you wish, whenever you are ready. You can add on to your existing programs, you can erase old programs.” “That’s the hard part, isn’t it – erasing old programs?” “Actually, all it takes is a moment. In a moment of enlightenment, a person can completely change his way of thinking and his view of life.

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“That moment might come anytime and in any situation – while you are reading a book, talking to a friend or listening to a teaching. It might also come with a life crisis, such as bankruptcy or the death of a loved one. Different people get reprogrammed in different ways. “A new brain program might also be installed over a period of months or years. For example, a person goes to university, takes up a new job, joins a religious group or moves to a new neighbourhood. His environment and circle of friends change. He gets exposed to new ideas. Over time, his thinking and his attitudes change. “And you are right. It can be hard to erase old programs. There are people who cling so tightly to their old programs that, throughout their lives, they think and act in the same way. They keep failing and repeating the same mistakes, because they never learn. That’s their tragedy.” Looking back at my life, I am glad that I did change my way of thinking. As Ume rightly pointed out, it sometimes took dramatic events for that to happen. One dramatic event was when I got a zero for a Mathematics test in Pre-University One. I felt so depressed, I contemplated suicide. You might think, why commit suicide over a zero? But the zero was merely a trigger. It reminded me of how difficult my life had always been. Thus, a study crisis escalated into a life crisis. One night, I gained a valuable insight. I realised that my father’s harsh treatment of me had really toughened me up. My father was merely venting his frustrations but he ended up training me as a modern-day Spartan. All along, I had looked upon my mother’s love as the inspiration for me to improve myself. But I realised that my mother’s love was not enough. I needed my father’s training to pull me through a crisis. 3 7 4 Ro u g h L i f e R i c h L i f e


Another significant mental programming, this time a gradual and gentle one, came during the time I served in the Naval Operations Department, the nerve centre of the Singapore Navy. I had to learn Sun Zi’s The Art of War. I also had the golden opportunity to analyse a maritime battle as Britain and Argentina fought the Falklands War. I absorbed various concepts of strategy and realised that they could be applied in any life situation. That led me to develop praise as a life skills model for excellence and success. It was the most significant re-programming that I ever experienced. “Re-programming is not always good. You were lucky that you installed some pretty good programs into your little computer up there. Some people, because of unpleasant life experiences, programme themselves to become cynical, paranoid, heartless and negative in other ways.” “Their programs had viruses.” “Ha ha. Yes, a corrupted program can really mess up a person’s life. We need to watch against such things. “But why are so many people messed up to begin with?” “Not so. Everyone starts off as a baby and babies are never messed up. “Then adults mess them up…” “Right. Look at your own life. How did you get messed up?”

Indelible marks My first thoughts did not go back to my father’s beatings, which must have surely left deep scars in my psyche. Instead, they went back

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to Chinese New Year. It’s supposed to be a happy occasion, with good food, extra money and no canings! Yet Chinese New Year was not such a happy time for us. When we visited relatives, they only talked about one thing – the academic achievements of their children. We were always being compared to our cousins, who always did much better than us. Such comparisons made me feel lousy about myself. I started to engage in self-pity. I sought other ways to feel good about myself, such as by excelling in various children’s games, as well as in gambling. I became spider king, chatek (shuttle kicking) king… And even though I was not a gambling king, I was pretty good in the various games. Being ‘king’ gave me a high and mighty feeling. On the surface, I might have appeared arrogant to the other kids. But deep inside, I felt lousy because I did badly in the one area that mattered – study. Among the many distractions, gambling exerted a particularly strong pull on me. But I had another major distraction. It seemed a harmless one, even a healthy one, yet it landed me in seriously deep trouble. It was badminton. I represented my college in the sport even though I was weak in my studies. I spent long hours in training and often skipped classes. I ended up with zero for a Mathematics test. Fortunately, a kind college mate offered to coach me in Mathematics. So although I failed my Mathematics examination at the end of the first year, with her help I passed my re-exam. I realised the seriousness of the situation. I decided to give up my favourite sport as well as the celebrity status of winning a trophy. I could make the sacrifice because I had re-programmed my mind. 3 7 6 Ro u g h L i f e R i c h L i f e


