Living Moments (Part 30) – Lessons From Life

by Patrick Liew on June 25, 2012

Life is one of the best teachers. It dispenses lessons to us at every given moment.

These lessons can make or break us. It depends on whether we allow these lessons to mold and shape us to be a better person.

In 1973, after completing my GCE ‘O’ Level examination and while waiting for my results, I took on a part-time job at the defunct A&W Restaurant at Bukit Timah.

It was a popular hangout for many people and would close for business at 2am, an unusual practice for a food and beverage outlet at that point in time.

I decided to work the ‘graveyard’ shift which commenced at 6pm until closing time. After that, all the staff would  have to stay back for about half an hour to clean up the place before heading home in a company bus.

The manager taught us to take pride in our Restaurant and work. We had to memorise the A&W story  and to share it with our customers and friends.

I realized the more I loved my job and the more I did it to the best of my abilities, the more I enjoyed my work. I would also find greater meaning and fulfillment in life.

Since then, I coined the saying, ‘Anything worth doing is worth doing with passion and excellence’.  I have endeavored to live by it and to make it one of the key operating principles in my company.

I chose the ‘graveyard’ shift at A&W so that I could have the time during the day to be involved in a youth organisation.  I was a Key Guy in the movement, a term used to refer to one of the key leaders.

My role was to lead a few hundred young people to fulfill our faith-based mission.

It was almost a full time preoccupation that required a lot of attention, money and effort. Despite the sacrifices I had to make for the non-profit organisation, I would not give it up for anything.

I learned that as long as I was committed to a worthwhile cause,  it would stretch my potential. It would enhance my capacity and ability to take more and better actions to achieve more and better results.

I could find an infinite amount of possibilities to achieve a desired outcome – as long as there was a compelling reason and a persistent desire to achieve it.

At that point in time, it was a fad at A&W to be known by nicknames. You can imagine there were many strange names going around.

I asked to be called ‘Siow’.

This was my middle Chinese name. It also sounded like ‘mad’ in Hokkien.

This nickname was a reflection of my fun-loving nature. On occasions, I would go absolutely crazy in cracking jokes and pulling a practical one on my friends.

Mostly, I would go overboard to literally make a fool of myself. I enjoyed laughing at myself.

Laughter is one of our Creator’s gifts for living a full life and making full use of life. If I could not even laugh at the pain and sorrow in my life, life was not worth living.

Humour could be one of the addictives to combust my energy level and propel me forward.

I used the nickname, ‘Siow’ also because since young, my friends would sometimes call me a mad man. I was known for doing things that were out of the ordinary.

I liked to challenge norms and attempt feats that were seemingly impossible. I believed in going beyond traditional horizons to create radical ideas and achieve breakthroughs.

If that was a sign of madness, I was more than happy to accept the ‘compliment’. Why be a normal person when I could ‘madly’ achieve better outcomes in life.

When I first started work at the A&W Restaurant, I was assigned to be a kitchen help. My job was to look after all the foodstuffs and to prepare the required items for the cooks.

They were actually more like crooks. I have seen them stealing some of the company’s belongings every now and then.

I remember one night, my manager conducted a spot check on all the employees. He made us open our bags for inspection, hoping that he could catch the culprit.

On this particular occasion, everybody was checked except me.

When it came to my turn, the manager told me, “It’s okay. You can go up the bus now”. He just waved me on.

Perhaps, he knew about my moral conviction and has observed my work ethos and that was why he trusted me. The sense of being trusted gave me a good feeling until today.

It inspired me to be a person that others could rely on, somebody you could count on as a colleague and a friend.

For awhile before I was promoted to be a waiter, my job also required me to peel onions. I had to peel a lot of large onions and they produced a strong smell.

Even though there was an industrial fan blowing the odor away from me, it still  caused my eyes to tear. It was a very uncomfortable feeling.

I was paid a rate of $3.30 per working day. It was a princely sum of money for a young 16-year-old.

With the money, I was able to do more for my youth ministry. I could reach out to more people and touch their lives.

It was then that I became more convinced about the value of money.

I learned to treasure money because of the hard work to earn it and what I could do with it.

Money-consciousness was a prerequisite for effective living. Financial wisdom is one of the disciplines to help me live a successful life.

More importantly, I realized that if I had a great vision and worked towards achieving it, our Creator would provide me the means to achieve it. He would also provide the means to help me acquire the necessary resources, including money.

When I dared to ask Him for more resources, He would provide them to the measure of my faith and my capacity to utilise it effectively. I could always count on Him to help me fulfill a worthwhile cause.

Soon, the time came for me to resign from the company and to go back to school. The A&W experience became a part of my ongoing education and the good news was, I was paid for it.

Looking back, I learned that everything in life happened for a reason.

There is meaning, purpose and significance in every situation – but I had to do my part to uncover and learn from it.

I should never waste any moment in life.

I must not miss out on any of the lessons from Professor Life.

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

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at

Visit my Transformation blog at

Please read them and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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