Have you heard of this saying “Follow Your Dream”?
I guess I have very similar experience with most of the youths nowadays. Often times, people from different walks of life and social backgrounds will always advise youths like me to follow my dream. I have always been wondering what is the true meaning behind this universal advice. Or what if I don’t even have a dream? How do I dream when in the first place, I do not even have a dream at all?
I want to reach out to people who are lost and seeking for immediate solutions in finding where they fit in. I want to reach out to people who are thriving for success and growth in life. I want to reach out to people who are hungry to find their utmost potential. I want to reach out to people who want to discover their own identity and values in them. I want to reach out to YOU.
My story begins when I was 15 years old. You would find me in a Taekwondo training gym in Kepong. Hanging across the room were a few black punching bags and Taekwondo gears laying on the floor. After a 2-hour exhausting drill, we were all seated down for de-brief by our head instructor, Ms Lee. She’s tall and fit. Drenched in perspiration, she asked us about our dreams and goals in Taekwondo. We were given a piece of paper and a 2B pencil to write down our name and the answer to the thrilling question. Guess what, I had no idea what to write. But of course to avoid being awkward, I pretended as if I was going to give an award-winning answer. Being a naïve teenager, I did not want to be caught having no dream, so the nearest clue which I had at that moment in time was my friend beside me. I gained “enlightenment” from my friend and somehow wrote the exact same answer as his. But deep inside me, I was lost and confused.
For more than 10 years in Taekwondo, the one thing that I really learnt is this- to dream and to set goals in life. That incident was a turning point moment in my life. I knew I had to do something for me to be extraordinary, to stand out from others in life. I learnt to set simple goals for myself on a daily basis. When I was 15, there was this one goal which I strongly wanted to achieve- to be the Head Prefect in my school.
8.30 a.m. in the morning. Dressed in newly bought dark blue blazer with a big school logo on the left, we were seated down in a classroom beside the assembly ground. It was me and 30 other Form 4 prefects were about to wait for the final announcement for the Majlis Perlantikan Pengawas (Prefects Installation Day). After a few speeches by the teachers, it was the climax we have all been waiting for. Being the last name to be called, I stood proud on the stage with the new name tag I have been craving for since I was 15. Something struck in my head- setting goals and dreams did work for me. Not only did it work for me, it turned out to be an incredible one!
2 years after that, I was in my dream university, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS. It was during the first day of the orientation day, Minggu Aluan Siswa. Dressed in formal attire, what caught my sight was something really phenomenal. Never in my life have I seen such a beautiful state-of-the-art library. In UTP, it’s called the IRC. On opposite of the IRC, there was this incredible Chancellor Hall, with 2,000 seating auditorium seating capacity. In my mind, I was so grateful to be here to pursue my childhood dream- to be an engineer.
Year 2009, in a tutorial room in Block 23. Me and 35 other course mates were about to deliver our Persuasive Presentation. This was the Professional Communication Skills (PCS) subject we all had to take in our undergraduate studies. I was exceptionally nervous, because what I was about to present was something really different from my friends. All of my friends presented stuffs like having more car park lots, having more shelters for the students, having more cafeterias etc. I was about to deliver a 7-minute motivational speech based on The Secret (The Law of Attraction). Being called up to the front of the class as the last student, I stood blank for the first 5 seconds. After the 7th minute, half the class was mesmerized. Stood behind the room was this thin, short, tanned gentleman, Mr Joan Valenzuela from Lipa City, Philippines. He said:
“Wesley, if you fail to be engineer, be a motivational speaker.”
Thrilled. Shocked. Surprised. Nobody in my life ever told me I could speak. Nobody in my life ever told me I could inspire people. A new dream incepted in me- to inspire people.