As I look back on my younger days, I realise that my life then was almost like a continuous daydream. I did not have much idea of what was I doing, or where my life was heading. When I was in Primary Five, I was so playful that I did not even know, until the last minute, that I had lost the examination timetable. I ended up studying the wrong subjects and, of course, failing. When I finished primary school, I applied to join one of the top secondary schools in Singapore, Raffles Institution. It was just wishful thinking. I was hoping for the best without making any effort to deserve the best. My lack of effort was also a reflection of my laziness. I hardly studied, except at the last minute. Even then, at the slightest excuse, I would throw aside my books and jump off to gamble. So naturally, I had an exaggerated fear of examinations. Where games were concerned, I was never too lazy to practise until I became the ‘king’. I was eager to learn new games and take on new challenges. But where studies were concerned, going to the examination hall felt like being led to the slaughterhouse!

Turning points As I grew older, my environment changed and my programming began to change as well. At first, it changed for the worse when my family moved to the ‘gangster’ neighbourhood of Bukit Ho Swee. In Secondary Two I was posted to a new school where the students were generally a lot more studious and serious. I had fewer friends to play with and there was no spider hunting ground near the school. So gradually, I, too, became more serious and studious.

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I remember one re-programming that occurred in an instant. One day, the school’s physical education teacher organised a tug-of-war. I led my team to victory and he commented that I was a ‘strong boy’. It was the first time someone actually complimented me. His comments made me want to also become a ‘good boy’. I resolved to give up my various bad habits. I started by giving up vulgarism and, later, vandalism and violence. The hardest to give up was gambling but I managed to break the habit after a few years. Another turning point came when I was in Secondary Three. That year, my teacher appointed me to be the class monitor. I was put in a position of responsibility and that made me more responsible. During the school holidays, I worked hard at organising excursions and other activities for my classmates. My classmates were pleased with my initiatives and they elected me as class monitor the following year. It was another success for me. When the year-end approached, I actually made effort to study and I ended up being the second top student in my class (although not in the school). I was surprised at myself. In Secondary Four, I began to chart my life path. I was made captain of my school badminton team. I analysed my situation and decided to drop one subject so that I could focus on doing well in the rest – and continue to represent my school in badminton. I dropped Geography, even though it was my favourite subject. My teacher urged me to reconsider, but I had already thought it through. I needed only five subjects to gain admission into pre-university. I felt it was unnecessary to take seven subjects. I would drop Geography to focus on the remaining six. 3 7 8 Ro u g h L i f e R i c h L i f e


More significantly, I had made a decision aimed at improving my chances of going on to pre-university. I was no longer playful, I was no longer daydreaming. I had started to plan my life. I did make it to pre-university. Not only that, I made it to Hwa Chong Junior College, which was one of the top schools in Singapore for pre-university education. My successes had begun to get bigger. At Hwa Chong, more changes – and more re-programming – awaited me. Earlier, I mentioned about my life crisis during this period. That was one dramatic moment but there were other equally significant changes that took place. I joined a Christian group at college and this had a major impact on my attitudes and beliefs – just as, earlier on, I was influenced by Buddhist teachings from accompanying my mother to the temple on Sundays. There were a few dramatic events in the group, particularly involving one girl who was disowned by her family after she converted to Christianity. That really opened my eyes and set me thinking. Overall, the students at Hwa Chong were serious and studious. And so my 3Vs got replaced by the 3Ls – lectures, lunch and library. I actually studied very hard during this period. To avoid the distractions at home – especially the noise of my family members watching TV – I stayed overnight illegally at the college to study. But that was short-lived. The college principal conducted night raids and I was once nearly caught. After that close shave, I had to devise a new strategy. I would sleep early, at 7 pm, and wake up to study at 2 am. I studied so hard, I was like a walking zombie. Some friends thought I was ill, others thought I was taking drugs. For my efforts, I was rewarded with a place at the then University of Singapore.

