Nov 282010
Fireplace by Kgreggain

Viktor Frankl once said that, “What is to give light must endure the burning.” I believe that the mistakes we make in life contain important lessons. Unless we learn these lessons well, we will keep on making the same mistakes until we get them right. But once we have learned our lessons, it is important to share our insights with those who need it. In this way, we help to light the way for others with our experiences.

Today, I am going to share the life lessons that I have learned with you. It is my wish that my life lessons will light your life’s journey in some small way. This article is also my contribution to the Life Lessons Series hosted by Abubakar Jamil in collaboration with Farnoosh Brock. Without further ado, here are the lessons that I learned.

Thinking for Myself

I was born in Singapore where I learned to conform to expectations. Thinking was not encouraged. As such, I spent a large part of my life doing as I was told. I assumed that others knew what was best for me and had my interests at heart. If I followed their advice, my life would turn out well.

But as I got older, I realized that the best intentions did not always lead to the best results. Instead, it could actually cause more harm than good in specific cases. In truth, few people know how to read the times or to foresee the likely development of events. Thus, their advice is merely a calculated guess at best. At worst, it could be way off the mark.

It took me a long while and many mistakes before I realized that I needed to think for myself. No one can tell you how to live your life. They can only tell you how they lived theirs. In fact, I received all sorts of conflicting advice that only led to confusion about what I should do. I am not against advice. I welcome them because they may provide insights that I might have missed out. But we should not blindly follow every advice that comes our way. We have to think for ourselves and decide which advice is best to attain our goals. It was not until I started making my own decisions after listening carefully to advice that my life started to turn around.

Believing in What I Do

When I was fresh out of university, I went into insurance. At that time, I did not know what else to do with my life. Looking back now, it was a mistake and a poor choice on my part. Yet at the same time, it turned out to be a valuable learning experience for me. From the start, I found it draining to meet new people with the aim of selling them insurance. Although my superiors tried to teach me to view insurance as a noble calling, the sales quota that I had to meet made it hard for me to see the job as such. But more importantly, I did not believe in the job or the industry after all I had seen. As such, I was never a good sales representative.

Doing insurance sales was unpleasant for me. I found it hard just to wake up to go to work because I dreaded the pressure and disliked the job. Every job has its challenges. But if you do not believe in what you do, when you face problems you will lack the strength needed to persevere and give up. If you do not believe in what you do, you will not be doing it for long.

Sleepwalker by Jeezny

Clarity and Meaning in Life

I pretty much sleepwalked through the first 20 odd years of my life. I did not know what I was living for or why. Not only did I lack the drive, I also lacked a direction. This lack of clarity and focus caused me to make many mistakes in my life and my career. During this time, I blindly followed the advice of others hoping that someone could tell me what I should live for. As expected, their answers were never satisfactory. One day, it dawned on me that I had to create this meaning for myself. It had to come from within me, not without. Until I did so, my life would only spiral out of control.

It is important to know what you are living for and why. Failure to do so will make it hard for you to press on in life. Fear and doubts will assail you on all sides and sap your strength. Even though creating meaning in life is not easy, it is a necessary step if you want a life worth living.

Taking Responsibility

For a large part of my life, I did not take responsibility for my actions. All I did was to find excuses, blame circumstances and brood on my problems. Naturally, nothing got done or better. Even though I was not happy with the way my life was, I did not do anything constructive about it. Eventually, I reached a dead end with my insurance job. I had quit sales and made the switch to backend operations thinking it would be better. Sadly, I was just deceiving myself. I realized that this was not how I wanted to live my life. There was no other choice for me. If I wanted to be happy, I had to take responsibility for my life to change its course.

Taking responsibility for my life was a daunting task at first. Suddenly, I found that I had to decide what to live for, how to live and what I needed to do. I could not rely on others to give me the answers I wanted. They could give me advice and pointers, but I had to make my own choices and find my own answers. As I read widely to acquire the skills and knowledge that I needed to achieve my aims, I found that I had to discard many of my old limiting beliefs. Doing so may have caused great upheaval in my life, but it was a necessary step. As I look back now, I have no regrets about taking charge of my life. I only wish that I had done so sooner.

