For those who know me, I recently made the decision to switch courses from reading medicine to reading law. This decision was not made easily. However, I believe that it is one that puts my life in the right direction.
When I started this site close to two years ago, I had no idea where this would lead to. What began as a curiosity and interest soon developed into a full blown passion. The ideas that Benjamin Graham introduced, curiosity, honesty, a wilful disregard for the conventional norms and his generosity reverberated with me, providing to me role model to inspire myself towards. They were concepts that not only applied to investing, but life as well.
No matter your age, I am sure that you understand the importance of passion. As children, we have boundless curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. With time, these traits ebb away as we are told to adapt to the “real world” where conformity and results are far more treasured. As current student, I understand the pressure to conform to the pressure of society – to take up a degree or job that you have no real interest in for the money.
And yet, there is a real danger in giving in, in deciding that you have to listen to others. If you start to compromise on your beliefs, there is no end to it. It is no surprise that so many people are unhappy with their jobs. How contented can one if you hate what you are doing?
When I look at my role models, people like Steve Jobs, Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan, Warren Buffett or Richard Branson, they all share one trait – they love their jobs and wouldn’t trade a dime in the world to do something else.
When I was young, I used to admire the smartest and brightest people around me. Those who effortlessly scored top grades, who aced their exams, who made everything look like a breeze. As I grow older, I noticed a change. The people who were succeeding the most in life weren’t these people at all. The people who were excelling in life (not exams mind you) were those who were honest, who had a determination to never say no, who never compromised on their convictions even if no one believed in them. The ability to excel in an exam, or superior intellect while useful, was not pre-requisites to success at all.
Living in Singapore, I understand full well the importance of material wealth. Money gives us a real power and ability to do the things we want to do in life. However, focusing on money alone will not make one happy. In order to do great work, you need to have the passion to sustain you throughout your journey. I know an abundance of friends who are jaded, discontented and am unhappy with their lives despite landing prestigious degrees or jobs. I truly believe that if you can do great work, and offer a valuable service to others, the money will follow. Life simply does not work the other way round.
Inspired by Benjamin Graham, I believe that I have found something that I intimately connect with, that gets me excited everyday to wake up to, and something that I believe that I can excel in professionally in the future. To those who have not found something that they love, please keep looking. While it is not easy, take solace that you are not the first in this journey. Ultimately, if you can believe in yourself, that’s all it takes for you to succeed.