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How different I had become compared with the young boy who used to naively think that school was a gigantic playground. But I did not realise that my transformation was still far from complete. Far greater changes awaited me when I joined the navy, attended university, pursued post graduate studies, entered the corporate world and ventured into the world of entrepreneurship.

Flying colours In my master’s degree course, my first class presentation was a disaster. I was bombarded with so many questions that I could not answer, questions that I did not even understand. For one group project, I disagreed with my team about the source of motivation. For another group project, I had a confrontation with the team leader who had a domineering personality. He chided me for asking basic questions. Despite these setbacks and more, and despite pursuing two study courses whilst holding a full-time job, I topped my class in both courses – a professional diploma at age 26, and the master’s degree programme at age 27. From red marks in primary school, I finally passed with flying colours!

Apex of my career In 1986, at age 28, I left the navy and stepped into the corporate world during one of the worst recessions ever to hit Singapore. Finding a job was tough. But once I was given the chance to prove myself, I rose quickly. In seven years, I moved through six different jobs. With each move, I received a substantial salary increase and was assigned greater responsibilities. 3 8 0 Ro u g h L i f e R i c h L i f e


At 31, whilst working for a Japanese company, I was provided with a company car. This was unprecedented as Japanese companies generally provide company cars only to top management staff, whereas I was only a Personnel Manager. At 33, I became Group Regional Personnel Manager of a large conglomerate with operations in 18 companies spread across several Asia Pacific countries. I reached the apex of my corporate career. During my career climb, I helped my employers solve major challenges. At one company, I solved the problem of low recruitment and high job turnover and the General Manager commented that the recruitment and retention figures had never been better. In another, I helped my employer weed out bad elements and saboteurs. In so doing, I turned the company around from losses to profitability. I even helped the company progress from having serious quality issues to winning quality awards, first a silver, then a gold. In my last job, I drew up a 10-year Human Resource Management Master Plan and a Group Culture Manual to promote oneness and team spirit – tasks that my predecessors were not able to accomplish.

Entrepreneurship challenges At 35, I left the corporate world – only to discover that the world of entrepreneurship would present me with far greater setbacks. More than once, my friends and business partners let me down. When I left the corporate world, I had a lot of good wishes from my friends and business contacts. Within a week, I lost 95 percent of my friends. Many would not answer or return my telephone calls. They were always, according to their secretaries, ‘in a meeting’.

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I felt so tempted to return to corporate life. The job offers kept coming. In the end, I gave myself three years. As I write this now, in 2006, it has been 13 years since I left the corporate world. Even though my business is not big or well-known, I am happy and comfortable. I went into business based on trust. An old friend of 16 years invited me to join him. I had worked with him in the navy and knew him to be a conscientious officer who was dedicated to his work. My trust was rewarded with a rude shock. I walked into a tiny office of about 200 square feet, with just two tables and the premises were shared with another company. The ‘office staff ’ that my friend earlier referred to actually belonged to the other company. I had a second rude shock when I met his business partner. I did not agree with him on fundamental issues. After an overseas recruitment assignment with him that ended in a disaster, I left the partnership. My second business partner and I got along well – for six months. Then he withdrew from the business and demanded that I return the $150,000 he invested, together with a 25 percent premium. I had to sign an agreement drawn up by a top lawyer to pay him back by installments. Later, he set up a rival business to compete with me. A much-needed break came when one day I received a telephone call from a lady who was the Personnel Manager of a Japanese company. Some months earlier, I had met her for a mere five minutes. I was making a presentation to her when, the moment she realised I did not have a proven track record, she asked me to stop. Now, out of the blue, she called to give me an assignment. I worked hard to make sure that everything went smoothly. After some initial hiccups, it turned out to be a great success. Subsequently, she recommended me to many of her friends. 3 8 2 Ro u g h L i f e R i c h L i f e


