inner strength

Losing everything is not the end

In the early December 2014, one of my best friends shared with me about her worry. She learned that her parents are likely to lose a major proportion of their savings due to unfavorable investment.

She asked me to pray for her parents, I will be praying everyday! My prayer list is getting very long, but as I have lived longer, I have witnessed that some of my prayers have been answered miraculously. Thank you very much!

servicefromheart the praying hands of baby Ren never lose hope

I know her parents. They are honest and hardworking people, who started from zero and have become a hero and a heroine for their children, their past customers, their subordinates and their suppliers. My friend once shared the secret of their parents being given opportunities by their suppliers: reliability. They always pay their business loans no matter how difficult the circumstances are.

Her mother is a very frugal lady who bought only new clothes for the new year. Nevertheless, when the family went out with friends of their children, the parents would generously treat others.

Her father is in his 60s. In recent years, my friend felt that it is better for her father to enjoy the fruit of his labor and hardwork done over the past years and decades. However, a single turning point in life has changed everything. He left with much little of what he has saved a-dollar by a-dollar, if not cents by cents over years and decades.

I also empathize with my friend and feel her pressure. She belongs to a sandwich generation. She has to support not only two generations before and after her: her parents and her children, respectively, but also her younger sibling. I am proud of my friend, showing the quality of filial piety. I tried to encourage her that bearing a great responsibility is a privilege. Only the capable and the trustworthy are shouldered with such great tasks of life.

We love to and must take inspirations from the past generations who are able to turn adversity into something positive (逢凶化吉).

♥ ♥ ♥

Among many inspiring talks that I attended in Cambridge, UK, was a talk delivered by the extremely intrepid Christina Dodwell, a British explorer, travel writer, and lecturer.

She vividly described her 1975 trip to Africa with a girlfriend and two men. The men stole their jeep, leaving the women stranded with nothing. Her remark, “Losing everything is not the end,” echoes in my mind that is subconsciously searching for stories to encourage my friend. Christina and her friends then found two wild horses to ride; they survived!

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Another story that I first learned from Hui, is about Lim Tow Yong 林道荣 (1925-20120407), a legendary founder of Emporium Holdings that owned Oriental Emporium (英保良) retail business. Lim lived a roller-coaster life of fortune and success, yet he always show tenacity and never-say-die spirit.

With a humble beginning as a farmer’s son in Suatow (仙都乡), Jinshizhen (金石镇), Chao’An (潮安县), Chaozhou (潮州市), China, Lim ventured to Nanyang in 1940. Hardworking, visionary, charismatic, and a talented polyglot (English, Mandarin, Malay, Hokkien, Cantonese and Hainanese), Lim grew his business, spreading all over Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Hong Kong. It was thriving until 1985.

In 1988, the 63-year-old Lim Tow Yong was declared a bankrupt by Singapore high court. Most people would have given up but not Lim Tow Yong.

In 1990s, Lim started another departmental chain in Sabah, and later Brunei and Labuan, with sheer determination and hardwork. In 1999, Lim Tow Yong was finally discharged from bankruptcy. He sold his business in mid-2000s and became a millionaire once again at 79.

Losing everything is not the end, as long as you are still alive.
Losing everything is not the end, as long as your love, hope, ideas and wisdom are alive in the heart of people whom you care.

♥ ♥ ♥

All these three stories also made me reflect on investment. I was asked by two men older than me, “if you know any safe investment with good return, please let us know.” The eldest, who is going to celebrate his 41st birthday tomorrow, aims to have USD 1million.

You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself.” ~ Good Will Hunting

After thinking and reflecting, I conclude that the best investment is on yourself. Seek knowledge. Master unique skills. Use your knowledge and skills to serve others from the bottom of your heart. Be creative and productive.

You want to transform yourself into a precious talent, such that as you grow older, you become more valuable than ever. As days pass, you become highly desirable to give positively-impactful advice to ordinary people and Fortune 500 companies. As years go, you are wanted for your unique talent and tremendous creativity. As decades change, you give your best to the world, and the world will shower you with more opportunities to make your investment grow many folds.

