Every one of us will have certain close encounters at some point life’s journey. Some of these encounters may involve (among others) :
I too had my fair share of close encounters. In 1988, when I decided to quit my military career and carve out a career in the private sector, I moved on with a dream to be rich but without any clear or specific goal. Despite this, I was still able to achieve a commendable level of wealth within a short time of joining the insurance business. This was achievable all through sheer hard work, determination and dogged perseverance. In 1993, I was awarded the best rookie and best financial adviser with one of the biggest insurance companies in Singapore. I instantly became a star. Within months, I was invited to address companies and professional groups in Singapore, and in the region. With my winning charisma, I became an instant hit with audiences throughout the countries I visited and thus attracted a huge following across Asia. After each session of speaking engagement, I would have a long queue waiting to have me autograph their book. I was delighted with my own achievements that were founded well within such a short period of 2 years, in the financial industry. I began to rub shoulders with the giants and “Who’s who” in the industry. However, wealth does not equate to character. Unknowingly, I became proud and arrogant. This was the beginning of my soon-to-be downfall: my three deadly close encounters. Just like Joseph in the Old Testament but Joseph honoured God but I slacked!!
Close Encounter No. 1
Lust of the Flesh
At the peak of my financial services career, I was very well sought-after and received a huge following of fans throughout the Asia-Pacific region. As I travelled to various destinations for my speaking and training engagements, I was naturally surrounded by many young, attractive and beautiful ladies. Despite my conscious effort to steer clear of trouble, my flesh gave way to temptations. Soon, I found myself involved in short-stint relationships with myriad attractive ladies. I was trapped by the “Lust of the Flesh”. I was entangled in a web of adulteries. Everyday, I fought my conscience to withstand the onslaught of temptations of such fleshly beauties. In most instances, I lost. I was putting my marriage, my relationships with my wife and my children at risk. I was taking a huge gamble. Soon enough, I lost my bet and suffered the painful consequences of a broken marriage and also, lost custody of my children. Another consequence followed in immediate effect – great financial loss. As part of the divorce settlement, I had to provide my estranged wife and children with alimony and the division of matrimonial assets. As a result of this failed marriage, I was on the verge of bankruptcy. This is a painful period in my life that I regret the most.
The route to success is often ensnared with many traps and temptations. Man or woman; young or old, we all face risks of falling into such traps. The secret to staying away from such peril is to be constantly vigilant against such risk exposures, and to be responsible and accountable to a mentor.
One of my very close friends, married with two children has had a similar experience. However, he got himself into much bigger and deeper trouble. He was 50 years old when he met and fell in love with a sweet-looking girl whom he kept as a mistress. In the heat of his passionate liaison with his mistress, he decided to divorce his wife.
Loaded with a large sum of money from his retirement gratuity, my friend decided to build a new home and family with his mistress in another country. Having handed all his money to his mistress to build their new home, his family back in Singapore was left stranded and had to fend for themselves. As if God was really watching all these from heaven above, catastrophe struck my friend – his mistress ran away with all his money! All his savings and retirement funds were gone in a flash. Now, it was his turn to be left stranded- without mistress without money, without ‘home’ and without his family. If he had resisted the temptation, he would not have gotten himself into such a great mess and would have been enjoying his golden retirement with his family and loved ones by now. The “Lust of the Flesh” caught up with him and he had certainly failed the test.
Are you encountering the test of the “Lust of the Flesh”? Are you running away or welcoming it? The “Lust of the Flesh” is dangerous and it will destroy your financial plan overnight. Resist it!
Close Encounter No.2
Lust of the Eyes
When I was poor, I dreamt of becoming rich. When I achieved that level of wealth desired, I lost my simplicity in life. The “Lust of the Eyes” got the better of me. With my wealth, came more choices and options to indulge in material things i.e. a better lifestyle and a higher quality of living. Being in a society characteristic of chasing after a high standard of living, I have seen so many fall into the trap of liabilities – funding a lifestyle with borrowed money that they cannot afford to sustain. When I was poor, my life was much simpler; I did not have much cravings and wants. But when I was in a better financial position, I began to desire the ‘good’ things in life – the luxury, recognition, VIP treatment, other earthly desires that aim to satisfy the unquenchable thirst for possessions and the sense of having arrived at the upper class or even the pinnacle of the society. Like my childhood friend once said, “Everything you see, you want to buy.”
