Dying To Live

by Patrick Liew on November 11, 2011

On 19 March 2011, I almost died.

I was driving on a three-lane highway coming back from Kuala Lumpur after eating ‘Yong Tau Foo’ at Jalan Ampang.

I was driving on the fast lane at a speed that was, let’s just say – normal.

In other words, fast.

It was dark and drizzling.

Suddenly, in the distance, I saw five cars pile up in an accident.

I jammed on my brakes – but the car did not stop. It continued to move forward at an almost heart-stopping pace.

It was almost like watching a frame-by-frame photo finish of a car race. In this case, I was watching my car skidding on the wet ground towards the silhouette of a small saloon car.

It was the loudest bang I’ve heard for a long time. Fortunately, the seatbelt and airbag prevented me from being thrown out through the windscreen.

The front and interior of my car were in smoke. I had to run out of the car for fear that something worst might happen.

I stood in the rain, with bright car lights all around me. The traffic was moving at a snail pace, with curious people staring at all of us.

All around me, people were screaming different instructions. Children were crying loudly in the bushes nearby.

I was shell shocked.

It was later at the police station I realized I escaped three potential deaths.

If I were driving a car like the one in front of me, I would not have an airbag. I could have died on the spot.

It was also fortunate the car in front of me was adjacent to the car before it. When I crashed into it, it swerved into the centre lane.

Thankfully, it had not been sandwiched between two cars, and another car had not crashed into it in the centre lane.

If that happened, quite possibly the lady passenger in that car who was carrying an infant and not using a seat belt could have been killed.

I could have become a murderer.

I was also told it was fortunate a huge vehicle did not crashed into my car. Otherwise, it could have smashed all the cars together and caused them to explode in flame.

I’m grateful and thankful our Creator had saved me and given me a new lease of life. After death had stared squarely at my face, I have a deeper appreciation of life.

I’m more committed to live by the proverb, ‘Dream as if you‘ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.’

I plan to start my life all over again… and again…

Having new beginnings constantly is a necessity to live a meaningful and fulfilling life.

To do so, every few months, together with a group of participants, we will go through what I call a Life Transformational Laboratory. The process is a serendipitous exercise so that I can re-create my life.

Please let me share with you a summary of the exercise.


I have learned that success leaves footprints. If I follow the footsteps of successful people, I will reach the same destination.

Therefore, I need to have heroes and mentors that I can model after.

I need to put on a positive ‘mask’ and work towards having my face and the ‘mask’ fused into one – and I become the person I planned to be and should become.

I need to constantly ask myself, “Do I know what make my heroes and models great?  How can I live my life so that I can become like them?”


I also realized as important as it is to model after successful people, I can never be like them. I have to work with our Creator to design the best me.

I ask myself, “What is the best ‘me’ that I can ever be? How can I bring out the best in myself?”


Buckminster Fuller, one of the most brilliant men in the last century taught me that I need to use leverages to achieve success.

He inspired me to constantly ask myself, “How can I do ever more with ever less?”

To begin with, I can leverage on internal leverages, including constant improvements of my knowledge, attitude, skills and habits (KASH).

There are also external leverages, including capitalising on systems, technologies, human talents, and other resources. If they are currently not available to me, I must find ways to acquire or develop them.

More importantly, I must learn to leverage on them effectively and efficiently.

Question: What leverages can I use to do ever more with ever less? How can I acquire and develop these leverages to achieve ever-improving results?

After the above analysis, I will work with our Creator to produce a ‘movie’ of my future life.


The first step is to craft a personal mission for my life. I believe every one of us must serve a unique purpose at every season of our life.

It may not be the most perfect purpose but it is the most appropriate purpose for me at that stage in my journey of life.

In crafting the mission, I need to ask myself, “Why do I exist at this point in my life? What is the highest purpose for me to serve?”

My personal mission is then phrased in the form of a question. I believe the quality of my life depends on the quantity of quality questions I ask myself throughout my life.

For example, if I regularly ask myself, “How can I live a great life?” I will be exploring regularly on how to achieve greatness.

On the other hand, if I constantly ask myself, “How come my life is so horrible?” Everything in my will become darker and gloomier.

Without finding my personal mission, I will not have a compass to point me to the right direction. I will find myself moving around in the dark, trying to find my way out of the jungle of life.


After crafting my personal mission, I need to work with our Creator to discover my vision in life.

The Good Book counseled, ‘Without vision, people will die.’ When I have nothing to live for, I will go through a death that is worst than a biological death.

Life will not be worth living.

I believe our Creator has already given to each one of us a vision. Oftentimes, amidst the noise and haste, I fail to recognize the vision.

During the session, every participant is given a huge blank sheet of paper and told to draw their vision in pictures and symbols, using different colour. Everybody, including myself can ‘paint’ a resemblance of our vision.

What is left to do is to further define it using all my senses. In other words, I need to see, hear, smell, taste and feel it so clearly such that it will draw me like a magnet to fulfill it.


I believe nobody will follow me or work with me if they don’t know what I believe in and stand for. In other words, I need to craft my values and live by them.

Like vision, I believe all of us have a set of values – and are living by it – consciously or unconsciously.

Unfortunately, as a result of my education and experience, I have adopted the wrong or less optimal set of values.

Every now and then, I need to re-craft my value system so that it will help me serve the highest purpose for that period of time. In addition, I need to prioritise my list of values so that it can help me live a better life.

Strange as it may sound, every time I reconstruct my value system, I feel like I have redesigned myself and restarted my life all over again.


Success is also about finding the right position for myself in life.

I use the continuous verb, ‘finding’ rather than the present or past participle verb because my current position is the best position for me. However I must continue to pursue a better position in life.

They seem to be contradictory forces but they are not.

I’m learning to apply the wisdom of F. Scott Fitzgerald who said, ‘The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.’

I need to be contented and to make full use of my life. At the same time, I should be results-oriented and to pursue better things in life.

For example, as a salesperson, I need to focus on a strategic target market. As I strive to be a leader in it, I should not be blinded to other opportunities in the market.

Positioning depends on finding the equilibrium to four dimensions in life.

Purpose                               Why do I do want I do?

Priority                                 What is important to do?

Passion                                 What do I love to do?

Performance                     What can I do well and do better than others?

I need to continue to ask myself these questions – both on a personal as well as on a corporate basis – and in doing so, I will find my place under the sun.

At the same time, My HSR can become the model for the industry and the shining light in the business community and society.

As the economic tide flows from the West to Asia and as Singapore goes through one of the strongest economic growth, the time to change is now.

With the real estate market going through another phase of growth, it is pivotal time to redesign a better life and chart a better direction to fulfill my vision and goals.

I have left out many personal details in this Love Note.

Suffice to say, I want to and must change – and change faster too – so as to be in a better position to serve you and My HSR.

Will you help me?


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Please go to ‘Notes’ found below my profile picture.

Visit my Transformation blog at http://hsrpatrickliew.wordpress.com

Visit my Inspiration blog at http://liewinspiration.wordpress.com

Please read them and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!




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