Invest in goodwill. Love people. Help others and do favors without expecting a favor in return. The power of the universe will do you favors especially when you need it, in unexplainable manners, in unexpected ways.

With love


Just keep shipping ~ a secret of creative and productive people

“The reason I’ve managed a modicum of success is because I just keep shipping.” ~ Seth Godin in 99% Conference, 200804

In a broader context, “shipping” here means creating and sending stuff out. You “ship” when you deliver something.

The definition includes when you:

  1. transform your consumption of knowledge into productions of designs, prototypes and masterpieces
  2. file patents
  3. deliver a talk / workshop
  4. sell a (beautiful / useful / innovative) product
  5. send your creative / fiction / scientific manuscript to publisher(s)
  6. perform your (music, singing, dancing) talent into tangible digital pieces
  7. release your work to the world
  8. debut your latest artwork in a gallery
  9. startup a company
  10. … and the list goes on.

Those who ship, after perspiring sweats (and sometimes tears and blood), are admirable. A reason is that shipping, as the final act of execution, happens much less than people expect.

For you who pursue creative endeavors, the requirement to ship is even higher than ever.

To ship with high frequency, you know that you have to overcome some of major emotional barriers in your inner rugged landscape.

The barriers are like high hills and mountains when you are trapped in a valley, or strong currents when you have to move toward the opposite direction. The barriers of insecurity, fear (of failure, imperfection, criticism), inertia (due to procrastination or perfectionism) and resistance will always be there. Sometimes, we forget that we can cross over the barriers, because we are occluded by them.

You, however, have learned strategies to cross over the barriers.

You may have heard of the roles of amygdala, an almond-shaped structure found deep on either side of the brain, that evolved in early vertebrates.

Your amgydala is a wonderful ally. It links sensory (mainly visual and auditory) experience with emotional significance.  The emotionally-arousing memories that are formed and stored in amygdala, include those related to fear. For example, if you see a danger approaching, your amygdala learns about the fear stimulus and  mediate the associated fight-or-flight responses.

Undeniably, fear is an emotion essential for the survival of our ancestors and ourselves. However, we also subconsciously experience fear in situations when this emotion is inappropriate and discouraging creativity and productivity.

Now, you may be tempted to quiet your amygdala.

While it is impossible to live without fear, despite the adage of “have no fear”, you can choose to embrace your fear wisely.

Prioritize your fear. If you can allow your fear of being unproductive to rule over your fear of criticism or perfectionism, you will ship more often.


The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can be converted from one form to another, but that it cannot be created or destroyed. Since all energy forms are (in principle) interconvertible, it is highly possible to convert your fear into positive energy. The process can be effortless, for the experienced creative converters.

The next question is how to convert the fear into positive energy.

Remember that our body, plants and animals are made up of molecules of atoms. When we eat plant- or animal-based meals, the chemical energy present in their molecules is converted into thermal motion, known as heat energy. The heat energy in turn catalyzes reactions inside our cells.

In an analogous way, you can convert your fear into positive energy, by carefully internalizing the (right) fear and selecting the optimum catalysts to harvest its energy. Think of inner strength such as self-control, discipline, and openness to constructive feedback.


In Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (which was rejected many, many times in its shipping attempts to the right publisher), Susan Jeffers highlights that “the initial stages are the most difficult and require the greatest concentration.

Be determined enough to leave the port of your comfort zone.

Ship by the end of the hour, the day, and the week.

A step by a step, even if it is just a tiny one, you weather every rack of internal and external storms and thunders.

Remember to sprinkle and drizzle your journey with a little more courage, passion, perseverance, and patience. You are almost there.

“O Captain! My Captain!”

Be a captain of your ships who just keeps shipping (better and better)!

Just keep shipping ~ a secret of creative and productive people ServicefromHeart

Many thanks