Winning In Life (Part 1)

by Patrick Liew on August 2, 2012

On 6 November 2010, at about 6.30pm, I faced the gymnastics mat in front of me. Beads of sweat were running down my forehead.

I have decided to do what I have always wanted to do in my life. And the only reason why I have not done it before was simply because my life might end before I could complete it.

I have always wanted to do a somersault.

That day, I knew I had to do it. In my mind, it was a case of “now or never”.

Obviously, I could land on my back and be paralyzed. I might  have to suffer throughout my life and become a burden to my family and society.

Worse, I could end up on my head or crushed my spine, any of which could kill me instantly. I was too young to die and there were too many things I have not completed  in my life.

I did not even say good  bye to my loved ones before I left the house. That morning, I did not even take Jumper, my ‘son’ out for a walk.

As I stood there in front of the mat, it was like the world had disappeared. I took a deep breath and ran forward.

I ran as if in slow motion because I was mindful of wanting to do it right. I could not afford to make even the slightest mistake.

Every detail counted. Every act was important in the overall scheme of any project. The way I did anything would make a difference to the results in my life.

It was like time stood still for me. Every person in the gym was frozen, holding their breath as they saw me ran forward…

About a year before that fateful evening, I found a gymnastics studio near my office. It was used predominantly by kids and many of the older gymnasts who were competitive and seasoned athletes.

Prior to that, I have asked quite a few coaches if I could train with their students. You could imagine the surprised look on their faces.

In one of the trial lessons, the coach  would tell the students, “C’mon, you can do it! Don’t give up! Push it!”

He would then turn to me and said, “Mr Liew, why don’t you take a rest. Take it easy, ok?”

At that point in time, I was in shape. (Who says round is not a shape?) I was young at heart – but only old in the other parts.

Shortly after, I gave up the class because I was not getting the right guidance. What I did not give up was my dream to do a somersault.

Experience has taught me that in the journey of life, there will be potholes, puddles and pitfalls. They might delay or distract me but they should not deter me from reaching my destination.

I managed to find another coach, a highly competent one to accept me as a student. There was no need to use my well-prepared script that I won’t litter the gym with any of my bones. I was also happy to collect all of them after every class.

As a 200-year-old dinosaur, I looked like the friendly uncle bringing his children and nephews to gymnastics class. Some people might even think I was the friendly janitor or vendor selling soda and candies.

Before the start of the class, one young ‘kiddo’ was trying to explain to me v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y  what gymnastics was all about.

He was so worried this old man could not understand him,  he spoke loudly into my ears. It was okay if only he did not shower me with his saliva.

All around me, fit and strong young hunks looked like they had lived in the gym and exercising all their lives.

I looked like a much older hunk who looked like I had been living in the kitchen and eating all my life.

While I did feel embarassed, I overcame it by being amused by it. I was mindful that negativity could only take roots in my mind if I allowed it.

When I initially told some of my friends about my new found sports, they responded mostly in shock and horror.

I assured them I intended to live for as long as I was alive and forever, or die in the attempt. They didn’t think my joke was funny.

To be fair to all these well-intentioned people, they knew my head was in the right place. They just didn’t want my body to fall apart.

I would be lying if I told you I was not discouraged. Believe me, their warnings were amplified in different forms through my heart and mind.

I wanted to give up – not once but many times.

Fortunately, I learned a long time ago that what people said to me could be useful feedback. However, they should never stand in the way of progress.

I have always believed, ‘Growing old is not a problem. Feeling and behaving old is.’

Fortunately, I found a good coach who taught and showed me how to perform every move and technique.

In the journey of life, an effective coach could help craft and fine tuned my dreams and goals. He could help me put a plan together and turn it into a reality.

He could also keep me inspired and motivated to take the necessary action. In addition, he could work with me to overcome the obstacles on my way to success.

With a coach motivating and guiding me, I could move farther and faster in life. With a coach, I have found that I could achieve quantum leaps of improvements.

During the initial period of the course, it was obviously very tough for me. I couldn’t catch up with the class. I was being left behind – physically and emotionally.

My muscles and bones would ache quickly and for quite a long period of time. On many occasions, I walked back to the office feeling like a loser.

Before the next class, my brain would say, “Let’s go!”

My legs would  say, “You go first!”

Every part of my being was telling me to give up – to pursue another sports. To make matters worse, I suffered some injuries due to my carelessness and that brought my spirit really down.

I was tempted to postpone my pursuit. It was alluring to believe in words like, “You can always do it at another time,” and “You can do it tomorrow.”

The stories of blame, justification and excuses kept playing in my mind but my
dream kept me going. As long as I focused on my goal, the challenges diminished in importance and being a burden.

Goal setting helped me to channel all the resources in the right direction. It compelled me to go further and faster in life, and was a logical fulfilling approach to dynamic living.

I was totally committed to fulfill my goal. It meant a lot to me to execute a somersault.

Personally, doing a somersault was like a metaphor that could  reinforce the potential and talents our Creator has given to me.

It stood as both a mental as well as an emotional block for me to achieve seemingly impossible breakthroughs and take myself to the highest possible level of results.

This compelling purpose kept the flame in my heart burning. With a compelling enough reason, I knew I would find a way to do it.

The ‘Why’s would lead to the ‘How’s. Having a powerful purpose would drive my performance and pursuit.

While there were inner voices that cast doubts, fears and uncertainties, I was mindful I should never entertain them in my mind. I needed to fight it logically and with all my emotions.

I was mindful that I should protect all my senses. I should only allow the positives to enter my being through them.

I surrounded myself with different motivators to resist, remove and replace any negative thought or action. I saturated my inner life with thoughts that could only propel me to win in life.

I was mindful that it was not enough to have a positive mental attitude, I needed to take action. Not just any action – but massive action.

I was constantly reminded that there were many dreamers but not many were doers. There were only a rare few who were achievers – they not only dreamed but they also did whatever it took to make their dreams came true.

The key difference between those who merely dreamed and those who turned their dreams into a reality was just one word – Execution.

Execution was the ability to act on my dream. Execution was improving on my action to achieve my dream.

If I had a dream and I didn’t take action, I was building castles in the air. On the other hand, if I took action but I didn’t have a dream, I was running around the same castles.

I was totally committed to not only be a dreamer but a doer too.

It was not enough to aspire, I needed to take action. It was also not enough to execute, I  must excel in my execution.

Good motives led to motion. Movements must be constantly improved to lead to achievements.

The worst failure was a failure to try. When I stopped trying, failure became permanent.

With that in mind, I embarked on one of the toughest challenges in my life. A challenge that went against the norm of adults. One that pushed my body, mind and spirit to their edge.

As I ran towards the mat, there were many questions running through the minds of the spectators.

Can he do it? Will he fail and become paralyzed?

Will this evening be the last evening of his 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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Andy Seet August 17, 2012 at 8:59 pm

It is very encouraging. I need help.

Patrick Liew October 17, 2012 at 1:15 am

Andy Seet, thank you. There are help all around you. Look! Ultimately, all motivation starts with self-motivation. Learning starts with self-learning. When you learn to help yourself, you will learn how to fish n there will be a flow of sashimi on your plate. :0)

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