It’s Time To Stand Up For Your Honor.

by Patrick Liew on July 19, 2018

It’s Time To Stand Up For Your Honor.

I can still hear those words in my mind.

Words that went straight to my heart and it brought chills of fear to every part of my being.

Those words will haunt me to the last day of my life.

Zhen (not her real name) said those words to me over the phone.

I have no qualms that she meant every word she said, and she also made sure I heard her loud and clear.

At that point, she was in Hangzhou and I was in Shanghai.

Zhen was one of my company’s distributors then.

She was an up-and-coming leader in our distribution chain in China.

Tall, slim, good-looking, very articulate and outspoken, Zhen had these and other qualities that would help her stand out in any meeting.

That was the impression I had when I first met her.

Many who had business dealings with her shared a similar impression.

As part of our business system, she was encouraged to attend a series of training.

That was how I first met Zhen when I taught in one of the classes.

The objective of the programme was to mentor distributors on how to conduct business presentations in public.

As part of the training, they had to learn how to create an impactful introduction for their presentations.

I told them, “If you don’t win the audience’s hearts and minds right from the beginning, you may not have their ears right to the end of your presentation.

“The audience might not support and buy into your message, let alone patronize your products and services.”

To ensure the students cultivate the right skills, they had to practice presenting the introductory part of a speech to the class as well as to our guests.

When it was Zhen’s turn, she stood up confidently at the center of the stage.

She had a commanding presence even as she scanned the room and attempted to connect with each and every one.

She looked into every pair of eyes as if she was sublimely crawling her way through their eyes and into their souls.

Finally, she spoke, and her words literally hit our hearts like an emotional tsunami.

Zhen said, “I was once a prostitute.”

After she spoke those words, there was an electrifying silence, a silence that spoke louder than words.

Subsequently, Zhen not only earned her rights to our listening ears, she kept us spellbound with her life story.

It was an inspirational story of how she literally fell into a deep pit in her life.

As part of an underground network in her town, she went through many struggles and battles to stay alive.

What impressed me most was the fact that she was a fighter.

She never backed down from a challenge, and she managed to find her place in the dark shadows of the main street.

With the same can-do and will-do spirit, she fought hard to leave the red light district and establish herself in the business world.

Zhen committed everything she had into the business and was doing well at the beginning.

Unfortunately, a very bad experience marred her fiercely determined quest for success.

She was cheated by her master distributor and the ensuing disappointment and resentment quickly spiraled to depths of hatred.

The experience upset her to a point where she had almost lost her senses.

Her temper was flaring and negative emotions were eating away into her heart.

She became bitter and was looking for scapegoats to blame for her problems.

Tragically, Zhen thought that our company was involved in engineering her bad experiences.

That was why she made the call to us and threatened every key leader in our management team.

Even though she had gone straight, there was no doubt in our minds that she was probably still in touch with the underworld.

Without listening to our full explanation, she started to voice a stream of profanities and curses at us.

She was thirsting for blood and more specifically, my blood ( notwithstanding, my blood was high in cholesterol).

I can still recall two of my colleagues sitting beside me, trying to pacify her in a teleconference.

Beads of perspiration were forming on their foreheads and they were gripping the edge of a table.

She was screaming into the phone, “Don’t ever think of doing business here. Never even step foot on my country again.

“If I ever meet you, I will make sure you die a painful death”.

She had repeated her desire for my life quite a few times during the teleconversation.

A long time ago, I have learned that business profit is not as important as upholding the dignity and value of a human being.

I seek to be at peace with people and if, at all possible, I want to value add to their lives and inspire them to success.

I pressed on to calm her and find a resolution.

Guess what I finally did?

My response might surprise or even shock you.

I tried very hard to clarify that we had nothing to do with her issues.

At one point when she repeated her threat to my life, I told her, “I will catch the next flight to your city and present myself to you.

“All I ask for is that you give me a chance to explain to you face to face.”

To say that she was surprised by my response was an understatement.

It stunned her into total silence for a while.

Then, Zhen repeated her threat, “How dare you even think of stepping foot into my territory.

“Perhaps you’re not getting it.

Let me say it again.


I repeated my offer to meet her face to face a few times.

Finally, my words sank into her heart.

It may not sound like the right thing to do but at that point in time, it was the most appropriate action for the situation.

I needed to let her know I was sincere and was prepared to prove my innocence.

In my study of communication, I realized very often it is not what you say but how you say what you say that matters.

When I offered to meet her, safety or security was not the uppermost in my mind.

Protecting myself could be planned for at a later stage.

What was more important was the fact that my honor was at stake.

Honour is what gives every human a sense of pride and dignity.

Without pride and dignity, there will not be any true meaning, passion, and joy in living.

Honour is an essence of life.

It has to be defended at all costs.

For the sake of defending my honor, I was prepared to risk my life.

Make a trip to the unknown and walk into an unpredictable future.

As a child, I grew up in a tough neighborhood and had to earn my keep as an honest hawker at the defunct Sungei Road Flea Market.

In the days of old, Sungei Road Flea Market was sometimes known as the Thieves Market.

At a young age, I decided never to bow or bend to wealth, might, and force.

Never to run away from challenges, especially if they stood in my way of achieving a worthwhile dream.

I may take time off to reorganize myself but I will return and do everything possible to resolve the challenges.

As I study the lives of great leaders, one common denominator stood out in my mind.

The leaders who shaped their worlds and created new futures were defined by their indomitable fighting spirit.

As much as they preferred to pick their battles, at the same time, they were operationally prepared to fight against all odds to reach their desired destinations.

They knew full well that if they did not fight for a good cause, they might fall for anything and live for nothing.

When they fought for a good cause, they live out the essence of life.

On the other hand, when they fight for nothing, they might end up as “living dead” – who were merely not buried.

Therefore, quitting was never an option, nor ever been granted a space in their minds.

They lived by the saying, “The battle is never over as long as you don’t quit. When you quit, the battle is over.”

There would always be a way to overcome or go around any challenge.

The leaders who never quit would eventually lead their people to the promised land.

Along with their journeys, one of the greatest battles was the battle between themselves.

They constantly waged a war to direct and control themselves.

They learned to transform themselves from what they were to become, to what they should be, in order to be a great leader.

These leaders suffered many defeats.

They went through more than their fair share of traumas, pains, and brokenness.

However, they chose to capitalize on these challenges to further strengthen their fighting spirit.

They chose to grow bigger than their problems and fight more wisely to achieve a final victory.

Back to my story, it took us a while to pacify Zhen.

She must have sensed my integrity and felt my intention to achieve a win-win outcome.

In the end, we came to an amicable settlement with her.

Sadly, Zhen decided to give up the business and when we parted ways, she was still reeling from hatred and bitterness.

Deep in my heart, I prayed that the fighting spirit that got her off the street would help her rise up from the pits again and soar to the stars in her dream.

As a company, we removed the master distributor.

To grow the business, we fought many more battles to set our house in order.

As I reflect on this episode, one key lesson is that the journey to success is not just about the final victory.

It is also about the way you fight your way to the final victory.


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

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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