Just as my business was beginning to run smoothly, suddenly all my clients cancelled their contracts with me. A government agency had issued a list of accredited recruitment companies, and advised employers to deal only with accredited companies. My company was not in the list. Overnight, I found myself in a very difficult situation. I appealed. But my appeal was turned down. Eventually, a friend took me to meet a Cabinet Minister. I presented my case and, a few weeks later, my company was accredited. I felt relieved and happy. But by then, most of my clients had entered new contracts with other companies. They could not use my services even if they wanted to. So many unexpected things can happen in a business. Once, a skilled worker from China, whom I helped recruit for a Singapore company, fell seriously ill and went into a coma. Various parties involved, including my China counterparts and her Singapore employer, did not want to be responsible for her. In the end, I took ownership of the situation even though I was not legally obliged to do so, as I was not the employer. I undertook not only to pay for her medical expenses, but to send her back to China in a special air ambulance. She was ill with tuberculosis, which was highly contagious. The Chinese Embassy initially arranged for 20 rows of seats in a commercial flight to be blocked off for her, but this was not acceptable as there was still a risk of her infecting other passengers. She needed an air ambulance that would cost me $75,000 per day. If there was any delay, for example, if her doctors were to decide that she was unfit to travel, every additional day would cost me another $75,000. A few days of delay would bankrupt me.

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Fortunately, she could fly on the appointed day. My total bill, including medical and miscellaneous expenses, came to $105,000. From being several times on the brink of financial collapse, I had reached the point where I was able to draw upon $105,000 in an emergency. The financial strain was considerable, but a life had been saved. That, to me, was money well spent. Having overcome one crisis after another, I don’t need to measure my success by the size of my company’s profits, turnover or assets. I measure it by the number of times I had fallen and picked myself up.

A new adventure Success is never guaranteed, of course. I recently embarked on a new venture as a writer and publisher. I just started out and I really don’t know where this venture will lead me. Many people have told me that the book publishing business is extremely tough. I have achieved a few minor successes with my books so far. I managed to get more than 50 endorsements from international best-selling authors, top motivational speakers and other prominent personalities. I have been featured in the local English and Chinese newspapers, as well as in the October 2005 issue of Publishers Weekly. My two books, Soulprints I – BreakThrough and Benjamin Franklin – A bright spark! made it to the Best Sellers list compiled by ST Life!, the lifestyle section of The Straits Times, Singapore’s largest circulation English language newspaper. And I was featured in a Sunday Times column, A life less ordinary. My book on Franklin was also recommended as a ‘Good Read’ in the Winter 2005 edition of Franklin Gazette, the official newsletter of The Friends of Franklin, Inc. 3 8 4 Ro u g h L i f e R i c h L i f e


But have I become a successful writer and publisher? Hardly. I have yet to recover even a minor part of my investment. The prospect of this book publishing venture becoming a failure is therefore still very real. �������������������������������������������������������� Yet I have decided to proceed with another three books, including this one. Whatever ������������������������������������������������ the outcome, I will not give up easily. This spirit of ‘never give up’ has helped me to achieve success unlimited. By applying praise, I transformed my rough life into a rich life – not necessarily rich in financial terms but definitely in terms of learning and experiences.

Sheldon Adelson Sheldon Adelson is Chairman of Las Vegas Sands, the company that won a US$3.2 billion bid to develop a casino resort at Singapore’s Marina Bay. He is ranked by Forbes Magazine as the 14th richest man in the world. Yet he felt ‘very rich’ even when, as a child, he grew up in poverty. In a television interview with Channel News Asia in April 2005, Adelson recalled: “We slept in a bedroom that could hold only one bed and that was for my parents. The four children slept on the floor. And that’s the way we started out. But… I felt myself very rich, because when I look back and think what my parents gave to me, they gave me values and that’s the most important thing.”