Change is the Only Constant in Life

During my years in insurance, I never had a sense of security. In this industry, the pressure to meet your sales quota was great. All those who could not do so had to leave. This great period of uncertainty in my life made me keenly aware of change. Sure, I knew that things changed, but the true significance of it did not strike me until this point in my life. By then I had missed many opportunities to make better choices in dealing with change.

Upon reflection, I realized that I was always poorly prepared and lacking in foresight. To make matters worse, I was complacent and often took things for granted. I lacked the initiative needed to deal with change. Change is the only constant in life. Everything in life changes and this is why we always have to plan and be prepared. To do otherwise would leave us unable to seize the opportunities or to avoid the pitfalls in our way.

Life is a Matter of Perception

During my early life, I was rather pessimistic. I loved to brood and to perceive things in a negative light. I think moaning and groaning used to be a favourite pastime of mine. My inner dialogue only made things worse because I thought in a negative way and nourished myself with negativity. As a result, the problems I faced usually overwhelmed me.

But life is really a matter of perception. The turning point came when I realized that if I shifted my perception I would be better able to manage my problems. The change did not happen overnight. It took me some time to unlearn my ineffective thinking. But today, focusing on the solutions instead of the problems has become a habit. This new way of perceiving events has helped me to resolve the problems I face and to lessen the limits that hinder my progress.

Tightrope Walking by Krypto

Balance and Self-Control

I have long struggled with balance and self-control. You see, empathy comes naturally to me. You could say that I am like an emotional sponge. I find it easy to place myself in the shoes of others to understand what they are feeling and where they are coming from. I suppose being an INFJ has something to do with it. The downside of such a gift is that my emotions can be hard to control. During those early years when I lacked the wisdom needed to manage my gift, I suffered great emotional pain because of my attachments and expectations. I knew that if I did not find balance and learn self-control, I would be heading for disaster.

It has not been an easy journey but today I have learned to manage my emotions better. I still feel strongly, but no longer do my emotions cloud my judgment. Even so, I am well aware of the need to balance emotions with logic. I cannot forsake one for the other because both are necessary to lead a harmonious life.

Taking Action

Each of my life lessons did not come easy for me. Looking back at them now, I cannot help but wonder how I managed to learn them all in the first place. Back then, each lesson seemed like an insurmountable obstacle. But the fact that I am here today sharing them with you shows that you can overcome your challenges in life if you work persistently at it.

Can any of you relate to what I have gone through? What are some of the life lessons that you have struggled to learn? Do share your light with us in your comments below.

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  19 Responses to “Life Lessons of the Vizier”

  1. Hi The Vizier,

    Thank you for sharing the wisdom of the lessons you’ve learned from life. It’s always a help to hear of other people’s experiences in the hope that we can learn from their triumphs – and mistakes.

    I completely agree with your view that the only constant in life is change. If we can truly grasp that idea then many things get unlocked in life, and our willingness to try out different things… as standing still acheives nothing.

    One lesson from life I’ve learned is to appreciate (and make the most of) good health. It’s something we take for granted and usually we don’t tap into all those activities we could do, simply because we enjoy good health. Take this away and we become limited in what we do.

    Good health should be celebrated.
    Scott McIntyre recently posted..7 Slow and Steady Steps to Turn Your Passion Into Your JobMy Profile

    • Hi Scott,

      Being aware of the value of good health is an important lesson and it is also all too easy to take for granted. After all, when we are young, we get the idea that we can abuse our bodies without consequences. I agree that good health should be celebrated and that we should make every effort to care for our healths so that we do not end up dependent on others in old age.

      Thank you for your great points! :)

  2. You words on “clarity and meaning in life” are excellent. you are totally correct that all real drive must come from within. It is perfectly fine to be an insurance agent if you feel a calling for it or enjoy the work, but without having a passion it would be hard to be the “best damn insurance agent there is”.

    Having drive and the ability to take the twists and turns in life as they come ( and hopefully capitalize on them) seems to be to be some of the basis for making a success out of yourself rather than simply coasting along throughout life.

    Very inspirational stuff. Thanks for sharing
    Steve@Lifestyle Design recently posted..Steve’s Sunday Selection 28 November 2010My Profile

    • Hi Steve,

      You are perfectly right. Unless you have the drive and the calling to be an insurance agent, it is hard to be good at the job and to last at it. This is why clarity and knowing the meaning of your own life is so important and yet personal at the same time. Unless you have the answers to these questions, you will not have the drive or the composure to deal with change in life.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  3. Irving,

    Your post is a valuable addition to the Life Lessons Series. Thank you for your participation.

