Leong Sze Hian’s ‘failures’ (April Fool’s Day)?

Photo:John Walker/CC BY 2.0Photo:John Walker/CC BY 2.0

We must encourage “failure”, rather than only “success”!

I refer to Lydia Lim’s article “Dear scholarship applicant, have you ever failed?” (Straits Times, Apr 1).

It states that “During a recent round, one colleague asked an applicant with an unblemished academic record if she had ever failed at anything. The 18-year-old had no ready answer, though earlier she had looked stricken when asked about being rejected by a brand name foreign university she had applied to.

We posed the failure question to a few other scholarship applicants and it stumped them. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that these top scorers have failure resumes that are thin or blank. In the Singapore system, achievement and failure rarely go hand in hand.

That needs to change.

But the reality is that most people, especially those who are successful, prefer to talk about their hits, never their misses. It would help if more people were able to embrace their failures as the partners of venture capital fund Bessemer Venture Partners have done.”

I found the above so well written and inspiring that I thought I would list some of my “failures” – today is 1 April.

… failed and never passed Highway Code (if I drive instead of taking the bus and MRT – I estimate that I may have lost about $2 million ($1,000 monthly compounded at six per cent from age 24 to 64)

… my lowest academic score ever – 5 marks out of 100 for Art in secondary school

… took 4 A Level subjects – results were B, E, and 2 subsidiary passes

… failed the subject Principles and Practice of Insurance 3 times, in the Chartered Insurance Institute’s examinations (I eventually completed all the examinations and became a Fellow)

… only passed Part 1 of the Institute of Statisticians – did not proceed to Parts 2 and 3

… failed LUATC Part 1 exam – did not proceed to Part 2

… failed LOMA Part 1 exam – eventually passed all the examinations to become a Master Fellow of the Life Management Institute/Life Office Management Association

… failed 2 times the final part 6 of the Certified Financial Planner examinations (CFP, USA) – eventually passed and also completed the Master of Science in Financial Planning (College for Financial Planning) and the Master of Science in Financial Services and the Master of Science in Management (American College)

… completes his first degree at the tender age of 32 – Bachelor of Liberal Studies (University of the State of New York)

… awarded scholarship to study in the Bachelor of Business external studies programme (Monash University College Gippsland)

.. failed at least 1 subject in the Australian Insurance Institute’s examinations – eventually completes all the examination to become a Fellow, awarded worldwide subject 1st placing

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.