Someone like Mother Teresa spent her life with the poorest of the poor in India. Yet she is widely considered to have lived a rich life. She can be considered rich in spirituality. There are also people whom, I would say, are rich in thoughtfulness. They include the many international best-selling authors and

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motivational speakers who helped me by taking time to read my manuscripts and to write endorsements and Forewords. They did this even though I had approached them as a total stranger, via e-mail. I am especially grateful to Mark Sandborn and Dr Tony Alessandra, who have made this book special with two Forewords. For another of my books, Benjamin Franklin – A bright spark! I deeply appreciate the thoughtfulness of Ralph Archbold in actually declining my request for a Foreword – and recommending someone else whom he felt was better qualified! Archbold is an actor famous for his portrayal of Franklin and can be considered ‘the official living Benjamin Franklin’. He is also on the US Federal Commission appointed by President George W Bush to oversee the celebrations of Franklin’s 300th birth anniversary. I became acquainted with Archbold when I sought his endorsement for my book. He very kindly obliged. Then I asked if he would write me a Foreword. He suggested instead that it be written by Roy Goodman, Curator for Printed Materials at the American Philosophical Society and President of The Friends of Franklin, Inc. Thanks to their thoughtfulness, I got more than what I sought. I am also deeply touched by the kind gesture of best-selling author Brian Tracy. He not only wrote an endorsement for my first book, Soulprints I – BreakThrough, but also sent me an autographed copy of his book, Create Your Own Future. Once, I was having a discussion with an old college mate, Andrew Tjioe. He runs the Tung Lok Group, a major chain of restaurants in Singapore. Despite his busy schedule, he found the time to meet me. Andrew recommended someone who could be my training partner and he sent his colleague to look for the person’s business card. 3 8 6 Ro u g h L i f e R i c h L i f e


Just then, his father entered the room. When the colleague came back, Andrew’s father checked the business card against his own diary to make sure that the contact details were up to date. And when Andrew said that I could tell the person I was recommended by him, his father immediately added that I could also mention his name. Thoughtful gestures such as these can go a long way to touch the hearts of others. So you can be rich in thoughtfulness. There are many ways to be rich. Some people are rich in life experiences. They have experienced wealth and poverty, comfort and hardship, pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow… ������������������������ They can truly say that they have ‘been there, done that’. Some enjoy watching documentaries and are rich in general knowledge. Others make themselves rich in specialised knowledge. These are not just the academics who study a subject in great depth, but include ordinary people who may have a passion for something.

The toy museum Singaporean Chang Ya Fa has a passion for toys. In 2006, he opened the Mint Museum of Toys, opposite the Raffles Hotel, to showcase his private collection of over 50,000 toys, worth an estimated S$5 million! Some people are rich in family, coming from families with 10 or more siblings. But it is not just the numbers that count. There are also people from small families who keep close touch with their uncles, aunts, cousins and other relatives… You can be rich in friends, rich in talents, rich in health or fitness, rich in culture and tradition, rich in art, rich in community service…

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It is up to you to define how you would like your life to be rich. Once you have set your target, work towards it. That shall be your excellence and your success, regardless of what others think.

A rich life The wealth that I wish to share is my learning and my experiences. Having overcome tremendous struggles in life, I believe I can help others who find life challenging. My experiences have taught me that it is okay to start off with a rough life, or to go through rough patches sometimes. This is a necessary, even helpful, part of the learning experience. It strengthens you; it toughens you up. But life need not always be rough and tough. Once you have gained the experiences, once you have learnt your lessons, it is time to enjoy the richness that life has to offer. The praise life skills model will lead you to that rich life.

praise is simple, yet powerful.

Use it. Or miss it. The choice is yours.

Think. Reflect. Engage.

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Rough Life