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Uzma , Abubakar Jamil. Abubakar Jamil said: Life Lessons of the Vizier @The_Vizier @prolificliving [...]

  5. Post like this cannot be judge or deserve to be commented on. It’s too real, authentic, sincere, and genuine. Closed doors in your past are open us to show stranger of this world, how you over came your obstacles. You could of went down a path of misery and shame. But chose to rise. Your an icon in the eyes of those who are still lost and live in vain. Great work.

  6. [...] Life Lessons of the Vizier [...]

  7. Looks like your journey has brought you to a place of greater clarity and wisdom and that it is an important part of your life to share with others what you have learned along the way.

    In that way… I suppose that mistakes of the past can become virtues if the knowledge gained from them are shared with others to help them to live their lives better.

  8. Dear Vizier, it was so kind of you to grace us with your post, thank you so much. This was in much more depth than what we are used to getting for Life Lesson Series, but knowing you as little as I do, it did not surprise me. Profound, deep and very honest. Thank you again.
    A life of conforming to others, that is not an impossible one for me to imagine, believe me – and one where you hope or think that others are making the right decisions for you. It’s wonderful to live in societies where we can think for ourselves, but in many cultures in this world, parents and guardians still make many decisions for even grown children and young adults. In Iran, decisions are usually NOT made without parents and well, a few relatives too. Seriously though, thank you for these lessons and for telling us your story, dear Vizier!
    Farnoosh recently posted..The Path to Fulfillment- To Have or Not to Have ChildrenMy Profile

    • Hi Farnoosh,

      I am a little familiar with the culture in Iran and I have also read Persepolis and your review of it. So you would know where I am coming from, although I must say I did not have it as bad as having relatives dictate my actions as well. But even so, the situations that I was in was pretty much like that. There was little control and one was expected to follow along. I guess that is what Asian cultures are like, having to respect your elders and their advice.

      Thanks again for inviting me to the Life Lesson Series! :D

  9. Irving,

    I like this post as I can see you have poured your heart and soul in it. It is good to know you bit more and like you more as a blog friend too. Thank you for sharing your life lessons in a post for us.

    If you want o know my life lessons, there is 10 life lessons I wished …post. Best part about it, I am still learning and making mistakes.

    Good to know you more friend.

    Zengirl @ heart and mind recently posted..Meaningful Happy Holidays From Heart- Not WalletMy Profile

    • Hi Preeti,

      I am so happy that you can see the effort that I put into this post! :)

      I felt that since I was sharing my life lessons, it was important to provide the background so that others would understand things better. At the same time, it was also a good way to let people know a little more about me.

      Ah I shall go read your life lessons to know you a little better too.

      Thank you for your comments Preeti! You’re a good friend to have! :)

  10. Children should be seen and not heard. It is sad, but my parents and I never really spoke to each other. I never got to know their inner thoughts. Then one day, I discovered letters my mother had kept from her first young man in high school. It was through those letters I got my first glimpse as to the young girl she had been, the young girl that remained forever locked inside her after she grew up. That was how I was raised. I just did what every one expected me to do. It has taken me many years of exploring and only now am I beginning to let the inner me, come out. I am most excited, and still a bit cautious.

    I am also pleased to see that there are people who have a gentle spiritual side in contrast to the violent form of religion that is most prominently seen in the news. I was beginning to wonder if the real and true meaning of spiritualism was still alive. Namaste, Shanti, Peace
    Barbara Zarrella recently posted..Worry Goes With HurryMy Profile

    • Hi Barbara,

      I am glad that you are beginning to let your inner you out. It is never too late to begin. With all that is new and struggling to take shape and form, it is well and good that you are cautious. Deliberation and caution are after all the prerequisites of success and you should pay careful attention to them when you are trying to establish a new order in your life.

      Religion is a double-edged sword that can be used as a tool to mislead. This is why it is so important to form our own conclusions instead of believing everything we hear. Perhaps as the world evolves people will learn to listen to their hearts and find the true meaning of spiritualism.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your lovely comments! :)

  11. [...] embraced change in his life and blogs about the many lessons life’s taught him on his blog, Han of Harmony. ? Penelope left the city, married a farmer and is raising two kids on a farm, while writing, [...]

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