Unlocking ADHD community member Dr Patrick Liew shares how failures, second chances and self-compassion enable him to push boundaries to attain his goals
Untold Secrets: Making Peace with my Past
Have you ever had your past secrets discovered and have no fears or worries about it being uncovered?
Recently, one of my “secrets” was made known and I laughed over it. Why? Because I have learned long ago that I should come to terms with my past. One way of doing it is to put past challenges to rest no matter how embarrassing or incriminating they may be.
There was once when I sent one of my senior managers, Sharon, to meet an old classmate where the objective of the meeting was to share with him an innovative business concept. After the meeting, Sharon met me and with a sheepish smile, said, “Your old classmate told me that you were not good in your studies. He was really surprised that you have gone this far in your life!” We laughed over the incident.
Those who know me would know that I have not held back in confessing my fears, frailties, failures and foolishness publicly. I have shared about my downsides in talks and through my writings. The reason I endeavor to come clean with my life is that I want to be at peace with myself and my past.
Just as importantly, I have always believed that everything happened for a reason, purpose and significance. Therefore, I should never waste any negative experience. Instead, I should leverage on them to learn, improve, and achieve better results. Hopefully, by sharing how I learned from past wrongdoings, I can deepen my learning and in doing so, encourage and inspire others to live on a higher plane.
Back to my story, Sharon and I laughed over the incident because what my old classmate revealed about my past was no secret to her and many others.
Here is the secret: Throughout my life, I have been blessed with a mental health condition – it is termed as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Uncovering the Past Struggles with ADHD
Let me share a typical symptom of ADHD. When I am in a classroom, my body can be there but my brain is in a world of its own. You can imagine how hard I had to struggle with my studies. I would be lost throughout most part of the academic year.
To beat the system, I learned to study on my own and usually at the eleventh hour before an examination. Somehow I managed to get promoted from one standard to another except for one year. That year, I failed almost all the subjects and had to repeat my studies. The stigma of that failure stuck with me for a long time. Fortunately, my Creator allowed me a second chance.
Unlocking Second Chances
I believe a single failure is never a final failure. As long as we are alive, we have a second chance. And we always deserve a second chance. In fact, every passing moment is a second chance whether we take it or not.
However, a second chance cannot be bought. It can only be courted and caught. All we have to do is swallow our pride and grab it no matter how uncomfortable it is.
By the way, swallowing our pride does not come with ‘high calories’ and does not contain any ‘dangerous additives’. In fact, it can be healthy for the soul. When we capitalize wisely on a second chance, we will soon realize that it can come with many opportunities.
And with wisdom gained from the past, we can do even better the second time around. Therefore, having a second chance should drive us to work harder and smarter to achieve better results.
In my case, I took a second chance and recovered from my failure. I pressed on to complete a tertiary education, including the coursework needed to earn a bachelor degree, two master’s degrees, a doctoral degree, and nine other professional qualifications.
Looking to the Future with Self-compassion
Truth be told, I am still learning to cope better with ADHD so that I can continue to be a lifelong student. I may not be able to wind back the clock, relive whatever has happened in the past and correct any wrongdoing. But through the mistakes made, I have learnt from the experiences and have grown through it.
May we learn how to right the wrong and in the process become wiser and do better in life. We are given a second chance to prove that we are bigger than our past. The past does not have to cheat us of our future. We can start all over again and craft the best story and ending for our lives.
There are few stories that are more inspiring than a story of a proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes. It is a comeback story that can guide many to come out of darkness and inspire them to achieve greatness.
Even with ADHD, we can be the author of another amazing turnaround story!
Dr Patrick Liew Is an award-winning entrepreneur, humanitarian and philanthropist. He has helped to list more than three companies from three different industries on three different stock exchanges (SGX, ASX, NYSE). He has also won international business awards including the Global Leader Award, Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award, Global Digital Entrepreneurship Award and the Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Social Contributions.
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