Growing Faster By Delaying

by Patrick Liew on November 1, 2011

In this Love Note, I want to share with you what I call my Speedo Factor.

When I was in school, I chose long distance running and long distance swimming as my co-curricular activities (CCA).

Why? Because, in my school, they were the only sports I could train at my own time. I had more flexibility to pursue other interests.

I thought that was the reason for choosing these sports but our Creator had another purpose in mind. These two sports taught me how to persevere to achieve my goals.

As my family was poor, I could not afford to own a decent swimming trunk. I would use a hand-me-down from one of older brothers or friends.

My dream was to own a Speedo trunk. It was and still is one of the most expensive trunks.

Back then, I had a trunk with yellow elephant faces imprinted on a maroon background. Strange looking, to say the least.

One of the faces was positioned right at … you know where. And it was hard to cover it when I was walking on land.

When I took up position for a race, I could almost feel the other swimmers laughing at my trunk. I had the funny feeling people in the gallery were staring at it the same time.

Fortunately, I got used to it and was able to focus on swimming. At the end of each race – guess what? – I always won.

I became the best breaststroke swimmer in my entire school. Since then, I have always appreciated the wisdom of the Ah Beng proverb, ‘If you can swim, you can swim. If you can’t, don’t blame the swimming trunk’.

When my daughters were much younger, they once asked me, “Daddy do you know why you won?”

Hoping to finally get a compliment from them, I responded with abated breath, “Why?”

With a cheeky smile, they would chorus, “Because when the other swimmers saw your trunk, they laughed until they had stomach cramps.”

With daughters like mine, it’s hard to be proud.

When I was no longer involved in competitive swimming, I would every now and then dream of owning a Speedo trunk. When I passed a retail outlet; if I’m free, I might drop in to check out the designs and prices.

I thought it would feel good to wear a branded product. I had this feeling people would be more attracted to me because of my Speedo trunk.

It would give me a sense of prestige – or as spin doctors would call the ‘I have arrived’ feeling.

I was deeply mistaken.

The more I thought about it, the more I appreciated the value of delayed gratification.

I bought a lot of things out of want and not out of need. When I delayed my purchase decision, I realized I didn’t need them at all.

If I bought them at the spur of the moment, I would not usually get the best deal. If my friends were attracted to me because of my possession, they were not the kind of friends I needed to have in life.

If I acquired something just to impress my friends, I would have an unhealthy self esteem and a poor value system.

I realized delayed gratification is one of the means to achieve sustainable success.

The correlation between delayed gratification and long term success had been proven in a study by Michael Mischel in Standford University.

Michael found that children that exercised more self-control in fulfilling their wants became more positive, self-motivated, and resilient in achieving their goals. As a result, they became more successful in life.

It is hard to practice delayed gratification in an ‘instant fixes’ society. Most people are looking for easy ways, short cuts, get rich quick schemes, and on-demand pleasure.

Delayed gratification requires self-control, discipline and perseverance. These are traits that are common in many successful people.

When I studied them, I found they are masters in controlling their urge for immediate gratification. They knew that success requires self-mastery, determination and hardwork.

Successful people are committed to develop the skill of delayed gratification through self-restraint, training, and constant practice.

I want to learn the skill of delayed gratification because I’ve discovered many other benefits.

When I buy fewer things, I have lesser baggages to hold me back from running and enjoying the race of life. I have more to give back to my loved ones and to society.

That’s why, whenever I want to buy something, I will think of my Speedo Factor.


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

Visit my Inspiration blog at

Please read them and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


P/S: For those who really need to know, yes, I finally bought a Speedo trunk at a Sale – the design I wanted and for a good price too.

I just realized while writing this Love Note that since then I have only worn it twice.

I learned the Speedo Factor lesson again!

Swimming anyone?





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