Time was 1.00 midnight, February 2013. Went back home after a long day of work, drenched in the smell of perspiration. Opened my house door and stood across the living room was an older version of me. He’s short and plump. But this time, what greeted my sight was something unpleasant. Sat down on a brown sofa with a stern face, he shouted “Son, sit down!”. I knew something terribly wrong would happen anytime. Prayers in mind, I sat down. “Can you tell me honestly what happened to your all job offers?” I knew it. For months, I have been delaying this answer. All I told him were illusions of delayed replies and pending job interviews. Took a deep breath “Dad, I have rejected all my job offers.” Even with a higher tone now, “What do you mean by you’ve rejected? You are the best engineering student in UTP, one of the best engineering students in Malaysia, you tell me, you DO NOT want to be an engineer?”. I could only hear the sound of the fan circling rounds after rounds. I knew at that point of time I could not hide anymore. “Yes dad, I want to be a speaker. I want to change people’s life. I want to inspire people.”. What happened after that was something I could never forget in my entire lifetime. He stood up, raised his hand and slammed hard on the coffee table, “I don’t want to see you anymore in my life. You get out now!” He headed straight to his room and left me crying in the awful scene.
Does following your dream has to be so painful? I thought following your dream is supposed to be wonderful, happy and awesome. How would I have ended in this moment of sorrow? At that point of time, there was this demon in me. “Wesley, just give up on your crazy dream. Engineer would do.” The demon of mediocrity. The demon that resists change. But at that point of time I chose to listen to my angel who whispered to my ears, “Wesley stay faithful to your dreams”. The angel of hope. The angel who is always there with you whenever you are down and depressed.
A year after that I was driving to SMK Bandar Sri Damansara 1 about to meet the school counselor to arrange for a motivational talk. It was 9.00 o’clock in the morning. The phone rang and it was my dad. But this time he was crying. “Dad why are you crying? What happened?” Sobbing and struggling to even speak, he said “Son I want to say sorry for whatever I have done to you. I have been too harsh on you. I am sorry, son.” Do you know the feeling when someone is talking to you and you could feel as if there are just right in front of you? “Son, whatever you do, Dad will always be proud of you.” A couple of minutes went by, this quote struck into my mind:
“When you do your best, God will handle the rest”.
I have been sharing this story of mine as a gift of possibility to help youth to come out from their darkest moment. It is okay not to be okay now. For the past 3 years, I have impacted more than 30,000 people in more than 40 schools, colleges, universities and various platforms including TEDx and NGOs. I dedicate my life story to help youth to discover and realize their passion, purpose and vision in life, so that they are able to know the true meaning of this “Follow Your Dream” universal advice. To me and this is merely my opinion, “Follow Your Dream” is about following what your heart desires and most importantly I believe that “Follow Your Dream” has to be from within- the answer to the ultimate question, “What do you really want?” and living life to your own identity and utmost values. Yes, values. Doing something that can make you sleep well at night. Doing something that makes your heart sing. Doing something that excites, enlightens and energizes you. It is not about the dream; it is about learning how to dream. It is not about the passion; it is about learning to love what you do and do what you love. When you love what you do and do what you love, you play to win. Nobody can predict what you are going to end up doing in years to come, unless you have a “crystal ball” at home. I’ve learnt from my darkest moment that it is okay to change your dreams. It does not matter whether you have started from Point A to Point B and halfway through you wanted to go to Point C instead. In my opinion, it is okay as long as you make progress and growth in life.
Something that I truly believe, success leaves clues. To find answer to the true meaning of this “Follow Your Dream” (now I call it Chemical X- what is the driving factor of successful people to reach where they are now from where they have started), I have the privilege to learn from more than 40 successful people ranging from various industries- entertainment, engineering and construction, education, finance, real estate and property investment and training/coaching- just to name a few. They all share the same Chemical X in them- do what you love and love what you do, to follow their dream.
Through my series of products and services, I have been helping youth to dream, love and do what they truly want to do. Be it to love their existing path or to explore totally new opportunities. Using these tools and strategies based and derived from my years of experience meeting these gurus that taught me the true meaning of following your dream, I have been able to help many youths along the way to take immediate control of their own emotional and mental well being. And take note none of these tools are my opinion.
I dedicate my journey and story of self-discovery as a gift to help people to come out from their darkest moment. I believe my story is your story.
There are 2 most important days in your life- the day you are born and the day you know why.
*The writer , Mr.Wesley Chan Wenzhen is Peak Performance Masterclass Trainer , the author of “YOLO- 6 Keys to Success” and a certified NLP practitioner and coach, ABNLP.