Once we are caught up in the vicious cycle of chasing after a desired lifestyle – buying the things we do not need and feeling the need to impress people we do not know, with the money we have, it gets dangerous.
The problem with chasing after a desired lifestyle when we are not ready for it really puts us into deep trouble. Indulging in high living with borrowed funds is naturally equivalent to mortgaging our future to the lender. The borrower will always be a servant to the lender.
I always share with everyone, “Luxury once enjoyed becomes a necessity.” For most people, once a certain level of lifestyle has been achieved and enjoyed, it becomes very difficult to give up. The “Lust of the Eyes” will increase your liabilities everyday. My personal close encounters were: buying luxury cars, buying properties without proper advice, speculating in the stock market, lending money to my friends, indulging in lifestyle entertainment, engaging in businesses which I was not familiar with and many more. I knew I was in trouble when my cash flow was getting choked under the mountain of liabilities I had incurred over a few short years. I knew I was really in trouble! I quickly conducted a personal evaluation review and some stock-taking on my overall financial health. I revamped my spending habits, enforced a strict discipline in my spending pattern and even engaged a mentor to guide me. I was glad that I managed to evade the second close encounter just in time, and so avoided an otherwise would-be nasty financial catastrophe- Bankruptcy!
Close Encounter No. 3
Pride of Life
One of the definitions of ‘Pride’ in the Oxford dictionary: The feeling that you are better or more important than other people. That is having a false sense of importance. Pride blocks our ability to have an open mind to learning new things, seeing new perspectives, exploring new ways or even trying new methods.
Looking back, I would sincerely encourage you not to allow pride to get into your life. My close encounter with this ‘Pride of Life’ was at one of the peak points in my career. I thought I had arrived and knew everything I needed to know and did not require help from anyone. I was bold and arrogant – with an “I-Know-It-All” attitude.
The Good Book had in fact warned us against fallen into this trap.
“In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” – Psalms 10:4
Being cheated again and again and again and I still didn’t learn from my mistake;
- Year 2007 – Cheated by an educational school in Singapore of $400,000 who promised of huge returns – turn out to be a conman and a gangster and a liar
- Year 2008 – 2013 – Cheated by 5 Forex Brokers – who took all my students trading money and disappeared
- Year 2013 – 2014 – the worst case of being cheated – promised by the broker that I am the shareholder (which was never from day 1) – took all my students money and promising me that everything is okay till withdrawal problem started – tarnished my name and my hard earned credibility & reputation.
- Students from all walks of life started calling me names and cursing me for the mistakes
- No one understood the challenges that I have been through; to be honest everynight I seat in front my computer and just cry not knowing what to do anymore
If I only had listen to good counsellors and mentors I wouldn’t have fallen into all these traps – mistakes are done I need to keep moving and start solving them one by one. To my friends who are reading this book – do know that I have never ever forgotten but I will be back once again. In my climb towards the top, I had forgotten my humble past. I had departed from the virtue of humility. The ‘Pride of Life’ got the better of me.
Our life on earth is only for a moment. Someday we will all have to depart from this temporal dwelling and return home to our Creator. No matter how great our achievements may be, no matter how much wealth and riches we may have amassed, we cannot bring them along with us upon our departure. The best we can do is to leave behind a legacy for our loved ones and the next generation.
To make the most of our God-given talents and gifts, we can create values and impact lives by being a blessing to the people around us and to be known for the good things that we have done – for the people, for the community and for the society. The Good Book always provides us with a good counsel on being careful to avoid ‘Pride’:
“Take heed lest he falls.”
-1 Corinthians 10:12
So stay away from the ‘Pride of Life’ and aim to be a person of value and blessing. I am glad I got out of it fast enough.
Tell me and I forget.
Teach me and I will remember,
Involve me and I will learn.
Will Share more soon – and you can learn how you will not go the same road as I travelled by learning and moving forward successfully!!